Even before his senior year of high school, 2016, Luzardo committed to the Univ
Born in Peru to Venezuelan parents, Luzardo will become the first ever Peruvian-born Major Leaguer when he debuts
Jesus moved with his family to Florida when he was 1 year old. He went on to attend Stoneman Douglas High, the BA High School Team of the Year in 2016, his senior season.
Luzardo attended lots of Marlins games while growing up.
Luzardo was inspired by the left arm of Johan Santana, who pitched for the Twins and Mets and was among the best lefties in baseball in his prime.
"I loved the way he just got after hitters,” Luzardo said. “His changeup was his best pitch. I love to throw a changeup. He really, really mixed his pitches well. He wasn’t a tall guy, probably 6-foot. So I have the same stature as him, and I just modeled my game after him.”
Now, Jesus loves watching Felix Hernandez work the craft.
Luzardo was born in Peru, but his family hails from Venezuela.
Jesus is a very good student and has great character.
He loves to go fishing.
Luzardo's favorite quote: Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best." –Tim Duncan.
In Jesus' fourth start of the 2016 season for Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the ace injured his throwing arm, and his season was done. This was a tough pill to swallow for the Eagles, but co-captain Luzardo calmed the team’s sails with a speech the day after his injury.
“He said, ‘I’m gonna be fine, don’t worry about me
“He said, ‘I’m gonna be fine, don’t worry about me. Go win a championship for me and for yourselves,’” coach Todd Fitzgerald said.
Luzardo was a true leader for the Eagles, even without taking the mound. He came to every practice throughout the year and rallied the team through his words and actions. Through his attitude, Luzardo inspired the whole team and gave them an added drive on the field.
In 2016, Luzardo got drafted by the Nationals (see Transactions below).
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Luzardo as the 15th-best prospect in the Nationals organization.
After being acquired by the A's, Jesus was their 5th-best prospect entering 2018 spring training. He moved up to the #1 A's prospect in the spring of 2019. And he stayed there in 2020.
Feb 14, 2018: At least three times a week for nearly two months, A's Minor Leaguer Jesus Luzardo returned to his alma mater to go through his offseason throwing routine. This day wasn't supposed to be any different in Parkland, Fla. Except the pitcher was cautioned against showing up this time. A nightmare was unfolding at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High when the school's baseball coach texted Luzardo: "There's a shooter."
Luzardo, just 20 and two years removed from his high school graduation, frantically attempted to reach some of the students he had been sharing a field with this winter. "They were all texting me when it was going on," Luzardo said at the A's Minor League facilities. "Some of them were telling me they were in a closet, some of them were saying they were hearing gunshots. It was pretty tough."
By day's end, he would learn that 17 people were killed by the accused gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who attended school with Luzardo. Dozens more were injured. "His face seemed really familiar," Luzardo said. "I don't think I had him in a class, but I feel like I saw him somewhere. I know friends who told me that they had him in classes, and I know someone who sat next to him in class. I knew who he was."
Chaos has turned to stillness in this South Florida pocket, disbelief and anger—but also action to prevent this from happening elsewhere—engulfing a close-knit community
Chaos has turned to stillness in this South Florida pocket, disbelief and anger—but also action to prevent this from happening elsewhere—engulfing a close-knit community.
"Parkland is a tiny town," said Luzardo, who has called it home since age 2. "Everyone basically knows each other, so if you go to Douglas, you basically know everyone who went there. The majority of the people there were just kind of in shock when it happened. It kind of felt like an emptiness, you could say. The last two days I was there, it just wasn't the same. You could go to the gym, you could go to eat, and just everyone was down. It was just a weird feeling."
Luzardo attended a vigil and decided to go forward with plans to fly to Phoenix in preparation for the A's mini-camp. A's Minor League pitching coordinator Gil Patterson told Luzardo to take his time, "but I told him, 'It's OK, I think I'm ready,'" said Luzardo, who was traded to the A's from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson deal. "I was prepared to come out here and do what I need to do.
