One of my favorite things about deep roster dynasty leagues is the chance to take a few gambles on young international signings and other long term or long shot prospects. Here are 6 prospects in the A’s system that may or may not be worth a roster spot in your league. All of them are worth monitoring and have the potential to disappear from the free agent pool in a hurry with good early results this season.
Marcus Smith, OF
Ranked #17 on A’s Top 50
Smith is already starting to rise into the teens on a number of Oakland prospect lists on the back of a solid debut. The prep star from Kansas City was committed to play college ball for Michigan but opted to sign with the A’s after being taken in the 3rd Round of the 2019 draft. A gifted center fielder with 70 grade speed and a plus arm, his defense makes him a near sure thing to see the big leagues in some capacity. His offensive strength is his hit tool and it was on full display in his pro debut. In 119 AZL at-bats he posted a slash line of .361/.446/.443 with a wRC+ of 156 and a walk rate of 16.8%. He has a contact-first swing that raises some concern over whether he will ever generate plus power and he failed to post a home run during his debut. He also stole just one base in 29 games, but with his speed that is likely to change as he learns to steal bases in professional ball. Most likely he’ll start the season in rookie ball, but don’t be surprised if he makes his way to short season A ball in 2020. If Smith can add even moderate power numbers and harness his running potential in 2020, 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. It’s probably time for owners in dynasty leagues with deep prospect rosters to add Marcus Smith and he should be closely monitored in all other formats.
Brayan Buelvas, OF
Ranked #22 on A’s Top 50
Buelvas began drawing serious interest from MLB scouts after a strong showing in the 2017 15U Pan American Championships in his home country of Colombia. He signed with the A’s for $100,000 in July of 2018 at the age of 16 and stayed in Columbia for a year while competing in the Colombian Professional Baseball league. The A’s called him to the US this past July for a rookie league debut and he did not disappoint. In 44 games he posted a .300/.392/.506 slash line with 3 home runs and 12 stolen bases. The most impressive thing about his debut may have been the 89 mph average exit velocity, which is slightly above the MLB average. With an excellent work rate, a set of tools that all project at above average and the skillset to stay in center field, there is real reason to think that Buelvas could be an MLB regular in the future. It’s really too early to try to project how he might impact a fantasy team, but if you are in a league with the roster space to take a flier on a teenage prospect, you could do worse than rolling the dice on this promising youngster.
Jhoan Paulino, SS
Ranked #30 on A’s Top 50
Paulino was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $300,000 in 2018 and, like Smith and Buelvas, made his pro debut in 2019. In 50 games in the AZL he posted a slash line of .239/.286/.386 with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases (though he was caught 6 times). While there was little to be excited about from the small sample size of his debut, it’s far too early to doubt what the scouts originally saw in him. His ability to square up live pitching, his projectable size and his above average power projection combine to make his bat interesting. His defense has improved enough to suggest that he can stay at shortstop. I’m not ready to add him to any of my teams, but you can bet that I’ll be keeping an eye on this young man for the future. In the deepest of leagues, it could make sense to add Paulino to your roster.
Colin Peluse, RHP
Ranked #34 on A’s Top 50
Peluse was not a highly touted prospect coming into the 2019 draft. The 6′-3″ 230 pound right hander had a rough Junior season in the ACC after solid Freshman and Sophomore campaigns and none of his pitches were grading out above average. The A’s selected him in the 9th round and sent him to low A Vermont for his professional debut. In a small sample size he posted just over a strikeout per inning and his pitches appeared to be improving with pro level instruction. He has good mechanics and consistent delivery from a 3/4 arm slot and a solid base that suggests he could top out as a back end rotation arm. My gut tells me that this could be a situation where a player with some untapped potential gets to professional ball and has a late breakout. If he can prove that his early returns were not a fluke, he will be rising up prospect lists and finding a spot on deep dynasty rosters.
Gerald Garcia, LHP
Ranked #44 on A’s Top 50
Garcia is another teenage international signing from 2018, this time from seldom scouted Nicaragua. Garcia made his AZL debut in 2019 and turned heads with 57 strikeouts against 12 walks in 45.2 innings. He also pitched the first 4 innings of a combined no-hitter with fellow prospects Zach Rafuse and Jack Weisenburger. His fastball sits in the high 80’s now and projects in the mid 90’s with full maturity. His secondary offerings, a curveball and changeup, both need work, but nothing out of line with his age and level. It goes without saying that pitching prospects are much higher risks than hitters when they are this young, so Garcia is more one to keep an eye on than one to add to your roster now.
Shohei Tomioka, RHP
Unranked on A’s Top 50
This has to be one of the most mysterious international signings in recent memory. The A’s signed Tomioka in late January after he impressed at a tryout day in his home country of Japan. After pitching at Toyo University, Tomioka went undrafted twice in the Nippon Professional Baseball draft and ended up pitching in an industrial league. There isn’t a lot of information available on Tomioka, but reports out of the tryout suggest that his fastball was hitting 95. He also reportedly has three other offerings including a cutter, curve and changeup. Tomioka turned 24 at the end of last month and was assigned to high-A Stockton to start the 2020 season. Given that he wasn’t a highly regarded prospect in Japan, this signing literally came out of nowhere. It could be that Tomioka changed his mechanics or developed a new pitch that he didn’t have in his college days. It’s hard to say with almost no data available. I normally wouldn’t profile a player like this, but given his age and lack of pedigree, I think he either breaks out quickly and gets snapped up in dynasty leagues or he busts and no one ever hears of him again. Of all the guys in this profile, this is the last one to add right now, but that could change in a big hurry. Keep an eye on Stockton early in the season.