Oakland Athletics 2021 Top 50 Prospects

Graphic design by John Stewart, @jonance on Twitter

The Oakland A’s are a unique team. Although the Oakland/Bay Area is considered a major media market, the A’s operate as a low-level, low-revenue baseball team, in direct contrast to what the national narrative might believe. This could be because they share the market, with the San Francisco Giants to the West and they are obviously seen as an inferior franchise within the region. Even their long-time AAA affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, finally moved to the Giants from the A’s (in 2015), after 15 years of baseball and a financially successful relationship with the Athletics franchise.

Dating back to their days in Kansas City, a very popular and often true narrative, is that the A’s are seen as a “minor league system” for the rest of the league. In fact, there are direct links to the A’s and Yankees back in the 1960s that support this very theory.

As we explore the A’s minor league system below with the 2021 MLB season approaching, you will notice that the A’s system is not as deep as many of the other franchises that my colleagues have reviewed. The A’s don’t always make the best trades, as evidenced by the returns netted from Mark McGwire, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and more. For every Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade (that saw a return of Blake Treinen, Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse), there are a plethora of Josh Donaldson-type trades (that saw a return of Franklin Barreto, Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman and Brett Lawrie). As you can see, if you make “enough” trades of similar ilk to that of Donaldson (to the Toronto Blue Jays), it will leave your minor league system barren of top, high-level, prospects.

It also doesn’t help that the A’s have drafted the following players in the 1st Round, since 2010: Michael Choice (2010), Sonny Gray (2011), Addison Russell (2012), Daniel Robertson (2012), Matt Olson (2012), Billy McKinney (2013), Matt Chapman (2014), Richie Martin (2015), A.J. Puk (2016), Daulton Jefferies (2016), Kevin Merrell (2017), Kyler Murray (2018), Logan Davidson (2019), Tyler Soderstrom (2020).

A mixed bag for sure. Some, of course, never panned out. Others had some moderate success. Some were traded without ever making an impact for the A’s at the major league level. One is a budding star in the NFL. A few are facing arbitration in upcoming years and probably will be traded before qualifying for a significant payday, that the A’s surely won’t offer. All of this leads us to the Top 50 prospects for the A’s, heading in to the 2021 season. How will some of these prospects pan out? Which ones might be traded mid-season for major league help? Are there diamonds on this list that will be future stars? Time will tell. Let’s get started!


I hope you all enjoy my deep dive into the Top 50 prospects for the A’s! Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@ourtradingcards), or my trading card, industry-leading podcast (@AboutTheCards). I am always available to talk about the the rankings, baseball, sports, or trading cards! Also, follow (@Prospects1500) for all things Minor League Baseball and prospects, and be sure to give the other 29 “Top 50” lists a read. Prospects1500 is constantly creating new MiLB content, so please check back often for updates on your favorite MLB team and MiLB affiliate(s)!

Note: If you have any ideas for upcoming articles that you’d like to see Prospects1500 cover, please feel free to reach out and let us know. We’d love your feedback and input!

** This list was compiled prior to the announcement of the international signings. Below is a list of the new prospects set to join the Athletics organization. Pedro Pineda, CF (17), is ranked as the 17th overall international prospect**


Many longtime readers should be familiar with the tier system for our prospect rankings. They are as follows:

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 minimum 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

1. A.J. Puk, LHP (40-man)
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB

As you will notice, Puk is the only A’s prospect that made the Tier 1 level. This speaks to the level of depth, or lack thereof down on the Oakland farm. As a former high 1st Rd pick (6th overall, 2016), Puk has as high of an upside, as just about any pitching prospect in baseball. The problem is, he shouldn’t be on this list. Well, at least not anymore. Puk graduated to the majors in August of 2019, after having already had Tommy John surgery (2018), but didn’t appear in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, after having his pitching shoulder cleaned out due to bursitis. Do you see a recurring theme? Puk could be a poor man’s Randy Johnson, standing at 6’7″, with a sweeping hook out of his left arm. An imposing sight on the mound, when he is on the mound. Due to his injury history, I believe Puk’s best path to sticking in the majors might be through the bullpen. That is where the A’s used him in 2019 (11.1 IP). With Liam Hendriks moving on as a free agent (White Sox), Puk’s future might lie as the A’s closer for the foreseeable future. This might be an under use of his talents and ceiling, but it might also allow the A’s to protect his arm/shoulder and control his usage. IF, and that’s a big “if”, he can stay healthy, Puk’s ceiling is multi-time All Star. But “if” is not tangible and you cannot cash that at the bank of results.

