With just a few weeks left in the Arizona Fall League campaign, it’s time to dive into the prospects the Oakland Athletics sent out to the desert. Eight A’s minor leaguers in total made the trip, ranging from ranked prospects to injury projects. Here's where they’re at and what we can expect from them moving forward.
Shortstop Max Muncy spent time between High-A Lansing and Double-A Midland in 2023. He’s played in 18 games for the Fall League's Mesa Solar Sox, putting up a .214/.295/.471 slash line with 4 homers and 4 steals. MLB.com has Muncy as the A’s 7th ranked prospect.
Muncy’s plate discipline issues are notable and have been an issue everywhere in the minors outside of his time in Double-A. His 23% strikeout rate at Midland is the lowest of his career, nearly seven percentage points lower than his career mark of 29.9%. Muncy has a 25% strikeout rate in Arizona, so he’s still got some work to do. The home runs are certainly nice to see though. He hit 10 total between Lansing and Midland combined in nearly 550 plate appearances, so to see 4 in 78 PA so far, you’ve got to take that as a win.
MLB.com has third baseman Brett Harris ranked as the A's 10th best prospect. The 25-year-old split time between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2023, showing strong contact and plate discipline numbers with a little pop. In 14 games for the Solar Sox, Harris is hitting .222/.397/.244 with a 13/12 BB/K, but the power has evaporated. He has 10 hits, just one of them for extra bases.
The plate discipline is important, but he isn’t getting the bat on the ball with enough frequency to be an impact player for the Solar Sox. Based on his minor league results, this shouldn’t be a point of concern for his major league future, but it is disappointing to watch him struggle in Arizona.
The A’s also sent outfielder Lazaro Armenteros to Arizona, who found a bit of stride as a 24-year-old between High-A Lansing and Double-A Midland this year. Lazarito has major swing-and-miss problems. He struck out at a 36.8% clip at High-A and while his 32.8% mark in Double-A was slightly better, that’s unlikely to translate to major league success.
Lazarito has struggled through his time in Arizona, hitting just .171/.326/.171 with a 41.3% strikeout rate and no extra base hits. He'll be 25 next season, which will be old for a Double-A player. His raw tools are still exciting but if he can’t find a way to fix his plate discipline issues, there’s a chance he washes out of the system entirely by 2025.
On the pitching side, 24th ranked prospect Royber Salinas has yet to find a groove. Salinas has thrown 15 innings in five starts for the Solar Sox and has struggled to a 7.80 ERA, giving up 18 hits and 9 walks to 17 strikeouts.
The righty had a decent start to the season for Double-A Midland before being shut down in June with an elbow issue. Command has been a problem for him and most prospect evaluators view him as a future reliever. Whether or not he heads into 2024 with a healthy throwing arm is anyone’s guess.
MLB.com has righty Jack Perkins as the A’s 19th ranked prospect. Perkins can touch the upper 90’s with the fastball and pitched well enough in High-A to earn a mid-season promotion to Double-A. He lost the thread a bit in Midland with his walk rate creeping up to nearly 12%.
However, he’s excelled in Arizona. In 9.1 innings, Perkins has yet to allow an earned run, and has 12 strikeouts with just 5 walks. It’s a strong showing for the 23-year-old who is likely to begin 2024 back in Midland with an eye on a promotion to Triple-A before the end of the year.
Right-hander Stevie Emanuels had some excellent outcomes in 2023 after starting the season working back from an arm injury. Moving through the complex league, then to High-A and Double-A, Emanuels worked to a 3.07 ERA and impressive strikeout numbers in just under 40 innings.
He’s had success in the desert as well. In 7 innings, Emanuels has just 3 runs allowed and 7 walks while striking out 14. Emanuels works consistently with a four-seamer, slider, and change that, according to Tess Taruskin of Fangraphs, play up due to high spin rates. He’ll look to finish strong and carry this momentum into 2024 healthy and ready to go.
Righty Yunior Tur had a bit of a nondescript season, spending time in Rookie ball and Low-A Stockton. In 37.1 innings, Tur posted a 6.03 ERA with 53 strikeouts and a jarring 24 walks. Signed out of Cuba in December 2022, Tur was an effective relief pitcher for the Cuban national team. There is still time for the hard-throwing 24-year-old to reign it in, but his performance in limited time in Arizona leaves a bit to be desired.
In 8.2 innings, Tur has allowed 11 earned runs on one homer and four walks. He has 7 strikeouts. Tur needs to command his pitches better. A mid-90’s fastball and slider combo will work in a lot of places, but against the best competition in the world, you have to be able to hit your spots. Tur hasn’t shown that ability yet, but he’s still young enough to turn it around.
The A’s sent 26-year-old righty Jack Weisenburger to the desert to try to get some much-needed reps before the season’s close. Weisenburger missed most of 2022 with an injury, and threw just 20.2 innings between Double-A and the complex league in 2023.
Known for his violent delivery, Weisenburger looked okay in limited time in Lansing this year. He put up a 3.78 ERA but did give up 7 runs and 11 walks in 16 innings, along with 18 strikeouts. Weisenburger has thrown just 2 innings for the Solar Sox, having allowed 2 hits, no runs, and 3 walks while striking out two. It’s tough to make any judgements with such a limited sample size but hopefully he can stay healthy heading into 2024 and get the first full season under his belt since 2021.