3 A's prospects knocking on MLB's door

January 30th, 2024

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.

The start of Spring Training in a couple of weeks will present opportunities for some A’s prospects who are on the cusp of the Majors.

Once Oakland’s pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14 at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz., certain areas of the roster will feature established incumbents such as Zack Gelof, Brent Rooker and Ryan Noda on the position-player side, as well as Paul Blackburn and JP Sears on the pitching side. But for positions with less certainty, the players on the fringe of a roster spot could come into play.

Let’s take a look at a few young players who, even if they do not make the Opening Day roster, could make the jump to the big leagues at some point in 2024:

INF Max Schuemann

A true super-utility man who has played every position except pitcher and catcher as a professional, Schuemann shined in what was his sixth season in the Minors in 2023 by posting a combined .832 OPS with 10 home runs, 20 doubles 51 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 116 games, 103 of which came at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Defensively, Schuemann showed off his utility traits by playing all three outfield spots, as well as shortstop, second base and third base throughout the year. Within the organization, the 26-year-old has drawn comparisons to veteran utility player Kiké Hernández.

There was a decent chance that Schuemann, Oakland’s No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline, could get picked up by another club in the Rule 5 Draft last December, after the A’s left him off their 40-man roster. Instead, he’ll partake in his first big league camp as a non-roster invitee and should see plenty of Cactus League action.

RHP Jack Perkins

A fifth-round pick by the A’s in the 2022 MLB Draft out of Indiana University, Perkins was aggressively moved through Oakland’s farm system in what was his first full season as a professional. He earned a promotion to Double-A Midland after just 10 games with High-A Lansing to begin the 2023 campaign. Between the two levels, the 24-year-old right-hander finished the regular season by going 4-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 22 games (20 starts), posting 93 strikeouts and 47 walks across 107 2/3 innings.

Sent to the Arizona Fall League for some extra work, Perkins came away as the A’s top performer. The club’s No. 18 prospect did not allow an earned run over his team-leading 10 appearances for the Mesa Solar Sox, turning in a 15-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio along with a 1.22 WHIP. Perkins held opposing batters to a .209 batting average in 12 1/3 innings.

Perkins will likely begin the season at Double-A Midland, but if the form he displayed in the AFL -- which included a newly incorporated power changeup -- can carry into the new year, it will not be a surprise to see Perkins quickly jump to Triple-A Las Vegas and put himself on the big league radar.

3B Brett Harris

Third base is a position that is seemingly up for grabs this spring, and Harris will certainly be in the mix. The A’s No. 10 prospect has garnered high praise from the front office for his development over the past couple of years, and he has been lauded for excellent defense and sound approach at the plate. In a combined 105 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Harris hit .279 with an .807 OPS along with nine homers, 10 stolen bases and 62 RBIs.

Harris might be on the lower end of the depth chart coming into camp, but a good showing in front of the Major League staff could go a long way in determining how soon the 25-year-old might be able to earn his first shot in the big leagues.