Lefty Prospect Locke Looking to Impress

BRADENTON — Going from Double-A Altoona, to Triple-A Indianapolis, to Pittsburgh during the 2011 season — all within a month — was an unforgettable experience for left-hander Jeff Locke. After spending four months with the Curve, Locke was promoted to Indy, where he made just five starts before getting the call to the big leagues. Six days later he made his Major League debut against the Florida Marlins.

This offseason, Locke finally had a chance to let everything he achieved in such a short period of time soak in.

“The past season surely had me moving a moving around a bit towards the end,“ Locke said. “I did have a chance to really sit back this offseason and reflect on everything. What an unbelievable experience.”

Locke finished the 2011 season with a 8-10 record and a 3.70 ERA in 28 combined minor league games (27 starts) between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis. His 139 strikeouts finished second among all Pittsburgh farmhands. Locke was also named to the Eastern League mid-season All-Star team and tossed a scoreless inning in his home state of New Hampshire.

“When I was in Altoona to begin last season, all I could think about was how can I get out of here?,“ Locke said. “Instead of really taking ownership of my own games working to become a better pitcher, I was focused on [Triple-A], while still being in [Double-A]. Frustration set in of course, and I couldn’t really put two starts together. About two weeks, before the promotion to [Triple-A], I started putting some things together in the bullpen with pitching coach [Wally Whitehurst] and brought those things to the mound and started to roll a little.”

Locke’s success in the minors earned him a promotion to Pittsburgh. In the big leagues, Locke allowed 12 runs on 21 hits over 16.2 innings (four starts), struggling with his command.

“The biggest hurdle I had to cross last season was trust. And that’s also one thing I’d like to continue to improve on in the upcoming season,“ Locke said. “Trusting my stuff and letting it happen.”

This offseason, Locke has been working hard to improve for the 2012 season. The 24-year-old lefty exchanged the cold winter of his hometown of New Hampshire for the sunny skies of Bradenton, Fla., where he’s been since January –a month and a half early before the official report four days ago.

“Living in New Hampshire for part of the offseason, there’s only so much you can do sometimes. I’ve been coming down to Florida early for spring training for the past three years now. Most of the reason for me coming south so early, is just so I can get acclimated to the weather down here. With it being so cold back home, I just like being able to throw and run outside before [spring training] starts.”

Like many, Locke is heading into spring training in better shape from the year before.

“I cut some weight off and got into better baseball shape last season,“ Locke said. “I started eating much better and got on a better sleep schedule, making sure that I had breakfast every morning before I went to the field, little things like that. When I was heavier I found it harder to do some of the things I was doing before, involving balance, and weight transfer, keeping my weight on my back side.”

Locke is working hard to make another good impression this year. He was ranked by Pirates Prospects as the No. 11 prospect in the system prior to the 2012 season. Locke was also ranked No. 12 by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, and No. 10 by Baseball America. The lefty continues to show his potential.

“I’m not much for setting goals but one thing that’s important to me is to stay healthy,“ Locke said. “Spring training for me also is time for me to build up for a long season. I take a lot of pride in being ready to go every fifth day, so in spring training it’s so important to be prepared for whatever situation you might come across, or be thrown into. Having the chance to pitch in Pittsburgh last [September] showed me what I’ve worked so hard to get to. We have so much talent on the staff, it was great to learn from those guys last year. I am very excited for the 2012 season.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

McKenry Focused on Getting Better Today

Next Story »

Meek Ready to Prove Himself

  • mikez09

    I like Jeff Locke and i think he could be a nice 4th or 5th starter. He has good control and pounds the strike zone. You could see he was nervous last September and was nibbling a lot. I f he can get back to being himself, he could easily find himself in Pgh in June or July or earlier if there is an injury…

    • b09marann

      With the addition of burnett I dont think he can make it to pittsburgh without a couple injuries or guys falling apart. But i do think he has the ability to come up and contribute if necessary.

Latest Analysis

  • Billy Roth is the top prospect in Bristol this year.

    Another Projectable Prep Pitcher Sees An Increase in His Velocity

    2 hours ago

    When discussing the best Pittsburgh Pirates draft under Neal Huntington, the 2011 group has to be at the top of the list. It features Gerrit Cole, Tyler ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    1 day ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    3 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    5 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    6 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    2 weeks ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles