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Thoughts on San Diego Padres prospect Walker Lockett

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This sleeper pitching prospect is drawing increasing attention

MLB: San Diego Padres-Media Day Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The number of talented and young prospects currently on the roster of the San Diego Padres is a considerable one. However, there are quite a few potential future stars still in the minor-league ranks.

Currently residing only a step and a shuttle flight away, Walker Lockett has begun to draw attention from scouts and TV analysts, as well as a growing number of fans. San Diego's 4th-round draftee from 2012 is entering his sixth season in pro ball, having traversed every level of the Padres' minor-league system since the beginning of 2015, finishing last season in Triple-A with the El Paso Chihuahuas. This is where he begins 2017, and at age 23 is only now starting to show signs of starter potential.

Indeed, 2016 was a breakout season for Lockett as he had been slowed by blister issues and a shoulder injury early on in his pro career. It didn't help his development as a pitcher that he had only started pitching frequently in tenth grade. Since he was drafted out of high school, he still had some catching up to do as compared to many other draftee pitchers. From my point of view, it seems that the injuries may have impacted him in terms of his confidence, as well, but that's a matter of conjecture.

Lockett, actually, has always seemed to get high marks for his approach. He seems to be the unflappable, get-down-to-business type that every team wants to have on their roster, and he's got the size (6'5”, 225) to back it up.

As for the arsenal, Lockett is a classic sinker-slider pitcher who works from a high angle of attack out of a mid-to-high ¾ arm slot. He comes right after hitters and induces as many grounders as possible, as do many other sinkerball pitchers. This particular sinker comes in around 91-93, with considerable drop and some arm-side run. He'll work up in the zone with the four-seamer, at times, mixing in a potentially-plus slider and solid change-up.

As it appears now, his slider looks to be his best secondary pitch, and could boost his strikeout totals enough to make him a 7 ½ to 8 K/9IP starter in the big leagues.

The combination is an interesting one, perhaps enough to project him as a #3 starter, or at the very least a #4 in the Padres rotation. The injury history is, as with all pitchers, a concern, but it would be more concerning if Lockett was a flamethrowing strikeout artist. As it is, he lets the batters get themselves out, as do all good sinkerballers.

He's a lock for September, but he could be up as soon as mid-season if the Padres have a spot open for him. If he continues to develop, there's no reason to think that he won't find himself a spot on an MLB staff. His early health issues notwithstanding, Lockett looks like the sort of pitcher who has a lot of MLB appearances ahead of him.