His stuff is major league quality, but it’s his plodding windup that makes Tri-City pitcher Joey Lucchesi so tough to face on the mound.
The Dust Devils starter gave up one hit in three scoreless innings Thursday to guide Tri-City to a 3-0 win over the Spokane Indians in Northwest League play at Avista Stadium.
“He’s really been lights out for us,” Tri-City manager Ben Fritz said of Lucchesi, who has a 2.14 ERA in nine appearances. “He’s got some funkiness in his delivery. He’s got good stuff and deception, and that’s a good combination.”
That deception comes at the beginning of his windup, when Lucchesi raises his glove and throwing hand above his head once before lowering them again to eye level. It throws the hitters’ timing off and makes it difficult for them to see Lucchesi pregrip his pitches.
Lucchesi said he’s been methodical with his throwing motion since he was in high school, but he picked up that extra wrinkle in his junior year of college and it’s worked wonders for him.
In the same season Lucchesi added that to his windup, he started getting attention from college scouts. The Newark, California, native spent two seasons at Chabot (California) College before transferring to Southeast Missouri State. Lucchesi worked his way from being a reliever to the team’s No. 1 starter in his junior year, and was named Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year, posting a 3.17 earned-run average.
He started attracting college scouts and expected to be drafted in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft, but his name wasn’t called on draft night.
“It was a real letdown. It was really sad.” Lucchesi said. “But you can’t do anything but work harder.”
Lucchesi reaffirmed why major league teams were interested in him with a stellar senior season. He was named OVC Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season and lowered his ERA to 2.19.
He didn’t last long in the 2016 draft. The Padres selected him in the fourth round at 114th overall.
“It was a great feeling that all my hard work paid off after a junior year of not being drafted,” Lucchesi said.
Lucchesi was the workhorse of Southeast Missouri’s pitching staff, but that has had ramifications in Tri-City. After throwing 199 innings in two college seasons, the Padres have Luchessi on a 40-pitch limit per outing. He hasn’t pitched more than three innings this season.
Lucchesi, Braxton Lorenzini, Evan Miller and Diomar Lopez combined for the shutout and combined to relinquish only one hit.
Blaine Prescott accounted for the Indians’ only hit, lining a single to right field in the first inning.
Spokane starter Sal Mendez (2-3) gave up three runs in six innings to pick up the loss.
Tri-City jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when G.K. Young blooped an RBI single to right-center field.
Indians shortstop Charles LeBlanc dropped a pop fly in shallow left with runners on second and third in the third, allowing Josh Magee and Nate Easley to score and capping the scoring.
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