As most A's fans are aware by now, Athletics infield prospect Chad Pinder has been selected by the big league club to join both the 40 man and 25 man roster, as Tyler Ladendorf was place on the 15 day DL for a wrist strain and Jed Lowrie bumped to the 60 day DL due to season-ending surgery on a troublesome big toe joint.
This promotion has led to a number of follow-on promotions, with top prospect Matt Chapman being the most notable, as he bumped up to a step away from the bigs, joining the PCL leading Nashville Sounds in the midst of their playoff hunt.
Chapman was not the only promotion teed up by the Pinder callup, as the chain of events bumped all the way down to the A levels. Here is some info on the domino effect down on the farm:
Matt "Big Glove, Big Arm and Big Bat" Chapman hopped up to join the Sounds in AAA Nashville. Chapman, a 1st round pick (#24 overall) in 2014, has been by far the player of the year for the division-leading Midland Rockhounds prior to the promotion. Chapman was slashing .244/.335/.521 in the pitcher-friendly environment at Midland, with 29 dingers and 83 RBI, to go along with 78 runs. Despite never being known as a contact hitter (29% K-rate on the year), Chapman's stats highlight his power bat and his run producing ability. The 23 year old Chapman features a glove that likely would be an upgrade right now vs. the collective 2016 Athletics hot corner defenders.
The Chapman move means he is just a step away from breaking through to join a long list of players who have made their MLB debut with the A's during the 2016 season: SP Sean Manaea, SP Dillon Overton, SP Daniel Mengden, 3B Ryon Healy, RP J.B. Wendelken, C Bruce Maxwell, RP/SP Andrew Triggs, RP/SP Zach Neal, along with Pinder's debut any day. The A's also feature OF Brett Eibner, who made his big league debut with the Royals prior to the July trade to Oakland. Chapman may not see the bigs this year, but the move makes a debut by 2017 much easier to visualize.
As the promotion train moved down the levels, OF James Harris was the next to benefit, as he took Chapman's place on the Midland Rockhounds' AA roster. Harris is an Oakland native and graduate of Oakland Technical High School - which happens to be the alma mater of G.O.A.T. Athletic Rickey Henderson. Harris was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1st round (#60 overall) as a 17 year old directly out of Tech in 2011. Harris did not stick with the Rays, but signed on with the Athletics as a minor league free agent prior to the 2015 season, and in his 2nd season with the organization, he has re-established himself as a potential legitimate prospect. The recently-turned 23 year old slashed .303/.379/.423 for the Stockton Ports prior to the promotion, with 41 extra base hits and 21 stolen bases, along with playing all three outfield positions, with the bulk coming in CF. Harris will get his first extended taste of the high minors over the next month, as the Rockhounds themselves compete for a Texas League title.
Pinder-Chapman-Harris were then followed by right handed 1B Chris Iriart making the jump from Class A Beloit up to A+ Stockton to take Harris' spot on the Ports' roster. The 21 year old Iriart was the Athletics' 12th round pick in the 2015 draft and slashed .231/.320/.451 in 79 games for Beloit, with a notable 16 HRs that represented double the runner-up on the Beloit team despite Iriart missing over 30 games after taking a fastball to the face. Bouncing back from that injury and making the jump up a level is a testament to some notable toughness on Iriart's part.
While the above moves essentially ended the chain of promotions, if you want to go all the way down to the low A level, 2012 international signee out of the Dominican Republic, 20 year old OF Luis Barrera also saw an August promotion from low A Vermont up to single A Beloit. Between the two levels, Barrera has slashed .324/.376/.441 in levels that are not considered hitter-friendly. Barrera's development from the international front is exciting, especially given the recent wave of notable international signings by the A's.
From top to bottom, we see movement from Pinder-Chapman-Harris-Iriart-Barrera, with 3 being draft picks, 1 being a minor league free agent getting a 2nd chance, and 1 being an international free agent. It is a very interesting domino roll of prospects who are worthy of a follow in a year where the MLB club has provided only fits and starts of competitiveness.