- Full name Yairo Muñoz
- Born 01/23/1995 in Nagua, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 03/29/2018
Organization Prospect Rankings
Munoz spent most of his first five seasons as a shortstop, but the Athletics seemed to be grooming him for a super-utility role in 2017 at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. The Cardinals acquired him and second baseman Max Schrock when they traded Stephen Piscotty to Oakland in December. Munoz played all three outfield positions and every infield spot except first base in 2017. He needs some polish at the newer positions, but one thing is undeniable: He shows plus-plus arm strength. He put together a solid offensive season in 2017, hitting .300 with 13 homers at two levels. He also stole 22 bases in 27 attempts. Munoz doesn't have great speed, but has good instincts on the basepaths. He's an aggressive, early-in-the-count hitter (21 walks in 477 plate appearances in 2017). He needs to temper that approach just a bit without sacrificing the skills that helped him amass 43 extra-base hits in 2017. Munoz will probably begin 2018 at Triple-A Memphis, but his bat and versatility could get him to the big leagues at some point in the season.
Munoz signed for $280,000 in January 2012 and made his full-season debut in 2015. While he hit into 26 double plays that year, he also hit 13 homers and finished with a flourish in high Class A. The Athletics aggressively pushed him to Double-A Midland in 2016 at age 21, even after he spent time on the shelf with heel and foot issues in spring training, delaying his regular-season debut in late April. Munoz split time between shortstop, third base and second base at Midland in deference to both Franklin Barreto and Richie Martin, and he played third almost exclusively in the Arizona Fall League. His arm is a plus--among the best in the system--and he has good hands and range. His speed is average to a tick above, but his inconsistent focus and aptitude lead to sloppy play defensively and keep his speed from playing consistently on the bases. Munoz's pitch recognition and plate approach are subpar and short-circuit his average raw power. Scouts can dream on his tools, and because he was one of the youngest players in the Texas League, he could repeat that level in 2017.
Signed for $280,000 four days after his 17th birthday in January 2012, Munoz soldiered through the first half of 2015 in the cold weather of the low Class A Midwest League before getting a chance to go to high Class A Stockton when Franklin Barreto went on the disabled list in July. The move rejuvenated Munoz's bat and he played a central role in Stockton's late-season run to the California League playoffs. Even when he struggles with the bat, Munoz's defense opens eyes. He has soft hands and a well above-average throwing arm, comparable to Matt Chapman as the best in the system. He can make highlight-reel plays, but his exuberance leads to too many errors--34 combined between his two stops last year. Although only a solid-average runner down the line, he does have long strides that help him run closer to plus under way. Munoz's hitting can be similarly out of control at times. He knows how to manipulate the barrel, however, and can adjust quickly to whatever a pitcher's trying to do to him. His swing has some loft and he has the strength to hit for power, although the A's again would like to tone down his effort level there. Some scouts can see Munoz moving off shortstop depending on how his body develops. The A's have no desire to shift him for now though, and he'll man the position again for Stockton to begin 2016.
Munoz got to showcase himself in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in August 2011 and went on to sign with the Athletics the following January for $280,000. Munoz is a live-bodied athlete with all kinds of tools. He has quick hands and already shows some pull-side power. His youth gets exposed at times though. He hits off his front foot and doesn't control the strike zone yet. His defense has similar issues. He has the range and plus arm to stick at shortstop, but he can be too flashy on some plays and too casual on others, evidenced by his 20 errors in 66 games at short-season Vermont. He turns in some plus running times down the line right now, though his speed will more likely end up closer to average. The Athletics won't rush Munoz, but he's earned a chance to go to low Class A Beloit in 2015.
Minor League Top Prospects
In a league filled with quality shortstops, Munoz stood out for having the best arm, easy athleticism and soft hands. As a result, he makes most plays at shortstop look routine despite only average range, and his double-plus arm and quick release cover for some defensive deficiencies. Multiple MWL managers brought up Munoz's style of play. He plays the game with a "look at me" approach that turns off some evaluators but others write off as a product of his youth. A thickly-built shortstop who is a fringe-average runner, Munoz could eventually slide over to third base. His power numbers were helped by Beloit's favorable home park, but he has strong hands and plus raw power. He projects to have average game power and a solid hit tool that could handle a position move.
Stockton didn't miss a beat when Franklin Barreto hit the disabled list in late July. The 20-year-old Munoz came up from low Class A Beloit and served as a key cog in the Ports' run to the playoffs. Munoz has a taller, more wiry frame than Barreto, and while he doesn't have the same pop in his bat, he's not lacking for it either. Munoz has some loft in his swing and can put on an impressive batting-practice display. He's an aggressive swinger with exceptional bat-to-ball skills who doesn't draw many walks. Despite his youth, he showed an ability to quickly adjust to how pitchers were attacking him and also showed a willingness to use the whole field. Some scouts wonder if Munoz ultimately lands at third base, depending on how his body fills out, but right now he's capable of pulling off highlight-reel plays at shortstop. He still needs to be more consistent, but he's got a good arm and ranges well.
Munoz signed for $280,000 in January of 2012 and struggled offensively in his first two pro seasons, but he took a huge leap this summer. A live-bodied athlete, he is capable of making highlight-reel plays at shortstop, and he started to learn how to slow the game down this year. He has excellent range, slick actions and a plus arm, helping him profile as a shortstop. "That shortstop for Vermont stood out like a sore thumb," Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo said. "You look at his age, he's just got feel, and he's having a ball doing it. He's not intimidated to say the least." Munoz is wiry-strong and whips the bat through the zone, helping him drive the gaps and generate surprising home-run power to the pull side. He has a tendency to chase breaking balls out of the zone and must improve his plate discipline. Munoz also has above-average to plus speed and likes to steal bases. He needs to refine all aspects of his game to harness his aggressiveness, but he has five-tool potential and a big personality to match.