For a rebuilding team, the amount of exciting prospects in the Oakland Athletics’ system is surprisingly low. Add to that the small number of noteworthy bonuses paid to later draft picks this year, and the fact that Oakland did not sign one of the Baseball America Top 50 international prospects this year… well, I cannot say I support this rebuilding strategy regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the team’s revenue and stadium situations. But as far as the list goes, it is what it is, so here it is. Our previous 2017 preseason A’s Top 50 Prospects from back in January is found 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 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
If you feel like I slighted your favorite prospect or disagree with my rankings feel free to rake me over the coals in the comments.
1. Franklin Barreto, SS/2B
Age 21 (DOB 2/27/1996)
Personally I hesitate to put Barreto (or any A’s prospect for that matter) in Tier 1 because I don’t see him as a perennial All-Star in the mold of say, a Francisco Lindor. He will most likely be a notch or a notch-and-a-half below that, but I would say it is pretty clear the consensus would put him here. He is still young, and has the ability to be a fine starting shortstop for years to come. If he can improve on his plate discipline and increase his home run power, the ceiling is there, but superstar is not the most likely outcome.
2. A.J. Puk, LHP
Age 22 (DOB 4/25/1995)
With his dominant fastball and plus slider presently, Puk has the stuff to be a shutdown reliever today, but a team like the A’s can afford to give him every opportunity to succeed as a top-of-the-rotation arm. He has the stamina to hold his velocity throughout his starts, but the A’s would like to see more development of his changeup and his control and command. His results were mixed this year at the High-A and AA levels, and although he isn’t too old at 22, he’s not super young either. He is ranked up here based on his potential, which is high, but he will most likely still be completing his development while on the big league roster.
3. Jorge Mateo, SS
Age 22 (DOB 6/23/1995)
The best of the 3 prospects that the A’s acquired in the Sonny Gray deal, Mateo is really starting to look like the future major league performer the Yankees hope they had when they signed him as a top international prospect back in 2012. He has elite speed and base-stealing ability, and has shown flashes of the plate discipline needed to become a top leadoff option at the major league level.
4. Austin Beck, OF
Age 18 (DOB 11/22/1998)
Beck hasn’t had a lot of experience yet as a pro, and the results don’t look pretty, but much of that is due to his .518 OPS for July. So far he checks in at .867 for August, looking more like the 6th overall draft pick the A’s dropped a $5.3MM bonus on this June. It is obviously very early and I can’t put too much stock in GCL stats for a high school player, but if he puts it all together he could be a 25-20 guy that bats around .280. Beck has a long way to go.
5. Jesus Luzardo, LHP
Age 19 (DOB 9/30/1997)
Now that he has returned to action along with most of his impressive velocity, the A’s are starting to see return on their trade acquisition of Luzardo from Washington this past July. He is now 19, with pinpoint control, 3 plus pitches, and is making quick work of the low minors. In a few years, he could be a #2 or a #3 starter behind A.J. Puk.
6. Lazaro Armenteros, OF
Age 18 (DOB 5/2/1999)
The A’s signed one of the top teenage prospects out of Cuba last year along with a $3.0MM bonus. Lazaro has athleticism and fine tools across the board, and is showing fine performance as an 18-year-old in the AZL. Armenteros is much rawer than Beck, but has a chance to add more power than his outfield counterpart. I toyed with placing him at #5, but Luzardo is further along.
7. Nick Allen, SS
Age 18 (DOB 10/8/1998)
The A’s went overslot to sign third rounder Allen to a $2MM bonus. His hitting ability, eye, speed and instincts on the basepaths profile him as a future top-of-the-order catalyst. His range and throwing arm are outstanding which should allow him to stick at shortstop and excel there, which is huge. He is still only 18, and stands 5’9″, but looking forward, there is a lot to like.
