Athletics

A's expect top prospect Jesus Luzardo to 'be a factor' in 2019

A's expect top prospect Jesus Luzardo to 'be a factor' in 2019

OAKLAND — Jesús Luzardo was so dominant in his first full professional season, the A's had no choice but to keep promoting him.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, the then 20-year-old left-hander started the year at Class A Stockton. In three starts, he struck out 25 batters in 14 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs.

The A's quickly moved Luzardo to Double-A Midland, where he continued to overwhelm opposing batters, notching 86 punch-outs in 78 2/3 innings with a 2.29 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. He finished the season with four starts at Triple-A Nashville, where he faced his first struggles, allowing 13 runs in 16 innings, but still striking out 18.

Now 21, Luzardo is ranked as the number two pitching prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline behind Astros RHP Forrest Whitley. He will almost definitely make his Major League debut sometime next season and might even end up on the Opening Day roster.

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"I think Jesús is going to come into Spring Training and be a factor,” said A's general manager David Forst. “I don't think we have to hide that. He had an incredible year. He's our top prospect. He's probably one of, if not the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game. So I expect he'll come into Spring Training and be a factor for us."

Added executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane: "He was a factor last year in Spring Training when he was like 20 years old."

He certainly was. Luzardo pitched six scoreless innings this past spring, allowing six hits with six strikeouts and a walk, and that was without a full season of professional baseball under his belt. Next year, at the age of 21, he figures to make a strong push to crack Oakland's starting rotation.

The A's acquired Luzardo from the Nationals in 2017 as part of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade, a deal that also brought them All-Star closer Blake Treinen. Luzardo was born in Lima, Peru, but most of his family is from Venezuela. He moved to the United States as an infant and grew up in South Florida.

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The Nationals selected Luzardo out of high school in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft -- he would have gone much higher had he not torn his ulnar collateral ligament, requiring Tommy John surgery in March of 2016.

Clearly, Luzardo came back at full strength last season. His fastball lived in the mid 90s, touching the high 90s at times, with excellent command on both sides of the plate. He also has an excellent changeup and solid curveball.

Luzardo is on the fast track to becoming a top of the rotation pitcher in Oakland for many years to come. The only question is how soon he gets his opportunity.

A's spoil historic nine-game winning streak with wild loss vs. Angels

A's spoil historic nine-game winning streak with wild loss vs. Angels

The A’s magical month of August finally fell back to earth on Monday night.

Riding a nine-game win streak entering the first game of their series against the Los Angeles Angels, the A’s blew a four-run lead and lost 10-9.

A win for the A’s would have given Oakland a 10-game win streak, which when prorated over a standard 162-game season, would have been the equivalent of a 27-game win streak. The MLB record was set by the 1916 New York Giants at 26, while the 2017 Cleveland Indians own the AL’s best-ever win streak at 22 games.

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The Angels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Oakland roared back on the strength of two home runs by Matt Chapman, as the A’s led 9-4 after the top of the fourth inning. Chapman also cleared the bases in that inning with a triple, producing six RBI overall in the losing effort.

But three-time AL MVP Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani brought some power of their own, as a Trout homer in the fourth and an Ohtani bomb in the sixth brought the Angels even at nine.

The A’s bats went quiet down the stretch of the game after a strong start, and Trout gave the Angels the lead with a towering solo home run off Yusmeiro Petit in the bottom of the eighth.

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Southpaw Sean Manaea struggled mightily against the potent Angels lineup, surrendering four runs on seven hits in just two and two-thirds of an inning before manager Bob Melvin went to the bullpen.

"I didn't think his stuff was bad, I think he's just got to fight through this right now," Melvin told reporters after the loss.

After an emotional weekend series against the rival Houston Astros, including a benches-clearing brawl Sunday that likely will be resulting in some discipline for outfielder Ramón Laureano, the A's couldn't sustain a strong start and see their winning streak end at nine games.

Oakland still leads the AL West by 4.5 games over the Astros, who've won the division in each of the past two seasons.

Mike Fiers will be on the bump Tuesday against Angels pitcher Dylan Bundy as Oakland looks to get back in the win column. 

Watch A's red-hot slugger Matt Chapman crush two home runs vs. Angels

Watch A's red-hot slugger Matt Chapman crush two home runs vs. Angels

Matt Chapman is on a tear.

After the Los Angeles Angels took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning of Monday's game against the A's, the third baseman turned on a pitch from starter Julio Teheran to put the A's on the board with a solo home run to lead off the second inning.

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It was Chapman's third consecutive game with a home run. But the star wasn't done there, as he absolutely crushed a pitch from Teheran in his next at-bat that flew well over center fielder Mike Trout's head.

His second blast gave the A's a 5-3 lead in the third inning.

Chapman still wasn't done. In the top of the fourth inning, he came up with the bases loaded and drove in all three runners with a triple to right-center to give the A's an 8-4 lead.

Chapman so far Monday night is 3-for-3 with two homers, a triple and six RBI.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]