It was a devastating scene in the clubhouse when the A's fell to the Rays in the AL Wild-Card Game. And yet, there still was a sense of hope.
The young names of the A's still lingered in the air with the promise of a strong 2020 -- and perhaps even stronger seasons after that. Afterall, we had yet to see an entire season from young pitching star Jesús Luzardo.
The presence of Luzardo to the Oakland big-league club could be a game-changer, according to some MLB executives.
MLB.com surveyed front-office officials about which prospects would contribute the most in 2020. Luzardo was voted No. 2 overall with 19 percent of the vote.
Luzardo suffered a few setbacks last season while he was well on the way to his MLB debut. A Grade 2 lat strain and a shoulder injury had his ETA delayed, but he more than made up for it during his debut against the Houston Astros.
He struck out two in three innings and allowed one hit. After the regular season had concluded, he went 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings, striking out 16.
It was quite an impressive run despite the small sample size.
Catcher Sean Murphy also was mentioned in the poll with eight percent of the executives believing he will have an impact on the upcoming season. The 25-year-old played in 20 games in 2019 and slashed .245/.333/.566 with 13 hits and four home runs.
In the MLB.com write-up from prospect analyst Jim Callis, he noted Murphy's production behind the plate has been one of his standouts, but the raw power also is something that was noticed -- hence those four homers during September call-ups.
This goes to show the league is noticing the young talent the A's possess. They'll need all the help they can get from the young guys in order to succeed enough to take the AL West title and avoid the detrimental wild-card game that year-after-year haunts them.