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A’s top prospect ‘ready to go’ in Triple-A with Aviators

Oakland Athletics prospect Max Muncy said he wasn’t sure which minor-league team he was going to start the 2024 season with.

The A’s 2021 first-round pick split time between High-A and Double-A last year. Muncy hit .302 in 51 games in Double-A Midland to end the year, which showed the club’s higher-ups he was ready to take the next step.

Muncy, a 21-year-old shortstop, was assigned to Las Vegas. He’ll make his Triple-A debut when the Aviators open their 2024 campaign against the Reno Aces at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Las Vegas Ballpark.

“It’s really up to the organization what they feel like I’m ready for,” Muncy said. “That’s what they decided. I’m happy they did and wherever I went I was just ready to go.”

The A’s selected Muncy — who is not related to the Los Angeles Dodgers infielder with the same name — with the 25th overall pick out of Thousand Oaks High School in California. He’s listed as the No. 8 prospect in the organization by MLB.com. The Athletic’s Keith Law believes Muncy is the A’s best prospect.

“He can run, he’s got a great arm, he hits for power and it’s just fun to watch a young player like that,” Aviators manager Fran Riordan said. “The energy he brings to the field every day and the excitement that he generates when he does those things athletically on the field, it’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

Muncy played 11 games with the A’s rookie ball team in 2021. He combined for a .229 average in 2022 between 81 games in Single-A Stockton and 42 with High-A Lansing.

Muncy said he grew the most last year. Lansing manager Craig Conklin helped him with the mental side of the game.

“Just slowing down the moment was a big thing for me,” Muncy said. “The game can get fast when you’re out there. You think about a lot of things and having an idea of what you want your thoughts to be and if you get sped up, you go back to those thoughts to relax and take it easy and know what you need to do.”

Muncy said he learned more about what it takes to be an everyday shortstop when he was called up to Double-A Midland in July. He picked the brain of manager Bobby Crosby, the 2004 American League rookie of the year.

“Trying to figure out what pitchers are trying to do to me, working through at-bats a little more instead of just going up and swinging,” Muncy said. “That’s been the biggest improvement for me, just the mental side. … It was a combination of everything that got me going and what’s going to push me into this year.”

Aviators third baseman Brett Harris was part of the A’s 2021 draft class with Muncy. Harris said Muncy’s personality helps keep the locker room loose. What Harris said he is most impressed with is Muncy’s maturity.

“Coming from high school, you’re not seeing the type of pitching and breaking-ball stuff as you do in pro ball,” Harris said. “It’s just his maturity at the plate and the way he carries himself. He’s a very confident guy and that helps him on the field.”

Muncy’s call to the big club could come at any moment with him starting the season at Triple-A. He said he hasn’t given that much thought. He’s focused on winning in Las Vegas.

“That’s been my mindset is I’m going to be where I’m at,” Muncy said. “I’m not going to worry about what anyone else thinks or what the organization wants to do with me. I’m just going to go play.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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