I present to you my list of the top 35 prospects within the Cardinals organization!! The list is both exhausting and ever-evolving.
I am aggressive with who I deem to be a "Graduate." You can read the post that I wrote on The Graduates by following this link. As a heads up, you won't find Lane Thomas, Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Andrew Knizner, Rangel Ravelo, or Edmundo Sosa on The Dirty Thirty-Five (R.I.Cardinals Prospect.P to Tampa Bay Ray Randy Arozarena and Texas Ranger Adolis "JAG" Garcia).
There is also another group of about 15 prospects that I could have written about. They are on the outside looking in, currently. I did write in-depth about five of them, and I presented those fellas in this article. I also briefly touch on a bunch of other prospects in that article.
Finally, I totally cheated and basically just copied and pasted the individual write-ups from the "Position Rankings" articles that I wrote after Black Friday. I hadn't realized how thorough those write-ups were until I started to redoing the D35. Those write-ups are the shells for these posts. I have added additional gifs and thoughts to each and I've done some MAJOR editing within each write-up, as well.
Please enjoy! Please have fun! Please tell me what you think!
RHP Tony Locey
GCL & Peoria
3rd Round, 2019
There are so many reasons to like Locey. First, as we've mentioned in the past, his nickname is "Tone Loc." As a fan of old school hip-hop, this plays upon a weakness, which are deep and many.
Second, he's a big boy. Standing 6'3" and right around 240 pounds, Locey has the body and the mechanics to get you wet. I'm wet just thinking about him... errr... the mechanics. I'm wet thinking about the mechanics. Especially that big... arm.
Third, Locey has a high-velocity fastball. This draft class was one of the weaker since I've been following the draft, and Locey's high 90's fastball is in the upper-tier, velocity-wise, of the entire draft.
As you know from following along with the D35, it's rare that I isolate a pitch within a gif. Most of the gifs are of multiple pitches. I've explained the "why" of that a bunch in the past. However, this next gif is just the fastball. I feel like I need to be a little more thorough about Locey to justify the #14 spot on the D35. As you'll come to find out by the end of this write-up, I might be doing more justifying than I am scouting and feeling. So, here is his heavy-and-on-ya mid-to-upper-90's fastball that lives mostly between 93 and 96:
It doesn't take someone with a trained eye to see that the pitch gets on a hitter before they have time to react to it. I'm willing to bet my life that the fastball has a high spin rate. It's too lively and explosive not to. It's so explosive that it sets up the slider and changeup very well. He's even capable of completely wasting one by over-throwing high in the zone. That's a good sign, as weird as that might sound. What I've been most impressed with is how well he commands it low in the zone. That has staying power. That alone could be the difference in allowing him to start for the long run.
Locey best secondary pitch is a slider that shows promise when he's commanding it. Like with the fastball gif above, I've isolated that pitch to a singular gif. Like with the fastball, I want you to see it independently of any other pitch:
The key with Locey's slider is his command of it. Actually... let me articulate that a little better. The key with Locey's slider is that he doesn't need to over-throw it. Truth be told, when he's throwing free and easy, he actually has some good command of his slider. What gets Locey in trouble is when he's trying to bury the pitch. This happens a lot with runners on, or when Locey is in trouble on the base paths. If you are one of the people that worry about Locey's long term viability as a starter, rest assured that he is going to be, at least, a bullpen arm. His slider/fastball combo is too good not to be at least that, and I think that he is at his best when he's throwing his slider with some frequency. Here are a couple of sliders in a row, to show you how good they can be back to back. Now, imagine using that fastball up on the next pitch (which didn't happen). That's a devastating combo.
