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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

Four-Seam Fastball (40)
Not nearly as much life as the two-seamer, but some arm-side feel here. Will take off to his arm side and give illusion of rising sometimes while it’s running in off the plate. Control more advanced than command; not quite enough velo to let it rip and not quite enough plane/movement to let it run low middle; behind two-seamer at this point and used more very early, or to dot when behind in the count. Velocity: 91-93, T 94.

Two-Seam Fastball (50)
Two-seamer shows up as a hard sinker with arm-side run; throws it quite a bit with success; uses it ahead of four-seamer in most cases, particularly against RHH. Good fade to RHH back foot, will draw roll-over contact from LHH when spotted down. Chance to break bats with hard run on RHH inner half. Will get overly rotational with it at times and flatten out through low release point, but enough life with feel for manipulation to work as a power sinker the majority of the time. Velocity: 88-92, T 93.

Slider (45)
Goes to slider early and often; likes to throw it and proves effective playing it off two-seamer. Slider tunnels well with break opposite way of two-seam fade. 10-to-4 break; big sweeper from low three-quarters release. Slider is a side winder; will flatten out and go horizontal at times, lacking depth and losing ability to miss bats without late hard break. Consistency must improve if he’s going to miss bats with it in St. Louis, but some potential here that’s workable playing off two-seamer. Likely not a true enough wipeout pitch for late-inning work. Velocity: 82-85, T 86.

Control/Command (55/45)
Strong control/command profile for a reliever, especially one with the mechanics and arm action as he has now. Fills up the zone with consistent ability to attack hitters; will use full arsenal to attack; favors SL but not tied to it. Lacks late bite to miss bats but enough to set low middle and let move through bottom half of the zone, particularly two-seam/slider combo.

Cross-body gunslinger with some deception; low three-quarters release that proves hell on RHH as he steps towards them through stride. Apparently used to be more over the top in mechanics/arm action, but made change to add deception. Long arm swing in the back allows hitters — especially LHH — to pick up the ball very early. Risk of getting overly rotational through drive to plate and release — has affected command more than control in my looks. Will challenge hitters. Likes to work quickly.

Fringy relief prospect with an interesting look; older than ideal and little time left in his window, but legitimate sinker/slider combo gives him a workable arsenal in middle relief. Figures to work lower leverage innings with average/slightly below average stuff, but high strikeout rates in upper minors and if he misses bats like that in the big leagues, he’ll get a shot to throw more important innings. Hell on righties!

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

Did you like this Josh Lucas scouting report? Get more prospects here:

St. Louis Cardinals RHP Arturo Reyes — CLICK HERE

St. Louis Cardinals RHP Winston Nicacio — CLICK HERE

St. Louis Cardinals SS Delvin Perez — CLICK HERE

St. Louis Cardinals RHP Sandy Alcantara — CLICK HERE

Atlanta Braves OF Ronald Acuna — CLICK HERE

Minnesota Twins RHP Ryan Eades — CLICK HERE


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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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