Tier 2

2. Tyler Soderstrom, C/OF
Age: 19
Highest Level: High School

Soderstrom was the A’s 1st Rd pick in the 2020 MLB Amateur Draft (26th overall). A local high school prospect (approximately 95 miles from Oakland), there is a lot to like about his upside. A left handed hitting catcher, A’s fans can only dream that Tyler eventually becomes a Joe Mauer-type. His bat should play well at the major league level, as he has a lot of bat speed and makes good contact. Soderstrom, son of former major leaguer Steve Soderstrom, hit .373 for his varsity team, at Turlock High School (CA). A’s Director of Player Personnel, Ed Sprague, would like to see Tyler stay at catcher, but a lot of scouts and draft pundits figure at some point, Soderstrom will have to move off of the position, possibly to 3B, but most likely in a corner OF spot. Perhaps he is the long-term replacement for Matt Chapman, under the assumption he (Chapman) eventually prices himself out of the A’s budget.

3. Sheldon Neuse, 2B/IF (40-man)
Age: 26
Highest Level: MLB

Neuse came to the A’s in the Sean Doolittle trade (2017), better known to Athletics fans as the “Jesus Luzardo trade”. Neuse has a limited ceiling, but can be a solid contributor on a playoff team for years to come. He is the type of player that is a fringe starter, but an excellent bench piece. He is a natural 2B, but has the ability to play 3B as well. A career .294 hitter in the minors, he makes good contact and has a solid glove. He showed glimpses of improving  his power at the A’s AAA affiliate in Las Vegas (2019). Neuse finished the 2019 season with 27 HRs, 102 RBI, while hitting .317. Now, keep in mind, Las Vegas is a hitter’s park, so the numbers might be a bit skewed. However, it is enough to get A’s fans excited that the 2B-of-the-future lies in wait, while the team has run out a series of players over the past two years (Chad Pinder, Tommy La Stella, Jurickson Profar, Tony Kemp and Vimael Machin). With Profar gone (2020), La Stella a FA (as of this writing), Kemp a FA (2021) and Pinder entering his first year of arbitration, Neuse might inevitably get his chance. The biggest thing working against him right now, is not talent, nor potential, but the fact that he still has minor league options working against him, where the alternatives at the major league do not.

It’s possible 1-2 of these following players could elevate themselves in to a Tier 2 prospect moving forward, but right now there’s just not enough data on some, or injuries that are preventing them from being placed in the highest tier.

Tier 3

4. Daulton Jefferies, RHP (40-man)
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB

Another victim of an unfair amount of injuries, Jefferies is close to making a full comeback post Tommy John surgery (2017) and a variety of lesser injuries that have delayed his career. Jefferies only appeared in 1 game at the MLB-level in 2020 (2 IPs, 5 ERs). We should probably note that he spent 2019 split between High A (Stockton) and AA (Midland), where he completed 79 combined IP split fairly evenly as both a starter and reliever. He has a chance to make the back-end of the A’s rotation, and could be a league-average 3rd/4th rotational arm. Most likely his contributions will come out of the bullpen, both in the short-term and long-term. Although A’s fans would welcome him as a rotational mainstay. The A’s bullpen was depleted going in to the 2021 offseason (multiple pitchers became FA’s), which opens up all sorts of opportunities for a handful of the players appearing on this list. Jefferies is chief among the prospects that could potential eat up some of the innings vacated by free agents, as the A’s plan to cut back on payroll as a direct result of pandemic-related revenue losses.

5. Nick Allen, SS
Age: 22
Highest Level: High A

A former 15U and 18U National team member, Nick Allen is all glove and no bat (at this point). A solid defender, the A’s have mentioned bringing him up as a potential defense-only replacement for Marcus Semien. His bat might eventually catch up enough to warrant keeping his defense in the lineup. For a team, like the A’s, they have the advantage of having enough offense throughout their lineup to carry a defensive specialist in their lineup (as it’s currently constructed). Imagine an infield where Allen compliments gold glovers Matt Chapman and Matt Olson! If it were up to me. and it’s not, I would love to see the A’s bring back Semien on a 1 year pillow deal, or offer something to Didi Gregorius or Andrelton Simmons (all 3 FA’s as of this writing), and allow Nick Allen to have at least one more (full) season in the minors in hopes that his bat improves enough to at least be serviceable at the major league level. This is even more important since 2020 was a lost season for so many young(er) players and prospects throughout baseball.

