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Loaisiga joins Yanks with MLB debut on tap

Right-hander, 23, stepping in for Tanaka in rotation
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- Jonathan Loaisiga did not say much during his time in Yankees camp this spring, opting to keep a low profile and listen to the more experienced players as much as possible. Even so, the right-hander managed to be noticed by the coaching staff, making an impression with his excellent stuff and a simple athletic delivery.

That fluid form and a stellar array of Minor League statistics convinced the Yankees that the 23-year-old will be capable of jumping from Double-A to the Major Leagues as he prepares to make his debut on Friday against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

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NEW YORK -- Jonathan Loaisiga did not say much during his time in Yankees camp this spring, opting to keep a low profile and listen to the more experienced players as much as possible. Even so, the right-hander managed to be noticed by the coaching staff, making an impression with his excellent stuff and a simple athletic delivery.

That fluid form and a stellar array of Minor League statistics convinced the Yankees that the 23-year-old will be capable of jumping from Double-A to the Major Leagues as he prepares to make his debut on Friday against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

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"There's just an easy way about him," manager Aaron Boone said. "I think he's really talented. I think he's going to be a really good pitcher in this league. I think there's a presence about him. There's a humility that he walks around with, but I also believe that there's a confidence that he's unaffected by anything going on around him."

The Yankees optioned first baseman Tyler Austin to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to clear a roster spot for Loaisiga.

Loaisiga (pronounced "loh-AYE-see-gah") combined to make 10 starts this season with Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton, going 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA. In 45 innings, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Loaisiga has walked just four batters while striking out 58, scattering 47 hits. He has touched 98 mph and brings a solid curveball and changeup.

"It's been a tough road for me to get here," Loaisiga said through an interpreter. "Now it's about enjoying this moment and enjoying the opportunity. I want to do the best I can for the team and focus on winning. Winning is everything for us."

Born in Managua, Loaisiga will be the 15th Nicaragua-born player (11th pitcher) in big league history, and the first Yankee. Boone said Loaisiga -- the Yanks' No. 12 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- is replacing the injured Masahiro Tanaka on a start-to-start basis.

"I think a big reason why he's the guy that we chose is we feel like his stuff is excellent, but I feel like his delivery is low-maintenance enough that it should allow him to step up here and be representative right away," Boone said.

Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, the Yankees nearly promoted Loaisiga to start in a makeup doubleheader at Detroit this month before a pair of postponements in Baltimore shuffled the rotation.

"I was just focused on doing my job in Double-A, focused on doing my job and helping that team," Loaisiga said. "The manager [Jay Bell] called me into his office and told me that a big opportunity was coming for me and I was going to be able to pitch here in the big leagues."

Originally signed by the Giants in September 2012, Loaisiga was released in May 2015 after injuries limited him to 13 starts in two-plus seasons. Inked by the Yankees in February 2016, Loaisiga required Tommy John surgery after one start for Class A Charleston.

The Yankees rehabbed the hurler, and their patience is being rewarded. He returned to the mound last June, going 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 11 starts at three lower levels of the farm system.

"I'm super excited," Loaisiga said. "This is a great opportunity the Yankees have given me. I'm excited and thankful for that. Thank God that I'm here."

In the swing
Gary Sanchez returned to the Yankees' lineup in the cleanup spot on Thursday following two games off. Boone had benched Sanchez for the Interleague series against the Nationals, saying that his catcher could use the rest as he deals with physical issues, including a sore right calf. Sanchez had 10 hits in his past 69 at-bats (.145) at the time.

"I think he's a little bit frustrated and upset that he's not dominating, which is to be expected," Boone said. "I feel like he's pressed a little bit where he's chasing the result and he's chasing the hits, which I feel like is frankly normal when a hitter struggles a little bit. I don't think there's a confidence issue."

Injury report
Tanaka was sent home on Wednesday with an inner ear infection, and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue advised the hurler -- already on the DL with strains of both hamstrings -- not to come to the ballpark on Thursday. Boone said Tanaka is expected to be in the clubhouse on Friday, and that the issue is not expected to delay his return to the mound.

This date in Yankees history
June 14, 1953: The Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Indians by scores of 6-2 and 3-0 in Cleveland. The Game 2 win was the Yanks' 18th straight victory and 15th straight road win, the latter mark establishing a franchise record that still stands today.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga