We're just past the midpoint of the baseball season, with the MLB All-Star Game approaching and the minor league versions already in the rear-view. We've been following the Oakland A's top prospects all year, but now it's time for one big midseason update. We're going to focus on our 2016 Community Prospect List Top 30, plus a handful of other guys who have stepped up this summer.
The first section of this progress report will be the big table of stats. We've got our Top 30 prospects, plus five more of the best of the rest. After that we'll consider which prospects have raised their stock with strong performances and which ones have taken a step back.
Each player is listed at his current level, and his stats only include his performance at that level. The levels refer to the Oakland A's (MLB), the Nashville Sounds (AAA), the Midland RockHounds (AA), the High-A Stockton Ports (A+), the Single-A Beloit Snappers (A), the short-season Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters (A-), and the Arizona Rookie League (RK).
There wasn't a lot of room for the stats, so I had to pick and choose which ones to include in order to pack in as much punch as possible. It's meant to be read like this, from left to right:
- sample size (IP or PAs)
- big-picture, is he above or below average (ERA/ERA+, wRC+)
- underlying peripherals (K, BB, HR rates, FIP)
- for MLB guys, overall value (WAR)
I chose fWAR over bWAR for this because I wanted the superior predictive power of process-based fWAR rather than the hindsight of results-based bWAR. I would have liked to include the slash line for hitters (AVG/OBP/SLG) but it's just a bit too much for such a small space. Finally, I put the pitching stats in green text in an attempt to differentiate them from the hitting stats; feel free to let me know if that's useful or distracting.
|1||Sean Manaea||LHP||24||MLB||60 ip, 71 ERA+, 2.45 K/BB, 4.81 FIP, 0.3 fWAR|
|2||Franklin Barreto||SS||20||AA||341 PAs, 100 wRC+, 7 HR, 7.0% BB, 19.9% Ks, 20 SB|
|3||Matt Olson||1B/OF||22||AAA||332 PAs, 90 wRC+, 8 HR, 13.9% BB, 27.1% Ks|
|4||Matt Chapman||3B||23||AA||355 PAs, 127 wRC+, 20 HR, 11.5% BB, 31.3% Ks|
|5||Chad Pinder||SS||24||AAA||336 PAs, 92 wRC+, 10 HR, 5.1% BB, 23.8% Ks|
|6||Renato Nunez||3B/1B||22||AAA||342 PAs, 79 wRC+, 12 HR, 5.6% BB, 18.4% Ks|
|7||Yairo Munoz||SS||21||AA||199 PAs, 73 wRC+, 5 HR, 5.5% BB, 19.6% Ks|
|8||Richie Martin||SS||21||A+||173 PAs, 79 wRC+, 1 HR, 8.7 BB%, 17.3% Ks|
|9||Casey Meisner||RHP||21||A+||71 ip, 4.82 ERA, 56 Ks, 42 BB, 9 HR. 5.57 FIP|
|10||Dillon Overton||LHP||24||AAA||89⅔ ip, 3.01 ERA, 75 Ks, 23 BB, 2 HR, 3.22 FIP|
