In the last installment, we had four pitchers among the five-man poll and the voters went with upside over proximity to the Majors. It came down to a photo finish, but lefty Dillon Overton edged out righty Kendall Graveman 69-66 (at the time of this writing) to grab the fifth spot on the Oakland Athletics' prospect list. The current list, with ranks from MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Athletics Farm, and Keith Law in parentheses:
1. Matt Olson, 1B (MLB #1, BA #2, BP #2, AF #1, KL #1 & #81 overall)
2. Franklin Barreto, SS (MLB #2, BA #1, BP #1, AF #2, KL #2 & #95 overall)
3. Matt Chapman, 3B (MLB #4, BA #3, BP #10, AF #3, KL #3)
4. Renato Nunez, 3B (MLB #3, BA #4, BP #4, AF #4, KL #4)
5. Dillon Overton, LHP (MLB #5, BA #8, BP#7, AF #8, KL #5)
This selection is notable for a few reasons. One is that Overton becomes the first pitcher on the list, giving him the extra distinction of being Oakland's top pitching prospect in the eyes of the community. Another is that this is our first break from Athletics Farm's list; we had agreed on the top four, but AF had Overton at No. 8 (though we were four votes away from keeping in line, as Graveman is AF's No. 5). However, the lefty is not a reach at No. 5 by any means, as MLB and Keith Law each ranked him in that spot as well (our list is still identical to Law's so far). He seems to be recovered from his post-draft Tommy John surgery, and his stock could either rise or fall quite quickly this year in his first full professional season.
The next CPL will come out in a few days, so don't waste any time casting your vote or making your nomination(s)!
Here are the rules:
- Five candidates will appear on the ballot.
- In the comments, commenters will nominate a player to be put onto the list the next round. After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec'ing that post.
- The format for the comment should be "Nomination: Player Name".
- If a prospect is traded, his name will be crossed out, and all other players will be moved up a space.
- If a prospect is acquired, a special vote will be put up to determine where that player should be voted to rank, by asking what player is that prospect better than. For example, if we acquired a a top prospect that could be our new top guy, we'd have a vote for who that player was better than, with the top 5 prospects thus far. That prospect would then be inserted into the list right above that player.
Joining the field in this round is infielder Chad Pinder. He was the other guy in Stockton's Olson-Robertson-Nunez super-infield last year, but he was a second-round pick in his own right and batted .288/.336/.489 with 13 homers in 94 games (albeit with shaky plate discipline). With Robertson playing short, Pinder was pushed to second, but it's not impossible he could take another crack at the left side of the infield. It should also be noted that I have his autograph on my pass from AN Stockton Day alongside Robertson and Addison Russell, so, no pressure buddy. Here is a quick rundown on him:
Chad Pinder, 2B | Expected level: Double-A | Age 23
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Pinder drew comparisons to Evan Longoria while starring in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2012. While that's a stretch, it does speak to Pinder's all-around ability. As a bonus, he may be able to play the middle infield.
Though Pinder had a lackluster pro debut, he has the hand-eye coordination and bat speed to hit for a solid average. Scouts are more mixed about Pinder's power potential, but he can drive the ball to the opposite field. Pinder should be good for at least double-digit homers on an annual basis.
Pinder has the hands and arm for a shortstop, where he played primarily in his pro debut -- though he moved to second base when he joined Robertson at high Class A Stockton. Pinder profiles best at second, which would require less power than a shift to third base.
Here are our other current candidates:
Sean Nolin, LHP | Expected level: Triple-A or MLB | Age 25
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Drafted by the Blue Jays in 2010, Nolin made his Major League debut in 2013. He returned to Triple-A for most of 2014 and was slowed by a groin injury but returned to the big leagues in September. After his strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, the A's acquired him in November in the Josh Donaldson deal.
Nolin's stuff isn't overpowering but plays up thanks to his pitchability and control. He throws his fastball around 90 mph and uses his height to create a sharp downhill angle. He commands all of his pitches well, consistently filling up the strike zone.
Before his groin injury, Nolin had shown he was nearly ready for the big leagues. He has the makings of becoming a solid starter for the A's.
Kendall Graveman, RHP | Expected level: Triple-A or MLB | Age 24
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Cutter: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Graveman pitched well in Mississippi State's rotation as a senior in 2013, and the Blue Jays drafted him in the eighth round that June. A little more than a year later, Graveman was in the big leagues after shooting all the way from Class A Lansing to Toronto. His rapid ascent also got the attention of other teams, and the A's acquired him in November as a part of their return for Josh Donaldson.
Graveman's fastball sits at 93 mph and creates lots of groundball outs thanks to its sinking action. He added a cutter to his arsenal this season, a move that precipitated his meteoric rise. The cutter gives him a second above-average offering and a weapon against left-handers. He also occasionally mixes in a slider and a changeup.
Though he doesn't have a front-line starter's ceiling, Graveman has found a recipe for success. He'll soon be ready for a full-time role in the big leagues, either at the back of the rotation or in the bullpen.
Raul Alcantara, RHP | Expected level: Double-A | Age 22
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Trading Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox in December 2011 has worked out well for the A's, who received Josh Reddick, corner-infield prospect Miles Head and Alcantara in return. Alcantara had a rough first season in his new organization, but he bounced back in 2013 to assert himself as the system's top pitching prospect. Unfortunately, Alcantara injured his elbow in the spring of 2014 and he had Tommy John surgery in May.
When healthy, Alcantara usually operates at 92-93 mph with his fastball, and he can reach 96 mph. Alcantara has done a fine job of refining his changeup in his two years in Oakland's system, to the point where it now ranks as his second-best pitch. His hard slider can also be a weapon at times, albeit with less consistency.
Scouts who saw Alcantara in low Class A in 2012 and '13 noted his improved mound presence the second time around, as he learned to trust his stuff and attack hitters. His control and command took a step forward, and if Alcantara continues to improve, he could be a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Yairo Munoz, SS | Expected level: Single-A | Age 20
From Scout.com (click for the full report)
Translation: Yairo Muñoz is good. Really good. Grady Fuson knows it. Keith Lieppman, Oakland's Director of Player Development, agrees.
When asked where he projects Muñoz 's ceiling to be, Lieppman answers, without hesitation, "it is as an every day shortstop in the big leagues." Some day; not in the near future; no rushing; only when he's ready. A comparison to Hanley Ramirez is often made with Muñoz, "but with a much stronger arm." According to Fuson and Lieppman, Munoz, Edwin Diaz and Matt Chapman are the top three infield arms in the A's system, in terms of arm strength.
With respect to the young shortstop's offensive strengths, Lieppman offers that Muñoz is developing as they believed he would. Lieppman said that Muñoz is very "toolsy and... raw, but with continuing plate discipline, the sky is the limit." As a side note: just a few minutes after Lieppman shared his thoughts on Muñoz's plate discipline, the right-handed shortstop led off an Instructional League game by sending the first pitch of the game over the wall in left center field.
Plate discipline. Patience. Got it.
Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nominations in the comments!