I got some more insight from Team USA hitting coach Mark Harris, who got to work with and watch Nationals prospects Michael Taylor and Lucas Giolito play Sunday in the All-Star Futures Game. Team USA beat team World 3-2 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Harris, the hitting coach at Double-A Harrisburg, had this to say about Taylor's season. Giolito did give up a home run in the game, but he also was able to work through his pitches, get his fastball to 97 mph and gain experience in a big game at an elite level. Harris said Giolito will get used to always facing stiff competition because he will be moving up levels.
"I think that no matter if it's a Futures Game or it's him moving from low-A to high-A, or one of our guys moving from Potomac to Double-A, it's a different brand of competition," Harris said. "It just is. It's why it is what it is. You find out that all of a sudden in every league a pitcher and hitter both have to make adjustments in competition.
"And he will in time. He's got great stuff. He just left a couple of pitches up. He'll tell you the same thing."
Harris also got to share his experience and getting the opportunity to work with former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly, who is currently the special assistant to the general manager of the Twins. He was the 1991 American League Manager of the Year and was the skipper last weekend for Team USA. Harris got to work alongside Kelly for the exhibition featuring the game's brightest prospects.
"It was absolutely amazing for me. My best time was (Saturday) I got to spend 45 minutes alone with Tom Kelly," Harris said. "I got to sit next to him on the bench (Sunday). Tom Kelly is a baseball man, believe me.
"I was so excited. He is retired, but still works with the Twins in various fashions. But he was in game mode for two days. To sit in his meetings and to see his enthusiasm and he told me he couldn't sleep last night. You could see why he was successful as a manager. His baseball IQ and his enthusiasm for the game is very, very refreshing to me.
"Along with everything else to be able to spend that time with a guy that managed two world series champions for some of the greatest players that ever played the game. I'm pretty fortunate."