Lucchesi graduated from Newark Memorial High School in Newark, California. Then he went to Chabot College in Hayward, California.
And he transferred to Southeast Missouri University for his junior and senior years.
In 2016, Lucchesi got drafted by the Padres (see Transactions below).
In 2017, Baseball America rated Joey the 24th-best prospect in the Padres organization. He was up to #9 in the winter before 2018 spring training.
Joey is one cool cat. He has ice flowing through his veins.
April 29, 2018: Until December, Clayton Richard had yet to meet two-fifths of the Padres' current starting rotation.
Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer were only 18 months removed from being selected in the 2016 draft. No other pitcher from that class was close to a big league breakthrough. But the Padres envisioned big things for both—and quickly.
So they told Lauer and Lucchesi to pack their bags for Lafayette, Indiana, to spend a week with the Padres' resident veteran lefthander.
"Clayton has done a ton for this organization, but being home during the offseason is a big deal for him," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He brought it up: 'Hey, fly them out here, they can work with me.' We felt very strongly about those two spending time with him, because we thought they could be in the rotation really quickly. I wouldn't have guessed April."
And yet here they are. Lucchesi has been one of baseball's best rookies, having posted a 2.78 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 6 starts. (AJ Cassavell-MLB.com)
Nickname: JOEY FUEGO. Lucchesi's college teammate at Southwest Missouri State dubbed him "Joey Fuego" while trying to think up a creative nickname for Lucchesi's Twitter handle. That nickname stuck through the Minors, and Lucchesi occasionally goes by "Fuego" in the Padres' clubhouse.
- Joey gets a haircut before every start. (Clair - mlb.com - 5/17/2020)
- June 2016: Lucchesi was the Padres' 4th round pick, out of Southeast Missouri State University. He signed for $100,000 with scout Troy Hoerner.
|Birth City:||Newark, CA|
|Draft:||Padres #4 - 2016 - Out of Southeast Missouri State Univ.|
Lucchesi is a lefthander with a 90-96 mph swing-and-miss FASTBALL. He also has a 77-80 mph downer 12-to-6 CURVEBALL that he can either sweep it more to keep in the strike zone, or he will bury that curve in the dirt for a strikeout late in the count. It has a 50 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. His 80-82 mph CHANGEUP looks like a breaking ball out of his hand before staying straight and drawing foolish swings.
Joey's fastball has deception and late movement. He complements it with an above-average curve with 12-to-6 action, and an above-average changeup all with plus command and control that led to an astounding 56-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his pro debut. His stuff plays up with a funky delivery that includes a high leg kick, and a pause mid-windup (not dissimilar from Clayton Kershaw). His delivery also freezes base runners and allows him to hold them close. (Spring 2018)
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 64.1% of the time; Change 32.1%; and Curve 3.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 91.1 mph, Change 79.8, and Curve 79.4 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 14.4% of the time; Sinker 50.5%; Change 34.1%; and Curve 1.1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 90.8 mph, Sinker 90.5, Change 79.2, and Curve 78.1 mph.
- 2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 8.9% of the time; Sinker 56.1%; Change 34.2%; and Split less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 90.2 mph, Sinker 90.1, Change 77.7, and Split 81.6 mph.
Joey has swing and miss stuff for strikeouts. He has very impressive 60 grade command. (June 2017)
Lucchesi initiates his delivery by lifting his arms above his head, then he pauses mid-motion, then he hurriedly kicks his leg high and bursts toward the plate. His delivery is complicated, but he repeats it well. Thus, the above-average command, and control for a lot of called strikes.
“His motion is so funky . . . that hitters can’t time it up,” Lake Elsinore teammate Eric Lauer said. “They can’t load (their swings) because nothing’s going to be in sync with his windup and how long it takes, how intricate it is. He’s a mechanical genius.
“But just watch him. Don’t do it. Because I don’t think many other people can do it.”
Hitters are certainly befuddled. They really struggle to square his stuff up. (Jeff Sanders - Baseball America - 6/09/2017)
In 2017, Fernando was named the Padres Pitching Prospect of the Year by MLBPipeline.com.
