There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres are lacking starting pitchers in the upper minor league levels. The team was gutted of many of its older pitching prospects in the last few years by A.J. Preller as he reshapes the Padres minor league system.
In the Padres A-Ball level the team has many terrific young arms. Anderson Espinoza, Logan Allen, Jacob Nix, Austin Smith, Enyel De Los Santos, Hansel Rodriguez and Jean Cosme represent the future of the starting staff but each of these young men are a few years away from competing at the major league level.
There are some pitchers in the Padres minor league system who have developed this year beyond most expectations. Dinelson Lamet and Michael Kelly have both blossomed as has left-handed pitcher Jerry Keel. The Padres are beginning to find arms for the 2017 season and recently another arm has emerged as a possible rotation candidate in the near future.
Andrew Walker Lockett has had an adventurous year in the minor leagues as he has had the rare opportunity to pitch in all four levels of the Padres system. He started in Fort Wayne this season where he went 1-3 with a 3.00 ERA in eight starts for the TinCaps. He was promoted to Lake Elsinore where he went 4-3 in 10 starts with a 2.98 ERA. A promotion to San Antonio was in order and Lockett responded by going 4-1 in six games with a 2.08 ERA. He made his first start for the Chihuahuas this week and went six innings and only allowed one earned run. The man is developing and at the right time for the Padres
Overall Lockett has gone 9-8 this year with a 2.72 ERA. He has thrown 152 innings and struck out 114 while walking only 23. He throws strikes and attacks hitters early in the count. His WHIP of 1.03 is very impressive for a 22-year-old pitcher. The right handed hurler was a fourth round draft pick in 2012 out of high school. He has excellent size at 6′ 5″ and 225 lbs and should only get better with experience.
Blister issues and a shoulder problem sidelined Lockett early in his career, but that time on the shelf only made him a better pitcher. The Padres wisely took it easy on the young man and they are now beginning to reap the rewards from him. Lockett has a very smooth delivery and is extremely poised on the mound. For a 22-year-old to be that calm is uncanny and that bodes well for his progression. We are witnessing that growth this year. Take a look at this video and watch as Lockett features excellent off speed stuff which he locates very well.
In doing research about Lockett, I talked to Ryan Miller of the San Antonio Missions about him. Miller has caught Lockett numerous times and he gave me an idea of what the big right handed pitcher features on the mound. Ryan told me that Lockett uses a very heavy two-seam fastball most of the time. He also features a four-seamer that top out at 95-96 MPH. Ryan also told me that Lockett has a good change up and a decent curve ball. The big right hander is also working on a slider, which he hasn’t perfected just yet.
Ryan described Lockett as very fun to catch and extremely hard to hit. I asked Ryan about Lockett’s personality on the mound as he attacks hitters. He described him as a blank slate when on the bump. Locket does not show his emotions on the mound and that is the main reason why he has progressed so fast this season. The Padres have a decent prospect in Lockett and if he continues to progress at this rate, he will surely pitch at Petco Park at some point next year. Keep an eye out for this young man as the Padres minor league system starts to produce major league talent for this young franchise.