The MLB draft starts tonight at 4 PM (PST) and A's will have the 20th overall pick. They'll also make their second round pick tonight, which won't come around until pick 63.
They "won" the second pick of the competitive balance B round last summer -- a lottery that awards extra picks to low revenue and smaller market teams -- but they shipped that pick over to Boston along with Yoenis Céspedes for Jon Lester. (Boston then ceded the pick when it signed Pablo Sandoval.) The current CBA doesn't allow teams to extend qualifying offers to players acquired during the season, the reason Lester didn't come with a pick attached to him in free agency this offseason.
Here's a chart of the all the A's 2015 picks:
The Needs & The Fits
Let's start with what the A's don't need: third basemen. The system is rock solid, top-to-bottom, with third base talent. Brett Lawrie has taken the reins at the major league level, Renato Nuñez is doing well and Double-A Midland and last year's first round pick, Matt Chapman, now has eight home runs in 120 PA.
The A's are also in decent shape up-the-middle. Second baseman Chad Pinder is (quietly) having a strong season at Double-A Midland(.376 wOBA). In Stockton, shortstop Franklin Barreto, who doesn't turn 20 until next February, had an excellent May (.908 OPS) after a very forgettable April (.448) -- our own Jerry Brewer did some excellent work on him recently; find it here. Yairo Munoz is hitting for power in the pitcher haven Midwest league, piquing the interest of industry folk. He's playing short for Low-A Beloit now, but many think he ends up at a corner.
All said, you can never have enough middle infielders; and the system doesn't have a true shortstop, to boot. This could be a reason the A's have been linked to Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman, who has a chance to stick at the position.
Potential Fits: Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona; Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cin; Kyle Holder, SS, USD; Cornelius Randolph, SS, HS; Richie Martin, SS, Florida
The system's most obvious need is in the outfield. Mark Canha was our best outfield prospect heading into the year, and he was a Rule V pick. The A's have been content in recent years with trading for and signing fourth-outfielder chaff, but it wouldn't be surprising to see them grab an outfielder with their first pick. They've been linked to several, with early mock drafts linking them to North Florida outfielder Donnie Dewees and toolsy high-school outfielder Garret Whitley (who has since moved well up industry mock drafts.)
Potential fits: Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida; Garret Whitley, OF, HS; Kyle Tucker, OF, HS; Nick Plummer, OF, HS; D.J. Stewart, OF, FSU
Starting pitching is the system's second most obvious need. Former Oklahoma Sooner, Dillon Overton, is the system's highest upside arm. He's got a chance to be a good back-end starter, the case with most of the system's pitching talent. Last year, the A's drafted a slew of college arms with their second through fifth round picks, none of which has yielded positive on-field results. The A's could use a high-upside arm, and given the general obscurity around this draft, one could fall to them. They've been linked to UCLA's James Kaprielian and Vanderbilt's Walker Buehler in mock drafts, although both players could be drafted well before pick 20 rolls around. The A's haven't shown much interest in high schools arms in the past, but there should be a number of good ones when their first round pick rolls around. Former 1:1 Brady Aiken and pre-season 1:1 candidate Mike Matuella may be on the board when the A's pick, but they both underwent Tommy John Surgery this spring.
Potential Fits: James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA; Walker Buehler, RHP, Vandy; Kyle Funkhouse, RHP, Louisville; Phil Bickford, RHP, CC; Kolby Allard, LHP, HS; Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke;
Another of the system's weak spots is behind the plate. The system is totally barren of catchers with even a modicum of upside, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them pick one in the second or third round. This year's catching crop isn't especially robust, but they'll likely have a shot at four of the top five backstops on the board.
Potential Fits: Austin Rei, C, Univ of Wash; Chris Betts, C, HS; Taylor Ward, C, Fresno St.
A number of Bay Area kids will likely be drafted in the first few rounds today, including De La Salle's Justin Hooper, a 6-foot-7 lefty who is committed to UCLA and has been clocked as high as 97 mph, Gatorade California High School Player of the Year, RHP, Joe DeMers and UW catcher Austin Rei, who went to Campolindo High in Moraga — you can find an interview with him here.
Bay Area News Group's Jon Wilner published a list of 15 local kids who could get drafted.
You can watch the event live tonight at MLB.com. It starts at 7 PM EST (4PM PST).