Jesus Luzardo Climbs To Precipice Of Majors
In the midst of an impressive spring training, outfielder Ramon Laureano broke his finger and got off to a late start. When he returned to the field at Triple-A Nashville on May 21, he showed the Athletics just what they got from the Astros in an offseason trade.
"His makeup and focus are off the charts,” farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He’s tremendously involved in the day-to-day of his game. He’s intense in the game and proactive prior to the game.”
The 23-year-old Laureano hit .297/.380/.524 with a career high 14 home runs and also 11 stolen bases in 64 Pacific Coast League games. The righthanded hitter plays all outfield positions and earns plus grades for his defense, speed and arm.
He has shown great accuracy with his throws and excellent instincts. Lieppman also said he showed leadership during his time in the minors.
From high Class A to Triple-A, Jesus Luzardo just kept meeting every challenge. The 20-year-old lefthander roared through the system this year, dominating at every stop. In 23 starts he went 10-5, 2.88 with 129 strikeouts and 30 walks in 109.1 innings.
"He really learned to use his changeup more often, and that’s become a big pitch for him,” Lieppman said. "This kid has enough savvy and his makeup is so good that he was able to handle the pressure of a lot of press and notoriety. That will serve him well as he moves ahead.”
Luzardo hits 97 mph with his four-seam fastball and usually pitches at 94-95. He has also shown a good curveball to go with an outstanding changeup, and he has started experimenting with a cut fastball to add to his repertoire.
Luzardo's quick improvement could put him in line to challenge for a rotation job next spring.
Scouting 11 Pitchers Who Stood Out This Spring
Ranging from top prospects like Jesus Luzardo and Chris Paddack to relative unknowns like A's relief prospect Nick Highberger.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Double-A Midland middle infielder Eli White made one big adjustment this year—he learned to pull the ball.
"He was always a middle-of-the-diamond guy who wasn’t able to get the ball to his pull side," Lieppman said. "Once he did that, it sort of completed the whole thing. He can use the whole field all the time now.”
The result has been that the 24-year-old Clemson product hit .306/.388/.450 with nine home runs in 130 games in the Texas League. The A’s are grooming White as a multi-position player, in the mold of Chad Pinder, who can play all infield positions and the outfield. The righthanded hitter, who was an 11th-round pick in 2016, runs well and shows occasional power.
A top A’s scout wrote in his report: "He’s a talented, versatile package; heavy with intangibles. I really like him.”