Gelof makes A's homer history, secures winning homestand

Rookie second baseman is fastest to 6 career jacks; Tarnok earns first MLB win

August 10th, 2023

OAKLAND -- Throughout the history of the Athletics’ franchise -- a period which dates back over a century to 1901 -- there have been some pretty dynamic rookies to come through this storied organization.

Over his first three weeks in the Majors,  stacks up well against all of those greats.

In a 2-0 victory over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at the Coliseum that clinched the A’s first winning homestand of 2023, Gelof, ranked as Oakland’s No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, continued his power surge by slugging his sixth career home run -- marking his 13th career game in which he has recorded at least one extra-base hit.

The 409-foot solo shot to lead off the sixth inning raised Gelof’s scorching start to elite heights, becoming the fastest player to reach six home runs (22 games) in A’s history.

“It’s not something I focus on, but it’s something that’s pretty cool,” Gelof said of the distinction. “If you’re driving in runs, you’re helping the team win. It’s a pretty cool stat, but you just have to keep going.”

Gelof might try to downplay it, but this achievement is more than just a footnote. Prior to Wednesday, the record for most homers by an A’s player through their first 22 games was an eight-way tie. That list featured stars such as José Canseco, Yoenis Céspedes, Matt Chapman and Sean Murphy, who all hit five.

Before Gelof, no A’s player had even reached six homers in their first career 25 games since Terrence Long in 2000.

“That’s quite a feat,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “You think about the A’s franchise, that he’s the quickest to six home runs in the amount of games it has taken him, that’s a pretty good accomplishment right there.

“This kid, as we talk about him more and more, he’s a baseball player. He’s got the right mentality.”

Beyond Gelof’s impressive power, the A’s have taken note of his studious approach. On Wednesday morning, he was one of the early arrivals to the clubhouse and sat down for an extensive film review on Texas starter Jordan Montgomery.

Even though Gelof went hitless in his first two at-bats, he made solid contact both times, including a deep 361-foot flyout in the third on a ball he hit just off the end of the bat.

In the sixth, Gelof turned on a 1-0 sinker from Montgomery and sent it over the high wall in left-center.

“The power has been there, but I think he’s just a good hitter,” Kotsay said. “He knows how to hit. He’s got a good approach. He’s got bat-to-barrel skills, and the power is there. He’s a strong kid. When he barrels it up, it’s going to go, especially to the opposite field.

“We saw that first home run just carry out to right field. He backs the baseball up and hits it with a lot of backspin.”

What Gelof is doing is nothing new to those who have been playing with him throughout the Minors.

No. 5 prospect Freddy Tarnok, who shut down Texas over four scoreless innings to earn his first Major League win, saw firsthand what Gelof is capable of at Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this season.

“He’s a beast,” Tarnok said. “You could see it. The guy is nasty. He could play. … I was watching him tear it up down there, so it’s not a surprise to me.”

Over a second half in which the A’s are embracing a full-on youth movement, Wednesday’s victory offered a glimpse at that promising future.

In addition to Gelof and Tarnok’s contributions, rookie Esteury Ruiz got the offense started by manufacturing the game’s first run. Following his one-out single in the third, the speedster swiped second and third base on consecutive pitches for stolen bases Nos. 45 and 46 before scoring on Jonah Bride’s sacrifice fly.

“A winning homestand is a positive,” Kotsay said. “That shows what we’ve talked about all along -- the incremental progress that we’re trying to make and build. We’ve got some young guys on this ballclub that weren’t here early [in the season] that are now helping us.”