We've finally reached the end of the line. Our Community Prospect List now includes the Top 25 youngsters, and we're down to one final vote to round out the Top 30. 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%)
23. Dylan Covey, RHP (+5%)
24. Sandber Pimentel, 1B (+21%)
25. Heath Fillmyer, RHP (+4%)
I don't have much to say about our newest entrant, Heath Fillmyer, so I'll keep this brief. He was a 2014 draft pick but his name didn't pop up much until this winter because he was a two-way college player who is now adjusting to life as a full-time pitcher. However, he has a good amount of upside with his strong velocity and improving secondary pitches. There's work to be done, but he took steps forward in the second half last year, and he's getting a lot of love from other prospect sources (as high as No. 18 on Scout.com). We'll learn a lot more about him in 2016.
Time to wrap up the list with one final blowout vote!
★ ★ ★
The process will be different for this final vote:
- SEVEN candidates will be listed on the ballot. The voting will take place in the comments section. I will start with a comment listing all seven players, and then I will respond to that with seven 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 UP TO THREE of your favorites by Rec'ing the comment(s) with their names. You don't have to use all three votes if you don't want to, but please limit yourself to three at the most. The top five vote-getters will earn the Nos. 26-30 spots on the CPL, and the other two players will receive a nice gift basket or something.
- No nominations this time, since this is the final vote.
- 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.
★ ★ ★
There are three new nominees this time: pitchers Bobby Wahl and Dustin Driver, and catcher Iolana "Lana" Akau, all selected in the 2013 draft. Wahl was a fifth-round pick and has struggled with injuries since then, but he reached Double-A last year and still has a shot to become a high-strikeout reliever. Driver fell to the seventh round as a high-upside high school pick, and, although he has also struggled with injuries as well as control, he is still only 21 years old and could burst onto the scene this season if he learns to harness his powerful stuff. Akau is a bit lower-profile, as a 20th-round pick out of high school in Hawaii, but he earned his way up to Single-A Beloit last year as a 19-year-old (the age of a college sophomore who is young for his class) and the organization's catching depth chart is wide open in front of him. Plus, the thought of another Hawaiian catcher should excite A's fans after our positive experiences with Kurt Suzuki.
Bobby Wahl, RHP
Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24
2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 24 games, 4.18 ERA, 32⅓ ip, 36 Ks, 14 BB, 2 HR, 3.17 FIP
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Wahl wore many hats as an amateur, serving as the Friday night ace at Mississippi and closing for the U.S. college national team, But he struggled with blisters during his junior year, leading to diminished stuff and a slide into the fifth round of the 2013 Draft. The right-hander was limited by an oblique injury the following year, prompting the A's to move him to the bullpen. Many expected Wahl to take off in the role at Double-A Midland in 2015, but numbness in his arm revealed a nerve impingement in his elbow, and he underwent season-ending surgery in July.
Before he went under the knife last summer, Wahl had regained his trademark velocity, sitting in the low to mid 90s and reaching 98 mph in short stints. His power breaking ball remains his best secondary offering and shows above-average potential, and he's dialed back the usage of his changeup since shifting to the bullpen. There's some effort in his delivery and his command is below average, but he also hasn't had enough time on the mound to properly address those issues.
Wahl made progress with his rehab during the fall, and club officials believe him could be ready to go by the start of the season. Provided he can stay healthy, there's little doubt among evaluators that he has the power stuff to pitch high-leverage innings in the Major Leagues.
★ ★ ★
Dustin Driver, RHP
Expected level: Single-A | Age 21
2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 14 games, 4.99 ERA, 52⅓ ip, 32 Ks, 35 BB, 4 HR, 5.41 FIP
2015 stats (Single-A Beloit): 4 games, 9.00 ERA, 11 ip, 9 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HR, 3.67 FIP
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Owner of one the better fastballs among prep pitchers in the 2013 Draft class, Driver received consideration as a potential first-round pick before an inconsistent senior year at Wenatchee (Wash.) High caused him to fall to the seventh round, where the A's landed him with an above-slot bonus of $500,000. But Driver missed all of what was supposed to be his first full pro season with a back injury in 2014, and then dealt with blisters at times in '15.
Driver is very raw after missing key developmental time, but the right-hander is still loaded with upside. He might be the hardest thrower in the system, according to club officials, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches 98 mph. He'll show flashes of having at least an average curveball and changeup, though both pitches are largely inconsistent and require considerable refinement.
Driver had trouble repeating his delivery and throwing strikes as an amateur, and that has continued to be the case in his pro career. The A's will continue to develop him as a starter in order to build up his arm strength and give him as many innings as possible, but most evaluators are convinced that it's only a matter of time until he moves to the bullpen.
★ ★ ★
Lana Akau, C
Expected level: Single-A? High-A? | Age 20
2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 8-for-27, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 150 wRC+
2015 stats (Single-A Beloit): 168 PAs, 100 wRC+, 2 HR, 7.1% BB, 29.2% Ks
Sorry, couldn't find any recent scouting reports for Akau, which is how we know we've reached the end of the list!
★ ★ ★
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
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.
★ ★ ★
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
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.
★ ★ ★
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
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.
★ ★ ★
Bruce Maxwell, C
Expected level: Double-A? Triple-A? | Age 25
2015 stats (Low-A Vermont): 381 PAs, 79 wRC+, 2 HR, 10.2% BB, 14.2% Ks
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 20 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Maxwell led NCAA Division III with 15 homers and a .918 slugging percentage in 2012, when the Athletics made him the highest-drafted D-III player in nearly a decade by taking him 62nd overall. Maxwell hasn't been able to match that level of production in the Minor Leagues.
While Maxwell hasn't been able to tap into his raw power, his sound approach at the plate hasn't wavered. Maxwell works counts, and he focuses on driving the ball from gap to gap. He has made significant strides defensively in the Minor Leagues. His large size limits his agility, but he's improved his receiving to go with his strong arm.
Maxwell had a tough introduction to Double-A in 2014 and will need to show the improvements he's made as a professional will continue to play as he advances to the upper levels of the Minor 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!