Three Oakland A's prospects made the Top 100 list released by MLB Pipeline on Friday:
23. Franklin Barreto, SS
68. Sean Manaea, LHP
100. Matt Olson, 1B/OF
Given 30 teams and 100 slots, landing three guys on the list seems just about average. However, when you consider that the A's only had one player on the list last year (Barreto), this is a definite improvement and a reflection of how much stronger the farm has gotten. Even better, the strength of the A's system really lies in the high quantity of B-grade prospects, and if you extended this out to a Top 200 then Oakland would likely start to look above-average.
These three prospects also happen to be the top three guys on our own Community Prospect List, although not in this order (we put Manaea over Barreto). However, they differ from the trio selected by Baseball Prospectus for their Top 101 list; BP did include Barreto (No. 26) and Manaea (No. 45), but instead of Olson they chose catcher Jacob Nottingham (No. 66).
In addition to this Top 100 list, MLB Pipeline also did a Top 10 list for each position over the last couple weeks. The A's landed five players in those various lists:
LHP: Sean Manaea, No. 8
C: Jacob Nottingham, No. 8
1B: Matt Olson, No. 5
SS: Franklin Barreto, No. 8
3B: Renato Nunez, No. 10
Given eight categories of 10 players each, that means that by this measure the A's landed five of the 80 spots, which is a much better showing than they had on the full Top 100 list. However, while each of those guys deserves his ranking, the irony is that all four hitters may end up playing different positions than the ones listed. Olson is already moving to the OF, Barreto could switch to CF or 2B, Nunez is probably a 1B at best or a DH at worst, and a young catcher like Nottingham always holds the possibility of moving to an easier spot to get his bat to the bigs faster. Of all of them, Nottingham might be the most likely to actually stay at the position listed. Well, except Manaea. He will probably keep using his left arm to pitch.
Here's the writeup for each of those five players, from MLB Pipeline. Starting with Manaea:
The big Indiana State product could've been the top pick in the 2013 Draft, but he slid because of injury concerns. Manaea missed the first half of 2015 with an unrelated injury, but he pitched his way to Double-A and was sent to the A's from the Royals in the Ben Zobrist Trade Deadline deal. He's a mid-rotation workhorse, at the very least.
The 2013 sixth-rounder emerged as one of the top offensive catchers in 2015, hitting .316 with 17 home runs and 33 doubles across the Class A and Class A Advanced levels. The breakout performance put him on the A's radar, and they acquired him from the Astros at the Trade Deadline in the Scott Kazmir deal. Nottingham has good bat speed and generates above-average power from the right side of the plate, driving the ball with authority across the whole field. His defense lags well behind his bat, though, and his blocking and receiving skills will need to improve considerably for him to stick behind the plate.
Olson does two things very well: hit home runs (77 in three full seasons) and draw walks (313 since his debut, including topping the Minors with 117 in 2014 and ranking second with 105 last year). He also moves well for his size at first base and looked capable in right field when Oakland played him there at Double-A in the second half of 2015.
The best part of the thus-far one-sided Josh Donaldson trade for Oakland will be Barreto, who hit .302/.333/.500 in Class A Advanced at age 19 last year. He's a little guy with an electric bat, though he may have to tone down his approach and isn't a lock to remain at shortstop despite his strong arm.
Nunez moved up to Double-A Midland in 2015 and made a surprisingly smooth adjustment to the Texas League. He hit .278 with 18 home runs and reduced his strikeout rate considerably compared to the previous year, though he still proved to be an overall streaky hitter. A lack of first-step quickness and range will make it difficult for Nunez to stick at third, and he could see increased time at first base next season after logging 16 starts there in 2015.
As for the rest of the division, it's feast or famine in the AL West. The Astros and Rangers both grabbed five spots on the list, with Texas placing three in the top 20 alone and Houston topping out just ahead of Oakland at No. 22. On the other hand, the Mariners barely made it at all, placing just one name at No. 94, and the Angels are completely absent after sending No. 21 Sean Newcomb to the Braves in the Andrelton Simmons trade (#LOLAngels). The full AL West list:
Rangers: No. 9 Joey Gallo, 3B | No. 16 Lewis Brinson, OF | No. 18 Nomar Mazara, OF | No. 36 Dillon Tate, RHP | No. 73 Luis Ortiz, RHP
Astros: No. 22 Alex Bregman, SS | No. 40 A.J. Reed, 1B | No. 41 Francis Martes, RHP | No. 74 Kyle Tucker, OF | No. 75 Daz Cameron, OF
Mariners: No. 94 Alex Jackson, OF
The top five is made up of exactly the same players as last year's midseason list, but in a different order:
1. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
3. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals
4. Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers
5. J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies
One final note: Former A's farmhand and 2013 first-round draft pick Billy McKinney clocked in at No. 88. The outfielder was sent to the Cubs in Sharknado 1. On the other hand, infielder Daniel Robertson (sent to Tampa Bay in the Ben Zobrist acquisition) is absent after ranking No. 65 in last year's preseason list and No. 79 at the midseason revision.
What do you think of MLB Pipeline's selections? Discuss in the comments!