Even if their pitching plans weren’t wildly up in the air, the A’s would feature prominent prospect Jesus Luzardo front and center at some point this season.
As it is, the 21-year-old — who has only worked in four games at the Triple-A level — might well be on the front end of Oakland’s rotation to start the season. Scouts who have seen him believe Luzardo will be in the running for the league’s Rookie of the Year award.
“He’s the real deal,” one National League scout said. “Zero doubt about it.”
Luzardo draws heady comparisons. Even during his amateur days, observers said he reminded them of former Twins left-handers Johan Santana, a two-time Cy Young winner, and Francisco Liriano. Around the A’s organization, Luzardo is spoken of in terms reserved only for the team’s top starters over the past 20 years: All-Stars Tim Hudson, Barry Zito (the 2002 Cy Young winner) and Mark Mulder.
“We haven’t had a pitcher like him since the Big Three,” A’s special assistant Grady Fuson said. “He’s one of the best things to come along here in a while. If you take our own history, he has better stuff than Mulder. He’s got better heat than Zito. You could kind of compare him to Gio Gonzalez at the same point, but with much, much better command.
“I don’t see any way he can’t break with us. Without a doubt. No-brainer.”