Jesus Luzardo

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

The A's have one of MLB's best young cores in third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Matt Olson. Add in pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas and it's clear why this team keeps knocking on the door as a contender. 

The future for Oakland already is here, too. That sentiment was reinforced Wednesday when Baseball America released its latest list of their top 100 prospects before the 2020 season. 

Pitchers Jesus Luzardo (nine) and A.J. Puk (21), and catcher Sean Murphy (41) all made the list. They also all made their major league debuts last season. 

Luzardo is Baseball America's No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect behind only MacKenzie Gore (six) of the San Diego Padres. Puk is the website's fourth-best lefty, three spots higher than MLB Pipeline ranked him. 

Murphy comes in as the third-highest ranked catcher, behind Giants prospect Joey Bart. As someone whose defense stands out, he will be a key factor in Luzardo and Puk's development on a big league mound. 

Luzardo, 22, might wind up being the A's ace as soon as this upcoming season. Puk, who will turn 25 in April, isn't too far behind. Both pitchers are hard-throwing southpaws who have dirty offspeed pitches. 

[RELATED: Former Cal pitcher rises up A's top 10 prospect rankings]

Murphy, who hit four homers in just 20 games for the A's last year, likely will be Oakland's Opening Day catcher this year. He has Gold Glove potential behind the plate and is continuing to improve as a hitter. 

The A's already have their Big Three on offense in Chapman, Olson and Semien. The next trio already has arrived, and they're here to stay.

Baseball America releases new top 10 A's prospects for 2020 MLB season

Baseball America releases new top 10 A's prospects for 2020 MLB season

The A's top three prospects virtually are set in stone. Wherever you look, you likely will see the same three names in the same order: Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy. 

That's a pretty talented trio right there. It's the same top three that led off Baseball America's list of top A's prospects going into the 2019 season. The same goes for 2020

Luzardo and Puk are regarded as two of the best left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball. With a high-90s fastball and nasty changeup, Luzardo has all the ingredients to one day be a perennial Cy Young candidate. Puk's fastball-slider combination has him right up there with Luzardo, too. 

Murphy is expected to make a big impact on the A's this upcoming season, and the catcher is regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the game. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut last year and hit four homers in limited time, too. 

The real change for the A's, however, is at No. 4. Going into last season, Baseball America had a Heisman Trophy winner as Oakland's fourth-best prospect. That's right, we're talking about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyle Murray. 

While Murray claims he still believes he can play both sports in a calendar year, and the A's still own his baseball rights, it's highly unlikely the elusive QB ever wears an A's jersey. So, who's the A's new No. 4 prospect? Cal product Daulton Jefferies made a huge leap in the rankings. 

Jefferies, 24, entered 2019 as the A's No. 18 prospect on Baseball America's top-30 team rankings. The low ranking wasn't due to his talent, though. It was all because of injury risks. Jefferies missed a chunk of his junior year at Cal with a shoulder injury and then had Tommy John surgery in late April 2017. 

Prior to the 2019 season, Jefferies had only pitched 20 1/3 innings since being drafted by the A's with the 37th pick overall in 2016. He was healthy last year and showed his potential that always has intrigued front offices. The 6-foot right-hander went 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA and had 93 strikeouts to only five walks in 79 innings pitched between Advanced Class A and Double-A. 

[RELATED: A's Reed hopes to reunite with Florida teammate Puk in '20]

Jefferies is expected to start the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. He throws everything for strikes and sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. The A's will be safe with his workload, but don't be surprised if the former Cal Bear makes it to Oakland this season. 

There's no doubt the A's have one of the best young trios in Luzardo, Puk and Murphy. Don't forget about Daulton, though -- even if he does spell his name wrong.

Where Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk rank among left-handed pitching prospects

Where Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk rank among left-handed pitching prospects

The A's have three no-hitters in their rotation between Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea. They have one of the most intriguing pitchers in baseball with Frankie Montas. And yet, none of those three bring as much excitement and reason for optimism as two young lefties. 

Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are two of the best young lefties in the game. MLB Pipeline agrees. 

Both Luzardo and Puk were highlighted Wednesday when MLB Pipeline released its list of the 10 best left-handed pitching prospects in the game. Luzardo leads the way for Oakland and is ranked behind only San Diego Padres prospect MacKenzie Gore as the best southpaw prospect. 

Luzardo, 22, jumped one spot from his previous ranking. He made his major league debut last season in September and immediately looked like a future star. The first Peruvian-born big leaguer struck out the first batter he faced in the majors, Houston Astros infielder Aledmys Diaz. 

Luzardo suffered a few setbacks last season, including a Grade 2 lat strain and a shoulder injury. He finished the season with a 1.50 ERA in six appearances out of the bullpen and struck out 16 batters in 12 innings. 

The A's expect Luzardo to play a large role in their rotation next season, however, they likely will limit his innings and keep a keen eye on his health.

Puk dropped two spots in MLB Pipeline's rankings, from No. 5 to No. 7. He also is expected to be a big factor among A's starters this year. 

The 6-foot-7, former No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft, had Tommy John surgery in April 2018 and will need to prove he's built to be a starter. Puk made his big league debut in late August and showed he has plenty of strikeout stuff, though he did struggle with his control at times. 

[RELATED: MLB execs: A's prospects Luzardo, Murphy will thrive in '20]

The former Florida Gator went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings last year. Puk can hit triple digits and has an absolutely nasty slider. 

Luzardo and Puk should be a nightmare for opposing AL West teams for years to come. That's the dream scenario for the A's and their fans alike.