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Try and catch up: Langeliers, Soderstrom star for A's

Power-packed backstops, pitching depth highlight club's All-Stars
Tyler Soderstrom produced offensively and defensively this year as he progressed to the highest level of the Minors. (Justin Nuoffer/
December 3, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Oakland Athletics.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Oakland Athletics.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Las Vegas: 71-79
Double-A Midland: 66-71
High-A Lansing: 54-77
Single-A Stockton: 45-87
ACL Athletics: 20-34
DSL Athletics: 26-32
Overall record: 282-380 (.426 winning percentage, T-29th among MLB organizations)

Athletics Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Shea Langeliers

The cornerstone of the March blockbuster that sent longtime Athletic Matt Olson to the Braves, Langeliers was quickly hailed as a special talent upon his acquisition. On his first day at spring camp with the organization, Langeliers’ catcher-first mentality was on display when he proclaimed that throwing out a runner attempting to swipe a bag was vastly superior to hitting a homer.

Although he got the callup to Oakland in August, Langeliers’ destruction with the bat through the first four months was impossible to ignore. Mashing 40 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs in 92 games with the Aviators, the club’s former top prospect also drew rave reviews for his handling of the pitching staff and his locker-room leadership.

First base: Tyler Soderstrom

From a former A’s No. 1 prospect to their current No. 1 prospect. Soderstrom put together a season of immense offensive production -- 29 homers, 105 RBIs -- but it was his defense that A’s director of player development Ed Sprague quickly complimented when asked about the 134-game campaign in which the 20-year-old rose to Triple-A.

“We were really thrilled at both positions defensively with what he did,” Sprague said.

While Soderstrom gets the nod at first due to more starts at the position (58, vs. 50 behind the dish), the plan remains for him to continue his catching duties into 2023.

“If you watched him catch in April and you watched him catch in September, I mean, you’re talking about two different guys,” Sprague said. “He really was impressive behind the plate, as well as his first-base play.”

On top of the defensive strides, Soderstrom compiled an organization-best .234 ISO, even as he began his season in the rough April weather of Lansing, Michigan. He pounded the ball during the summer despite not facing a younger hurler a single time.

We would be remiss to not mention Jordan Diaz, who put together a campaign of monstrous production in 120 games between Midland and Las Vegas. While he drew starts at both corner infield spots, the A's No. 7 prospect primarily served as a designated hitter. That won’t change the fact that the 21-year-old led qualified batters in the organization in numerous categories, including: average (.326), slugging percentage (.515) OPS (.881), wRC (92), wRAA (16.5) and doubles (34), earning a big league promotion in September.

Second base: Zack Gelof

There’s a theme emerging, and that’s that the A’s top-tier prospects are featuring prominently into these selections. Gelof, Oakland’s No. 3 prospect, enjoyed a strong season from the keystone, primarily with Midland, where he compiled a slash line of .271/.356/.438 across 87 contests in his first taste of the level. He earned his second straight late-season promotion to Las Vegas and promptly swatted five roundtrippers in nine games, giving him 18 total homers on the year. Gelof finished third in the organization in line-drive rate (24.6 percent) and capped his year with a 21-game stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Third base: Brett Harris

After getting a brief taste of High-A during his first pro campaign, Harris clubbed his way to Midland by late May and kept on swinging. A seventh-round Draft choice out of Gonzaga in 2021, Oakland's No. 16 prospect combined to slash .290/.375/.475 across 113 games between the two levels.

The 24-year-old, who went deep just 10 times in three collegiate seasons, tapped into his power stroke this past year with 17 long balls. Known for his bat-to-ball skills, Harris finished third in the organization in hits (121) and second in wRAA (14.5) and OPS (.849) among qualified batters.

Named the Defensive Player of the Year in the West Coast Conference in 2021, Harris has shown an adept fielding ability, primarily at the hot corner. He made one of the premier catches of the Minor League campaign during the summer, a flipping grab over the dugout guardrail.

