The Augusta GreenJackets are losing the anchor of their rotation and a clubhouse presence with the reassignment of left-handed starter Matt Lujan.
Lujan has been assigned from Augusta to Advanced-A San Jose. He's expected to travel to San Jose on Friday.
A corresponding move has yet to be announced. Right-hander Joan Gregorio is expected to slide into a rotation spot for the GreenJackets for now, but Lujan's assignment leaves an empty spot on the roster.
The 25-year-old lefty recorded a 2.19 ERA over 12 appearances and 10 starts spanning 70 innings. He had 21 walks to 66 strikeouts and never gave up a home run for Augusta.
Lujan's strong first half earned him the starting role for the South in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game this past Tuesday in Hickory. His path from college to the minors wasn't smooth, but he's now attempting to make up for lost time with good numbers in the low levels.
Lujan should have started 2014 at San Jose, but a logjam of pitchers kept him in Augusta. He proved himself with a 3.33 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 78.1 innings for the GreenJackets last season, and he only got better this year.
San Jose fans can expect a simple delivery and arsenal from Lujan. He throws in the upper-80s and will touch 90-91 with a little run. He spots his fastball well to both sides and can work effectively on the outer half. Lujan's changeup flashes plus with good arm action and tumble. It's his out pitch and he relies on it. His breaking ball has improved since last year, showing more depth and better bite. It flashes average to give him three pitches he can throw in any count.
Lujan simplified his mechanics over the offseason, shortening his leg kick and improving his timing to the plate. He has good drive toward the plate and doesn't waste momentum. He said the tweaks have improved his command and helped shape his curveball better, and I agree based on observations.
Lujan won't blow anyone away with his size or stuff. He's just a smart pitcher who gets the most from what he has with pitchability and command. He now has three pitches he can turn to instead of two and a show-me third, and that will help in the higher levels.
Lujan is also a good leader in the clubhouse. He took the role of leading a young Augusta team in 2014 as the eldest player. He's smart, and very approachable and coachable.