Oakland Athletics 2020 Top 50 Prospects

Greg Deichmann. Photo credit - Gail Verderico, @1baseballchick on Twitter

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to your 2020 Oakland Athletics top 50 prospect list! The A’s have a top-heavy system coming into the year and I expect at least 6 of the top 10 to graduate this list before the leaves fall in October — perhaps even sooner if Oakland isn’t competitive this year (but I think they will be). However, I’m certain that Billy Beane and company will find a way to rebound quickly. They always do. Whether by trade, draft, or free agency, Oakland finds ways to keep the cupboards stocked.

The system is fraught with pitching, as is tradition, along with some incredibly toolsy athletes and a few sneaky skill guys. No matter what kind of prospect you like to dream on, the A’s have the guy for you. Love high-ceiling pitchers? Jesus is here for you. Prefer the classic power/speed combo? Lazaro Armenteros could line up at defensive back in the NFL and wouldn’t look out of place. Would you rather dig in for the long haul with a fresh J2 prospect who might be a superstar? See Robert Puason. How about an under-the-radar outperformer that catches everyone by surprise? Jordan Diaz can help you out. As much as you can count on the Oakland A’s to continue to pump out pitchers year in and year out, you can also count on them to have an emerging prospect from just about every pedigree that you can think of.

All of that said, this list is going to look very different by the time our midseason updates come around. As I noted, many top names will graduate, but there are others who are likely to have a precipitous fall if they don’t gain traction in the first half. Then, we have some others who are due to climb the ladder with just another dash of good production. So gear up for an exciting season in the Athletics’ system and get to know their top 50 prospects!


Prospects1500 tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster

 

Tier 1
None

 

Tier 2
1. Jesus Luzardo, LHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: MLB
The Jesus Lizard returns. Hat tip, Eno Sarris. Luzardo remaining at the peak of this list surprises no one and nor should it. He returned from injury and pitched at nearly every single level of professional baseball and left a wake filled with puzzled hitters. It all came to a head with a successful major league debut that included 3 postseason innings where he allowed 1 hit and struck out 4. Luzardo shows 3 plus pitches with good command and profiles as a mid-rotation starter who could peak as a very good #2. The trajectory of his career is going to hinge on whether or not he can stay on the mound. Luzardo underwent Tommy John while in high school and he’s seen multiple IL stints on his path to majors. All that aside, he dominated the end of 2019 and appears ready to claim his spot in the Oakland rotation this spring.

2. A.J. Puk, LHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
He’s a towering 6’7″ southpaw with a devastating fastball-slider combination who consistently sits in the upper 90s. No, he’s not Randy Johnson… but, yes, A.J. Puk is nasty with a capital N. Like Luzardo, Puk is coming off a 2019 season mostly devoted to rehabbing that culminated in a major league debut out of the bullpen. Should the stars align for A.J., I could see him as an ace with 3 plus pitches and an above-average curveball, to boot. The ceiling is tantalizing, but it’s not going to come to fruition unless Puk is able to harness those exciting pitches and cut down on the walks. He’s flirted with double-digit walk rates throughout his pro career and it makes him more likely to top out as a mid-rotation guy – and if things take a turn for the worse, a high-leverage reliever. Sorry, I really didn’t want to use the R-word there. I don’t think the reliever risk is very high here due to the 4 MLB level offerings, but it’s something worth noting.

3. Robert Puason, SS
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: N/A
The future. Puason is going to be the anchor of the A’s farm system for a handful of years. He has an athletic, extremely projectable 6’3” frame and has potential to be a 5-category producer. His ceiling is a shortstop with the potential to go .275/25/25 – not too shabby, am I right? The A’s signed him for $5.1 million this summer, which speaks to the potential they see in him, but you’ll need to be patient because at 17 years old, he’s still a half-decade away. While defense is decidedly less valuable for fantasy, it should be noted that Puason is a plus defender who is considered a virtual lock to stay at short. His glove will keep his offensive production at a premium position.

4. Jorge Mateo, SS
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA
We’re finally about to see how Mateo’s tantalizing power/speed combo is going to play in the Majors. He’s out of options and only Franklin Barreto, who has flopped thus far, stands in his way for the starting 2B role. There’s also a good chance he can spell the regulars in the outfield once or twice a week, too. If he gets on base, the steals should follow. If he doesn’t… well, let’s hope he does. Mateo is a true boom or bust. If he’s able to find a rhythm with MLB pitching, he’ll bring double-digit pop and a bevy of steals. If he can’t find his way, Oakland will probably move on to other options.

