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Oakland A’s call up Skye Bolt, option Ryan Dull

The outfield prospect gets his first call to the majors.

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s announced a pair of moves ahead of their upcoming series in Pittsburgh. On Thursday they optioned reliever Ryan Dull to Triple-A Las Vegas, and then on Friday they called up outfielder Skye Bolt to replace him.

This is the first trip to the majors for Bolt. He was drafted by the A’s in 2015, as a 4th-rounder with great tools but a lot to prove. That raw talent helped him crack the bottom half of our Community Prospect List each winter thereafter, even as he scuffled and battled minor injuries for his first couple seasons in the pros, but it was his 2018 breakout in both High-A and Double-A that pushed him up to No. 16 on our list this year. Click here for our full Bolt writeup from February.

The 2018 season was a roller coaster for Bolt. He opened in Double-A, initially failed there and was sent back to High-A, then got back on track and played the best ball of his career including a triumphant return to the upper-minors. Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle reported that Bolt “showed the A’s something by working hard to get back on track, overhauling his hitting mechanics entirely.”

2018, AA (11 gms): .133/.220/.200, 17 wRC+, 0 HR, 8.0% BB, 34.0% Ks
2018, A+ (46 gms): .266/.382/.521, 141 wRC+, 9 HR, 14.8% BB, 22.5% Ks
2018, AA (64 gms): .275/.341/.493, 125 wRC+, 10 HR, 8.7% BB, 22.5% Ks

* Also 19-of-23 on stolen bases overall

The breakout earned Bolt a spot on the 40-man roster last winter, as protection from the Rule 5 draft. He also moved up to Triple-A to open this season, and responded by pumping up his numbers yet another notch, albeit in a decidedly hitter-friendly environment.

2019 AAA (22 gms): .325/.400/.675, 157 wRC+, 6 HR, 10.0% BB, 25.6% Ks, 3-of-4 SB

On defense, Bolt has played 85% of his pro innings in center field. The available metrics suggest he was a slight negative in that spot, but Melissa Lockard of The Athletic reports that he’s touted as a plus defender by many within the organization. Here he is throwing out a runner at home plate in spring training.

Add it all up, and Bolt offers a dynamic package. He can hit for power, he can draw walks to get on base, and he has the speed to steal some bags once there, all while handling an up-the-middle defensive position. He does strike out a bit, and he’s not likely to hit for a high average long-term, but he’s got plenty to offer at the plate and has the chance to be an above-average hitter overall. He’s also a switch-hitter, though his power has shown up almost exclusively from the left side — 45 career homers from the left, and four from the right in about one-quarter as many plate appearances.

This move returns Oakland to their usual allotment of eight relievers and 12 position players. When OF/1B Mark Canha went on the injured list earlier this week, a pitcher was called up to take his place, helping offset the temporary loss of Lou Trivino to a minor injury. Now Trivino is back in action, and balance has been restored to the roster, with Bolt functionally sliding into Canha’s spot.

The odd man out is Dull. He was called up early last week and made five appearances, allowing runs in all but one of them. In a story that has become all too familiar for the right-hander, he dominated Triple-A but then couldn’t find his groove when promoted to MLB. There’s still hope for him to put it all together, but it didn’t happen in this latest stint.

Dull, 2019: 10.29 ERA, 7 ip, 7 Ks, 2 BB, 3 HR, 15 hits, 7.98 FIP

The A’s open a series in Pittsburgh on Friday, so without the DH they will essentially have a four-man bench to work with.

Hot takes

Yes please! The veteran offseason additions aren’t doing anything at the plate and the team is now in last place, so this is the exact moment to shake it up and try something different. Let the kids play, and start seeing which ones are ready to step up and help the A’s contend in 2019. And this is one prospect we’ve been watching excitedly for a while, who happens to be red-hot and ready for his first MLB trial.

That said, it remains to be seen how Bolt will be used while in Oakland, and how long he’ll be here at all. Two outfield positions appear locked in with Stephen Piscotty (RF) and Ramon Laureano (CF), so presumably he’s primarily competing for time in LF with Robbie Grossman and Chad Pinder. In addition to all that, the loss of the DH for these next three games in Pittsburgh means that Khris Davis will need a spot in LF, further crowding the picture.

And then the whole equation could change when 1B Matt Olson returns from the injured list, which should happen in the next week or two. Maybe Kendrys Morales will exit, having competed his tour as an emergency stopgap, but we’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

Bottom line, the exciting thing is that Bolt is here at all, and will presumably make his MLB debut. Beyond that, stay tuned. Welcome, Skye!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering whether the universe has a sense of humor about the arrival of a player named Skye Bolt:

Nailed it.

Roster update

Here’s what the 25-man roster looks like now.

Oakland A's 25-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Mike Fiers (R)
Brett Anderson (L)
Frankie Montas (R)
Aaron Brooks (R)
Chris Bassitt (R)

Relievers

Blake Treinen (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Joakim Soria (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
Fernando Rodney (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Catchers

Nick Hundley (R)
Josh Phegley (R)

Infielders

Matt Chapman (R)
Marcus Semien (R)
Jurickson Profar (S)
Kendrys Morales (S)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Robbie Grossman (S)
Chad Pinder (R)
Skye Bolt (S)

10-day IL: RHP Marco Estrada (back), 1B Matt Olson (wrist), OF Mark Canha (wrist), OF Nick Martini (knee)

60-day IL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), RHP Daniel Gossett (TJS), LHP Sean Manaea (shoulder), C Chris Herrmann (knee)