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February 2, 2015

2015 Prospects

Oakland Athletics Top 10 Prospects

by Tucker Blair and BP Prospect Staff

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Last year's A's list

The Top Ten

  1. SS Franklin Barreto
  2. 1B Matt Olson
  3. LHP Sean Nolin
  4. 3B Renato Nunez
  5. RHP Kendall Graveman
  6. SS Yairo Munoz
  7. LHP Dillon Overton
  8. 2B Chad Pinder
  9. 2B Joe Wendle
  10. 3B Matt Chapman

1. Franklin Barreto
Position: SS
DOB: 02/27/1996
Height/Weight: 5’9” 174 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2012, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #7 (Jays)
2014 Stats: .311/.384/.481 at short-season Vancouver (73 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 5 potential power; 6 arm; 6 run

What Happened in 2014: The 18-year-old more than held his own in a short-season assignment, offering an impressive glimpse into what the distant future can hold and showing a bit more advancement than expected in the process.

Strengths: Strong athleticism; lot of life in hands; quick and explosive stroke; barrels up fastballs with authority; innate bat-to-ball ability; sneaky present strength; power projection; drives offerings into pull-side gap well; arm for left side of infield; arm would play in CF; easy plus run; likely to maintain speed as continues to mature physically.

Weaknesses: Frame for added growth; wide present strike zone; very aggressive in the box; zealous nature; can be taken advantage of by good arms; fishes against stuff with spin; actions aren’t overly natural at short; defensive fundamentals have a ways to go; loose with setting feet; likely to move to third or outfield; game is raw in general.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division player/occasional all-star

Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume; 18 years old; large gap between present and future.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The excitement with Barreto is pretty obvious, but before getting carried away, let’s not forget that he’s at least three years away from contributing to fantasy rosters. There’s no elite fantasy tool, but regardless of position, it’s tough to knock a player who could hit .280 with 15 homers and 20 steals.

The Year Ahead: Barreto is a long-legged player with high variability in the overall outcome, but the raw tools are extremely impressive. This past season he showed early progress and began to display refinement. The shortstop’s explosive hands create plenty of bat speed and drive with the ability to get the fat part of the barrel consistently on offerings. The offensive question currently resides with the approach as the 18-year-old is extremely aggressive in the box, often reacting to what is delivered to him regardless of the spot rather than bringing a definitive plan to the plate. While Barreto is very young and has room to improve this aspect, the nature of the ability to get the bat on a lot of balls can lead to being rewarded for less than ideal execution, especially at lower levels, and delay the realization that evolution is necessary. The short-term will focus on continuing to hone all aspects of Barreto’s game in a full-season assignment in 2015, where the natural ability with the bat has a good chance to mitigate extended resistance, while subtle progress in shaping the secondary skills will be the true indicator of a step forward. Some evaluators even think the end result of his development could lead him to center field.

Major league ETA: 2018

2. Matt Olson
Position: 1B
DOB: 3/29/1994
Height/Weight: 6' 4" 236 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012, Parkview HS (Lilburn, GA)
Previous Ranking: #8 (2012 Org)
2014 Stats: .262/.404/.543 at High-A Stockton (138 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 5 glove; 5 potential hit; 6 potential power

What Happened in 2014: The first basemen rebounded well from his mediocre 2013 season, putting together a loud season for Stockton en route to leading the league in home runs.

Strengths: Patient approach at the plate; pairs well with short swing to the ball; big and strong build; plus raw power which can play up at times in game; overall defensive game is solid at first base.

Weaknesses: Swing can become long; stiff and lacks fluidity at times; athletic player but does not run well; plate patience can shift to overly passive; already limited to a first-base profile.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate Risk; yet to reach Double-A.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: It’s easy to run back to the, “oh, it’s just the Cal League” adage when a player puts up a season like Olson did in 2014, but there were some real gains made here—and they shouldn’t be held against him because of the environment. Keeping the strikeouts reasonable may always be a challenge, but Olson has 30-homer power and makes an even better investment in OBP leagues.

