6 prospects turning heads in A’s system

August 29th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos’ A’s Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

OAKLAND -- The A’s embraced a full-on youth movement last month by calling up top prospects such as Tyler Soderstrom, Zack Gelof and Lawrence Butler. But those three promotions are only scratching the surface of the next wave of young talent making its way to the big leagues.

From Triple-A all the way down to Single-A, several prospects are putting together impressive seasons, including some that could be candidates to join the A’s once rosters expand on Sept. 1, when each team can add one position player and one pitcher to its active Major League roster.

Here’s a look at some young players in the A’s organization who have been standing out:

INF Darell Hernaiz (A’s No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline)

Hernaiz has quickly caught the attention of the A’s front office since joining the A’s from Baltimore in the Cole Irvin deal this offseason. The 22-year-old’s hot start at Double-A Midland earned him a promotion in July to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he continues to swing the bat well. Over 109 games between the two levels, Hernaiz is hitting .333 with an .872 OPS, eight home runs, 30 doubles and 64 RBIs.

“He plays mature despite being the youngest guy on the field,” A's assistant GM and director of player personnel Billy Owens said of Hernaiz. “Offensively, he has freakish contact skills and emerging power. Defensively, he slows the game down and is very reliable. His baseball IQ is off the charts. There is some Marcus Semien to his game and I believe his power will surprise on the big stage.”

RHP Joey Estes (No. 14)

A sign of how much the A’s believe in Estes was evident in their decision to promote him to Triple-A earlier this month as a 21-year-old. The right-hander has held his own in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, holding a 4.12 ERA through four starts with 21 strikeouts and and eight walks in 19 2/3 innings for Las Vegas. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Estes carries a 3.41 ERA in 21 games with 121 strikeouts and 39 walks over 124 innings.

“Joey is a top-shelf competitor,” Owens said. “Athletic delivery, compact arm stroke and absolutely blisters the strike zone. His [fastball] carries a significant ride. The slider varies with shapes and speeds. He’s developed a cutter that tilts late and he softens his changeup to create separation. He’s getting closer every day.”

INF Max Muncy (No. 9)

Nicknamed “2.0,” as a play on his shared name with the Dodgers' power-hitting infielder, Muncy’s production has improved as he’s moved up in levels. Promoted from High-A Lansing to Double-A Midland in July, the 21-year-old is hitting a combined .264 with nine homers, 26 doubles and 50 RBIs over 108 games.

“Max has shown a stark adjustment in Midland,” Owens said. “His skill set and body remind me of a young Trevor Story. Max is a true shortstop who makes every play imaginable. Offensively, he’s making adjustments and sharpening his approach. The power will show up in spades. It’s fun to watch Max’s progress and easy to envision a bright future.”

C Daniel Susac (No. 6)

Susac’s touted bat as Oakland’s 2022 first-round Draft pick is showing up this season with High-A Lansing, where he’s batting .301 with an .808 OPS, seven homers, 18 doubles and 54 RBIs.

“Stylish swing with an all-fields approach and emerging thunder,” Owens said of Susac. “Defensively, he has soft hands, a strong arm and leadership characteristics. He’s making an impact on both sides of the diamond.”

INF Jacob Wilson (No. 2)

Wilson is showing why the A’s selected him sixth overall in the 2023 MLB Draft. The 21-year-old’s hitting skills are on full display with High-A Lansing, as he’s hitting .317 with an .825 OPS. Equally as impressive: He’s struck out just 10 times in 91 plate appearances.

“Jacob Wilson was born to play,” Owens said. “Just a smooth operator on offense with a savvy knack for the barrel. Eventually, he’ll surprise with [power] as he matures. Defensively, he’s been spectacular. Calmly makes the routine plays look mundane and the extraordinary plays worth the price of admission.”

OF Henry Bolte (No. 13)

Bolte is flashing an impressive mix of power and speed for a 20-year-old with 13 homers, 17 doubles, five triples, 27 stolen bases and 63 RBIs in 100 games with Single-A Stockton.

“Big tools and a high ceiling,” Owens said of Bolte. “Henry’s competitiveness and zest for the game stand out. Plus he’s great in the clubhouse and a popular teammate.”