Walker Lockett Supplies Rotation Depth
In evaluating 24-year-old righthander Walker Lockett as somebody who could potentially bolster the organization’s pitching depth, the Mets looked deep beyond the numbers.
Lockett arrived in a January trade that sent catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Indians and began spring training as something of a pet project for the front office and coaching staff.
"He’s been in pro ball a long time and he does a lot of things well,” assistant general manager Adam Guttridge said. "He’s a groundball pitcher and he throws hard, but not exceptionally hard. Sometimes guys like this can fly under the radar, especially when they pitch in environments in which it’s really tough to pitch."
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Lockett pitched in the Padres' system last year, going 5-9, 4.73 in 23 starts at Triple-A El Paso in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He ran up a 9.60 ERA in 15 big league innings.
"He he is definitely a guy for whom looking beyond ERA is helpful," Guttridge said. "He’s definitely a guy for whom the sum of the parts is somebody we feel can be a competent major league pitcher.”
The Padres drafted Lockett as a fourth-round pick in 2012 out of high school in Jacksonville. San Diego traded him to the Indians in November as part of a 40-man roster crunch. Cleveland traded him to the Mets about seven weeks later.
Lockett is projected to begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse. But the Mets are thin on rotation depth and will evaluate Lockett, Corey Oswalt, Hector Santiago and Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy, among others, in an attempt to find support pieces behind Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jason Vargas.
"We are trusting who we have on our major league coaching staff in (manager) Mickey Callaway and (pitching coach) Dave Eiland," Guttridge said, "and feeling like if we put a guy like Lockett with good ingredients in their hands he has a chance to be a good major league pitcher for us."