Will Oakland Athletics’ prospect Renato Nunez make his debut this season?
The Oakland Athletics have a bevy of talented prospect in their farm system. As the A’s build for the future, it is likely that many of their top prospects will make their MLB debuts over the next few years. One of the Athletics’ minor leaguers who seems to be poised to be the next prospect to jump from the minors to the majors is third baseman Renato Nunez.
Jane Lee of MLB.com reported that Nunez could be joining the A’s in Oakland in 2016. Nunez is already on the 40-man roster, which is a good first step toward landing in the big leagues. However, he has not yet played above Double-A. As mentioned by Lee, it is expected that Nunez will be promoted to Triple-A this year after a successful 2015 with the Double-A Midland RockHounds team.
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But, what would Nunez’s role be if he were to be called up? Nunez is a third baseman and will be vying for playing time in Oakland, along with Max Muncy. While Danny Valencia is expected to be the starting third baseman, the A’s do not really have anyone who could be a true third base backup for Valencia. Eric Sogard and Jed Lowrie can both field at third, but it is not their best position. If Valencia were to incur an injury during the season, the A’s would likely call up Nunez or Muncy to fill the open roster spot.
If Nunez performs well during Spring Training and in Triple-A, he might edge Muncy out if Oakland needs an extra third baseman. Third base was not Muncy’s normal fielding position in the minor leagues, and he struggled at third in the majors last year with four errors in just 16 games played. Even though Muncy has worked on his defense at third this offseason, his lack of experience fielding on that side of the infield may make him the second choice.
Nunez, on the other hand, has played third base for the majority of his minor league career and understands that position quite well. Additionally, he has shown dramatic improvement in his defensive skills at that position over the last two years. Nunez went from 40 errors committed at third in 2013 to only 15 in 2014 and 11 in 2015. Lastly, Nunez has a strong bat that could add power to the A’s lineup.
Nunez will have to prove himself in Triple-A though before making his MLB debut. He will need to demonstrate that he has reliable defensive skills and that his power bat can still make an impact at this new, more competitive level. If he can show growth and improvement during the beginning half of the 2016 season, there is a strong possibility that he will be called up in September or earlier if the Oakland Athletics need a third baseman.