|11||Rangel Ravelo||1B||24||AAA||248 PAs, 81 wRC+, 5 HR, 7.7% BB, 16.1% Ks|
|12||Joey Wendle||2B||26||AAA||338 PAs, 80 wRC+, 7 HR, 5.0% BB, 23.7% Ks|
|13||Dakota Chalmers||RHP||19||A-||17⅓ ip, 2.60 ERA, 19 Ks, 6 BB, 2 HR, 4.24 FIP|
|14||Raul Alcantara||RHP||23||AA||79 ip, 4.67 ERA, 62 Ks, 25 BB, 11 HR, 4.42 FIP|
|15||Daniel Mengden||RHP||23||MLB||35⅔ ip, 92 ERA+, 2.47 K/BB, 4.07 FIP, 0.5 fWAR|
|16||Mikey White||SS/2B||22||A+||300 PAs, 71 wRC+, 3 HR, 8.3% BB, 27.7% Ks|
|17||Ryan Dull||RHP||26||MLB||43⅔ ip, 202 ERA+, 5.75 K/BB, 3.18 FIP, 0.7 fWAR|
|18||Skye Bolt||OF||22||A||207 PAs, 107 wRC+, 2 HR, 9.7% BB, 20.8% Ks|
|19||Zack Erwin||LHP||22||A+||75 ip, 6.12 ERA, 53 Ks, 28 BB, 10 HR, 5.28 FIP|
|20||Ryon Healy||3B/1B||24||AAA||205 PAs, 127 wRC+, 6 HR, 6.3% BB, 19.0% Ks|
|21||Jaycob Brugman||OF||24||AAA||200 PAs, 108 wRC+, 4 HR, 8.0% BB, 22.5% Ks|
|22||J.B. Wendelken||RHP||23||AAA||30⅔ ip, 4.70 ERA, 46 Ks, 18 BB, 5 HR, 4.94 FIP|
|23||Dylan Covey*||RHP||24||AA||29⅓ ip, 1.84 ERA, 26 Ks, 17 BB, 2 HR, 4.07 FIP|
|24||Sandber Pimentel||1B||21||A+||298 PAs, 114 wRC+, 12 HR, 10.7% BB, 28.9% Ks|
|25||Heath Fillmyer||RHP||22||A+||85 ip, 3.71 ERA, 83 Ks, 28 BB, 3 HR, 3.28 FIP|
|26||Dustin Driver||RHP||21||A||16 ip, 7.88 ERA, 10 Ks, 19 BB, 1 HR, 6.60 FIP|
|27||Daniel Gossett||RHP||23||AA||37 ip, 3.65 ERA, 37 Ks, 12 BB, 3 HR, 3.15 FIP|
|28||Bruce Maxwell||C||25||AAA||189 PAs, 108 wRC+, 5 HR, 11.1% BB, 19.6% Ks|
|29||Bobby Wahl||RHP||24||AA||29⅓ ip, 2.76 ERA, 33 Ks, 12 BB, 2 HR, 3.09 FIP|
|30||Tyler Ladendorf||Util||28||MLB||3-for-32, 1 BB, 8 Ks, -49 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR|
|SU||Tyler Marincov||OF||24||AA||193 PAs, 131 wRC+, 5 HR, 8.8% BB, 22.3% Ks|
|SU||Kyle Friedrichs||RHP||24||A+||44⅔ ip, 4.23 ERA, 46 Ks, 4 BB, 4 HR, 3.08 FIP|
|SU||James Naile||RHP||23||A||76 ip, 2.72 ERA, 52 Ks, 15 BB, 1 HR, 2.87 FIP|
|SU||Evan Manarino||LHP||23||A||96⅔ ip, 2.33, ERA, 83 Ks, 15 BB, 1 HR, 2.42 FIP|
|SU||Boomer Biegalski||RHP||21||A||92 ip, 3.03 ERA, 65 Ks, 21 BB, 4 HR, 3.37 FIP|
At the end of the table, there are five unranked players whom I've labeled SU (Stepping Up). I picked those five, but there are some other players you might reasonably prefer. I liked Marincov's success in the upper minors, Friedrichs' striking improvement at High-A, and the other standout members of Beloit's rotation. The other guys who made my short list were high-strikeout reliever Tucker Healy (AAA), outfield leadoff types James Harris (A+) and B.J. Boyd (A+), and low minors hitters Chris Iriart (A) and Brett Siddall (A).
