In case you haven’t heard, Will Locante is a left-handed pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He’s a name that you’re going to continue hearing about in the future and we had the opportunity to interview him for this article.
Away from the field Will enjoys working out as it’s serves as a get-away for him, as well as trying to find new music. One of his biggest passions outside of baseball is watching the University of Auburn Football team.
“I’m a big Auburn fan. Me and my family we’ve had season tickets ever since I was 9, 10 years old. Every time there’s a home game, me, my mom, and my dad, usually go down to Auburn and watch them play.”
Drafted in 2011, Locante has played four seasons of Minor League Baseball and he’s made a lot of friends and memories.
“Playing in the Minor Leagues is definitely tough. People call it a grind all the time and that’s a pretty good word to describe it. I think one of the things that I would never trade for anything is the road trips with a guy that you spend 6, 7, 8 months out of the year with. The relationships that you develop with your teammates is something that I would never give up. Even when I’m done playing baseball, it’s about all the friends I made playing, the late night bus trips [and] the emotion when you see a guy get called to the big leagues.”
In a healthy team and organizational culture, everyone pulls for one another and celebrates in each other’s achievements.
“As a friend and as a teammate, that’s something that our organization really preaches. Being a good teammate, I really think they do a really good job with that. When we watch people get called to the big leagues and they go up there and do well, there’s no jealousy [and] no animosity towards anyone. You want to get to where they are you’re so happy for those guys because you know how hard they worked. You want to see everyone do well.”
Locante already has had quite the accomplished career. He carries the pedigree of an All-State and an All-Region player in high school, a Midwest All-Star and he’s a member of the Diamondbacks 40-man roster. It would be easy for many to gloat or have a huge ego, but Locante isn’t that way.
“I’ve been humbled so many times in baseball [and] in life. There are a lot of players that are extremely physically gifted, they never struggle. You’ve never seen a player like Bryce Harper really struggle. I’m one of those guys that live by the baseball philosophy that there are two types of players. There’s the humble player and there’s the player about to get humbled. To me, I never let my career get too high or too low. One day you can go out and be the hero and the next day you can go out and blow the game. It’s really about keeping an even mindset about the game. Understanding that you’re going to struggle and you’re going to fail, that’s part of it. It’s really how you react to failure that determines the type of player that you’ll be. It’s easy to fail and get down on yourself; those are usually the players don’t last too long. I’ve been on both sides, probably more on the failure side. I just know how hard this game is, how good it feels to have success and how bad it feels to have failure.”
His repertoire consists of an upper-90’s fastball and a slider. Combine those to ingredients coming from a left-hander and you have a recipe of a future Major League pitcher. Even with those attributes, you still have to go to the mound with a plan and Locante tell us about his.
“I think in pitching you have to understand what you have. A lot of people look at scouting reports and they try to pitch to hitters weaknesses. I’ve always been taught don’t necessarily throw to a hitter’s weakness but throw to your strength. I’ll challenge hitters with my fastball until they can prove that they can hit it. Once I see them hitting it, I’ll mix in my slider. I like to throw in sliders to the lefty hitters just to get them off my fastball.”
Catchers are an important part of the game and he quickly credits the catchers in the Diamondbacks system.
“Our catchers are so good; it makes it so easy for me. I just have to get ready physically and mentally for my outing. I can just look and see what the catchers put down and 99 times out of 100 we’re on the same page. I would say that’s why the pitchers in our system do so well because our catchers are so good. All of our pitchers are extremely talented also.”
In any walk of life, there are people that help you and others who connect and leave their mark.
“Every manager that I’ve played for, every coach that I’ve played for, I’ve taken something from. Everyone has had an impact on my baseball career.
If I had to name one, I would say Doug Bochtler last year when I was with South Bend. He took me and I was pretty much broken, I didn’t know really what I was doing out there mechanically. I always knew I had a good arm, but I needed some fine tuning. Doug took it upon himself to make sure that I took the mound confident every night and worked with me on the side whenever I needed to.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks invited Locante to big league camp before the 2015 season started. As one can imagine it was a huge learning experience.
“Oh yeah. Last year was my first big league camp, I didn’t know what to expect. I came into camp last year seeing guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Jeremy Hellickson and Oliver Perez, guys that are proven. I was anxious to see what I could do against them. Going into this year I know what to expect, what to look for, how to handle yourself in the clubhouse [and] off the field. I learned so much, what it means to be a true professional in baseball. Now that I know that, I think it will be a lot easier going in.”
In a perfect world, any of us would like to imagine what things would be like and Locante gave us his scenario for the 2016 season.
“I would go into big league camp and have a great big league camp. I would make some noise. I would show them that I’m big league ready. I can perform to the best of my ability and God willing I would make my major league debut at some point this year. All those guys are where I want to be.”
Anybody that has played baseball as a kid has dreamed of what their Major League debut would be like and Locante shared what his “Perfect World” debut would look like.
“In a perfect world, I would have a great debut, maybe a strikeout or two. When I’m walking off the field, I can find exactly where my mom and dad are sitting. From day one they’ve been pushing me and been such a great support system for me. Being able to do that and let them see that. I want to be able to walk off of the field and see them after the game and give them a hug. Let them know that their son did it, he’s finally there.”
In the closing of our interview, I asked if he could say one thing to his parents, what would he say to them?
“I would tell them how much I love them; all their hard work is not going unappreciated. I respect them as people and they’re the two best parents that anyone in this world could ask for.”
Nobody is ever guaranteed anything in baseball, but clearly the Diamondbacks believe in Will Locante’s talent and ability.
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