The Year Ahead: Olson put his name back on the map after his loud campaign in the California League. Before the 2014 season, Olson was described as stiff and too bulky for his swing to provide the efficiency needed at the plate. Fast forward to the end of this season and the same industry sources are changing their tune. They now see a hitter who has regained some athleticism while finding consistency in his swing path. Olson has the power and plate approach to yield damage in the majors, and this season he took the correct steps to iron out his issues. There are still concerns shared whether the hit tool can play enough for the power to be implemented, and he will likely be a player who whiffs at high rates. However, Olson's feel in the box is advanced and something which could help soften the extreme strikeout rates. Having proven the lower minors are no real challenge for him, the first basemen is ready for an introduction to Double-A. While this will be Olson’s first big test at the higher levels, he isn't quite far off from the majors and could really see his stock jump if he can piece together another promising season at the next level.

Major league ETA: 2016

3. Sean Nolin
Position: LHP
DOB: 12/26/1989
Height/Weight: 6’5” 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2010 draft, San Jacinto Junior College (Pasadena, TX)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Jays)
2014 Stats: 9.00 ERA (1 IP, 1 H, 0 K, 0 BB) at major-league level, 3.50 ERA (87.1 IP, 74 H, 74 K, 35 BB) at Triple-A Buffalo
The Tools: 5 FB; 6 CH; 5 CB; 5 SL

What Happened in 2014: Two stints on the disabled list with a groin injury were a hit to the left-hander’s season. In return, he lost a chunk of time and the ability to get into a rhythm of throwing consistently to push for an extended look at the big-league level.

Strengths: Body to withstand rigors of long season; smooth delivery; downhill thrower; commands fastball to both sides of the plate; shows tailing action; deceptive changeup; delivers with good arm speed; spins both curve and slider with loose wrist; throws each offering for strikes; understands how to execute craft; mixes and matches arsenal well.

Weaknesses: Fastball will play down; flattens; typically only scrapes above 90; needs to be fine consistently; neither breaking ball shows better than average; curve tends to be loopy and soft; change loses luster without other offerings starting bats; limited margin of error.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major leagues; mature arsenal.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Talk about a good change. Nolin was dealt from Toronto to Oakland earlier this offseason and his fantasy outlook took a big step forward. Being a close-to-the-majors, fly-ball pitcher, Nolin should see opportunity in 2015 and could be a strong streamer at home in mixed leagues. Long-term, the strikeouts are likely to underwhelm, but a SP4 profile is possible in the right park.

The Year Ahead: While Nolin’s overall repertoire is on the bland side, the left-hander does display solid command of his arsenal and the ability to set-up hitters by consistently changing angles. Both aspects give this arm’s stuff the chance to play up further as a collection than their individual grades indicate, but the margin of error will be very tight against the best competition. There are concerns that the heavy reliance on inducing weak contact and effectively changing speeds will lead to an uneven body of work as a starter over the long run. The soon-to-be 25-year-old’s changeup is his best asset, and when the other offerings are working, it enables him to consistently keep hitters off balance. Nolin runs into trouble at times with his fastball, especially when working above the thighs, as the better hitters can sit around and wait for it without having to fully respect the breaking stuff. It’s not a flashy or exciting profile as a back-of-the-rotation arm, but the goal of any system is to produce major leaguers and Nolin fits that bill.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

4. Renato Nunez
Position: 3B
DOB: 4/4/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2010, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2014 Stats: .279/.336/.517 at High-A Stockton (124 games)
The Tools: 6 potential power; 5 arm

What Happened in 2014: After stumbling in his first shot at full-season ball, Nunez rebounded with Stockton, posting big power numbers at the hot corner.

Strengths: Plus power potential; plus bat speed; ability to extend hands and drive ball with backspin; feasts on fastballs; above-average arm strength from third base.

Weaknesses: Struggles to make contact; ultra-aggressive approach which leads to poor swings; footwork is choppy at third; lacks sufficient range; likely a 1B down the road.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: High 4; second division starter; platoon/bench bat

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; swing-and-miss causes concern; positional value is in question; yet to reach Double-A

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The raw power is real here, but Nunez makes for a very shaky fantasy investment because even if he stays at third base, which is anything but a given, his lack of a hit tool will drag down his earnings to near replacement-level in mixed leagues. And that’s the positive spin.

