The Oakland A’s are headed to Toronto to play the Blue Jays, and they announced a roster move ahead of the series. Backup catcher Bruce Maxwell was placed on the restricted list, and Josh Phegley was called up from Triple-A Nashville to replace him.
The move relates to Maxwell’s ongoing legal issue, stemming from an offseason gun incident. Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle has the explanation:
Maxwell has a plea agreement in place in which he will plead guilty to disorderly conduct, but because the sentencing is not until June 4, he is still facing charges that include assault with a deadly weapon. Under Canadian immigration laws, a charge with a gun enhancement can prevent entry.
Maxwell will rejoin the team when they return to Oakland next week, reports Julian McWilliams of The Athletic.
In the meantime, Phegley gets the call for the first time this year. He opened the season on the disabled list after breaking a couple fingers during spring training, but he was activated and optioned to Triple-A on April 21. He’s played 25 games for the Sounds this year and racked up 100 plate appearances:
Phegley, 2018 AAA: .224/.320/.412, 88 wRC+, 3 HR, 11.0% BB, 20.0% Ks
The right-handed hitter spent parts of the last three seasons with the A’s, serving as a platoon/backup who specializes in mashing lefty pitching. He was at his best in 2015, when he put up just shy of 2 WAR, but injuries and inconsistency have dogged him since then and he’s fallen down the depth chart all the way to the minors. He has the following numbers in 490 plate appearances with Oakland:
Phegley, OAK career: .235/.288/.398, 86 wRC+, 13 HR, 5.7% BB, 18.4% Ks
Note: Behind the plate in Oakland, he’s caught 32-of-92 basestealers (34.8%)
Besides the MLB duo and Phegley, the only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Dustin Garneau, who saw time in Oakland last season.
This seems like as good a time as any to look down the organizational depth chart at the catching position. Here’s the rundown:
- Jonathan Lucroy (R): Free agent after 2018
- Bruce Maxwell (L): Hasn’t played his way above backup role
- Josh Phegley (R): Emergency backup, stashed in minors
- Dustin Garneau (R): Emergency backup, stashed in minors
- Beau Taylor (L): Org filler? If he was ever going to get a look, this would have seemed like the time. Gets on base, and well-regarded on defense.
- Sean Murphy (R): Top prospect! He is The Future, hopefully arriving sometime in 2019 or maybe 2020.
- Santiago Chavez (R): Org filler? He’s worked his way to the upper minors at age 22, so maybe he can become a legit prospect. Glove first, but hitting for the first time this year in a tiny sample.
- Jonah Heim (S): Stepping up onto the prospect radar. We just talked about him this week.
- Collin Theroux (R): Local guy (San Mateo) has big power, if he ever learns to make contact.
- Jason Goldstein (R): Acquired for Dillon Overton, glove-first, and currently on the DL.
- Skyler Weber (L): 2016 draft pick, still just getting his pro career started.
- Jordan Devencenzi (R): Org filler? 2015 draft pick who turns 25 in June, so quite old for his league. Has excellent plate discipline, though, with more walks than Ks in his career.
- Santis Sanchez (R): Legit prospect! 5th-round pick last summer out of high school, got an overslot signing bonus. Just missed our Community Prospect List. Expect to see him in a short-season league later this summer.
Summary: There’s a hole at the top in 2019 post-Lucroy, as Maxwell hasn’t yet earned that starting job. The next serious prospect is Murphy, and after him the best names in the lower minors are Heim and Sanchez. It would be a surprise to me if anyone else on this list rose from org filler into serious prospect status, but stranger things have happened. Remember that even if they never reach MLB they’ll still be working with all the pitching prospects we get so excited about.