Tri-City Dust Devils

He was untouchable when he played in the Tri-Cities. Tomorrow he’ll make his big league debut

Former Tri-City Dust Devils pitcher Joey Lucchesi, starting his windup during a San Diego Padres spring training game March 22, is scheduled to make his major league debut Friday as the Padres starter.
Former Tri-City Dust Devils pitcher Joey Lucchesi, starting his windup during a San Diego Padres spring training game March 22, is scheduled to make his major league debut Friday as the Padres starter. Associated Press

Joey Lucchesi began his professional baseball career as a member of the Tri-City Dust Devils less than two years ago, and has impressed at every stop he’s made since.

That dominance put him on a fast track to the big time, and on Friday he’ll make his major league debut as the starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres, manager Andy Green announced Thursday.

San Diego hosts the Milwaukee Brewers in the second game of the season for both teams at 7:10 p.m. at Petco Park.

Slotting into the No. 2 spot in a big league club’s starting rotation might seem like quite the jump for a guy who was playing out his senior season at Southeast Missouri State this time two years ago, but Lucchesi, 24, has managed to compile quite the pro résumé.

After throwing 88 innings for the Redhawks in the spring, Lucchesi — a 6-foot-5 hard-throwing lefty taken in the fourth round of the 2016 draft — was slated to just get minimal work out of the bullpen for the short-season Class A Dust Devils in 2016. He pitched his way into a starting role over the summer, posting a 1.35 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 40 innings for Tri-City, and was named a Baseball America Short-Season All-Star.

Joey Lucchesi mug
Joey Lucchesi, who started his professional career with the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2016. Sarah Gordon Herald file

In just under 140 innings split between high-A Lake Elsinore and AA San Antonio last year, Lucchesi hurled 139 innings with a 2.20 ERA and 148 Ks, earning him MiLB.com Organization All-Star honors. He had a 1.54 ERA in four spring training appearances for the Padres this season.

Lucchesi is the No. 9 prospect in San Diego’s organization, according to MLB.com. He was expected to begin the season with the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas, but is taking the rotation spot of the injured Dinelson Lamet, who suffered a flexor strain in his right elbow Sunday.

Lucchesi was a rookie in the Tri-Cities at the same time as first-round draft picks — and fellow starting pitchers — Cal Quantril (Stanford) and Eric Lauer (Kent State). Both also split their time between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio last season, and pitched for the Padres in spring training this year, but neither has been as dominant as Lucchesi.

Here’s what Green has to say about what he’s seen from Lucchesi thus far.

What’s more, it looks like the Padres will be wearing these sweet duds tomorrow.

Dustin Brennan: 509-582-1413, @Tweet_By_Dustin

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