Top 23 Prospects: Oakland Athletics

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Oakland Athletics. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

A’s Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 A.J. Puk 22 AA LHP 2018 55
2 Franklin Barreto 21 MLB CF 2018 55
3 Jorge Mateo 22 AA CF 2018 50
4 Dustin Fowler 23 MLB CF 2018 50
5 Jesus Luzardo 20 A- LHP 2020 50
6 Sean Murphy 23 R C 2019 50
7 Austin Beck 19 R OF 2021 45
8 Lazaro Armenteros 18 R LF 2021 45
9 Sheldon Neuse 23 AA 3B 2019 45
10 James Kaprielian 23 A+ RHP 2019 45
11 Nick Allen 19 R SS 2021 45
12 Daulton Jefferies 22 A+ RHP 2020 45
13 Grant Holmes 21 AA RHP 2019 45
14 Greg Deichmann 22 A- RF 2020 40
15 Alexander Campos 18 R SS 2023 40
16 Marcos Brito 18 R 2B 2022 40
17 Logan Shore 23 A+ RHP 2019 40
18 Kevin Merrell 22 A- MIF/CF 2021 40
19 Renato Nunez 23 MLB 4C 2018 40
20 Dalton Sawyer 24 AAA LHP 2019 40
21 Nolan Blackwood 22 A+ RHP 2019 40
22 Luis Miguel Romero 23 A+ RHP 2019 40
23 Kyle Finnegan 26 AAA RHP 2018 40

55 FV Prospects

1. A.J. Puk, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida
Age 22 Height 6’7 Weight 220 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
60/65 60/60 55/60 55/60 45/50

Puk had back issues in college and scouts weren’t enamored with his conditioning, but he also featured premium velocity and a plus slider while performing against SEC hitters. He somewhat surprisingly fell to Oakland’s sixth overall selection in the 2016 draft. Reports were even stronger in 2017.

Puk is remarkably athletic for his size and he’s more balanced throughout his delivery now than he was in college. His command has improved and now projects to average or a tick above. Puk also rebooted a curveball he had shelved at Florida and his feel for it returned quickly. Additionally, he’s flashing a plus changeup at times. He’s going to have command of four above-average or better pitches and rare lefty starter velocity. He has No. 2/3 starter ceiling and could reach Oakland this year.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Venezuela
Age 21 Height 5’10 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 60/60 45/55 60/60 40/50 60/60

The small-sample struggles Barreto experienced during his brief big-league debut are even less worrisome when you consider he was the age of a typical college junior. He has plus bat speed and raw power, and a long track record of offensive success dating back to his age-17 season. If anything will limit Barreto’s offensive output it’ll be his shoddy pitch selection, but most think Barreto is going to hit, hit for power, and play an up-the-middle position (though probably not shortstop), so there’s some room for his OBP to breath. We’d like to see him turned loose in center field but think he could be a 45 or 50 at second base.

50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 50/55 35/50 80/80 40/50 55/55

The elbow injury to Gleyber Torres forced an underperforming Mateo up from High-A Tampa, where he wasn’t playing well, to Double-A Trenton. Upon his arrival, he added a leg kick and immediately began driving the ball with more power. Mateo has strong wrists, allowing him to shoot the ball in the gap to all fields and sprint for extra bases. While his success at Double-A (before and after the trade) has some small-sample stink on it, the fact that it was paired with a substantive mechanical change might mean it’s more representative of his future output.

Defensively, Mateo has the physical traits to remain at shortstop, though the Yankees had also been playing him at second base and in center field. Scouts get frustrated with Mateo’s fundamentals at short but think he has the chance to be average there at his peak. Many are intrigued by what he might be able to do with his elite speed in center field, but Oakland played him exclusively at short after acquiring him. Much of Mateo’s future remains fuzzy, but he has many high-end catalytic offensive qualities and is likely to play up the middle, so the chances he’s some kind of impact player are pretty strong. He’s dealt with a left knee injury this spring and began playing in games only a short time before this list was published.

