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.
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.
Where Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk rank among left-handed pitching prospects originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area