Jesus Luzardo

Seven A's prospects who could reach major leagues in 2019 season

Seven A's prospects who could reach major leagues in 2019 season

Unlike the Giants, the A's are loaded with prospects that appear close to major-league ready. The only issue, however, is health. 

Led by perhaps the top pitching prospect in baseball, Jesus Luzardo stands alone on this list. Once he returns from a left rotator cuff strain, the 21-year-old could be the ace the A's need to make another postseason run.

With a starting rotation full of question marks, four arms make our list of A's prospects who could toe the rubber in Oakland this season. That doesn't mean the three bats aren't intriguing, though. 

What is most exciting about these seven prospects, however, is if they reach the big leagues this season, it would be their MLB debut.

The A's were the surprise team in baseball last season. And there's plenty of youth on the way that can help make a push for the playoffs the norm yet again in Oakland.

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11 GIFs and videos that will prepare you for the A's 2019 season

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USATSI

11 GIFs and videos that will prepare you for the A's 2019 season

It's been a bit difficult to keep track of the A's schedule thus far.

The team had an exhibition game in Tokyo, followed by the Opening Day game in Tokyo against the Mariners. Then they came back to the Bay Area for a few exhibition games against the Giants.

But now, they host the home opener on Thursday afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And so it begins ...

Here are a collection of GIFs to get A's fans, and baseball fans, ready for the upcoming season.

Platinum Glove

Matt Chapman earned a Platinum Glove Award last season because of moments like this:

And this moment that happened on Tuesday night:

Seriously?

Olson's absence

I'm not crying, you're crying.

A's first baseman Matt Olson underwent right hamate surgery on his right hand after exiting last Thursday's game against the Mariners in Japan. 

But ... there are other options.

Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, Franklin Barreto, and Jurickson Profar can all handle first base duties. Pinder especially.

The 26-year-old can play anywhere -- and do it well. Plus, I really wanted an excuse to post that awesome GIF of his defensive gem.

Luzardo out

The injury bug continued to hit Oakland, as top pitching prospect Jesús Luzardo hurt his shoulder. It was announced he was shut down for 4-6 weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

Great.

The starting rotation has Mike Fiers leading it off, followed by Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, Frankie Montas, and Aaron Brooks. Brooks was just told he was the fifth guy on Tuesday night

But, with Estrada, you get a disgusting changeup that makes batters go weak in the knees. 

Literally ...

Just beautiful. 

Welcome, Profar

Coming over from the Rangers, Jurickson Profar boasted a .254/.335/.458 with 20 home runs and 133 hits in 2018.

I know I mentioned him previously as a guy who can play at first base, but I was partly lying -- he can play anywhere -- and he has played in just about every position during his time in the majors. And Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, who has been covering Profar since the beginning, had some very nice things to say about him.

"That guy is going to change the playoff race," Grant told NBC Sports Bay Area back in December.

If the A's can get there -- and it'll be close -- Profar could really do some damage. Perhaps even be a game changer. 

The Witch

Pitching Ninja loves him some Blake Treinen (PSA: Pitching Ninja is a Twitter account you MUST follow).

And what's not to love?

He boasted a 0.78 ERA and 1.82 FIP (keep double-checking those numbers, they're correct) with 100 strikeouts in 80.1 innings last season.

And well, just watch:

He will put in a lot of work for the Green and Gold coming out of the bullpen as the team's closer.

I simply can't stop watching him pitch. Can you?

The A's have an interesting season upon them. Winning the AL West, with the Astros leading the way, means the team will be up for a daunting task. But if history repeats itself, the team will have a lot of fun shocking the world again.

2019 A's predictions: Why Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas will win team awards

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AP

2019 A's predictions: Why Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas will win team awards

The A's head start is an early hole. 

After an 0-2 start against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, Oakland has to play catch-up when 28 other teams open their seasons Thursday. The winless start isn't insurmountable, though, as the A's snagged a Wild Card spot in 2018 after starting the season 5-10. 

Can Oakland do it again in 2019? With the MLB season set to start (or restart) Thursday, we take our best crack at predicting the A's top contributors this year:

Offensive MVP: Khris Davis

Matt Chapman and Stephen Piscotty could certainly be in the running, but Davis takes Oakland's lineup to another level. The 31-year-old has recorded more than 40 home runs and 100 RBI in three straight years, leading all of baseball with 48 homers last season.

Davis has also increased his home run and RBI totals in each of his three seasons with the A's. There's no reason to believe he'll slow down now.

Defensive MVP: Matt Chapman

Not only is Chapman the best defensive player in Oakland -- he's the best defender in the AL, and possibly all of baseball.

Last season, the A's third baseman led MLB with 29 defensive runs saved en route to winning the AL's Platinum Glove Award as the best defensive player in the league. Chapman's combination of agility, quickness, range and arm strength make him the frontrunner to win the award again in 2019.

Overall MVP: Matt Chapman

Chapman gets the slight edge over Davis because of his defense. Davis will almost certainly lead the team in home runs and RBI again, but Chapman might not be far behind.

Last season, the 25-year-old slashed an impressive .278/.356/.508, and was especially productive in the second half of the season. As he continues to improve at the plate, Chapman could challenge for AL MVP.

Best starting pitcher: Frankie Montas

This choice could come to a surprise as many, but the A's have always believed in Montas' potential to become a front-line starter.

The 26-year-old right-hander showed flashes of dominance last season, and was even better this spring. Montas features an overpowering fastball and slide,r and has added a splitter this year. That led to him allowing just one earned run in 16 innings during the spring, with 16 strikeouts.

Best relief pitcher: Blake Treinen

The A's have plenty of talented relievers to choose from, but Treinen is arguably the best closer in all of baseball.

The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off one of the best seasons in MLB history, recording 38 saves, 100 strikeouts, and a ridiculous 0.78 ERA in 80 1/3 innings. There's almost no way Treinen can approach those numbers again, but his devastating sinker and slider will ensure he remains hard to hit.

Best newcomer: Jurickson Profar

Profar enjoyed a breakout season last year in Texas, hitting .254/.335/.458 with 20 home runs, 35 doubles, and 77 RBI, all career-highs. The switch-hitter should build off that success in his first season with the A's.

The 26-year-old will also be valuable in the field, where he can play every infield position. He primarily will play second base but can also help fill in at first until Matt Olson returns from injury.

[RELATED: Breaking down A's biggest competition in AL West]

Best rookie: Jesús Luzardo

Luzardo was recently shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain, but he is already feeling better. Of course, the A's will be extremely cautious with the 21-year-old, who is ranked as the top left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball.

If he gets a chance to pitch later this season, Luzardo could make a massive impact.