2018 Breakout Potential: Will The Padres’ Joey Lucchesi Surpass The Bigger Name Prospects?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The San Diego Padres have a slew of pitching prospects who are going to draw your attention…

  • MacKenzie Gore…
  • Cal Quantrill…
  • Adrian Morejon…
  • Michel Baez…

Those are the biggest names, but there are even more filling the system like Anderson Espinoza, Logan Allen and Eric Lauer.  That makes it easy to overlook Joey Lucchesi, a southpaw who was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft.  However that would be a mistake, as there’s the potential for him to actually reach the Majors as soon as 2018 (he’ll turn 25-years old in June and has reached Double-A) and you can argue he has nearly as much upside as anyone in the system (outside of Gore and Quantrill).

He clearly put his stuff on display last season, splitting time between High-A (78.2 IP) and Double-A (60.1 IP) and showed off all three skills we look for from a pitcher:

  • Strikeouts – 9.58 K/9 (12.6% SwStr%)
  • Walks – 2.14 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 50.3%

While no one is going to confuse him with Clayton Kershaw, this scouting report courtesy of Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 has got to catch your attention:

“So not only does Lucchesi have that funky delivery, ala the funkiest of funky, Clayton Kershaw, he also has good stuff.  His fastball sits in the low 90’s and touches higher with a hard curveball that he throws for strikes.  His changeup has improved since he was drafted and is also considered at least an average offering.”

There’s little doubt that he can hold up to a starter’s workload, listed at 6’5” and 204 lbs.  The biggest question was if the delivery would hold up to being a starter, or if he’d produce better results coming out of the bullpen.  Thus far starting clearly hasn’t been an issue, especially as he maintained his control upon his promotion to Double-A (2.09 BB/9).  His strikeout rate did fall (7.91 K/9), which could raise a slight red flag, but his 9.2% SwStr% is enough.  Even if you want to say that he’s an 8.0-8.5 K/9 starter the other skills make him valuable, but there is the upside to be more than that.

Let’s just let all of this data sink in for a minute…

Deceptive left-handed delivery…
Three average or better pitches…
Already displays strikeouts, control and groundballs…
Will call a favorably ballpark home…

What exactly is there not to like?  Pitching in the upper levels in ’18 he has the potential to really grab some attention and emerge as an impact pitching prospect.  This could be your last opportunity to get in on the ground floor, because his status could leap up quickly.

Current Grade – B
Projected Year End Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Prospect 361

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

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New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
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2 comments

  1. Sawyer says:

    After last night’s start, what numbers would you project for him this year? IP, ERA, WHIP, K, W?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He’s still not a lock to stick in the rotation all year long, but he has all the skills to thrive and put up a sub-4.00 ERA (I’d say around 3.75) with a WHIP in the 1.27ish range and 7.5-8.0ish K/9. He may not be an ace, but he’s got solid stuff.

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