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Athletics 2015 Community Prospect List #19: Max Muncy mashes his way on board

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In the last installment, Max Muncy maintained his value with a strong Cactus League and earned the No. 18 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)
18. Max Muncy, 1B/3B (MLB #10, BA, BP, AF #12, KL, FG, JS #13)

Muncy has become something of a forgotten man in Oakland's system, as he made a Top 10 on one list (MLB) but didn't crack the Top 20 on another (Fangraphs). He currently plays first base and third base, but there is a long list of seemingly superior names ahead of him in the system: Olson, Nunez, Chapman, Ravelo, and Freiman, all at Double-A or Triple-A and all playing a corner infield position, with a logjam at first at the MLB level (Davis, Butler, Canha) and a long-term plan at third (Lawrie). Muncy's path to the Majors will likely require either a massive breakout season in 2015, a few injuries above him on the depth chart, or a trade.

He played all of 2014 at Double-A Midland, known to be a tough place for hitters, and responded with mixed results. His plate discipline remained strong, with nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (92). but he hit only seven homers after blasting 25 in 2013 and his isolated slugging was barely over .100 (.264/.385/.379). Was the drop in power a result of the merciless winds of Midland? Perhaps we'll find out if he makes his way to Triple-A Nashville this year.

To his credit, Muncy got off to a good start this spring, batting .286/.400/.536 in 36 PAs with a homer, four doubles and more walks than strikeouts. Even though the A's system is weak overall, one of its strongest areas happens to overlap perfectly with Muncy's demographic (Double-A corner infielder), so he'll have to fight hard for at-bats this season. It's at least nice to see him get off to a positive start in March.

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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Our new nominee is Tyler Ladendorf, who was surely aided in the vote by his high-profile Cactus League success. And hey, that's fair enough, because he is identifying himself as a minor leaguer who could make a difference at the MLB level -- isn't that all we're looking for here anyway? His current route involves close proximity to MLB with a low ceiling, which is the opposite of guys like Gossett and Wahl, but that's the trade-off on the risk/reward spectrum. For what it's worth, the A's current organizational philosophy seems to favor Ladendorf's territory, sacrificing upside to minimize risk of total flameouts. Also, he currently holds perhaps the junkiest of junk stats: he leads his team in Cactus League RBI. The takes don't get hotter than that. Here's a quick rundown on him, from Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse (Scout.com):

Tyler Ladendorf, IF/OF | Expected Level: Triple-A or MLB | Age 27

From Scout.com

"[Tyler] was always a contact-oriented player with a short stroke that bodes well for higher levels. This year he catapulted himself forward to someone that is on the cusp." - A's Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens

The A's are always looking for bench players who handle left-handed pitching well, and Ladendorf has done that throughout his career. Over the past three seasons, Ladendorf has a .328/.403/.512 line versus southpaws. In 2014, he slashed .395/.457/.568 versus lefties.

If Ladendorf's improvements offensively are here to stay, he could be an asset for the A's off of the bench in 2015. Since joining the A's organization in 2008, Ladendorf has been one of the system's best defensive players. Naturally a shortstop, Ladendorf can also handle second base, third base and all three outfield positions. He is a plus athlete who has above-average range in the middle infield and a strong arm. In 2014, Ladendorf appeared in 38 games at second and 38 games at short and two games in the outfield.

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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.

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.

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