Drafted: 18th Round, 2013 from West Laurens HS (GA)
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 55/55 40/50 60/60 45/50 45/45

Fowler is a plus runner and viable defensive center fielder who has a chance to be an above-average defender there at peak. He has plus bat speed that allows him to turn on good velocity and generate more pull-side power than is typical for a plus-running center-field prospect. Fowler has a chance to hit .280 or so, with 15-18 annual homers, and do lots of extra-base damage with his legs. While his aggressive approach at the plate will likely limit his on-base ability to something beneath league average, he’s very likely to be an average everyday player and potentially a tick more than that, assuming his pre-injury speed returns.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL)
Age 19 Height 6’1 Weight 205 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 50/60 50/60 45/55

Luzardo was a polished prep lefty with command of an advanced changeup and breaking ball, as well as an 88-92 mph fastball that spiked into the mid-90s during his senior spring. Soon after his velo ticked up, Luzardo got hurt and needed Tommy John. The Nationals drafted him, gave him an overslot $1.4 million, and then traded him to Oakland the following year. Luzardo has remade his physique and his pre-surgery surge in velocity has been retained. He was up to 98 at times last year, sitting 90-95 with advanced command, and he’s been 94-97 in his appearances this spring. His changeup and breaking ball should mature into above-average pitches, and Luzardo should move quickly through the minors as a potential No. 3 starter.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Wright State
Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/55 35/50 20/20 45/50 70/70

Murphy didn’t catch great stuff at Wright State and it’s taken him a little while to become comfortable with receiving pro-quality pitching, but he’s improved drastically and looked great in the Arizona Fall League. He now projects as an average receiver with a plus-plus arm. Murphy’s swing is simple and makes him tough to strike out while also enabling him to tap into some of his strength-driven power. He’s a well-rounded catching prospect who should mature into an everyday player.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Davidson HS (NC)
Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/60 20/50 60/55 40/50 60/60

A torn ACL kept Beck off of the showcase circuit during his draft summer, and teams had less information about him than any of the other significant high school hitters. Uncertainty became apprehension as teams watched Beck swing over the top of breaking stuff during his senior spring, but he clearly had among the loudest tools in the entire draft — including the class’s best bat speed, plus raw power projection, and a plus arm.

When Beck came to pro ball, he struggled with the leap in pitching quality and with some alterations to his hitting footwork. He was visibly frustrated during AZL play but had started to adjust to the better pitching late in the summer. Beck is a high-variance, toolsy outfield prospect. If he hits, he’s a potential star, the kind Oakland can’t afford on the open market.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba
Age 18 Height 6’0 Weight 182 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/45 55/60 20/50 60/60 40/50 40/40

Lazarito popped up on the international scene during the back half of an exodus of Cuban talent from the island in anticipation of a hard-slotted international bonus system. This was a volatile situation: not only because there were widely varied opinions concerning Lazarito’s talent, but also because his American agent had to cut ties after receiving death threats from Armenteros’s Latin American “handler” or “investor” (There’s not really an English word that accurately describes this person’s relationship with a prospect — at least not one that doesn’t make you cringe a little bit, which tells you something about the IFA market.)

When he came stateside, Armenteros looked like a talented mess. He clearly had power, but his timing at the plate was awful and he looked like he hadn’t ever seen a decent breaking ball before. As the spring and summer progressed, he started to develop a much better feel at the plate and, by the fall of 2017, was hitting lasers to all fields off of curated instructional-league pitching. He was running better, too, and scouts have grown more optimistic about him in center field over the last 12 months. Things could still bottom out here: if Armenteros can’t stay in center, his arm dictates a move to left and that means the bat has to develop. But he’s moved the needle on his bat and defensive projection in the last year.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 30/55 40/40 45/50 60/60

Neuse was a two-way player at Oklahoma (where he would touch 96 in relief), but teams were mostly on him as a three-true-outcomes third baseman with above-average raw power and a good idea of the strike zone. (He played shortstop in college but is a 40 runner.) Some scouts were concerned about swing and miss, especially because Neuse has a corner-only defensive profile, and those concerns remain — a result of Neuse’s mediocre bat control. He raked throughout all of 2017, including a few weeks of Double-A ball, but he’s due for a BABIP regression, too. Scouts who had Neuse as part of their amateur coverage revere his makeup. If he hits enough, he’s an everyday player at third base, and his first full pro season was an indication that he’s going to.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from UCLA
Age 23 Height 6’4 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 55/60 45/50 55/60 45/50

