Before the season began, Athletics Nation voted on its annual Community Prospect List, ranking the 25 best players in the minors. With hope for the playoffs dwindling by the day, it's time for us to take a look at how those top prospects are doing. For the full 2015 list, as well as a list of the different categories that I've separated the prospects into, scroll to the bottom of the post.
Today, we will visit The Best of The Rest. These guys are the leftovers who didn't fit well into the other categories, and for the most part they are not high-profile prospects. One of them (Ladendorf) has already made his MLB debut, two are in Double-A Midland (Brugman, Maxwell), and the other two are in the lower levels (Pimentel, Kelliher). To be clear, he term "Best of The Rest" refers to the rest of the preseason list, not the rest of the A's farm system; as always, new prospects have emerged (like Colin Walsh and Ryan Dull), and we'll look at them next time in "Stepping Up in 2015."
To be honest, these will be some of the least exciting players in the series, but they're still worth taking a moment to look at. I've included a bit of extra info on them because they're also guys whom you probably don't know much about. Ladendorf in particular is highly relevant because he will almost certainly play for the A's again in 2015.
No. 19 -- Tyler Ladendorf
No. 24 -- Jaycob Brugman
NR -- Bruce Maxwell
NR -- Branden Kelliher
NR -- Sandber Pimentel
Lots of credit to Athletics Farm for helping out with info for this post, especially with interviews of Grady Fuson (A's special assistant, former A's Scouting Director and former Rangers Assistant General Manager), Ryan Christenson (Double-A Midland RockHounds manager), and Mike Gallego (A's 3B coach and infield coach).
No. 19: IF/OF Tyler Ladendorf
Current level: Triple-A (Nashville Sounds)
2015 Triple-A stats: 38 PAs, .314/.342/.343, 84 wRC+, 0 HR, 2 BB, 14 Ks
2015 MLB stats: 4 games, 2-for-10, 1 3B, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 4 positions, 0.1 fWAR
(Missed most of 2015 season due to ankle surgery)
Ladendorf was supposed to be a factor for the A's in 2015, and he even cracked the Opening Day roster (in Josh Reddick's brief absence) and made his MLB debut. However, he suffered an ankle injury later in April that required surgery and he didn't return until August. Honestly, the only reason he cracked this list at all is that the voting lasted into spring training, and he had something of a breakout Cactus League performance. If we'd finished the voting before the games started, there's a good chance he would have missed out on the top 25. He's 27 and he does not have a high ceiling -- it's his proximity to MLB that makes him interesting.
Still, that doesn't mean he doesn't have something to offer the A's. Ladendorf's identifying skill is his versatile defense, as he can more or less play every position and can apparently play most of them well. He's appeared at 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, and RF in his professional career, and in his four games in Oakland this season he managed to take the field at 2B, 3B, LF, and CF. Four positions in four games is impressive, even though he only got two innings apiece at most of them. Heck, he only played 24 innings overall. Here he is making a slick turn at second base:
Ladendorf's other skill is hitting left-handed pitching. Offense is not his strength overall, but year after year he posts exaggerated platoon splits with big OPS marks and great K:BB rates against southpaws. If he can continue to succeed in that niche in MLB, then it's easy to see how he could carve out a role as a platoon infielder or simply a super-utilityman. It's also easy to see how much he could have helped the 2015 A's, by easing the defensive pressure on Marcus Semien at shortstop or simply by collecting some hits against the lefties who terrorized Oakland hitters all year.
After missing more than three months with his ankle injury, Ladendorf returned to the field on Aug. 8 with a pair of games in Rookie Ball and then two more with High-A Stockton. In three games for Triple-A Nashville since his return, he's 3-for-13 with five strikeouts. I'd be pretty surprised if we don't see him in Oakland again in September, and as things currently stand he'll be competing for an MLB job again next spring.
