Expecting to see a preview of an improved Opening Day squad, A’s fans were instead treated to an offensive clinic put on by the A’s young prospect core.
Before the young guys took over the game, though, the A’s first game of the year got off to a shaky start, with the first couple of innings being almost unwatchable, literally. The video broadcast was cutting in and out, depriving viewers of a 2022 A’s hangover. Among the highlights were JP Sears allowing a Gabriel Moreno homerun and all-world defender Nick Allen making a rare fielding error. But if Allen makes an errant throw and no one’s around to see it, did it really happen?
Once the technical issues were resolved — the media will probably find some way to blame them on the Coliseum plumbing issues — the A’s began battling their way back.
Before the offense got going, Freddy Tarnok relieved Sears and showed why the A’s wanted him from the Braves in the Sean Murphy trade. Throwing as hard as 96 mph, Tarnok flashed some high-octane stuff that A’s Nation isn’t used to seeing in our rotation. After walking his first batter and allowing a single to his second, he settled down and struck out 2 of his next 3 opponents. He’ll likely be on his way to Vegas on Opening Day, but he definitely has the stuff to get back to the majors in 2023.
As our pitching settled down, our lineup heated up. Leading off the 3rd, Allen fought a good at-bat that ended with a solid inside-out swing that shot a single into right-center field. Three walks and one hit-by-pitch later, the A’s tied the game up 2-2.
The 5th inning, however, is where things really started to take off. Coming into the game were Tyler Soderstrom, Zack Gelof, Denzel Clarke, Lawrence Butler, and Kevin Smith. Ever heard of ‘em?
In rapid order, all five of these young studs contributed to a 6-run rally that secured the win for the A’s. Despite being part of one of the worst farm systems, according to most national media outlets, the team’s young prospects made their case for those rankings being a farce. If these guys represent the gloomy future that everyone seems to think the A’s are destined for, sign me up.
Just a bit early but here's what the A's 2024/2025 lineup could look like— Sad A’s Fan (@SadAsFan) February 25, 2023
CF Esteury Ruiz
DH Jordan Diaz
1B Tyler Soderstrom
2B Zack Gelof
C Shea Langeliers
3B Kevin Smith
RF Denzel Clarke
LF JJ Bleday
SS Nick Allen
Include Ryan Noda in that core, too. Not only did he hit a hard double to the right-center field gap, he displayed some of the elite strike zone discipline that’s been catching the A’s eyes for years. I set Noda’s ceiling at Jack Cust 2.0 and Melissa Lockhard seems to agree.
Noda has a bit of a Jack Cust look to him with his swing https://t.co/6EmnfTo1rM— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) February 25, 2023
On the flip side, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup was full of young prospects that prospect evaluators are falling over themselves to praise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m high on them too. But if recent history tells us anything, it’s that the A’s will find a way to get back to the playoffs whilst most other “bright future” teams stall. Only time will tell.
Another standout from the today’s game was under-the-radar signing Jace Peterson, who lived up to his “On-Base Jace” moniker with two walks and a hit in 3 plate appearances. He’ll likely provide the infield stability that the A’s were sorely lacking last season.
On the downside, Christian Pache didn’t do much despite needing to do the most. Kirby Snead and Chad Smith sadly gave up 5 runs combined, not a good sign for the “8th guy out of the bullpen” competition.
But all in all, there were a lot more positives than there were negatives in the team’s first game of the season, something you couldn’t say about most A’s games last year. It may not be a lot but it’s enough to get A’s fans excited for the rest of Spring Training and the 2023 major league season,