A popular Christmas carol titled, “We Three Kings” tells about three kings who travel to see the new-born baby in Bethlehem. They travel miles and miles by camel on their journey, guided by a star of wonder, a star of light. They have one common goal, and that is to reach the place where the child is. This goal is their unifying factor; indeed, it drives and motivates them to achieve their goal.
We Three Kings: Kings Of The Mound
While the kings of old were on a mission to find the child, this is a story about three pitchers on a mission to achieve a very different goal: to pitch in the Major Leagues. You see, these young men all came together at one high school to form a three-headed pitching monster second to none. It all began at a high school in Southern California named Harvard-Westlake.
We Three Kings: Lucas Giolito
The first of these modern-day kings is Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox. Giolito pitched at Harvard-Westlake from 2008-2012. He was the beginning of the trio of pitching aces at Harvard-Westlake. While his career was hindered by injuries at times, he managed to post a record of 12-2, with an ERA of 1.51. He struck out 106 batters in 97.2 innings. Giolito was drafted with the 16th pick of the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals.
We Three Kings: Max Fried
Max Fried was a prized left-handed pitcher who spent the first three years of his high school years at a different school. That school closed its doors after Fried’s junior year, leaving him to find a new home for his crucial senior year. Giolito was the ringleader of a group that persuaded Fried to attend Harvard-Westlake. The potential of a state championship was too much for Fried to resist. In his one season at Harvard-Westlake, Fried was 8-2 with an ERA of 2.02. He recorded 105 strikeouts in 66 innings. He was drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2012 draft by the San Diego Padres. Now Harvard-Westlake had produced two first-round picks in the same year.
We Three Kings: Jack Flaherty
So, the 2011/2012 Harvard-Westlake baseball team had two first-round draft picks in the rotation. If this were an infomercial, we would hear “But wait, there’s more!” Indeed, that team also featured a sophomore named Jack Flaherty. While Flaherty was a promising pitcher, he pictured his future as a shortstop. His pitching coach, Ethan Katz, convinced him otherwise. In the 2011-2012 season, Flaherty went 6-1 with an ERA of 1.77. In his final two seasons at Harvard-Westlake, he went 23-0 with an ERA of .63. Flaherty struck out 237 batters in 167 innings over his last two seasons. He was drafted with the 34th overall pick in the supplemental portion of the first round of the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
We Three Kings: State Champs?
So, with all that talent, Harvard-Westlake just had to win the state championship in 2012, right? How could they lose, with three aces, who combined to go 16-4? In fact, Giolito was limited to just three starts, due to injury. While Fried and Flaherty combined to go 14-3, Harvard-Westlake surprisingly lost in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Yes, the second round. Talk about a tough bracket! In an amazing twist of irony, however, the following season, Flaherty went 13-0 to help lead the team to the state championship. Sports can be funny.
We Three Kings: Where Are They Now?
Fast forward to 2020, and let’s see how these three mound kings are doing. Lucas Giolito was traded to the White Sox after the 2016 season and has become the ace of their staff. He also won his only playoff start this season, throwing seven innings of one-run, two-hit ball against the Oakland A’s. Max Fried has made 12 postseason appearances with the Atlanta Braves, including four starts. While he is winless, he figures to have more opportunities in the future. The Braves will be around for a while. Flaherty has compiled a 1-3 postseason record with the Cardinals, with a respectable ERA of 3.52.
We Three Kings: The Future Is Bright
The 2012 pitching staff at Harvard-Westlake High School produced three first-round draft picks. Of these three, Fried is the oldest. He will turn 27 in January, while Giolito will turn 27 next July. Flaherty will not turn 26 until next October. So, the Harvard-Westlake three will have plenty of opportunities to continue building on the legacy they started. Perhaps two of them will square off in Game Seven of a playoff series. If that happens, they may be writing a new song: “We three kings of Harvard-Westlake are, in the playoffs, we will go far.”
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