- Full name Jeffrey Alan Locke
- Born 11/20/1987 in North Conway, NH
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School A. Crosby Kennett
- Debut 09/10/2011
Drafted in the 2nd round (51st overall) by the Atlanta Braves in 2006 (signed for $675,000).
View Draft ReportLocke is a classic raw but projectable high school lefthander. He has been dominant against far inferior competition in New Hampshire but hasn't really tested his mettle against better hitters. The cold weather in northern New Hampshire has kept his arm fresh, but it has also prevented scouts from seeing him often. That makes it tough to predict where he'll be drafted, though someone figures to take him in the second round or so, especially because he is regarded as signable. Locke's best pitch is a plus fastball that has reached 93 mph, and he showed better feel for his curveball as the season has progressed. His changeup is raw but could become workable down the line. Locke is all about projection, anyway: His big frame and loose arm make scouts drool, even though his delivery can be a bit twitchy. He has a confident swagger and loves to pitch, which bodes well for his chances to refine his exceptional talent.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Locke is trying to follow in the footsteps of such New Hampshire-born pitchers as Mike Flanagan, Bob Tewksbury, Chris Carpenter and Brian Wilson. Acquired with Charlie Morton and outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez in the 2009 Nate McLouth trade with the Braves, Locke was the player the Pirates coveted the most. He finished the 2012 season in their rotation. Locke doesn't overpower hitters, with his fastball sitting at 89-90 mph and topping out at 92. He gets outs with it, though, because he commands it to both sides of the plate. He backs up his fastball with a solid curveball that he's willing to throw while behind in the count, and a changeup that keeps getting better. Locke has good aptitude for pitching and solid mound presence. Some scouts have questioned his durability because he's not big, but he hasn't missed a start in four full pro seasons and worked 170 innings in 2011. Considering he has made just five starts at the Triple-A level, Locke likely will spend the majority of 2012 at Indianapolis and contend for a full-time job in the Pittsburgh rotation the following year. He projects as an eventual No. 3 or 4 starter.
Locke looks like he'll be the best of the three players acquired in the 2009 Nate McLouth trade with the Braves, surpassing Charlie Morton and outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez. After getting hit hard upon his arrival, Locke has settled down to become one of the system's most consistent starters. He easily handled a midseason promotion to Double-A last year, and he recorded a 1.54 ERA in two playoff starts for Eastern League champion Altoona. Locke came from Atlanta with a 91-94 mph fastball, but he now mostly sits at 90 mph and peaks at 92. His fastball is still effective, however, because it has running life and comes with some deception. Filling out his skinny frame could restore some velocity, though his narrow shoulders suggest that he won't add much more strength. Locke also uses a slurvy curveball and a changeup, both of which are average. He has a slight build and a herky-jerky delivery with good finish out front. He may not have a plus pitch, but he consistently throws strikes and keeps the ball down in the zone. Unless he regains his former fastball, Locke may not be more than a No. 4 starter. He'll return to Altoona in 2011, with the chance for another midseason promotion.
Pirates fans were up in arms last June when the club traded Nate McLouth, who had played in the All-Star Game and won a Gold Glove the year before, then signed a $15.5 million contract in spring training. In return, the Braves sent Gorkys Hernandez, Locke and Charlie Morton to Pittsburgh. Locke got hit around early in high Class A after the trade, but settled in to go 3-0, 2.75 in his last nine starts and pitch 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the finals as Lynchburg won the Carolina League title. Nicknamed the Redstone Rocket in high school because he lived he lived in the Redstone section of Conway, N.H., Locke is a hard-throwing lefthander. He pitches off a 91-94 mph fastball that has heavy sink and induces grounders. He also has a decent curveball and is making progress with his changeup. He has a herky-jerky delivery that adds deception. Like most high school pitchers from New England, Locke has is relatively inexperienced, and he's trying to make up ground. Locke will begin 2010 in Double-A. Based on how he finished last season, he could be in the major leagues as soon as the second half of the season. He projects as a mid-rotation starter.
Locke ended 2007 on a seven-game winning streak, but last season was not as kind. He lacked run support and ranked third in the South Atlantic League with 12 losses. Nevertheless, he maintained his composure and showed three solid-average pitches. Locke's two best pitches are a 91-94 mph fastball with good movement and a hard curveball that borders on being a plus offering. He also throws a changeup that continues to show improvement with its depth. He does an excellent job of keeping the ball down in the zone, which helped limit opponents to six homers in 2008. His herky-jerky delivery creates deception and makes it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball. His mound presence and competitiveness are impressive for a young hurler. Locke tends to fall out of sync in his delivery and needs to repeat his mechanics with more consistency to achieve better command. He throws strikes but can locate his pitches better in the zone. He needs to fine-tune some of the nuances of his craft, such as fielding his position, holding runners and covering and backing up bases. The best pitching prospect from New Hampshire since Chris Carpenter, Locke could be a workhorse in the middle of a major league rotation. His next stop will be high Class A.