No. 24: OF Jaycob Brugman
Current level: Double-A (Midland RockHounds)
2015 Double-A stats: 492 PAs, .249/.333/.371, 98 wRC+, 5 HR, 55 BB, 77 Ks
Brugman is not a high-profile prospect, but he's one of those guys to keep in the back of your mind as he works his way up the system. He proved himself at two Single-A levels in 2014, and at age 23 this year he joined some of his more esteemed 2013 draftmates (Pinder, Healy, Wahl), and even some top 2012 guys (Olson, Maxwell), on the climb up to Double-A. His power has plummeted after knocking 21 homers last year, but if you've been reading this series then that should come as no shock to you since he's playing his home games in pitcher-friendly Midland of the Texas League. Here are a couple of brief scouting reports from someone who knows a lot more than I do about Brugman:
Jaycob Brugman 3B. Avg run w/ avg frame, some bulk in waist. Up to avg BS w/ better selection, feel; shows shortness to. + arm. Role 4 type— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) May 31, 2015
(Note: The "3B" in the above tweet refers to the fact that Brugman had just hit a triple, not that he was playing third base.)
Jaycob Brugman with another good go. Quick into zone, shortness w/ avg bat speed; barrel feel, avg raw. + arm, avg run. Like him as a 4/5 OF— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) April 26, 2015
If that's a bit too technical for you, here is MLB.com giving basically the same report but in normal English instead of Scoutese (he started the year at No. 22 on their list and is currently No. 21):
Brugman couples a smooth left-handed swing with good patience at the plate. As he showed in 2014, he's capable of driving balls out of the park, but he's more likely to end up as an average power hitter than a masher.
The A's have used Brugman in all three outfield positions. He has solid defensive tools and likely fits best in one of the corners.
You know who he sounds like to me, just based on numbers and reports? Seth Smith. (As a best-case ceiling, of course.) Maybe not exactly, but in general spirit -- lefty, good discipline, a bit of power, decent outfielder. That would fit in with Kusiolek's valuation of him as a potential 4th/5th outfielder. He's only in his second full pro season and he's already in Double-A, so you can't just immediately write him off as a non-prospect like you can with a guy who has been bouncing around for a while or is a few years too old for his league. And while his power has dipped in Midland, his strikeout and walk rates have both improved significantly.
Players drafted in the 17th round are longshots to even make MLB at all, but it's not impossible to find a gem that late -- Russell Martin, Ian Kinsler, Lorenzo Cain, and Josh Reddick were all picked there from 2002-06, but the only 17th-rounder since '06 to earn even 1.0 career bWAR has been Mitch Moreland. Improbable, but not impossible. Like I said, don't start writing him into your projected 2017 A's lineups, but keep an eye on him if you're checking the RockHounds' box scores anyway. Here's one last quote to tie things up, from Grady Fuson in April (via A's Farm):
He doesn't do anything over the top - there's not a lot of big things you see out of him. But you're talking about a guy who hits, he'll hit it out, he'll steal a base, he'll throw you out. He just does everything well.
NR: C Bruce Maxwell
Current level: Double-A (Midland RockHounds)
2015 Double-A stats: 337 PAs, .258/.336/.321, 87 wRC+, 2 HR, 35 BB, 47 Ks
Maxwell was a high draft pick in 2012 (4th round), but he hasn't done a whole lot in pro ball yet. He's ranged from decent to bad at the plate the last few years, and his 2015 stats looked much worse before he ripped off a .942 OPS in a dozen games in August -- his wRC+ was in the low 70s two weeks ago.
He managed to stay as high as No. 12 on the MLB.com preseason A's prospect list, but he failed to crack our list at all. After another lackluster campaign, though, MLB.com has dropped him down to No. 28, which gives a good idea about what has happened to his stock this year. To summarize his game, he's a big boy (6'2, 235) who hit for power in college but hasn't brought it with him to the pros yet. He's got plate discipline, though, and in particular he's lowered his strikeout rate in Double-A despite not hitting well overall. It sounds as if the A's drafted him more because of his hitting than his catching, but all reports indicate that his defense is developing and all of MLB.com, Grady Fuson (via AF), and manager Ryan Christenson (via AF) have specifically mentioned his throwing arm as a positive over the last couple years. The 24-year-old Maxwell may be slowly falling off the radar, with 2015 journeyman signee Carson Blair passing him on the way to Triple-A this year, but he's not gone yet.
