This A's prospect 'has been a revelation'

June 1st, 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.

ATLANTA -- Maybe it was his late-blooming four-year career at the University of Washington. Perhaps it was the lack of positional flexibility. Whatever the case, Will Simpson -- despite slashing .335/.418/.643 and slugging 18 home runs as a senior -- was not a highly-coveted amateur entering the 2023 MLB Draft.

Simpson was eventually selected in the 15th round (No. 436 overall) by the A’s last summer. About 11 months later, he's ranked as their No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline and is generating excitement throughout the organization for what continues to be a strong start to his professional career.

Through 42 games with High-A Lansing this season, Simpson leads the Lugnuts with 34 walks and is slashing .299/.429/.497 with four homers, 11 doubles, three triples and 31 RBIs. The 22-year-old first baseman has also logged eight games at third base, showing there might be a little more versatility to his 6-foot-3 frame than was originally expected.

“Will has been a revelation in the Midwest League,” said A’s assistant general manager Billy Owens, who likened Simpson’s hitting profile to former All-Star slugger Garrett Cooper. “He’s a big man with underrated athleticism. ... He barrels baseballs with real power.”

Simpson immediately impressed the A’s in his debut last year. It went beyond the numbers, though, which were quite good as he hit .322 with 15 extra-base hits in 29 games with Single-A Stockton.

What stood out was Simpson’s cerebral approach to the game and hitting. He’s not just a lumbering slugger up there swinging for the fences. He comes to the plate with a plan and can adjust on the fly. The results show in his exit velocities that are consistently in the upper 90s.

“He understands the game,” A’s director of player development Ed Sprague said of Simpson. “The new ways of analytics and everything about how to approach it. How pitchers attack hitters based on the stuff they do. He’s really advanced in that aspect of it. He’s a pretty solid defender at first in spite of his size. We’re excited to have him.”

Here’s a roundup of some other notable performances throughout the A’s system:

Triple-A Las Vegas: Nick Allen could not be performing much better than he has since being optioned to Triple-A on May 3. In 13 games for Las Vegas, the shortstop is hitting .444 (24-for-54) with a 1.105 OPS as he looks to work his way back to the Majors after a slow start with Oakland to begin the season.

Double-A Midland: Outfielder Colby Thomas (No. 12 prospect) continues to demonstrate an impressive power-speed combo with 13 homers, 14 doubles and 10 stolen bases through 46 games. His 44 RBIs also lead all of Double-A.

Single-A Stockton: Catcher Cole Conn earned a promotion to High-A Lansing earlier this week after a strong start with Stockton that saw him slash .273/.431/.417 with 11 extra-base hits in 40 games.

“He’s a good under-the-radar prospect,” Owens said of Conn, a 12th-round pick by the A’s (No. 346 overall) in the 2023 MLB Draft. “A switch-hitter with a feel for the barrel on both sides and sneaky pop. Solid on-base skills. He’s an athlete who defends well behind the plate with firm arm strength.”