8. James Kaprielian, RHP
Age 23 (DOB 3/2/1994)
I have always liked Kaprielian; he is a pretty complete starter with plus fastball velocity and a four-pitch mix. He just has to finally find a way to get and stay healthy, and I think Oakland can be patient with him and is the right place for him to reach his potential.
9. Dustin Fowler, OF
Age 22 (DOB 12/29/1994)
Fowler was a somewhat flawed prospect and a bit overhyped in the Yankee system even before he unfortunately ruptured his knee in his first-ever MLB game. He does have plus speed and potential power, although improved plate discipline would be nice. The A’s must still see him as their future centerfielder, or they would not have traded for him. Fowler could be seen as a Tier 2 guy depending on how he bounces back.
10. Boog Powell, OF
Age 24 (DOB 1/14/1993)
Boog is a former 20th round pick who is 24 and finally healthy, and he won’t be eligible for this list ever again, so I figured this courageous ranking is well-timed. He is doing what a leadoff man should do the major league level, getting on base, and the steals will come (the home runs may never.) I tend to put stock in major league performance even in small samples. Let’s put it this way: Boog’s current run of production would realistically be a rosy outlook even for some of the sexier prospects on this list.
11. Greg Deichmann, OF
Age 22 (DOB 5/31/1995)
He is already 22 in this first year at the short-season level, so the A’s second rounder will have to move quickly in order to justify this ranking. He profiles as a starting left fielder but could have the arm for right. What I like most is that his power game was lauded over his hitting, but he has already shown himself to be a disciplined hitter in the pros.
12. Kevin Merrell, SS
Age 21 (DOB 12/14/1995)
He’s the older college guy, but Merrell’s profile seems to overlap Allen’s quite a bit. Taken with a sandwich pick after the first round, Merrell’s defensive prowess isn’t quite as dazzling, and I see Allen pushing him to second base or the outfield eventually. Could be a speed burner at the top or the bottom of an MLB batting order.
13. Sean M. Murphy, C
Age 22 (DOB 10/10/1994)
Lauded for his defensive skills behind the dish and possessing an absolute cannon for an arm, the “catcher of the future” label has often been placed on Murphy. His bat has been up and down throughout his minor league career, but he could certainly become a decent MLB hitter.
14. Grant Holmes, RHP
Age 21 (DOB 3/22/1996)
A former top Dodgers prospect, Holmes’ stock has dropped a bit this year, mostly due to control issues. He still has a potential for three plus pitches: a changeup, a curve, and a sinking fastball, that keep him in the conversation for a future MLB starting pitcher.
15. Logan Shore, RHP
Age 22 (DOB 12/28/1994)
As a very polished pitchability type with pinpoint control displayed so far in his minor league career, I see Shore’s ceiling as a #3 / #4 starter, and he will be given every opportunity to get there. He commands a sinking fastball that produces a good amount of groundball outs, but without that blow-away velocity, he could end up in middle relief or as an up-down sixth starter / swingman type. Either way he will get a shot in the majors.
16. Sheldon Neuse, 3B
Age 22 (DOB 12/10/1994)
A recent shiftee from short to third, but Neuse definitely has the arm to get by there. He will live and die by his hitting ability however, and there is certainly a decent chance he ends up an above-average MLB hitter with some power, in which case a defensive position will be found for him.
17. Norge Ruiz, RHP
Age 23 (DOB 3/15/1994)
One of the top Cuban signees last year, Ruiz is a guy that we have heard about for a while and he is seemingly putting it all together very quickly in U.S. ball. A four-pitch mix including a 94 mph fastball with movement and deception. Poise and presence on the mound. Ruiz as a future #3 starter is a conceivable upside outcome, but a #4 / #5 or an effective reliever would be more likely.
18. Yairo Munoz, IF/OF
Age 22 (DOB 1/23/1995)
Munoz could be the A’s super-utility player of the future, with the potential ability to handle short, third, and even centerfield. He could also be a decent hitter with some power at the highest level, if he could just find a way to improve his discipline at the plate.
