Brandon Lockridge continues our look through the Yankees Top 30 prospects and is the first true center fielder we’ve encountered. He has one of the top speed tools in the Yankees farm system and uses it to help boost a below-average bat with stealing extra-base hits and is okay at true base-stealing. He plays solid defense and could be making quick jumps up the minor league levels this year.
BRANDON LOCKRIDGE, OF (#20):
Age/Date of Birth: 24 Years Old (03/14/1997)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): Charleston RiverDogs (Class A, 2019)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019): .251/.319/.410 (.729 OPS), 12 HR, 56 RBIs, 45 Walks, 140 Strikeouts (121 Games, 556 At-Bats)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 MLB First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees with the 157th overall pick.
MLB ETA: 2022
BRANDON LOCKRIDGE SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
Coming undrafted out of high school was a bit of a surprise for Brandon Lockridge as he had led his team as a sophomore to a 30-0 record and a national championship recognition at Pensacola Catholic High School (Pensacola, FL). Though, he had committed to Troy University (Troy, AL) where he would become an instant starter.
Starting out at second base as a freshman and sophomore in college, Lockridge was moved to center field his junior (draft eligible) year. Ultimately this would help him become the 2nd highest drafted player in his schools history, going in the 5th round to the New York Yankees.
In his 2018 season, the Yankees sent Lockridge to the Yankees West in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) and after hitting to a 1.026 OPS over 10 games he was quickly moved to the Staten Island Yankees (New York-Penn, Class A Short Season) where he would play 16 more games with a triple-slash of .216/.328/.373 (.700 OPS). It was a good showing in his first professional stint.
In his second year the Yankees pumped him to the Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic, Class A) where Lockridge was great over a full seasons play. He led the Yankees minor league system in extra-base hits with 50 (XBH; 33 doubles, 5 triples, 12 HR’s), and was 4th in steals with 22 (8 caughts, SB% of 73.3%).
Unfortunately he could not build upon that success in 2020, but he has already been assigned to the Tampa Tarpons (Class Low-A) for 2021.
As a hitter, Brandon Lockridge is not going to show his best strengths as he grades out slightly below-average with his contact and power. However, he has seen great improvements since college with a fix to a flaw in dropping his hands. There is hope that Lockridge can unlock a hidden tool with hitting if he can learn to take advantage of the whole field and improve his patience at the plate. With that he’d be able to hit for a good average and supply decent pop.
In the field, Brandon Lockridge finds his strengths as he quickly learned to play from the center of the outfield. He found it easy to transition from the infield as he has been able to utilize his speed to be a pretty good fielder. However, his arm could use some work to add speed and strength, though it isn’t a huge concern given his ability to track down most flyballs.
Brandon Lockridge also deserves a blurb on his speed, which was one of the fastest in the whole 2018 draft class and may be the best in the Yankees system. Grading out with a 75 out of 80, he has a home to first time of under 4.0 seconds. He needs to refine his base-stealing, but his speed has helped him steal many more XBH’s and play a more important position.
What Will the Future Hold?
Brandon Lockridge has already been assigned to start his 2021 season with the Tampa Tarpons (Class Low-A), although I would not expect the Yankees to hold the 24 year-old there for long. After a whole season to work on the adjustments to his game (base-stealing, arm strength, plate patience, etc.) I would hope on their being a sizeable improvement from his game in 2019 to today. Because of this, I would also believe that the Hudson Valley Renegades (Class High-A) may not even be his final landing spot in 2021. It’s hard to say with the uncertainty but the Somerset Patriots (Double A) could have a new center fielder incoming during a postseason run.
When it comes to the projections, Brandon Lockridge has a similar path to the MLB as does a solid defensive catcher given the importance of the position he can play with center field. That being said, while he is already 24 years-old, I wouldn’t want to see him become the next modern-Billy Hamilton as a center fielder with solid potential, amazing speed, but a huge limiting factor with the bat. An MLB ETA of 2022 may not be crazy, but I’d hope on it coming with Lockridge having at least a decent bat from the minor leagues first. There is no concern about the defense and speed playing at the MLB level as of now.