Joey has it all, including deception and durability.
2018: Lucchesi became the first pitcher from the 2016 draft class to make the Majors. He ranked third among rookies in strikeouts, tied for fourth in starts, tied for fifth in wins and sixth in innings and, among all MLB pitchers with at least 25 starts and 130 innings, Lucchesi allowed fewer base-runners (172) than everyone outside Chris Sale, Jordan Zimmerman and Clayton Kershaw (170).
May 24, 2019: Not only was Lucchesi in full control through the first four hitless innings against the Blue Jays, but he did it without working deep into counts. Lucchesi has pitched seven full innings just twice in his career, both this season. And he has hit the 100-pitch plateau only three times.
One of the breakthrough moments for Lucchesi began two starts ago in Colorado, when he started forcing himself to “reset” between every pitch. By breaking his game up into individual pitches, Lucchesi feels much more confident in his growing mental game.
“I’ve kind of been psyching myself up before the games saying, ‘No one’s better,’ a kind of attack mindset,” Lucchesi said. “I’ve just been feeling really well with doing that before games and telling myself to reset every pitch. Every pitch is a fresh pitch.”
2019 Improvements: He's adding a cutter. Lucchesi was a two-pitch pitcher for most of last season. He sported a two-seam fastball and a swing-and-miss off-speed pitch, which he calls a "churve." Now, Lucchesi has added a cutter, which is mostly just a four-seam fastball with natural cut. Velocity-wise, it's similar to that of his two-seamer, but it moves in the opposite direction. (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - Feb. 16, 2019)
Lucchesi talks about his changeup: “I started off in a community college throwing a circle change. It was a regular changeup. Then I started throwing harder. I got stronger and my hands got bigger. As I went on to [Southeast Missouri State], I started developing it in a way that it moved differently. I hold it like a circle change, but it spins out like a slider and kind of drops like a curveball.
“Once I got to the minors, Eric Lauer and I played catch every day. We decided to give it its own name. It wasn’t like a regular changeup, so we called it ‘The Churve.’ I’ve stuck with that name for three years now.
“I do [consider it a changeup], even though it doesn’t move like one. For some reason, I just get weird movement when it comes out of my hand. It just happens. It works. It’s my go-to pitch.” (David Laurila - FANGRAPHS - February 25, 2019)
Why Joey's "Churve" is so nasty: 34.6% usage, 40.3% whiff rate since 2018.
Sometimes it’s Barry Zito’s tumbling slow curve. Sometimes it’s Randy Johnson’s sweeping slider. Sometimes it’s Cole Hamels’ fading changeup. Lucchesi’s homemade churve can be all of those things, while also being unlike anything else in the Majors right now.
The speed isn’t quite right. It doesn’t move the way it’s supposed to. It’s a beautiful "ugly duckling." All the movement—and there’s a ton of vertical movement, more than any other big league changeup—happens behind the scenes, making you wonder how hitters keep missing something so appetizing. It’s kind of like watching someone failing to catch a feather in the wind.
Perhaps Lucchesi’s churve is a gimmick pitch, successful only because hitters haven’t seen it before . . . and therefore doomed once they’re familiar. But that was the thought after Lucchesi’s 2018 rookie season, and his churve performed even better in 2019. Over the past two years, only two starters have thrown more "changeups" than Lucchesi, and yet his churve still tied for the fourth-highest changeup whiff rate, behind Luis Castillo, Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels. Gimmick or not, Lucchesi has ridden his creation from tiny Southeast Missouri State to a Major League starting rotation. (M Kelly - MLB.com - April 2, 2020)
- Entering the 2021 season, Joey had a career record of 18-20 and 4.21 ERA, allowing 282 hits and 46 home runs in 299 innings pitched.
Joey has a truly nasty pickoff move. "Watch out!"
- Lucchesi controls the running game.
- May 15-June 20, 2018: Joey was on the DL with strained hip.