19. Max Schrock, 2B
Age 22 (DOB 10/12/1994)
I could easily see Schrock as some team’s starting second baseman, but it might not end up being on the A’s with their glut of middle infield depth (see above.) Schrock was getting a lot of ink and a lot of hype this past offseason coming off his breakout 2016 campaign, and he has followed it up nicely hitting over .300 with a disciplined approach in AA as a 22-year-old. So the indicators are good that he is still a future major leaguer.
20. Dakota Chalmers, RHP
Age 21 (DOB 8/8/1996)
The potential is there for Chalmers to exceed this ranking. He ticks up to 97 mph with life on his fastball, and shows a strong curve. Without a third pitch and improved command, he will probably end up in the bullpen, where he could thrive. Chalmers’ upside is probably greater than Logan Shores’ but Shores is more refined at this point.
21. Renato Nunez, 3B
Age 23 (DOB 4/4/1994)
Once thought of as the possible A’s future third baseman, Nunez’ stock has dropped over the past year. He still displays power, but swing-and-miss tendencies and defensive shortcomings hold him back. He probably could start seeing some MLB at-bats soon, and with improvements could become a Khris Davis type, but it is looking less and less likely.
22. Daulton Jeffries, RHP Age 22 (DOB 8/2/1995)
Currently on the shelf for the season, and possibly part of 2018, after undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring. Jeffries was drafted just after the first round last year, and possesses a pretty complete package on the mound. What he lacks in elite velocity he makes up for with control, a solid changeup, and a decent slider. Once healthy he could be a riser.
23. Heath Fillmyer, RHP
Age 23 (DOB 5/16/1994)
Another guy along with Shore, Ruiz, and Holmes who will be given a shot sometime over the next year or so, and it’s anyone’s guess whether he will succeed as a backend starter, be relegated to the bullpen, or flame out. I have the least faith in Fillmyer of that bunch, and the reason is the lack of control that holds him back.
24. Sam Moll, LHP
Age 25 (DOB 1/5/1992)
Moll makes his money with a 93-96 MPH live fastball along with a quality slider and change. Size and durability issues have him looking like a lefty reliever in the bigs, but he is ready now.
25. Marcos Brito, SS
Age 17 (DOB 3/6/2000)
Brito was the A’s top international signing out of 2016. The results at the plate haven’t been overwhelming, but he is only 17 and the fact that his ability to get on base has translated from the DSL to the AZL as a 17-year-old is enough of an indicator to keep him as a “Tier 4” guy for me.
26. James Naile, RHP
Age 24 (DOB 2/8/1993)
A groundball artist with great control, the word is that Naile is practically guaranteed a shot as the A’s up-and-down swingman type at some point next year. If he succeeds in that role, he could carve out some kind of a career as a starter. This keeps him in Tier 4 despite his unexciting stuff.
27. Casey Meisner, RHP
Age 22 (DOB 5/22/1995)
A continued increase in velocity, improved control, consistency in his mechanics, and development of a third pitch… this is what needs to happen for the 6’7″ 22-year-old to reach his ceiling of a backend starter. Failing that, he will end up in the bullpen, and most likely reach the majors in some role.
28. Bobby Wahl, RHP
Age 25 (DOB 3/21/1992)
Wahl’s prospect status was back on the rise after an impressive 2016 showing, which culminated in him reaching the majors this year. TOS surgery derailed that, but I think he is still a major league reliever, and short stints might give him a better chance at recovery.
29. Logan Salow, LHP
Age 22 (DOB 9/27/1994)
The A’s used their sixth round pick this year to draft Kentucky’s closer. Oakland has had success developing bullpen guys and Salow seems like a future major league lefty reliever due to his hard slider, fastball and change all of which he can locate well.
