This afternoon the Oakland Athletics traded relief pitchers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals. In exchange, Oakland receives right-hander Blake Treinen and a pair of prospects: left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo and third baseman Sheldon Neuse. Here’s a quick take on the two new Athletics farmhands.
Jesus Luzardo, LHP: The Nationals drafted Luzardo in the third round in 2016 from high school in Parkland, Florida. He was considered a first-round talent until hurting his elbow and having Tommy John surgery two months before the draft. He’s recovered quickly and made his pro debut on June 28th in the Gulf Coast League. So far he has a 1.32 ERA in 13.2 innings with a 15/0 K/BB.
Listed at 6-1, 200, Luzardo was born September 30th, 1997. His most consistent pitch in high school was his change-up, while his fastball ranged anywhere between 89 and 97 MPH. He has the potential to have at least an average curveball and slider and his command has been exceptional so far in rookie ball. We need to see how he bounces back as his workload builds, but so far, so good. He could end up with at least two plus pitches and perhaps three.
Sheldon Neuse, 3B: Neuse was drafted in the second round last year from the University of Oklahoma. He was successful as both a hitter (.369/.465/.646) and pitcher (1.40 ERA, 19/5 K/BB in 19 innings, five saves) but the Nationals preferred him as a hitter. So far this season he’s hitting .291/.349/.469 with nine homers, 25 walks, and 66 strikeouts in 292 at-bats in Low-A.
Neuse is 6-0, 195, a right-handed hitter born December 10th, 1994. I saw him play for the Sooners and felt he demonstrated a good batting eye along with above-average power, though his approach has been a bit more aggressive as a pro. Minor League Ball’s Shaun Kernahan also saw Neuse in college, noting particularly his very strong throwing arm and actions that should work well at third base.
He has split 2017 between shortstop and the hot corner; Shaun feels Neuse is better-suited to third base in the long run and I agree.