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.
At 5’11”, Loaisiga is not an intimidating presence on the mound by any means. The young right-hander averages 95 miles per hour with his fastball, in his first start for Staten Island he consistently hit 97-98 miles per hour throughout his starter.
His secondary pitches consist of a curveball and changeup. The curveball is his best secondary pitch. Staten Island Yankees pitching coach Travis Phelps has been quoted as saying he has a “major-league quality” curveball right now that is usually 80-83 miles per hour. The changeup has improved a lot since joining the Yankees but is still a work in progress, he is getting more comfortable throwing it but still needs to learn to control it better. Right now, it is usually in the upper 80s and has good fade.
Loaisiga is a small frame pitcher that has drawn comparisons to former Boston Red Sox and New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez. He is composed on the mound, not letting anything get to him. If he allows a hit or a walk he just goes right after the next batter. He has an aggressive pitching style that impressed many of the scouts that came out to see him during the season and in instructs.
Loaisiga is continuing the road back from Tommy John surgery and the Yankees will likely try to take their time with him. While it is possible that he stays back in extended spring training to start the season it is most likely that he will head to Charleston to open the 2018 season with the Charleston RiverDogs.