Prospect Spotlight: An Interview with Jonah Bride

Jonah Bride, 2021 Arizona Fall League. Photo credit Will MacNeil, @RFWill149 on Twitter

Jonah Bride, IF/C Las Vegas Aviators (Athletics #13)

Owasso High School (Oklahoma):
2013: 6A State Champion (36-0 record)
2014: Louisville Slugger All-American

Neosho JC (Chanute, KS):
2015: (.471 BA, 14 HR, 93 RBI) Second Team NJCAA All-American, First Team All Conference

South Carolina University:
2016-18: (186 games, .289 AVG, .401 SLG, 194 H, 36 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 95 RBI, .957 FLD%)
2018: Drafted in 23rd Round by Oakland

In his professional career to this point, Bride has continued to display the same innate ability to get on base and make excellent contact that he did as an amateur. He has never had a professional season with a K rate above 20% or SwStr% above 7.8%. That is elite-level contact ability. Prior to 2021, he had primarily played 3B/1B defensively with the occasional 2B opportunity. Bride’s 2021 season ended early because the A’s sent him to the instructional league to learn to catch, a position he had previously never played. He has continued catching this season first with AA Midland and now AAA Las Vegas. Most impressive is that while learning the most difficult position in the field at the highest levels of the minors his offense has not slipped a bit. In fact, he has improved across the board. He currently has the highest BA and OBP of his career hitting .357/.448/.616/1.064, has lowered his K% (12%) and SwStr% (5%), and is showing an increase in power raising his ISO by 100 pts. His positional versatility combined with his high contact bat and developing pop has got to make A’s fans excited.

Jonah took time out of his busy schedule and sat down for a phone interview with me.

Jeremy Mahy: First of all Jonah, congratulations on your recent promotion to AAA Las Vegas. How has that transition gone for you?
Jonah Bride: Thank you very much, I appreciate that. It has been great man. I actually played a Tuesday game in Midland and then right after the game, while I was getting my lift in, Bobby Crosby (Rockhounds manager) gave me the news that I was going up. They (Las Vegas) were in Tacoma at the time so I would be jumping on a plane early the next morning. I did that, got there for the game, played all week in Tacoma, and then we got to come back to Vegas. We actually swept that series. It has been a really good time getting to know these guys and seeing some of the guys that I have played with in the past. It has been really enjoyable.

JM: In college and really so far as a professional you have primarily been a corner infielder. Last year though you added a new position to your resume. How has learning the catching position going?
JB: Man, it has been a lot for sure, but it is a challenge that I am up to. That is what it was from the start, I was up for the challenge. So we went into the Instructional League and Fall League and I just gave it everything I had. I was open to whatever and just tried to get better every day. Moving around the infield and learning those new positions didn’t take very long and you kind of get used to it. Catching is just so much different. There are so many different aspects to the game and building that relationship with your pitchers. I am definitely continuing to do everything I can to get better. If I am not catching one day or if I am going to catch one or two times in a week, I try to get in and catch those bullpens to continue to build that experience and tamper with new things, and different stances. There is just so much that goes into the catching position for sure.

JM: Did you have any previous experience catching growing up or in high school?
JB: No, it is totally new. I think there was literally one year when I was maybe eight or nine that I caught one kid on our team because he threw so hard and I could catch it. Other than that, no I have never been a catcher at all.

JM: In your career, you have been able to get on base at a high clip and have displayed an outstanding hit tool. This year though, your power numbers are seeing an uptick. Any difference in your approach?
JB: You know, I don’t think it has really been a different approach. Ever since I got into pro ball, I don’t know if it’s the wood, but I’ve just started to click better. In college I just tried to hit, it was a lot of singles, I didn’t really have the pull side down. I think I have started to learn how to use the pull side and back spin the ball. I have had great coaches and guys that have helped me develop. I just put in the work every single day. I just try to go up there, be confident, and continue to swing it well.

JM: How do you feel that playing in the SEC for three years helped prepare you for your professional career?
JB: Oh yeah, I’ve always talked about that for sure. It did a lot. I mean, I would compare the guys that you are facing on the weekend during the 10 week SEC schedule, those top-of-the-line guys, every guy I am facing now is pretty much that kind of guy. It’s like those Friday night SEC guys every single night now. They come out of the bullpen throwing hard, they are throwing 50% sliders, and they throw like 96-97. Having that experience, getting to play in that league, against all that talent, that has for sure helped me to be where I am right now for sure.

JM: Who have been the biggest influences on your baseball career to this point?
JB: I would say my parents. We’ve always been in it together. People always talk about how when I was 10, 11, 12-years-old my mom was still catching bullpens for me. My parents definitely pushed me every single day, kept me going. It is motivation for me to keep doing that.

JM: Growing up in Oklahoma, who was your favorite team and/or players growing up?
JB: I was actually born in Wisconsin and I moved to Oklahoma at age eight or nine. So I was a Brewers fan for a while. My favorite guy growing up was actually Prince Fielder. I think as I grew up and got into high school I didn’t really have a specific team, I just really enjoyed watching baseball. In general, now I just watch all the baseball that I can. I watch Sportscenter pretty much every night, top-10, and then obviously when the postseason comes, that is the kind of stuff I am looking at.

JM: What do you like to do when you are away from the game?
JB: You know, I actually play a lot of MLB The Show, during the season especially. I get home from the night, cool down a little bit, and play some MLB The Show. Offseason, I enjoy being around friends, traveling a little, but nothing crazy. I am not a huge hunter or fisher like you would expect of a guy from Oklahoma.

JM: When you hit the road for those long away series, what are your must haves with you?
JB: Gotta have your Lulu for sure. Gotta have the Lulu outfit, they’re comfortable. I’ll take my Playstation and my clothes but that’s really all you need for a long road trip.

JM: When you get to the show, what is your walk-up song going to be?
JB: That is actually a really good question because I don’t really have a walk up song here (Las Vegas). We’ve been talking about that and trying to figure it out. I might have to get back to you on that one since we are in that process of getting one right now.

JM: What advice would you give young players?
JB: You know, I think in my case I was always so young, too small, not fast enough, or not big enough. So I would tell them, just do what you do, keep going, work hard, and continue to just prove people wrong everywhere you go. Never listen to someone who tells you that can’t do something.

Jeremy covers the Oakland organization and contributes on Prospects of the Week for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Midwest, as a lifelong baseball fan he is passionate about the game from Little League to the Big Leagues. 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

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