When most fans attend Diamondbacks spring training workouts at Salt River Fields, if there watching the pitchers, there is a good chance their paying the most attention to the 12 guys that are vying for the starting rotation, Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, and Aaron Blair.
There is nothing wrong with that. They are getting that attention for a reason.
However, I suggest paying more attention to twenty-five year old left-hander Will Locante.
He has impressed Diamondbacks front office personal, and the coaching staff with his work in early bullpen sessions, and he is quickly making a name for himself.
Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale was practically impressed with Locante after watching the tail end of his bullpen session.
“He has electric stuff,” Hale told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. “He’s got a great arm.”
Pitching consultant and future hall of famer Dave Duncan was also impressed with how Locante looked. Given his reputation for developing young pitching talent, I believe his opinion, and you should to.
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Locante was selected in the 11th round of the 2011 Amateur Draft by the Dbacks out of Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Last season he improved his command, and went 3-0 with a 1.53 era in 53.0 innings, with fifty seven strikeouts, and twenty seven walks as a reliever for Class A South-Bend.
He is left-handed, his fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range, and he throws from a low three quarters arm slot which is really deceptive to hitters.
Most scouts believe he can be an impact lefty out of the pen just based on his fastball alone, along with a developing slider that hovers in the 79-81 mph range.
If Locante continues to impress the Diamondbacks coaching staff, and improve his command, he could have a chance to be in the majors this year.
He hasn’t pitched since Class A which is a little surprising considering how consistent he has been.
If he can make it up to Double A and pitch well, there is no doubt in my mind that he could make an impact with the Diamondbacks in the middle or late part of the season.
Here is the only problem for Locante: the Diamondbacks bullpen has a lot of depth. Addison Reed, Oliver Perez, Randell Delgado, Daniel Hudson, Brad Ziegler, Evan Marshall, Matt Reynolds, and Matt Stites are all pretty much guaranteed spots.
Then the Diamondbacks have young arms like Enrique Burgos, Jake Barrett, and Kaleb Fleck to look at. General Manager Dave Stewart also refuses to trade his pen depth.
However, if Locante continues to pitch well, it’s going to be hard for the Diamondbacks to ignore him in 2015.