06/13/17 / Padres360.com / @Padres360
By Wayne McBrayer from Lake Elsinore, CA
At the Lake Elsinore Storm Home Opener, we ran into the General Manager of the San Diego Padres, AJ Preller, and Wayne asked to take a picture with him. After taking the picture, we talked with AJ about players we have interviewed, and he asked us if we had seen Joey Lucchesi pitch before. We told AJ that we hadn’t and didn’t know anything about Joey. AJ proceeded to tell us that Lucchesi was starting tonight and that he was a great pitcher and we need to “talk to him” at some point. We thanked AJ and said that we would do that during the season.
As we walked away, we talked about “how giddy” AJ was about Lucchesi, and we were really curious as to why. Sitting in our seats, we watched him walk out of the dugout, do some stretching, run a couple of sprints, pick up his glove and start to toss. With the first toss, Rebecca and I concurred that his delivery was very Clayton Kershaw–like with the way he pulled his hands down to begin the delivery and the leg kick reminded Wayne a little of Sandy Koufax. His first outing against the Modesto Nuts was ok with Lucchesi going 4 Innings and giving up 2 Runs (both on Home Runs) with 2 Walks and 6 Strikeouts. His pitching motion makes it very difficult for hitters to pick up the ball in his hand until he releases it. We enjoyed watching him pitch and also sitting down and talking to him about his career.
Joey Lucchesi was drafted in the 2016 MLB Draft, by the San Diego Padres out of Southeast Missouri State. Born and raised in Newark, CA, Joey grew up a fan of the Oakland A’s and loved watching The Big Three “Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito, I loved that group of Pitchers and I would think I am throwing a curveball like Zito when I played.” As much as Joey liked the Big Three, his favorite all time player was from a different team, “Randy Johnson is my idol and favorite player.” As of this writing Joey “hasn’t met Randy Johnson” yet or “seen him pitch”, but we hope that Joey gets a chance to meet his baseball idol someday.
As we settled into the interview, Joey talked about his early memories of baseball in Little League and playing “minor league ball and hitting my first Home Run and the feeling of that when I was 12,” as well as playing T-Ball. Joey had always wanted to be a pitcher “I was pretty good at it and loved striking out hitters and thought how he ‘really liked this and was good at it’ “I knew when I was little I wanted to be a pitcher, although I played 1B because I was taller than most kids I ended up being a better pitcher than a hitter.”
After Lucchesi graduated High School in Newark, he enrolled at “Chabot Community College in Hayward, CA.” He was a “walk on there and was the only one who made it.” Coach Steve Friend started Lucchesi in the bullpen and as he “proved himself,” Lucchesi worked his way into the starting rotation. After Chabot, Joey went to Southeast Missouri State, where Joey would have to wait and work out of the pen since there were “older guys there” and he would have to prove his worth to his coach. “I started out of the bullpen there and worked my way up to being a starter, grinding my up to where I wanted to be, which was a starter and where I feel more comfortable being at.”
Joey’s dad played a big role in his life and helped him get to where he is today. “My dad would push me and ask me to play catch when I was younger”. He encouraged Joey to “keep his arm in shape” and got him lessons from pitching coaches to help teach him the art of pitching.
Coming into the 2017 Season, Lucchesi is enjoying playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm. “I like Coach Edwin Rodriguez. He is a very great coach and very wise. Every time he talks about baseball, I just listen and try to absorb the information. I’m learning a lot about baseball skills and mental skills. Glendon Rusch has really helped me out pitching wise, and I really like the whole coaching staff here.”
While Lucchesi spends “most of the time at the park” he really likes the town of Lake Elsinore and especially The Diamond. “Of all the fields I’ve been to, I think our field plays the best. Home runs don’t easily get out” while playing at The Diamond.
We wrapped the interview by asking Joey what is the most important thing a manager can do for you? Joey’s answer was really great to hear, “Being honest with me. Giving me honest feedback and don’t sugarcoat things. Even if I don’t want to hear it, be honest with me.”
Based on what we have seen of Joey Lucchesi, he has a powerful mound presence, a willingness to learn and is a future Ace in the making.