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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #16: Raul Alcantara on the comeback trail

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With the addition of Raul Alcantara to our Community Prospect List, we have now elected four pitchers in our last six ballots and five overall in the top 15. Alcantara ran away with the vote on his seventh appearances on the ballot, one short of Rangel Ravelo's eight appearances before his own victory. 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%)
6. Chad Pinder, SS (+31%)
7. Renato Nunez, 1B/3B (+51%)
8. Yairo Munoz, SS (+14%)
9. Richie Martin, SS (+12%)
10. Casey Meisner, RHP (+24%)
11. Dillon Overton, LHP (+25%)
12. Rangel Ravelo, 1B (+30%)
13. Joey Wendle, 2B (+6%)
14. Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+19%)
15. Raul Alcantara, RHP (+24%)

For the second straight winter, Alcantara tumbled down the CPL. That makes sense considering the circumstances, though. He was No. 3 in a weak system in 2014, but his season ended after just three starts thanks to Tommy John surgery. The lost year dropped him to No. 9 in 2015, and although he returned to the mound last summer he was kept on an extremely short leash. After throwing just 68 innings combined over the last two seasons, he's now fallen all the way to No. 15 in an ever-improving A's farm. It's been a double whammy -- as his own stock has fallen, Oakland's system has strengthened significantly around him. Note that five of the 14 guys ranked ahead of him are new to the organization since last year's list.

All that being said, though, one thing Alcantara is yet to do since his surgery is pitch poorly. Before his injury, he'd been wonderful in 2013 at Single-A and High-A, and his three starts in Double-A were good before his arm exploded. Last season he made 15 starts for Stockton in his return to action, and outside of one real stinker (5 runs, one out) he posted a 2.98 ERA in a hitter's league. Despite being on what appears to have been a 60-pitch limit, his pitch-to-contact style allowed him to routinely finish four innings (eight times in 15 games). He only walked eight batters in those 15 outings, and only once did he issue two free passes in the same game.

Alcantara is still building that workload back up, but the important thing is that his velocity and control have returned after TJS. He's still only 23, but he's been on the 40-man roster for a while now (for Rule 5 protection) and 2017 will be his last option year. I assume he will begin in Double-A, but if he gets off to a good start I wouldn't be surprised to see the A's move him up the ladder aggressively.

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, like you would have in the old poll. (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 Jaycob Brugman. This was our closest nomination process yet, as the outfielder edged out his two nearest competitors by one vote each. Brugman has become something of a pet prospect here at AN, thanks to his quiet all-around play and his breakout performance in the Double-A Texas League playoffs last fall: 9-for-21, four homers, three doubles, four walks, 1.663 OPS. On the other hand, he fell flat in the Arizona Fall League, posting a pedestrian batting line in 72 plate appearances that earned him a wRC+ mark of only 94 (with no homers and too many strikeouts). But the system is thin in the outfield right now, and that should help him continue to be an interesting sleeper if he can continue to produce as he moves up to Triple-A Nashville.

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.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

Daniel Mengden, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2015 stats (Single-A): 8 games, 1.16 ERA, 38⅔ ip, 38 Ks, 8 BB, 1 HR, 2.65 FIP
2015 stats (High-A*): 18 games, 4.79 ERA, 92 ip, 89 Ks, 28 BB, 10 HR, 4.30 FIP

* combined stats w/ Lancaster (Astros) and Stockton (A's); FIP is a weighted average

From MLB.com:

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

Mengden has a solid four-pitch mix. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, while mixing in a sharp, biting slider, as well as a curveball and changeup. He generally works around the strike zone with his whole arsenal. There's some effort to his delivery, but it adds deception and he's athletic enough to make it work.

While some scouts think his delivery will eventually make him a reliever, others see an athletic right-hander who is still learning to pitch and believe he'll be able to stay in the rotation in the long run.

★ ★ ★

Mikey White, SS/2B

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 131 PAs, 153 wRC+, 2 HR, 10.7% BB, 22.1% Ks
2015 stats (Single-A Beloit): 145 PAs, 65 wRC+, 1 HR, 6.9% BB, 20.7% Ks

From MLB.com:

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

White has a long track record of producing at the plate that extends from high school and U.S. national 18-and-under teams to the SEC and Cape Cod League. He consistently barrels balls with a short right-handed swing and generates good pop for a middle infielder. His advanced on-base skills fit well at the top of a batting order.

Though he has fringy pure speed, White runs the bases well. While he's not flashy or rangy at shortstop, he has dependable hands and makes routine plays. Second base is probably his best position, and Oakland had him play some third base alongside Martin at short-season Vermont.

★ ★ ★

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

From MLB.com:

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.

★ ★ ★

Ryan Dull, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A? MLB? | Age 26

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 35 games, 0.60 ERA, 45 ip, 52 Ks, 13 BB, 1 HR, 2.14 FIP
2015 stats (Triple-A Nashville): 12 games, 1.12 ERA, 16 ip, 21 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 2.35 FIP
2015 stats (MLB Oakland A's): 13 games, 4.24 ERA, 17 ip, 16 Ks, 6 BB, 4 HR, 5.37 FIP

From A's special assistant Grady Fuson, via A's Farm:

When he's been good, he's been 90-92mph, his ball has a little sink and dive to it, and he pitches at the bottom of the strike zone fabulously. He's got a hard little slider and he's got a nice little changeup. He's one of the better pitchers in our system when it comes to really pitching down in the strike zone consistently, and that's the biggest attribute he has, plus he pounds the strike zone.

From Midland manager Ryan Christenson, via Midland Reporter-Telegram:

"His main key to success is the fact that he can locate his fastball," Christensen said. "He throws strikes down at the knees. He's got a nice slider that comes out of the same plane as his fastball and the same with his changeup so he's tough on both lefties and righties. The main thing for him is he can spot his fastball pretty much where he wants, when he wants."

★ ★ ★

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!