From the time he was 10 years old, Wheeler's Leo Giannoni threw sidearm.
When he started catching a year later, his coaches encouraged him to throw overhand. However, by the time he was 12, he went back to throwing sidearm.
Now, as a pitcher, it comes naturally.
“Honestly, I felt like that was how my arm was meant to throw,” said Giannoni, who has signed with Mercer University. “My arm doesn't hurt as much.”
The results speak for themselves.
The right-handed starter, who was an Under Armour Preseason All-American, had a 0.60 ERA. In five starts, Giannoni was excelling by combining the fastball and slider.
Wheeler (4-9) had a tough start to the season, but it seemed to be finding its rhythm when the season was initially delayed and later canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was at practice when one of my friends came over and said that schools were closing,” said Giannoni, last season's Region 2AAAAAAA Pitcher of the Year. “I didn't know how the season was going to work out, but they told us to keep working, so we organized some practices at Terrell Mill (Park), and we got better.”
Temporary ended up becoming permanent.
However, the future still looks bright for Giannoni, Wheeler's Cy Young Award winner and team MVP in 2019, who has been around baseball since he was a 4-year-old and he and his father would throw in the backyard.
After being denied a chance to finish his Wheeler career, Giannoni, a 2019 Cobb County All-Star, Georgia Top 100 Underclassman and a two-time Rawlings Perfect Game All-American, said he will never take baseball for granted.
“I definitely realized that being on the field is a blessing, and I'm going to take advantage of that every day,” Giannoni said. “I'm going to take advantage of the opportunities I'm given and will appreciate the game more for what it is.”
Giannoni, who plans on majoring in finance or marketing at Mercer, is expected to work out of the bullpen his freshman season.