The lockout is over, and MLB players have started reporting to spring training! However, it’ll be another week before Cactus League games begin, with the Oakland A’s opening their exhibition schedule on March 18.
In the meantime, some of their prospects have been in action all week down in Arizona. Since the lockout only affected players on the 40-man roster, most of their minor league camp was able to get started before the new labor deal was completed, including some intrasquad games. Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle and MLB insider Martin Gallegos were on hand to capture some videos, offering a welcome sight for fans’ desperate eyes.
These clips were even more exciting while the demoralizing lockout was still ongoing, but even now that the sport is back in business, they serve as a fun teaser for what’s to come.
Let’s begin with the top prospect in the A’s farm system, catcher-for-now Tyler Soderstrom, who was their 1st-round draft pick in 2020. His bat exploded onto the scene last summer in his pro debut, earning him consensus status on every mainstream national Top 40 list, and he’s already making some loud contact this spring.
Tyler Soderstrom smacks a double to left-center and Zack Gelof speeds around the bases to score from first. pic.twitter.com/9ZkHig3vpL— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 7, 2022
Here’s another hit against one of the better pitching prospects in Oakland’s system. (Or watch it from an alternate angle, in which you can better see the path of the batted ball.)
Intrasquad at A’s minor-league camp today. Tyler Soderstrom facing right-hander Colin Peluse. Soderstrom with the single into right field. pic.twitter.com/phhdmlBC3M— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 5, 2022
There’s not a video for this next one, but Gallegos has the update:
Tyler Soderstrom just crushed a three-run homer off Jack Weisenburger to deep right-center.
Of course, spring training isn’t all about results, it’s more about working on your game and preparing for the season.
One A’s Minor Leaguer observing Tyler Soderstrom: “Even when he misses, it still looks good.” pic.twitter.com/vkk9y1RCpx— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 7, 2022
Next up is another former 1st-round pick, Logan Davidson. The shortstop was drafted in 2019, and struggled last summer in an aggressive assignment to Double-A, though he did get some extra reps at the Arizona Fall League and stepped up to help his team win the league’s Championship Game.
Here we see Davidson making some sharp contact, which is exactly what he needs to do more of this season as he continues his development.
Logan Davidson smacks his second double of the day off the center field wall. pic.twitter.com/Hgss18wxiZ— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 5, 2022
Their most recent 1st-round pick is Max Muncy, a shortstop they selected out of high school last year. He made his brief pro debut last summer for a handful of games in the Rookie League, but for the most part we’re still waiting to see what he can do. Here he is in the batting cage this week.
A’s 2021 first-round pick Max Muncy added some muscle this offseason. It showed in yesterday’s scrimmage as he drilled an opposite-field homer to right-center. pic.twitter.com/7H8ocA7pic— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 8, 2022
Then there’s fellow young shortstop Robert Puason, who was signed as such an expensive and high-profile international free agent that he may as well have been a 1st-round draft pick. His pro career has gotten off to a slow start, with some analysts already souring on his potential, but at age 19 he’s still got a long time to prove himself. Here’s the switch-hitter making some oppo-contact from the left side.
Robert Puason has been focusing on his left-handed approach early in camp. Single the other way off Brian Howard in today’s intrasquad game. pic.twitter.com/lvPvrPGGnr— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 10, 2022
Now for some pitchers!
First up is one of Athletics Nation’s favorite sleeper prospects, right-hander Brian Howard. The 6’9” studmuffin has enjoyed success everywhere in the minors except for the nightmare pitching hellscape of Las Vegas Ballpark, where everybody gets hammered. Stats from Vegas should stay in Vegas.
Big Game Howie relies partly on deception in his delivery thanks to his extreme height, and he further helps his case by changing speeds effectively. Nowhere is that more evident than in his Turkey Sub eephus slow-curve, made famous when he taught it to former teammate Jesús Luzardo. Here is Howard’s version:
Brian Howard’s famous turkey sub. Used it on back-to-back strikeouts of Jeremy Eierman and Will Simoneit. pic.twitter.com/mXlHIHuxSR— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 10, 2022
And that wasn’t the only Turkey Sub he’s thrown so far this month, notes Gallegos. Meanwhile, Melissa Lockard of The Athletic weighed in with a prediction that Howard will make his MLB debut this season.
But enough trickery. How about some pure, uncut heat? Right-hander Mason Miller was the team’s 3rd-round draft pick last year, and he breezed through a few Rookie League innings in his pro debut. His top tool is his fastball, which gets a 70-grade from MLB Pipeline and a 60/65 present/future from FanGraphs, a huge plus either way. He’s already hitting 98 mph this spring.
A’s Minor Leaguers are facing Asian Breeze of the Arizona Scouting League. A’s prospect Mason Miller came out throwing gas, hitting 98 mph with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 first inning. pic.twitter.com/VewybbuulW— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 7, 2022
And finally, there’s reliever Zach Jackson. The right-hander arrived here last winter in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, then utterly dominated Double-A and moved up to Triple-A. With plenty of room for opportunity in Oakland’s bullpen this spring, the 27-year-old is one of many sleepers to keep an eye on.
A look at Zach Jackson on the mound, from yesterday: pic.twitter.com/GPOIqVedRS— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 7, 2022
That’s a wrap for now! There will be much more to come soon as things heat up down in Arizona, but these clips can help whet our whistles until then.