A's prospects knocking on the door for '24

October 11th, 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 -- Through the frustration of a second consecutive 100-loss season for the A’s, a shining light emerged in the wave of young talent that reached the Majors.

Zack Gelof led the way for Oakland’s next generation with a historic start to his career that earned him August American League Rookie of the Month honors in what was the second baseman’s first full month with the A’s. Others such as catcher/first baseman Tyler Soderstrom, infielder Jordan Diaz, outfielders Lawrence Butler and Esteury Ruiz, right-hander Luis Medina and left-hander Ken Waldichuk graduated from prospect status, showing positive signs of development over the final half of the 2023 campaign.

The youth movement will continue into 2024 as several players on the A’s top prospect rankings -- headlined by infielder Jacob Wilson, the sixth overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft -- inch closer to the big leagues.

Here’s a look at where the A’s farm system stands, and which players could make an impact next season:

3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year

RHP Luis Morales: Morales, Oakland's No. 5 prospect, was considered to be the best pitching prospect of the 2023 international market, and he certainly pitched like it. The 21-year-old righty flashed electric stuff across four levels and finished the year at High-A Lansing, combining for a 2.86 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 44 innings. With a repertoire that features a fastball that can reach up to 99 mph and a crisp breaking ball, Morales could continue his rapid ascent through the system in 2024.

INF Max Muncy: Things really seemed to click for Muncy this season. Oakland’s No. 7 prospect began the season at Lansing before earning a midseason promotion to Double-A Midland, where he really took off by hitting .302 with an .833 OPS in 51 games. Having just turned 21 last month, Muncy's strong season has some in the A’s organization believing he could reach the big leagues as soon as next season. An encouraging sign is his assignment to the Arizona Fall League this year, something both Gelof and Butler received in 2022 before making their Oakland debuts this season.

OF Colby Thomas: Thomas, a third-round Draft pick by the A’s in 2022, immediately impressed in his first season as a professional. Between Single-A Stockton and Lansing, Oakland's No. 16 prospect displayed an intriguing mix of speed and power, hitting 18 home runs with 39 doubles, six triples and 25 stolen bases in 126 games while hitting .286 with an .844 OPS.

2 possible breakout players to watch in 2024

RHP Joe Boyle: Boyle began the ‘23 campaign considered a middling prospect in Cincinnati’s organization at Double-A Chattanooga and ended it with a stellar Major League cameo of three starts with the A’s in which he allowed just three earned runs in 16 innings and struck out 15 batters while showcasing a fastball that averaged 97.9 mph. Rated the A’s No. 21 prospect, Boyle will be a strong candidate to come out of Spring Training with a spot in Oakland’s starting rotation next year.

OF Denzel Clarke: Had it not been for a season-ending shoulder injury in August, Oakland's No. 3 prospect very well could have found himself among the bevy of A’s prospects who were called up to the Majors this season. While healthy, the 23-year-old hit .261 with an .877 OPS, 12 homers, 11 doubles, four triples and 11 stolen bases in 64 games at Midland.

1 big question for next season: What is Mason Miller’s long-term role?

Between his triple-digits fastball and devastating slider, Miller, Oakland’s top overall pitching prospect, has all the makings of a frontline starter for years to come. But his immense potential comes with lingering injury concerns that showed through this season with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his right elbow that kept him out of action for nearly four months. Upon returning from injury in September, the A’s were extremely cautious with Miller’s workload, keeping him on a strict limit of 50 pitches over his final six outings of the season. Entering ‘24, the A’s will need to determine whether Miller can hold up as a starter or might be better served as a high-leverage reliever.