4. Matt Chapman (3B, AA)
10. Dillon Overton (LHP, AAA)
15. Daniel Mengden (RHP, MLB)
18. Ryan Dull (RHP, MLB)
20. Ryon Healy (1B/3B, AAA)
21. Jaycob Brugman (OF, AAA)
24. Sandber Pimentel (1B, A+)
25. Heath Fillmyer (RHP, A+)
27. Daniel Gossett (RHP, AA)
28. Bruce Maxwell (C, AAA)
These guys have all gotten off to great starts this year, and some of them have already earned promotions to higher levels. If we re-voted today, all of them would probably rank higher than they did before the season.
Heading up this list are the pitchers Mengden and Dull. The former needed no time to adjust to the upper minors, and jumped from Double-A to Oakland in just a couple months. Dull was valued like a middle reliever in the back of the pen but has already exceeded that expectation while setting an MLB record by stranding his first 36 inherited runners of the season.
As for the other pitchers, Gossett has added a cutter to his repertoire and ridden an increased strikeout rate to Double-A ahead of schedule. Fillmyer has moved from being a long-term project to a legitimate prospect on the cusp of making the high minors. Overton got roughed up in his first MLB trial, but just the fact that he made his debut already at all is a big deal because that seemed like his top realistic goal for the year.
On the hitting side, Healy might be the biggest story of the whole system this season. He was far enough down the depth chart in March that he was sent back to Double-A despite a good year there in 2015, but he smashed his way to such overwhelming numbers that he not only forced his way up to Triple-A Nashville but is now their best hitter as well. Brugman has experienced the same story, but to a slightly lesser extent all around. Both of them have gone from being buried on the depth chart to looking like legitimate candidates to reach Oakland by the end of the season.
Chapman has also raised his star, but in a different way. He was already a top talent in the system, as you can see from his No. 4 rank, but he's made his name on the national stage after a monster spring training performance and then an even bigger power display in Double-A. All those dingers have allowed him to crack the MLB.com list at No. 96 overall in the minors.
Finally, Pimentel and Maxwell are two guys who haven't been incredible but have at least moved up to a new level and succeeded. They started low on the CPL, so even their modest success is impressive. Pimentel has maintained his power and patience en route to a well-above-average line in High-A, and Maxwell has quietly been one of the better hitters in Nashville's struggling lineup.
1. Sean Manaea (LHP, MLB)
2. Franklin Barreto (SS, AA)
5. Chad Pinder (SS, AAA)
8. Richie Martin (SS, A+)
13. Dakota Chalmers (RHP, A-)
18. Skye Bolt (OF, A)
22. J.B. Wendelken (RHP, AAA)
23. Dylan Covey (RHP, AA)
29. Bobby Wahl (RHP, AA)
30. Tyler Ladendorf (UTIL, MLB)
The guys on this list fall into one of these categories: they moved up but have found only middling success at their new level, they haven't played much due to an injury that isn't a long-term concern, or they haven't played much because they're in short-season ball. That last one refers to Chalmers, who has only pitched a few times so far for Low-A Vermont.
Manaea and Wendelken both made their MLB debuts, the former more permanently than the latter. That's enough to keep them off the naughty list below. Making the Show is a big deal and the A's don't promote those kinds of guys lightly. However, both of them were expected to debut and they've gotten shelled in the bigs, so it's hard to say they've really raised their stocks. Manaea entered as a guy who needed to refine his control to become a quality MLB starter, and that's still what he is. Wendelken is still a potential middle reliever.
Barreto and Pinder are in much the same boat. Neither one of them is crushing his new league but neither one is having an awful year either. They both moved up a level and are just plugging away, getting used to their new digs and trying to stick in the middle infield. The needle hasn't moved much on either one.
Martin (meniscus), Bolt (hamstring), and Covey (oblique) all missed significant time in the first half, so it's tough to judge their performances. But none of those injuries are particularly alarming, not like if a pitcher had TJS or something. These guys get mulligans for the first half.
Finally, Wahl is repeating Double-A and doing well. That's good because he's healthy, but until he resumes his move up the ladder it'll be hard to get too excited. Ladendorf has gotten some MLB time and seems to have established himself as the 26th man on the roster, so as with the pitchers above that's enough to keep him up in this section for now.
