Last time, shortstop Richie Martin became the first member of the Oakland A's 2015 draft class to join the Community Prospect List. The margins of victory are getting closer as we get further down the depth chart, which means every vote counts! 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%)
8. Yairo Munoz, SS (+14%)
9. Richie Martin, SS (+12%)
We're only nine players deep, and already we have four shortstops on the list. That's a good thing, because shortstop is one of the most important positions and finding guys who can play there is always tough -- if you end up with too many of them, then that's a great problem to have. Furthermore, players tend to move down the defensive spectrum as they move up the professional ladder, so the higher they start the higher they'll eventually settle. A shaky college third baseman might end up at first base, whereas a subpar shortstop can still find a good home at another valuable position.
Indeed, we can see that phenomenon taking place right here in Oakland's organization. Barreto hasn't played anywhere but shortstop in the minors, but he got some reps in center field this winter in Venezuela and there have been questions about his defensive future since the day he was acquired from Toronto. Pinder is on this list for his bat rather than his range at shortstop, and his strong throwing arm could land him at third base; you can say the same things about Munoz. Even Mikey White, who was drafted one round after Martin last June and may show up later on the CPL, isn't a sure bet to stick at short.
Martin is a different beast, though. Unlike the others, whom I think of as hitters trying to stick at a tough position, Martin is a true shortstop trying to hit enough to make it. That's not to say that he's already on track to win a bunch of Gold Gloves, as he still has work to do to develop his skills in pro ball. The point is he has the physical tools that are required at the position, tools that can't be taught. In a crowded landscape within the A's system, that sets Martin apart from the other high-profile guys at his position.
The next question for Martin is where he will begin the 2016 campaign. The A's tend to start their top college draft picks in High-A Stockton in their first full seasons, so it could be as simple as that. However, the system is crowded right now with all those aforementioned names, so perhaps we could see Munoz and White on the Ports while Martin spends the early going at Single-A Beloit. If I had to guess? I think the A's will be aggressive, with Munoz in Midland and the new draftees playing next to each other in Stockton.
MAKE SURE TO READ THE NEW PROCEDURE, AS IT HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY. Here is the new process:
- Five candidates will be listed on the ballot. The voting will take place in the comments section. I will start with a comment listing all five players, and then I will respond to that with five new comments in the style of "Vote: Player Name" for each candidate. Please do not reply directly to the official "Vote" comments, so that the ballot can stay together in one group.
- Choose your ONE favorite by Rec'ing the comment with his name. Please only vote for one, like you would have in the old poll. (Note: If it comes down to a close two-man race, we will discuss the possibility of having the third-party voters cast a second vote for one of the two leading candidates, sort of like Ranked-Choice Voting.) The player who receives the most Rec's earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by a new nominee.
- In the comments, below the official voting, 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 second baseman Joey Wendle. After coming over in the Brandon Moss trade, Wendle got off to a poor start in Triple-A Nashville but then heated up as the summer went on and finished with respectable numbers. He doesn't have one carrying strength that jumps out at you, but he's decent at everything and you can't get through a scouting report without hearing about his strong makeup and work ethic. At this point the only thing left is to see what he can do at the MLB level, which makes him an intriguing insurance policy behind the injury-prone Jed Lowrie.
Joey Wendle, 2B
Expected level: Triple-A? MLB? | Age 26
2015 stats (Triple-A Nashville): 618 PAs, 101 wRC+, 10 HR, 3.6% BB, 18.4% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Wendle stands out most for his hitting ability. He has a good approach at the plate and uses the whole field to hit, squaring up balls with his compact swing. He has more power than his size suggests and has proved capable of driving the ball over the fence everywhere he's gone.
Wendle is a steady defender at second base, capable of making all the necessary plays. He earns praise for his makeup and blue-collar mentality, traits that have helped him rise through the Minor Leagues
★ ★ ★
Here are our other current candidates:
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.
★ ★ ★
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
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.
★ ★ ★
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
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.
★ ★ ★
Raul Alcantara, RHP
Expected level: Double-A | Age 23
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 15 starts, 3.88 ERA, 48⅔ ip, 29 Ks, 8 BB, 3 HR, 4.00 FIP
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Alcantara was coming off his American debut when the A's acquired him in December 2011 as a part of the trade that sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox. He's matured as a pitcher since the deal and had reached Double-A Midland in 2014 before undergoing Tommy John surgery that May.
When healthy, Alcantara throws his fastball in the low 90s, occasionally touching 96 mph. His slider is inconsistent but has the promise to give him another quality secondary offering to go with his above-average changeup.
Alcantara had made significant strides in the year before his injury, and if he's able to recapture that ability when he gets back to full health, he has a chance to become a solid Major League starter.
★ ★ ★
Vote in the comments below for your favorite of the five by Rec'ing his "Vote: (Player Name)" comment, and post your nomination(s) as well!