With acquisition of Tim Locastro, Red Sox gain speed and athleticism, Chaim Bloom says

New Red Sox outfielder Tim Locastro has — and quite frankly always has had — elite speed in the field and on the base paths.

As a junior at Ithaca College in 2013, Locastro stole 40 bases in 41 attempts, setting the single-season program record in stolen bases as well as runs scored (71).

Upon being selected by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Locastro swiped 32 bags in his first full professional season with Low-A Vancouver in 2014 and was only caught four times.

As a prospect, Locastro was well-known for his “plus-plus speed” and was traded from the Blue Jays to the Dodgers in July 2015. With Los Angeles, the right-handed hitter’s speed was highly coveted leading up to his major-league debut in late September of the 2017 campaign.

Locastro appeared in just 21 total games for the Dodgers, however, as he was dealt to the Yankees at the conclusion of the 2018 season before ultimately winding up with the Diamondbacks that following January.

In his debut season with Arizona in 2019, Locastro put his speed on full display by recording 17 stolen bases without getting caught once. He led all of Major League Baseball with a sprint speed of 30.8 feet per second and finished tied for second in bolts (61), or any run with a speed of at least 30 feet per second.

While his stolen base numbers took a dip in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Locastro did enjoy a career year at the plate in which he slashed .290/.395/.464 (134 wRC+) across 33 games and 82 plate appearances. In the process of putting up those impressive numbers, he was perfect in stolen base attempts (4-for-4) while again putting up an MLB-best sprint speed of 30.7 feet per second.

Coming into 2021, Locastro had yet to be caught stealing (26-for-26) for his big-league career. He picked up stolen base No. 28 at Chase Field on April 13 to set the MLB record for most successful stolen bases to start a career, passing Hall of Famer Tim Raines in the process of doing so.

Just four days after breaking Raines’ record, though, Locastro was finally caught stealing for the first time, as he was picked off at second base by then-Nationals catcher Yan Gomes at Nationals Park on April 17.

Locastro stole two more bases and was caught two more times in a Diamondbacks uniform before he was traded back to the Yankees in exchange for pitching prospect Keegan Curtis at the start of July.

New York re-acquired Locastro in order to inject more speed into a station-to-station lineup that was in desperate need of a boost. Just nine games into his Yankees tenure, though, the Auburn, N.Y. native suffered a season-ending injury in a game against the Red Sox.

Manning left field for the Yankees in the first inning of a July 17 contest against the Sox in the Bronx, Locastro leaped to catch an Alex Verdugo fly ball in foul territory, but landed awkwardly and could be seen grabbing at his right knee after crashing into the wall down the left field line.

As a result of said play, Locastro came up gimpy and was later replaced in left field by Tyler Wade before being diagnosed with an ACL tear that same night.

The Yankees placed the 29-year-old on the 10-day injured list the following day and transferred him to the 60-day injured list a week later. At the end of the season, they must have felt that it was not worth it to add Locastro back to their 40-man roster and instead placed him on waivers.

This gave other clubs the opportunity to put a claim in for the 6-foot-1, 190 pound speedster, which is exactly what the Red Sox did last Friday.

Now a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, which currently sits at 33 players, Locastro was expected to begin running again sometime this fall after undergoing knee surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City back in late July.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom essentially confirmed as much in a recent conversation with BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Tim’s on track for a full recovery from his injury,” Bloom said via email. “With his speed and athleticism, he’s great depth for us to add at the beginning of the off-season.”

Locastro, who does not turn 30 until next July, certainly fits the profile of player the Red Sox have added since Bloom took over two years ago in that there is little risk and plenty to gain from it.

As previously mentioned, Locastro is extremely fast and is dangerous on the base paths, which is something Alex Cora’s Red Sox were lacking this past season. Not only that, but he plays all three outfield positions as well and has been a plus-defender in right field (positive-3 defensive runs saved, positive-2.1 ultimate zone rating in 207 1/3 innings) throughout his career.

Additionally, Locastro comes with club control, as he is slated to become eligible for salary arbitration for just the first time next season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $700,000 in 2022.

There is, of course, risk involved in acquiring someone like Locastro considering the fact that he is a player who primarily relies on their speed and is coming off a major ACL injury.

Still, the addition of Locastro — should he prove to have recovered from his injury — does provide the Red Sox with experienced outfield depth. It could also make some for some interesting positional battles come spring training.

That being said, spring training is still a long ways away and there is still plenty of off-season ahead. As Bloom put it, “We’ll see how things play out from here.”

(Picture of Tim Locastro: Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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