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Oakland A's prospect watch: Jesus Lopez, Jose Torres have rising stocks

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Three of these four players are from Venezuela.
Three of these four players are from Venezuela.
Doug Benc/Getty Images

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 some prospects who didn't make our preseason list but are New International Standouts. There's an exceedingly good chance that you hadn't heard of these guys before the season, or even before today. Three of them had already made their U.S. debuts before the season, but they've each now established themselves at the Low-A level and are gaining steam as prospects. Two of them have even cracked the A's Top-30 rankings on MLB.com. These guys are low-level wild cards right now, but I'm feeling lucky so let's take a look at them.

In the next post, we'll run through a final handful of other players who bear mention for various reasons before getting to the 2015 draft and the July trade acquisitions.

International names entering the U.S. Picture

2B Jesus Lopez (Low-A Vermont)
LHP Jose Torres (High-A Stockton)
RHP Angel Duno (Low-A Vermont)
RHP Carlos Navas (High-A Stockton)

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2B Jesus Lopez

Current level: Low-A (Vermont Lake Monsters)

2015 Low-A stats: 191 PAs, .205/.230/.232, 38 wRC+, 0 HR, 5 BB, 37 Ks

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 45 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45 (via MLB.com)

I really shouldn't even have posted his stats at Vermont. Lopez is on this list because of potential, not current production. The Nicaraguan native is only 18 years old, with his next birthday in October, so age-wise it's like he was just drafted out of high school this summer and is forgoing his freshman year of college this fall. He's the youngest player on the Lake Monsters' roster by more than 16 months, with the next-closest being 2014 sixth-round pick Trace Loehr (a shortstop out of high school). After Loehr on the age list comes Chris Kohler, whose professional career has barely begun, and this year's first-round pick Richie Martin, who is nearly two years older than Lopez. The fact that this guy is even in Vermont yet at all is the most important part of his stat line, along with the hefty $950,000 bonus the A's signed him for in 2013.

With that in mind, MLB.com has Lopez as the No. 18 prospect in Oakland's system in their midseason update, quite a jump from his No. 49 spot in Oakland Clubhouse's wonderfully thorough preseason list. Here's a little taste (via MLB.com):

Lopez didn't take up switch-hitting until late in his amateur career, but his natural feel at the plate made him a quick study. He has an advanced approach at the plate for a teenager and projects to develop some power as he physically matures.

When he was signed back in 2013, Ben Badler of Baseball America was encouraged by his "sweet swing and an advanced offensive approach," and before the 2015 season Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs noted Lopez's "advanced feel for the game and making contact." He has played shortstop in the past, but these reports seem to agree that his future lies at second base.

Don't think too much about Lopez yet. He's a teenager who is still growing up and filling out, all while moving from his home country to the Untied States. Just keep his name in your back pocket and check back next year to see how he has progressed.

LHP Jose Torres

Current level: High-A (Stockton Ports)*

* Torres was promoted to High-A Stockton about three hours after I posted this article.

2015 Single-A stats: 44 games, 2.69 ERA, 73⅔ innings, 80 Ks, 23 BB, 4 HR, 3.02 FIP
2015 High-A stats: Has not appeared yet

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45 (via MLB.com)

Torres is more advanced than Lopez. He's 21 years old, and he's in his fifth professional season and fourth season in the U.S. To put that in perspective, he was signed at the same time as Renato Nunez. The lefty was initially a starter, but he has transitioned to full-time relief work with the Single-A Beloit Snappers.

After a strong season out of Beloit's bullpen, MLB.com currently ranks Torres as the A's No. 23 prospect, ahead of fellow pitchers R.J. Alvarez (24), Daniel Mengden (25), Bobby Wahl (26), and Brendan McCurry (30). From MLB.com:

Torres fastball made a jump in the Venezuelan Winter League last offseason and he has maintained his increased velocity this season. He usually sits at 92-94 mph and peaks at 96. He's seeking more consistency with his slider to give him a reliable second pitch.

Torres also has a changeup that he hasn't used as much since becoming a full-time reliever this year. In addition to his fastball, he also has improved his control and command, as he's throwing more strikes and more quality strikes. If he keeps this up, he could emerge as a set-up man in the big leagues one day.

That report isn't kidding about Torres' increased velocity -- Oakland Clubhouse described him as "high-80s, touching 90 on occasion" as recently as Sept. 2014. He's tall, he throws hard, and he throws strikes. I don't know a whole lot about this guy yet, but there seems to be a lot to like. (UPDATE, 1:00 p.m. PT: The A's must agree, because they promoted him to High-A Stockton on Monday about three hours after I posted this article, via Melissa Lockard.)

Here's a photo of Torres pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2014:

RHP Angel Duno

Current level: Low-A (Vermont Lake Monsters)

2015 Low-A stats: 5 starts, 5.62 ERA, 24 innings, 9 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HR, 3.91 FIP

You can thank AN member "franks a lot" for pointing out Duno in a comment recently and getting me to take a look at him. Franks a lot, buddy!

