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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #12: Dillon Overton succeeds even without velocity

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Artist's rendering of what Overton's arm might look like when pitching.
Artist's rendering of what Overton's arm might look like when pitching.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On the last ballot we elected lefty Dillon Overton, our second straight pitcher but only the third overall so far. He didn't have a whole lot of competition, capturing half the votes and doubling the vote total of the runner-up. 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%)
10. Casey Meisner, RHP (+24%)
11. Dillon Overton, LHP (+25%)

The story of Overton's career so far has revolved around Tommy John surgery. He was already injured when he was drafted, which dropped him from the first round to the second, and he underwent the procedure before he even threw a professional pitch. He made it back at the end of 2014, and he entered 2015 looking to put together his first full season and shift the script toward his performance rather than his medical records.

So far, so good ... for the most part. Overton did the most important thing by actually staying healthy and pitching a full season. There weren't setbacks or re-aggravations, and he tallied 126 innings over 27 games (25 starts). Beyond that, the bad news was his velocity was decreased after surgery, going from the mid-90s down to the high-80s. The good news was he pitched well anyway, striking out four for every walk and keeping the homers at a reasonable level. His other attributes, like his command and his quality offspeed pitches, were enough to allow him to succeed despite his reduced velocity.

Is this who Overton is now? If so, that's not such a bad thing. He's still a quality lefty starting prospect who should either begin the year in Triple-A or make it there before long; he even has an outside shot of making his MLB debut in 2016 in a few extreme scenarios. But not everybody recovers from injury in the same ways or at the same rates, and you never know if another mile or two might yet return to his fastball as TJS becomes a more distant memory. That makes him one of the most exciting names to watch for in spring training, where he'll be a non-roster invitee.

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 pitcher Daniel Mengden. The right-hander was acquired from Houston (along with Jacob Nottingham) in the Scott Kazmir trade. He began his first full season by dominating Single-A, which earned him a move up to High-A for most of the year. The results got a bit shakier at the higher level, but he still racked up nearly a strikeout per inning and more than three Ks per walk. He also made a start in the Cal League playoffs, fanning seven over six frames to earn the Ports' only victory in a three-game series loss. The jury is still out on whether he'll wind up in the rotation or the bullpen long-term, but it's nice to see multiple scouting reports use the word "bulldog" to describe him.

Daniel Mengden, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2015 stats (Single-A): 8 games, 1.16 ERA, 38⅔ ip, 38 Ks, 8 BB, 1 HR, 2.65 FIP
2015 stats (High-A*): 18 games, 4.79 ERA, 92 ip, 89 Ks, 28 BB, 10 HR, 4.30 FIP

* combined stats w/ Lancaster (Astros) and Stockton (A's); FIP is a weighted average

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

Mengden has a solid four-pitch mix. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, while mixing in a sharp, biting slider, as well as a curveball and changeup. He generally works around the strike zone with his whole arsenal. There's some effort to his delivery, but it adds deception and he's athletic enough to make it work.

While some scouts think his delivery will eventually make him a reliever, others see an athletic right-hander who is still learning to pitch and believe he'll be able to stay in the rotation in the long run.

★ ★ ★

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

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.

★ ★ ★

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

From MLB.com:

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.

★ ★ ★

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

From MLB.com:

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

★ ★ ★

Dakota Chalmers, RHP

Expected level: Low-A | Age 19

2015 stats: I don't see value in posting Rookie League stats

From MLB.com:

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

With a fine performance on the showcase circuit and a strong start to his senior season, Chalmers' stock was nearly as high as any high school pitcher's at one point during the spring. He cooled off some and dropped to the Athletics in the third round, where he signed for $1.2 million.

Chalmers already operated with a 92-95 mph fastball that peaks at 98, and his projectable 6-foot-3 frame hints at more velocity in the future. His secondary pitches need more consistency, though his breaking balls grade as plus offerings at their best and he'll flash a solid changeup.

Chalmers' biggest need at this point is to clean up his delivery, which features more effort than scouts would like. His athleticism bodes well for his ability to refine his mechanics and improve his control and command.

★ ★ ★

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!