Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine the top 10 prospects in the A's organization. For each player, we will provide a scouting report and a realistic timetable for reaching the major leagues, as well as what he needs to do to stay there.
No. 1 - Jesús Luzardo
Luzardo has lived up to the hype and then some. The 22-year-old southpaw burst onto the scene in September and allowed just two runs on five hits in 12 innings for the A's, striking out 16 and walking three.
Oakland used its top prospect in a relief role down the stretch -- and in the AL Wild Card Game -- with Luzardo often following starters for three innings at a time. He certainly didn't look like a rookie, overwhelming opposing hitters with his high-90s fastball and a devastating curveball, mixing in an effective changeup as well.
"He was factoring late in games," A's manager Bob Melvin said last month. "After about one appearance maybe, when he came in the game, it was all about, 'Alright, how are we going to score some runs? He's got this taken care of.' For a young guy to be that impactful late in games -- seven inning, eighth inning, ninth inning -- that early in your career at that young of an age, you don't see that very often."
Luzardo battled injuries for much of the year but still managed to pitch 55 innings between the majors and minors with a stellar 2.29 ERA. He will move into the A's starting rotation next season and could instantly become the ace the team has been searching for.
Jesús Luzardo, 99mph Paint. ✝️🦎🖌️🖼️🎨 pic.twitter.com/hzKnOY8tVn— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 3, 2019
Jesús Luzardo, Wicked 85mph Back Foot Slider. 🤢🦶 pic.twitter.com/5fVBQEf2h0— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 3, 2019
Luzardo will be joined in the rotation by fellow left-handers A.J. Puk and Sean Manaea, as well as right-handers Frankie Montas and Mike Fiers. Chris Bassitt could also play a role in the rotation, providing depth at the very least.
"I think we have a great future ahead of us and a lot of young guys who can help us out and contribute," Luzardo said last month. "Hopefully I continue to do what I did, and I'll be working for that. That's my goal."
[RELATED: Why A's are excited for Luzardo, Puk]
At the young age of 22, Luzardo looks like one of the top young pitchers in the game. He has the potential to win multiple Cy Young Awards in his major league career -- his stuff is that good.
The key for Luzardo will be staying healthy. If he can avoid major injuries, he should be a perennial All-Star in Oakland.