Monday brought the deadline for teams to protect eligible prospects from the upcoming Rule 5 draft, which will be held in December. In response, the Oakland A’s announced the addition of two pitching prospects to their 40-man roster: starter Heath Fillmyer, and reliever Lou Trivino.
The club also had to remove two names in order to make room on the roster. In a corresponding move, they designated LHP Sam Moll and OF Jaycob Brugman for assignment. We will learn their fate over the next couple weeks, with the most likely results being returning to Triple-A Nashville or being lost on waivers.
Heath Fillmyer | RHP
The right-hander didn’t become a full-time pitcher until 2014, but two years later he was succeeding in hitter-friendly High-A. He moved up to Double-A midway through 2016 and stayed there all of this season, and in 37 total starts at that level (188⅔ innings) he’s put up an impressive 3.29 ERA — albeit a more pedestrian 4.31 FIP, thanks to a modest strikeout rate (only 6.9 K/9).
MLB Pipeline’s scouting report notes the following (top grade is 60 Fastball):
“Fillmyer has a quick arm and typically throws his fastball in the 92-96 mph range with good sinking action that nets him ground-ball outs and results in few home runs. He has pair of above-average secondary offerings in a curveball, which he throws with tight spin and late bite, and a changeup, a pitch he made big strides with last season.”
Analysis: I have Fillmyer at No. 21 on my A’s prospect list, and I’m hoping to see him in Triple-A next year at age 24. Considering the inferior Dylan Covey was plucked away in last winter’s Rule 5, with almost no Double-A experience of his own, I’m happy to see Oakland protect Fillmyer before some other rebuilding team tries to stash him in their bullpen for a season.
Lou Trivino | RHP
He was drafted as a starter in 2013, but two years later he’d moved to the bullpen. He had a strong 2016 as a full-time reliever, and this season he carried that success into Double-A and Triple-A — a 3.03 ERA and 2.63 FIP, thanks to a strikeout per inning and zero home runs allowed. In fact, since converting to relief in June 2015 he’s served up just two dingers in 178⅓ innings.
As for stuff, he hit 98 mph with his fastball last year for Nashville. Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse also notes a cutter and a breaking ball, with Chris Kusiolek mentioning a changeup as well as Trivino’s “max effort” delivery.
Analysis: There’s no better signal of which bullpen prospects to get excited about than seeing one of them added to the 40-man roster. This shows that the A’s don’t just like the 26-year-old but also think he’s close enough to MLB to be worth protecting, even at the cost of some roster flexibility. He’s probably a good bet to debut at some point in 2018, as bullpen help is always needed and he’s got the leg up of already being on the 40-man. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes our Community Prospect List this winter.
Sam Moll | LHP
The A’s picked up the lefty reliever over the summer and even gave him his MLB debut as a September call-up. It didn’t go well, though, as he gave up runs in 7-of-11 games en route to a 10.80 ERA and 6.31 FIP.
Analysis: The A’s need lefties but they also need to aim higher for the time being, as Moll currently makes more sense as non-roster depth. The only remaining lefty reliever on the 40-man is Daniel Coulombe.
Jaycob Brugman | OF
Brugman debuted last summer and played 48 games for the A’s, managing a 90 wRC+ mostly on a strong walk rate. However, he was stretched defensively as an everyday CF, and he profiles best as a versatile fourth outfielder off the bench. An injury ended his season early, but he returned to play a few games in the Arizona Fall League.
Unfortunately for Brugman, recent acquisitions have crowded him out of the depth chart for now. Fellow lefty outfielders Dustin Fowler and Boog Powell joined the picture in midseason trades, and now righty Ramon Laureano is in the mix as well. All three are more highly touted than Brugman, and there are more lefty swingers waiting in the wings including B.J. Boyd and Tyler Ramirez.
Analysis: Nooooooooooooo. I’ve been a big Bruggy fan the last few years, so although I understand the logic behind the move it still makes me sad. I’ll be hoping he clears waivers and stays in the organization, in case he can find his way back to Oakland’s bench. Honestly I probably would have DFA’d the oft-injured Jake Smolinski before Brugman, since I would also non-tender Smolinski next month anyway, and especially since the new outfielder (Laureano) is right-handed.