Perhaps there were some of you still clinging to the naive hope we’d get to see Logan Gilbert or someone called up in the wake of the trade deadline departures. Today the Mariners patted you on the head and told you to always keep dreaming, little buddy, and instead claimed RHP Walker Lockett off waivers from the Mets.
Lockett, whose first name is Andrew and started his career with that name, was drafted out of a Jacksonville high school in the fourth round way back in 2012 by the Padres, so he’s only 26 years old despite having Been Around A While. Lockett’s climb through the minors was every bit the slow and arduous ordeal expected of a high school pitcher; it was 2016 before he ever set foot in High-A. Lockett—who didn’t start pitching regularly until his sophomore year of high school—was also slowed by some injury issues early in his career, including the always-pesky blisters as well as some shoulder impingement. He’s a big ‘un with a durable starter’s body, listed at 6’5”/225.
Lockett’s arsenal consists of three solid but not spectacular pitches: a sinker, a curve, and a changeup, with the sinker-curve being his most-thrown pitches. (Statcast doesn’t always successfully differentiate his sinker from his four seam. Also, a few of the scouting reports I read called Lockett a sinker-slider pitcher; I think some of his CBs can look slider-y but am calling them CBs for clarity). He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but he has plus-plus command and he’s been able to get a lot of ground ball outs over his career, although that is yet to show up as much in a limited MLB sample. The profile reminds me a little of right-handed Justus Sheffield, although actually Kikuchi comes up on Statcast’s player similarity (“affinity”) tool—although that’s not a great thing, as this is 2019 Kikuchi we’re talking about.
Here’s that curve in action:
Perhaps the Mariners see something to optimize in Lockett’s repertoire, although all these offerings look pretty average based on a quick glance at some video and a comb through his Statcast page. For such a large lad, it is pretty surprising that he only averages 92-93 on his FB, and I wonder if the Mariners have spotted some mechanical tweak that might unlock more velocity. Or perhaps they want him to get away from the sinker and try throwing the fastball up in the zone more a la another large-bottomed lad and successful Gas Camp graduate Ljay Newsome. Or perhaps, and this is very possible, they need someone to soak up innings now that they’ve dealt everything they could and don’t want to start the service time clock on Logan Gilbert yet. Yeah, probably that one.
One interesting note: the Mariners have now acquired both the players the Mets acquired from Cleveland in the Kevin Plawecki trade, Lockett and Sam Haggerty. All your fringe is belong to us.