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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #4: A.J. Puk was a first-round jackpot

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s had the sixth overall selection in the draft last summer, which was their highest pick since 1998. They turned that pick into high-octane lefty A.J. Puk, who already clocks in as the No. 3 prospect on our CPL. 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%)
  3. A.J. Puk, LHP (+38%)

During the lead-up to the 2016 draft, Puk was commonly mentioned as a candidate to go first overall. There was never any kind of consensus, and some of that was based on projection of what he might do in what turned out to be a flawed college season, but he was at least part of the conversation. Instead, he fell to Oakland, and the A’s got the kind of high ceiling I was hoping for with their premium high pick without having to gamble on a high school teenager.

Puk is big (6’7), he throws hard (mid-upper-90s), his fastball is one of the best individual tools in the whole system, and he has at least one secondary pitch (slider, developing changeup). His question mark is his control and command, but in his brief pro debut last year, at Low-A Vermont, he threw strikes and generally dominated. The competition in Low-A isn’t much, but the point is that he passed his first test with flying colors. We don’t know yet where he’ll open 2017, but my guess is that the A’s go the aggressive route and move him straight to High-A Stockton.

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.

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The new nominee is Daniel Gossett. The right-hander had a breakout year thanks in part to the addition of a cutter, and he rode his hot streak all the way from High-A up to Triple-A. He barely made the CPL last winter at No. 27, but this time around he should crack the Top 10.

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

Daniel Gossett, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2016 stats (A+): 9 starts, 3.33 ERA, 46 ip, 53 Ks, 13 BB, 4 HR, 3.45 FIP
2016 stats (AA): 16 starts, 2.49 ERA, 94 ip, 94 Ks, 25 BB, 4 HR, 2.57 FIP
2016 stats (AAA): 2 starts, 1.98 ERA, 13⅔ ip, 4 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HR, 3.80 FIP

From John Sickels:

Fastball in 90-94 range, with some reports as high as 95-96, with solid-average curveball and change-up; whole greater than the sum of the parts; Holmes draws more praise for his stuff but Gossett is a lot more polished, granted Gossett is also four years older; ready for a trial soon with workhorse potential. ETA 2017.

* * *

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.

* * *

Matt Olson, 1B

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.

* * *

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!