Scott Hunter, Jerry Dipoto and company followed up their selection of high schooler Cole Young by selecting another infielder with their second pick of the MLB Draft, this time opting for VCU 1B/3B Tyler Locklear.
I know the common refrain from many (usually myself included) is that a college position player is rarely a sexy pick and that the upside isn’t nearly as high as a high school player. Sure, that is often the case, but Locklear isn’t your typical older college player, which is sorta true for a lot of players in this class because a pandemic interrupted their college eligibility. His true freshman season was interrupted after only 16 games. During his second and third year on campus, so his redshirt freshman and sophomore season, Locklear was one of the best hitters in the country. He had a .345/.515/.686 slash line in his first full season. He followed that up with a .402/..542/.799 slash this past season.
If you were a little concerned about Cole Young’s lack of pop, fear not because Tyler Locklear makes up for all of that. He bashed 36 home runs during his last two years at VCU. He was named the A10 Rookie of the year and player of the year in 2021. His power did not come in the way of selling out too much, as he had 101 walks to just 78 strikeouts during his time in Richmond.
Locklear played exclusively third base during his first (his actual first in 2020) season at VCU. He stayed at the hot corner for 54 of 55 games in 2021. However, he shifted across the diamond much more in 2022, playing 33 games at third and 29 games at first. That probably isn’t the best sign, and it won’t be a huge shock if Locklear ultimately ends up playing first base. However, if his bat can play up to it, then there’s no issue having him at first.
It will be interesting to see if Locklear is indeed the money-saving move that he feels like at first glance. He is a good player, but he was ranked #98 by MLB Pipeline, and he feels like the sort of player that the Ms can land on an under-slot deal to have extra money to use on Cole Young and potentially another prep player with either #74 or a later pick in the draft.