Contrary to popular belief, the Athletics still have a minor league system, even after trading away talented young shortstop Addison Russell. While Russell does appear to have a very bright future ahead of him, there are other minor leaguers in the A’s farm system that are showing they want to be major leaguers as well.
Look no further than Stockton Ports’ 1B/DH, Matt Olson. On the season, the former first round pick in the 2012 draft (47th overall), has a slash line (Batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) of .260/.405/.560. The 20-year old is crushing the ball out of Banner Island on a consistent basis, especially since the All-Star Break. Before the break, Olson had tallied 15 homers in 68 games. Since the break, he has crushed 19 bombs in just 47 contests, giving him 34 total.
Highly-touted Cubs’ slugger Javier Beaz hit 37 home runs at the age of 20, while splitting time between A+ and Double-A ball just last year. In 14 major league at-bats, Baez already has 3 home runs. The book on Baez is just opening, but it’s worth noting the numbers comparison. If the A’s were not winning, their minor league system would be getting more publicity, a la the Cubs’ farm system.
With only 21 games remaining, 39 dingers should be attainable for Olson, especially with his post-break rate of a bomb every 2.47 games. If he really gets on a tear, he could match the all-time California League record set back in 1956 by Bud Heslet. In ’56 Heslet hit 51 over the fence for the Visalia Cubs.
The remaining schedule, along with their team ERAs is as follows:
Modesto (Rockies), (5 games, 2 home/3 away): 5.04
Visalia (Diamondbacks), (3 games, away): 4.63
San Jose (Giants), (4 games, home): 4.51
Lake Elsinore (Padres), (3 games, away): 4.15
Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers), (3 games, away): 4.55
Bakersfield (Reds), (3 games, home): 4.73
Besides being a hot hitter, the other advantage Matt Olson has going for him is that Stockton has the lowest ERA in the league. The California League is known as a hitter’s league, as evidenced by the high team ERAs across the board.
While the Athletics farm system may not have a lot of youngsters that are primed and ready for their call to the big leagues, they do have a plethora of young talent in the minors. Matt Olson will continue to develop over the next year or two. When he is called up to Oakland, expect a show.