NR: RHP Branden Kelliher
Current level: Arizona Rookie League
The A's drafted Kelliher in the 8th round out of high school last year, and the right-hander is still only 19 years old. I didn't bother posting stats for him because he is pitching in the Arizona Rookie League, and at that low of a level I just don't think it's worth even looking at the numbers. I'm more interested in eyeball accounts and scouting reports, so I'll let some other people do the talking for me on this one. Notice the dates on each tweet, as those are important.
First impression from after the draft:
.@Scotty_Ballgame The biggest "How the hell did this guy last until Round X?" moment I had here for AZl ball was Branden Kelliher.— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) September 11, 2014
Later that fall:
Branden Kelliher sitting 91-93 MPH, touching 94 with late life and sink. CB 75-77 and potential out pitch. CH 80-82. Getting weak contact— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) October 15, 2014
Entering the 2015 season (via Fangraphs):
Kelliher is a sub-6'0 prep righty from the 2014 draft that may end up a reliever, so he isn't exactly a flawless prospect. At his best, Kelliher sits 90-93 with a curveball that flashes 55 and an average to slightly above changeup, so the starter quality stuff is there. He'll sit 93-96 mph in short stints with a crisper curveball and there's some effort to his delivery, so relief seems like an option, but Kelliher will continue to develop as a starter to see if he can stick there.
From this summer:
Branden Kelliher 92-94 w/ good burst, action telegraph and shift on CB/CH. Arm strength, arm speed good. Release waver, LH better in 2nd— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) June 29, 2015
Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. He's super young, he's super inexperienced, he's at the lowest minor league level, and he's good-but-undersized (5'11). The range of possible outcomes is vast, but at least it includes him being a good pitcher someday. One thing I will note is that his late debut (June 23) is not a cause for concern -- the Arizona Rookie League doesn't begin until mid-June, and as I understand it he was simply in extended spring training until that time because he's a teenager and there's no rush.
Kelliher didn't make our preseason list, but he's here because he was No. 20 via Fangraphs and No. 27 via Oakland Clubhouse. The best writeup I can find about him comes from OC's Melissa Lockard (April 2015).
NR: 1B Sandber Pimentel
Current level: Single-A (Beloit Snappers)
2015 Single-A stats: 424 PAs, .243/.340/.387, 116 wRC+, 13 HR, 47 BB, 93 Ks
Pimentel is similar to Kelliher in that he's a super-young wild card. He's a 20-year-old out of the Dominican Republic (signed in Nov. 2011), but purely in terms of age you could think of him as a guy who was drafted out of high school a year or two ago and is now getting his first chance in full-season ball.
He's held his own this year, with a mammoth May buoying his overall numbers, and he's flashed serious power and decent plate discipline. A Twitter search for his name will yield countless glowing fan reports, but Chris Kusiolek notes deficiencies in his swing and calls his bat speed "fringy." Still, neither he nor anyone else doubts Pimentel's raw power, with MLB.com chiming in with this midseason report (they currently have him ranked No. 27):
Pimentel's carrying tool is his left-handed power to all fields. While he does have some swing and miss in his game, he also has promising feel for hitting and a willingness to draw walks when pitchers try to work around him.
He's big and strong and he likes to swing. He could turn into a fearsome slugger or whiff his way out of pro ball, or anything in between. But man, he's gonna be fun to watch in Stockton's Banner Island Ballpark next year, assuming he's promoted after what appears to have been a successful U.S. debut campaign.
(This tweet should tell you all you need to know about Pimentel without even seeing him swing.)
Check out this shift against Beloit's Sandber Pimentel: third base, shallow center, shallow right. (He homered.) pic.twitter.com/moJ77lv42J— Jesse G-S (@jgoldstrass) August 9, 2015
- The Graduates
- The MLB Pitching Depth
- The Young Hurlers
- The Even Younger Hurlers
- The Middle Infielders
- The Corner Sluggers: 1B
- The Corner Sluggers: 3B
- The Best of the Rest
- Stepping up in 2015
- The 2015 Draft
- The New Acquisitions
Each player is listed at the level at which he currently plays, and his stats only include his performance at that current level. The levels refer to the Nashville Sounds (AAA), the Midland RockHounds (AA), the High-A Stockton Ports (A+), the Single-A Beloit Snappers (A), and the short-season Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters (A-). For the hitters, I am going to focus less on raw numbers and more on league-adjusted stats (wRC+) and rates (K% and BB%).
