Double-A to MLB? A's GM says there’s a chance

June 3rd, 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.

It has been quite some time since the A’s have called up a player straight from Double-A to the big leagues. By general manager David Forst’s account, the last he can recall is outfielder in 2007.

If there was ever a year it could happen again, though, it might be 2023.

During his weekly segment on A’s Cast earlier this week, Forst was asked about the possibility of a player getting called up from Double-A Midland this season. His response:

“With the guys who are performing there, we’ve definitely talked about it,” Forst said. “Partly because the environment in [Triple-A Las Vegas] has made it very difficult for guys to make the adjustments. The way the ball flies there, what you can get away with as a hitter doesn’t always translate here. That’s part of the reason. Also, there’s a lot of guys performing really well there.”

Here’s a closer look at some of the standouts who are currently on the Double-A Midland roster:

Darell Hernaiz has quickly adjusted to his new organization. Acquired from the Orioles in exchange for Cole Irvin this offseason, Hernaiz leads all Midland hitters in batting average, slashing .340/.400/.512 with four homers, 12 doubles, two triples and 30 RBIs in 41 games. The right-hander has played mostly shortstop this season, though he is versatile enough to play all around the infield.

“Plus athlete with freakish contact skills,” A’s assistant GM and director of player personnel Billy Owens said of Hernaiz. “At 21, he’s young for the Texas League and is performing at a high clip.”

Brett Harris is hitting .298 with an .855 OPS and is tied for the team lead with 12 doubles in 44 games. The third baseman has also flashed the leather with some brilliant plays at the hot corner.

Lawrence Butler continues to show off a dynamic set of tools. The outfielder leads the team with six homers and is hitting .309 with a .869 OPS, 11 doubles, 32 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

Denzel Clarke leads Midland with a .943 OPS in 28 games and has five homers, 10 doubles, two triples, 18 RBIs and four stolen bases.

On the pitching side, Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes, both of whom were acquired from the Braves in 2022 as part of the Matt Olson deal, have anchored Midland’s pitching staff. Estes entered Saturday holding a 3.52 ERA in 10 games (eight starts) with 42 strikeouts and 16 walks over 46 innings.

“Estes is performing well at Midland,” Owens said. “He’s got a good delivery. A lively fastball at 93-95 mph. Nice slider. Good changeup. Attack mode with his entire arsenal. He’s got starter ingredients.”