Padres pitching prospect Lucchesi set to make MLB debut
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The rebuilding San Diego Padres will get their first real look at one of their hotshot pitching prospects, Joey Lucchesi, earlier than originally expected.
The 24-year-old lefty, sent down to the minors on Saturday after a strong spring training, is scheduled to make his big league debut Friday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
He’ll start in place of Dinelson Lamet, who strained his right elbow on Sunday in the Padres’ final game in Arizona and is expected to be out for a month.
The Padres figured they’d bring up Lucchesi sometime this season, just not this quickly.
He had a 1.54 ERA in four spring starts.
“He made the decision a lot easier just by his performance over the last month,” general manager A.J. Preller said Thursday.
“He throws strikes with three pitches and he did that all last year in the minor leagues and did that in spring training. I think he’s earned the right to be in the rotation from the beginning of the year,” the GM said.
Lucchesi was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016.
Preller said it will be more than a spot start for Lucchesi.
“Nothing’s guaranteed, so we’ll see how it plays out. But we don’t view it as him making one start and then going back down for another pitcher. I think we’re going to give him an opportunity, whether that’s three or four starts or that ends up being the full season, a lot of that depends on how he handles it.”
Lucchesi made the jump from Single-A to Double-A last season, going a combined 11-7 with a 2.20 ERA, with 148 strikeouts and 33 walks in 139 innings.
“We said from the beginning we’re going to take guys we thought earned the right, earned the opportunity to be here, and he did that,” manager Andy Green said. “He had a really good spring training.”
Preller has focused on restocking the farm system with draft picks and international signings since flopping with a win-now attempt with-high-priced veterans in 2015 flopped.
“The exciting part is the system’s not about one person, not one player, not one pitcher,” Preller said. “We feel like we’re going to have a lot of guys here over the course of the next few years who are going to come up and make their debuts and be contributors to a good team. To see Joey here the first week of the season it will be exciting to see how he handles it.”
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