"Even though my family wasn't directly involved, we knew people who got hurt, and it was just tough in general. But I had a lot of support from my family and friends telling me, 'You gotta go do your thing.' But I'm excited for what's to come and definitely represent for Stoneman Douglas and do what I can for the community." Already, Luzardo has established a memorial fund for the school's athletic director, Chris Hixon, who was killed in the shooting, leaving two sons.
"Every time I would see him, he always had a smile on his face," Luzardo said. "He came to a lot of our baseball banquets. He was just a really nice guy. He was always at our baseball games supporting us, helping us out if we were ever in trouble. If you were ever in need, you would just go to him and he would be a nice guy about it." (J Lee - MLB.com - Feb 17, 2018)
“He’s extremely special, on the inside and out,” A's pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said.
As Luzardo prepared to leave for 2018 spring training, a gunman shot up his high school, killing 17 of his former schoolmates and teachers in Parkland, Fla.
“His mentor (Chris Hixon) was killed—the athletic director who had helped him his whole life,” Patterson said. “He started a foundation to help (Hixon’s) son.”
Hixon was slain while protecting students at Douglas High, where Luzardo spoke at campus events and talked to students. He graduated from the school in 2016, the year the Nationals made him a third-round pick.
July 2018 : Luzardo represented the Athletics in the All-Star Futures game.
For the entire 2018 season, no minor league pitcher rose more sharply than Jesus Lazardo.
September 9, 2019: The Jesus Luzardo Era has begun! He joined the club at Minute Maid Park to begin a four-game series against the American League West-leading Astros.
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 September 8th. 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.” (Gallegos - mlb.com)
MLB debut - September 11, 2019: Jesus walked off the mound after an 8th inning groundout capped off his 3-inning night with a calm stride as he kept a stoic look on his face. Meanwhile, a group of about 30 friends and family members who made the trip from his home state of Florida went wild in Minute Maid Park's lower level with roars of cheers as they watched young No. 44 fulfill his childhood dream. He pitched 3 innings of 1-hit, 1-run ball.
"When I came off in the third inning, I looked up and saw them all," Luzardo said. "I tried not to pay attention. I know they were going crazy, though." (Gallegos - mlb.com)
2019 season: Luzardo embraced the high expectations as MLB Pipeline’s top-rated left-handed pitching prospect that accompanied him to Spring Training. And once Luzardo’s call to the Majors finally came in September, the 21-year-old certainly did not shy away from the spotlight. Jesis looked more like a poised veteran than a rookie in his 2019 big league cameo. From his electric 98 mph fastball to the falling-off-the-table changeup, Luzardo left the A’s salivating at what he might be able to accomplish over a full season.
Thrust into the middle of a postseason race, Luzardo pitched only 12 innings of relief, but all were of great importance. He posted a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just three walks, pitching multiple innings and recording a hold or save in four of his six appearances.
“He was [a factor] late in games,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “After [just about] one appearance, when he came in the game, it was all about how we were going to score some runs because we knew he had it taken care of on his end. For a young guy to be that impactful late in games, [the] seventh, eighth and ninth inning, that early in your career, you don’t see that often.”As exciting as Luzardo’s arrival may have been, 2019 really was just the appetizer. For the ’20 season, the lefty will move into the Oakland starting rotation, where the club sees him serving as the anchor for years to come.
What went right?
Luzardo settled in rather quickly, kicking off his Major League career with a bang on Sept. 11, as he mowed down a potent Astros lineup by retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced over three innings in an Oakland win at Minute Maid Park. That debut set the tone for a superb run that earned Luzardo a spot on the roster for the American League Wild Card Game against the Rays.
Even in a couple of outings where Luzardo did not have his best command, he still found ways to escape self-created jams unscathed. And the rookie impressed by not just relying on his overpowering fastball, but approaching hitters with a craftiness rarely seen from pitchers in their younger years.