6. Logan Davidson, SS
Age: 23
Highest Level: Low A

If the A’s have nothing else in their minor league system, they definitely have some intriguing SS/middle IF prospects, as evidenced by 3 of the top 7 on our list, being listed as “SS”. Having appeared in just 54 games (in 2019) in the minors to date, Davidson struggled at the plate, hitting just .239 in 205 ABs, flashing a little power and promise with 4 HR’s and 7 doubles. Drafted 29th overall by the A’s in 2019, the A’s are of course high on Davidson. He committed 12 errors in 50 games at SS in low A (Vermont). Personally, I believe he ends up at 2B or possibly a corner OF position if he ends up making the majors, but for now, there’s no reason for the A’s not to give him every opportunity to play SS, especially if Nick Allen (#5 on our list) graduates to MLB in the near future.

7. Robert Puason, SS
Age: 18
Highest Level: International

Like most young players, the defense comes first, the offense, should it develop, comes later. Puason is just a “baby” by baseball standards, having just turned 18. A switch hitting middle IF, with speed and a glove to match, Puason, could rise the ranks of the Top 100 prospect lists, pretty quick and has the defensive prowess to stick at SS for the entirely of his career. He is 6’3, 165 lbs, so he will have to add some bulk, if the power is to come. He was one of 2 international signings from 2019/2020 that signed for 5+ million dollars (Jasson Dominguez, NYY, being the other). A lot of people are excited about his future, even if his ETA to MLB is estimated for around 2024, at the earliest.

Tier 4

It didn’t take long for us to get in to Tier 4 for the A’s. The next few entries are all fairly evenly ranked, so most are interchangeable from #8-#16, giving respect to positional differences of course.

8. Tyler Baum, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Low A

Baum will pitch 2021 at age-23. A former 2nd Rd pick by the A’s (2019), we might see him speed through a few levels this year and make his MLB debut. As I previously mentioned when discussing Daulton Jefferies, quite a few pitching prospects will be given opportunities throughout 2021 to make an impact out of the A’s bullpen. Baum is another who is in a prime position to make a leap from low A to the majors by midseason, especially if the A’s struggle at the outset and look to offload Jake Diekman, Lou Trivino and others. At age 23, Baum is a bit older to be in low/high A for long. A starter by trade, Baum made 11 starts in 2019 at Vermont (Low A affiliate), but his best path to the bigs, will probably be in middle relief. At least to begin his career.

9. Greg Deichmann, OF (40-man)
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

The A’s had to add Deichmann to their 40-man roster this past winter, in order to protect him from the Rule-5 draft. A 25 yr old at AA makes him an aging “prospect”, more or less, although I would imagine he ends up starting the year in AAA Las Vegas. Deichmann offers a power bat, who can play all 3 OF positions, but most likely should end up in LF. In fact, the A’s already have a a major league clone of Deichmann, in Mark Canha. If he develops in to Canha 2.0, the A’s would be happy with that. Asking for much more than a .230-.240 hitter with league average defense is expecting too much. We should see him in Oakland at some point in 2021.

10. Luis Barrera, OF (40-man)
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

A player that has intrigued many an A’s fan since he was signed back in 2012, we might finally see the investment the A’s have made in Barrera come to Oakland sometime in 2021. He is almost the antithesis of Deichmann. He has speed and little power, might hit around league average and be a more than suitable 4th OF’er. If you could somehow combine what Barrera offers, along with Deichmann, you might have yourself a top 25 MLB prospect. Their respective strengths compliment each others weaknesses very well. In other words, they are excellent platoon partners. I can see Barrera sticking more so than Deichmann, since power is very replaceable and not seen as a top commodity in today’s game. With Robbie Grossman now in Detroit, I could see either Deichmann or Barrera making the A’s out of spring training as his replacement. Both are also on the 40-man roster which tells me that this is the line of thought for the A’s.

11. Jeff Criswell, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level: College

Criswell joined the A’s as their 2nd Rd pick in the 2020 draft. He posted solid performances at Michigan in both 2018 and 2019 before having mixed results in only 24 IP in 2020. Criswell’s ceiling is a #3/#4 starter, but might be best suited for a long relief, or even a 7th/8th inning set up role. I don’t see the A’s promoting him in 2021, or even 2022 (although September 2022, remains a possibility). Criswell is a prospect that I could see in the top 5 for the A’s entering the 2022 season and could definitely jump into Prospects 1500 “Tier 2” status by year’s end. With the uncertainty from 2020 however, he can’t go much higher than the #10-#12 range, hence him settling in as our #11 prospect (for now).

