Matt Chapman was the Oakland A's first-round draft pick in 2014, and he lived up to the hype in his first full season by posting a .907 OPS (139 wRC+) in High-A Stockton. That big debut was enough to keep him high on our prospect list, as he earned the No. 4 spot with 46% of the vote and a comfortable margin of victory. The current list, including their winning margins (the amount by which they won their elections, defined as a percentage of the total vote):
1. Sean Manaea, LHP (+1%)
2. Franklin Barreto, SS/CF (+70%)
3. Matt Olson, 1B/OF (+24%)
4. Matt Chapman, 3B (+26%)
Chapman can be summed up in three words: power, defense, and injuries. Let's go through that list backward. He missed significant time to two different DL stints last year, with a knee injury delaying the start of his year and a wrist injury ending his season early and costing him his spot in the Arizona Fall League. However, when healthy, he plays such excellent defense at third base that he's earned comparisons to six-time Gold Glover Eric Chavez -- in particular, Chapman's high-octane throwing arm earns high praise and he's said to have thrown a 98 mph fastball as a pitcher. No matter what happens with his bat, he should at least have one carrying skill thanks to his defense.
And that brings us to Chapman's power. The raw ability isn't in question, and he showed what he can do by smashing 23 homers in only 80 games for Stockton. That's a lot even for a hitter's league. But there are still questions about how much contact he'll be able to make at the higher levels, and it is that contact skill that currently appears to be the primary determinant of his future. If he can hit it, it should go far.
That means that he'll have quite a test ahead of him in 2016. Like Olson & Co. before him, Chapman will have to deal with making the tough jump to Double-A while also leaving cozy Stockton to brave the difficult environment of Midland and the Texas League. If he can prove himself at this next level, then perhaps we can stop talking about his Matt Dominguez floor and start asking if he'll be the next Chavez.
(One encouraging note: Chapman has already won a Texas League championship. After being drafted in 2014, he was brought up to Midland for their playoff run and ended up going 9-for-29 with two homers and a .961 OPS en route to the league title.)
I have a feeling this next vote might be closer, so it's going to run through the weekend. The next CPL will be out Monday, so don't waste any time making your nomination(s) and casting your vote!
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 first baseman Rangel Ravelo. After coming over from the White Sox in Shark Trade 2, he looked like he could challenge for a spot in Oakland sometime during the 2015 season. But a wrist injury during spring training required surgery, and the recovery cost him most of the season. He came back for the last couple months, but it was only long enough to reestablish that he had figured out Double-A and was ready for Triple-A, which is exactly where he'd been when he entered the campaign. And then, just when it looked like 2015 had been a lost year, Ravelo salvaged it by posting a league-leading 1.042 OPS in 55 games in the Venezuelan Winter League and winning its Productor Del Año award as the most productive player. He enters 2016 on a roll, and will once again be challenging for a job in Oakland this spring and/or throughout the summer.
Rangel Ravelo, 1B
Expected level: Triple-A? MLB? | Age 24
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 98 PAs, 139 wRC+, 2 HR, 9.2% BB, 17.3% Ks
2015 stats (Triple-A Nashville): 112 PAs, 86 wRC+, 1 HR, 6.3% BB, 19.6% Ks
2015 winter stats (LVBP): 229 PAs, .354/.480/.562, 8 HR, 17.9% BB, 14.0% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Ravelo understands the strike zone well, knows how to work a walk and makes consistent contact to all fields. While he has strength in his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, that has mostly translated to doubles in the Minor Leagues, as his 11 home runs in 2014 with Double-A Birmingham are his career high.
After beginning his professional career as a third baseman, Ravelo moved across the diamond in 2013. He's an adequate defender at his new position but faces a tough profile as a right-handed-hitting first baseman without much power.
★ ★ ★
Here are our other current candidates:
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.
★ ★ ★
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.
★ ★ ★
Chad Pinder, SS
Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 522 PAs, 135 wRC+, 15 HR, 5.4% BB, 19.7% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Thanks to his hand-eye coordination and bat speed, Pinder does a good job of putting the bat on the ball despite being something of a free swinger. He has some power, but his swing lends itself more to producing line drives than home runs.
Pinder was primarily a third baseman in college but also saw time at shortstop, and the A's have used him some at both positions. He moved to second base in 2014 in deference to Robertson, then shifted back to shortstop in 2015. Pinder's arm is strong enough for the left side of the infield, and his ability to play multiple positions will help him as he advances toward the Major Leagues in an organization that values versatility.
★ ★ ★
Yairo Munoz, SS
Expected level: High-A? Double-A? | Age 21
2015 stats (Single-A Beloit): 400 PAs, 84 wRC+, 9 HR, 5.5% BB, 15.5% Ks
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 165 PAs, 132 wRC+, 4 HR, 6.7% BB, 12.1% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Munoz has excellent athleticism and is an above-average runner. His raw tools give him significant upside, though he's still learning to harness them. He has some wiry strength and projects to hit for some power when he physically matures. Defensively, he has a chance to remain at shortstop. His quickness gives him good lateral range to go with his strong arm.
★ ★ ★
Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nomination(s) in the comments!