The 51st overall pick in the 2006 draft, Locke looks like the best pitcher from New Hampshire since Chris Carpenter was drafted in 1993. He lost his first outing at Rookie-level Danville last summer before going 7-0 the rest of the way, allowing just 10 earned runs over his last 10 starts. Locke's command is as impressive as his fastball, which usually ranges from 90-94 mph with significant movement. He also pounds the strike zone with a hard-breaking curveball (which has the makings of a plus pitch) and an improved changeup. He has confidence in all three pitches. His herky-jerky delivery creates deception. As a high school pitcher from the Northeast, Locke was more raw than most pitchers when he signed. He still gets out of sync with his delivery and needs to repeat it more consistently. He must do a better job of handling the finer points of pitching, such as fielding his position and backing up bases. Locke is a fearless competitor who shows every indication of developing into a premier lefthanded starter. He'll start 2008 in the low Class A rotation.
Locke has the potential to carry on the New Hampshire pitching tradition--the state has produced all-stars Chris Carpenter, Mike Flanagan and Bob Tewksbury--after pitching his way into the second round last June. He recovered from a rocky start to allow just one earned run over his final four outings and led the loaded GCL Braves in victories. Locke has good command of a lively fastball that he throws at 88-91 mph and touches 93. He turned his breaking ball, a slurvy pitch in the spring, into a true curveball by the end of instructional league. It projects as a plus pitch. His changeup is still a work in progress, but he has shown some touch for the offspeed pitch. Though Locke's delivery could use some smoothing out, his arm works easy and his command should be a strength. He's confident and relishes a challenge. His next one will come when he spends his first full season in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Indianapolis had three of the IL's better lefthanders in their rotation, with Locke standing out more than Justin Wilson and Rudy Owens. Locke ranked third in the league in ERA (2.48) and sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (8.3) before earning a September callup. At his best, Locke throws four fringy or average pitches for strikes. He often cruises at 88-91 mph with some sink on his fastball, then bumps 93 when he needs it. He commands his curveball and slider well--the curve is the more consistent of his breaking pitches--and his changeup has late life down in the strike zone. Because he lacks a plus pitch, Locke profiles as a No. 4 starter. He evokes Ted Lilly with a slight hip turn and pause in his delivery, which gives him some deception. He does little things well, such as holding runners and fielding his position.
Ranking among the league leaders in losses usually doesn't bode well for making the Top 20 Prospects list. While Locke ranked third in the SAL with 12 setbacks, that total was in no way indicative of how he pitched or what he's capable of achieving at higher levels. Locke did a good job of mixing a low-90s fastball, a hard curveball and an average changeup. He also exhibited fine control, averaging 2.4 walks per nine innings and surrendering just six homers. Righthanders had difficulty picking up pitches from his herky-jerky delivery. "Jeff received very little run support, especially during the first half, but he never let it bother him," Ingle said. "He was very consistent with great composure and he worked a lot of innings. He has two plus pitches right now and really knows how to use them."
The Braves drafted five lefthanders in the first five rounds of the 2006, and Locke, a second-rounder, has the most promise in the bunch. Two more members of that group, Steve Evarts and Chad Rodgers, also had strong seasons for Danville.In his second season in pro ball, Locke did a much better job of translating his stuff into results. He attacked hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball and a hard curveball that features late break and good tilt. He has a clean, repeatable delivery with good arm-side movement on his pitches.He's still learning to trust his curveball, and he still has a ways to go to refine his changeup. But he's also just 19, so he has plenty of time to do so.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Changeup in the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011
Background: Locke is trying to follow in the footsteps of such New Hampshire-born pitchers as Mike Flanagan, Bob Tewksbury, Chris Carpenter and Brian Wilson. Acquired with Charlie Morton and outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez in the 2009 Nate McLouth trade with the Braves, Locke was the player the Pirates coveted the most. He finished the 2012 season in their rotation. Scouting Report: Locke doesn't overpower hitters, with his fastball sitting at 89-90 mph and topping out at 92. He gets outs with it, though, because he commands it to both sides of the plate. He backs up his fastball with a solid curveball that he can throw behind in the count, and a changeup that keeps getting better. Locke has good aptitude for pitching and solid mound presence. Some scouts have questioned his durability because he's not big, but he hasn't missed a start in four full pro seasons and worked 170 innings in 2011. The Future: Considering he has made just five starts at the Triple-A level, Locke likely will spend the majority of 2012 at Indianapolis and contend for a full-time job in the Pittsburgh rotation the following year. He projects as an eventual No. 3 or 4 starter.