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Athletics prospects: Will Marcus Semien become Jhonny Peralta or Jayson Nix?

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Programming Note ... Coming Monday morning ... "Travel Log å la Neekster" -- featuring photographs and commentary that chronicle Nico's 2-week adventure through Spain...

With prospects sometimes it's fun to guess at, and by guess at I mean argue with one another as if we really have any more of a clue than anyone else, that prospect's likely ceiling and floor. I started doing this a few years ago by creating three categories: "likely 90th percentile," "likely 50th percentile," and "likely 10th percentile".

The idea is to look at a prospect's likely ceiling, not the Josh Donaldson 99th percentile "isn't it great when things work out better than anyone could have imagined?, to surmise their likely floor as opposed to just the dreaded Fautino de los Santos "gets injured and is not much heard from again" that describes most prospects' true floors, and then to opine about their median projection -- what you think they are most likely to do if they stay healthy and make it to the big leagues.

Further lathering on the fun, I do it not through stats but rather by trying to think of major league players of whom I am most reminded based on similar skill set and level of success. So for example, Derek Norris might have the likely upside of Mike Napoli and a likely floor of Kelly Shoppach. Quite a range of plausible outcomes indeed.

How did I do last round? Check out this post from January, 2012 to have a good laugh. Actually, I didn't do too bad. Or too good. Or too medium.

Anyhoo, here are my best guesses for the A's recent acquisitions, for you to comment on and voice your violent disagreements! They are in alphabetical order, from best outcomes to worst.

R.J. Alvarez

Alvarez throws hard and has the stuff to dominate, just not the track record. Like most hard throwing relievers, the size of the gap between his live arm and his actual performance is hard to gauge.

90th percentile comp: Kelvin Herrera

50th percentile comp: Kevin Jepsen

10th percentile comp: Andrew Carignan (where are you now?)

Franklin Barreto

Barreto has perhaps the most talent of anyone the A's have acquired this off-season, so his upside is high. He profiles to have a potentially potent bat, he has speed, and he projects to provide athletic, but not outstanding, defense at 2B (assuming he has to move off of SS as many scouts anticipate). Provided that the soon-to-be 19 year old Barreto does not flame out altogether:

90th percentile comp: Ian Kinsler

50th percentile comp: Rickie Weeks

10th percentile comp: Jemile Weeks

Chris Bassitt

A tall RHP, it is not yet clear whether Bassitt's future lies in the rotation, where he projects as a back of the rotation SP, or the bullpen, where his low 90s fastball may get an extra tick or two to accompany an excellent slider. The question will likely be answered by the development (or lack thereof) of his curve and changeup.

90th percentile comp: Chris Tillman

50th percentile comp: Kyle Kendrick

10th percentile comp: Lucas Harrell

Kendall Graveman

Graveman's success depended on a power sinker that kept the ball in the park and on the ground, until he added a cutter that has allowed him to rise quickly through the minors. It remains to be seen whether his future is as a SP or RP. Conveniently, he reminds me of a couple current A's pitchers:

90th percentile comp: Jesse Chavez

50th percentile comp: Dan Otero

10th percentile comp: Andy Sonnanstine

Jesse Hahn

A power pitcher with a live arm when it isn't being operated on, Hahn is a TJS survivor with front of the rotation upside but also a high degree of risk. His curve is special, giving him somewhat of a Sonny Gray-esque repertoire.

90th percentile comp: Adam Wainwright

50th percentile comp: Michael Pineda

10th percentile comp: Dustin McGowan

Sean Nolin

Nolin's velocity has increased lately, giving him a different profile than he once had. With good control and a solid changeup, he now throws 92MPH-93MPH to fend off Tommy Milone comps. He also doesn't have, at this point, a plus changeup, so even comps to Jason Vargas probably aren't apt either. And he is never described as having a "live arm" so much as he is considered to be fairly polished. Frankly I find it difficult to find comps for Nolin as a LHP with a decent fastball and good control but who isn't projected to be better than about a #4 SP. So I've provided a rather big range of possibilities!

90th percentile comp: Wei-Yin Chen

50th percentile comp: J.A. Happ

10th percentile comp: Michael Kirkman

Josh Phegley

A LHP masher with an excellent throwing arm, Phegley is not as highly regarded for his other catching or batting skills. It remains to be seen whether he can make it as a platoon partner or more as a backup catcher and pinch hitter.

90th percentile comp: Kelly Shoppach

50th percentile comp: Sal Fasano

10th percentile comp: Taylor Teagarden

Rangel Ravelo

Ravelo has not hit for power in the minor leagues but is still described as having a bat that has some authority. That may mean alley to alley doubles power, or he may develop power, or he may hack at anything that moves and be exploited. The A's will see if he can stick at 3B but will likely end up moving him either to 1B or LF.

90th percentile comp: Pat Tabler (remember him?)

50th percentile comp: Jesus Guzman

10th percentile comp: Yangervis Solarte

Marcus Semien

I try to keep my comps "same handed" as the prospect and that narrows the field a bit with Semien, a right-handed batter. A good 90th percentile comp might otherwise be, ironically, Jed Lowrie, or Asdrubal Cabrera, both switch hitters. Like Lowrie and Cabrera, Semien is likely to stick at SS but is thought by many scouts to be better suited to 2B due to limited range. He has some pop in his bat, but only with projected 10-15 HR power. Amongst right-handed batters who fit this profile?

90th percentile comp: Jhonny Peralta

50th percentile comp: Mike Aviles

10th percentile comp: Jayson Nix

Joey Wendle

Not a highly rated prospect but one the A's "have had their eye on for a while," Wendle profiles as someone who will hit but is only adequate at 2B. The A's feel he is an over-achiever type who will hit in the big leagues.

90th percentile comp: Randy Velarde!

50th percentile comp: Tony Graffanino

10th percentile comp: Grant Green (isn't every failed prospect actually Grant Green?)


If all these comps turned out to be good ones, and every prospect stayed healthy, made the major leagues, and reached exactly his 50th percentile projection, the trades would wind up looking like this:

Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie, Rickie Weeks, J.A. Happ, Dan Otero

Brandon Moss for Tony Graffanino

Jeff Samardzija for Mike Aviles, Kyle Kendrick, Jose Guzman, Sal Fasano

Derek Norris for Michael Pineda, Kevin Jepsen

OK ... There's the best work a 4-hour layover in Madrid can produce ... Which ones do you think I nailed and which ones do you think I botched? And do you have some better comps to suggest?