The Year Ahead: Nunez flashed his big raw power this year, proving that he can cause damage with his ultra-aggressive approach. That being said, the concerns are still very real when it comes to his future. The approach lends itself to bad at-bats and poor swings on major-league average or higher secondary offerings. While there is still time for him to refine the approach, Nunez is about to journey into the Double-A level and face pitchers with more advanced repertoires. The defensive aspect of his game is very much in question as well, with the Athletics taking a wait-and-see approach to his ultimate defensive home. His footwork slightly improved this past season, but not enough for scouts and industry members to feel comfortable about his ability to stick at third. Nunez has clear holes in his game, but the power might be enough to hide some of these deficiencies moving forward.

Major league ETA: 2017

5. Kendall Graveman
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/21/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 8th round, 2013, Mississippi State University
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: 3.86 ERA (4.2 IP, 4 H, 4 K, 0 BB) at major league level, 1.88 ERA (38.1 IP, 34 H, 22 K, 5 BB) at Triple-A Buffalo, 1.50 ERA (6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 K, 2 BB) at Double-A New Hampshire, 2.23 ERA (96.2 IP, 89 H, 64 K, 16 BB) at High-A Dunedin, 0.34 ERA (26.1 IP, 11 H, 25 K, 6 BB) at Low-A Lansing
The Tools: 5+ FB; 5 SL; 5 CT

What Happened in 2014: The former eighth-round pick out of Mississippi State made a stop at each level in his first full professional season, beginning the year at Lansing and finding himself in the bigs with Toronto to close the summer out.

Strengths: 90-93 mph fastball with heavy downward action that makes it tough for hitters to elevate the offering; present pitchability; cutter is weapon against LHH and has helped his case to starting games.

Weaknesses: Lacks plus offering; questions about ability to miss bats and take pressure off the fastball having to induce weak contact to consistently get outs.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; no. 5 starter; long man/middle relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low; achieved major leagues; mature arsenal.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Graveman’s fantasy profile is like an even more pedestrian version of Nolin’s—which makes his value almost non-existent in mixed leagues. It’s a good name to file away in AL-only formats though, as Oakland doesn’t have a ton of rotation depth.

The Year Ahead: The Mississippi St. alum soared through the minors after adding a cutter to his arsenal. This helped to alleviate some stress against left-handed hitters and mitigate the severity of an arsenal with a sinker-heavy approach. The cutter is mixed along with a slider and changeup, but his bread and butter is still the sinking fastball. While the pure stuff isn't overwhelming, Graveman shows poise and pitchability and shocked many within the industry with his ability to churn through the opposition and get outs. There are concerns moving forward in regards to lacking a plus offering and ability to efficiently maneuver through a major-league lineup multiple times, but the arsenal has enough juice to be a surefire bet in the bullpen at the very least.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2014

6. Yairo Munoz
Position: SS
DOB: 1/23/1995
Height/Weight: 6’1” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: .298/.319/.448 at short-season Vermont (66 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 6 potential power; 6 arm; 5 run

What Happened in 2014: Munoz held his own in the college-heavy New York-Penn League, making the all-star game and enjoying a solid season overall.

Strengths: Big raw power, potentially impact at shortstop; above-average bat speed; ability to extend hands and drive ball; plus arm strength.

Weaknesses: Lacks high-end athleticism; body could fill out some; might move off shortstop down the road; footwork and hands are just average; difficulty recognizing spin; still marinating the tools and approach together.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: High 4; Second-division starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; short-season resume; large gap between present and future.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: On this list, it can get tough to find guys to have some excitement about in fantasy leagues, but Munoz fits the bill. There’s a long way to go here, but even the distant light of a potential five-category infielder is worth paying attention to. If you are in a deep league that rosters 300-plus prospects, Munoz may be available and worth grabbing.

The Year Ahead: After signing for $280,000 in 2011, the Athletics have taken development slowly with the Dominican talent. Munoz has legitimate raw power, impressing scouts and industry members in batting practice. While Munoz's body is not fully matured and the power is more of the five o'clock variety at this time, the flashes are enough to provide optimism. Munoz displays advanced feel for the barrel and has a good swing through the zone, although he is still susceptible to spin. His defense has a chance to be average at shortstop, but some evaluators believe he may be a better fit for third base down the road. At this current time, Munoz has an outside chance to stick at shortstop, although it is likely he never becomes an asset defensively at the position. It remains to be seen how future growth into his frame will limit the speed and agility in the field and on the basepaths, but next year will shed further light on Munoz as he treks into his first campaign of full-season ball. In a system lacking prodigious talent, Munoz is certainly a player to keep an eye on.