I know even less about Duno than I do about the previous two youngsters, and this time I don't have an MLB.com scouting report to fall back on because he isn't in their Top 30. The Venezuelan right-hander is 21 years old, which makes him the same age as most of Oakland's 2015 draft picks -- he's a month younger than fifth-rounder Kevin Duchene, and five days older than fourth-rounder Skye Bolt.

Duno spent three seasons in the short-season Dominican Summer League (Rookie ball), but in 2015 he made the jump to the Arizona Rookie League. I'm not big on Rookie League numbers, but Duno's 35 strikeouts to 3 walks (in 40 innings) certainly open the eyes. That performance earned him a promotion to Vermont to join most of the 2015 draft class, and it took until his fifth start to issue his first walk. Unfortunately, he also got rocked in that fifth start and his 3.32 ERA shot up to 5.62, and on top of that his strikeout rate is awfully low. But one walk in 24 innings still gets my attention.

And honestly, that is the extent of my knowledge about him. I don't know what he throws or how hard he throws it, so we'll have to wait until more info comes out to find out what to make of these intriguing stats. At 6'0, 180, is he destined for the bullpen? Or is he the kind of efficient pitch-to-contact guy who can eat innings in a rotation? Your guess is as good as mine at the moment. At this point, though, I think we can safely deduce that he knows how to throw strikes.

Here's a pic of Duno in Arizona:

RHP Carlos Navas

Current level: High-A (Stockton Ports)

2015 Single-A stats: 44 games, 2.61 ERA, 58⅔ innings, 69 Ks, 18 BB, 2 HR, 2.70 FIP
2015 High-A stats: 4 games, 3.86 ERA, 7 innings, 7 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR, 5.35 FIP

Like with Duno, I know little about Navas except for his numbers. He spent three seasons with Oakland's Dominican Rookie League team, two more in the Arizona Rookie League, and then made it to full-season ball in Beloit this year at age 22 in his sixth pro campaign. He responded by striking out everything in sight, over a quarter of the batters he faced and nearly four for every walk. Even with a pedestrian hit rate he maintained a great ERA, and in mid-August the Venezuelan found himself promoted to High-A Stockton.

That promotion is the reason I included Navas in this post. He's older than the three preceding players, and in fact he turned 23 a couple weeks ago, but he's an appropriate age for his level and this is still his first taste of full-season ball. We're talking about an A-ball reliever here, and an as-yet unheralded one at that, but he's a guy to keep an eye on in 2016.

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The categories:

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
- New International Standouts
- Final Names of Note
- The 2015 Draft
- The New Acquisitions

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The List

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). At the end you will find the three players from today's post, labelled SU (Stepping Up).

* The following recent transactions are not reflected: None at this time ... Rangel Ravelo (AAA), Ryan Dull (AAA), Dillon Overton (AA), Brendan McCurry (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, and Tyler Ladendorf 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: None ... Old injuries: Franklin Barreto (wrist), Matt Chapman (left wrist), Kendall Graveman (oblique), Bobby Wahl (undisclosed) ... Back from the DL: Renato Nunez (hamstring) ... Misc.: Kevin Duchene hasn't pitched since Aug. 11.

