Lose 10 in a row to drop 20 games under .500 and fans will ask, loudly and repeatedly, “Why watch? This team is unwatchable!” Then Christian Bethancourt comes out of nowhere to barrel balls at the rate of Mike Trout and you’re squinting to see if there’s any way a 30 year old journeyman could emerge to be part of the next competitive A’s team.
And then they call up Jonah Bride. And while more casual fans will simply ask, “WHO???” more knowledgeable fanatics will be familiar with Bride and will be asking instead, “So what is this guy all about?”
That’s not easy to say. At 26, Bride is old for a prospect but then again no one really did anything in 2020 unless you peruse the leaderboards for stats like “Best at sheltering in place” and “least COVID-y”. Bride also lacks some pedigree, having been a 23rd round pick out of South Carolina in 2018.
Now let’s immerse ourselves in the good news, as heavens knows the organization could use some right about now. First of all, Bride has not taken an especially long or meandering journey to the big leagues. He has been in the minor leagues for just 3 seasons prior to 2022: the short season after he was drafted (2018), 2019, and 2021.
So while Bride may be 26, his arc from college to MLB is pretty normal. And as a hitter he has consistently shown promise that warranted each promotion:
In 2018, fresh out of college, Bride batted .287/.376/.421 for short season Vermont, earning him a shot at long-A Stockton the following year.
In 2019, at Stockton Bride hit .279/.371/.418 and ended the season with a cup of coffee in AA Midland (2 for 9).
In 2021, Bride was promoted to AA Midland and continued to show a very consistent line: .265/.407/.424.
Every step of the way, Bride showed an ability to hit for a solid average with an elite OBP, but with less slugging than you would ideally like. In 2022, that power has emerged.
In 2022? Try .315/.402/.603 at AA Midland and, upon being promoted to AAA Las Vegas, .392/.500/.549 in 14 games.
Put it all together and you get a career line, in the minors, of .283/.388/.436, with a BB% of 12.6% and a K% of 18.5%.
As for his defense, Bride boasts versatility in that he has recently gotten reps at catcher, as well as being able to play 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF (though admittedly, not all at the same time). Scouting reports on his defense do not abound, though one site, in mentioning that he plays 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF, makes reference to his ability to “play them all well”.
Time will tell as to whether Bride can handle breaking pitches and changeups at the big league level, whether his new found power shows up, and whether he is good enough at any position to play there on a regular basis.
For now, it’s just genuinely exciting to see the first call up of a minor leaguer who is mashing the ball, whose call up is truly the result of “he forced his way up here”. With the bat! Like a hitter, for the Oakland A’s, who can maybe hit.
With Koenig on the mound and Bride on the roster (dare I hope he would be in the lineup?), Tuesday’s game at Fenway just got a lot more interesting. May it be the first of many to come.