Major league ETA: 2018

7. Dillon Overton
Position: LHP
DOB: 8/17/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 172 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013, University of Oklahoma
Previous Ranking: OTR
2014 Stats: 2.40 ERA (15.0 IP, 11 H, 22 K, 1 BB) at short-season Vermont, 1.64 ERA, 22.0 IP, 19 H, 31 K, 4 BB) at complex-level AZL
The Tools: 5 FB; 6 potential CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2014: Overton finally made some progress on the mound after missing a year (July 2013-June 2014) due to Tommy John Surgery.

Strengths: Present feel for pitching; fastball has arm-side run low in the zone; quick and loose arm; athletic build with potential for minor gains in projection; changeup has fade and deception; mature presence on mound.

Weaknesses: Stuff is down from college; high-80s fastball which is still progressing back from injury; curveball lacks consistency and depth at higher velo bands; mechanics are mostly smooth but will pitch across body at times; some sources believe this could sap velocity.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 5 starter/7th-inning arm

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; Tommy John surgery on resume, limited pro action in the past two years; still regaining past form.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There is some upside here, both given his amateur track record and the command profile, but gambling on a starting-pitching prospect with an average fastball and Tommy John surgery on his resume isn’t the greatest idea.

The Year Ahead: Overton has an interesting story, as he was abused and injured during his college years, which led to surgery and a large portion of time missed. This past season was all about regaining his form and working his stuff back to its potential. While the arsenal is clearly not 100 percent quite yet, Overton received optimistic reviews and has shown more feel than anticipated after surgery. When healthy, Overton is one of the better arms in this system, with a potential plus changeup and the ability to spot his fastball low in the zone. The risk remains high with the lefty, but there is still room for rehabilitation and projection, with a chance of the latter coming into focus this season.

Major league ETA: 2017

8. Chad Pinder
Position: 2B
DOB: 3/29/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013, Virginia Tech
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: .288/.336/.489 at High-A Stockton (94 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 5; potential power; 5 run; 5 arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2014: The Hokie alum put his short-season struggles in the rear-view mirror, showing an all-around display of talent at Stockton.

Strengths: Athletic build; solid bat speed; approach is sound; shows feel for the game; adept at spraying ball around field; versatile mold that can play as a utility option.

Weaknesses: Lacks a standout or carrying tool; insufficient athleticism and range to consistently play left side of the infield; mild bat wrap; occasional struggle to extend and reach pitches low and outside.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular

Realistic Role: High 4; second-division player; utility option

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate; yet to reach Double-A; concerns regarding lack of a carrying tool.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Pinder is a deep-league special as he’s overlooked and can do a little bit of everything. It’s extremely unlikely that he’ll do enough at the major-league level to be shallow-mixed worthy, but if he can survive up the chain, he can do enough to get playing time—which is half the battle if you’re currently rostering players like Yunel Escobar or Eric Sogard.

The Year Ahead: Pinder is the definition of an average Joe. There is a lack of sexiness in the profile, which causes some allure to be lost in the grand scheme. However, he provides an all-around profile that has gone somewhat under the radar. While he lacks the pure athleticism and range to play on the left side of the diamond, Pinder offers enough versatility to give the Athletics a utility option. The hit tool has enough to keep Pinder afloat and potentially provide second-division ability down the road, but he will need to prove more to scouts in his first test at Double-A. These types of players are never going to gain national attention or much buzz, but Pinder has a chance to turn more heads as he moves up the chain.

Major league ETA: 2017

9. Joe Wendle
Position: 2B
DOB: 4/26/1990
Height/Weight: 5’11” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2012, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Previous Ranking: #10 (Indians)
2014 Stats: .253/.311/.414 at Double-A Akron (87 games), .455/.538/.591 at complex-level AZL (6 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential Hit; 5 Glove; 5 Arm

What Happened in 2014: After a rough start and time missed due to a broken hamate bone, Wendle was shipped to Oakland in the Brandon Moss deal.

Strengths: Natural bat-to-ball ability; smooth swing; compact through zone with loose hands and minimal noise; potential for above-average hit tool; agile in the field with decent footwork; good feel for the game.