5. Sean Murphy, C
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Just like Dragonforce, yes, the one from Guitar Hero, Murphy battled through the fire and the flames last year to make his MLB debut. Injuries stole most of his season, but in the 200 PAs he did manage, Murphy mashed at both AAA and MLB with 14 HR and an ISO over .300. Don’t expect that kind of power going forward, but he might be an above-average fantasy catcher as soon as this year. Just keep in mind, he is a catcher and catcher’s take longer to develop offensively because they have so many other baseball duties. A slow start in his first full major league season should not be a surprise.


Tier 3
6. Daulton Jefferies, RHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA
Jefferies is another talented but injury-plagued arm in the Oakland system. He tossed 79 innings in 2019 and it was by far his largest professional workload. Pinpoint control is his calling card (2.7% BB% in AA) and his 4 pitches should be effective enough to keep him locked in the back end of the rotation starting this season. Should be a low-4s ERA with decent strikeouts and nice WHIP… and stop me if you’ve heard this before, but, if he can stay on the mound.

7. Austin Beck
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A+
Oh, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to quit Austin Beck. Whenever I’m out, he shows just enough to keep me on the hook. The toolsy former 1st-rounder put up a solid year in High-A (95 wRC+) and showed some pop (8 HR, .160 ISO), however, the strikeout monster returned. His 16.9% swinging strike rate was one of the highest in the Cal league and the strikeout rate soared to 34.3%. Oh, and he was a paltry 2 for 4 on the basepaths. There’s still plenty of upside to like with Beck, after all, he’s still quite young for the level, but proceed with caution.

8. Luis Barrera, OF
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA
Barrera is a glove-first speed demon who is going to stick on an MLB roster in some form or fashion for a good chunk of time. The issue is that he might just be a 4th outfielder. He’s not going to be a home run threat, but when he puts the ball in space (gaps, down the line), he blazes for extra bases — he has 37 career triples already. The unfortunate thing for fantasy owners is that he’s never been much of a base-stealer. He stole just 9 in 2019 and was thrown out a heartburn-inducing 7 times. No MLB team is going to give him a green light with that kind of inefficiency. Watch for him to arrive in Oakland for at least a cup of coffee sometime later this summer.

9. James Kaprielian, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA
In 2019, Kap was back on the mound for the first time since 2016. That should give you the general idea of where I’m going with this. Kaprielian has always had tremendous stuff and was on the fast track to the majors before injuries derailed him. Now, he’s back in action and having success: 1.63 ERA in 27+ innings at AA. His strikeout rates were in the mid-20s at each stop while the walk rates were 7.5% or less. If he’s healthy, the A’s are going to get as many bullets out of his arm as they can, while they can. There’s a chance he could break camp with the big league club if he shows out in Arizona.

10. Jordan Diaz, 3B
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: A-
I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I’m a big fan of what Jordan Diaz was able to do at low-A Vermont. As an 18-year old playing with kids fresh out of college, he’s far below the age level and still held his own quite well. I’m confident that he’ll get his full-season debut this spring and pick up where he left off. Now, for the cold water. Diaz is an undersized third baseman with average (at best) defensive tools and doesn’t project for enough power to start in LF. He’s going to have to rake to stay relevant and stay athletic enough stick at third or possibly second. Unless he grows into some unforeseen power.

Photo credit – Jim Zele (@zbaseball86), Zele Photography

11. Sheldon Neuse, 2B
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Neuse bounced back and crushed AAA pitching in 2019 and got to The Show… where he fell flat in a short audition. There’s not question about the power, but there are plenty of questions about the hit tool and defense. He currently projects to start the year in AAA, but could steal the 2B role with a stellar spring.

12. Greg Deichmann, OF
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA
Deichmann’s 2019 regular season wasn’t anything to write home about, but he absolutely leveled the Arizona Fall League. Suddenly, all that dormant power we’ve been waiting for was alive and putting on a show. Supposedly, the difference is that Deichmann is finally feeling healthy. I want to see him do it again before I fully buy in, but my interest is piqued. The raw power is huge if he can hit enough to get to it.

