After dominating the Cal League with the Padres A+ affiliate the Lake Elsinore Storm, Joey Lucchesi received a much deserved promotion to the AA San Antonio Missions. At 24 years old, the 2016 4th round draft pick is already quite a bit older than the prospects he faced at A+ ball, so Lucchesi needs to find success against competition closer in age to cement his evaluation as a legitimate SP prospect.
Lucchesi got his opportunity the day after fellow lefty and 2016 draft pick Eric Lauer made his first AA start (and dominated the competition). However, Lucchesi failed to find the same success. In 5.1 innings, he gave up 9H, 1BB, 3K, and 3ER. On the positive side, Lucchesi only gave up 1 extra-base hit, a 2-run HR, and forced 8 ground-outs to 4 fly-outs.
His AA debut is obviously a step down from his A+ performance as he did not get close to the 10.9K/9, 6.4H/9, .953WHIP and 2.52 ERA line he put up in 78.2 IP for Lake Elsinore. In fact, the shortcomings of Lucchesi’s first AA start may encapsulate many of the concerns for Lucchesi as he meets better competition: 1.) that he doesn’t have the stuff for high strikeouts, 2.) that his deceptive windup won’t fool more advanced batters, and 3.) that he gives up too many home runs.
Of course, it’s much too early to write Lucchesi off, and he has plenty of time to make adjustments and prove he is a pitcher to be reckoned with,but his first start at AA, at the very least, demonstrates that he has a lot of work to do before then.