12. James Kaprielian, RHP (40-man)
Age: 27 (as of Opening Day 2021)
Highest Level: MLB

Maybe I am misremembering, or maybe it’s just been that long, but I recall Kaprielian being touted a “can’t miss” and near “untouchable” asset for the Yankees not that long ago. Maybe it’s just the stigma and over-hype that comes with being a Yankees prospect, but he had “future top starter” written all over him. Then came Tommy John surgery, wiping out his 2017 AND 2018 seasons.. Then came the Sonny Gray trade (2017), which brought the A’s Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler as well. A high-upside, high-risk trade for the A’s, they netted 3 former top Yankees prospect for a player they knew they wouldn’t resign. Mateo is now gone (San Diego) and you’ll see my thoughts on Fowler a bit later. IF Kaprielian can stay healthy, I believe he makes the A’s roster going in to 2021 as a bullpen arm, or possibly the 5th starter (assuming they don’t bring in a veteran). His versatility to be a spot starter or long reliever will definitely benefit the A’s. Maybe he can follow in the footsteps of Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt and be a solid contributor over the next few seasons.

13. Jonah Heim, C (40-man)
Age: 25
Highest Level: MLB

Heim was slated to be the backup catcher for the A’s in 2020, prior to the Jurickson Profar trade that saw Austin Allen (C) as part of the deal with the Padres. Allen won the backup job and Heim was sent back to the minors (and eventually the alternative training site). Heim has a solid arm and can manage a game and could definitely be a #2 for most MLB teams, right now. Considering he plays a position devoid of talent league-wide he is a prime candidate to be traded, should the A’s be looking to add talent at the MLB trade deadline this year. He is a positional asset for Oakland with some pop and youth on his side. The only reason that the A’s might be hesitant to let him go, is that their rookie catcher from last year, Sean Murphy, has had his fair share of injuries. So having Heim stashed away in the minors is not the worst thing. He might graduate out of prospect status in 2021, either with the A’s or another club via trade.

14. Junior Perez, OF
Age: 19
Highest Level: Low A

Perez hasn’t been much higher than rookie ball, while in the Padres organization, having come over to the A’s in the Jorge Mateo trade (2020) as the player-to-be-named later. The reason he leapfrogged a few other OFs on this list, is based mostly on speculation of his future ceiling. Perez has shown some pop for a young player, which in fun to dream on, since power usually develops later in a player’s development cycle. He isn’t very fast and not great defensively, so there is plenty of room for growth. The A’s have a power-hitting “star” with below average speed and defense, in Khris Davis. That is probably Perez’s ceiling. Will he get there? The A’s can only hope.

15. Skye Bolt, OF (40-man)
Age: 27
Highest Level: MLB

Again, on the bit older side for a traditional “prospect”, Bolt has a great opportunity to make the A’s as a replacement for the aforementioned (departed) Robbie Grossman. If the A’s don’t bring in a veteran to challenge for that open position, the competition will come down to Bolt, Deichmann (#9), Barrera (#10), Seth Brown and Ka’ai Tom (acquired from the Texas Rangers in December’s Rule 5 draft). Who wins the spot is anyone’s guess. Bolt does however play all 3 OF positions at an average/above average level with pop in his bat. He’s not very quick on the base paths and might not hit for average enough to stick long-term. At best he’s probably a 4th/5th OF type, but I think he will bounce around the league for awhile with a few teams, with moderate success now and again. In fact, Robbie Grossman is a very good ceiling comp.

16. Grant Holmes, RHP (40-man)
Age: 24
Highest Level: AAA

Holmes is another organizational arm, with limited, but intriguing upside. His production has yet to catch up to his potential. Once a top 100 MLB prospect (2015, 2016), he is now seen as someone that the A’s have high hopes for, but have learned to curb their expectations. Arm issues have limited his development since becoming an A’s, as part of the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade with the Dodgers (2016). Based on potential alone, Holmes deserves to be the #2-#3 prospect arm, right behind A.J. Puk (and probably Jefferies). Will 2021 be the year he gets to shine in Oakland? I could see him hit his ceiling and be the set-up man, or 7th inning arm for Oakland for years to come. But remember, “potential” is just a word that is given to countless prospects, most of which never come close. Holmes could surprise all A’s fans, making a #16 ranking a gross mistake. Or he could just end up being another “guy” in the minors, who has now-and-again success in the majors.