13. Nick Allen
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A+
Nick Allen is going to be a big leaguer because he’s going to be a gold glove candidate as long as he can hit .250. The fantasy potential here is really limited given that it’s going to be an empty, league-average batting average with a handful of steals tossed in. He’s actually a pretty savvy runner, despite average speed (44 steals in 3 seasons). Think deep dynasty where having guys make it to the majors is valuable. Allen is a virtual lock for that.


Tier 4
14. Logan Davidson, SS
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A-
Solid, but unspectacular debut. Did a little bit of everything but average was low. If the hit tool comes along, he could be a 10 HR/10 SB guy at MLB.

15. Lazaro Armenteros. OF
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+
So, he’s still as athletic as ever… but also still as raw as ever: 42.2% K-rate. Upside is still there, but fades a little more with each strikeout.

16. Grant Holmes, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Holmes put together 86+ solid innings in 2019 and is knocking on the door to Oakland. It’s possible that he finds his way there via the bullpen this year.

17. Marcus Smith, OF
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 prep draftee with an impressive pro debut in the AZL (156 wRC+). It’s more of a speed and defense profile, but he hit .361 this summer and walked at nearly a 17% clip.

18. Parker Dunshee, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA
Dunshee’s stuff doesn’t match the results he’s gotten in the minors and he may end up being a AAAA righty, but he’s going to get a shot in Oakland sooner or later.

19. Skye Bolt, OF
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Plain and simple, Bolt didn’t do anything to impress during his cup of coffee last summer and now he’s 26. He’s got some power and speed, but might end up more along the lines of a defensive replacement and pinch-runner.

20. Tyler Baum, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A-
Baum had solid peripherals in his pro debut: 3.76 FIP, 26.6 K%, 5.5 BB%, 11.5 SwStr%. He’s a fastball/curveball college arm that could move quickly with success.

21. Gus Varland, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+
Varland had a good summer at High-A and earned a step up for 2020. He features an above-average fastball with a pair of breaking balls.

22. Brayan Buelvas, OF
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Buelvas earned himself a stateside debut in 2019 and did nothing but rake (140 wRC+). Has a little bit of everything tools-wise and a plus arm.

23. Kevin Richards, OF
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A-
Richards had a lackluster 2019 but was young for the level as a 19-year old in low-A. The swinging strike rate was cut in half which bodes well.

24. Kyle McCann, C/1B
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A-
2019 4th-rounder struggled a bit in low-A (94 wRC+, .192 AVG), but projects to hit for a decent average and solid power. Remember, catchers take longer.

25. Hogan Harris, LHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+
College arm from 2018 draft with a solid pro debut after not throwing in his draft year. Missed bats, but the walk rate is creeping toward double-digits.

26. Tyler Ramirez, OF
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA
Ramirez took a step backward in 2019 with lesser production at a repeated level and an ugly showing at AAA. Going to need stronger numbers or he’ll get passed up for a shot at MLB at bats.

27. Marcos Brito, 2B/SS
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A
Brito missed a good chunk of the year due to injury and didn’t play well when he was on the field. Needs to wash his hands of it and move on to 2020.

28. Alex Pantuso, RHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: A-
Back of the bullpen prospect with closer stuff. Touches 98 and has a slider that misses bats. Could move quickly with continued success.

29. Dustin Harris, 1B
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A-
11th round pick in 2019 with a nice pro debut (135 wRC+ finishing at A-). Didn’t show much power, but hit well and worked walks.

30. Jhoan Paulino, SS
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Athletic, projectable shortstop who should hit for average power with an average that won’t hurt you. Made his stateside debut in 2019.

31. Jeremy Eierman, SS
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+
Has big league tools but struggled in A+ this past year. Ks went up, power was flat, and batting average bottomed out. Probably needs a repeat.

32. Jonah Bride, 3B
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: A+
Hit well in A+ as a 23-year old (122 wRC+) and will get the real test of AA in 2020. Doesn’t strike out a lot and knows how to take a walk.


Tier 5
33. Brian Howard, RHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA
Hulking righty who creates tough angles with 6’9″ frame. Had success in AA, but doesn’t miss many bats and was blown up in 14 AAA innings.