Kaprielian threw 89-94 mph at UCLA but, like many recent Yankees farmhands, somehow started throwing much harder as a pro and was 94-97 early in his first full pro season. Then the injuries began. Kaprielian was shut down for nearly all of 2016 due to a flexor-tendon strain. When he returned, during the 2016 Arizona Fall League, he looked incredible. He again sat 94-97, touching 98 or 99 early in the AFL, while also flashing feel for locating a hard slider, plus-flashing changeup, and viable curveball. Kaprielian’s mix of pitches and feel for locating and sequencing were promising, and some scouts thought he had a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation arm.

As 2017 began, many were hopeful that Kaprielian could ascend quickly through the remainder of the minor leagues. He made one big-league spring-training appearance before he was shut down with injury that, after MRI, was determined to require Tommy John surgery. He was part of the package sent to Oakland ahead of the trade deadline for Sonny Gray. Kaprielian’s surgery will be 12 months old on April 18th. He’s already throwing off a mound and will probably get into games some time during extended spring training.

11. Nick Allen, SS
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Francis Parker HS (CA)
Age 18 Height 5’9 Weight 155 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 20/30 20/30 50/50 45/60 60/60

Allen had the best defensive hands many scouts have ever seen on a high schooler and enough stick that he was a surefire first rounder if you just looked at his tools. Some teams were put off by his size, and he fell to the third round, receiving first-round money ($2 million) nonetheless. Allen has elite defensive hands, enough arm for the left side of the infield, and a self-aware offensive approach that prioritizes opposite-field contact. He’s a potential plus defender at short who could make enough contact to be an average everyday player. Unless he proves fragile, Allen’s range of potential outcomes is pretty narrow, as his premium defensive ability gives him a utility floor, while his lack of power and power projection caps his ceiling.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Cal
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/55 45/50 55/60 50/60

Jefferies has had a medically tumultuous two years, dealing with shoulder soreness as a junior at Cal and then requiring Tommy John in April of his first full pro season. He’s a short-strider with an injury history, so the industry considers him a high-risk prospect, though his stuff and command are so good that Jefferies probably would have been the second college arm off the board in 2016 (behind Puk) if he had been healthy. Jefferies is a plus athlete with potential plus command of an above-average fastball (he was 92-95 during spring training of 2016, before his elbow blew out) and plus changeup. He threw a terse, mid-80s slider at Cal but was working with a slower, two-plane breaking ball during his first spring with the A’s. It flashed average and played up because Jefferies located it to his glove side at will. He’s a high-risk potential No. 3/4 starter.

13. Grant Holmes, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Conway HS (SC)
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 215 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
50/50 55/55 40/45 40/45

Holmes continued to have issues throwing strikes in 2017, his 9.5% walk rate consistent with his career average. This spring, Holmes is dealing with a shoulder issue that has him limited to fastballs and changeups in bullpen sessions. His best pitch is his low-80s power breaking ball, which is plus. Holmes’ fastball was 91-93 last spring and mostly 92-94 during the season. It plays down a little bit due to Holmes’ short stride and levers, which limit his extension. His changeup flashes average and should mature there, so there’s enough stuff to start if he can improve his strike-throwing. If not, he fits as a potential multi-inning bulldog reliever (especially if his velocity ticks up in short stints) or late-inning reliever.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from LSU
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 190 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/60 30/55 50/45 40/45 55/55

Deichmann was a two-year SEC performer who hit .308/.417/.579 as a junior at LSU. He’s a high-effort player who generates some big power on contact, with one source citing a max exit velo of 118 mph last year. He also has at least average straight-line speed. Some amateur scouts were concerned about the stiffness in his swing or his plate coverage (two things that might be related) or were skeptical of Deichmann’s bat path enabling him to hit the ball in the air consistently, and those concerns have had merit during my first few looks at Deichmann as a pro, both last fall and in big-league games this spring. It’s somewhat concerning that a corner-only college prospect is generating skepticism already, but Deichmann could also be a minor swing change from blowing up, because the power he generates on contact is special.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela
Age 17 Height 6’0 Weight 178 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 30/45 20/40 50/50 40/50 55/60