17. Austin Beck, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level: High A

How the once promising have fallen. When the A’s selected Beck with the 6th overall pick in the 2017 draft, I don’t think 3+ years later they imagined him being ranked so “low”. I have seen other rankings lists where this is in line and even some where he is considerably lower. Now, I can appreciate that all rankings are subjective in nature. But a former 1st Rd pick, picked #6 overall, should be (in theory) ranked much higher. I have him ranked 5th amongst OF prospects on this list, 6th if you include Tyler Soderstrom as a future OF prospect and not as a catcher. You would also expect the 6th overall pick to have graduated well above High A by now. Beck fell victim to chasing power and HRs and that led to a high strikeout percentage. Can he get it back before its too late? Sure. But, for now, the A’s are left to wonder how far he has fallen so quick. As a die-hard A’s fan, I want everything about this to be wrong. I was excited on draft day 2017 with this pick. 3+ years later, he’s just another disappointing 1st Rd pick made by Beane and the scouting department.

18. Jordan Diaz, 3B
Age: 20
Highest Level: Low A

Diaz is the kind of player you expect to be ranked here. He’s got great bat speed and contact skills. He’s a spray hitter, who has the potential to hit for solid and respectable average. He has below-average power, but he is just 20 after all. That might come some day. The biggest question, is where he plays long-term. Is he a 3B? His bat will play there, but there is a lot left to be desired with his defense. The A’s have always had incredibly gifted 3B defensively, from Sal Bando to Eric Chavez to the current platinum glove winner, Matt Chapman. I don’t foresee adding Diaz to this list. His future most likely pencils him in at 2B, or perhaps a corner OF position. He could be a Chad Pinder type once he fully develops. A guy you can plug in at multiple positions, but not an everyday player to be counted on. Especially if the power never develops and the glove doesn’t find a permanent home.

19. Brayan Buelvas, OF
Age: 18
Highest Level: Rookie

There isn’t much to go on with Buelvas, so his ranking at #19 is purely based on potential and not much more. He should be a plus defender at all 3 OF positions, although he is a natural CF, which bumps him up a little. He has an above-average arm and should develop enough of a bat to stick as a depth OF’er, if nothing else. He has speed and a solid arm, so there is more than enough to get excited about. His ETA has to be 5+ years away at this point, but could be someone we all get excited about in future rankings.

20. Lazaro Armenteros, OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: High A

Do you remember Pedro Cerrano from the movie Major League? A guy that could hit the ball a country mile, but couldn’t hit a breaking ball? Meet Lazaro Armenteros. In 2019 he struck out on 42% of his plate appearances. His saving grace was his high walk rate (73 in 538 PAs, 13.5%). If he can’t close the massive holes in his swing, he won’t be a “prospect” for long. He looks great on paper. And then he steps in to the batter’s box. A highly sought after international prospect (2017), the A’s gave this kid $3 million dollars to sign. By 2020, they had left him off of their 40-man roster and exposed him to the Rule 5 draft. There were no takers. He is still super young, so he can still develop. I am hard pressed to get there with Armenteros though. Hopefully I am wrong. He could dazzle with his power someday. But he has a below-average arm, so Khris Davis is his ceiling. If he can ever chop his strikeout rate in half, he might just have a MLB future.

21. Wandisson Charles, RHP (40-man)
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA

A 24 yr old prospect with a career minor league ERA of 4.28, over 5 seasons, doesn’t scream “future All Star” to say the very least. However, the A’s added Charles to their 40-man roster right before the Rule 5 draft to protect him. What do they see in his future, that his numbers don’t suggest to the lay person? In 2019, he actually got better as he moved up the organizational chain (3.16 ERA, 22.1 IP in High A, then 1.88 ERA, 14.1 IP in AA). Sure, this an extremely small sample size, but maybe that’s why the A’s chose to protect him from the draft. He’s a RHP with a limited ceiling in my opinion, isolated to middle relief most likely. Maybe I don’t see what the A’s do. Maybe he gets a shot in 2021/2022 to make their bullpen. To me, he’s just an organizational arm, nothing more. But the team’s apparent faith in him justifies this ranking… for now.

