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Athletics 2015 Community Prospect List #15: Is Chad Pinder underrated by AN?

Pinder will play somewhere toward the middle of one of these.
Pinder will play somewhere toward the middle of one of these.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In the last installment, Chad Pinder avenged his narrow defeat with a resounding nod into the No. 14 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)

First, note that John Sickels of Minor League Ball released his Top 20 list for the A's, and that his rankings are now included in the above list. We're not the only ones to rank Mark Canha anymore! That's a relief.

Nobody ranked Pinder lower than we did.* However, I think that's more due to AN's affinity for some of the more under-the-radar guys (whether high-ceiling like Munoz, or MLB-ready like Canha) than to our lack of interest in Pinder. He's still an infield prospect with some power potential, and no one's going to turn down one of those. His biggest knock seems to be his plate discipline, but otherwise he sounds to me like a younger Joe Wendle -- solid at everything, including power, contact, speed, and defense, but not amazing at any one thing. (That may not be an accurate assessment and we have some more informed prospect gurus in the comments section, so if anybody thinks that comp is off-base then please plead your case!)

Pinder is moving from the friendly confines of the Cal League to the tough Texas League, so he's a guy to keep an eye on this year. If he maintains his power in the more difficult hitting environment, and/or tightens up his strikeout rate, he could start to get some serious attention as a middle infield prospect. He'll take yet another step up if he can make the switch back to shortstop, after moving to second base to play next to Daniel Robertson in Stockton last year. Opinions are mixed on whether he can do either or both of those things, but we'll start to get a better idea after this year -- he's only played 136 professional games since being drafted in 2013.

* Baseball America left him off their revised Top 10, but he was No. 10 in the original version, before Robertson was traded and Bassitt and Ravelo were added. It's probably safe to assume that Pinder simply dropped to No. 11, or at worst 12, still better than his rank on AN.

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.


Our new nominee is a familiar one: speedy outfielder Billy Burns. The last time the A's had a speedy outfielder named Burns (Byrnes), it worked out pretty well, and this new Burns is even speedier and outfieldier (that is, a better defensive outfielder). He got a cup of coffee in the Majors in 2014, in which he collected his first hit and went 3-for-4 in steal attempts, but he generally looked over-matched at the plate. He's still got time to learn and develop, though, as he's only got 28 Triple-A games under his belt and the A's already have Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld providing similar skill sets in Oakland in 2015. He'll play in Nashville this year, and at some point you'll see him in the bigs briefly when another outfielder has to go on the DL. Here's a quick rundown on him:

Billy Burns, OF | Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25


Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 20 | Run: 80 | Arm: 30 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Though Burns lasted 32 rounds in the 2011 Draft, the Nationals enticed him to sign for $75,000, and they got him to resume switch-hitting in pro ball after he had abandoned it at Mercer. Burns broke out in 2013 by ranking third in the Minors with 74 steals, and he ranked ninth with a .425 on-base percentage. Washington traded him to the A's in December for Jerry Blevins.

The son of former New York Jets running back Bob Burns, Billy has top-of-the-scale speed, and he focuses on maximizing it. He uses a patient and contact-oriented approach to get on base and create havoc. Burns has the potential to become Oakland's most dynamic basestealing threat since Rickey Henderson.

Burns' style leaves him with next to no power, and some scouts wonder if pitchers will be able to overwhelm him at the big league level. His speed allows him to cover lots of ground in center field, though he lacks some defensive polish. The Nats often deployed Burns in left field. Burns lacks arm strength, but he tries to make up for it by getting to balls quickly.


Here are our other current candidates:

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.

Dustin Driver, RHP | Expected level: Low-A or AZL Rookie | Age 20

From Bill Moriarty of Athletics Farm

Driver was an aggressive, hard-throwing high-schooler out of Washington who looked like a UCLA-commit before the A's drafted him in the 7th round in 2013 and convinced him to go the pro route with an approximate half-million-dollar bonus. The 20-year-old is a high-ceiling power arm who's had trouble staying healthy and staying on the mound. He's appeared in just 7 Arizona League games since the A's drafted him. But when healthy, he flashes an impressive low-to-mid-90s fastball and has a potentially solid slider and changeup that can only get better with more time on the mound. A back issue and a prolonged illness caused Driver to miss out on 2014 entirely, but the hope is that he can stay on the mound and show what he can do in 2015.

From Chris Kusiolek of The Afroed Elephant (click the link for more!)

[Driver] instantly burst forth and showcased a heavy 94-96 MPH fastball while topping 97 MPH ... with outstanding sequencing off the changeup and slider ... Driver, possessing the physique of a linebacker, has flashed an enticing 65-55-50+ projected repertoire ... With these attributes established, Driver has definitively asserted himself as a fringe potential #2 starter.


There could still be some strength plopped onto an already extremely athletic frame for the 20-year-old, listed at 6'2, 215 pounds and chiseled, but he's likely filled out to the extent one shall see another half-decade into the future. Questions still surround the hurler with zero extensive experience and durability still having yet to be witnessed, but with a frame presenting athletic projection, sustainability ought to develop as the righty contends for an upcoming Beloit rotation assignment with his fellow rehabilitating 2013 high school draftee in Chris Kohler. With a repeatable and athletic delivery, Driver at the very least figures to play as a late-inning bullpen asset should his rotation potential not materialize.

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


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


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.


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