In the last installment, we had perhaps our closest race yet. Three players received at least 20 percent of the vote, the other two each got at least 12 percent, and nobody hit 30 percent. However, Joey Wendle pulled away from the pack in the last 24 hours, and so he rounds out our list of the Top 10 A's prospects. The current list, with ranks from MLB.com, Baseball America (revised), Baseball Prospectus, Athletics Farm, Keith Law, and Fangraphs in parentheses (strikethrough font means he didn't make that list):
1. Matt Olson, 1B (MLB #1, BA #2, BP #2, AF #1, KL #1, FG #2)
2. Franklin Barreto, SS (MLB #2, BA #1, BP #1, AF #2, KL #2, FG #1)
3. Matt Chapman, 3B (MLB #4, BA #3, BP #10, AF #3, KL #3, FG #3)
4. Renato Nunez, 3B (MLB #3, BA #4, BP #4, AF #4, KL #4, FG #4)
5. Dillon Overton, LHP (MLB #5, BA #9, BP#7, AF #8, KL #5, FG #7)
6. Kendall Graveman, RHP (MLB #9, BA #6, BP #5, AF #5, KL #9, FG #5)
7. Yairo Munoz, SS (
MLB, BA, BP #6, AF, KL #8, FG #12)
8. Sean Nolin, LHP (MLB #8, BA #7, BP #3, AF #6, KL #12, FG #8)
9. Raul Alcantara, RHP (MLB #7, BA #10,
BP, AF #9, KL #6, FG #10)
10. Joey Wendle, 2B (MLB #11,
BA, BP #9, AF #10, KL, FG #14)
As you surely know, Wendle was acquired straight-up for Brandon Moss this winter. That should tell you how confident the team is in the second baseman's talent -- they see him as a guy who will do everything reasonably well, who won't be great at anything but also won't be bad at anything. He can make contact, he has a bit of power, he has a bit of speed, he can play solid defense, he has a solid arm ... there is no exceptional tool that stands out, but there also isn't that flaw that will clearly be exploited at the MLB level. If all works out, he could be worth the same 2 WAR that Moss usually provided, just via a different skillset and at a more scarce position and in the form of a mid-20s player with six years of control rather than an early-30s player coming off major injury with only two years of control remaining.
The rest of the prospect world seems to agree that Wendle belongs on the fringes of the Top 10, but another way to look at it is that he's No. 3 among players who have any real shot of appearing in MLB in 2015 (after Graveman and Nolin). He'll get a long look in the Cactus League, and he'll almost certainly open in Triple-A Nashville in April, but if he forces the issue in the first half of the season then there isn't much keeping him from getting a crack in Oakland unless all 13 position players on the Opening Day roster miraculously hit their individual ceilings (which won't happen). More likely, he'll get a full year in Nashville and then be in the mix in 2016 once Ben Zobrist's departure leaves a big hole in the middle of the infield.
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.
We're done with our Top 10, but that doesn't mean we're stopping! Let's take this to at least 15, if not 20. Our new name is R.J. Alvarez, a right-handed reliever acquired from San Diego in the Derek Norris trade. He's a power pitcher who has conquered Triple-A and is ready for an extended trial in MLB, and Susan Slusser calls his chances of making the Opening Day bullpen "extremely good." His ceiling is high enough to be a future closer, and if all goes well he could theoretically force his way into a set-up role as soon as this season with the strikeout potential he carries. Here is a quick rundown on him:
R.J. Alvarez, RHP | Expected level: MLB or Triple-A | Age 24 (in June)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
After a solid first full professional season in 2013, Alvarez exploded in 2014. He dominated the Texas League in the first half of the season for Double-A Arkansas and was included in the package the Angels sent to the Padres in exchange for Huston Street just after the All-Star break. Alvarez made his Major League debut in September, but his Padres career was short-lived. In December, he was traded again, this time to the A's as a part of the deal that sent Derek Norris to San Diego.
Alvarez is all power on the mound. His fastball sits around 95 mph and can edge higher on the radar gun. After struggling to throw his curveball for strikes, Alvarez replaced it with a slider that has quickly become a solid offering. He also occasionally mixes in a changeup.
The Angels didn't use Alvarez much as a closer, but he has the stuff to pitch high-leverage innings. After getting his first taste of the Major Leagues, Alvarez should soon be ready for a more regular role at that level.
Here are our other current candidates:
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.
Rangel Ravelo, 3B | Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23 (in April)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Since signing as a sixth-rounder out of a Florida high school in 2010, Ravelo emerged as one of the best pure hitters in the White Sox system. He batted .309 and led the Double-A Southern League with 37 doubles in 2014 before joining the Athletics as part of a trade package for Jeff Samardzija during the Winter Meetings.
Ravelo controls the strike zone well and makes consistent contact to all fields. While he has strength in his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame, he has just 18 homers in 421 pro games. The consensus is that he won't have more than below-average home run power, which makes it difficult to project him as a regular at first base.
Ravelo spent his first two pro seasons at third base and has solid arm strength, but he didn't move well enough to stay at the hot corner. He's an adequate defender at first base.
Chris Bassitt | Expected level: Triple-A or MLB | Age 26
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 40 | Slider: 40 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
The White Sox saw enough of Bassitt after he threw sparingly as a reliever in four years at Akron to sign him for $50,000 in the 16th round of the 2011 Draft, and they converted him to a starter in the middle of his first full pro season and watched him lead the system with 138 strikeouts in 2013. He didn't start his 2014 season until mid-July because of a broken hand suffered in an off-field incident. He did come back to make his Major League debut, making six appearances -- five of them starts -- late in the year, before finishing things off with a strong stint as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. The A's got him as part of the package they received in return for Jeff Samardzija in December.
Bassitt has streamlined and sped up his delivery since turning pro, allowing him to get more leverage out of his 6-foot-5 frame. That helped him add velocity, and he now sits at 91-93 mph and touches 95 with his fastball.
Bassitt's heater is his lone plus pitch, so he has a ceiling of a back-of-the-rotation starter and may wind up back in the bullpen down the road. His fringy changeup is his best secondary offering, and he struggles at times to stay on top of his curveball and slider. There's some effort in Bassitt's delivery, costing him some command.
Mark Canha, 1B/OF | Expected level: MLB | Age 26
The A's acquired Canha this December from the Colorado Rockies, who drafted Canha during the annual Rule 5 draft. Canha will need to remain on the A's active 25-man roster throughout the 2015 season or be offered back to the Marlins.
Over the past three years, the A's have used their entire roster, switching line-ups frequently to maximize match-up advantages. Despite those line-up changes, the A's hit only .239/.313/.368 as a team versus left-handed pitching last season. The A's hope the right-handed hitting Canha can help Oakland improve in that area this year. Canha has hit .305/.390/.486 versus lefties over the past three seasons. He has also faired well versus right-handed pitchers (.277/.371/.467), which could help him get into more games this year.
The trait that will help Canha most in his quest to make the A's roster is his versatility. During his minor league career, Canha has spent significant playing time at first and in the corner outfield spots, and he has some experience at third base, as well. Canha believes that his ability to play multiple positions helps him be a better overall baseball player. He acknowledges that he is more comfortable in left and at first right now, but he plans to get more work in at third this spring and believes he will be ready, if needed, at that position, as well.
"I hang my hat on my power," the South Bay native said during a post-FanFest media session on Monday [2/9/15]. "The best part of the game, the most fun part of the game, the most valuable part of the game is hitting homeruns and doubles. That's what makes the games fun for me."
Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nominations in the comments!