The Oakland Athletics promoted third base prospect Ryon Healy to the major league roster last Friday. He's 3-for-11 so far with a home run and a pair of strikeouts. Healy was tearing up the minors this spring and early summer; let's take a look at what he offers.
The Athletics drafted Healy in the third round in 2013 from the University of Oregon. On the surface he had a good year in the California League in 2014 (more on that in a second), but his '15 season was considerably more impressive and he's truly broken out this year.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Ryon Healy, 1B-3B, Oakland Athletics
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-5 WT: 215 DOB: January 10, 1992
2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C
On the surface, Healy’s 2015 season looks very similar to his 2014 season. In fact, it was considerably better: .302/.339/.426 in the Texas League and in the Midland park is much better than .285/.318/.428 in the California League. His wRC+ reflects this, jumping from just 91 to 117 last year. Of course, 117 still isn’t elite for a corner player. Healy is quite interesting to see in person. He’s obviously very strong and physical with big raw power, but he uses a short line drive-oriented swing and doesn’t smack the ball over the fences as often as you’d think given his size. He’s aggressive and can be impatient but doesn’t strike out much. His glove is solid at first base and playable-if-mediocre at third. This all reminds me a great deal of Ron Coomer and I think Healy can be a similarly useful role player. Grade C+.
Healy returned to Midland to open 2016 and tore up the Texas League, hitting .338/.409/.628 in 145 at-bats. Promoted to Triple-A Nashville, he's remained very hot at .318/.362/.505 in 192 at-bats, earning his way to the majors. His wRC+ metrics are at the best levels of his career (192 at Midland, 126 at Nashville) and he's provided steadily adequate defense at third base after spending much of '15 at first base.
The key for Healy has been finding the right balance at the plate, tweaking his swing just enough to get to his raw power more often without sacrificing too much contact. His strikeout rate IS up this year, hovering around 20% compared to 15% in past seasons, but his walk rate is also higher and the strikeout increase hasn't hurt him at all; his production is up across the board.
PCL scouting reports indicate that he's handled both fastballs and breaking balls effectively. We'll have to see if that holds true in the majors once pitchers get a better look at him, but there's no question that his stock is legitimately up. I'd make him a strong Grade B prospect at this point.