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Elephant Rumblings: Royber Salinas shines during first AFL start

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MLB: Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, all!

Not a whole lot of news regarding the Oakland Athletics during this postseason. We do have some players in the Arizona Fall League performing right now, though. Some have had big days, like prospect Max Muncy having a strong start in the first game of the Arizona Fall League. We could definitely use a game-changer like the first-round pick Muncy could possibly be.

But today, the praise should be awarded to pitcher Royber Salinas. In three innings of work, Salinas struck out six batters, showcasing his strikeout ability while limiting the small amount of damage to just one run. The run allowed wasn’t completely his fault but he did nevertheless allow one run to cross home plate, and that ended up being all the opposing team needed as Salinas’ lineup failed to score anything to support him. But the AFL is about growing, trying things out, experimenting with your repertoire, and Salinas looks like he’s taking the opportunity and running with it.

All in all, Salinas tossed three full innings while allowing three singles, zero walks, and those six strikeouts. As one of the pieces of the Sean Murphy-to-Atlanta trade, Salinas represents a part of the return for one of the best catchers in the league. And considering the rest of the return for Murphy, Salinas breaking out would be huge for an Athletics organization in desperate need of quality pitching.

Salinas will be the last prospect of the Murphy deal to debut for the A’s. Esteury Ruiz, Kyle Muller, and Freddy Tarnok, the three other players brought back for Murphy, have all made their big league debuts with the major league club with mixed results. Muller had an up-and-very-down season, Ruiz had struggles at the plate, and Tarnok has battled injuries in his time with the club. Salinas was considered the extra piece that the Atlanta Braves needed to throw in to the deal for Murphy to cross the finish line and is looking like more than just a throw in. Who knows? Josh Donaldson was a throw-in piece that Oakland acquired for starter Rich Harden. He turned out to be a key piece of future playoff-bound Oakland teams.

Perhaps Salinas doesn’t quite reach those heights. After all, Donaldson was a critical part of three trips to the postseason and was one of the most important players those teams had. But he emerged after being a throw-in piece in a trade. Salinas was considered exactly the same way but could take the same trajectory as Donaldson, becoming a key piece of a playoff team. Granted, those are pretty high expectations, but hey, the guy knows how to strike out hitters.

Salinas has a fastball that flirts with 100 MPH and has a slider that looks deadly. His other two pitches, a curveball and a changeup, are a work progress. Salinas spent the past season at Double-A and started just about every game, so it seems the organization wants to see if he can stick in a starting role. The Athletics should try to let him figure out how to be a starting pitcher but a career as an elite bullpen arm would be a nice consolation prize for both him and the organization. His fastball-slider combo, which most elite relievers use, could probably already play in the major leagues. I think there is a great chance we see him in an Athletics uniform at some point in 2024.

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Update from the farm:

Encouraging little back and forth from some A’s teammates:


Ugh :’(

Maybe the postseason is in need of another update?