Oakland A's 2015 Community Prospect List (stats thru Aug. 30)
# Name Pos Age Level 2015 Stats
1 Matt Olson 1B 21 AA 557 PAs, 127 wRC+, 16 HR, 18.3% BB, 23.9% 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 382 PAs, 117 wRC+, 16 HR, 7.1% BB, 15.7% Ks
5 Dillon Overton LHP 23 AA 11 starts, 3.60 ERA, 55 ip, 35 Ks, 14 BB, 4 HR, 3.72 FIP
6 Kendall Graveman^ RHP 24 MLB 21 starts, 97 ERA+, 115⅔ ip, 2.03 K/BB, 4.59 FIP, 0.4 fWAR
7 Yairo Munoz SS 20 A+ 141 PAs, 124 wRC+, 4 HR, 3.5% BB, 12.1% Ks
8 Sean Nolin LHP 25 AAA 13 games, 2.95 ERA, 42⅔ ip, 32 Ks, 19 BB, 5 HR, 5.23 FIP
9 Raul Alcantara RHP 22 A+ 14 starts, 4.14 ERA, 45⅔ ip, 27 Ks, 8 BB, 3 HR, 4.10 FIP
10 Joey Wendle 2B 25 AAA 582 PAs, 96 wRC+, 8 HR, 3.4% BB, 18.2% Ks
11 R.J. Alvarez RHP 24 AAA 31 games, 4.11 ERA, 35 ip, 41 Ks, 17 BB, 2 HR, 3.53 FIP
12 Rangel Ravelo 3B 23 AAA 83 PAs, 109 wRC+, 1 HR, 6.0% BB, 19.3% Ks
13 Mark Canha 1B/OF 26 MLB 348 PAs, 102 wRC+, 10 HR, 6.0% BB, 20.4% Ks, 1.0 fWAR
14 Chad Pinder SS 23 AA 513 PAs, 137 wRC+, 15 HR, 5.5% BB, 19.7% Ks
15 Chris Bassitt RHP 26 MLB 15 games, 140 ERA+, 73⅓ ip, 2.35 K/BB, 3.85 FIP, 1.0 fWAR
16 Dustin Driver RHP 20 A- 12 games, 4.47 ERA, 46⅓ ip, 28 Ks, 31 BB, 4 HR, 5.50 FIP
17 Billy Burns OF 25 MLB 456 PAs, 105 wRC+, 25 SB, 4.8% BB, 15.1% Ks, 1.8 fWAR
18 Max Muncy 1B/3B 24 AAA 209 PAs, 106 wRC+, 4 HR, 12.0% BB, 23.9% Ks
19 Tyler Ladendorf IF/OF 27 AAA 86 PAs, 85 wRC+, 1 HR, 5.8 BB%, 25.6 K%
20 Daniel Gossett RHP 22 A 26 starts, 4.77 ERA, 139⅔ ip, 107 Ks, 51 BB, 16 HR, 4.57 FIP
21 Bobby Wahl^ RHP 23 AA 24 games, 4.18 ERA, 32⅓ ip, 36 Ks, 14 BB, 2 HR, 3.16 FIP
22 Chris Kohler LHP 20 A- 9 games, 5.23 ERA, 32⅔ ip, 34 Ks, 9 BB, 2 HR, 3.45 FIP
23 Pat Venditte SHP 30 MLB 13 games, 121 ERA+, 16⅓ ip, 2.50 K/BB, 4.23 FIP, 0.0 fWAR
24 Jaycob Brugman OF 23 AA 535 PAs, 104 wRC+, 5 HR, 11.0% BB, 15.9% Ks
25 Brett Graves RHP 22 A 26 starts, 5.02 ERA, 132⅔ ip, 88 Ks, 41 BB, 13 HR, 4.35 FIP
NR Bruce Maxwell C 24 AA 367 PAs, 85 wRC+, 2 HR, 10.4% BB, 13.9% Ks
NR Ryon Healy 3B/1B 23 AA 515 PAs, 115 wRC+, 10 HR, 5.6% BB, 14.8% Ks
NR Branden Kelliher RHP 19 N/A Arizona Rookie League
NR Dylan Covey RHP 23 A+ 25 starts, 3.75 ERA, 134⅓ ip, 95 Ks, 41 BB, 13 HR, 4.67 FIP
NR Sandber Pimentel 1B 20 A 455 PAs, 114 wRC+, 13 HR, 11.0% BB, 22.0% Ks
SU Colin Walsh 2B 25 AA 584 PAs, 165 wRC+, 13 HR, 19.2% BB, 21.4% Ks
SU Ryan Dull RHP 25 AAA 12 games, 1.13 ERA, 16 ip, 21 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 2.34 FIP
SU Brendan McCurry RHP 23 AA 12 games, 1.84 ERA, 14⅔ ip, 22 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR, 2.19 FIP
TR Sean Manaea LHP 23 AA 6 starts, 2.21 ERA, 36⅔ ip, 38 Ks, 15 BB, 3 HR, 3.58 FIP
TR Daniel Mengden RHP 22 A+ 7 starts, 3.43 ERA, 39⅓ ip, 38 Ks, 8 BB, 4 HR, 3.93 FIP
TR Casey Meisner RHP 20 A+ 6 starts, 3.29 ERA, 27⅓ ip, 20 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR, 3.56 FIP
TR Aaron Brooks RHP 25 MLB 5 games, 75 ERA+, 22 ip, 4.50 K/BB, 3.94 FIP, 0.4 fWAR
TR Jacob Nottingham C 20 A+ 151 PAs, 103 wRC+, 2 HR, 6.6% BB, 19.2% Ks
DR Richie Martin SS 20 A- 200 PAs, 118 wRC+, 2 HR, 11.5% BB, 20.5% Ks
DR Mikey White SS 21 A 109 PAs, 56 wRC+, 1 HR, 6.4% BB, 22.9% Ks
DR Skye Bolt CF 21 A- 170 PAs, 92 wRC+, 3 HR, 12.4% BB, 24.1% Ks
DR Kevin Duchene LHP 21 A- 8 games, 4.84 ERA, 22⅓ ip, 18 Ks, 9 BB, 2 HR, 4.34 FIP
DR Bubba Derby RHP 21 A- 11 games, 0.83 ERA, 32⅔ ip, 41 Ks, 8 BB, 2 HR, 2.47 FIP