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Athletics 2015 Community Prospect List #16: Chris Bassitt joins the list

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I've used up all my bass-related movie quotes, and it's still early March.
I've used up all my bass-related movie quotes, and it's still early March.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In the last installment, Chris Bassitt ran away with the No. 15 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)

Bassitt is the Wild Card of the A's pitching staff this year. OK, Wild Card is a bit of a loaded term right now. We'll go with the "key unknown." He might be a solid mid-rotation starter. He might be a decent reliever. He might be even less than that. Some see his flaws as permanent, others see upside that could be achieved with a bit of development. That's why Baseball America has him at No. 5 in the system and many in our community have been screaming to get him higher on our own list, whereas the other major sources have him languishing in the low-to-mid teens, similar to our No. 15 ranking. All we can say for sure is that he is MLB-ready, since he actually pitched in MLB last year (as a starter, no less) and performed well. If he starts in Triple-A then it won't be a waste of time because he has stuff to work on, but he could pitch in Oakland right now.

I'm a bit of a sucker for fringe MLB-ready players with upside, since during my lifetime the A's have relied almost completely on that type of player panning out and have had lots of success with that strategy. He already destroys right-handers, and to me that means his floor is as an excellent reliever. If he can learn to consistently retire lefties, then he could be a legitimate starter. This is what makes following the A's so fun -- there are always so many Bassitts to get excited about every year.

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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The new nominee is switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. If you don't know who Venditte is, then welcome to Athletics Nation! My name is Alex and you're going to love this site that you are visiting for the first time today. If you're concerned because you've never heard of a "switch-pitcher" and don't know what it is, then don't worry; it's totally not a thing and Venditte is the first in history. He pitches with both arms, and can switch from at-bat to at-bat. He's solid from both sides, but prefers lefty, and he's a sidearmer either way. He's also supposed to be the nicest, humblest guy ever, and while that may not count for much in October it certainly can't hurt in March. You may not be on the Venditte bandwagon and you may think he's more of a gimmick than a legitimate bullpen option, and that's your choice, but I prefer to stop and smell the roses now and then. Here's a quick rundown on him:

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.

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Here are our other current candidates:

Chris Bassitt | Expected level: Triple-A or MLB | Age 26

From MLB.com

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

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.

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

From MLB.com

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.

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