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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #3: Matt Chapman, the third baseman of the near future

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The left side of Triple-A Nashville’s infield is well represented on our 2017 Community Prospect List, with Matt Chapman taking the No. 2 spot. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between their % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up):

  1. Franklin Barreto, SS (+67%)
  2. Matt Chapman, 3B (+26%)

There is a reasonable argument to be made that Chapman could be No. 1 on this list, as advocated by grover during the first CPL vote. He and Barreto could both turn out as good hitters in their own ways — the former via power and walks, the latter via high contact and liners — but Chapman’s superb defense might give him the bigger chance of being a two-way star. Meanwhile, Barreto’s upside lies more heavily on one side of the ball (his bat).

Concerns about Chapman’s hit tool are likely the biggest thing dragging him down to No. 2, since that’s the biggest weakness between the two of them. Will he make enough contact to get on base and use his power? It’s a legitimate question to ask as he prepares to face the highest levels of pro pitching, though clearly most of us believe in him enough to vote him this high on the list -- even if his bat only turns into off-year Chris Carter, he could still be worth a couple wins thanks to his defense. Add a good OBP to that power, and yowza.

Chapman will probably start 2017 in Triple-A. That already seemed like the prudent course of action, since he’s only played a couple dozen games there and needs to continue honing those contact skills, and then the A’s went and signed Trevor Plouffe to play 3B. Now Chapman appears to be a virtual lock for Nashville beyond all question, which should hopefully give him as much time as he needs to bloom.

The only question is how long he’ll take — a couple months? All season? Plouffe is only on a one-year contract, and the A’s had no problem displacing the sort-of-productive Danny Valencia last summer when Ryon Healy was ready for an MLB spot. In other words, nothing is theoretically required of Chapman this year now that Plouffe is here, but if he’s ready quickly then space could probably be made. And once he’s here, he’s got as good a chance as anyone of being the next homegrown star we’ve been waiting for.

Here is the process (please read, there are minor changes):

  • Five candidates will be listed on the ballot. The voting will take place in the comments section. I will start with a comment listing all five players, and then I will respond to that with five 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 your ONE favorite by Rec'ing the comment with his name. Please only vote for one. The player who receives the most Rec's earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by a new nominee.
  • In the comments, below the official voting, commenters will nominate players to be put onto the ballot for the next round. Similar to the ballot, I will start with a comment calling for nominations, which can then be made as a response to my comment. The format for your comment should be "Nomination: Player Name".
  • After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec'ing that comment. The player with the most Rec's earns the nomination.
  • 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.

* * *

The new nominee is Matt Olson. The slugger only had a mediocre year in Triple-A in 2016, but he was young for his league and playing in a tough home ballpark. Plus, he showed marked improvement in the second half, which is encouraging, and he even made his MLB debut. He’s right on the cusp of reaching the bigs for good, and he seems sure to get a trial sometime this summer.

XBH = Extra-Base Hits
Hitter average rates: 100 wRC+, 8.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

Matt Olson, 1B/OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23

2016 stats (AAA): 540 PAs, 102 wRC+, 17 HR, 13.1% BB, 24.4% Ks
2016 stats (MLB): 2-for-21, 7 BB, 4 Ks, .321 OBP, 54 wRC+

From John Sickels:

Stock down somewhat after he got off to a slow start in ’16 but he was hotter down the stretch and slugged .475 with .356 OBP in second half of season; still young; power/patience hitter, struggles against lefties but can handle right-handers; at this point projects as productive platoon bat rather than a star but that still has value. ETA 2018.

* * *

A.J. Puk, LHP

Expected level: High-A? | Age 22

2016 stats (A-): 10 starts, 3.03 ERA, 32⅔ ip, 40 Ks, 12 BB, 0 HR, 1.93 FIP

From John Sickels:

6-7 southpaw with mid-upper-90s fastball and plus slider, solid-average change-up; stuff and command sagged at times in the spring when he was dealing with a back injury but when healthy he’s overpowering and usually throws strikes; upside of a number two starter and could advance quickly. ETA late 2018.

* * *

Jharel Cotton, RHP

Expected level: MLB? | Age 25

2016 stats (AAA): 28 games, 4.31 ERA, 135⅔ ip, 155 Ks, 39 BB, 20 HR, 4.22 FIP
2016 stats (MLB): 5 starts, 2.15 ERA, 29⅓ ip, 23 Ks, 4 BB, 4 HR, 3.76 FIP

From John Sickels:

Excellent change-up, can mix in decent cutter and curve; leap forward came when velocity picked up from 89-92 in college to 92-95 over the last year; control was excellent in the majors, too; ready for a full trial; was viewed mainly as a reliever in past seasons but did so well as a starter in ’16 that it looks like he can remain in that role, at least as a number three/four type. ETA 2017.

* * *

Frankie Montas, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2016 stats (AA + AAA): 7 games, 16 ip, 22 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR
2016 stats (AFL): 6 games, 17 ip, 9 Ks, 8 BB, 0 HR

From John Sickels:

Limited to just 16 innings by rib injury but was excellent in those innings ... fastball 95-100 MPH with peaks at 101-102; average to plus slider; threw strikes with the hard stuff in ’16 but change-up remains erratic; most observers view him as a reliever at this point, albeit a really good one. ETA 2017.

* * *

Grant Holmes, RHP

Expected level: Double-A? | Age 21

2016 stats (A+): 26 games, 4.63 ERA, 134 ip, 124 Ks, 53 BB, 10 HR, 4.09 FIP

From John Sickels:

Reports still have fastball in mid-90s with plus curve, but change-up has lagged and he hasn’t been as dominant as you’d expect from the stuff reports; command within the strike zone remains inconsistent, traced to mechanical problems which come and go; still young enough to live up to the early hype. ETA 2019.

* * *

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!