Coming into the 2016 season, Walker Lockett’s future was not at all certain.
A fourth-round pick out of high school in 2012, the big righty with a power sinker had logged only 100 total innings in the previous three years, and had finished the 2015 campaign back in the Arizona League following a curfew violation in Tri-City. With a collection of young arms coming behind him, if he wasn’t ready to claim a rotation spot in Low-A Fort Wayne, a full season club, out of spring training, there might not be a place for Lockett in the organization.
But the Jacksonville native had a strong camp and was the TinCaps’ opening day starter. He threw five scoreless innings to open the year, and never really looked back.
By mid-May, he was promoted to High-A Lake Elsinore, where he was hit hard in his first game, but then turned in ten impressive starts. That earned him a ticket to Double-A San Antonio, and after six starts with the Missions, he joined Triple-A El Paso for their final playoff push in late August.
From Peoria to El Paso in just under 12 months.
Across those levels, Lockett put together a 2.96 combined ERA with an impressive 124:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 164 innings. In the upper minors he was even better, posting a 2.90 ERA and only allowing four walks among 58 total baserunners in 52.2 frames.