Brandon Lockridge doesn’t take anything for granted when playing the game he loves. “I just try to play every single game like it’s my last game, so I’m going to try to bust it, play 100 percent,” Lockridge said.
The outfielder is in his second year in the New York Yankees organization, currently playing with the Charleston RiverDogs of the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs.
Lockridge grew up in Pensacola, FL and played baseball at Pensacola Catholic High School. At first, there weren’t a lot of opportunities coming his way to play Division 1 NCAA baseball. “I had some small schools that recruited me out of high school. You could say I was a late bloomer coming out of high school. I didn’t grow until later so the big schools were already checked out,” Lockridge said.
Division 1 schools did eventually come calling, including one close to home. “I had an offer from the University of New Orleans, the University of North Florida, Troy, which was kind of my bigger schools. A bunch of junior colleges. I wanted to stay kind of close to home, and Troy was only two and a half hours away, so I decided to go.”
While at Troy, Lockridge not only proved he belonged but excelled. He ended up breaking Troy’s single-season record for triples, with seven, on his way to becoming the school’s all-time leader in that category with 14. Lockridge established that record in just three seasons. He also earned the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his junior season when he only committed one error while registering 164 putouts for a .994 fielding percentage. This came after playing his first two seasons in the infield.
Despite those impressive numbers, Lockridge isn’t resting on his laurels. “I’m working every single day. I played my first two years in the infield in college and having only one year in the outfield behind me; I think there’s a way to get better every single day in some aspect of my game: first step, routes, route efficiency. We have a bunch of great coaches here with the Yankees that helped me with that side of it,” Lockridge said.
Lockridge finished his junior season at Troy with the expectation of being drafted. “There were teams calling kind of throughout day two. I got a call a few picks before the Yankees pick and it was like, ‘Hey, we have an offer on the table, will you take it?’ and I said, ‘of course.’ I haven’t looked back since then,” Lockridge said.
The Yankees selected Lockridge in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft, and even though he still had a year of eligibility at Troy, he decided to make the jump to professional baseball. “I knew I had a chance to be drafted, so it wasn’t a surprise to me at the moment when it happened. I just felt like it’d be a better opportunity to just get my career started and that’s kind of how I did it,” he said of his decision to sign with the Yankees.
One of the tools that Lockridge showcases defensively in his game is speed. He looks to also take more advantage of that on the offensive side of his game. “I try to showcase my speed every chance I get whether it’s running the bases or in the outfield. Hit a ground ball in the infield; I’m going to try and beat it out every time, that’s how I play.” So far in 2019, he has stolen five bases in six attempts. “I’ve been working on (stealing bases) in instructional league and spring training. I need to utilize that part of my game more this year.”
Lockridge stands 6’1” with 185 lbs on his frame. He’s lean and quick, and he keeps that in mind when at the plate. “Utilize my speed. Not doing too much. At this point in my game, I’m a gap to gap kind of guy. Staying within myself and keeping a middle of the field approach every time. That kind of what plays for me,” Lockridge said of his approach.
Lockridge also talked about having a familiarity to help him transition from his first professional season to his second. “It’s a huge difference maker. When I first got here in the summer, I didn’t know anybody, didn’t know the coaches. You feel a little more nervous, on edge when you don’t know anybody, but now after playing the summer on two different teams, instructional league, strength camp, spring training, I mean I know everybody now. You feel like everyone believes in you and it’s a great family atmosphere.” Lockridge is reunited with Staten Island teammates Kyle Gray, and Eric Wagaman, among others. “They’re great teammates, and great guys and I like surrounding myself with those kinds of people.”
A thumb injury shortened Lockridge’s first season, but he worked his way back, and the thumb is fully healed. “It was a freak accident that happened. Trainers and everyone were super helpful with me. They sent me to the best doctor, surgeon and I got it taken care of so I could be back for instructional league, and I’ve been great ever since,” Lockridge said. “It was very frustrating. Obviously, you want to be on the field every chance you can get but it came at the end of the season so doing the rehab after that and staying around and being in Tampa rehabbing by myself while my teammates are playing, it sucked. It’s pretty tough on that side of it. But I came back, and everyone was super encouraging, and here I am now, so I’m thankful.”
Lockridge prepared himself for the challenge of a 140 game season. “There are some times where you feel like you need to work harder physically and rather than just getting the quantity you need, less reps, more quality rather than just taking swings with no purpose in mind.”
He rested up his legs and participated in Yankees Strength Camp during the offseason. “At the end of the season, I was pretty worn down last season between college and my first professional season, and I had lost some weight. Put a little bit of weight back on. I needed some time for my legs to recover. Had a great time and went to strength camp with the Yankees for three weeks. Came in and worked out locally in Pensacola.”
Lockridge has invested himself entirely in the Yankee philosophy. “Respect the game, and good things happen. That’s kind of what the Yankees want us doing. I try to showcase my speed every chance I get whether it’s running the bases or in the outfield. Hit a ground ball in the infield; I’m going to try and beat it out every time, that’s how I play.”