Friday, June 12, 2009

The Jeff Locke File

Name: Jeffrey Alan Locke
Height: 6-2; Weight: 180; Bats: L; Throws: L
Born: November 20, 1987 (North Conway, NH)
High School: A. Crosby Kennett HS (Conway, NH)
College: None
Drafted: Atlanta Braves took him in the 2nd Round (51st overall) of 2006 draft

Strengths: Locke throws a sinking fastball 90-94 for strikes. His curveball is above-average with a late bite, but his changeup isn't there yet. For a young lefty his command is good, he's aggressive, and he has some deception built into his delivery. Locke still may pick up a little more velocity as he matures. He has pretty good control, keeps the ball in the yard, and gets a lot of ground ball outs.

Weaknesses: As with most pitchers drafted out of high school, he's pretty raw. He has trouble repeating his delivery, so his mechanics need work, and he could use improvement defensively. Locke, even though he has good control, has days when he can't throw a strike, and his ERA blows up because of that inconsistency.

Projection: Locke is the least-polished of the three players coming from the Braves, but has plenty of upside. If he can improve his changeup, he has the ability to jump into the top or middle of a rotation. His overall ceiling is a tick behind guys like Tommy Hanson and Cole Rohrbough, but he has enough ability to become a #2-3 starter.

Locke was mentioned as trade fodder when the Braves went after Jake Peavy; that shows how highly Locke is regarded around the league, even as a project. Baseball America had him rated as the Braves #7 prospect. Atlanta's timeline for him to reach the show was 2011; that may be optimistic, but he is only 21 now; still time to see if he can turn potential into performance.

He's not quite up there with Brad Lincoln or Bryan Morris, but the Pirates think they've added another good arm added to the system, and one that projects higher than the bottom-of-the-rotation guys they've been bringing into the organization.

Bio: Locke was the Braves' second-round draft pick in 2006 (#51 overall) following his senior year of high school in Conway, New Hampshire. In high school, he was known as "The Kid" or the "Redstone Rocket," a nod to his home neighborhood.

Locke was assigned to the Gulf Coast Braves (Rookie League) upon signing with the Braves on June 18, 2006. In 2007 the Atlanta Braves assigned Locke to the Danville Braves of the short-season Advanced Rookie Appalachian League, and he rocked.

But after his great 2007 debut at Danville (7-1, 2.66 ERA, 74 K in 61 innings), his 2008 campaign was much more pedestrian. Pitching at Rome in the Sally League, Locke ran up a 5-12 record with a 4.06 ERA and 38 BB/113 K's in 139-2/3 innings.

He was having a not so hot season statistically at Myrtle Beach in the high A Carolina League, with a 1-4 slate and 5.56 ERA. But his strike out rate is coming back (43 in 45-2/3 innings), which is a good sign. The Bucs assigned Locke to Lynchburg.

Minor League Honors:

05/04/2009 CAR Pitcher of the Week
10/08/2007 Baseball America Rookie All-Star
08/24/2007 APP Post-Season All-Star
07/23/2007 APP Pitcher of the Week

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