The list has been expanded to include the five new July trade acquisitions (stats listed are since their acquisitions), as well as five of the top June draft picks (first six picks minus third-round pick Dakota Chalmers, who is still in Rookie ball).
* The following recent transaction is not reflected: Aaron Brooks demoted from MLB to AAA, but listed with his MLB stats because he will be back in Oakland soon ... Rangel Ravelo (AAA), Dillon Overton (AA), Yairo Munoz (A+), and Mikey White (A) received midseason promotions and I've only included their stats at their new, higher levels. ... R.J. Alvarez, Max Muncy, Tyler Ladendorf, and Aaron Brooks have all appeared in MLB this year but are currently back in the minors.
^ Player is currently on the disabled list. New additions since last update: Renato Nunez (hamstring strain) ... Old injuries: Franklin Barreto (wrist), Matt Chapman (left wrist), Bobby Wahl (undisclosed) ... Back from the DL: Sean Nolin (shoulder), Tyler Ladendorf (ankle; technically still on rehab), Dylan Covey (struck by liner) ... Misc.: Jacob Nottingham left the game on Wed., Aug. 19, with an undisclosed injury, though at this point he is not on the DL; Chris Kohler threw 24 pitches in relief on Aug. 20, his first appearance since July 26; Kevin Duchene hasn't pitched since Aug. 11.
|1||Matt Olson||1B||21||AA||517 PAs, 123 wRC+, 14 HR, 17.6% BB, 24.4% Ks|
|2||Franklin Barreto^||SS||19||A+||354 PAs, 119 wRC+, 12 HR, 4.2% BB, 18.4% Ks|
|3||Matt Chapman^||3B||22||A+||340 PAs, 148 wRC+, 23 HR, 11.5% BB, 22.6% Ks|
|4||Renato Nunez^||3B||21||AA||364 PAs, 112 wRC+, 15 HR, 6.9% BB, 16.2% Ks|
|5||Dillon Overton||LHP||23||AA||9 starts, 4.40 ERA, 45 ip, 28 Ks, 11 BB, 4 HR, 3.95 FIP|
|6||Kendall Graveman||RHP||24||MLB||20 starts, 92 ERA+, 109⅔ ip, 2.00 K/BB, 4.69 FIP, 0.2 fWAR|
|7||Yairo Munoz||SS||20||A+||92 PAs, 115 wRC+, 2 HR, 4.3% BB, 13.0% Ks|
|8||Sean Nolin||LHP||25||AAA||11 games, 2.52 ERA, 35⅔ ip, 28 Ks, 18 BB, 3 HR, 4.99 FIP|
|9||Raul Alcantara||RHP||22||A+||13 starts, 4.22 ERA, 42⅔ ip, 27 Ks, 7 BB, 3 HR, 4.03 FIP|
|10||Joey Wendle||2B||25||AAA||534 PAs, 90 wRC+, 7 HR, 3.6% BB, 18.2% Ks|
|11||R.J. Alvarez||RHP||24||AAA||27 games, 3.94 ERA, 32 ip, 40 Ks, 14 BB, 0 HR, 2.52 FIP|
|12||Rangel Ravelo||3B||23||AAA||23 PAs, 65 wRC+, 1 2B, 1 3B, 0.0% BB, 22.2% Ks|
