The Oakland A’s have had 4 straight winning seasons and have made the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years. Yet it is no secret that once the lockout ends, the intent of this organization is to overhaul their major league roster. As Billy Beane and company get to work and trade some of their more valuable players, there could be significant additions from outside the organization. These additions and the graduation of a few prospects could make our midseason Top 50 list look much different. The good news in all of this is that this leaves room for some of these prospects to state their case as important pieces of this organization’s rebuild. On the surface, the Oakland system is lacking in top-tier talent, but there are several guys on this list that appear to be on the verge of breaking out. There are also some intriguing tooled-up young guys at the top that will be fun to watch in 2022 as they get their first taste of full-season ball.
This is my first top 50 list with Prospects1500 so let me give you a little insight into my ranking process and how I value prospects. As a general rule, when it comes to prospects, I value hitting over pitching. In my experience, pitchers, especially those 2 years away or more from the big leagues, are the riskiest players to roster in dynasty leagues. I also tend to value prospects more highly that have more data against professional competition, therefore I am more conservative with prospects that haven’t yet played in full-season ball. I acknowledge that not all dynasty leagues, teams, and owners are alike. These rankings are meant to be a baseline, as it is impossible to get a ranking system that will equally cover all leagues. There are a lot of variables that can change the rankings for these players based on the settings of individual leagues. The ranking system at Prospects1500 favors such a baseline and so let’s review how we rank players here:
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
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making their team’s 40-man roster
* – denotes player being on 40-man roster.
Levels listed for each player are the highest levels player reached in 2021.
1. Tyler Soderstrom, C, 20, Highest Level: Low-A.
Oakland’s 1st round pick in 2020 is looking to buck the recent trend of bad luck that the A’s have had in developing their 1st round picks. The offensive side of his game is very advanced for a guy his age. He shows excellent zone recognition and plate discipline with plenty of pop in his left-handed bat. In 222 AB at the Low-A level in 2021, he had an ISO of .261 and wOBA of .416, both of which are excellent especially considering that he was young for the level. His bat will play anywhere and is looks up to the challenge. The big question is whether he stays behind the plate which will slow down his development a bit.
Tyler Soderstrom has had quite the June.
He’s gone yard four times this month.
And he jumped 24 spots in our Top 100 this week, making him a Top 50 prospect in baseball 👀https://t.co/UfBZeOOnMf
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 11, 2021
2. Zack Gelof, 3B, 22, AAA
Gelof was the 2021 2nd round pick out of Virginia and there is a lot to like here. In 144 AB’s in low-A, he hit very well with 7 home runs, 22 RBI’s, and even stole 11 bases. A look into the metrics shows a hitter that was near-elite at getting on base (.412 wOBA), excellent at hitting for power (.250 ISO), and great at creating runs (143 wRC+). He is a good athlete and moves well for his size (6’3/205) leading to hope that he can stick at the hot corner. But with his athleticism and good arm, he could also profile as a power hitting corner outfielder.
3. Nick Allen*, SS, 23, AAA
In 2021, Allen played at the highest levels of the minors while also representing Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics. Defensively, Allen is elite and could play SS at the major league level right now, the question mark is what he will provide at the plate. In 204 AB’s at AA, he had a wOBA of .375 and WRC+ of 126 (both great), but across 136 AB’s in AAA he had a wOBA of .274 and WRC+ of 54 (both below average). His AAA promotion came on the heels of returning from his Olympic experience which very likely could have contributed to the lower numbers to end his year. His ceiling is likely an 8th/9th place hitter in an MLB lineup (maybe as soon as this year) and it will likely come with Gold Glove-caliber defense.
4. Pedro Pineda, OF, 18, Rookie (ACL)
Pineda was Oakland’s prize international signing out of the Dominican Republic in January of 2021. “Explosive” is the word most often used to describe his offensive tools. He has good hands with excellent bat speed and already displays a decent amount of loft to his swing which should help him as he inevitably adds strength to his 6’1″ 170-pound frame. While he is likely the rawest of their young players, he might also have the highest ultimate ceiling.
5. Max Muncy, SS, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Muncy was the Athletics 2021 1st round pick and was signed to an over slot value of $2.85 million in order to get him to forgo his commitment to play collegiately for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Muncy is a high energy player that oozes athleticism and is known for being coachable and a hard worker. He has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields but like many young players, his swing can get a bit long when selling out for power. With 50 grade tools across the board and a good work ethic, he has the ingredients to make an impact in this organization.