Weaknesses: Fringe power; lacks a plus tool; grinder more than toolsy; bat speed is average; lacks range to be true utility option; more agility than speed (fringe).

Overall Future Potential: 5; average major leaguer

Realistic Role: High 4; second-division player; utility/bench option

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low; significant time in Double-A; tools are matured; hamate injury is not a concern any longer.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s little of consequence for fantasy leagues here as Wendle likely tops out as a poor man’s Scooter Gennett. If that’s valuable in your league, blink twice and we will send help.

The Year Ahead: Wendle's 2014 season would not be classified as sexy, but he displayed his value midseason after the rough April start. Wendle brings a solid approach to the plate, where he understands his strengths and takes his at-bats in a manner conducive for success. While his fringe power is likely not an asset, Wendle can provide enough power to potentially hit eight to 10 homers at the highest level, with a good share of doubles. His gap-to-gap style of hitting has been displayed at every level throughout the minors, and he was able to put some of the questions about being too old for his current level behind him. The Athletics are comfortable keeping him at second base, with Wendle lacking the pure athleticism and range to play as a utility option on the left side of the diamond. Overall, Wendle's OFP hinges on the hit tool, but the second baseman has shown encouraging signs throughout his development. Oakland will have Wendle as depth heading into this season, with potential for him to become a larger piece down the road.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Matt Chapman
Position: 3B
DOB: 4/28/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2014, California State University Fullerton
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: .000/.000/.000 at Double-A Midland (1 game), .237/.282/.389 at Low-A Beloit (50 games), .429/.467/.643 at complex-level AZL (3 games)
The Tools: 6 potential glove; 7 arm; 6 potential power

What Happened in 2014: The Athletics drafted Chapman in the first round out of Cal State Fullerton and he spent most of his time in Low-A Beloit. The results of his assignment were below-average numbers and mixed reviews from scouts.

Strengths: Cannon arm at the hot corner; hands and actions are smooth; range down the line; big raw power; has feel for an approach at the plate.

Weaknesses: Swing has holes and can become elongated; drops elbow/shoulder on low pitches; can get out on front foot against good off-speed; raw power is often underutilized due to weak contact and not barreling pitches.

Overall Future Potential: 5; average major leaguer

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; struggled in Beloit; hit tool underwhelming in first pro stint; needs to refine swing before realizing potential.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: For a college bat, it’s going to be a long burn for Chapman to tap into his 25-plus potential power. Despite showing up on the Top 50 from earlier this offseason in dynasty drafts, he’s someone I’d try to avoid this offseason.

The Year Ahead: It was a rude awakening to pro ball for the Cal State Fullerton alum, as he struggled through 200 at-bats with Beloit. The glove and arm are weapons at third, but the bat holds many question marks. The swing has too many holes right now, and there was a note of inconsistency from every source talked to. The raw power is nice, but the hit tool may leave a less-than-desired outcome for the third basemen. His feel and approach is evident when he’s in the box, which does leave some optimism moving forward. Chapman still has time to rebuild the buzz he earned in college, but the hit tool is the serious question mark at this point. If all else fails, Chapman can hit the upper 90s with his fastball off the mound, but that's probably putting the cart before the horse at this stage of his development.

Major league ETA: 2018


Prospects on the Rise:

1. RHP Daniel Gossett: Drafted last year in the second round out of Clemson, Gossett carries a three-pitch arsenal consisting of a fastball, slider, and changeup. While some sources are not sold on the overall profile, Gossett has produced results at every level. The questions moving forward will be whether the arsenal has enough firepower to turnover lineups multiple times and whether his body can hit the mechanical checkpoints necessary to keep efficient stamina after a decent amount of pitches thrown. Gossett passed his initial test at Vermont with flying colors, and will look to continue his progression in full-season ball next season.

2. RHP Bobby Wahl: The development has been volatile and erratic, but Wahl possesses too much talent to simply be a forgotten man. The likely profile is a max-effort reliever who could potentially pitch in the late innings. While his command has been spotty, Wahl possesses heat in the mid-to-upper 90s along with a decent breaking ball. The righty will need to establish health and consistency before more within the industry jump back on the bandwagon, but Wahl still has enough potential to revitalize his pro career and provide value to a major-league club.

