The Oakland A’s minor league system has gone through a lot of changes throughout the course of the 2016 season. Each level of the farm saw several top performers promoted, and the big league club featured 10 MLB debuts — and that’s before we get to September call-ups once the rosters expand next week. There have also been several high-profile additions, via trades, the draft, and the international market.
This post will contain three elements:
- The updated Top 30 A’s prospect list from MLB Pipeline.
- My own first attempt at an updated top prospect list.
- An updated organizational depth chart.
Here we go!
MLB Pipeline midseason update
Over at MLB.com, the prospect lists got a midseason update (beyond just trades and graduations). Here’s the new A’s list:
|1||Franklin Barreto||SS||20||AA||Trade (Donaldson)|
|2||A.J.Puk||LHP||21||A-||Draft (1R, 2016)|
|3||Grant Holmes||RHP||20||A+||Trade (Reddick/Hill)|
|4||Matt Chapman||3B||23||AAA||Draft (1R, 2014)|
|6||Richie Martin||SS||21||A+||Draft (1R, 2015)|
|8||Chad Pinder||SS||24||MLB||Draft (2R, 2013)|
|9||Dakota Chalmers||RHP||19||A-||Draft (3R, 2015)|
|10||Frankie Montas||RHP||23||AAA||Trade (Reddick/Hill)|
|12||Daniel Mengden||RHP||23||AAA||Trade (Kazmir)|
|13||Logan Shore||RHP||21||A-||Draft (2R, 2015)|
|14||Dillon Overton||LHP||24||AAA||Draft (2R, 2013)|
|15||Jharel Cotton||RHP||24||AAA||Trade (Reddick/Hill)|
|16||Matt Olson||1B/OF||22||AAA||Draft (1R, 2012)|
|17||Daulton Jefferies||RHP||20||RK||Draft (1R, 2016)|
|18||Heath Fillmyer||RHP||22||AA||Draft (5R, 2014)|
|19||Daniel Gossett||RHP||23||AA||Draft (2R, 2014)|
|20||Dylan Covey||RHP||24||AA||Draft (4R, 2013)|
|21||Max Schrock||2B||21||A+||Trade (Rzepczynski)|
|22||Jaycob Brugman||OF||24||AAA||Draft (17R, 2013)|
|23||Sean Murphy||C||21||A-||Draft (3R, 2016)|
|24||Casey Meisner||RHP||21||A+||Trade (Clippard)|
|25||Skylar Szynski||RHP||19||RK||Draft (4R, 2016)|
|26||Skye Bolt||OF||22||A||Draft (4R, 2015)|
|28||Joey Wendle||2B||26||AAA||Trade (Moss)|
|29||Rangel Ravelo||1B||24||AAA||Trade (Shark)|
|30||Raul Alcantara||RHP||23||AAA||Trade (Bailey)|
Ryon Healy had been ranked No. 6, but he just officially graduated to rookie status a few days ago so he is no longer a prospect. Here is a full list of the MLB graduates so far (a few others are right on the border, like RHP Zach Neal and OF Brett Eibner and RHP Daniel Mengden):
LHP Sean Manaea
RHP Ryan Dull
3B Ryon Healy
RHP Andrew Triggs
LHP Daniel Coulombe
The biggest shocker on this list is Matt Olson falling all the way from the third spot down to No. 16 (it was 17 before Healy was removed). That’s a big penalty for a year that was disappointing but not awful, especially considering that Renato Nunez got no such markdown for an even worse campaign (at the same level, at the same age, with less defensive value to make up for it).
The top five draft picks from this year made it, as did the two big international signings (Lazarito and Brito).
My own midseason update
We’ll do a full Community Prospect List vote over the winter to determine our new Top 30 rankings. But in the meantime, I thought I’d take a stab at it now, and I know many of you have already started making your own lists too.
I started thinking about this a couple weeks ago and I still tweak it daily, so think of this more as a snapshot in time than a definitive list. Let’s argue about it in the comments! Here’s my Top 20:
- Franklin Barreto, SS
- Matt Chapman, 3B
- A.J. Puk, LHP
- Daniel Mengden, RHP
- Grant Holmes, RHP
- Matt Olson, 1B/OF
- Frankie Montas, RHP
- Daniel Gossett, RHP
- Chad Pinder, SS
- Renato Nunez, 3B/1B
- Yairo Munoz, SS
- Dakota Chalmers, RHP
- Jharel Cotton, RHP
- Logan Shore, RHP
- Bruce Maxwell, C
- Jaycob Brugman, OF
- Dillon Overton, LHP
- Richie Martin, SS
- Heath Fillmyer, RHP
- Raul Alcantara, RHP
A few explanations:
- As you may know if you’ve followed my prospect updates the last couple years, I lean toward a preference for a more finished product. That will make me differ from the MLB Pipeline list, which generally gives more value to a raw youngster with a high ceiling. When it’s a close call, I personally prefer a guy who has already proven himself in the upper minors because he might have a better chance of making it to MLB at all.