6. Daulton Jefferies*, RHP, 26, MLB
Jefferies got into 15 innings at the major league level last season and picked up a win in his lone start. He has plus to excellent command which enhances his arsenal that features a fastball in the low to mid 90’s with great active spin, an above-average changeup, a cutter, and an improving slider. Tommy John surgery and the 2020 shut down have slowed his development. But if he’s healthy, 2022 could be the year we see him take a big step forward in cementing his role in the rotation.
7. Brayan Buelvas, OF, 19, Low-A
As a 19-year-old receiving his first taste of full-season ball at the Low-A level, Buelvas more than held his own last summer. He hit 16 HR’s, drove in 50 runs, and stole 17 bases. His .219 batting average doesn’t look good on the surface, but a .253 BABIP hints to a fair amount of bad luck. A .193 ISO shows above-average power already for a kid that at 155 lbs will only put on more strength. Patience will be a key with him as he is still very young but he looks the part of an average everyday player at the major league level.
8. Colin Peluse, RHP, 23, AA
Here are two pitchers numbers in High-A from last summer:
Pitcher A: 97.2 IP, 3.04 ERA, 98 K, 1.24 WHIP, 9.6 BB%, 20.4 LD%, 12.1% HR/FB
Pitcher B: 86 IP, 3.66 ERA, 92 K, 1.21 WHIP, 6.2 BB%, 19.5 LD%, 9.7% HR/FB
Pitcher A is consensus top 100 prospect Quinn Priester, Pitcher B is Peluse. Am I saying that Colin should show up on preseason top 100 lists? Not quite yet, but another season like he had last summer, and his stock is going to skyrocket. At times he has looked unhittable, displaying late riding life to his fastball and limiting hard contact. At 6’3″/230 he has the size to hold up to a starter’s workload and with his repeatable delivery, he should be able to maintain his plus command. It’s time to get him on your radar!
9. A.J. Puk*, LHP, 26, MLB
Please let this year be the year that Puk can stay healthy! I mean c’mon, a 6’7″ lefty with a fastball that sits 97-99 mph and a wipeout slider could be dominant if… Yeah, that’s a big if. Plain and simple, Puk needs innings in 2022 for the A’s to evaluate what they have. He likely starts 2022 in the A’s bullpen but he could thrust himself into the high leverage conversation where his FB/slider combo could play up in shorter bursts.
10. Jordan Diaz*, 3B, 21, High-A
Oakland thought enough of Diaz’s performance in 2021 to add him to their 40 man roster and a look at his numbers shows why. In 2021 at High-A, he hit 13 HR’s and drove in 56 runs in 333 AB. He had a wOBA of .361 and wRC+ of 121 which are both very good while only striking out 16% of the time. He has always displayed great bat-to-ball skills, but last summer he made significant strides in his ability to make harder contact without sacrificing his strong contact skills. He still needs work defensively if he is going to stick at 3B, otherwise, a move across the diamond is likely.
