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The Toronto Blue Jays kicked off their winter meetings with a couple of small moves, filling up the 40-man roster and adding a couple of pitchers by claiming righties Anthony Castro off waivers from the Tigers and Walker Lockett from the Mariners.
Castro, 25, was signed out of Venezuela in 2011 by the Tigers and has ranked as high as the Tigers’ #19 prospect according to Baseball America. He pitched for two seasons in the Venezuelan summer league before jumping to the GCL in 2014 and sat out all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery. He pitched in 2016 back in the GCL and really looked good in 2017, throwing 92-96 mph with the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2017 in the Midwest League.
In 2018, Castro split time between Double-A Erie and Advanced-A Lakeland using his fastball/changeup/curveball mix and he pitched exclusively in Double-A in 2019, posting a 4.40 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 102 1/3 innings split between starting and relieving. He struck out 116 batters, the first time he had struck out more than a batter per inning, and his stuff ticked up a bit with his fastball sitting 93-97 with “excellent cutting action” (per Baseball America).
Castro made his major league debut with the Tigers in 2020, getting into one game and giving up two runs in one inning. That said, he is still “prospecty” enough that he offers the Blue Jays some upside with a solid bullpen arm.
Lockett, 26, is a big righty who was a fourth-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2012. At 6-foot-5, Lockett fits the profile of pitchers that the Blue Jays have liked.
By 2017, Lockett was the #28 prospect in the Padres organization (according to Baseball America) and they noted that he had finger and shoulder injuries that limited him entering 2015. He also was demoted all the way down to rookie ball, from Class-A in Fort Wayne, for missing curfew that season. That said, he turned things around in 2016. He was using a 91-94 mph sinker and was pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his fastball, changeup and slider.
Lockett broke into the big leagues in 2018, making four appearances (and three starts) with San Diego in 2018. He spent most of the year in Double-A El Paso as a starter with a 4.72 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, striking out 118 and walking 33 in 133 1/3 innings. He was hit hard in the big leagues, giving up 16 runs in 15 innings though.
After 2018, he was traded to the Indians in November and then to the Mets in January. He had some back issues with the Mets but also pithed in 22 2/3 innings in the majors, posting an 8.34 ERA over that span. He did pitch well in 59 innings in Triple-A Syracuse though with a 3.66 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in the International League. His strikeout rate was rather low and he gave up a lot of contact.
Lockett was designated for assignment by the Mets and claimed on waivers by the Mariners on September 1 2020. He got into five games for the Mariners down the stretch, logging 8 1/3 innings with a 4.32 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.
Not a strikeout guy, Lockett does have a good spin rate on his curve (in the 69th percentile) and he offers the Jays someone who can pick up some innings if necessary and won’t walk too many batters.
The Blue Jays have added some depth with a couple of younger pitchers on the verge of the major leagues. Castro seems to have the most upside while Lockett could offer the Jays some innings.
What do you think about the Jays picking up Castro and Lockett?
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