- Mengden is high on my list. He’s right on the border of graduation to MLB (four outs shy of 50 ip), but to me it feels like we only saw a brief audition from him. I firmly believe he’ll be an above-average, middle-rotation starter for the A’s next year (No. 3, if you have to put a number on it).
- Gossett is high on my list too. He’s had a phenomenal year and he’s looking great in the upper minors. I see him opening at Triple-A next year and possibly challenging for a spot in Oakland midseason, all without any innings limits because he should exceed 160 this year.
- I’m sticking with Olson. He’s one of the youngest players in his league, playing in possibly the toughest park for power, so I have no problem with him repeating Triple-A next year at age 23. The same goes for Nunez, but he falls a bit further due to defensive uncertainty. And it goes for Pinder as well, who still got the call to MLB anyway (but won’t play enough to graduate).
- I have Cotton over Shore because I figure they both profile as back-end starters but Cotton is much closer to the bigs.
- Maxwell won’t play enough to graduate this year, but now that he’s reached MLB it’s easy to see him carving out a career as a backup. That means he’s got to be on this list.
- Bruggy is in my Top 20 and you can’t stop me.
- Overton and Martin have fallen far in my eyes. Overton’s lack of velocity got exposed way more than I thought it would in his brief MLB trial, and it makes me worry he might not cut it as a starter after all. Hopefully it was just a bad first impression. Martin, meanwhile, hasn’t hit at all (though he’s having a much better August) and even a glove-first defensive specialist should be able to hit in the Cal League.
- The guy I’m probably most bummed about not fitting onto this list is RHP James Naile, a 2015 draftee who pitched at every level from Beloit to Nashville this year and is currently posting over 10 K/9 as a starter in High-A.
Honorable mention: I have three guys for this, in no particular order. They come from three different genres that are difficult to judge: a top 2016 draft pick, a teenage int’l signing, and a near-MLB-ready role player.
- Daulton Jefferies, RHP ... The other top draft pick is pitching in Rookie Ball, so I guess he’s healthy. But it’s still tough to know how much to factor in his recent injury history.
- Lazaro Armenteros, OF ... The recent $3 million Cuban signee, a 17-year-old outfielder. He probably belongs in the Top 20, but I have absolutely no idea how to rank him.
- Bobby Wahl, RHP ... He was the closer in Double-A Midland, and now he’s up closing for Triple-A Nashville. This has been his first healthy season in the pros and he’s dominating. He’s getting a mention here because I think we’ll see him in Oakland in 2017, and he could be more than just a depth guy.
Here’s an updated version of the full organizational depth chart. A few details, if you’re interested, or you can just skip down to the chart:
- The top section is the 25-man roster, plus anyone on the DL (^) who is expected back relatively soon. Underneath that break line are the DL guys with fuzzier timetables, plus anyone else in Triple-A who has appeared in MLB this year (that list used to be longer!). After that comes the 60-day DL (^^), and then the minors.
- The prospects in bold are on my personal Top 20 list (the list in the section above). The ones with an asterisk (*) are on the 40-man roster.
- My goal was to err on the side of inclusion. The players on this chart are either highly touted or they’re currently playing well (or both). That means there are some fringier guys listed at the lower levels, but who knows yet which Low-A players will turn out to be the good ones? These are the ones who are standing out so far. (I also went heavy on the 2015 and 2016 drafts.)
- Alternate explanation: When I check the box scores every day, these are the names I’m looking for at each level.
- Three minor league players are listed in the “injured” section at the bottom. Others have hit the DL throughout the year, but those three guys really lost their seasons to injuries. Note that it is an unbelievably short list, and it’s absent any truly top prospects.
- Editing this graphic is easy, so if I messed something up (seems likely with a project this big) then let me know in the comments and I can fix it.
What does your updated A’s Top Prospects list look like? Share in the comments! We can take another look at all this when the MiLB season ends in a couple weeks, and again when the MLB season ends.