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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #7: Grant Holmes, from trade headliner to great third piece

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s made a big deadline trade in July to acquire three pitching prospects from the Dodgers, in exchange for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. All three of those pitchers are now ranked in the Top 6 of our Community Prospect List, with Grant Holmes rounding out the trio. 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%)
  4. Jharel Cotton, RHP (+60%)
  5. Frankie Montas, RHP (+12%)
  6. Grant Holmes, RHP (+27%)

At the time of the trade, Holmes was the headliner, a 20-year-old Top 100 prospect already striking out hitters in High-A. However, there are three likely reasons why he has slipped down below his trade-mates.

The first is proximity to MLB. This debate always goes back and forth, between guys with high ceilings and those who are closer to making MLB at all, but in this case the scales are tipped extra far. Not only is Cotton close to the bigs, we’ve already seen him debut and pitch well at the highest level. Montas has flashed his elite fastball in the Arizona Fall League, and has also already debuted in the bigs (2015, White Sox). Holmes hasn’t pitched above the upper minors. This isn’t any kind of decisive conclusion to the age-old ceiling vs. proximity debate, but it’s easy to see why Cotton and Montas won this round.

The second reason is that Holmes didn’t pitch well for the Stockton Ports after the trade. This isn’t an actual long-term problem — he was a 20-year-old, already past his career-high in innings, pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly Cal League, in which he was the second-youngest* pitcher, and he had to switch teams and cities and homes and coaching staffs at the drop of a hat. These are reasons I’m not worried about his six-start slump at the end of an otherwise constructive campaign. But all that said, the shaky first impression isn’t going to win him any extra votes in the present day.

Finally, the third reason is a bit more abstract. All winter long, in the comment sections of our various posts about offseason plans and trade rumors and the hot stove, many of us have tossed around Holmes’ name as a potential trade chip. For the most part, we saw what happened last year with Jacob Nottingham — top prospect acquired at deadline (for Scott Kazmir), but super young and far from MLB, flipped a few months later for more immediate help in the form of Khris Davis. And we thought ... yeah, let’s do that again, maybe for a CF this time. Not because we don’t think Holmes is good, but because his value might be best utilized in trade, especially with so much young pitching already filling the depth chart. Still, all that talk of getting rid of a guy can make it tough to remember that the whole premise of that talk was the player being really good.

Those reasons won’t cover everyone’s thought processes, of course, but they seem like three big ones. Meanwhile, looking forward, most of us on AN predict that Holmes will move up to Double-A to begin the season. His overall 2016 numbers don’t jump off the page, but he did fine given his circumstances and his underlying performance was more impressive.

* 5 younger pitchers appeared in Cal League, but 4 of them only had quick stints adding to about 60 total innings. There was one younger full-timer, Ryan Castellani of the Rockies.

Here is the process:

  • 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 Lazaro Armenteros, or Lazarito. We don’t know much about the teenage outfielder yet, as he only signed in July and hasn’t played pro ball in the U.S. But he has big tools and earned a hefty bonus from Oakland, so hopes are high.

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

Lazaro Armenteros, OF

Expected level: Rookie Ball? | Age 18

2016 stats: Nope

From John Sickels:

Cuban signed this past summer for $3,000,000; draws praise for power/speed potential but a wide range of opinion about how quickly this will manifest on the field; optimists project him as a 20/20 type with above-average outfield defense; skeptics say his swing needs a lot of work and he is quite raw with both bat and glove; optimists counter with his birthday; you can make a case for the Top Ten on tools and you can make a case for outside the Top 20 due to rawness and lack of data. We’ll compromise at 15. ETA 2021.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Bruce Maxwell, C

Expected level: MLB | Age 26

2016 stats (AAA): 219 PAs, 148 wRC+, 10 HR, 11.0% BB, 17.8% Ks
2016 stats (MLB): 101 PAs, 103 wRC+, 1 HR, 7.9% BB, 23.8% Ks

From John Sickels:

Older prospect, but glove will keep him employed at least as a reserve; he hits left-handed which makes platoon use easier; while skepticism is understandable, he did mash in college and it is plausible that all the concentration on improving his defense kept his bat stagnant for a while; put another way, the .283/.337/.402 line may not be a fluke at all. ETA 2017.

* * *

Max Schrock, 2B

Expected level: AA | Age 22

2016 stats (A+): 552 PAs, 134 wRC+, 9 HR, 5.6% BB, 7.6% Ks
2016 stats (AA + playoffs): 17-for-57, 4 XBH, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 90 wRC+
2016 stats (AFL): 15-for-54, 6 XBH, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 95 wRC+

From John Sickels:

Best tool is speed, lacks big natural power but know how to hit with good eye, clean swing and contact ability with gap pop; limited to second base by range and arm but he’s fairly reliable; could be ideal number two hitter eventually. 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!