What went wrong?
Injuries left Luzardo’s chances of pitching a single inning for Oakland this season in serious doubt. While he had the inside track on a spot in the starting rotation coming out of Spring Training, a muscle strain that Luzardo sustained in his left shoulder just a week before the start of the regular season kept him out for three months.
He returned to Minor League action in June, but was sidelined again less than a month later, this time with a Grade 2 lat strain. Had the latter injury not occurred, Luzardo likely would have been in Oakland in a starting role earlier than his eventual Sept. 9 callup. Entering 2020, the A’s believe that Luzardo, who also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016, is not injury-prone, though they’ll discuss whether or not to have him on some type of innings limit.
When the Oakland Coliseum lights were shining at their brightest, Luzardo remained fearless on the mound. He was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing night for the A’s in their Wild Card Game loss to the Rays, racking up four strikeouts over three scoreless innings of relief.
“I was nervous, but once I started warming up, the nerves were gone,” Luzardo said. “Once I got the first out, I was fine.”
2020 Outlook: The Wild Card Game outing was the first of many postseason games the A’s hope to see Luzardo dominate in the coming years.As long as he remains healthy, the only question regarding Luzardo entering next season is where he slots into the rotation as of Opening Day. Between Luzardo and No. 2 prospect A.J. Puk, the A’s have twin pillars on the mound to build around, much the same way they have set up their lineup with the dynamic young duo of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson at the corner infield spots.
“They’re gonna be stars,” Melvin said of his young pitchers. Both of them showed that. Jesus had a little bit more of an opportunity. A little bit more precise in the role we gave him. It was my fault early on that I threw A.J. in some tough situations before finding a niche for him, but both these guys are going to be fantastic for us and part of the feeling we have going into next year that we’re going to be better [is] because of guys like them.” (Martin Gallegos - MLB.com.- Oct. 24, 2019)
Jan 25, 2020: Jesus Luzardo had every right to return to his hometown of Parkland, Fla., this 2019 offseason and flex his new status as a big leaguer. He could easily have paraded around South Beach popping his collar. But the lefthander is true to his roots, and he’s not about to switch up on anyone who helped him reach this point. Coming off a season in which he lived up to the hype of being the A’s No. 1 prospect, Luzardo’s offseason hasn’t gone much differently than the previous two. He still hung around his old stomping grounds at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, like he usually does, working out with the baseball team in preparation for the season. Only this time, Luzardo used his big league card to pull some strings for his community.
Luzardo teamed up with Colton Welker, a Rockies Minor League third baseman and childhood friend who was a teammate at Stoneman Douglas, to organize a youth baseball clinic in Parkland. The free event was held Jan. 11 at the high school’s baseball field and open to all Parkland Little Leaguers ages 8-12.
“It was pretty cool,” said Luzardo, who had 16 strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA over six appearances in his September callup to go along with three scoreless innings in the American League Wild Card Game. “I actually went back and practiced with them. I go back a good amount.”
After endearing himself to the folks back home, Luzardo returned to the Bay Area looking to do the same with the Oakland Coliseum faithful as he prepares to embark on his first full season in the Majors. He already appears to be off to a good start, as he received some of the loudest cheers from the announced crowd of 32,000 supporters who descended upon Jack London Square for A’s FanFest.
“For him to get a hand like that after only being with us for basically a month shows that our fan base is very aware,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s just a talented guy. There are very few younger players that I’ve been around that have walked into a Major League clubhouse with the confidence he’s had. I remember the first time I walked into one, I just wanted to stand in the corner and not say anything or be noticed. He walked in saying he was here to help.”
Whenever the 22-year-old lefty took the mound in 2019, whatever level it was, he found success. (He posted a 2.51 ERA over 43 innings in the Minors.) Really, his only opponent that posed a serious threat was his own health.
