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Athletics 2015 Community Prospect List #18: Billy Burns sprints onto the list

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Burns approaches third base, but his helmet is still rounding second.
Burns approaches third base, but his helmet is still rounding second.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

In the last installment, Billy Burns sprinted into the No. 17 spot on our A's prospect list. The current list, with ranks from MLB.comBaseball America (revised)Baseball ProspectusAthletics FarmKeith Law, Fangraphs, and John Sickels 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, JS #2)
2. Franklin Barreto, SS (MLB #2, BA #1, BP #1, AF #2, KL #2, FG #1, JS #1)
3. Matt Chapman, 3B (MLB #4, BA #3, BP #10, AF #3, KL #3, FG #3, JS #6)
4. Renato Nunez, 3B (MLB #3, BA #4, BP #4, AF #4, KL #4, FG #4, JS #3)
5. Dillon Overton, LHP (MLB #5, BA #9, BP#7, AF #8, KL #5, FG #7, JS #11)
6. Kendall Graveman, RHP (MLB #9, BA #6, BP #5, AF #5, KL #9, FG #5, JS #4)
7. Yairo Munoz, SS (MLB, BA, BP #6, AF #13, KL #8, FG #12, JS #7)
8. Sean Nolin, LHP (MLB #8, BA #7, BP #3, AF #6, KL #12, FG #8, JS #5)
9. Raul Alcantara, RHP (MLB #7, BA #10, BP, AF #9, KL #6, FG #10, JS #9)
10. Joey Wendle, 2B (MLB #11, BA, BP #9, AF #10, KL, FG #14, JS #18)
11. R.J. Alvarez, RHP (MLB #16, BA, BP, AF, KL, FG #6, JS #8)
12. Rangel Ravelo, 3B (MLB #19, BA #8, BP, AF #11, KL, FG #15, JS #15)
13. Mark Canha, 1B/OF (MLB, BA, BP, AF, KL, FG, JS #14)
14. Chad Pinder, 2B (MLB #6, BA, BP #8, AF #7, KL #7, FG #9, JS #12)
15. Chris Bassitt, RHP (MLB #17, BA #5, BP, AF #14, KL, FG #16, JS #16)
16. Dustin Driver, RHP (MLB, BA, BP, AF, KL, FG #18, JS #20)
17. Billy Burns, OF (MLB #18, BA, BP, AF, KL, FG #20, JS)

OK, Burns didn't exactly "sprint" onto the list. He sort of fell backwards into it once all the other imminently intriguing names were gone. We're into the back end of the Top 20 in a weak farm system, so we're talking about high-ceiling players with little-to-no pro experience and role players who profile as backups in MLB.

As you can see, Burns only shows up on a couple of other lists. You can't put him in a Top 10 because he probably won't ever hit enough to be a starting outfielder, but you can't leave him out of a Top 20 because he has an elite tool (his speed) and seems guaranteed to not only make the Majors but also to stick around for a while as a fourth or fifth outfielder who can be a defensive replacement and pinch runner. He doesn't have a terribly high ceiling, but he does have a high floor, since he can be useful even if he never hits all that well. He's tearing it up in the Cactus League, entering Wed.:

14 games, .417/.450/.639, 15-for-36, 2 doubles, 3 triples, 3-for-3 steals, 2 BB, 2 Ks

That doesn't mean a whole lot against spring competition, but at least he's making a lot of contact and letting his legs do their work. If he could learn to consistently slap the ball around against MLB pitching while keeping the Ks down, he could beat out a lot of infield hits and carry the threat of extra bases on anything to the outfield.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Burns will start in Triple-A, he'll work on his hitting (especially from the left side, which he is still learning), and we'll see him at some point in 2015. Maybe it'll just be as a pinch runner for a week when Coco or Gentry is ailing. Maybe it will be as something more.

(Extra note: Burns went 1-for-6 in a brief MLB trial last season, and stole three bases in four tries.)

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 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.

