1. Lucas Luetge
Raise your left hand if you saw Lucas Luetge emerging as the early-spring cult hero! Didn’t think so.
Following the addition of Justin Wilson (who we…haven’t seen yet…so he might not exist), there’s no longer a dire need for a middle-innings lefty in the Bronx.
But Luetge, a childhood Yankees and Cowboys fan (yeah, we know), has unleashed some devastating filth thus far, and we can’t help but keep our eyes open.
He also looks…almost exactly like a mashup between James Paxton and JA Happ on the mound, as Talkin’ Yanks so dutifully pointed out.
Luetge hasn’t seen big-league action since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners, and shuffled around at the Alternate Site for the A’s last year, though he never got the call while opening eyes. Thus far this spring, he hasn’t just handled his business; he’s looked electric, and has leapt off the page in both his outings (which came in otherwise dreary games).
In the spring opener, Luetge used his power curve to whiff two. Against the Phillies in Clearwater Thursday, he did what no one else could, and blew away three in a shutout inning, predominantly leaning on his hammer.
We’re not going to make declarative prognostications based on a pair of spring outings, but Luetge certainly looks worth monitoring. And unlike, say, Bruce and Derek Dietrich, he can be easily held at Triple-A instead of being exposed to the rest of MLB.
Somehow, every player mentioned on this list is 33 years old, which doesn’t say a lot for the way the kids have accounted for themselves so far; in fairness, they haven’t gotten much run, if any.
But while we wait for Luis Medina and Austin Wells to perform daily, this trio has certainly captured our attention, Luetge most of all.