Somewhat of a throwaway name in a previous trade, right-handed starter Luis Medina proved why he’s worth more glimpses and opportunities after a 2023 rookie campaign where he was thrown right into the fire. Expect him to only get better in 2024.
Medina was acquired along with LHP Ken Waldichuk, LHP JP Sears, and 2B Cooper Bowman on August 1, 2022, from the New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Frankie Montas and RHP Lou Trivino.
What were the expectations?
Medina’s always had nasty stuff on the mound, but the biggest red flag with him as always been command. He started 2023 in Triple-A where he could continue developing but was called up to Oakland within a month into the season after injuries and other struggling arms. Medina would end up spending most of the rest of his season at the big league level, but going into the season, the A’s likely saw him more as a fringe Triple-A/MLB arm.
Medina went 3-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 17 starts and 109.2 innings pitched — the third most on the A’s in 2023. He struck out 106 batters, gave up 109 hits and 66 runs, and walked 57 — the second most on the team.
Medina was called up on April 25 to make a spot start and his MLB debut on the 26th. He surrendered eight hits, seven runs, and two home runs to the Los Angeles Angels in a losing effort and was immediately optioned to Triple-A on the 27th. Medina was recalled on May 11 and wasn’t sent back down to Las Vegas for the rest of the year until a rehab start on August 30th when recovering a right index finger blister. Medina’s final start on September 28 against the AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins would be his best of the season as he tied his longest outing of the year with six innings, three hits, one run, and four strikeouts.
What went right? What went wrong?
As mentioned before, accuracy and walks plagued Medina in 2023. Medina walked 4.7 hitters per nine innings and was 3% over the MLB average in walks while also adding seven wild pitches on top of it. Also, his four-seam fastball averages 96.1 MPH and is certainly one of the most electric amongst starters in the big leagues, but was slugged for a .272 average amongst the 41.5% of the time it was used. His sinker, the third-most pitch he used, was slugged for a .313 average in 73 plate appearances.
While the fastball and sinker were hit hard, Medina’s slider was a lethal weapon. Opponents hit just .233 while whiffing 48.2% of the time against the pitch, but it’s one Medina will need to continue developing as it’s used emphatically more with righties. In a season where the A’s also lacked consistency and efficiency from their pitchers, Medina also proved to be an available arm most of the time who’s worth at least another season of consideration.
Medina is the A’s 13th best prospect by Baseball America heading into 2023, Medina will be expected to take another leap forward in his development in 2024. The writing is certainly on the wall with Medina; there were various small stretches in 2023 where the 24-year-old looked un-hittable and showed why he was signed out of the Dominican Republic at just 16 years young. He’ll have another season of plentiful opportunities to improve and help the A’s hopefully win some more games in 2024.