Campos was the primary return in the deal that sent 1B Ryon Healy to Seattle. He had a strong first pro season in the DSL, where he walked more than he struck out and looked fine at shortstop. He’s a bit more physically mature than the typical 18-year-old and is more likely to have a well-rounded collection of average tools than any single standout skill, but he projects as an average major-league shortstop . He’s a bit less risky than his teenaged peers because the body is already mostly there and the makeup is reportedly outstanding.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic
Age 17 Height 6’0 Weight 160 Bat/Throw S/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 30/40 20/30 60/60 40/55 55/55

Brito, who signed for $1.1 million in 2016, played most of his first pro season in the states at age 17. He has remarkable barrel control for his age, especially from the left side, and I’ve seen him peppering opposite-field targets at will during backfield hitting drills. His balance at the plate is such that he rarely clears his hips and turns on anything with authority, and it’s hard to see him hitting for power unless he incorporates more rotation in his swing as he develops, but he could be a plus hitter at peak. Brito is a twitchy defender who has seen time at second, third, and shortstop. He has enough arm for the left side of the infield, but his quick hands and actions fit at second base. He’s still mistake prone, but has the talent to be a 55 or 60 defender there. He could max out as a Cesar Hernandez

17. Logan Shore, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Florida
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
40/45 40/45 60/70 50/60

Shore’s season was interrupted by a lat strain and he totaled fewer than 80 innings before picking up reps in the Fall League. In the AFL, he looked relatively hittable, sitting 90-93 with an above-average changeup and a fringey slider. He’s fairly advanced and has a chance to develop 55 command, but a lack of bat-missing stuff probably caps his ceiling in the No. 4/5 starter range. He now also has an injury on the resume.

18. Kevin Merrell, MIF/CF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from South Florida
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/40 20/30 80/80 40/50 55/55

An 80-grade runner with bat control, Merrell utilizes a slash-and-dash approach at the plate, poking lots of ground balls back up the middle. He is very short to the ball and gets down the line in four seconds flat, which enabled him to post a .383/.464/.569 line as a college junior on the back of a .427 BABIP. This is the crux of Merrell’s prospectdom. He has two elite skills that manifest themselves in a unique way, and he’s going to be developed in the middle of the diamond. Most scouts agree that he’s not a shortstop, but some think he could pass at second base (where I’ve seen him play this spring) and others want to see him tried in center field. Typically, college bats with Merrell’s contact numbers move quickly through the minors, but scouts anticipate a longer timeline for Merrell because he has a pretty quirky profile.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Venezuela
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/60 45/50 40/40 40/40 60/60

Núñez has plus raw power but the rest of his profile, both offensively and defensively, is a bunch of 40s and 45s. The uppercut in his swing helps him get to his power (he has 56 homers, combined, over the last two years) but also creates some length that makes him strikeout prone. He’s also not a particularly selective hitter. The result is sub-optimal contact and below-average walk rates. Núñez’s plus arm plays at third base, but he’s a 40 glove there and has seen a lot of time at first base and left field during the last two years. Nunez is out of options. He was asked to slim down before the offseason in anticipation of playing more outfield this year, and he has, but he’s also dealt with a hamstring issue this spring and his reps have been limited. He’s back running and fielding ground balls as of publication. He projects as a part-time corner bat but should at least get a chance to play his way into a larger role in Oakland, as their 40-man is full of fringey corner outfielders.

20. Dalton Sawyer, LHP
Drafted: 9th Round, 2016 from Minnesota
Age 23 Height 6’5 Weight 210 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/45 50/50 55/60 45/55

Sawyer has a plus changeup, can throw his breaking ball in the zone for strikes, and has a 40-grade fastball that plays up against lefties due to its sink and Sawyer’s low arm slot. Sawyer has advanced on-mound aptitude but fringe command. He knows how to set hitters up for his changeup and he does some things to vary hitters’ timing of his fastball, like quick pitch. The lack of velocity (Sawyer’s fastball maxes out at 93) probably caps his ceiling as a No. 4/5 starter. Still pretty good for a ninth-rounder from a cold-weather college.

