Right-hander Joey Estes was another Oakland Athletics prospect that made his major league debut during the 2023 season. Estes’ numbers weren’t that impressive in a short cameo appearance, but he could play a much bigger part with the A’s going forward.
Oakland acquired Estes along with, Ryan Cusick, Shea Langeliers and Cristian Pache from the Atlanta Braves on March 14, 2022 in exchange for first baseman Matt Olson.
What were the expectations?
Estes was an underrated, but good prospect in the Atlanta system at the time of the big trade that sent Matt Olson to Atlanta. The hope was that he would continue to develop and could be a rotation piece for the A’s down the road.
Estes put up decent, but unspectacular numbers after the trade in 2022 at High A. He began the 2023 season at Double A where he had a 3.28 ERA albeit with a 4.67 FIP in 104 1⁄3 innings. He did a good job keeping his walks low, but allowed 14 home runs in those 104 1⁄3 innings. Estes was bumped to Triple A on August 1 and appeared in seven games while posting a 5.23 ERA and a 7.32 FIP in 32 2⁄3 innings. The walks jumped and he allowed 10 more homers in that small sample. The A’s promoted him to the active roster on September 20 to get a look over the final couple of weeks of the regular season. Estes was tagged for five earned runs, including three homers, in 4 2⁄3 innings in his major league debut against Seattle. He allowed three runs in 5 1⁄3 innings in his final appearance against the Twins.
What went right? What went wrong?
While it wasn’t necessarily reflected in his numbers, Estes moved through Double A and Triple A to reach the majors at age 21 in his second season in the Oakland organization.
Estes allowed 28 home runs in 147 innings across three levels including his 10 inning appearance in the majors. He ran ground ball rates of 33.3 percent and 34.3 percent at Double A and Triple A. Finding a way to induce more ground balls would go a long way towards future success.
Estes is going into his age-22 season and would no doubt benefit from some additional time at Triple A. With that said, expect him to be among the group of pitchers that are in competition for a spot in the rotation during the spring. There are areas that he needs to shore up and his lack of ability to produce ground balls is concerning, but there is still time for him to continue to develop.