22. Dany Jimenez, RHP (40-man)
Age: 27
Highest Level: MLB

Jimenez is an interesting name. He spent the first 4 years of his minor league career in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before being selected in the 2019 Rule 5 draft by the San Francisco Giants. The Giants returned him to the Blue Jays in August of 2020, before the A’s claimed him on waivers in December 2020. So it is obvious that the A’s plan on giving him an opportunity to try to make the big league club in 2021. They are presumably losing Mike Fiers in FA, after having already lost Mike Minor (Royals), so the back end of the rotation is open for competition. As of right now A.J. Puk has been penciled in as the #5 starter, but I honestly believe he will inevitably end up in the bullpen as the set-up man to Jake Diekman, or even the closer himself, should Diekman struggle. If that’s the case Jimenez has an opportunity to slide in to the #5 spot, or as a long-reliever/spot starter.

23. Hogan Harris, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: High A

A former 3rd Rd pick by the A’s (2018), guys like Harris were probably hurt the most by the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He had a solid college career, posting a 2.87 ERA in 153.2 IP across 3 seasons at Louisiana. He then had a 2.80 ERA in 54.2 IP split between Low A and High A in 2019 with the A’s. One could draw an easy conclusion that he’d have continued his growth trajectory with experience in 2020, had a traditional MiLB season happened. Since it did not, it probably holds him back a year. I could see Harris being a piece in the A’s bullpen, or the back end of the rotation, in the future, but now his ETA is probably 2022+, in light of 2020.

24. Gus Varland, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: High A

Let’s give credit, where its due. We all know that the MLB amateur draft is a crap shoot. It’s not a refined science and scouts do their best to draft the best players they can. Varland has beat the odds to be on a list like this, considering he was a 14th Rd pick (2018). His career was put on hold after just 5 IP in 2019 when he needed Tommy John surgery. Another player where a full 2020 would have been extremely beneficial, his projected ETA was stunted and its most likely been reset to 2023 at the earliest. He has a career 1.54 ERA across two minor league seasons at Low A and High A, so the potential is there. His career trajectory ceiling is a middle reliever.

25. Vimael Machin, IF
Age: 27
Highest Level: MLB
Older than we like to see for our top prospects columns, but when you have a list of 50, Machin is a player who deserves to be here. With only 63 MLB at bats he still qualifies and could get some more time as a utility player for the big league A’s. He played every infield position for the A’s last year, so that does help his future chances for more MLB time. He’ll need to make better contact and get on base more which resulted in his 2020 debut slashline of .206/.296/.238. Machin is projected to begin 2021 at Triple-A Las Vegas.

26. Jeremy Eierman, SS
Age: 24
Highest Level: High A

The 4th SS prospect to show up in the top-25, the A’s have a plethora of interesting middle-IF guys. If Nick Allen is the SS of the future, due to his elite MLB-ready defense, then Eierman, might be moved over to 2B, where the A’s have had a turnstile of players since the departure of Jed Lowrie (2018). Eierman has power, but strikes out too much and needs to correct that if he is to be seen as a “top” prospect or to be taken into serious consideration for the A’s. This is something that the right hitting coach could fix and I am sure that will be a focus heading in to the 2021 MiLB season.

27. Buddy Reed, OF
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

I have seen a lot of reports and analytics that have had Reed as an option for the A’s OF in 2021. I am sure he is in the “mix”, but how seriously, I don’t know. I can’t see him leapfrogging more MLB-ready players that are currently ahead of him on the organizational depth chart. A guy with intriguing power, he has only hit .249 in MiLB and considering his highest level has been AA and he’s already 25, the book may be closing soon on Reed. In 2019, he struck out 126 times in just 381 official ABs (33% K rate). Those numbers don’t extrapolate in to “future MLB player”. He is also not currently on the A’s 40-man roster.

28. Miguel Romero, RHP (40-man)
Age: 26
Highest Level: AAA

Romero is an interesting player. On one hand you have his MiLB stats (4.13 ERA in 163.1 IP) and then his international stats, which are actually worse (4.46 ERA in 123 IP), suggesting he is an organizational arm and not much more. He’s also going to be 27, in April, which means he’s in his “prime” and that isn’t saying much as far as a future MLB career goes. However, the A’s have placed him on their 40-man roster, so he is obviously in the mix in their eyes. I don’t think he breaks camp in their bullpen, but might be that guy that comes up to cover injuries now-and-again.

