Could this A's prospect reach Majors in '24?

February 24th, 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.

MESA, Ariz. -- Likely to begin his 2024 campaign at Double-A Midland, A’s No. 7 prospect Max Muncy might be closer to the big leagues than even he realizes.

By the time last season came to a close, Oakland’s roster included Lawrence Butler, Joey Estes and Mason Miller, all of whom began the year playing for Midland. Seeing that unfold provided Muncy with some optimism as he entered big league camp with the A’s this spring.

“It definitely gives you hope that it can happen at any moment,” Muncy said. “You just have to stay ready. That’s my mentality. Come in here and play as well as I can. Wherever I go to start the season, just be ready for when they need me.”

A first-round pick by the A’s out of Thousand Oaks (Calif.) High School in the 2021 MLB Draft, Muncy seemed to gain a grasp for his raw tools last season. Between High-A Lansing and Double-A Midland, the shortstop hit .275/.353/.411 with 10 home runs, 35 doubles and 62 RBIs in 123 games.

The most encouraging sign for the A’s was the fact that Muncy’s production actually improved as the competition got tougher. After hitting .255 with a .712 OPS in 72 High-A games, he ended the year hitting .302 with an .833 OPS in 51 games at Double-A.

“As the season went on, he started to mature and figure out his approach,” A’s director of player development Ed Sprague said of Muncy. “He struggled early trying to chase season-long numbers as opposed to just continuing to get better. His strike-zone recognition increased and he took more walks.”

What led to the improvements? Muncy said it was a series of eye-opening conversations with both the A’s front office and Double-A manager Bobby Crosby.

“Patience was the big thing for me,” Muncy said. “They pulled up my numbers and all the extra stats that are available now and told me I was struggling with certain things, and the way to fix it is to be more patient. You don’t always have to hit a homer on the first pitch every time. Just wait for them to come to you. That was the big thing.”

There was not much time for Muncy to rest this offseason. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League for extra reps against some of MLB’s top prospects, then remained in Arizona and took only a week off before starting up his offseason workouts.

Expected to get some reps at shortstop during upcoming Cactus League games, Muncy will aim to leave an impression on the big league coaching staff.

“He has that mindset that Lawrence [Butler] came in with last year,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said of Muncy. “I think utilizing the experience of coming here for Spring Training will accelerate the progress and success. … Max Muncy, at some point [this season] could reach this team.”