34. Colin Peluse, RHP
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A-
2019 9th rounder who had a good debut at low-A. Will jump up the list with continued success.

35. Miguel Romero, RHP
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AAA
Reliever who will find his way Oakland, but more middle relief than anything, most likely.

36. Lawrence Butler. 1B/OF
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A-
Butler is a big projection guy (6’4″, 185) with hopes for plus power, but the hit tool has a LONG way to go (40% K% in 2019).

37. Danny Bautista, OF
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: A-
Held his own in A- at 18, which is impressive, but none of the tools stand out.

38. Joshwan Wright, 3B
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Undersized 3B who hit .330 in rookie ball. The plate skills are impressive (11.6% K, 7.9% BB).

39. Drew Millas, C
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Super athletic catcher who missed all of 2019 with a sprained UCL.

40. Dalton Sawyer, LHP
Age: 26
2019 Highest Level: AAA
Potential 5th-starter type, but hasn’t pitched in 2 years now. Have to reassess when he returns to action.

41. Alexander Campos, SS
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Thick, powerful infielder who lost 2019 to injury and struggled in 2018.

42. Wandisson Charles, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA
Big reliever prospect (6’6′”) who throws gas but doesn’t know where it’s going.

43. Jose Mora, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A-
Relief prospect with good stuff (45% K%!) who struggles to find the strike zone. If he figures it out, could be a high-K middle reliever or closer.

44. Gerald Garcia, LHP
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
Ultra-young lefty who missed a lot of bats in the AZL.

45. Jose Morban, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A-
Back of the rotation guy who put together a good year in low-A. Nothing spectacular, but solid production.

46. Devin Foyle, OF
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A
Athletic, switch-hitter with solid production in full-season A-ball that included 16 steals. Works walks, but the contact skills need work.

47. Chase Calabuig, OF
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA
Late 2018 draft pick had a nice sophomore season. While nothing stands out, he feels like the type of Oakland guy who could just hit his way into MLB consideration at some point.

48. Eric Marinez, RHP
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+
Relief prospect with an electric arm. Had a little success in his first full season on the mound.

49. Reid Birlingmair, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A
College arm in first full season. Got guys out, but there isn’t much that stands out besides the workload (123 IP).

50. Marty Bechina, 3B/OF
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A-
Late-round 2019 draft pick who could develop some pop. We’ll have a better idea after a full season in 2020.




About Joe Drake 11 Articles
Joe Drake covers the Oakland A's and Eastern League for Prospects1500. During the day, he can be found working in grant accounting at Dartmouth College. Joe is a lifelong baseball fan and avid fantasy baseball player of 15+ years. While he enjoys all formats, he believes that nothing beats a good dynasty league. Despite being a born and raised Mainer, Joe is a diehard Cardinals fan, but, the Red Sox are his AL team.

5 Comments

  1. Loved the write up!

    I am with you 100% on Beck. However, this is my last go….
    From his major injury to missing time at various times last year with injuries.
    And he looked a bit hefty as well.
    I’m not sold the drive is there. Hard to tell with the injuries. But wouldn’t you get into good shape to prevent some types of injuries?
    Does he go to AA to start?

    • Thanks, Jesse!
      I can’t comment on Austin’s drive and would never speculate on something like that, personally.
      As far as where he’ll start 2020, my best guess would be back in A+ with a promotion to AA by midseason. I would imagine they would like him to reduce the strikeout rate before moving him forward.

    • Hi, Henry, thank you!
      I don’t rank catchers particularly high for fantasy because offense is typically the least of their worries. With the A’s acquiring Austin Allen and Sean Murphy being pretty young, Heim feels blocked for a bit right now, so he’s not someone I would want to roster on my dynasty team. However, he certainly could continue to hit well which would force me to reconsider.
      Buddy Reed’s omission is an error on my part, good catch! I had constructed this list prior to the trade and forgot to add him in. I would slot him in the middle of Tier 4, in the mid-20s. He’s a terrific athlete with some really strong tools, but he’s struggled to convert them into baseball production so far. His defense makes him a strong bet to see the majors, but right now he’s looking more like a defensive replacement than a starter or 4th outfielder.

  2. Hi I’m doing a Oakland athletics franchise if I acquired Michael Busch and Diego Cartaya and kody Hoese where would that put the farm system at what number

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