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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #8: Does Matt Olson graduate to MLB this year?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

In our closest vote yet, slugger Matt Olson won the next spot on our 2017 Community Prospect List. 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%)
  7. Matt Olson, 1B/OF (+10%)

The A’s drafted Olson in 2012, so he’s entering his fifth full season in Oakland’s system. Here’s a look back at where he has ranked in our CPL during that time:

2013: 10th
2014: 11th
2015: 1st
2016: 3rd
2017: 7th

His 1st-round draft pedigree got him onto those early lists, and his 37 homers in High-A got him to the top (plus, the A’s system was especially weak entering 2015). He has since fallen down but not bottomed out, thanks to a couple of seasons in the upper minors that don’t jump off the page at you but aren’t bad if you look at them in depth.

This could be a defining year for Olson. He’s 23 and he’s already debuted in MLB, but now he’s on the cusp of reaching the bigs for good if he can just seize whatever opportunities he’s given throughout the summer. A breakout performance in the first half could ink his name into the A’s lineup for the foreseeable future. Another relatively quiet campaign won’t close the book on him, but it would surely drop him out of the Top 10 prospect list next winter and could leave him open to getting passed (and even buried) on the depth chart. The safe guess is that he’ll open this year in Triple-A, though if he has a huge spring then I could see him getting a shot early.

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.

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The new nominee is Richie Martin. The 2015 1st-round pick had a rough start to his first full pro season, missing the first couple months to a knee injury and then hitting poorly through July. However, a late surge, reportedly spurred by some adjustments to his swing, salvaged some positivity out of the campaign and even earned him a quick promotion up to Double-A at the end. He has a lot to prove in 2017, but at least his last impression was a good one.

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

Richie Martin, SS

Expected level: Double-A | Age 22

2016 stats (A+): 382 PAs, 78 wRC+, 3 HR, 9.4% BB, 19.1% Ks
2016 stats (AA + playoffs): 13-for-40, 4 XBH, 6 BB, 10 Ks, 164 wRC+

From John Sickels:

Not much of a hitter at this point due to lack of power but he makes contact at least and offensive improvement is possible in the long-run; draws raves for glovework, with strong arm, range, reliability, and field awareness all standing out. ETA late 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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!