The first edition of our 2016 Oakland A's Community Prospect List received nearly 1,000 votes. By the end of Sunday, pitcher Sean Manaea held a slim lead of only a dozen over infielder Franklin Barreto (404-392). That's awfully close, but it's worth noting that Manaea consistently held the lead throughout -- rather than seesawing back and forth with Barreto, his lead merely seesawed between 10 and 20 votes all weekend (Barreto finally got it within single digits Monday morning, but it's too little too late). The current list:
1. Sean Manaea, LHP
When ranking prospects, there is always a balance between a player's ceiling and his proximity to MLB. Some folks prefer the allure of elite talent even if it is multiple years away from the bigs, and others prefer the greater certainty of a player whom they can envision helping in the Majors that season. In this case, Athletics Nation opted toward the latter, if ever so slightly. Manaea and Barreto are both high-ceiling players, but based on the general conversation in the comments section it sounds like Manaea got the extra push he needed in the vote because of the chance he could graduate to the MLB club in 2016. Barreto will likely top the lists from some other sources in the coming months, but Athletics Nation is going with the more advanced prospect this time.
For those unfamiliar with Manaea, he is a big lefty starting pitcher with an even bigger fastball. He's missed some time to injuries, but they haven't always been arm-related, for what that's worth. He came to Oakland from Kansas City in July in the Ben Zobrist trade, and proceeded to dominate the Double-A Texas League and then the Arizona Fall League. He'll probably begin the year in Triple-A while the rest of the rotation's question marks are resolved, but you'll see him this spring and it's entirely realistic that he could be in green and gold by midseason.
This next ballot will not last as long as the first one did, so make sure to cast your vote and make your nomination(s) as soon as you can!
Here is the process:
- Five nominees will appear on the ballot. The one who receives the most votes earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by the next nominee.
- In the comments, commenters will nominate a player to be put onto the ballot for 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 comment. The player with the most Rec's earns the nomination.
- 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 rank.
★ ★ ★
The new nominee is infielder Renato Nunez. He was actually tied with fellow infielder Chad Pinder at the end of Sunday night, but someone gave Nunez one more Rec this morning so I went with him. Whoever that was, you can forever hereafter say that, at least once in your life, your vote truly counted.
Nunez quietly had an excellent season in 2015, including a leading role in Double-A Midland's championship run and a successful showing in the Arizona Fall League. In the regular season he cut his strikeout rate for the second straight year, and he's now progressed from a 25% rate for Single-A Beloit in 2013 to a 16% rate in Double-A. Meanwhile, he maintained his power to the tune of a .202 isolated slugging percentage despite pitcher-friendly conditions. On the downside, he missed some time to injuries, but they were of the nagging variety and don't seem to be long-term concerns. On defense he started making appearances at 1B for the first time, though he still played the majority of his time at the hot corner. It's unclear what position he'll play in the future, but his bat makes him a serious prospect. He is on the 40-man roster already and this will be his second option year.
Renato Nunez, 1B/3B
Expected level: Triple-A | Age 22
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 416 PAs, 124 wRC+, 18 HR, 6.7% BB, 15.9% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Thanks to the bat speed Nunez produces, he has significant raw power and is capable of driving the ball out to all fields. Like many young hitters, his approach is a bit inconsistent, and he can get caught up trying to pull everything. But when he's at his best, he uses the whole field to hit and does a good job of hunting fastballs he can drive.
Defensively, Nunez remains a work in progress. He's shown signs he's getting better and dramatically cut down on his errors in 2014. The A's began playing him some at first base for the first time in 2015.
★ ★ ★
Here are our other current candidates:
Franklin Barreto, SS/CF
Expected level: Double-A | Age 20
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 364 PAs, 122 wRC+, 13 HR, 4.1% BB, 18.4% Ks
Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 60
Barreto is an aggressive hitter but has a knack for putting the bat on the ball. His compact swing and quick hands allow him to consistently make hard contact. He has more home-run power than most middle infielders and is a plus runner.
In the field, Barreto isn't as advanced. He has good range and a strong arm, but he's very erratic and lacks the natural actions of a shortstop. He's just a teenager, however, and will get every opportunity to prove he can stick at the position.
★ ★ ★
Matt Olson, 1B/OF
Expected level: Triple-A | Age 22
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 585 PAs, 132 wRC+, 17 HR, 17.9% BB, 23.8% Ks
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 65 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Olson's best tool is his power, and he finished third in the Minor Leagues with 37 home runs in 2014. He is also an extremely disciplined hitter, and his 117 walks led the Minors last year. While he has worked to shorten his swing, there will always be some swing-and-miss in his game, and he has struck out more than 135 times in each of his first two full professional seasons.
A two-way player in high school, Olson has above-average arm strength, and the A's have tried him in the outfield. He's also become a capable first baseman and has the power to profile at the position.
★ ★ ★
Matt Chapman, 3B
Expected level: Double-A| Age 23
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 352 PAs, 139 wRC+, 23 HR, 11.1% BB, 22.4% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 70 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50
Strong and athletic, Chapman possesses significant physical tools. Though his swing is geared for hitting line drives, he's improving his ability to get to his raw power during games. He did a good job of controlling the strike zone in college, but after striking out in 21 percent of his plate appearances during his debut, he still needs to show he can make consistent contact against professional pitching.
Chapman's hands, actions and arm strength make him an excellent defender at third base. If he can get to his power more consistently, he'll fit the third-base profile to a T.
★ ★ ★
Jacob Nottingham, C
Expected level: Double-A? High-A? | Age 21
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 182 PAs, 107 wRC+, 3 HR, 6.6% BB, 20.9% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50
Nottingham's power is his ticket to the big leagues. He's very strong and has a quick right-handed stroke, allowing him to drive balls great distances. He's improving his plate discipline and has a chance to become an average hitter.
Whether Nottingham can stay behind the plate remains to be seen, but he has gotten better as a catcher. He has enough arm strength but must continue to clean up his receiving. He also has seen time at first base.
★ ★ ★
Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nomination(s) in the comments!