Locey also throws a changeup and a curveball that need a lot of work to become threatening pitches moving forward. Truth be told, I didn't see much of either pitch while watching all of his innings with Peoria during 2019. There are times when his slider gets loose and it looks like a curve (and you might see that in the gif above), but the velocity readings on those pitches tell us otherwise. I think that there is a comparison to be made to Lance Lynn with Locey, but I don't want to give you false hope. The two are both big boys with a similar windup (until the leg-kick) and a heavy reliance on their fastballs. Locey has A TON of work to do, command-wise, to get to the level of success that Lynn has had. The good news is that Locey has more in the way of a sustainably-devastating slider to build upon than Lynn did at the same point. Again, it's all going to come down to his ability to command both of those pitches, while using either the changeup or curve to keep hitters honest (and hopefully "both" instead of "or"). He isn't Lynn, but he isn't Connor Jones either. So, I guess that means he's kinda, and please don't freak out because I'm just floating this out here, Mitchell Boggs (we'll get back to this soon enough)?
In the gif below, Locey goes fastball, follows that up with a slider in the dirty, then finishes the hitter off with the fastball (and what a nice little block on the slider by Ivan Herrera). Whether pitching out of the pen or the rotation, this is how he's going to have success at the major league level, if he makes it there. Or, as I mentioned above, using the slider back-to-back to set up the fastball high.
Sometimes, it's tough to watch Locey pitch. You can tell that his motion takes a ton of energy. You can also tell that he is overthrowing way too much. You just have to watch his rhythm on the mound to see it. He does a great job of repeating his delivery, even when he's slinging it more than he's pitching it. That is, unless he's throwing his changeup or curve. That's when he'll slow his arm down.
Personally, I see Locey ultimate ceiling as a workhorse-type starter in the future. Someone that can give you 175+ innings in a 4th or 5th man in the rotation, if that role still exists by the time that Locey is ML ready (with openers becoming more and more of a thing, the addition of the 26th man, the reluctance to allow a starer to see a lineup a third time through, and the whispers of a potential piggy-backing situation in the future). That's really what his ceiling feels like, to me, right now.
If he doesn't reach his ceiling (which isn't likely for 95-ish% of players), depending on how he continues to smooth out the rhythm of his delivery and command all of his pitches, Locey's most likely profile seems to be that of a multi-inning reliever-type that the Cardinals appear to be trying so hard to develop these days. The most realistic option on the optimistic side of things is that he ends up being a guy at the back-end of the bullpen that shuts the world down.
Locey only pitched 17 innings after being drafted, and all of those innings were out of the bullpen (this is a common and standard practice for a drafted pitcher). I watched some of his starts for Georgia, but none of them really changed the impressions that I've expressed so far. With that being said, Locey will be 21 for the majority of the 2020 season, and there's plenty of time for him to work out all of these kinks. One way or the other, Locey profiles as a workhorse and durable arm. What a surprise, another player drafted by the Cardinals that played in the Cape Cod League!
Give me the 6'3", 240 pound big right-hander that was born and raised in Georgia every day of the week. Especially a big-bodied pitcher with a big arm. Locey has a big fastball and a big slider, but with work to do on his curve and changeup. Keeping his mechanical rhythm in check is going to be very important for him moving forward, as is keeping his body in check.
As I mentioned earlier, Locey doesn't seem to have the polish of someone like Lance Lynn just yet, even if it could come around down the line somewhere. He's also way more talented, gifted, and a natural pitcher than Cardinals "prospect" Connor Jones. He's the middle ground between the two, it feels like. There isn't a Cardinals fan on the face of the Earth that has positive thoughts about Mitchell Boggs (a fellow Georgia native and alum of the University of Georgia, himself), but an objective evaluator can put those feelings aside. That's kinda what Locey feels like to me. You might not remember, but there was a time when Boggs profiled similarly to what I just wrote about Locey. There was also a three year span in which Boggs was a vital member of the major league bullpen before he was terrible. I think that Locey has more in the tank than that if all goes well, but this is what he really feels like to me. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of Locey in 2020. If I'm being honest - and not to diminish the skills of Locey - I would have loved to have switched he and Kodi Whitley on the list.
Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. What a mensch.
Thanks For Reading!!