Three Player Comparisons for Prospect Jesus Luzardo
By MJ Hurley
With Major League Baseball looking to return, it is time to take a dive into what the Oakland Athletics could hope for from one of their top prospects: Jesus Luzardo.
22-year-old left-handed pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo starred for the Oakland Athletics in the limited 2020 spring training, going 3-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 IP. In 2019, Luzardo flashed his brilliance in the major leagues, posting a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings over six appearances last year.
Although Luzardo has battled some injuries in the last few years, the A’s are hoping Luzardo will be able to star along with fellow lefty AJ Puk for the foreseeable future. With the previous dominance of Luzardo in mind, let’s take a look at three realistic player comparisons for him.
A realistic comparison: Jose Quintana
Quintana has a career 3.72 ERA totaling 1,485 IP and 246 career starts. Although A’s fans want Luzardo to be a generational lefty, realistically you could not be super upset with Luzardo being Quintana. Throughout his major league career Quintana has been very durable, having 4 straight 200 IP seasons for the White Sox. Quintana is the same weight as Luzardo, one inch taller and also had injury concerns coming into the major leagues, concerns which he quickly quieted by being a consistently effective starter for the Sox and now the Cubs.
With the A’s not really having a 200 IP a year guy since Sonny Gray did it twice early in his career, having a consistent and available starter in the lineup would not be the worst thing in the world for Oakland.
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An ideal comparison: Johan Santana
Another pitcher who sits around 6 feet tall and 200-210 pounds, Santana had a very similar style of pitching to Luzardo, with the only difference being Luzardo can throw much harder than Santana. Luzardo averages 95 MPH on his 4-seamer, and Santana topped out at 95MPH and hovered more around 88 to 92MPH.
But for me, this comparison comes more with their style of pitching and the pitches that they rely on. One of the pitches Santana became famous for was his circle change. Although Luzardo throws a more traditional changeup, Luzardo uses his changeup more than his 4-seam fastball and relies on his Johan Santana style sinker to induce a large number of ground balls.
I think that the specific and innate style of pitching that Santana relied upon will allow Luzardo to last longer in Oakland and worry less about injury concerns by focusing less on strikeouts and more on efficiency.
A bit of an odd comparison: Tim Lincecum
This comparison is mostly because of his size, but also because of the explosiveness that Lincecum had as a young pitcher. Lincecum played at five feet eleven inches tall and displayed a devastating slider that Luzardo also has shown in his limited prime time innings in Oakland.
Yes, Luzardo is a lefty not a righty, but the ridiculous amount of power that both pitchers are able to generate in such a small frame provides some context for what Luzardo could do. I do also think that their career path could be similar, with Luzardo being a dynamic star for a few years and then falling off the wagon due to his size and the stress put on his arm by the pitching motion he uses.
Overall, Jesus Luzardo will be effective in Oakland for a few years at least. What will be defining for the Oakland A’s is if not only Luzardo but also his fellow young star A.J. Puk can be aces in the Bay together. Those two together hitting a Johan Santana and Chris Sale combo in their ideal comparison could vault the A’s to the best pitching team in the league and possibly to a World Series Championship before Matt Chapman leaves town.