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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #7: Chad Pinder soars up list after MVP season

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Pinder had one of the best 2015 seasons of any A's prospect.
Pinder had one of the best 2015 seasons of any A's prospect.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After narrowly missing out in the previous vote, infielder Chad Pinder easily clinched the No. 6 spot on our Oakland A's Community Prospect List. He collected well over half of the 600 votes cast over the last two days. 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%)
5. Jacob Nottingham, C (+1%)
6. Chad Pinder, SS (+31%)

Let's step back and think about how far Pinder has come in the last 12 months. Although he was included in the top-10 lists from several sources in 2015, we ranked him only 14th on last year's CPL -- and that was within a weaker overall farm system than we see today. He has passed eight other prospects whom we ranked ahead of him last winter: Nunez, Overton, Munoz, Nolin, Alcantara, Wendle, Alvarez, and Ravelo. A couple of those names have fallen out of favor in their own rights, but most of them will still rank high on this list.

And what about Pinder's own merits? The best way I can think to illustrate his rising stock is by using John Sickels' grading system. To briefly paraphrase, he assigns an A grade to the elite prospects who profile as future stars and should at least be MLB regulars. The B guys probably have MLB careers, and some will become stars. The C prospects have strengths but are less certain, whether because of their corresponding weaknesses or simply because they are too far away from MLB to accurately predict. He also emphasizes: "A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars ... A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player."

That last part is particularly relevant here, as Pinder showed how Sickels' grades can change over time as a player develops. Last winter, he ranked Pinder 12th in Oakland's system and gave him a C+ grade. This time around, Pinder moved up to 6th and earned a solid B. That was the biggest jump of any A's prospect on Sickels' 2016 list.

It's no secret how Pinder got there, either. He was impressive in High-A Stockton in 2014, but after a move up the ladder to Double-A, and to a significantly tougher hitting environment in Midland, he performed even better in 2015. When the dust settled he'd earned MVP honors and a championship ring in the eight-team Texas League, and he wrapped up the year in the Arizona Fall League by collecting seven extra-base hits (including four homers) in 57 plate appearances. He started 2015 as an intriguing lotto ticket graduating from the low minors, and now we're talking about if he might find his way up to Oakland sometime in 2016.

Pinder raised his grade because his perceived strengths got even stronger despite tougher competition, but he's got a B grade instead of an A grade because a couple of big questions still remain. He has a tendency to be a free swinger, which has worked well for him to this point but can potentially become a problem as he faces top-level pitching that won't give in to him as easily. He also might not stick at shortstop, though it sounds like he has the range to cover second base and the arm to handle third base if he does indeed have to make a switch. But all we know for now is that Pinder has been tested at two minor league levels and has passed each one with flying colors, and that when faced with the toughest jump in the minors he actually got better. If he gets off to a good start in Triple-A in 2016, do you really want to bet against him to make it all the way to Oakland?

BONUS: Pinder signed autographs for us at AN Day in Stockton in 2014!

The next CPL will be out in a day or two, 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 starting pitcher Casey Meisner. The 6'7 right-hander arrived from the Mets in the deadline deal for Tyler Clippard, and at age 20 he slotted into the rotation in High-A Stockton. He stumbled in his first few outings, but in his final four starts combined he allowed two runs in 20 innings without walking a batter. Meisner's 2015 season was mostly about carefully stretching him out for his first full-time pro workload (143⅓ innings), but along the way he pitched quite well for three teams across two levels.

Casey Meisner, RHP

Expected level: High-A? Double-A? | Age 21

2015 stats (High-A, 2 teams): 13 starts, 2.81 ERA, 67⅓ ip, 47 Ks, 21 BB, 5 HR, 4.06 FIP*

* average between FIP marks from Stockton (Cal League) and St. Lucie (Florida State League), weighted for innings pitched

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

When Meisner first entered pro ball, he was throwing his fastball in the upper 80s, topping out at 90-91 mph. He's already taken a step forward, velocity-wise, throwing 90-94 mph last summer as a teenager in the New York-Penn League and using his large frame to create a good downhill angle. He complements the improving fastball with a big curve, and he has shown an excellent feel to spinning the ball. While his changeup is behind, he's shown some feel for the offspeed pitch as well. His overall pitchability and consistency in finding the strike zone are better than you'd think for a young pitcher of his size.

Further development of his secondary pitches will be key, but Meisner took another step in the right direction in full-season ball in 2015.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

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

From MLB.com:

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.

★ ★ ★

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

From MLB.com:

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.

★ ★ ★

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

From MLB.com:

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.

★ ★ ★

Richie Martin, SS

Expected level: High-A | Age 21

2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 226 PAs, 112 wRC+, 2 HR, 11.1% BB, 20.8% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50

Most college shortstops have to move to a less challenging position in pro ball, but that's not the case with Martin. His defensive ability is the main reason he went 20th overall in the 2015 Draft and collected a $1.95 million bonus.

With his quickness, range and arm strength, Martin can make all the plays needed from a shortstop. He had a tendency to make errors when he tried to do too much, but he settled down and did a better job of playing under control in 2015.

Martin was just decent offensively in three college seasons at Florida, though he did finish second in Cape Cod League batting race with a .364 average in 2014. He controls the strike zone reasonably well and has plus speed, so he might into the No. 2 slot in a big league batting order. He has modest power but won't get the bat knocked out of his hands.

★ ★ ★

Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nomination(s) in the comments!