3. Matt Olson (OF, AAA)
6. Renato Nunez (1B/3B, AAA)
7. Yairo Munoz (SS, AA)
9. Casey Meisner (RHP, A+)
11. Rangel Ravelo (1B, AAA)
12. Joey Wendle (2B, AAA)
14. Raul Alcantara (RHP, AA)
16. Mikey White (SS, A+)
19. Zack Erwin (LHP, A+)
26. Dustin Driver (RHP, A)
These guys aren't doing so hot, and even if they're up at a new level they're struggling enough to cause concern.
Leading things off are Olson and Nunez, two of the sluggers who were supposed to start knocking on Oakland's door this summer. Nunez got off to a great start but has cratered in June and July, whereas Olson started slow and has only partially redeemed himself. There's still plenty of time for the pair of 22-year-olds to make their adjustments and become quality big league players, but their early struggles don't inspire any extra confidence.
Also in Triple-A, Ravelo and Wendle aren't hitting either. They're both fringe guys who rely on their performance out-weighing their raw tools, so if they aren't putting up numbers then there isn't much to get excited about. (Pinder escaped joining his teammates in this section because he has slightly better numbers than these four Sounds and he plays the toughest defensive position of all of them, albeit poorly.)
In Double-A, Munoz missed a bunch of time to injury and has not hit much since returning, though at least he's at a new level and is young for his league. Why isn't he up in the previous section with the other injured guys? Three reasons: we have higher hopes for him than the others, he's not in his first full season like the other injured hitters, and he really could have used a hot start to prove his late-2015 resurgence was legit. Basically, his situation is similar but I'm holding him to a higher standard. Meanwhile, Alcantara has a clock ticking on him as he's already on the 40-man roster burning up options. He isn't making much noise in Midland and was already interrupted by one brief DL stint.
Down in the low minors, Meisner was so bad that he was sent to the bullpen, and Erwin can't be far behind with his awful numbers. White seemed like he might be a fast-track candidate, but he hasn't hit a lick. Driver missed a bunch of time on the DL and has mostly just walked people when he's made it onto the mound.
Overall I'd say it's been a slightly positive year for the A's farm so far with a sunny forecast ahead. They've graduated a few players to MLB, and several mid-level guys have stepped up in major ways. There has been some failure mixed in, but not a single guy on the CPL has suffered a particularly serious or season-ending injury. Plus, there's a strong draft class joining the ranks and the promise of more talent to come in July trades.
What would a new Top 10 look like today? Manaea has pitched enough to graduate already, so he's off the list. Mengden and Dull aren't quite there yet but will surely reach that point soon enough, so they're gone too.
Barreto is probably still the top guy despite his pedestrian performance (he's still 20 years old at Double-A), but Chapman has done enough to pass Olson at this point. Overton has passed Meisner as well as some of the stagnant hitters, and Healy has definitely cracked the list. There are also the new draft picks to consider. I gave it a shot and ended up with a Top 12:
1. Franklin Barreto, SS
2. Matt Chapman, 3B
3. A.J. Puk, LHP
4. Matt Olson, OF
5. Dillon Overton, LHP
6. Ryon Healy, 3B/1B
7. Chad Pinder, SS
8. Renato Nunez, 3B/1B
9. Yairo Munoz, SS
10. Daniel Gossett, RHP
11. Richie Martin, SS
12. Dakota Chalmers, RHP
(Munoz and Pinder were the guys I struggled the most to classify in the three sections above. But as you can see, Munoz's inclusion on the naughty list didn't hurt him much in this Top 12, as he still stayed ahead of Martin and only the major breakout guys passed him. Pinder was right on the border between the neutral and naughty lists.)
What do you think of that ranking? I'm open to suggestions on this one. Let's duke it out in the comments.