30. Richie Martin, SS
Age 22 (DOB 12/22/1994)
A first rounder in 2015, Martin probably already possesses the defensive range, quickness and arm to be an above average to excellent MLB shortstop. He probably reaches the majors eventually on his glove alone, but without some kind of improvement at the plate, he’s a defensive specialist only.
31. Jean Ruiz, RHP
Age 20 (DOB 9/6/1996)
Ruiz is an aggressive sinkerballer who has been dominant in his first season stateside. He is being used as a starter but is on a strict pitch count. He needs to fill out his frame and obviously continue his success up the ladder but what he has shown so far is impressive.
32. Yerdel Vargas, SS
Age 17 (DOB 2/17/2000)
Vargas was one of the A’s top international signees last year. He has impressive tools on both sides of the ball, although he is more advanced defensively. He has shown himself to be very raw at the plate in the AZL, but for a seventeen-year-old that can be expected.
33. B.J. Boyd, OF
Age 24 (DOB 7/16/1993)
Boyd has continued to produce this year at the AA level. His on-base skills, low strikeout rates, good speed, as well as a little power and the ability to cover centerfield make him a candidate to fill a role as a future fourth outfielder type.
34. Tyler Ramirez, OF
Age 22 (DOB 2/21/1995)
Tyler Ramirez has great outfield instincts but lacks the footspeed of B.J. Boyd which makes him more suited to a corner. That plus his higher strikeout rate make him less of a fit as a fourth outfielder. He is 2 years younger than Boyd so there is time to improve, and his high level of production this year across the California and Texas Leagues this year is a great sign.
35. Brandon Bailey, RHP
Age 22 (DOB 10/19/1994)
A tough guy to assess presently because he’s got that 4.97 ERA in the California League, but his FIP is 3.77. Bailey is striking out a ton of batters (12.41 K/9) and if he can survive and succeed at the AA level next year he could jump up to the low 20’s on this list.
36. Santis Sanchez, C
Age 19 (DOB 8/21/1998)
The A’s went overslot with a $450K bonus to their fifth round pick out of the Puerto Rico Academy this year. Already regarded as an excellent defensive catcher with a tremendous arm, Sanchez has a lot to prove with his bat, although he does have some raw power. Could easily be a big league backup, maybe more.
37. Oscar Tovar, RHP
Age 19 (DOB 3/19/1998)
Tovar’s current lack of command and a third pitch might foretell a future move to the bullpen. He is still just 19 so there is plenty of time for improvement on those fronts. He has that backend starter ceiling and he will be given the chance to reach it.
38. Zack Erwin, LHP
Age 23 (DOB 1/24/1994)
The former White Sox fourth rounder is making a comeback this year in full-season A-ball. He is 23 now so he will have to start moving quickly and his last run in the California league was disastrous. The left-hander could end up a serviceable reliever with his fastball-curveball combo.
39. Wyatt Marks, RHP
Age 22 (DOB 6/28/1995)
Marks was a strikeout virtuoso in college and so far has carried that over to the pros. He was drafted in the 13th round this year, but received an $110K bonus that he has lived up to so far. He was a two-pitch reliever in college but he is being stretched out in the minors; personally I see this as a developmental mistake but some will disagree and say it can only add value.
40. Raul Alcantara, RHP
Age 24 (DOB 12/4/1992)
Once a highly-regarded prospect, the A’s designated Alcantara for assignment earlier this year. He remained with the organization and is back on track in AAA, so there is nothing to say he won’t return to the big leagues in the future. He was signed really young, had to be added to the 40-man too early, and dealt with injuries along the way which derailed his development.
41. Sam Bragg, RHP
Age 24 (DOB 3/23/1993)
A guy I have been watching for a few years now. Scouts have no love for him, but he keeps on throwing strikes and getting batters out at every step of the ladder. His delivery is effort-heavy which relegates him to relief stints. His fastball sits around 90 MPH but with late life, and he uses it to set up a biting curve. It would be great to see him get a chance as a middle reliever in Oakland next season.