11. Denzel Clarke, OF, 21, Rookie (ACL)
12. Jorge Juan*, RHP, 22, High-A
13. Jonah Bride*, 3B/Util, 26, AA
14. Lawrence Butler, 1B/OF, 21, High-A
15. Jeff Criswell, RHP, 22, High-A
16. Robert Puason, SS, 19, Low-A
17. Max Schuemann, SS, 24, AAA
18. Domingo Acevedo*, RHP, 27, MLB
19. Mason Miller, RHP, 23, Rookie (ACL)
20. Cody Thomas*, OF, 27, AAA
21. Skye Bolt*, OF, 27, MLB
22. Luis Barrera*, OF, 26, MLB
23. Brent Honeywell Jr.*, RHP, 26, MLB
24. Garrett Acton, RHP, 23, High-A
25. Logan Davidson, SS, 24, AA
26. Jack Cushing, RHP, 25, AA
27. Dermis Garcia, CI, 24, AA
28. Grant Holmes*, RHP, 25, AAA
29. Carlos Amaya, C, 20, Rookie (ACL)
30. Wandisson Charles*, RHP, 25, AA
Tier 4 is full of guys that could easily make the jump to Tier 3 by midseason…..Clarke is a big dude (6’5″ 220). He punishes fastballs but has struggled against good spin and there is concern that more advanced pitching might expose his approach at the plate. His speed and power are legit so if he can make even average contact there could really be something here…..Juan stands 6’8″ tall so it has taken him a little time to coordinate all that length into a delivery that is repeatable enough to have consistent control and command. Last summer he took big steps to doing just that, in 26.2 innings he had 40 K’s to just 13 BB while missing a ton of bats…..Bride flat broke out in 2021, he showed excellent plate discipline with identical BB/K rates of 17%. A dive into his metrics show a player that had excellent contact percentage, didn’t chase pitches out of the zone, and displayed some innate power…..Butler might have some of the best power in the system (19 HR’s & .231 ISO in ’21) but will need to cut back on his K rate (33%) for it to play in the upper levels…..Schuemann is not a household name and his stats won’t wow you but he is that guy that ends up on a major league roster. He is a very tough out at the plate due to a great approach and excellent contact ability…..Acevedo is an RP but thanks to good active spin on his 4-seam fastball and slider, he limits hard contact. Minor league hitters have really struggled to barrel up his pitches which gives him a chance to be a high leverage reliever in the majors as soon as next year…..Acton is another with an RP profile but 87 K’s in 53.2 innings will get your attention. In late July, he had 34 K’s in 17 1/3 innings including sitting down 19 straight hitters (18 by strikeout)…..Davidson is a former 1st round draft pick that struggled with his AA assignment last summer (.212 AVG and 30% K rate). It would be hard to find a prospect more hurt by the lack of a minor league season in 2020 than him. He did hit well in the Arizona Fall League sparking some hope that he can turn a corner in 2022…..Cushing pitched across three levels in 2021, in both A-ball levels he pitched very well including 4 straight wins, a complete game, and a WHIP of less than 1.2. He finished the year against AA competition and will likely start there again this summer….Garcia spent last summer at the Yankees AA affiliate and hit 31 HR with a .275 ISO but also a 37% K rate…..Amaya could be on the rise in this system in 2022. He is young but according to reports he controls the running game well thanks to excellent footwork and a great arm, his bat looks the part as well early on.
31. Junior Perez, OF, 20, Low-A
32. Brett Harris, 3B, 23, High-A
33. Michael Guldberg, OF, 22, High-A
34. Jack Weisenburger, RHP, 24, AA
35. Jeremy Eierman, SS, 25, AA
36. Devin Foyle, OF, 25, AA
37. Charles Hall, RHP, 27, High-A
38. Drew Swift, SS, 22, High-A
39. CJ Rodriguez, C, 21, Low-A
40. Buddy Reed, OF, 26, AAA
41. Lazaro Armenteros, OF, 22, High-A
42. Hogan Harris, LHP, 25, DNP
43. Austin Beck, OF, 23, AAA
44. Grant Holman, RHP, 21, Low-A
45. Gabriel Maciel, OF, 22, High-A
46. Angel Arevalo, 3B/SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
47. Shohei Tomioka, RHP, 25, High-A
48. Joshwan Wright, 2B/3B, 21, Low-A
49. Eduardo Rivera, LHP, 18, Rookie (ACL)
50. Jhoan Paulino, SS, 20, AA
Guldberg has an above-average hit tool and good speed but currently is light on power. Any increase in pop combined with his strong contact skills could make him the surprise of the 2020 draft class….Weisenburger can miss bats at a good rate with a solid FB/slider mix. Improvement to his control and command and further development of his changeup could boost his profile…..Hall was old for the level in 2021 but a 32% K rate & 0.98 WHIP will get your attention even if it was all in a relief role…..Beck & Armenteros were supposed to be stars in this system but K rates at 34% and 41% respectively in High-A have deflated some of those hopes. Time might be running short for these two to make their impression…..Rivera was a 2021 11th round draft pick out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is only 18-years-old but a 6’7″ 237 left handed pitcher has to make this list, right?
Jeremy covers the St Louis organization and contributes on Prospects of the Week for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Midwest, he is a lifelong fan of the Birds on the Bat. You can follow him on Twitter @JMahyfam for more baseball content.
"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too." -Yogi Berra
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