It’s almost June and the Oakland Athletics are nearly a third of the way through the season. I’ll be breaking down the developments in the A’s organization over three posts: the prospects now in the bigs, an in-depth analysis of Jharel Cotton’s season, and an overview of the A’s farm system as it currently stands.
As of May 29, nine eligible rookies have played for Oakland at the major league level. Ryan LaMarre, claimed off the Angel’s waivers on April 23, played in three games for the A’s before being optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Cesar Valdez, signed in the offseason after a six-year hiatus from professional baseball, made a few appearances for the A’s before being designated for assignment on May 3 – he was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays.
A veteran of the A’s farm, Raul Alcantara made the Opening Day roster as the fifth starter; he was also DFAed after giving up 15 runs over 7 innings. Josh Phegley’s quick trip to the concussion DL opened the door for a Bruce Maxwell cameo, but he was sent down once Phegley’s DL stint was up.
Before being placed on the 10-day DL for a shoulder strain, Bobby Wahl pitched in seven games out of the bullpen. Taking the cake for the the quickest rookie appearance was Matt Olson, appearing in one April game before being sent back down to Nashville. Olson, Maxwell, and Wahl will continue to crack to 25-man over the course of the year but they should be considered fantasy relevant in only the deepest of dynasty leagues.
And now three prospects who could have fantasy impact (listed in descending order based on my projected impact):
Thanks in large part to his sparkling September callup, Jharel Cotton started the year as the A’s third starter. Cotton failed to live up to expectations in April, posting a 5.00 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over five starts. After an absolute stinker of a start against an anemic Angel’s offense, he was sent down to Nashville to work out the kinks. Called back up on 5/27 to replace the injured Jesse Hahn, Cotton made a promising start, no-hitting the Yankees through five before giving up three runs in the sixth. Though his struggles are worth a closer look, Cotton’s numbers are bound to improve and he should be closely watched in any fantasy format.
An injury replacement for shortstop Marcus Semien, Chad Pinder has been an important contributor to the surprising A’s offense. Ten of Pinder’s fifteen hits have gone for extrabases, including this moonshot to a Coliseum seat only used during football season.
While his .339 ISO and 152 wRC+ are due to regress, Pinder should continue to see playing time even when Semien comes back (he’s played 7 games at 2B, 4 at SS, 3 in the OF, and the rest at DH). Pinder has been a historically streaky player in the minors, so offense-desperate fantasy owners should ride him while he’s hot.
Unfortunately, my #3 prospect Frankie Montas has just not been that good. The final addition to the Opening Day roster, Montas has made 17 relief appearances, mostly in low-leverage situations. Though his triple digit heat has been getting him strikeouts – 28 strikeouts over 24 innings pitched – he’s having trouble consistently locating his breaking pitches, missing in and out of the zone (11 walks and 4 homeruns). Montas doesn’t have much more to prove at the minor league level, so if I had to guess, the A’s will keep him around and let him try to figure out his issues. While his starting pitching days may be behind him for now, he’s got the makeup to be an elite reliever.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons | Minda Haas Kuhlmann