42. Kyle Friedrichs, RHP
Age 25 (DOB 1/22/1992)
Friedrichs has gotten some decent rankings over the years but I don’t see it. He has always had to get by with underwhelming stuff leaving little room for error. He has had good results in the California League this year which is great but I don’t really know what to make of his 3.21 ERA / 5.21 FIP.
43. Skylar Szynski, RHP
Age 20 (DOB 7/14/1997)
Szynski was drafted out of high school in the fourth round and handed a million-dollar bonus last year. There is a lot of potential and it is too early to consider him a complete bust, but he has dealt with a forearm injury and has not pitched much at all. Perhaps this led to the A’s decision not to throw big money at any later-round picks this year.
44. Wandisson Charles, RHP
Age 20 (DOB 9/7/1996)
A 6’6″ twenty-year-old out of the Dominican that can dial up his fastball over 100 MPH. He racks up the strikeouts but needs to cut down on the walks if he wants to reach the majors. The potential is there, but it is clearly in relief.
45. Will Toffey, 3B
Age 22 (DOB 12/31/1994)
Toffey was drafted in the fourth round this year, garnering a $486K bonus. He is a polished college hitter, a contact guy with little pop. He handles himself around the bag at third, strong arm, not flashy. He’ll have a couple years to try and carve out a career but there are a lot of guys ahead of him.
46. Boomer Biegalski, RHP
Age 23 (DOB 7/13/1994)
Boomer was a sleeper to watch coming off a breakout 2016, but has hit a wall in the California League (5.55 ERA, 6.06 FIP.) He has managed to increase his K-rate (10.72 K/9) which shows there is still potential. The experiment to try and make him a starter should probably be put to rest.
47. Miguel Romero, RHP
Age 23 (DOB 4/23/1994)
Low-profile signing out of Cuba who can dial the fastball up to 95 MPH and also has a decent change. Future reliever. 12.27 K/9 in the California League but a 6.98 ERA and 5.98 FIP. Romero has earned an invite to the Arizona Fall League so we’ll see how he fares against that competition.
48. Skye Bolt, OF
Age 23 (DOB 1/15/1994)
Toolsy high-profile prospect with the defensive chops to man centerfield but many questions linger about his bat. Bolt has shown power in the California League (14 HR) and can take a walk but needs to keep the strikeouts down (27.7%)
49. Andrew Tomasovich, LHP
Age 23 (DOB 9/24/1993)
Sidewinding lefty relief prospect and potential future LOOGY. Tomasovich was holding his own in the California League until a 1/3 IP, 5 ER outing on August 26th.
50. Sandber Pimentel, 1B
Age 22 (DOB 9/12/1994)
A raw and lumbering slugger who will have to continue to reduce his strikeouts (30% in 2016, 28% in 2017) if he will ever have a legitimate shot. Hitters who reach the majors based on high minor league strikeout rates are not the norm.
Missed the Cut: Chris Kohler, LHP; Edwin Diaz, OF; Carlos Navas, RHP; Brett Graves, RHP; Joey Wendle, 2B; Corey Walter, RHP; Dalton Sawyer, LHP; Kevin Richards, OF; Nate Mondou, 2B.
Received Consideration: Luis Barrera, OF; Evan Manarino, LHP, Trey Cochran-Gill, RHP, Brandon Marsonek, LHP; Parker Dunshee, RHP; Abdiel Mendoza, RHP; Dustin Hurlbutt, RHP; George Bell, Jr., OF; Nolan Blackwood, RHP; Enrry Pantoja, OF; Joel Seddon, RHP: Angel Duno, RHP; Brett Siddall, OF; Eric Marinez, SS; Mikey White, 2B; Eli White,SS; Anthony Churlin, OF; Miguel Mercedes, 1B; Chris Iriart, 1B; Seth Martinez, RHP; Kyle Nowlin, OF; Seth Brown, OF.