29. Kyle McCann, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: Low A

McCann hit well in an extremely limited sample size in Rookie ball in 2019, but struggled in a slightly larger sample size in Low A, during the same season. He has power, but might not ever hit for enough average, to stick at the MLB level. He’s a left handed hitter, so that aides him, as does his position. He’s buried on the A’s depth chart, but he’s a few years away, best case scenario, so that might organically open up opportunities. He needs work on defense behind the plate, so he might end up having to move to 1B, where his power might play, but his average won’t. Think a poor man’s Chris Davis (Orioles). If you’re not excited about that, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

30. Drew Millas, C
Age: 23
Highest Level: College

How many times have we seen a defensive catcher with a light bat carve out a 8-10 yr career? Millas might be the next catcher to be a defensive stalwart, who is a career .215 hitter. Maybe I am underselling his offensive “potential” a bit. He hit .277 in college with limited power and he’s still young at only 23, so he has upside. We haven’t yet seen him in MiLB, so the jury is out until further notice. No matter what his future holds, he’s definitely an asset for the A’s, as he’s a 23 yr old switch hitting catcher, who will stick at the position long-term. He has had a history of injuries on his resume, so that is something to keep an eye on.

31. Brian Howard, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: AAA

Howard will probably end up making an appearance with the A’s this year. He profiles as a back-end starter, but most likely will be a long-reliever who eats up innings in a throw-away game. Howard is not currently on the A’s 40-man roster, so something will need to give or he will need to really impress if he is to be added. Howard has respectable MiLB stats, but struggled in a limited sample size at AAA, Las Vegas (13.81 ERA in 14.1 IP), which is a notable hitter’s haven. I’ve noted multiple times in this article, that the A’s have openings in their bullpen, so Howard has a prime opportunity to exploit one. Is he good enough?

32. Brady Feigl, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: High A

Feigl finds himself lumped with all of the other middle-of-the-pack minor league arms for the A’s. He might make an impact because he could be a default 5th spot-starter, or long reliever out of the pen. Much like a utility IF, who can eat some innings in the OF, a guy like Feigl offers plenty of return on investment. A career 3.99 ERA in 160.1 IP across two minor league seasons, having never moved above High A, suggests a limited ceiling. However, he could be a useful arm, who more than likely bounces around MLB for a few seasons.

33. Parker Dunshee, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: AAA

I could probably do a cut-and-paste here with the Brian Howard profile. To borrow an old cliche from football, “when you have 2 starting QB’s, you really have none.” I suppose the same can be said when a team has a bunch of middling RP prospects, with little, to no separation. They have a lot of guys like “this”, without a lot of foreseeable impact. Dunshee probably has a slightly higher ceiling than Howard by comparison, but Howard is slightly ahead of the curve in his respective development. Dunshee, like Howard, is also not on the A’s 40-man roster, so what does that mean? Is he not in their long-term plans? Or is it just a simple game of fitting 40+ players in to just 40 spots?!

Tier 5

34. Marcos Brito, 2B
Age: 20
Highest Level: Low A

Still just 20 years old, Brito has a ton of time to figure it out. He was a highly touted signing (2016) and the A’s had big expectations for him. They might have curbed those expectations a bit, but let’s not write off a 20 yr old kid just yet.

35. Rafael Kelly, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: High A

Possible deep sleeper in the A’s organization. Has 3 pitches he can rely on. Definite bullpen arm, who could contribute as early as next season. Especially if the A’s start to sell of their veterans and start a massive rebuild, or re-tooling, as they tend to do every few years.

36. David Leal, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: High A

Leal being a LHP moves him up the rankings a bit over some of his contemporaries. Left handed bullpen arms, aren’t what they once were, with the new 3 batter minimum in MLB, but Leal, should be able to handle righties as well, if he continues to develop.

37. Eric Martinez, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: High A

A former IF, with a positive PED test under his belt, Martinez’ future is questionable at the very least. He’s 25 and only managed to make it to High A, the clock is definitely ticking.

38. Lester Madden, OF
Age: 21
Highest Level: Low A

The exact type of player you’d expect to see ranked right around here. He’s 21, he’s Cuban, he’s had issues with offspeed and pitch identification. His road might be a bit longer than others, but he’s one to keep an eye on.

