Athletics

Why A.J. Puk is ahead of Jesus Luzardo on Keith Law's top prospects list

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AP

Why A.J. Puk is ahead of Jesus Luzardo on Keith Law's top prospects list

No matter what outlet you look at, the A's top three prospects usually goes as follows: Pitchers Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, and then catcher Sean Murphy. 

It's a bit different for The Athletic's Keith Law, though. While Law agrees the trio is Oakland's three best prospects, he doesn't agree with the order of many others. Puk is the A's top prospect at No. 21 in Law's top 100, followed by Luzardo at 26 and Murphy at 36. 

Luzardo's injury history concerns Law. 

"If he can hold up as a starter, he has a higher pure ceiling than teammate A.J. Puk, with better secondaries and probably better present command," Law says. "But he just hasn’t shown a track record of durability or health, even going back to high school, to instill confidence that he can take the ball 30 times." 

A shoulder strain held Luzardo out for the first two months of the season last year. He then dealt with a setback in July when he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 lat strain. 

Puk doesn't have a clean bill of health either. The 6-foot-7 left-hander was threatening to make the Opening Day roster out of spring in 2018, but underwent Tommy John surgery in April and missed the first two months of last season. 

When the two are healthy, however, they're two of the best young southpaws in baseball. Puk, 24, showcased his potential by striking out former NL MVP Kris Bryant on three pitches, highlighted by a nasty slider. 

The lanky lefty made his MLB debut on Aug. 21 last season and appeared in 10 games out of the bullpen. He went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and struck out 13 batters in 11 1/3 innings. His command could hurt him, but Law believes Puk will at least be a solid No. 2 in the rotation. 

"He may never have the command to be an ace, but he looks like he’ll miss enough bats with the three primary weapons to be a good No. 2," Law says. 

[RELATED: Why A's no longer tab Puk, Luzardo with prospect label]

Luzardo, 22, needed only 43 innings in the minors last year before making his big league debut on Sept. 11. Once he reached Oakland, Luzardo only allowed two earned runs over 12 innings and notched 16 strikeouts.

But since the Washington Nationals selected him in the third round of the 2016 draft, Luzardo only has averaged slightly over 65 innings pitched per season. 

Even with their age and injury histories, Puk and Luzardo easily could become the A's aces this season in a deep rotation. New ballpark or not, the future is bright in Oakland.

MLB The Show 20 player ratings: Where A’s roster ended up on 100 scale

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USATSI

MLB The Show 20 player ratings: Where A’s roster ended up on 100 scale

We won't have live Oakland A’s baseball for a while. For now, we have to improvise.

One of the ways the league is making sure everyone stays home is by implementing a way to watch MLB The Show 20 in a tournament put on by the players themselves.

In the game, you’re able to create essentially your own legacy in Major League Baseball.

Just like most games based on professional sports, each individual is given an overall rating.

Here are how some of the A’s players fared, out of a possible best score of 100:

3B Matt Chapman: 92
Closer Liam Hendriks: 88
1B Matt Olson: 86
SS Marcus Semien: 85
CF Ramón Laureano: 83
RP Joakim Soria: 83
SP Sean Manaea: 81
RP Yusmeiro Petit: 81
RP J.B. Wendelken: 78
P Frankie Montas: 76

You can see the rest of the A’s numbers, as well as other players across the league, in this video:

For Matt Chapman, he’s unsurprisingly one of the best third basemen in the game according to The Show’s player ratings -- No. 4 in that category to be specific. Right behind Houston Astros star Alex Bregman, who was rated a 95. 

Nolan Arenado leads the hot corner with a 99 overall rating. Chappy earlier this year told NBC Sports California where he believed he ranked compared to Arenado, Bregman and even Anthony Rendon. Rendon was signed by the Angels in the offseason, which only beefed up the AL West at that position.

Last season, Chappy put up solid numbers earning his first All-Star selection and his second, and consecutive Gold and Platinum Glove Awards. He hit 36 home runs and slashed .249/.342/.506 with 91 RBI.

For Liam Hendriks, who was rated the second-highest on the team, he was the third-highest among closers, with Kirby Yates leading the category.

Last season, Hendriks was sensational with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP in 85 innings. He also earned the first All-Star selection of his career.

[RELATED: Mike Fiers details mentality behind no-hitters]

Marcus Semien also earned high marks with his 85 rating. He was tied with the likes of Adalberto Mondesi, Carlos Correa and Trea Turner. Not a bad group to be associated with.

The ratings at shortstop had a lot to do with fielding abilities. Despite the shift in power we get to see among middle infielders, the glove was a highlight here -- but the bats were all but ignored. Semien has improved drastically over the last couple of seasons with both his glove and offensive game. He was appreciated here.

Angels star Mike Trout also received a 99 rating, which goes to show who the rest of the league has to measure up to.
 

A's Mark Canha misses hitting the most amid MLB's coronavirus hiatus

A's Mark Canha misses hitting the most amid MLB's coronavirus hiatus

A’s outfielder Mark Canha was sipping on a glass of Lagavulin 16 scotch when he recently sat down for an interview with NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil, via FaceTime, of course.

Canha remained in Arizona following the cancellation of spring training and delay of MLB's Opening Day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He stressed the importance of self-quarantining during the hiatus, but admitted he was really missing baseball. He misses his teammates for sure, but especially his time in the batter’s box. 

“Hitting a baseball is such an imperfect art, or -- maybe not an art, but an imperfect thing -- just perfection is never attainable,” he said. “So, it’s just like there’s always something to work on.”

Last season, Canha was dubbed one of the most underrated players in the game. He told NBC Sports California during spring training, he was ready to become more than that as a more well-known name this season. He mirrored those sentiments with Brazil. 

“You’re always looking for more, striving to be the best you can," he said. “In my personality, I’m kind of like a workaholic -- not a workaholic, but I’ll hit in the cage until my hands bleed, kind of guy.

“I really miss it," he added.

[RELATED: Canha could see birth of second child during COVID-19 hiatus]

In 2019, he hit a career-high 26 home runs and slashed a terrific .273/.396/.517, good for a 146 wRC+.

“I suppose I could try and go out and hit right now, but it just feels like it doesn’t make any sense,” Canha said. “It’s kind of one of those things where if you’re not facing pitching, you’re going to make adjustments anyway, so what’s the point?”