On Thursday afternoon the San Diego Padres announced that pitching prospect Joey Lucchesi would be promoted to the majors Friday, taking the designated rotation spot of injured right-hander Dinelson Lamet and starting tomorrow’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lucchesi ranked 121st on the pre-season Top 175 MLB Prospects for 2018 list. He was rated eighth in the Padres system with this report written in early January:
8) Joey Lucchesi, LHP, Grade B: Age 24, fourth round pick in 2016 from Southeast Missouri State University; posted 2.20 ERA with 148/33 K/BB in 139 innings between High-A and Double-A, just 102 hits; 90-94 fastball, sometimes a notch higher, with above-average curveball and change-up; throws strikes despite unconventional delivery, deceptive and confident; possible number three starter. ETA late 2018.
Lucchesi was impressive in spring camp, allowing two runs over 11.2 innings with a 9/5 K/BB and just five hits allowed.
As noted in his pre-season report he was statistically dominant in High-A and Double-A last year with excellent ratios across the board. He has a respectable fastball in the low-90s and both of his secondary pitches are very effective. There’s deception in his delivery and he has stood out since his college days for mound presence and pitchability.
Lucchesi has no experience above Double-A but is close to being a finished product and I don’t think the earlier-than-expected promotion presents any undue development risk. About the only thing you can nitpick is an occasional command wobble but that’s certainly true for most 24-year olds.
He’s often projected as a fourth starter but once Luchessi settles in he could exceed that expectation.