Athletics’ Joey Estes Thrives On Strength Of Unique Fastball


There is something different about Joey Estes, something that makes scouts sit up in their seats when he pitches. 

“His fastball has really good horizontal and vertical movement,” Athletics minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said. “It’s an outlier. This guy is way different. Almost nobody else in baseball has that same movement.” 

That movement, with late run, turns Estes’ mid-90s fastball into a weapon. Where it will take him is far from decided, but it has led to a series of good starts for Double-A Midland. In his first 16 games, 14 of them starts, he put together a 3.69 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.  He had 75 strikeouts and 24 walks in 83 innings.

“Every time I read a report from (Midland manager) Bobby Crosby, he talks about how this kid is competitive,” Patterson said. “”Everyone is competitive, but he takes it to a different level.” 

And what is that level?

“He’s kind of a maniac on the mound,” Crosby said. “He walks around, super energetic. He runs off the mound. I love when he pitches. He’s a competitor. He doesn’t like to lose or give up a run. He’s a guy who I love having on the mound.

“No matter what, he’s going to compete and give you his best effort.” 

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Estes grew up in Lancaster, Calif., outside Los Angeles. He went 8-0 with a 0.91 ERA in 2019 as a Paraclete High senior. The Braves selected him in the 16th round and lured him away from Long Beach State. Oakland acquired him in the deal for Matt Olson before the 2022 season. 

In addition to that outlier fastball, the 21-year-old Estes has a slider and changeup that grade out as average offerings. How those pitches improve will help determine whether he remains a starter or takes his heat to the bullpen. 

Patterson credits Midland pitching coach Chris Smith with helping Estes begin to refine his game and show the development that puts him on a path to the major leagues. 


— Righthander Durbin Feltman had found new life in the Double-A Midland bullpen. A third-round pick in 2018 by the Red Sox, Feltman had dominated recently. The 26-year-old throws a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider. 

— Righthanded reliever Shohei Tomioka had also been effective out of the Midland bullpen. He was signed from a tryout camp in Japan in 2021 after not being drafted in his home country. His fastball hits 95 mph, and he mixes in a tight slider and a curveball.

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