Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
It's hard to project what the Yankees will get out of Jonathan Loaisiga on Friday night when the 23-year-old righty makes his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium. He's only got 35 games of pro experience, after all, none above the Double-A level.
But two talent evaluators who have watched the Nicaragua native say he's a highly-competitive hurler with what one calls "big stuff," including a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can jump a tick higher.
"Chip-on-shoulder type," says Dan Greenlee, the Marlins director, player personnel, who saw Loaisiga when he worked for the Yankees. Greenlee further describes Loaisiga like this: "Pounds zone. Fastball has velocity and swing-and-miss life. Power curveball and serviceable changeup.
"Doesn't back down."
Another scout, who saw him in instructional league last year, says Loaisiga has "excellent arm strength with plus fastball velo and whippy arm action. Change was his second-best pitch and had a hybrid-type breaking ball.
"Will definitely compete and aggressively attacks the zone."
The Yankees are calling up Loaisiga (pronounced loh-AYE-see-gah) from Double-A Trenton to take Masahiro Tanaka's place in the starting rotation after Tanaka hurt both hamstrings in the Subway Series. Loaisiga is scheduled to start against former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi.
Loaisiga has a 6-1 record and 3.00 ERA in 10 minor-league starts between Trenton and High-A Tampa this season and has fanned 58 while walking only four in 45 innings, so he clearly knows how to command the strike zone. At Trenton, he was 3-1 with a 4.32 ERA in six starts.
Loaisiga, who would become the 15th player from Nicaragua to play in the majors, has had a circuitous career path. He made his pro debut in San Francisco's system in 2013, going 8-1 for the Giants' Dominican Summer League team. Shoulder issues wiped out his 2014 and 2015 seasons and he was released. The Yankees signed him in 2016.
He made one start at Class-A Charleston in 2016 and needed Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2017, making 11 starts in the low minors and recording a 1.38 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. Despite his injury history and his size -- Loaisiga is 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds -- the Yankees liked his stuff enough to put him on the 40-man roster and protect him from the Rule-5 Draft.
Yankee manager Aaron Boone said this week that the club doesn't expect Loaisiga to pitch deep into the game, but he does expect to get quality innings from him. It's a big chance for the undersized righty and who knows what other opportunities might present themselves as Tanaka heals?
Whatever happens, the Yankees have another intriguing prospect - he's ranked 12th in the club's system, according to MLB.com.
"Health and durability have always seemed like the only things that could stand in his way," Greenlee says.