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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #19: Ryan Dull looks sharp in 2015 breakout

The A's might finally have a pitcher who looks younger than Sonny Gray.
The A's might finally have a pitcher who looks younger than Sonny Gray.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The last ballot was the closest we've had yet, as Ryan Dull earned the next spot on our CPL by a margin of just one vote (out of 97 cast). 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%)
5. Chad Pinder, SS (+31%)
6. Renato Nunez, 1B/3B (+51%)
7. Yairo Munoz, SS (+14%)
8. Richie Martin, SS (+12%)
9. Casey Meisner, RHP (+24%)
10. Dillon Overton, LHP (+25%)
11. Rangel Ravelo, 1B (+30%)
12. Joey Wendle, 2B (+6%)
13. Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+19%)
14. Raul Alcantara, RHP (+24%)
15. Daniel Mengden, RHP (+10%)
16. Mikey White, SS/2B (+26%)
17. Ryan Dull, RHP (+1%)

This ballot was a two-man race between the two most opposite prospects possible. There was Dull, a pitcher with a low ceiling but who is MLB-ready (and has, in fact, already made his Oakland debut). And there was Skye Bolt, a 2015 draftee who is about as far from MLB as can be but has a high ceiling due to his raw physical tools. Do you take the guarantee of a solid role player today, or do you roll the dice on the slim chance of developing a star in the future? A bird in the hand, or two in the bush?

In this particular case, the community went with the safe bet. Dull shot through the minors last year, and when that extended success earned him a trip to the bigs he responded with 11 scoreless innings to start his career. He did wear down in his final few outings for the A's, but anytime a no-name player begins the season in Double-A and finishes it in the Majors you have to be at least a little bit impressed. In terms of stuff, his velocity is only in the low-90s but he has a good slider and a knack for throwing strikes.

Dull may not make the Opening Day bullpen, because it is currently crowded with quality veterans who are locked into their roster spots while he still has all of his minor league options intact. But it seems like a virtual guarantee that we will see him again this year in Oakland, possibly sooner than later, and he could yet play a meaningful role in the pen even if he only ends up pitching in middle relief.

Fun fact about Dull: He is the second-lowest Oakland draft pick to ever provide positive value at the MLB level, at least in terms of bWAR. He was selected in the 32nd round in 2012, No. 979 overall. The only guy who has him beat is Mike Mohler (42nd round, 1989, No. 1101), a lefty who threw 347 games in the bigs (mostly for Oakland from 1993-98) and finished with 1.9 career bWAR. The next-lowest picks:

- Mickey Storey (31st round, 2008, No. 934), who never pitched for Oakland but did throw a few dozen decent innings for the Astros and Blue Jays in 2012-13
- Brad Kilby (29th round, 2005, No. 881), who threw two dozen spectacular innings for the A's in 2009-10 but was never heard from again.
- Ron Flores (29th round, 2000, No. 870), who threw 56 solid innings for the A's from 2005-07.
- Jeff DaVanon (26th round, 1995, No. 708), a switch-hitting outfielder who was traded to the Angels in 1999 in the deal for Randy Velarde and Omar Olivares. He played six years for the Halos, two more for the D'Backs, and then returned to the A's for his final handful of games in 2007. He posted 5.2 bWAR in 528 career games, with a 97 OPS+ in 1,505 plate appearances.

(Note: This list doesn't include players who were drafted but did not sign. That means no Tim Hudson in the 35th round in 1994 because really he was a 6th-rounder in '97, among other examples.)

★ ★ ★

Here is the 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. (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 J.B. Wendelken. He's the other pitcher the A's got from the White Sox in the Brett Lawrie trade, along with Zack Erwin. The right-hander tried his hand at starting in 2014 but settled back into the bullpen last year, where he struck out over 28% of the batters he faced (and four per walk) in a breakout performance. He's on the 40-man roster already, and unless the 2016 bullpen goes every bit as right as the 2015 version went wrong, I imagine there's a good chance we'll see him make his MLB debut at some point this summer once injuries and slumps take their toll on the Opening Day relief corps.

