10 Names You Need To Know – Oakland Athletics

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

As we get ready for baseball to return in just a few days, here are the ten Oakland A’s prospects you need to know. This list is a mixture of Rookie of the Year candidates and newly signed draft picks. What they have in common is the ability to make an impact on your dynasty team over the next few years. Every player on this list should be rostered in deep dynasty leagues and a few of them could be impact pickups during the season in redraft and keeper leagues.


A.J. Puk, LHP
I’m sure some of you will be surprised to see Puk ahead of some of the other names on this list, but I think this former Florida Gator could have the biggest impact on the A’s this season. It’s difficult to predict how Bob Melvin is going to deploy his starting pitchers during this shortened season, but the fact that he doesn’t have to worry about an innings limit on his young stars should allow him to maximize their effectiveness. Puk is healthy coming into summer camp and he has true ace potential that could lead to a monster rookie campaign.

Jesus Luzardo, LHP
Luzardo’s impact on the 2020 season is in doubt after a positive COVID-19 test and he still hasn’t been able to participate in camp. When he is ready to pitch I expect him to be a handful for opposing teams to deal with. Really, it all comes down to how much prep time he’s given before being deployed in games. In dynasty leagues, I would imagine that GMs who have waited patiently for Luzardo would rather see a measured approach than one of throwing him to the wolves on a shortened camp. I would expect to see him miss the rotation to start the season and be deployed initially out of the bullpen. If the A’s are winning, he’ll eventually work his way back into the rotation.

Sean Murphy, C
Murphy is a lock to be the starting catcher for the A’s this season. His ability to manage a pitching staff of veterans and young potential stars will be a big part of the A’s rise or fall this season. His potential to make a big offensive impact in a stacked A’s lineup could be the edge the teams needs to get over the top. If he reaches that potential he instantly becomes a valuable asset in dynasty leagues. Now is the time to add him to your team if you still can.

Sheldon Neuse, INF
I’ve written a lot about Sheldon Neuse in the last few months, mostly because of his positional flexibility and proximity to the majors. In a shortened season with so many unknowns, it’s difficult to know where all of the at bats are going to go. Being able to play three infield positions (and possibly a corner outfield spot in a pinch) as well as bringing the power potential to fill in at DH makes Neuse an attractive option for the primary roster. He probably won’t play every day, but that may be true of a lot of more guys than usual this year.

Robert Puason, INF
The heir apparent to the top spot on A’s prospect lists was added to the pool of players that will be working out at the team’s alternate training site. Puason doesn’t turn 18 until September, so there’s zero chance he sees time with the big club in 2020. His impact this season will be in the buzz he creates by being stateside for the first time and how he looks next to his older and more experienced peers. Expectations are high for his development and all eyes are going to be on what he does over the next few months. He is a no-brainer add for GMs with space for a long term hold.

Tyler Soderstrom, C
The A’s went for the local prep star with their first round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and paid him significantly over slot value to get him signed. Soderstrom was one of the best prep bats available in the draft and he has the potential to have both plus hit and power tools. Can he stay behind the plate? Is that even the A’s plan for him? It’s hard to say at this point. He has a plus arm and has plenty of time to develop his defense in the low minors. Sean Murphy’s performance with the big club, as well as the development of fellow catchers like Kyle McCann and Drew Milas, will probably be a factor in the direction the A’s take with Soderstrom. The bat potential here and the organization depth could lead to a position change, which in my opinion would boost his dynasty value significantly.

Daulton Jefferies, RHP
Jefferies has the stuff to fill in nicely behind Luzardo and Puk in the A’s rotation of the future. Last season in AA he struck out 93 batters in only 72 innings of work. His workload has been limited by injuries since being drafted in 2016 and he does not have overpowering velocity with a fastball that sits in the low 90’s. His calling card is control and when he is healthy he is very efficient. Jefferies will be in the 60-man player pool for the 2020 season and could see some work out of the bullpen for the big club.

James Kaprielian, RHP
Much like Jefferies, Kaprielian is a high upside righty with a history of being derailed by injuries. Like Jefferies he was back in action in 2019 and showed flashes of the promise that convinced the Yankees to select him in the first round of the 2015 Draft. Like Jefferies he is an older prospect that is ready for an MLB debut and like Jefferies he is in the 60-man player pool. The makeup of the current A’s rotation is such that an opportunity to seize a rotation spot could come up at any time. If one of these guys is throwing well at the right moment, 2020 could be their shot at the big time.

Jeff Criswell, RHP
The A’s went with Michigan’s Friday night starter for their second round pick in the 2020 Draft. Criswell is a big righty at 6′-4″ 225 lbs with three plus pitches including a fastball with heavy sink that sits between 93 and 96 mph. His slider and changeup play well off of his fastball. He has the polish to move through the system quickly and will likely debut at the low A level in 2021. The upside here will make Criswell a popular target in the later rounds of dynasty first year player drafts.

Marcus Smith, OF
Smith, another high school bat taken in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft, made a solid debut in the Arizona Fall League last year. Smith has the speed, arm strength and defensive ability to stick in center fielder. Offensively, he has a contact-first swing and good plate discipline for his age. Whether or not he makes an impact in fantasy will come down to how his power and base stealing ability develops. If Smith can add even moderate power numbers and harness his running potential, expect him to rocket up the prospect rankings. While he may never develop into a five category fantasy star, in leagues that value speed he profiles as a regular contributor if he reaches his full potential.




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