2015 Blue Jays Break-out Prospect: Tim Locastro
The 2014 season was a big year for Toronto Blue Jays prospects as a number of them made significant strides during the season, including Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Kendall Graveman who all rose from A-Ball to the Majors. Will the 2015 season bring similar jumps for other young guns in the Blue Jays system?
Enter the scene Mr. Tim Locastro.
The short-season Vancouver Canadians featured a number of up and coming Blue Jays prospects throughout the 2014 season. With names like Franklin Barreto (traded this winter with Graveman to Oakland), Roemon Fields, Ryan McBroom, and then later Max Pentecost and Richard Urena featured in the line-up, it’s easy to get lost a bit in the shuffle. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be out of the question if most fans have never heard of Tim Locastro, but they soon could.
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A shortstop out of Ithaca College in New York when the Blue Jays plucked him in the 13th round of the 2013 draft, Locastro understandably got his start in short-season Bluefield that season, playing in 43 games and hitting a respectable .283/.367/.384 with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Despite a lack of power from the speedy infielder, the Blue Jays were obviously encouraged by 13/12 walk-to-strike-out ratio and gave him the bump up to Vancouver the following season, where Locastro put himself on the map.
Now a full-time second baseman, Locastro was placed into the 2nd spot in the batting order, where his ability to work counts, make contact, and be a terror on the bases were in full effect. In 67 games (310 plate appearances) Locastro more than held his own while batting between Fields and Barreto. All told, he put together an exceptional slash-line of .313/.407/.367 with 12 walks against 23 strike-outs and placed second on the team with 32 stolen based in 36 attempts.
Needless to say, there is a lot to like about a prospect that knows how to get on base consistently. In fact, scouts thought so highly of him that they awarded Tim with an Organizational All-Star nod at the close of the season.
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Could it be possible for Tim Locastro to make similar big gains in 2015?
Additionally, Locastro plays a position that is dramatically weak in the Blue Jays system, which presents an encouraging scenario for the young second baseman. He’ll undoubtedly start the 2015 campaign at Low-A Lansing, but could make the climb to Dunedin quickly if he stands out and Christian Lopes continues to underwhelm.
The road ahead becomes a little trickier. Jon Berti is likely to return to his role at second base in Double-A New Hampshire to start the season, as he’s now blocked in Triple-A Buffalo by newly acquired Devon Travis. However, if the situation in Toronto remains unsettled, Travis could move to the Major League at some point next season, allowing Berti to move forward.
The jump to Double-A may be a bit of a stretch for Locastro though. While he posses solid skills in the field and can get on base consistently, he lacks consistent power as Jay Blue of the Canadian Baseball Network points out, a product of not getting his lower body into the swing. That may be an addressable issue in Dunedin, and could be the key to Locastro’s continued rise through the system.
Without that component, or at least some semblance of consistent gap power, Locastro may find himself in a similar situation to Jon Berti, stalling in the upper levels and holding the fort as organizational filler. That said Berti was a similar player earlier in his career, and could be a model for what we’ll see from Tim Locastro moving forward. Berti finally stepped into some power (7 home runs, 21 doubles, 7 triples) in New Hampshire this past season, but has less of the natural contact ability that Locastro brings to the table as well.
A low-power, speed guy isn’t necessarily the sexiest pick for a break-out prospect, but at a thin position and excelling at a skill (getting on-base) that isn’t the best among position players in the Blue Jays system, Tim Locastro may be in line for some quick movement. At the very least to a certain degree.