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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #8: Renato Nunez is one step away from MLB

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It might be time to start an office pool guessing which day Nunez will debut in Oakland.
It might be time to start an office pool guessing which day Nunez will debut in Oakland.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of some voting shenanigans, infielder Renato Nunez ran away with the No. 7 spot on our Community Prospect List. At the end of Wednesday night, he led the poll by a margin of more than 50% -- he was at 62%, and the next-closest vote-getter was at 11%. That kind of consensus could signal that the community sees a notable talent gap between these last few entrants and the group that will join next behind them -- just as Manaea and Barreto are clearly in a tier of their own above the Nos. 3-7 guys. 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%)
7. Renato Nunez, 1B/3B (51%)

This is actually a low ranking for Nunez. He placed No. 4 on the lists of John Sickels and Baseball America, and the only thing we all agree on is that he's behind Manaea and Barreto. In other words, he's part of that next tier down, with a bunch of other guys who are talented and promising but have some kind of big flaw. Are you more worried about Nunez's defensive future? Or Olson's ability to make contact in MLB? Or ditto that, but for Pinder? If we learned anything from Nottingham's snub on the BA top-10 list, it's that there are a lot of reasonable ways to order these guys ... as long as Barreto and Manaea are at the top in some order.

For his part, Nunez had a wonderful season in 2015, including a monster performance in the Double-A RockHounds' Texas League title run and a fine showing in the Arizona Fall League. In particular, there are two numbers I want to point out with Nunez. The first is his wRC+, which gives us some idea of how to compare stats across leagues and levels. His marks the last few years:

2013, Single-A: .258/.301/.423, 102 wRC+
2014, High-A: .279/.336/.517, 117 wRC+
2015, Double-A: .278/.332/.480, 124 wRC+

Not only is he moving up the minor leauge ladder each year, his numbers are actually getting better at each stop. Sure, the raw slugging percentage went down in 2015, but wRC+ is there to remind us that it's much easier to hit homers in Stockton than in Midland. This is most encouraging.

The second number to point out is his strikeout rate, which has been cited many times both on this site and elsewhere but still bears a mention. After fanning in a full quarter of his plate appearances in Single-A Beloit (25.0%), he cut that down to one-fifth of his plate appearances in High-A Stockton (20.1%), and then down below one-sixth in Double-A Midland (15.9%). Nunez derives most of his value from slugging rather than OBP, and an aggressive hitter like that has a much better chance of making it if he can also make lots of contact -- both to give himself more chances to show his power, and to reduce the number of at-bats he wastes striking out. This consistent reduction in K-rate is a great sign as he faces increasingly advanced pitching.

Each of those trends is encouraging on its own, but together they're even more powerful. Nunez keeps hitting better and better at each level, and he keeps doing less and less of the thing (striking out) that probably serves as the biggest roadblock for a hitter of his aggressive profile. Toss in the fact that he's always been younger than the vast majority of his competition, and you can see why the other sources rank him so high on their lists.

As for his lower spot on our CPL? It appears we're a bit harder on him for his defense, with most of us judging him like a 1B/DH type rather than a 3B. He'll start at Triple-A Nashville this year, once again as one of the youngest players in his league, and if he breezes through that test like he has the last few levels then he might just be one Alonso injury or Butler trade away from debuting in Oakland.

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 Dillon Overton. The left-hander returned from Tommy John surgery and met the first goal of recovery, which is staying healthy and putting in a full season. He also met the second goal by pitching well, and he did so despite the fact that he didn't feature the same velocity he'd had pre-TJS. If he stays in the high-80s then at least he's shown he can succeed in other ways, and if a couple of those missing MPH return over time then all the better. He could be in Triple-A this year, and John Sickels mentioned in his recent write-up that Overton "should be ready for a trial soon." Those are exciting words.

Dillon Overton, LHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 14 games, 3.82 ERA, 61⅓ ip, 59 Ks, 12 BB, 7 HR, 4.07 FIP
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 13 starts, 3.06 ERA, 64⅔ ip, 47 Ks, 15 BB, 4 HR, 3.34 FIP

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

Entering his junior season at Oklahoma, Overton was expected to be a first-round pick in the 2013 Draft. Instead it was his teammate Jon Gray who went third overall, while Overton slipped to the second round after he suffered an injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery.

Overton got back on the mound in June 2014 and pitched effectively in his return to action. His control looked as good as ever, though his stuff wasn't all the way back to his pre-injury form. At his best, his fastball has reached 95 mph, but he has worked mostly in the upper 80s since his elbow reconstruction. He can get swings and misses with both of his offspeed pitches.

Overton earns praise for his makeup and demeanor on the mound. He'll look to continue to regain his form as he gets further removed from his surgery.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

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.

★ ★ ★

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.

★ ★ ★

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

THE POLL HAS MOVED

The Poll Troll has ruined it. Look down the comment thread for my comments that say "Vote: (Player Name)" and Rec your favorite. Please only Rec one, just as you would have only voted once in the Poll.