Luzardo dealt with separate shoulder and rotator cuff strains throughout 2019, delaying his big league promotion to September after he was at one point considered a strong candidate to make the starting rotation coming out of Spring Training. It’s those areas where the injuries occurred that Luzardo has been targeting during his offseason strength and conditioning training at Cressey Sports Performance in Jupiter, Fla., as he enters a 2020 campaign that likely will see him start the year in the A’s starting rotation.
“I’ve been doing the basic conditioning and lifting, some upper- and lower-body days,” Luzardo said. “Definitely focusing on my shoulder and rotator cuff, getting all that 100 percent. My body feels great right now, and, hopefully, that continues. I think the strength training, as well as focusing on shoulder stuff and fine-tuning some mechanical stuff, will be a big help in the long run.”
The A’s likely will keep a close eye on Luzardo’s workload early in the season, though they have not revealed a specific innings limit for him. Whatever it may be, Luzardo should still get plenty of opportunities to fulfill the early prognostications for him to be in the running for AL Rookie of the Year.
“Sometimes it’s tougher for a pitcher to do that, but we’ve got a whole host of guys that could be Rookies of the Year while others could win MVP,” Melvin said. “I don’t think it’s out of the question.”
Luzardo’s goals for the upcoming season are more team-oriented, like helping the A’s reach the postseason for a third consecutive year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not trying to make a statement in his first full season in the big leagues. Luzardo also has his own personal goals, and they’re pretty lofty.
“I have my personal goals that I don’t put out there,” Luzardo said. “At the end of the day, I want to put the team in the best position possible. In terms of personal goals, I have some that are pretty high up there.” (M Gallegos - MLB.com - Jan 25, 2020)
2020 Roommates: For the last several years, it seems the names Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk appear in the same sentence more often than not.
The two left-handed A's pitchers were prospects at the same time. Injured around the same point in the season. And even made their major league debuts a few weeks apart.
But despite all that common ground, Luzardo and Puk definitely are not the same person.
“We’re super different, and we’re super alike in the same way,” Luzardo told NBC Sports California.
For full effect, they completely agree.
“There’s definitely a similarity and difference between us personality-wise,” Puk said.
“We hang out, we go eat probably every day. We’re super tight in that sense,” Luzardo shared. “But he comes from Cedar Rapids, I come from South Florida. I speak Spanish, he can’t even say hello in Spanish. He’s got long hair, and [is 6-foot-9] and I’m 6-foot.“
With that established, they’re also not helping the trend of being commonly grouped together. Because they’ve actually lived together each of the past two spring trainings. And plan to live together to start the 2020 season in Oakland. (Brodie Brazil - Feb. 29, 2020)
May 9, 2020: Jesús on his mother, Monica, on Mothers Day:
From driving him all across South Florida for travel ball as a kid to helping him through a grueling Tommy John rehab process as an 18-year-old, Luzardo is grateful to have had his mother, Monica, by his side throughout baseball and life.
“I just remember all the times she would take me to baseball practice and then take my sister to her swimming practice,” Luzardo said. “She would go back and forth daily, so we were a lot to handle. I’m thankful for my mom always being there for me and doing whatever it took for us.”
Now rated Oakland's No. 1 prospect with expectations as the club’s next ace, Luzardo never hesitates to thank both of his parents for their role in helping him get to this point in his career. –Martin Gallegos
There isn’t a day that goes by when Jesús doesn’t find himself looking to soak in some knowledge from Yusmeiro Petit.
From the time of his call-up to the Major Leagues in September 2019, Luzardo had his locker in the clubhouse situated just a few stalls away from Petit
From the time of his call-up to the Major Leagues in September 2019, Luzardo had his locker in the clubhouse situated just a few stalls away from Petit. In Luzardo’s mind, Petit was a blueprint for the 22-year-old rookie on how to go about his business in order to achieve the type of longevity carved out by Petit, who was in his 13th Major League season.
