Yesterday marked a thrilling day at The Swamp, as former SwampDog Joey Lucchesi made his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres. The 24-year-old pitcher did not factor in to the decision, surrendering 3 runs on 7 hits over 4.2 innings in an eventual loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. The left-hander is the 9th player to make it to baseball's highest level after spending time in Fayetteville.
Lucchesi, who grew up in the Northern California suburb of Newark, played for the SwampDogs in the summer of 2015. He was stellar across 4 starts in the Coastal Plain League, posting a 1-1 record and 2.29 ERA. He also held opposing batters to an average of just .211 and struck out 25 in 19.2 innings on the mound.
Since his season with the SwampDogs, Lucchesi has been wildly successful at every stop. After compiling a 10-5 record and 2.19 ERA in his senior season at Southeast Missouri State University, Lucchesi was drafted by the Padres in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. He has since dominated at the A and AA levels, establishing himself as the Padres No. 9 prospect with a sparkling 1.99 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 33 starts.
All that production earned Lucchesi his first invitation to major league camp this spring, where he did not disappoint, with a 1.54 ERA in four appearances. Even so, he was slated to begin 2018 in the Minors, but an elbow injury to starter Dinelson Lamet caused the Padres to call him back up for yesterday's game against the Brewers.
At 6-5 and 204 lbs., Lucchesi profiles as a solid starter in the Majors. The rookie has a slightly unorthodox delivery that makes it difficult to track the ball out of his hand and a good variety of pitches, including a fastball in the low 90's, two breaking balls and a changeup.
The SwampDogs wish Lucchesi all the best as his career progresses. The next generation of potential MLB players will take the field this summer at J.P. Riddle Stadium starting Tuesday, May 29.