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A's call up No. 1 prospect Luzardo

Peruvian-born lefty likely to come out of bullpen; Mengden recalled, Barrera to 60-day IL
@MartinJGallegos
September 9, 2019

HOUSTON -- It’s the dawn of a new era: The Jesus Luzardo Era. The A's selected Luzardo, their No. 1 prospect and No. 18 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, and also recalled right-hander Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday. The left-hander joined the club at Minute Maid

HOUSTON -- It’s the dawn of a new era: The Jesus Luzardo Era.

The A's selected Luzardo, their No. 1 prospect and No. 18 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, and also recalled right-hander Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday. The left-hander joined the club at Minute Maid Park to begin a four-game series against the American League West-leading Astros.

Luzardo was in contention for a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, but an injury to his left shoulder sidelined him in March. He also sustained a Grade 2 lat strain in July. In 11 Minor League appearances (nine starts) over three levels, he went 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Here's what to expect from Luzardo

Triple-A Las Vegas manager Fran Riordan delivered the good news to Luzardo shortly after the club was eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoffs on Sunday afternoon. Overjoyed, the lefty immediately grabbed his phone and reached out to his family and friends to inform them of his callup.

“It was something I’ve dreamed about since I was young. It definitely lived up to the hype, I guess you could say,” Luzardo said. “When Fran told me, calling my friends, parents, my sister -- it was something I’ve always looked forward to and I was happy I was able to do it.”

The call to his parents, Jesús Sr. and Monica, was especially satisfying. These two served as a guiding light for Luzardo during his grueling rehab process after undergoing Tommy John surgery as an 18-year-old high schooler. From driving him to appointments with the doctor to providing emotional support, they followed him every step of the way, never losing hope that this day would eventually come.

“We are super excited for him. God bless him and give him a long and healthy career,” Jesús Sr. said. “He deserves this. He worked hard. This has been his dream since he was a little kid. We’re confident he can perform at the MLB level and help the team. Just super proud of him.”

Luzardo will be making one of the most anticipated A’s debuts in quite some time, but it’s still unclear where the club might slot him. His electric arm is fully built up to start games, as he most recently threw 93 pitches in five innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts for Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. With the A’s already implementing a six-man rotation, Luzardo may be a late-inning option out of the bullpen, where his 99-mph fastball could play up even better.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said Luzardo will not be available to pitch until Wednesday. While no final decision has been made on his role, he said pitching out of the bullpen is the more likely avenue at this point.

“It’s exciting to get a first look at him at the big league level,” Melvin said. “He’s not going to be able to pitch until Wednesday because of his last start, so we’re still kind of contemplating how we’re going to use him.”

Luzardo has only made three relief appearances in his three Minor League seasons, but he’s ready to go as long, or short, as the A’s want him to pitch in games.

“Whatever role they want to put me in is what I’ll do,” Luzardo said. “I’m just happy to be here and help contribute. Whether it’s a batter, one inning, five innings or seven innings, I just want to be here and help however I can.”

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for the 21-year-old Luzardo, who will become the first Peruvian-born player in MLB history when he makes his debut, Oakland recalled outfielder Luis Barrera from Double-A Midland and placed him on the 60-day injured list following right shoulder surgery.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.