The relationship between the two pitchers grew even stronger in February 2020 during Spring Training. Anywhere Petit was on the field or in the weight room, Luzardo was never too far away, coming up to him with questions or bouncing ideas off him.
“He’s kind of like a second dad for me,” Luzardo said. “He tells me what I should and shouldn’t do sometimes, and it’s all out of love. It’s cool.”
Petit quickly embraced Luzardo’s hunger for knowledge. “He’s a very intelligent kid. He’s someone who pays attention to the little details,” Petit said. “He’s not just doing his job, he’s looking for the details that can stabilize him. He’s asked a lot of key questions about the game and how it all functions. That’s what impresses me the most about him.”
Luzardo’s eagerness evoked memories for Petit of a younger version of himself. Petit recalled being a 22-year-old on the D-backs in 2007, when veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez took him under his wing. At the time, Hernandez had been in the Majors for 12 years and was in the middle of reinventing himself after losing significant velocity on his fastball.
The focus of those sermons by Hernandez was how to make up for lost velocity with supreme command of pitches. It worked for Hernandez, as he finished his career with 17 Major League seasons under his belt.
“He saw that I was focused and gave me a lot of tips on those little details of the game,” Petit said of Hernandez. “He was losing his velocity and no longer throwing 96-97 mph as he did as a youngster in 1997 on the Marlins' World Series team. He explained to me that I needed to take in these tips, because that’s what will keep me in the game. And he was right. You can’t control your velocity, but you can control your command and [where] to place your pitches in spots where hitters fail more times than not.” (Gallegos - mlb.com - 7/31/2020)
The similarities between Luzardo and Petit may not be evident on the surface. After all, Luzardo is a rookie left-hander who can light up the radar gun with the best of them, topping out around triple digits. Petit is a right-handed veteran who has never been known as a hard thrower. But in terms of the type of pitcher Luzardo aims to become, he sees Petit as the perfect model.
Luzardo doesn’t want to be that flame-throwing hotshot pitcher who can’t locate. That’s why he was more pleased with only walking three batters than he was about striking out 16 over 12 innings in his time with the A’s in September 2019. Luzardo takes pride in limiting the walks, and he is always working to better command all five of his pitches—a skill that will become even more important as he’s expected to move into the A’s starting rotation and make his first Major League start next week after two relief appearances to start the season.
Who better to learn from than Petit? The 35-year-old issued just 10 walks in 83 innings last season, leading all American League relievers with 1.08 walks per nine innings.
“The way he pitches and sets up hitters, the way he’s smart about pitching—at the same time using his command without all the velo—that’s something that I admire and take away from him,” Luzardo said
“The way he pitches and sets up hitters, the way he’s smart about pitching—at the same time using his command without all the velo—that’s something that I admire and take away from him,” Luzardo said. “I try to command all my pitches, because if I can command with more velocity, that’s going to help me out.”
It took Petit a practical banishment from the Major Leagues after the 2010 season before he figured out how to find success. No teams came calling with a contract. and he played a season in Mexico in 2011. But with that came a wealth of learning experiences that can be passed down to others.
Petit refuses to label himself a mentor. He’s more of a guidance counselor, seeking to help younger pitchers find a path to success quicker than he did. “I like to help pitchers,” Petit said. “If someone asks me something about their command, I feel I have enough knowledge to give advice to guys. If they consider me a mentor for that, then I feel proud. I just want to help them so their road they have to take in this game is less difficult than mine. I had a hard path because I didn’t have a lot of help.”
There is something a little more special about Petit’s connection to Luzardo, though. With Luzardo’s parents hailing from Petit’s hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela, a city Luzardo often visited as a kid, Petit feels a sense of pride when it comes to helping out the young lefty.
“He comes from the same city as me. I’m proud of the work he’s doing,” Petit said. “I’m behind him 100 percent and give him pointers. I’ll try to keep him on the right path.” (Gallegos - mlb.com - 7/31/2020)