For the first time since being traded to the Braves during Spring Training, Matt Olson made his return to the Oakland Coliseum as the A’s welcomed Atlanta for a short two-game series.
It was a warm reception for Olson, who played a key role in helping the A’s to three postseason appearances in his six seasons with the club. Prior to Tuesday’s series opener, the 2021 All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner was reintroduced to the Coliseum crowd with a special video package before the game, ending with Olson acknowledging the fans with a hat tip and wave while on the field.
For the Braves, Olson is now a star they’re counting on as an integral piece in their quest to repeat as World Series champions. For the A’s, it’s all about the return of four promising prospects, who ranked highly in Atlanta’s system, who now represent a hopeful brighter future in Oakland. Let’s take a look at that package of prospects acquired for Olson and how they’ve performed so far:
A tear through Triple-A pitching led to Langeliers receiving his first call to the Majors in August. Since joining Oakland, the rookie has flashed the impressive power he was touted for throughout the Minors, while battling the expected adjustments from Major League pitchers, hitting .216 with three home runs, five doubles and 12 RBIs through his first 19 games. Though the A’s already possess a Gold Glove catcher in Sean Murphy, there is no doubt they view Langeliers, who also brings stellar defense behind the plate, as their backstop of the future and a possible cornerstone of the franchise.
It’s been a trying year for Pache in his first season with the A’s. Earning a spot in the club’s Opening Day lineup out of Spring Training, the defensive metrics will show the 23-year-old center fielder already ranks among the game’s elite defenders at his position. The ongoing question remains whether he can hit enough at the Major League level, which has been a concern dating back to his time as Atlanta’s top overall prospect. Called back up to Oakland last month, Pache is batting .160 with a .447 OPS in 74 games. If the A’s can get him up to even just average offensive production, they see Pache as a mainstay in center field with multiple Gold Glove Awards on the horizon.
Rated Oakland’s No. 14 prospect, Cusick has struggled on the mound while also battling through a midseason oblique strain, posting a 7.20 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) for Double-A Midland with 36 strikeouts across 35 innings. A first-round pick by the Braves in the 2021 MLB Draft, there’s still plenty of time for the 22-year-old to get on track and advance through the system. In fact, that return to form may already be taking place, as he’s allowed just three earned runs over his first three appearances at Double-A since returning from injury.
Estes has battled ups and downs at High-A Lansing, holding a 4.76 ERA in 19 starts with 87 strikeouts over 85 innings. Rated Oakland’s No. 24 prospect, the 20-year-old is one of many pitchers who make up a strong pitching depth that has been accumulated by the A’s over the past year through several trades.