This week, we're going to take some time to check in on the players who are considered to be some of the A's most promising prospects - the players who were most prominently featured in this preseason's top 10 and top 20 lists. Among the A's top 10 prospects, third baseman Matt Chapman, who's currently the Texas League home run leader, and fellow third baseman Renato Nunez, who leads Nashville in numerous offensive categories, have been the season's most impressive performers. And among the organization's top 20 prospects, pitcher Daniel Mengden, who's surrendered a total of just two runs over his first six starts, has been the clear standout so far this season. You can always stay up to date on all the top prospects and daily action in the A's minor league system on my Athletics Farm site, and you can get the latest on the A's most promising prospects right here on Athletics Nation...
TOP PROSPECTS THIS SEASON:
(through games of 5/8/16)
3B Matt Chapman (Midland - AA)
9 HR / 17 BB / 32 K / .257 AVG / .368 OBP / .558 SLG / .926 OPS
3B Renato Nunez (Nashville - AAA)
5 HR / 7 BB / 19 K / .298 AVG / .353 OBP / .538 SLG / .892 OPS
2B Joey Wendle (Nashville - AAA)
4 HR / 5 BB / 32 K / .228 AVG / .264 OBP / .404 SLG / .668 OPS
SS-2B Franklin Barreto (Midland - AA)
3 HR / 7 BB / 29 K / .243 AVG / .306 OBP / .360 SLG / .666 OPS
SS-2B Yairo Munoz (Midland - AA)
1 HR / 3 BB / 5 K / .226 AVG / .294 OBP / .323 SLG / .617 OPS
OF-1B Matt Olson (Nashville - AAA)
3 HR / 15 BB / 30 K / .161 AVG / .279 OBP / .310 SLG / .589 OPS
1B Rangel Ravelo (Nashville - AAA)
0 HR / 7 BB / 13 K / .218 AVG / .279 OBP / .256 SLG / .535 OPS
SS Chad Pinder (Nashville - AAA)
1 HR / 2 BB / 31 K / .200 AVG / .218 OBP / .314 SLG / .532 OPS
RHP Daniel Mengden (Midland/Nashville - AA/AAA)
(36 IP / 24 H / 2 ER / 14 BB / 40 K / 0.50 ERA / 1.06 WHIP)
RHP Casey Meisner (Stockton - A+)
(30 2/3 IP / 27 H / 14 ER / 18 BB / 24 K / 4.11 ERA / 1.47 WHIP)
LHP Dillon Overton (Nashville - AAA)
(32 2/3 IP / 41 H / 17 ER / 5 BB / 28 K / 4.68 ERA / 1.41 WHIP)
RHP Raul Alcantara (Midland - AA)
(27 2/3 IP / 26 H / 17 ER / 14 BB / 28 K / 5.53 ERA / 1.45 WHIP)
Pacific Coast League - Triple-A
The Sounds started the season with more top prospects than any of the A's other affiliates. But when it comes to position players, unfortunately, only one of them has really been performing well so far this season. Third baseman Renato Nunez leads the team in hits, total bases, batting average and slugging percentage, and his 5 home runs tie him with Max Muncy for the team lead. Nunez has been solid at the plate all season but, of course, he's also made 6 errors in 23 games at third base. And after looking uncomfortable in a handful of games at first base last season, he hasn't made an appearance there so far this season. Nunez very much resembles a right-handed version of Pedro Alvarez. His power could play in the majors, but maybe nowhere better than in the DH spot. Besides Nunez, outfielder/first baseman Matt Olson and shortstop Chad Pinder are the other two top position player prospects starting the year at Nashville and, though it's still early, both have been under-performing so far this season. Olson's power has yet to really show up. He has just 7 extra-base hits - 3 home runs and 4 doubles. While he has 15 walks, he has just 14 hits - as well as 30 strikeouts - and the walks just aren't enough to outweigh his .161 batting average. As for Pinder, he has just 2 walks to go with 31 strikeouts, leading to a paltry .218 on-base percentage. But perhaps even more concerning are his 12 errors in 24 games at shortstop. A couple of other infield prospects at Nashville have also been under-performing early in the season. Second baseman Joey Wendle has drawn just 5 walks while notching 32 strikeouts and putting up a .264 OBP. And first baseman Rangel Ravelo hasn't shown much pop, with only 3 extra-base hits on the season and an anemic .256 slugging percentage. Fortunately, there's been some better news on the mound. After 3 impressive starts for Nashville, the organization's top pitching prospect, LHP Sean Manaea, was promoted to the A's. And while LHP Dillon Overton's ERA currently stands at a rather unimpressive 4.68, he was looking much better before allowing 7 runs in his last start, with much of that damage coming due to a grand slam. So here's hoping his last outing was just an anomaly. But the best news has been the hot start of RHP Daniel Mengden, whom pretty much everyone failed to put in their preseason Top 10. All Mengden's done is allow 2 runs over 4 starts for Midland and then allow no runs in his first 2 starts for Nashville. It's pretty hard to ignore his 0.50 ERA and 40 strikeouts (which leads all A's minor leaguers) in 36 innings this season. And Mengden makes one think about A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily back in 2012, when both of them started out great in Double-A, kept impressing after they were bumped up to Triple-A, and ultimately ended up finishing the season in the A's starting rotation. Et tu, Mr. Mengden?