39. Aiden McIntyre, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level: Low A

A bit too old for low A, so it will be interesting to see where the A’s start him in 2021. Too high of a K/BB ratio, for low(er) levels, but his future as a bullpen arm is bright. He could be a solid 7th/8th inning guy, if he can fix the aforementioned K/BB ratio. However, he’s 25. So he needs to get there quickly.

40. Joshwan Wright, 3B
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie

All A’s fans are watching the 3B prospects in the organization very closely. Odds are against the team resigning Matt Chapman, so is Wright a future replacement? Just 20 yrs old, the jury is way out on Wright. If he hits well, with league-average defense, he could rise through the organizational ranks. He’s still 3-4 years away, at least.

41. Jonah Bride, 3B
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

Bride is blocked by Chapman, at the moment, but in 2 years when he is most likely ready to debut, who knows. He is a solid enough all-around player, that he might find a spot on a roster somewhere and stick for awhile.

42. Chase Calabuig, OF
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

Calabuig is probably destined for a career in the minors as a “AAAA” player. He might make the back-end of a roster, especially now that rosters at the MLB level stand at 26 players. Think Billy Burns, without as much speed.

43. Devin Foyle, OF
Age: 24
Highest Level: Low A

Just another guy in a not-so-deep organization. At 24, what you see is what you get and it’s not filled with much top-level potential. Could get a cup of coffee eventually, but its not likely.

44. Jesus Zambrano, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level: AA

Zambrano stays in the zone very well, so with some more seasoning he could eventually be a useful bullpen arm. If the A’s can turn those pitches into strikeouts, he will be an asset for them in the future, possibly as early as next season. He might even surprise with a September call-up, since the A’s MLB bullpen is very thin as of this writing.

45. Jose Morban, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level: Short Season

The A’s 2019 MiLB FIP leader, the future potential is there. He’s 23 and probably won’t make a MLB impact for 3-4 years yet, but he could be much higher on this list next year.

46. Zack Erwin, LHP
Age: 27
Highest Level: AA

Erwin gets ranked low(er) due to his age (27). Another player impacted by the loss of a 2020 season, Erwin could have been in the A’s plans as a possible bullpen arm, if not for the lost development time. His improvement in 2019 means he could have an impact for the big league club, possibly in 2021.

47. Ty Damron, LHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: High A

Damron, much like Zack Erwin, has a chance to jump a few levels and make a more immediate impact at the MLB level. The A’s are going to search their organization for all the help they can get on the cheap. Damron is a leftie, so that helps. The A’s are going to be watching every dime over the next season or so due to the pandemic, so Damron could have an opportunity to contribute.

48. Bryce Conley, RHP
Age: 26
Highest Level: High A

The main reason I have Conley so low is that he is old for High A. At 26, he should be much more major league ready if he is to have a future at the highest level. Could he surprise and develop late? Sure. But overall, when you are this age at this level, the ceiling is not very high. And neither are the expectations.

49. Ryan Gridley, 2B/IF
Age: 25
Highest Level: High A

Gridley reminds me a lot of Tommy La Stella. A guy who can play multiple positions, has a low K% and makes good contact. At 25, he could be a late bloomer that sticks around as a nice bat off the bench. With Chad Pinder now hitting arbitration, he (Pinder) might price himself out of the A’s budget as soon as 2022, opening a door for his eventual replacement. Gridley just might be that guy.

50. Michael Danielak, RHP
Age: 27
Highest Level: High A

When you’re 27 and haven’t made it past High A, odds are not in your favor. Could eventually end up with some innings out of someone’s big league bullpen.

Names to watch:

Kyler Murray… Nevermind. That is still a sore spot with A’s fans… At least he’s an All-Pro talent… Just in the wrong sport. Thanks for nothing Brad Pitt…




2 Comments

  1. The main reason I didn’t include Tom on my list was mainly because he was selected via the Rule 5 draft, so I am not certain he remains in the A’s organization beyond Spring Training. I can see him being offered back to the Indians at some point, if the A’s choose to give those MLB AB’s to Browm, Bolt, Fowler or TBD.

    The other issue I had with him. He is 26 and had 0 AB’s with the Indians, despite them having had a notorious bad OF the past few seasons. Tom couldn’t crack their lineup and that says something. He has had 0 MLB ABs to date, so I am not sure how much of a “prospect” he even is at this point.

    But he could’ve been included in the 40’s. I wouldn’t take any issue with anyone having included him in the top 50. I just don’t think he will be an Oakland A for long.

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