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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #24: J.B. Wendelken could face Brett Lawrie in 2016

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If J.B. strikes out Brett, does that mean the A's won the trade?
If J.B. strikes out Brett, does that mean the A's won the trade?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

One member of the Brett Lawrie trade ranked No. 19 on our Community Prospect List, and now the other, reliever J.B. Wendelken, clocks in at No. 22. 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%)
19. Zack Erwin, LHP (+31%)
20. Ryon Healy, 3B/1B (+14%)
21. Jaycob Brugman, OF (+9%)
22. J.B. Wendelken, RHP (+37%)

One of the keys to this offseason for the Oakland A's was reconstructing their bullpen. The 2015 edition didn't get the job done, and most of the group was removed and replaced with a bevy of new veterans. One of last year's most successful relievers, Fernando Rodriguez, now figures to be fighting for a spot at the back of the pen. Regardless of your thoughts on each individual addition, it's tough to argue that this unit isn't better than last year's.

But it doesn't stop at just the seven guys who make the Opening Day roster. When the inevitable need arises for reinforcements, there will be help ready in the minor leagues right from the get-go, and not just Angel Castro this time (though he is still around, actually). It starts with Ryan Dull, who could yet break camp with the team depending on the circumstances but currently seems ticketed to Triple-A as the likely "next man up." R.J. Alvarez is also on the 40-man roster, and if he figures out how to control his lightning arsenal then he could become a factor. Lefty Daniel Coulombe has already pitched for the A's, though he's not currently on the 40-man, and as the year goes on other non-roster prospects including Aaron Kurcz, Kris Hall, Trey Cochran-Gill, and Tucker Healy could just be one hot streak away from getting the team's attention.

But as for the guys already on the 40-man, that group only includes Dull, Alvarez, and J.B. Wendelken. Being on the roster isn't everything when it comes to the depth chart, but it certainly helps. When a quick move is needed, especially a short-term one, it can be more logistically convenient to tap the pitcher who's already eligible rather than trying to add someone new to the equation. If Dull gets called on early and Alvarez isn't ready for his next trial in the bigs, Wendelken could find himself in a position to make his MLB debut this summer -- provided he builds on his 2015 success when he suits up for Nashville.

With a nasty changeup as the signature of his arsenal, Wendelken racked up the strikeouts at Double-A last year and held his own in a dozen games in Triple-A. If he can back up that success in the early going this year, then who knows, maybe when the A's visit Chicago in August he can face Lawrie himself. After all, Brett has struggled against changeups for most of his career and the pitcher would have the platoon advantage, so perhaps the matchup would be in J.B.'s favor.

★ ★ ★

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 Daniel Gossett. The team's second-round pick in 2014, Gossett had a year of growing pains in 2015. He was dominant in his Low-A debut after being drafted (24 Ks, 1 BB), but he struggled mightily out the gate in Single-A Beloit in his first year of full-season ball. At the end of June his ERA was 5.42 and he wasn't even striking out two batters for every walk. But from July on he tightened those numbers up, posting a 3.95 ERA and better than three Ks per walk. Only twice in those final dozen starts did he walk more than a pair of batters in one game, after doing so seven times in his first 17 outings through June. He still has a tall task in front of him with the hitter-friendly High-A Cal League, but at least it was nice to see him respond to his initial struggles by developing and improving as the season went on.

Daniel Gossett, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 27 starts, 4.73 ERA, 144⅔ ip, 112 Ks, 52 BB, 16 HR, 4.49 FIP

From MLB.com:

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

Gossett's fastball sits in the low 90s, topping out at 95-96 mph, and has some arm-side run and late sinking action. His curveball projects to be above average and is his best secondary offering at the moment, though he also has good feel for a changeup that could be at least Major League average once developed. His slider was his go-to out pitch at Clemson, but it's been below average as a pro and requires further refinement.

Though pounding the zone has never been an issue for Gossett, his first full season indicated that the quality of his strikes must improve. Some scouts wonder if he'll have the durability to remain in the rotation, although that hasn't been an issue so far. The A's believe he has what it takes to be a big league starter, and the club's track record of developing undersized right-handers bodes well for his future in the role.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

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.

★ ★ ★

Dylan Covey, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 24

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 26 starts, 3.59 ERA, 140⅓ ip, 100 Ks, 43 BB, 13 HR, 4.61 FIP

From MLB.com:

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

The Brewers selected Covey 14th overall in 2010, and he was set to sign with them until a post-Draft physical revealed that he had diabetes. He decided instead to stay close to home and attend the University of San Diego as he learned to manage the condition.

Covey has been inconsistent since his high school days but still shows flashes of the stuff that first attracted scouts. His fastball has reached 95 mph but more typically sits around 90 mph with heavy sinking action. His curveball is his best secondary offering, and he also mixes in a slider and changeup.

Covey has struggled with his control at times, leading to his inconsistency. If he can find a way to throw more strikes, he still has a chance to become a big leaguer.

★ ★ ★

Sandber Pimentel, 1B

Expected level: High-A | Age 21

2015 stats (Single-A Beloit): 471 PAs, 112 wRC+, 13 HR, 10.6% BB, 22.1% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 35 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

Pimentel's carrying tool is his left-handed power to all fields. While he does have some swing and miss in his game, he also has promising feel for hitting and a willingness to draw walks when pitchers try to work around him.

Pimentel began his pro career as a corner outfielder before seeing action at first base in 2013 and moving there full-time the following season. He's not especially quick but has some softness to his hands and some arm strength.

★ ★ ★

Jesus Lopez, 2B

Expected level: Low-A? Single-A? | Age 19

2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 210 PAs, 38 wRC+, 0 HR, 2.9% BB, 19.0% Ks

From MLB.com:

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

Lopez was the A's top signing in the 2013 international free agent class. The native of Nicaragua made his professional debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he was one of the youngest players.

Lopez didn't take up switch-hitting until late in his amateur career, but his natural feel at the plate made him a quick study. He has an advanced approach at the plate for a teenager and projects to develop some power as he physically matures.

Lopez's advanced feel for the game extends to the infield, where he has good hands and actions. But even as an amateur, some scouts felt he lacked the athleticism for shortstop and would eventually need to move. He saw time at both shortstop and second base during his debut.

★ ★ ★

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!