Drafted: 14th Round, 2016 from Memphis
Age 22 Height 6’5 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/50 45/45 50/55 45/50

Blackwood doesn’t have huge stuff, but the discomfort caused by his submarine delivery and his command of a sinking fastball are enough for him to get through an inning and some change. It sits only 90-92, but the fastball is heavy and Blackwood’s command is crisp enough — and his delivery disorienting enough — to keep hitters from squaring it up. Nearly 70% of balls in play against Blackwood last year were on the ground. He also has an above-average changeup and below-average slider, but mostly Blackwood utilizes his fastball to get outs. He projects to do so in a middle-relief role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba
Age 23 Height 6’2 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
55/55 55/60 50/55 45/50

Romero signed out of Cuba in early February of 2017 and got underway against much younger competition in extended spring training. He flashed a viable three-pitch mix led by a fastball that will touch 96 and sit 92-94. He also throws a plus-flashing critter (the same knuckle changeup thrown by Mat Latos), which has funky movement but is easy to identify out of Romero’s hand at times. He worked more with an above-average 82-87 mph slider throughout the season. He has No. 4/5 starter stuff but is less polished than most pitchers his age and could be fast-tracked in a bullpen role.

23. Kyle Finnegan, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2013 from Texas State
Age 25 Height 6’2 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 50/50 50/55 40/40

Finnegan had a relatively inconspicuous early pro career before he was moved to the bullpen in 2016. He started missing more bats and has accumulated late-inning experience at Double and Triple-A over the last two years and now looks like he’s going to be solid bullpen piece. He has a max-effort delivery that produces mid-90s velocity which has been up in the 96-98 stratosphere this spring. It’s flat and plays best up in the zone. He’ll flash a 55 slider and changeup but they’re both consistently 50s and effective when located. He looks like a near-ready middle relief piece.

Other Prospects of Note

Yerdel Vargas, SS – Vargas got $1.5 million to sign back in 2016. He has the physical traits to remain at short but was more mistake prone than expected on defense last year and then lost reps at short mid-summer after Nick Allen was drafted. At the plate, there’s early doubt about Vargas’s ability to hit due to a lack of bat control, though he does have good physicality for his age and viable big-league bat speed. It’s very early and Vargas is still a good low-level prospect, but he didn’t looks as polished as advertised last year.

Ismael Aquino, RHP – A fairly projectable 19-year-old, 6-foot-2 Dominican righty, Aquino touched 95 and sit 92-94 while flashing a 50 changeup and breaking ball in the DSL last year.

Dakota Chalmers, RHP – Chalmers had to step away from baseball for personal reasons during the 2017 season, and he struggled with control when he returned in June. He’s always been 91-96 with a chance for a plus changeup and breaking ball, but the command just hasn’t developed yet and he was only 91-92 in the fall. He has starter stuff, but it’s highly unlikely he develops the requisite strike-throwing ability to work multiple innings.

Bobby Wahl, RHP – Wahl had elbow surgery in 2015, but his velocity was back in 2016 and he sat 95-98 for much of the year. He started having more arm trouble in May of 2017, and after several unsuccessful attempts to rehab, it was determined he needed surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Wahl is back this spring and has been 93-94 in my looks. If he’s healthy, he could pitch in middle relief. If his velo comes all the way back, he could be a high-leverage arm.

Tyler Ramirez, OF – Ramirez had a strong 2017, split between High-A and Double-A, during which he slashed .300/.400/.430. He’s a selective hitter with more pop than you’d expect for someone his size (he’s listed at 5-foot-9), but it manifests itself as doubles in games. Ramirez has spent some time in center field, but he’s a 40 defender there and has a corner-only profile for most scouts. He lacks the power to profile in a corner everyday and projects as a bat-first bench outfielder. One source thought he could be the larger half of an outfield platoon. If that opinion were more pervasive, Ramirez would be a 40 on the list with a 45 ceiling.