Shortstop: Max Muncy

Talk about putting a brief debut stint in the rearview mirror. Muncy, the A’s first-round pick in the 2021 Draft out of a California high school, scuffled in 11 Arizona Complex League games last year; this season, the club’s No. 6 prospect ascended to High-A at just 19 years old and combined to swat 19 homers and swipe 19 bags.

Well regarded for his all-around talent, no A’s Minor Leaguer saw more pitches this season than Muncy, who finished second in the organization in walks (69), third in RBIs (70) and doubles (28) en route to notching a .757 OPS.

Outfield: Chase Calabuig

The third time spending a season at Midland was a charm for Calabuig, resulting in a .313/.397/.437 slash line over 110 games. A 27th-round selection out of San Diego State in 2018, it previously appeared as though the lefty-swinging outfielder might stall out at the level after two quiet seasons. But he flipped the script by drastically slashing his K rate (12.9 percent) and upping his line-drive percentage (23.8). His 119 hits ranked him fourth in the organization, while he also set career highs with 25 doubles and six roundtrippers.

Denzel Clarke

Clarke’s first full pro campaign marked a banner year, as he garnered an All-Star Futures Game nomination and played in the Arizona Fall League. Splitting his time between Stockton and Lansing during the regular season, the A’s No. 10 prospect collected 15 homers and 30 steals while tying Harris Harris for the top wRC+ (123) in the organization among qualified batters.

“Physically, he’s a gifted athlete,” Sprague said. “He can run, he’s huge. He can stay in center, he throws well and he’s so strong.”

In addition to his all-around success, Clarke produced arguably the most impressive feat of the 2022 Minors campaign: hitting inside-the-park home runs in consecutive games. Clarke’s aforementioned speed is his highest-rated tool and he showed it off on a pair of occasions Aug. 2 and 3.

“The athleticism is just so good,” Sprague said, “and we’re just going to continue to try to get more baseball experience under his belt.”

Junior Perez

In the same ilk as Clarke, Perez showcased an exciting blend of his power/speed combo while patrolling the outfield for the Ports. The native of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, repeated Single-A this season and enjoyed vastly improved results, which included organizational highs in runs scored (74) and stolen bases (32). While the swing-and-miss element remains part of his game, Perez also drew 70 walks en route to posting a .363 on-base percentage this season.

Right-handed pitcher: Jeff Criswell

Many of Oakland’s exciting young hurlers were sidelined at one time or another throughout the year due to injuries, which paved the way for Criswell. A beacon of consistency as he moved across three levels, the club's No. 18 prospect ascended as high as Las Vegas in his first full season despite beginning the year with just 12 pro innings under his belt.

A second-round selection in 2020 out of the University of Michigan, Criswell finished second among all Oakland pitchers with 119 strikeouts this season. On April 30, he notched the lone complete-game shutout across the club’s pipeline, and he ended up finishing fifth in FIP (4.28).

Left-handed pitcher: Hogan Harris

The 2022 season marked the culmination of Harris’ comeback story, as he pitched in affiliate ball for the first time in three years. Sidelined initially by the pandemic followed by Tommy John surgery, the 6-foot-3 southpaw appeared at three levels this year and combined to whiff 105 batters in 73 2/3 frames.

“We really like him -- he kind of changed his body type since the time we got him,” Sprague said. “It was just getting him to take the mound on a consistent basis was the biggest thing we were happy about.”

The capper to Harris’ campaign came when he was added to the club’s 40-man roster weeks ago, putting him on the doorstep of a callup to Oakland.

Reliever: Chase Cohen

A full-time conversion to the bullpen worked wonders for Cohen in 2022, as he notched a 3.41 ERA with seven saves over 44 appearances. The 25-year-old posted the fifth-highest K rate (26.7 percent) in the organization among hurlers who accrued at least 30 innings, all while continuing to garner a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent.

A ninth-round selection by Oakland in 2018 out of Georgia Southern, Cohen was at his best with runners on base. He limited opposing batters to a .187 average and .583 OPS in such situations.

Jesse Borek is a reporter/coordinator of prospect content at MLB Pipeline and MiLB. Follow him on Twitter @JesseABorek.