For the last few years, the Oakland A’s didn’t get a lot of offense out of the catcher position. Hitting isn’t the most important thing for a catcher, but it’s nice when you can get it and it was clearly an area with potential for upgrade on an A’s roster that didn’t have many weaknesses.
Oakland already had one answer coming in 2020 with top prospect Sean Murphy, but they acquired another big bat to pair with him when they picked up Austin Allen from the Padres in the Jurickson Profar trade.
Allen is unproven in the majors, but he hit 20+ homers in each of his last three minor league seasons and slugged .663 last year in Triple-A. The raw power in his bat is undeniable, earning a huge 65-grade from FanGraphs, and the only question is how much of it he’ll tap into in games at the MLB level. He already made a brief debut for San Diego in 2019, for just long enough to not be eligible for our Community Prospect List last winter, but he would have ranked No. 13.
The 26-year-old got off to a slow start this summer, going 1-for-11 with a walk and four strikeouts in his first five games. He got the start again on Wednesday, but a groundout and a strikeout in his first two plate appearances represented more of the same.
Then, in the 7th inning of the game and the 86th plate appearance of his MLB career, Allen finally announced himself. The A’s were trailing 4-3, and looking for someone to lead a late comeback. With a runner on first and one out, Allen came up against Texas Rangers reliever Ian Gibaut, and after working a 2-0 count he got a fastball over the plate and didn’t miss it.
The drive was 103.9 mph off the bat, and it traveled 406 feet deep into the night, giving the A’s a 5-4 lead. Oakland held on for a 6-4 victory, technically making this the game-winner — click here to read the full recap of the game.
We knew Allen had pop, and now we’ve gotten to see it with our own eyes. May it be the first of many dingers he hits in an A’s uniform!