It’s not that you never hear about Ryon Healy. If you follow the A’s and their minor league prospects, you probably know Healy as a guy “having a good year” while hearing far more about Matt Olson and Renato Nuñez and Chad Pinder. Olson, Nuñez, Pinder, the hope of the future — oh and Healy’s having a good year, too.
Ask Eric Kubota, or David Forst, or any of the other talking heads who discuss Oakland’s prospects, and you hear “We still really like Matt Olson.” I always imagine a defensive, nasally, high-pitched nerdy-accountant’s voice reminding us that Olson is very young for his league. That’s true and it’s also true that he’s batting .218/.328/.380 for the season and has struck out in exactly 1/3 of his at bats. Hopefully he will break through as he gains experience, but at the moment “We still really like him” (undoubtedly said in a faltering loud whisper) is just damning with faint praise until Olson actually begins to perform better.
You don’t have to excuse Healy’s failures because there aren’t any. Ryon Healy is having the kind of season A’s hitting prospects rarely have: ups and more ups, with no downs.
Healy began the year at AA Midland, where he earned a promotion by batting a gaudy .338/.409/.628, with 8 HRs, in 145 at bats. Those are “WOW!” numbers. Promoted to AAA Nashville, Healy has really not let up: .347/.388/.579. with 5 HRs, in 121 at bats. These are not “squint and you can see some progress” or “solid enough to earn a promotion” types of stats. These are legitimate “He is too good for this league” numbers and if you have followed him more closely you will see that he hasn’t really had a slump. (He has literally only had back-to-back hitless games once and in one of those games he was all of 0 for 2.)
Is this a case of a Wes Bankston/Tommy Everidge type dominating his league because he is repeating it at an advanced age? Nope. Healy is facing AAA pitching for the first time and is all of 24 years old.
Is this a case of a 49th round talent fluking his way into a great calendar year? Nope. Healy was a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft, the 100th overall selection.
So Healy has ample pedigree and is not old for his league, and is now simply crushing it in a league he is seeing for the first time. Why are we not hearing more about him as a core piece for the future A’s team that is supposedly being built? It’s a rhetorical question because I do not know the answer.
A right-handed batter, Healy plays both 3B and 1B and like Max Muncy, Renato Nuñez, Mark Canha and many others before them, this likely means that at the big league level the only position he can be expected to play servicably is 1B. That might be ok, though, because the A’s currently have Danny Valencia, with Chad Pinder on the way and Matt Chapman right behind him. If Healy really can hit, and can play a decent 1B, you would think there is plenty to be excited about.
Healy’s cumulative hitting stats this season, in 266 at bats, at age 24, as a 3rd round pick, are .342/.399/.605. I’m sorry, we’re hearing more about Nuñez why? We “still really like Olson but can’t seem to remember to mention Healy” because...?
I suppose I understand why Healy hasn’t been called up to the big leagues yet — the A’s have Yonder Alonso on roster, this season appears to be toast with or without him, and Healy may well have some defensive skills to sharpen at AAA. But how is he not the prospect who is creating a ton of buzz and excitement? Anyone know?