|13||Mark Canha||1B/OF||26||MLB||308 PAs, 103 wRC+, 9 HR, 6.8% BB, 19.8% Ks, 0.9 fWAR|
|14||Chad Pinder||SS||23||AA||470 PAs, 138 wRC+, 14 HR, 5.5% BB, 20.0% Ks|
|15||Chris Bassitt||RHP||26||MLB||13 games, 151 ERA+, 62⅓ ip, 2.94 K/BB, 3.66 FIP, 1.0 fWAR|
|16||Dustin Driver||RHP||20||A-||11 games, 4.60 ERA, 43 ip, 26 Ks, 23 BB, 4 HR, 5.14 FIP|
|17||Billy Burns||OF||25||MLB||414 PAs, 103 wRC+, 24 SB, 5.1% BB, 15.5% Ks, 1.5 fWAR|
|18||Max Muncy||1B/3B||24||AAA||195 PAs, 106 wRC+, 4 HR, 12.3% BB, 24.1% Ks|
|19||Tyler Ladendorf||IF/OF||27||AAA||38 PAs, 84 wRC+, 0 HR, 5.3 BB%, 36.8 K%|
|20||Daniel Gossett||RHP||22||A||24 starts, 5.26 ERA, 126⅔ ip, 101 Ks, 50 BB, 16 HR, 4.72 FIP|
|21||Bobby Wahl^||RHP||23||AA||24 games, 4.18 ERA, 32⅓ ip, 36 Ks, 14 BB, 2 HR, 3.18 FIP|
|22||Chris Kohler||LHP||20||A-||7 games, 4.94 ERA, 31 ip, 32 Ks, 6 BB, 2 HR, 3.14 FIP|
|23||Pat Venditte||SHP||30||MLB||7 games, 408 ERA+, 9 ip, 1.33 K/BB, 4.67, 0.0 fWAR|
|24||Jaycob Brugman||OF||23||AA||492 PAs, 98 wRC+, 5 HR, 11.2% BB, 15.7% Ks|
|25||Brett Graves||RHP||22||A||24 starts, 5.17 ERA, 123⅔ ip, 77 Ks, 40 BB, 12 HR, 4.43 FIP|
|NR||Bruce Maxwell||C||24||AA||337 PAs, 87 wRC+, 2 HR, 10.4% BB, 13.9% Ks|
|NR||Ryon Healy||3B/1B||23||AA||470 PAs, 111 wRC+, 10 HR, 6.0% BB, 14.0% Ks|
|NR||Branden Kelliher||RHP||19||N/A||Arizona Rookie League|
|NR||Dylan Covey||RHP||23||A+||23 starts, 3.93 ERA, 121⅓ ip, 80 Ks, 41 BB, 13 HR, 4.99 FIP|
|NR||Sandber Pimentel||1B||20||A||424 PAs, 116 wRC+, 13 HR, 11.1% BB, 21.9% Ks|
|TR||Sean Manaea||LHP||23||AA||4 starts, 2.19 ERA, 24⅔ ip, 27 Ks, 8 BB, 3 HR, 3.79 FIP|
|TR||Daniel Mengden||RHP||22||A+||5 starts, 3.81 ERA, 28⅓ ip, 27 Ks, 5 BB, 4 HR, 4.32 FIP|
|TR||Casey Meisner||RHP||20||A+||3 starts, 5.84 ERA, 12⅓ ip, 5 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR, 5.70 FIP|
|TR||Aaron Brooks||RHP||25||*MLB||4 games, 65 ERA+, 16 ip, 4.67 K/BB, 4.55 FIP, 0.2 fWAR|
|TR||Jacob Nottingham||C||20||A+||113 PAs, 87 wRC+, 1 HR, 8.0% BB, 18.6% Ks|
|DR||Richie Martin||SS||20||A-||160 PAs, 125 wRC+, 2 HR, 12.5% BB, 21.3% Ks|
|DR||Mikey White||SS||21||A||79 PAs, 32 wRC+, 1 HR, 6.3% BB, 24.1% Ks|
|DR||Skye Bolt||CF||21||A-||144 PAs, 85 wRC+, 3 HR, 9.0% BB, 23.6% Ks|
|DR||Kevin Duchene||LHP||21||A-||8 games, 4.84 ERA, 22⅓ ip, 18 Ks, 9 BB, 2 HR, 4.30 FIP|
|DR||Bubba Derby||RHP||21||A-||9 games, 0.68 ERA, 26⅔ ip, 31 Ks, 6 BB, 1 HR, 2.24 FIP|