A longtime St. Louis Cardinals farmhand after being drafted in the 21st round back in 2010 out of a Florida junior college, right-handed pitching prospect Josh Lucas made it up to the big leagues at the very end of 2017, throwing in five games in relief for St. Louis to finish the summer after a solid season recording eight wins and seven saves for Triple-A Memphis in the Pacific Coast League. After the year ended, the Cardinals sent Lucas to the Arizona Fall League, where he finished 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in 12 relief appearances for the Surprise Saguaros (12 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 13 K).
A sinker/slider type with the ability to work consistent ground ball contact, Josh Lucas has some natural matchup capability against right-handers and could fill in a big league middle relief role with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 and beyond. Baseball Census saw him pitch four different times during the AFL season this fall; below, we have a full Josh Lucas scouting report, including tool grades, game video, projections, and more.
Josh Lucas Scouting Report, St. Louis Cardinals — 2017
Dates observed in 2017: Arizona Fall League
Josh Lucas Scouting Report — St. Louis Cardinals — 2017 Game Video
Josh Lucas Scouting Report — Notes, Analysis & Projection
There’s a lot to like about Josh Lucas, and his arsenal has proven to miss more bats recently than one might expect from a sinker/slider guy who lacks big-time deception out of the bullpen. If he continues to strike out batters like he did the last two years (9.8 K/9 in 2016, 10.2 K/9 in the 2017 PCL; 9.8 K/9 in the 2017 AFL), he’ll have a shot to work some higher-leverage late relief innings (7th/8th) for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 and beyond. If he develops on into being a ground ball-heavy hurler capable of tunneling his sinker and slider off each other for weak contact as he looks now, though, it’s more likely Lucas will profile well in low-leverage middle relief in St. Louis. That’s still a valuable role, and one he could fill with some success considering his ability to fill up the zone consistently.
I personally think he’ll wind up being a middle/long man with the ability to lengthen his outings, and enough in his arsenal to match up against both righties and lefties in multi-inning stints. Though unglamorous, there are big league jobs to be had in that realm, and after nearly 200 relief appearances and eight minor league seasons, a long relief gig like that wouldn’t be a bad end-game for the righty. Expect Josh Lucas to fight for a big league job out of spring training in 2018, and then work for a few years as an up-and-down arm in the big leagues — unless he proves he can continue to miss big league bats at the rate he has recently in the upper minors, at which point he’ll push his ceiling into higher leverage innings.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Will draw weak contact with consistent arsenal working in middle relief; skeptical he’ll miss enough bats to hit higher-leverage ceiling, but could match up well late against RHH (40/45)
MLB ETA: 2017
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