By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Jeff Locke cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday by the parent club, the Miami Marlins.
Locke, 29, of Madison, the lone New Hampshire resident in Major League Baseball, was designated for assignment on July 4, a day after allowing 11 runs in 2 2/3 innings at the St. Louis Cardinals. Locke, as was expected, passed through waivers unclaimed. Had a team put in a claim for the 2006 Kennett High graduate, it would have taken on the remaining $1.3 million contract owed Locke for this season. When a player is outrighted to the minors, he is removed from the 40-man roster but is still paid under the terms of his guaranteed contract.
It is likely Locke will join the starting rotation in New Orleans.
The Baby Cakes went 35-55 in the first half of the season and sat last in the four-team Pacific Coast League American Southern at the PCL All-Star break. The Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals farm team) led the division at 56-33.
As of Monday afternoon Locke was listed on the New Orleans roster. He had yet to be assigned a jersey number. At 29, he is the third oldest member of the team behind only former Major Leaguers infielder Mike Aviles (36), and pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne (30).
Locke, who signed a one-year deal with the Marlins last December, had an 8.16 ERA through seven starts.
The Baby Cakes are managed by Arnie Beyeler, who is in his second season at the helm. Prior to that, he spent three seasons (2013–15) as the first base and outfield coach for the Boston Red Sox, winning a 2013 World Series ring. He was the manager of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox from 2011-12.
New Orleans is scheduled to open the second half of its season on the road for a four-game set against the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers farm team), beginning on Thursday. The Bake Cakes have yet to set their rotation for the second half of season.
The Baby Cakes play their home games at Shrine on Airline Park in Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans. The park holds 10,000 spectators.
Locke missed all of spring training with Miami after suffering left shoulder tendinitis on the opening day of spring training in February.
He made his season debut for the Marlins on June 1 in a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park. In the opener, Locke was locked in. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and struck out five in the first three innings on his way to 7Ks on the night. The talented left-hander took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning against Arizona.
“That was a lot of fun,” Locke said. “I felt like a little kid. For the most part, it went just the way I’d like it to go.”
Locke allowed just three hits and didn’t walk anyone, but the bullpen was unable to maintain the lead.