Texas League - Double-A
Besides Nashville, the next biggest crop of prospects is at Midland this season, with infielders Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto, Yairo Munoz and Ryon Healy leading the way. Chapman leads the A's organization, as well as the Texas League, in home runs with 9. And keep in mind, this ain't the California League. He's been playing in a pitchers' park in a pitchers' league, so we know those haven't been cheap home runs. The other good news is that the third baseman's walk rate has really been on the rise this year, with 17 in 133 plate appearances. It should be noted that he does have 32 strikeouts as well. Barreto started off slow, then heated up a bit, then cooled off again. After going 8 for 19 over 4 games, he's now 0 for his last 15 and currently sports a .243/.306/.360 slash line. But there's been better news on the speed and defense fronts. Barreto's 7 stolen bases tie him for the most among A's minor leaguers with Beloit's Justin Higley. And after making 34 errors in 86 games for Stockton last year, he's made just 3 miscues in 23 games at shortstop for Midland this season. He's also made 4 starts at second base and, after fouling a ball off his leg in Thursday's game and missing a little time, Barreto returned to the RockHounds starting lineup on Sunday. Munoz got a late start to the season after dealing with nagging foot, heel and quad issues and has only appeared in 8 games thus far. He went 4 for 11 with a home run in his first 3 games but has gone 3 for 20 over his last 5 games since then. Munoz has started 4 games at shortstop, 3 games at second base and 1 game in the DH spot. Back for his second season at Midland, Healy has been the hitting star for the Hounds, and he currently has the best batting average (.339) and slugging percentage (.653) among A's minor leaguers while playing primarily at first base. There aren't a lot of top pitching prospects on Midland's pitching staff. RHP Raul Alcantara is probably the RockHounds' most promising pitching prospect. The 23-year-old currently has a 5.54 ERA and has looked a little shaky at times, but he turned in an impressive 6-inning no-hit appearance on Thursday, so he could be coming around. RHP Dylan Covey is currently sporting a 1.84 ERA, though his 1.30 WHIP is probably more reflective of his performance this season. Covey exited Sunday's start after throwing just one inning due to what appears to be an oblique strain. That could cause him to miss some time, but at least it doesn't seem to be an arm issue anyway.
California League - High-A
Unlike Nashville and Midland, most of the top prospects with the Ports are on the pitching mound. Stockton's starting rotation consists of five promising pitching prospects: Daniel Gossett, Heath Fillmyer, Zack Erwin, Casey Meisner and Brett Graves. Gossett returned to action this week after a brief stint on the disabled list due to a trapezius muscle issue. His command has really seemed to improve this year, as he's struck out 30 and walked just 6 in 22 innings of work. Fillmyer has looked impressive at times. He had one disastrous outing where he gave up 9 runs but, besides that, he's failed to allow more than 2 earned runs in any start and, perhaps even more impressively, he's yet to allow a home run in 32 2/3 innings in the homer-happy California League. Erwin has also mostly looked solid, with one 8-run outing being the only blotch on his scorecard. Besides that, he hasn't allowed more than 1 earned run in any of his starts. After walking just 7 batters in 7 starts for Stockton last season, Meisner has struggled with his control this year. And he's walked 18 in just 30 2/3 innings for the Ports. Graves got off to a rough start for Stockton, giving up 15 earned runs in his first 19 innings. But he's looked solid in his last 2 starts, allowing just 3 earned runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 8 over 11 2/3 innings of work. Last year's 2nd-round draft pick for the A's, shortstop Mikey White, was probably the top-ranked position player prospect for the Ports heading into the season. And he's pretty much been struggling at the plate, with a .196/.265/.265 slash line in his first 27 games for Stockton.
Midwest League - Class-A
There aren't a whole lot of top prospects playing for the Snappers this season. But the most promising prospects appear to be on the pitching side. 2013's 7th-round draft pick for the A's, RHP Dustin Driver, struggled with his control, walking 15 in just 11 1/3 innings, before landing on the disabled list after exiting a game with elbow pain. Driver is currently being treating for neuritis, which is basically nerve inflammation, and there doesn't currently appear to be any structural damage to his arm. Meanwhile, last year's 7th-round draft pick, RHP Kyle Friedrichs, has been one of the Snappers' most solid pitchers so far this season, walking just 3 batters n 31 1/3 innings while putting up a pretty impressive 2.01 ERA. Last year's 14th-round pick, RHP Boomer Biegalski, has also looked good, striking out 32 in 33 1/3 innings while posting a 2.16 ERA. And last year's 9th-round pick, LHP Jared Lyons, has been strong out of the bullpen, allowing just 1 run while striking out 11 in 10 1/3 innings for Beloit. When it comes to position players, last year's 4th-round pick, center fielder Skye Bolt has garnered most of the attention. And he's been solid for the Snappers, putting up a .291/.376/.430 slash line so far this season. Bolt looked like he might have pulled something running down the first-base line in Friday's game and didn't play this weekend. But he hasn't yet landed on the disabled list, so hopefully it's nothing too serious and he'll be able to return to action before long for Beloit.
And as per one of our reader's suggestions, here are links to each affiliate's Baseball Reference page...
You can check out my site - Athletics Farm - for updates on the A's minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.