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The Daily Bernie, 7/16/15: Oakland A's midseason top prospect update - hitters

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Wednesday was a very slow day for any kind of baseball news, so today's Daily Bernie will be an update on how some of the bigger bats in Oakland's farm system have been doing as of late. (All stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com)

Renato Nunez, looking as confident as always.
Renato Nunez, looking as confident as always.
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to The Daily Bernie! It's the best dance in the game, so let's get rolling once more!

Franklin Barreto, SS - Barreto has bounced back from a poor start in full-season ball to become one of the organization's hottest hitters. Still just 19 years of age, Barreto has recovered from an atrocious slash line of .171/.205/.243 in April, slashing an absurd .342/.372/.554 since May 1st. This improvement has made Barreto into a consensus Top 50 prospect in midseason rankings (22nd by BaseballAmerica23rd per MinorLeagueBall, and 48th at Baseball Prospectus). Barreto does have areas to improve - defense, discipline, baserunning - but overall has been very, very impressive for just a 19 year-old. The same can't be said for Oakland's other big-name top prospect...

Matt Olson, 1B - ...first baseman Matt Olson. Things aren't going quite as well for Olson. After mashing 37 dingers in High-A Stockton in 2014, Olson has sent only eight over the fence in Double-A Midland thus far in 2015. The 22 year-old's walk rate is exactly the same as it was in 2014 - a ridiculous 18.5% - but his strikeout rate has increased, from 21.6% to 24.1%. Olson actually started the season decently - .229/.388/.422 with seven of his homers through May - but has been awful since (.225/.351/.318, one home run). Olson will look to turn it around in the second half and prove he's the first baseman of the future for the A's, rather than...

Renato Nunez, 1B/3B - ...teammate Renato Nunez. After a breakout year in Stockton in 2014, mashing 29 homers and OPSing .853, Nunez has cooled off a bit in a new, more pitcher-friendly park in Double-A Midland (.748 OPS). However, Nunez is showing great improvement elsewhere - he is walking at his highest clip since 2012, and striking out at the lowest rate of his career. A .257 BABIP hasn't helped Nunez, who, at 21, could receive a September call-up, as he is already on the 40-man roster. Renato has played mostly third base, but is likely a first baseman long-term. His positional shift would open up third base for...

Matt Chapman, 3B - ...perhaps the best fielder in Oakland's system, Matt Chapman. Chapman has been one of the Athletics' most pleasant surprises of 2015, as the 2014 first-round pick has hit an organization-leading 16 home runs in only 60 games. Chapman hasn't let his late start to the season (sprained knee) affect him, as he is now slashing .254/.350/.540 for High-A Stockton. However, will he struggle at Double-A in 2016, like Matt Olson has? Or will perhaps improve, like...

Chadwick Pinder, 2B/SS - ...middle-infielder Chad Pinder has? (Note - Pinder has an 80-grade name and don't let anyone tell you different.) After a solid 2014 in which he was overshadowed by ex-A's-farmhand Daniel Robertson, Pinder has improved in a tougher league and tougher hitting environment. His OPS has fallen (.824 to .799), but his walk rate has increased, his strikeouts have decreased, and wRC+ and wOBA say he has improved. Pinder has continued to show the potential for double-digit home runs and stolen bases. The middle infielder will find a place in Oakland if he keeps hitting like he is, but not if...

Joe Wendle, 2B - ...fellow second baseman Joey Wendle can do anything about it. Wendle has been a bit of a disappointment so far for Triple-A Nashville, slashing only .257/.295/.393 and, unlike other A's prospects, walking less than usual and striking out more. However, if he can increase the walk rate a considerable amount, the line won't be too different from that of former Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis, in his first stint in Triple-A (.273/.351/.417). Granted, I don't think Wendle will be as good as our unicorn once was, but he does have a great makeup and some nice potential if he can just put it all together. Speaking of high potential...

Yairo Munoz, SS - ...shortstop Yairo Munoz definitely has one. However, he'll have to work hard if he wants to reach it. The 20 year-old (yes, more than a full year older than Barreto) is struggling in A-Ball, slashing only .229/.267/.351. A .249 BABIP doesn't help, and Munoz has hit an impressive eight home runs and plays solid defense, but things aren't looking great, as he is staring up at a long list of names ahead of him on the middle-infield depth chart. Another guy facing a similar scenario is...

Rangel Ravelo, 1B/3B - ...corner infielder Rangel Ravelo. Ravelo has finally returned to Double-A Midland after rehabbing from a preseason wrist injury. He hasn't played enough for the stats to mean much, but for what it's worth, he has hit very well in his first 13 games back, between Rookie ball and Double-A. If he continues this hot streak, he could end up on Oakland's bench in September, but Ravelo doesn't seem to have a clear long-term path, unlike...

B.J. Boyd, Jaycob Brugman, and Brett Vertigan, OF - ...this trio of lower-level outfielders. Oakland's system as a whole is lacking high-end outfield talent beyond Billy Burns, meaning these three have a big opportunity in front of them if they can develop their skills. Each feature nice speed and contact, a little power, decent discipline, and solid defense. Boyd and Vertigan are in High-A (and could warrant a promotion soon), and Brugman is in Double-A. None are lighting the world on fire, but none need will need to in order to receive an opportunity in Oakland somewhere down the road. Looking a little deeper down in the system, you'll find...

Sandber Pimentel, 1B - ...first baseman Sandber Pimentel, down in A-Ball. The 2012 international signing got off to a blazing hot start to 2015 (.275/.369/.506, nine home runs through May) but has cooled considerably since (.221/.304/.274 with one home run since June 1). Pimentel, 20 (EIGHTEEN MONTHS older than Barreto), still has plenty of time to find some consistency and open some more eyes. And finally, looking even further, we'll find...

Richie Martin, SS - ...2015 first round pick Richie Martin. Martin is slashing .283/.389/.522 with two home runs over eleven Low-A games and, as a 20 year-old (FOURTEEN MONTHS OLDER than Barreto) selected out of college, Martin could move through the system quickly. He has passed the eye test by all reports, and will certainly be one to keep an eye on.

Bernie's Daily Deal: Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard to the Washington Nationals for Joe Ross, Brian Goodwin, and Drew Vettleson

Ah, back to normal trade ideas, after yesterday's admitted stupidity with the Tulowtizki proposal.

The Nationals have repeatedly shown interest in super-utility man Ben Zobrist and having a reunion with reliever Tyler Clippard. The Nats, hoping to go all-in before several notable players depart via free agency, would become the hands-down most complete team in baseball after this move. They would add depth to both their bullpen and all around the diamond.

In return, the A's would receive a mulligan and two reclamation projects. Joe Ross is the younger brother of former Athletic Tyson Ross (whom the A's seem to have given up on too quickly). The younger Ross, 22, is similar to Tyson in his handedness (righty), height (tall), and dependence on his slider, but Tyson does throw harder. Joe dominated in three starts for the Nationals this year (23 strikeouts against only two walks in 20.1 innings) but was then sent back down to Triple-A. He seems more than capable of helping the A's major league club right away. Joining Ross are two lefty-hitting outfielders, Drew Vettleson and Brian Goodwin. Vettleson has decent power potential and Goodwin has nice speed and defense, but both are struggling in Double-A in 2015. However, if the A's could turn either around, they would have a nice piece to slot into an otherwise barren outfield of the future.

That's all for today. Again, no baseball until tomorrow, unless you'd like to follow A's minor league infielder Andy Parrino as he stars for the U.S. in the Pan-Am Games semi-final at 9:00 A.M. PST (not broadcast on TV). Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until tomorrow - lean on, A's fans!