The Oakland Athletics kick off the 2022 campaign in Philadelphia. The start of a new season brings excitement, a fresh start, and hopes of a winning season. The start of this season feels a little different for A’s fans. Gone are fan favorites and All-Star caliber bats Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, also sent packing were veteran pitchers and clubhouse leaders Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea. These changes coupled with no significant free agent signings have likely dashed any hopes for a winning season. The silver lining? The A’s have seriously upgraded their minor leagues and have put themselves in a much better position to start their next rebuild. Let’s recap the changes made to this system since the top 50 list was released in early January.
January 15: International Signing Period
Carlos Pacheco ($1.2 million), OF, Venezuela
Cesar Gonzalez ($0.8 mil), C, Venezuela
Kevin Dume ($0.6 mil), CI, Dominican Republic
Bryan Andrade ($0.525 mil), SS, Venezuela
Derek Corro ($0.2 mil), LHP, Venezuela
Reinaldo Saa ($0.2 mil), RHP, Venezuela
Manuel Perez ($0.16 mil), RHP, Dominican Republic
Pacheco is considered the top signing from this class. He has earned praise from Baseball America for his speed, arm strength, and strong ability to get on base. He has the makeup to stick in CF where his speed would allow him to cover plenty of ground and enough arm strength to make all the necessary throws. According to reports he makes solid contact and has shown a good feel for the zone, both of which are rare traits for a young international player to have. Gonzalez has the reputation for being a power-hitting backstop with an above-average arm. He is a third generation professional player that receives praise for his baseball IQ and coachability. On video his swing looks smooth and effortless without a lot of moving parts. Dume is listed at 6’5″ and hits from the left side of the plate. In the video I saw, he was taking ground balls at 3B but the footwork will need some cleaning up if he is going to stay on that side of the diamond. The organization will figure out his defense later if he hits enough to get to all that power potential in his bat.
Trades: Prospects1500 Top 50 team ranking in parenthesis. NY Mets courtesy of Philip Frank and Erik Schmollinger, Atlanta Braves courtesy of Michael Kelley, Toronto Blue Jays courtesy of Greg Bracken, and San Diego courtesy of Alex Sanchez.
March 12: RHP Chris Bassitt traded to New York Mets for RHP J.T. Ginn (6) and RHP Adam Oller (28).
With the acquisition of Ginn the A’s have a new top pitching prospect. He is known for being a groundball pitcher with excellent control that limits hard contact with his sinking FB/slider combo. Last year in A ball he had a WHIP of 1.05 with 81 K’s to 21 BB’s. He will start 2022 in AA Midland and with continued success could work his way through the system quickly. Oller does not have the pure stuff or the upside that Ginn does but he is able to get hitters out with a very sophisticated approach to attacking hitters utilizing his deep pitch mix. He is fighting for a rotation spot out of Spring Training with the fall back of a solid middle reliever. He is a great story and is the type of guy that Oakland seemingly pulls out of nowhere to be a solid major leaguer.
March 14: 1B Matt Olson traded to Atlanta for C Shea Langeliers (3), OF Cristian Pache (6), RHP Ryan Cusick (8), and RHP Joey Estes (11).
As hard as it was for A’s fans to see Olson go the consolation was several of the Braves top prospects as a return. Langeliers is an absolute stud behind the plate defensively. He brings a weapon in his rocket of an arm and his Gold Glove-caliber glove make him a no doubt MLB level defensive catcher. His bat shows promise of being at least league average if not more as he has shown a solid progression through the minors. The addition of Langeliers also opens an opportunity for the organization to move Tyler Soderstrom out from behind the plate and allow his bat to get to the major leagues sooner. Pache is another elite defender and will provide well above-average defense in CF. His bat is still a bit of a question mark, he has all the tools to be a top-of-the-order hitter but struggled in AAA and Atlanta last year. He is still young and will likely be given a long leash as the everyday CF in Oakland on opening day. Cusick possessed one of the best fastballs in the 2021 draft class and compliments it with a slider that misses bats all thrown from a lower 3/4 arm slot which creates some deception. Whether he ends up as a mid-rotation starter or a potential dominant high-leverage bullpen arm will depend on the development of a viable third pitch. Estes could end up being the best piece of this deal. He misses bats at an above-average rate with his fastball and slider. He commands his changeup well and with further development, it could be a legitimate 3rd pitch used to disrupt a hitter’s timing. He has above-average vertical movement on his fastball that allows it to play up in the zone which will help him against more advanced hitters.
March 16: 3B Matt Chapman traded to Toronto for RHP Gunnar Hoglund (4), 3B/SS Kevin Smith (8), LHP Zach Logue (25), and LHP Kirby Snead (UR).
Hoglund was one of the top arms in the 2021 draft and could have been a top 10 pick but TJ surgery ended his final collegiate season and will likely keep him sidelined for the majority of this season. Prior to surgery, he displayed above-average command and raw spin to all three of his pitches. His durable 6’4″ frame, smooth fluid delivery, and history of strike-throwing give him a floor of a back end starter. Smith had a breakout season last year at AAA Buffalo. He led the team in doubles (27), home runs (21), RBI (69) and total bases (199) and even got into 18 games at the major league level. He will be given every chance to stake his claim to an everyday role at the MLB level as soon as opening day. His steady defense will keep him on a big league roster how well he hits will ultimately determine his long term role. Logue does not have dominant fastball velocity sitting in the low 90’s but he mixes in a cutter and slider that keeps hitters off balance and has led to weak contact. His profile points to a ceiling of a back-of-the-rotation starter that could potentially struggle a third time through the lineup. Snead profiles as a middle relief pitcher that does a good job of keeping the ball out of the air and therefore inside the ballpark. He will start the season with the A’s and provide them with a pitcher that can come in and give them quality innings.
April 4: LHP Sean Manaea and RHP Aaron Holiday traded to San Diego for MI Euribiel Angeles (11) and RHP Adrian Martinez (31).
On the surface this trade lacks punch when compared to the previous moves and may have some fans scratching their heads. Angeles is known for his plus hit tool but doesn’t project for a ton of power, limiting his overall offensive value. His swing does have some uppercut to it and he is still young (19-years-old), so there is time. He finished last year at the Padres High-A affiliate so he will likely start in High-A Lansing. Martinez profiles as a backend starter or bullpen depth. He has a low to mid 90’s FB with horizontal movement but his changeup which has a screwball-like effect is his best pitch. He is on the 40 man roster so he is likely given a chance to make his mark this year.
Want more Oakland prospect news? Follow me on Twitter @JMahyfam. Every Monday throughout the minor league season I will pick a prospect hitter and pitcher of the week (from the previous week) and highlight their accomplishments.
Jeremy covers the Oakland organization and contributes on Prospects of the Week for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Midwest, as a lifelong baseball fan he is passionate about the game from Little League to the Big Leagues. You can follow him on Twitter @JMahyfam for more baseball content.
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