Who is the top minor league prospect in the Oakland A's organization? I saw at least three different answers to that question in the comment thread of our Community Prospect List intro post, but as with highlanders and good Matrix movies, there can be only one. It's time for us to make a final decision.
Here is the process:
- Five nominees will appear on the ballot. The one who receives the most votes earns the top 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.
We have five nominees gunnin' for that No. 1 spot. They include the top three guys from last year's CPL as well as two of the team's big July trade acquisitions. Here's a quick rundown on each one. Ages listed are the ages at which they will play in 2016.
Sean Manaea, LHP
Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 7 starts, 1.90 ERA, 42⅔ ip, 51 Ks, 15 BB, 3 HR, 2.95 FIP
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
After missing the first half of the 2015 season with abdominal and groin strains, [Manaea] returned and made it up to Double-A when he was sent to Oakland in the Ben Zobrist deal.
Manaea can get swings and misses with his fastball like few other pitcher in the Minors. He throws his heater at 90-96 mph, and it seems quicker than that because his delivery features good extension and downhill plane and imparts life. He doesn't have a second plus pitch, but his improving slider is a solid offering and his changeup is effective and features some fade.
Manaea doesn't have an extremely athletic delivery and probably won't have better than average control or command. But he's a left-hander with an unhittable fastball at times and a frame built for durability, and he could fit into the middle of the A's rotation in the near future.
★ ★ ★
Franklin Barreto, SS? CF?
Expected level: Double-A | Age 20
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 364 PAs, 122 wRC+, 13 HR, 4.1% BB, 18.4% Ks
Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 60
Barreto is an aggressive hitter but has a knack for putting the bat on the ball. His compact swing and quick hands allow him to consistently make hard contact. He has more home-run power than most middle infielders and is a plus runner.
In the field, Barreto isn't as advanced. He has good range and a strong arm, but he's very erratic and lacks the natural actions of a shortstop. He's just a teenager, however, and will get every opportunity to prove he can stick at the position.
★ ★ ★
Matt Olson, 1B? OF?
Expected level: Triple-A | Age 22
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 585 PAs, 132 wRC+, 17 HR, 17.9% BB, 23.8% Ks
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 65 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Olson's best tool is his power, and he finished third in the Minor Leagues with 37 home runs in 2014. He is also an extremely disciplined hitter, and his 117 walks led the Minors last year. While he has worked to shorten his swing, there will always be some swing-and-miss in his game, and he has struck out more than 135 times in each of his first two full professional seasons.
A two-way player in high school, Olson has above-average arm strength, and the A's have tried him in the outfield. He's also become a capable first baseman and has the power to profile at the position.
★ ★ ★
Matt Chapman, 3B
Expected level: Double-A| Age 23
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 352 PAs, 139 wRC+, 23 HR, 11.1% BB, 22.4% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 70 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50
Strong and athletic, Chapman possesses significant physical tools. Though his swing is geared for hitting line drives, he's improving his ability to get to his raw power during games. He did a good job of controlling the strike zone in college, but after striking out in 21 percent of his plate appearances during his debut, he still needs to show he can make consistent contact against professional pitching.
Chapman's hands, actions and arm strength make him an excellent defender at third base. If he can get to his power more consistently, he'll fit the third-base profile to a T.
★ ★ ★
Jacob Nottingham, C
Expected level: Double-A? High-A? | Age 21
2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 182 PAs, 107 wRC+, 3 HR, 6.6% BB, 20.9% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50
Nottingham's power is his ticket to the big leagues. He's very strong and has a quick right-handed stroke, allowing him to drive balls great distances. He's improving his plate discipline and has a chance to become an average hitter.
Whether Nottingham can stay behind the plate remains to be seen, but he has gotten better as a catcher. He has enough arm strength but must continue to clean up his receiving. He also has seen time at first base.
★ ★ ★
Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nominations in the comments!
(Editor's note: The vote tally you see below is not the official result. The voting ended at midnight Sunday, with Manaea leading 404-392 after consistently leading by double-digits for three straight days. It was only after I had already named him the winner that Barreto took the lead in the voting, but it was too late by that point. Lesson: I should have closed the poll when I named the winner.)