J.B. Wendelken, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23

2015 stats (Double-A): 27 games, 2.72 ERA, 43 innings, 56 Ks, 11 BB, 4 HR, 2.68 FIP
2015 stats (Triple-A): 12 games, 4.50 ERA, 16 innings, 13 Ks, 5 BB, 2 HR, 4.09 FIP

From Nathaniel Stoltz of FanGraphs (written when Wendelken was still starting):

Wendelken's big weapon right now is a monstrous changeup that features zone-crossing fade. ... The bigtime action on the pitch is paired with excellent velocity separation -- early in my viewing, Wendelken's fastball was in the low 90s while the change was in the upper 70s. He features it heavily to both lefties and righties and isn't afraid to double or triple up on it if a batter's unable to pick the pitch up. As you can see, it induces a ton of awkward swings. ... [H]e's more likely to fit into a Brad Boxberger/Tyler Clippard role as a reliever who can air it out around 92 mph and throw a nasty changeup 35% of the time.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

Skye Bolt, OF

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 206 PAs, 110 wRC+, 4 HR, 11.7% BB, 21.4% Ks


Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

A switch-hitter, Bolt exhibits more bat speed and a more authoritative swing as a lefty, leading some scouts to wonder if he'd be better off batting solely from that side of the plate. Maybe that would help him do a better job of handling quality fastballs and recognizing pitches, two of his weaknesses.

If Bolt could recapture the magic from early in his freshman year, he could be a star. One of the better college athletes in the 2015 Draft class, he has solid raw power, speed and arm strength. He does a nice job of covering center field from gap to gap.

★ ★ ★

Jaycob Brugman, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 566 PAs, 105 wRC+, 6 HR, 11.0% BB, 15.7% Ks


Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Brugman was a 17th-round pick in 2013 but played well above that level in his first full professional season. He hit 21 home runs between Class A Beloit and Class A Advanced Stockton, joining Matt Olson and Renato Nunez as the only Minor Leaguers in the organization to hit more than 20 home runs in 2014.

Brugman couples a smooth left-handed swing with good patience at the plate. As he showed in 2014, he's capable of driving balls out of the park, but he's more likely to end up as an average power hitter than a masher.

The A's have used Brugman in all three outfield positions. He has solid defensive tools and likely fits best in one of the corners.

★ ★ ★

Zack Erwin, LHP

Expected level: Single-A? High-A? | Age 22

2015 stats (Single-A): 7 games, 1.89 ERA, 19 ip, 15 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR, 2.69 FIP


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

Erwin jumped on scouts' radars during 2014 Cape Cod League and then followed it with an even better junior season at Clemson, leading to his selection in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft by the White Sox. Despite pitching well in his professional debut -- half of which he spent in the full-season South Atlantic League -- the White Sox traded Erwin and right-hander J.B. Wendelken to Oakland in December for Brett Lawrie.

Erwin has the makings of three average-or-better pitches, each of which plays up due to his advanced command. His 6-foot-5 frame and long arms help him create an angle to the plate and also lend to his deception, allowing him to sneak up on opposing hitters with his 88-90 mph fastball. The left-hander's ability to command his heater throughout the zone helps set up his curveball and split-changeup, with both offerings showing above-average potential.

While some scouts view Erwin as a future No. 5 starter, others believe he could jump on the fast track to the Major Leagues with a move to the bullpen given his command, ground-ball tendencies and solid track record against both right- and left-handed hitters.

★ ★ ★

Ryon Healy, 3B/1B

Expected level: Triple-A? Double-A? | Age 24

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 543 PAs, 113 wRC+, 10 HR, 5.5% BB, 15.1% Ks


Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 35 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

Healy has a short, quick swing with loft, giving him the potential to hit for both average and power. He does a good job of making contact and using the entire field to hit.

The A's have used Healy at both first and third base, but playing with Matt Olson and Renato Nunez in 2014 meant that he played more DH than anything else. Healy profiles best at first base, but no matter where he settles defensively, it'll be up to his bat to get him to the Major Leagues.

★ ★ ★

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!