3. 2B/SS Jesus Lopez: After signing for $950,000 in 2013, the slender Nicaraguan held his head above water in the Arizona Rookie League. The switch-hitting middle infielder has a smooth swing from both sides of the plate, and could piece together enough of a hit tool to push his way through the lower minors with ease. Scouts are pessimistic about his chances to stick at shortstop, as he lacks fast-twitch athleticism and his actions in the field are merely adequate at this point. Lopez is a decent prospect to keep an eye on for now, with next season potentially boosting his stock in a barren system full of volatility in its rankings.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2015)

1. RHP Chris Bassitt: Acquired in the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago, Bassitt has already pitched a handful of innings in the majors. As a starter, the stuff is mostly 89-93 mph with heavy movement and life, but the fastball has ticked up to 94-97 mph out of the pen. He also owns an average slider and a lollipop curveball which comes in around 72 mph and tends to get hitters out on their front foot. While Bassitt still has a chance to start due to his ability to throw strikes and decent arsenal, the stuff should really play up in short-inning spurts out of the pen.

2. RHP R.J. Alvarez: The 23-year-old pitched in ten games for San Diego before being shipped to Oakland in the Derek Norris deal. The righty brings a fierce fastball/slider combo to the mound, with potential to pump both by hitters. He flashes more stuff than command due to iffy mechanics, which leaves speculation regarding whether he is a late-inning arm or leaning more towards middle relief. The overall arm is certainly major-league caliber, but there is enough risk involved here to leave questions about the overall ceiling moving forward.

3. RHP Raul Alcantara: This was a lost year for the 22-year-old Dominican as he underwent Tommy John Surgery early in the season. While he will likely miss some time heading into the 2015 season, Alcantara has a live arm with a fastball gleaming with movement and velocity. His overall arsenal has the projection to work in a rotation, but the development path might have changed now with the arm injury and lost time on the mound. Either way, Alcantara is a Double-A arm that might not take too long in his development process moving forward, depending on a healthy recovery.


Top Ten Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. Sonny Gray
  2. Brett Lawrie
  3. Franklin Barreto
  4. Jesse Hahn
  5. Marcus Semien
  6. Matt Olson
  7. Sean Nolin
  8. Renato Nunez
  9. Kendall Graveman
  10. Yairo Munoz

The Athletics have undergone a massive overhaul over the past half year. It started when Billy Beane reached into the prospect coffers when sending Addison Russell and Billy McKinney to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija last July. It was a power move designed to push the World Series odds in the Athletics’ favor, but the postseason didn’t go to plan as the A’s bullpen imploded. Their meltdown was a foreshadowing of things to come as Beane has completely remade his team. The farm system wasn’t deep last year and it’s only become thinner with the recent flurry of moves.

Sonny Gray eclipsed the 200-inning mark this past summer, a milestone that hopefully puts doubts about his durability to rest, especially considering that he ended the year with a masterful complete game shutout to get the A’s to the playoffs. Even with a strong season under his belt, the increased use of his slider and questions about his mechanics will always inspire doubt about his durability.

Speaking of doubts, there are post-hype prospects and then there are guys like Brett Lawrie. After missing a combined 84 games with an oblique strain and a broken finger, health remains the biggest concern for the talented, hot-headed third baseman. Lawrie, acquired from Toronto for Josh Donaldson last November, remains aggressive at the plate, a trait that will likely undercut his overall effectiveness. However, the power is real and if the health is as well, the Donaldson trade can end up being a very good one for the Athletics.

Health is a theme with this list and Jesse Hahn is not immune to that characterization. Hahn has a heavy fastball and a solid curveball, possibly an ideal skill set for Oakland Coliseum. Marcus Semien, the former White Sox utility man, appeared to have found himself in a similar role in Oakland after the trade that brought in Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. However, with Escobar gone, Semien will likely get the nod at short; a plan that works fine in short bursts, but the range and arm aren’t up for a full-time assignment.

Beane can turn things around in a hurry, but as of right now this is a thin organization at the minor-league level. —Mauricio Rubio


A Parting Thought: This is not a deep system, with the talent thinning rather quickly after the A's made a flurry of moves this offseason. However, there are still some useful secondary pieces in the system, and Oakland has proven that value can still be found in those under the radar types.

Tucker Blair is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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