B.J. Boyd, OF – Boyd has an interesting set of tools. He’s a 55 runner with 50 raw power and good bat control. He hits the ball on the ground a lot and his in-game offensive profile doesn’t really profile at either corner spot right now, but he also might be a swing tweak away from immediate relevance because the bat-to-ball skills are for real and proven up through Double-A.

Ramon Laureano, OF – Laureano was hot for all of 2016 and then looked great against a higher concentration of talent in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. He looked like a potential everyday player after 2016 but then had a bad 2017 and was traded to Oakland for Brandon Bailey as part of Houston outfield crunch at the upper levels. Laureano picks the right pitches to swing at but scouts who saw him in 2017 question his bat control and described him as being stiff and without feel to hit. He has fringey power and is just okay in center field, so there’s no clear role here without getting something from the bat. Scouts who have seen Laureano so far this spring continue to have concerns about him hitting. He was a nice buy-low for Oakland in case he bounces back, but early spring looks (mine included) haven’t quelled doubt.

Will Toffey, 3B – Toffey had good peripherals at Vanderbilt and showed an in-game power spike as a junior. He’s selective, has some bat control, and features enough bat speed to project a 50 hit tool at peak. He has plenty of arm for third base but is a fringey defender there and some teams talked about catching him as a pro. He looks like a potential corner bench bat right now, but he has a chance to hit enough to play every day if his defense improves.

Wandisson Charles, RHP – Charles is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound, 21-year-old beast. He touched 102 last year but sits mostly 95-98 with an average slider and well-below-average changeup. All developmental focus has been placed on Charles’ fastball command, which is bad but slowly improving. The more quickly it comes, the more time Charles has to focus more on developing his slider. He has late-inning arm strength, but both Charles’ command and secondary stuff are behind.

Casey Meisner, RHP – Meisner was acquired from the Mets for Tyler Clippard in 2015. His stuff has never bounced back after it evaporated following a mechanical change that was likely designed to get better actions on either of his breaking balls, which had long been behind his changeup and fastball. He’ll still flash a plus changeup, but both of his breaking balls and command remain below average. Also, his velocity ticked down after the tweak and has yet to completely bounce back.

Oscar Tovar, RHP – Tovar is a slightly undersized 19-year-old with an average three-pitch mix. He’ll touch 94 but sits 89-92 with some sink. His late-breaking slider might be a 55 at peak, and he’ll flash a 50 change as well as some idea of how to sequence it. He could be a back-end starter. Tovar was suspended 25 games for PED use in 2016.

Norge Ruiz, RHP – Ruiz signed for $2 million during the winter of 2016 and spent the first half of 2017 in the Dominican waiting for paperwork to clear so he could come stateside. When he did, he struggled to command a bevy of 45- or 50-grade pitches and got knocked around. Ruiz touches 95 but sits 91-94 and delivers with varied timing and arm slot. This arguably disrupts his command more than it does opposing hitters. He also has a splitter, changeup, and slider. With the variability of his arm slot, he appears to have eight pitches. Again, they’re all 45 or 50 on the scale and Ruiz hasn’t yet showed the command necessary to make them all work. At age 23, it’s difficult to project favorably on Ruiz’s stuff. He’s looking more like a kitchen-sink reliever than a back-end starter, the result for which international scouts had originally hoped.

Richie Martin, SS – Martin’s swing is compact enough that it allows him to put the bat on the ball, but his feel for making loud, squared-up contact is poor and he hits the ball on the ground too often to do anything really meaningful on offense. He’s a plus runner and a capable defensive shortstop because of his athleticism and plus arm, though scouts note his actions can be a laborious and slow. He’s a glove-first prospect at shortstop, and that often gives prospects a utility floor, but it’s only a 50 glove and sometimes guys like this get squeezed off of active rosters by better defenders or players who are a 45 glove at short but have more stick.

Abdiel Mendoza, RHP – Mendoza is a fairly advanced 19-year-old Panamanian righty who pitched as an 18-year-old in the New York-Penn League for much of 2017. He looks like the bat boy in uniform, listed at 5-foot-10, 135. But Mendoza is an above-average athlete with a quick arm and he generates terrific down-mound extension, which helps his 40 fastball (which touches 92) play up. He also has a pretty sharp mid-70s breaking ball, which bites late, and showed better changeup feel than is typical for an 18-year-old last season. Both project as 50s. If Mendoza were 6-foot-2 with room on his frame, he’d probably be on the main section of this list, because we’d have room to project on the body and fastball.

