Right-handed pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga exploded onto the scene in 2017, but the Managua, Nicaragua native has an interesting history. He was originally signed by the San Francisco Giants as a free agent on September 13, 2012.
He played just one season in the Giants system before being released and after being signed by an Italian Baseball League team in January of 2016 he would get his contract picked up by the Yankees as a minor league free agent on February 9, 2016.
His father, Stanley, played minor league ball in the Expos organization and is the all-time home run leader in the Nicaraguan professional baseball league. His brother Mike is a switch-hitting, middle infielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Loaisiga made his professional debut in 2013 with the Dominican Summer League Giants. That season he started 13 games, earning an 8-1 record with a 2.75 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings pitched. Loaisiga ended the season on the disabled list.
Loaisiga started the 2014 season on the disabled list all season with an unknown injury.
He started the season on the disabled list, but the Giants decided to release him from his contract on May 30.
After sitting out a year do to injuries he originally signed with Novara of the Italian Baseball League in January but on February 9, 2016 he signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees. He was assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs on May 12, he made just one start for the RiverDogs, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings of work before undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his season.
Loaisiga returned from Tommy John surgery on June 26 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees. The right-hander started and pitched an inning while striking out one. Over seven games between the GCL Yankees East and GCL Yankees West he allowed just four earned runs in 15 2/3 innings while striking out 15 batters. It was on August 16 that he earned a promotion to the Staten Island Yankees and he really began to shine.
With Staten Island he faced batters closer to his age and impressed scouts. He went 1-0 with a 0.53 ERA in four starts for the Yankees, striking out 18 and walking just one in 17 innings during the regular season. He gave up just one earned run, on August 22 against the Aberdeen IronBirds. In the post-season, Loaisiga, earned the only Yankees victory when he pitched five shutout innings against the Hudson Valley Renegades.
The 2018 season was a big one for the right-hander. Loaisiga began the season with High-A Tampa, where he was 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in four starts and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched.
He was then promoted to the Double-A Trenton Thunder on May 3. With the Thunder, he would appear in 14 games, all starts. He went 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings pitched.
Loaisiga went on to make his major league debut in 2018 on June 15 when he allowed just three hits and four walks over five innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, earning his first major league win in the process.
He went on to appear in eight more games for the Yankees, in total he had a 2-0 record with a 5.11 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. He pitched much better as a starter than a reliever, allowing 8 of his 14 earned runs out of the bullpen.
At 5’11”, Loaisiga is not an intimidating presence on the mound by any means. The young right-hander averages 95.9 miles per hour with his fastball according to Statcast. He backs it up with a slider that sits at 84.7 MPH, a changeup that is at 88.2 MPH and a curveball at 83.9 MPH.
Look for Loaisiga to open the 2019 season in the starting rotation for the Triple-A, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. While he spent some time on the RailRiders roster in 2018 he did not appear in a game for them, instead, he went on the DL and heading to the GCL for a rehab game. Loaisiga will likely see time in the major leagues, filling in as a spot starter or reliever when the Yankees need him.