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We didn't get any nominees in the last post, so I'm creating a fallback plan. I went back to the comment thread in the previous list, when Bobby Wahl was nominated, and picked the guy with the second-most recs -- outfielder Jaycob Brugman. (Well, actually, Barry Zito got the second-most, but sadly he no longer qualifies as a prospect due to his 2,569⅔ career MLB innings.) He played well upon his promotion to Stockton last year, and I assume that's where he'll start in 2015 (with a chance to move up if he keeps hitting). Here's a quick rundown on him:

Jaycob Brugman, OF | Expected level: High-A | Age 23

From MLB.com

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

A 39th-round pick out of an Arizona high school in 2010, Brugman turned down the Yankees in order to attend Brigham Young. The Athletics signed him for $50,000 as a 17th-rounder in 2013, and he has gotten off to a better start in pro ball than most members of that A's Draft class. While his arm is his only true plus tool, he doesn't have a glaring weakness.

Brugman couples a smooth left-handed swing with good patience at the plate. He has the power potential to hit 15 homers per season at his peak. He's an average runner, though he's not a basestealing threat.

Since turning pro, Brugman has seen action at all three outfield spots. He has enough arm strength to play right field but the A's have deployed him mostly in left. While it remains to be seen if Brugman can develop into an everyday player at the big league level, his broad base of tools could make him a useful reserve.

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Here are our other current candidates:

Daniel Gossett, RHP | Expected Level: Single-A | Age 22

From MLB.com

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

Clemson has produced seven big league pitchers in the 2004-13 Drafts, and it could have an eighth on the way in Gossett. As a second-rounder this June, Gossett went higher than any of them, except for Pirates 2007 first-rounder Daniel Moskos.

Signed for $750,000, Gossett has a low-90s fastball that tops out at 94 mph. He commands the fastball well, which is crucial, because it's fairly straight. Gossett's best pitch is his hard slider, while his changeup is a reliable third offering.

Gossett doesn't have an imposing build, so scouts question if he'll have the durability to be a starter as a pro. If Gossett does shift to the bullpen, both his fastball and slider could play up and become above-average pitches as he works shorter stints.

Max Muncy, 1B | Expected level: Double-A | Age 24

From MLB.com

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

Coming out of Baylor in 2012, Muncy's patient approach at the plate made him the kind of advanced college hitter that the A's have become known for drafting. Behind a power surge that saw him hit 25 home runs between Class A Advanced Stockton and Double-A Midland, Muncy took a step forward in his first full season.

Muncy will have to prove the home runs weren't just a California League mirage, but he has always had solid pop waiting to be unlocked. In addition to his power, Muncy has excellent pitch-recognition skills and remains adept at working walks.

Muncy is more athletic than his frame suggests, and he is an adequate defender at first base. Oakland gave him some time at third base in 2014, but that's a stretch for him to play there on a regular basis. Muncy earns high marks for his makeup and understanding of the game.

Pat Venditte, LRHP | Expected level: Triple-A or MLB | Age 29

From Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs

The switch-pitching Venditte is essentially a human case study in the value of platoon advantage and the limits to which it can be taken. Selected by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 2008 draft out of Creighton, Venditte throws only about 85 mph with his right hand and even a bit slower than that with his left. Despite his underwhelming velocity, however, he's recorded strikeout and walk rates of 27.7% and 6.5%, respectively, over 445.2 minor-league innings - most recently with Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Despite New York's relative enthusiasm to sign Venditte (they also drafted him in the 45th round after his junior year), the club never found a place for him on the major-league roster. Oakland signed him to a minor-league deal in November, and one supposes (or at least hopes) that they did so with with a view towards giving him his major-league debut.

Bobby Wahl, RHP | Expected level: High-A | Age 23 (on Saturday!)

From MLB.com

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

After turning down seven-figure offers from pro teams as a high schooler, Wahl went to Mississippi, and he entered 2013 as a possible first-round pick. But blister issues led to diminished stuff, and his signability concerned clubs. Oakland stole Wahl in the fifth round and signed him for $500,000.

Wahl's fastball velocity bounced back after he turned pro, ranging from 90-95 mph. He has reached 97 mph in the past while coming out of the bullpen for the U.S. national college team. Wahl's hard slider also regained its sharpness, and he also continued to exhibit feel for his changeup.

Scouts aren't enamored with Wahl's delivery, and they wondered if the effort he expends will lead to him becoming a reliever. It's hard to argue with Wahl's track record of success against top college competition in the Southeastern Conference, though he has struggled in his first full pro season. The A's hoped he could move quickly through the Minors and become at least a No. 3 starter, but it appears that was optimistic.

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Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nominations in the comments!