Typically, a 27 year old minor league free agent is not going to attract much attention. That is especially the case when that player has never been in affiliated ball during their career. However, Jared Koenig is not the typical minor league free agent.
Keonig had bounced around various independent leagues since the beginning of the 2017 season, playing for six different teams as well as spending time in Australia before attracting the attention of the Oakland A’s. He signed with the organization in January 2020, only to lose the minor league season due to the pandemic.
Jared Koenig impressed in affiliated ball debut
Given that he was 27 years old to start the 2021 season, the A’s were relatively aggressive with his assignment, slotting him at Double-A. Their faith was rewarded as he posted an impressive 3.26 ERA and a 1.245 WHiP in his 121.1 innings, striking out 100 batters with 43 walks. That performance was strong enough for MILB.com to name Koenig as their left handed starter on the organizational All Star team.
Koenig is not exactly overpowering. His fastball is in the mid 90s and he does have solid breaking pitches, but his greatest strength is his understanding of how to pitch. He changes speeds, works the strike zone, and is actually a pitcher instead of a thrower. That knowledge of his craft was evident in his performance last season.
At 27 years old, Koenig was old for his level. That does not change his performance and the solid showing he had, however, especially considering that it is a major jump in the quality of competition. However, he handled that adjustment well, showing enough potential where he could be part of the future.
Chances are, Koenig will begin the 2022 campaign in Triple-A. A strong showing in Las Vegas could lead to a major league opportunity, especially as the A’s may cycle through pitchers in an effort to find a core for the future. Should the fire sale go forth as expected, an opportunity could be there.
Jared Koenig would be easy to overlook due to his humble beginnings. However, if his first season is any indication, he could be a part of the Oakland A’s future.