Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!
It’s both fair and true to note that first baseman Billy McKinney looked rather Olson-esque in Sunday’s Spring Training game against the Cleveland Guardians. He homered, batted in three runs, and wore number 28, after all. McKinney, who started the game at first base, obviously can’t be ignored as Matt Olson’s potential replacement. But Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle is wondering if non-roster Spring Training invitee Dalton Kelly might be the man for the job.
Kelly signed a minor league deal with the A’s after a strong 2021 season with the Tampa Bay Rays’ AAA affiliate, slashing .244/.350/.512 with 27 homers in 110 games. He was originally drafted in the 38th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2015, traded to the Rays a year later, and worked his way to AAA in 2019. But in 2020 he failed to make the Rays’ 60-player pool ahead of the pandemic-shortened season.
Kelly confronted the challenge by consulting the Rays analytics staff, who pointed out that he was making contact two to three inches deeper (farther back) than most big-league hitters. That year, he fixed up his batting cage back home and focused his drills on getting wood on the ball quicker:
“So basically, all my drill work (that year) was getting comfortable hitting the ball a little farther out. The thought process was, the farther out you can make contact, the better angle and the more speed your barrel is going to have. So you’re going to start hitting balls in the air more and hit balls harder more.”
The approach appears to have paid off in 2021. Kelly also has some speed on the basepaths, having stolen 93 bases in his minor league career, including 17 steals in 20 attempts last year. His defense has been reliable, too: he has only committed three errors in 1,184 chances the past three seasons.
Kelly has competition this Spring Training besides McKinney for the first base starting job. It may be a good fit for Seth Brown, whose power bat should keep him in the lineup this year — though he could also slot into the outfield, which has been his primary role with the A’s, or at DH. Big league veteran and non-roster invitee Eric Thames is another intriguing possibility, though he is 35 years old and coming off Achilles surgery.
What say ye, AN? Could Kelly be the one to step into Oly’s cleats this year?
- Hall: A’s make first round of spring cuts
- Nico: Sunday Edgar Allan Poe-pourri
- Wally: A’s Howard Terminal ballpark hits unexpected pothole, threatens to wreck the project
- Hall: Spring Game #3: A’s tie Guardians in Cactus League special
- Hall: Spring Game #2: Prospects shine in A’s loss
- Hall: A’s spring injuries: James Kaprielian, Cody Thomas
- Kawahara: A’s Sean Manaea makes spring debut as trade rumors swirl ($)
- Kawahara: Might Dalton Kelly be the first baseman the Oakland A’s are seeking? ($)
- Kawahara: Well-traveled Billy McKinney joins A’s camp with a little ‘déjà vu’ ($)
- Kawahara: Prospects acquired in Matt Chapman trade could compete for A’s roster spots ($)
- A’s roster overhaul tied to stadium issues, Kaval says
- Wirth: Warriors’ JTA stresses importance of A’s remaining in Oakland
MLB News & Interest:
- Hall: MLB transactions update: Correa, Castellanos, Soler, Jansen, Voit
- McDonald: Red Sox To Sign Trevor Story
- Polishuk: Free Agent Notes: Correa, Braves, Story, Tigers, Cueto
- Polishuk: NL East Notes: Phillies, Bryant, Marlins, Reynolds, Marte, Jansen, Chafin, Mets
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter:
Christian Lopes slams one out to put the A’s ahead on Sunday.
*spring training voice*— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) March 20, 2022
GRAND SLAM pic.twitter.com/mmFTQRet59
Cole has a new pitch ...
Cole Irvin is now throwing a cutter this Spring. He learned the grip watching a Pitching Ninja interview with Corbin Burnes on YouTube. He also was sitting 92-93 with his fastball and said he was hitting up to 95 in three-inning bullpens at home this offseason.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 20, 2022
... and a new attitude.
Cole Irvin: "Kind of a new thing I'm attempting this year is I want to be angry out there (on the mound) a lot. ... I’m not trying to necessarily, say be a prima donna, but I want to compete and I want to earn a lot of respect this year as a rotation guy."— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 20, 2022
Gunnaring for a roster spot with the A’s. Good luck!
Thank you to the Toronto Blue Jays for giving me the chance to begin my professional career. I’m grateful for my experience there and the people I have met there. I’m looking forward to the new opportunity with the @Athletics pic.twitter.com/dFb5TzGxn4— Gunnar Hoglund (@GunnarHoglund) March 21, 2022
Check out pitching prospect Aiden McIntyre’s Spring Training Vlog.
Spring Training Vlog out now— Aiden McIntyre (@A_McIntyre50) March 21, 2022
Haven’t posted in awhile but will be documenting my rehab, training & season on my channel. Thank you for all of the support, go A’s https://t.co/TJ31USiLaw pic.twitter.com/1IRyUjiRv0
Can’t argue that! But I liked him better with the A’s. All the best nonetheless.