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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #20: Skye Bolt out to prove he wasn't a flash in the pan

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This is what I got when I typed "Sky Bolt" into Getty Images.
This is what I got when I typed "Sky Bolt" into Getty Images.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

We're getting pretty deep here, but baseball still hasn't started so we're gonna keep on going. With the selection of Skye Bolt, we now have the Oakland A's top four 2015 draft picks on our Community Prospect List. 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%)
18. Skye Bolt, OF (+9%)

Skye Bolt has two things going for him right now: a big bag of physical tools that allow you to envision him becoming a star baseball player, and a wonderful freshman season in college that put him on the prospect map to begin with. And a sweet name. So, three things going for him.

Bolt also has a few things going against him. For all of the tools, he doesn't have one truly elite skill that jumps out at you, like Billy Burns' speed or Khris Davis' power or Matt Chapman's arm. Furthermore, that strong freshman season in college was followed by a dud of a sophomore season and then merely a decent junior campaign. And that name? If Josh Outman never made it as a star pitcher, then we simply must be wary of putting too much stock into nomenclature.

So, Bolt has his work cut out for him. He has to prove that his freshman college season wasn't a flash in the pan, and that he can develop his raw abilities into baseball skill. It's easy to be underwhelmed by his pro debut at Low-A Vermont, but in fact he graded out as a bit above-average at the plate, he hit a few homers, and he was right in line with Mikey White and Richie Martin when it came to strikeout rate (while walking more often than both of them). He didn't dominate by any means, but he wasn't disappointing either. I expect that he'll open 2016 in High-A Stockton, where he should have fun with the friendly right-field porch and the general hitter's league. And all of this ignores his defense, which is supposed to be a plus at a premium position (CF).

Will he pan out? We'll begin to get an answer in a couple months. In the meantime, with Bubba Derby now gone and Boomer Biegalski yet to make his mark in the pros, at least we can safely say he's got the best name from the most recent draft class. A slugger named Skye. A speedster named Bolt. Or, a toolsy guy named Bolt, up to you. Either way, let's hope his lightning strikes again in 2016.

★ ★ ★

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 Tyler Ladendorf. He doesn't have a high ceiling, but he's ready to be an MLB utilityman right now if he can only stay healthy. At 28 years old, what you see is what you get -- defensive versatility and a decent platoon bat against left-handers. But this low down the list, there's something to be said for a guy who has already reached the bigs and seems like a sure bet to appear in Oakland again this year. He's a bench player, but he's got enough skills to help out the A's this year as the 25th man.

Tyler Ladendorf, UTIL

Expected level: Triple-A? MLB? | Age 28

2015 stats (Triple-A Nashville): 90 PAs, 76 wRC+, 1 HR, 5.6% BB, 25.6% Ks
2015 stats (MLB Oakland A's): 4-for-17, 1 triple, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 5 positions in 9 games

From AN Prospect Watch:

Ladendorf's identifying skill is his versatile defense, as he can more or less play every position and can apparently play most of them well. He's appeared at 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, and RF in his professional career. ...

[His] other skill is hitting left-handed pitching. Offense is not his strength overall, but year after year he posts exaggerated platoon splits with big OPS marks and great K:BB rates against southpaws. If he can continue to succeed in that niche in MLB, then it's easy to see how he could carve out a role as a platoon infielder or simply a super-utilityman.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

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

From MLB.com:

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

From MLB.com:

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

From MLB.com:

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.

★ ★ ★

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.

★ ★ ★

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!