Eric Marinez, SS – A talented but frustrating prospect who spent his first four pro seasons in short-season and Rookie-level ball, Marinez finally started to perform last year in the Midwest League. He has a 70 arm and smooth infield actions but he was soft-bodied and scouts had him projected to third. He split time at the two left-side infield spots last year. From an offensive standpoint, Marinez is 40s and 45s across the board with a chance to be 45s and 50s at maturity. If he stays at short, he could be a relevant big leaguer.

Boomer Biegalski, RHP – Biegalski is a high-slot righty with a plus changeup. He throws strikes and has four pitches led by the cambio, which has enabled him to miss bats up through High-A. His fastball, slider, and curve are 40s, so he projects as a one-pitch bullpen arm.

Kevin Richards, OF – Richards got $600,000 during the 2016 J2 period. He’s a 70 runner with a projectable frame, but he’s very raw from a skills and fundamentals standpoint. He’s probably a multi-year Rookie-ball project. We’ll see what happens with the bat.

Skylar Szynski, RHP – A long-term developmental high-school draftee from 2016, Szynski made seven short pro appearances and was up to 94 during his first pro sumemr and fall. He didn’t pitch in 2017 after he was discovered to have ligament damage in his pitching elbow. It was repaired via surgery and he’s expected to be back in 2018. He turns 21 in July.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Nate Mondou, 2B
Richie Martin, Mikey White, and Nate Mondou all played infield collegiately at the same time, although the former were always regarded as better prospects — or prospects at all. Martin and White attended SEC schools, for example, while Mondou went to an ACC one. Martin and White both played shortstop, Mondou second base. As a consequence, it’s not surprising that, in the 2015 draft, Martin and White were selected in the first and second round, respectively, while Mondou’s name wasn’t called until the 13th round in 2016.

All three played at High-A Stockton last year, however, and one could make the case that Mondou produced more promising indicators than either of his teammates. He controlled the plate better, certainly, making more contact while also walking more often. And while he failed to rival White’s .195 isolated-power mark, one also notes that White both (a) is a year older and (b) was repeating High-A.

Moreover, Mondou actually created more value defensively than either Martin or White according to the methodology used by Baseball Prospectus.

Comparative Defense, 2017
Name PA Pos Adj FRAA Defense Def/600
Nate Mondou 545 -1.0 1.1 0.1 0.1
Richie Martin 428 4.1 -7.9 -3.8 -5.3
Mikey White 488 1.1 -5.8 -4.7 -5.8
SOURCE: Baseball Prospectus
*Plate appearances supplied to give sense of playing time.
**FRAA = Fielding runs above average.
***Def/600 = Defensive runs prorated to 600 PA.

The power remains a concern, and Mondou’s body appears unlikely to offer any more room for good weight. But he seems like he can hit a little and field a little.

System Overview

This is an above-average collection of talent with some near-ready star power up top and lots of positional depth in the middle of the diamond throughout the system.Early returns from Oakland’s international spending spree in 2016 are strong: four players from that class are on the main section of this list (one acquired via trade) with several others still on the radar. They’re very likely to add another 45 or 50 FV prospect with the ninth pick in this year’s draft. Billy Beane was in attendance at Matthew Liberatore’s March 6th start.

We hoped you liked reading Top 23 Prospects: Oakland Athletics by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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southie
Member
southie

I’ll go on record now saying that at this moment Puk and Baretto both at 55 FV will look foolish in 5 years. I am 100% all in on AJ Puk. I think we are looking at a future star. Watching video of his bullpens is eye opening. Movement. Raw velocity. Athleticism that has improved each year by leaps and bounds. The As got lucky he fell.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption

Strongly agreed, Puk simply looks like the best pitching prospect in MLB right now. The 5th pitch he unveiled sealed the deal.

southie
Member
southie

Sorry if this comment came off as pugnacious