The first month of the season is in the books and there are some hitters in the Oakland organization off to very impressive starts. I have highlighted 5 hitters and while the sample size is admittedly small, each one is giving us reasons to be excited even below the surface stats.
The stats reflected below are as of the end of April.
Jonah Bride, 3B/C – AA Midland RockHounds
.348/.446/.652/1.098, 16 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 13 R, 9 BB, 6K
Bride has been consistently hitting in the meat of the order for the RockHounds and the stats show why as he has done a bit of everything so far. The offensive numbers are impressive but what has me really excited about Bride’s start is that he has started 7 games behind the plate. I don’t think that Bride is an everyday catcher at the major league level, especially with Shea Langeliers and Sean Murphy ahead of him in the organization. Bride adding the ability to catch on top of being a solid corner infielder gives him the versatility that this organization loves.
Metric that matters: SwStr 4.2%. Bride’s swing and miss percentage is well below the major league average of 11% and would put him in the elite category. Players with low SwStr% tend to be very good contact hitters and Bride is proving that true in the early going.
Shea Langeliers, C – AAA Las Vegas Aviators
.301/.407/.712/1.119, 22 H, 9 HR, 20 RBI, 16 R, 12 BB
When Langeliers was acquired in the Matt Olson deal with Atlanta he came with the reputation of an elite defensive catcher with the potential to be an average hitter at the MLB level. While his cannon of an arm continues to impress, the offensive side of his game is really getting attention. With only 3 previous games of experience at the AAA level, he is proving to be a quick study at the plate. With this early season performance, he is pushing the organization for a promotion and reigniting the Sean Murphy trade rumors.
Metric that matters: BABIP .271. Langeliers BABIP would appear to legitimize his .301 average. 86 plate appearances is a small sample size and with a slightly below league average BABIP it appears that in the early going his BA is not the result of “luck” or bad defense.
Logan Davidson, SS – AA Midland RockHounds
.328/.369/.569/.938, 19 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 11 R, K% 18.5
You would have to look hard to find a player in this organization that was hit harder by the lack of a minor league season in 2020 than the switch-hitting Davidson. After being drafted in the first round in 2019, he missed an entire season worth of at bats in 2020, then was aggressively assigned to AA last year and as a result struggled with the bat hitting .212 and striking out 30% of the time. Davidson hit well in the Arizona fall league and his RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby is predicting a better season for him: “I expect him to keep growing like he has,” Crosby said. “We’ve seen him this spring and he’s definitely taken some strides with his swing, and his defense is always off the charts.” Davidson could really climb in the organization’s rankings with a solid season this year. The early results are certainly encouraging.
Metric that matters: wOBA .403. Davidson is getting on base at an excellent rate in the early going compared to last year’s below-average rate (.290).
Denzel Clarke, OF – Single-A Stockton Ports
.325/.419/.575/.994, 26 H, 8 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 21 R, 13 BB, 9 SB
In his first taste of full-season ball, Clarke is holding his own. He is top 10 in the California League for several statistical categories: 1st in total hits, 1st in doubles, 1st in extra base hits, 1st in runs scored, tied for 4th in stolen bases, 6th in slugging percentage, tied for 7th in home runs, and 8th in batting average. The only red flag so far this season is a 25% K rate. Even that may be considered acceptable since this is his first taste of professional pitching. Still worth monitoring as the season progresses.
Metric that matters: BB/K Ratio .591. This ratio puts him in the top 65% of hitters in the California League. As mentioned above, his K rate is an area of concern but when taken in context with his number of walks it paints a different picture.
Max Schuemann, MI/OF – AA Midland RockHounds
.317/.444/.492/.936, 20 H, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 21 R, 13 BB, 8 SB
Schuemann is a tough out at the plate. He makes a pitcher work and will take a walk. His profile to this point in his career has been a light-hitting speed guy that could get on base at a high rate. Prior to this season, his batting line has not stood out (career .232 AVG, .339 SLG) but what has is his speed (42 SB across three levels last year). Combined with solid defense, this is the kind of hitter that profiles as a super-utility player at the major league level. To that point, he has logged games at SS, 2B, LF, CF, & RF so far this year.
Metric that matters: ISO .175. His raw power is grading out as above average in the early going which really adds intrigue to his profile. If this continues, he could shed the “light-hitting” label.
Other hitters to watch:
Zack Gelof, 2B/3B .329/.352/.435/.787, 28 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB
Euribiel Angeles, MI .304/.333/.367/.700, 24 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI, 2 SB
Max Muncy, SS .233/.380/.507/.887, 17 H, 5 2B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 17 BB, 2 SB
Jeremy covers the St Louis organization and contributes on Prospects of the Week for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Midwest, he is a lifelong fan of the Birds on the Bat. You can follow him on Twitter @JMahyfam for more baseball content.
"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too." -Yogi Berra