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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #14: Renato Nunez enters pivotal season

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As much of this as possible.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Renato Nunez made the Top 10 of our Community Prospect List the last two years, but a rocky 2016 knocked him down to No. 13 this winter. 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%)
  8. Bruce Maxwell, C (+9%)
  9. Daniel Gossett, RHP (+53%)
  10. Max Schrock, 2B (+9%)
  11. Richie Martin, SS (+34%)
  12. Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+4%)
  13. Renato Nunez, 3B/LF (+14%)

Nunez was signed by the A’s in Nov. 2010, so he’s entering his seventh season in the organization. When Matt Olson made the CPL this year, we looked back at his history on the list, so let’s do the same with Nunez. After all, they’re a pair of sluggers who have made their entire minor league journey together, they’re within a week of each other in age, and they debuted in U.S. pro ball within five days of each (for the same Arizona Rookie Ball team, of course) and in MLB on the same day last September. Here’s Nunez’s CPL journey, compared with his counterpart’s:

2012: 18th (Olson not yet drafted)
2013: 8th (Olson 10th)
2014: 10th (Olson 11th)
2015: 4th (Olson 1st)
2016: 6th (Olson 3rd)
2017: 13th (Olson 7th)

They both rose high after a big 2014 in High-A Stockton, and have since fallen after a tough 2016 in Triple-A Nashville. Olson’s superior defense and OBP ability are probably the primary explanations for why he eventually passed Nunez.

Despite being only 23 next season, this feels like a make-or-break year for Nunez. His bat is his only path to an MLB career, so he’ll have to hit particularly well to make it. Opinions are varied on the chances of that happening — John Sickels has him up at No. 9, while Keith Law (insider) dumped him off the Top 20 entirely. Our ranking appears to represent the middle of the road, as you’d expect given its crowdsourced nature.

For those looking for encouragement, Nunez’s poor 2016 came in a particularly tough home park and was followed by a bounce-back performance in winter ball (.930 OPS in Venezuelan League, good power and plate discipline). But note that Nunez only has one minor league option year remaining, which means he’s likely to be out of options in 2018 — that expedites the need for him to stick as soon as possible, preferably before the end of this season.

We’ve been following Renato for over half a decade. Will he reward us by becoming a quality Oakland Athletic? Time will tell, and we can probably expect him to open in Triple-A unless something wild happens in spring training.

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 Dakota Chalmers. The righty was drafted out of high school in the 3rd round in 2015 and he logged some innings in Low-A last summer, but he’s still pure potential and projection at this point. He has impressive raw tools and the question is how effectively he will harness them.

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

Dakota Chalmers, RHP

Expected level: Single-A | Age 20

2016 stats (A-): 15 games, 4.70 ERA, 67 ip, 62 Ks, 37 BB, 8 HR, 4.90 FIP

From MLB Pipeline:

Chalmers' has big-time arm strength, with a fastball that sits in the 92-95 mph range and reaches 97-98, and his projectable 6-foot-3 frame should lead to even more velocity in the future. Both his curveball and slider are inconsistent but show above-average potential, and he also shows feel for throwing his changeup. Meanwhile, club officials believe Chalmers has the necessary athleticism and aptitude to make strides with his control and command.

With a high-effort delivery that he struggles to repeat, Chalmers had trouble throwing strikes consistently at the outset of his pro career. The A's adjusted the right-hander's mechanics after he signed and saw immediate results that have since carried over into his 2016 campaign.

* * *

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.

* * *

Norge Ruiz, RHP

Expected level: Double-A? | Age 23

2016 stats: Nope

From John Sickels:

Cuban right-hander signed for $2,000,000 in December; scouting reports point to 90-94 MPH fastball with excellent change-up and above-average splitter and slider; mound presence also draws praise; command gets mixed reviews and it is unclear what role he will take, but general view is that he should be seen as similar to an advanced college arm who could be ready quickly; watch spring reports closely. ETA 2018.

* * *

Joey Wendle, 2B

Expected level: MLB? | Age 27

2016 stats (AAA): 526 PAs, .279/.324/.452, 103 wRC+, 12 HR, 4.9% BB, 21.3% Ks
2016 stats (MLB): 104 PAs, .260/.298/.302, 66 wRC+, 1 HR, 5.8% BB, 15.4% Ks

From MLB Pipeline:

Wendle stands out most for his hitting ability. He has a good approach at the plate and uses the whole field to hit, squaring up balls with his compact swing. Wendle has more power than his size suggests and has proved capable of driving the ball over the fence everywhere he's gone.

Wendle is a steady defender at second base, capable of making all the necessary plays. He earns praise for his makeup and blue-collar mentality, traits that have helped him rise through the Minor Leagues.

* * *

Chad Pinder, IF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2016 stats (AAA): 465 PAs, .258/.310/.425, 93 wRC+, 14 HR, 5.4% BB, 23.2% Ks
2016 stats (MLB): 55 PAs, .235/.273/.373, 73 wRC+, 1 HR, 5.5% BB, 25.5% Ks

From John Sickels:

Legitimate pop with 14 homers in Triple-A but production often held back by over-aggressive hitting approach, 25/108 BB/K; best defensive tool is throwing arm, range somewhat stretched at shortstop but workable, looks more natural at third base or second base; I think he’s a .250 hitter with a poor OBP but enough pop and versatility to hold a utility job for some time. ETA 2017.

* * *

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!