A's pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo arrived at the team's facility in Arizona, on Saturday, two days after attending a vigil at his Florida alma mater, where 17 people were killed when a former student opened fire on campus.
Luzardo intended to work out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on the afternoon of the shooting but was warned not to come by his former coach. He stayed in contact with people inside the school through text messages as Wednesday's shooting unfolded.
Offseason MiLB include
"They were all texting me when it was going on," Luzardo told reporters. "Some of them were telling me they were in a closet, some of them were saying they were hearing gunshots. It was pretty tough."
Luzardo said that he had a brief telephone conversation with an A's mental strength coach and that the two plan on meeting during Spring Training in Mesa.
"He was just trying to make sure everything was all right with me and that I was ready to go ... not necessarily on the field, but if I was good personally in my own mind," Luzardo said via telephone, adding he's ready to return to action.
Citing support from family and friends, the 20-year-old left-hander has established a college scholarship fund in support of the family of athletic director Chris Hixon, one of the victims of the shooting.
He shared a video on his Twitter account on Friday night, announcing that with the help of Hixon's wife, Debbie, and sons Cory and Tommy, he started an online campaign to fund a scholarship in Chris' name. In a message on his YouCaring page, Luzardo says that Hixon "played a huge role in supporting my dreams of becoming a professional baseball player and his loss will be felt by everyone in the Douglas community."
The scholarship, Luzardo said, also will benefit South Broward and Blanche Ely high schools, where Hixon also worked as athletic director. The Hixon family will help select a student from each school who'll receive an annual scholarship.
"We were trying to raise money for Mr. Hixon's family, but ... they're going to put it towards the fund," Luzardo said. "It'll be in memory of Chris Hixon and who he was as a person. That's what he would want people to do."
Toolshed: A's Luzardo finds health, stability
Luzardo moved with his family from Peru to Parkland at the age of 2 and graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2016. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March of his senior year but was still selected in the third round of that year's Draft by the Nationals. He sat out the 2016 season and made three appearances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer before being traded to the A's for relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.
Ranked sixth among A's prospects and eighth among all southpaws, Luzardo made four appearances, including three starts, in the Rookie-level Arizona League before being promoted to Class A Short Season Vermont in August. The 6-foot-1, 205 pounder started five games for the Lake Monsters and went 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 43 1/3 innings across two levels.