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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #21: Yairo Munoz stumbles in jump to upper minors

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That batting stance needs work.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

You can tell we’re reaching the home stretch of our Community Prospect List, because our electorate took its first major drop in size — from the 130s down to the 80s in total number of votes. We have six total ballots remaining, so hang in there! 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%)
  14. Norge Ruiz, RHP (+16%)
  15. Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+5%)
  16. Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+6%)
  17. Chad Pinder, IF (+5%)
  18. Jaycob Brugman, OF (+10%)
  19. Joey Wendle, 2B (+23%)
  20. Yairo Munoz, SS (+18%)

For the last two years, Munoz has ranked exactly No. 7 on our CPL. However, that high stock has been largely based on projection rather than results. Pre-2015 he was a 20-year-old entering Single-A Beloit with good tools and high hopes, which made him easy to dream on as a future two-way middle infielder. Pre-2016, the recent memory of his short but excellent emergency stint at High-A Stockton overshadowed what had otherwise been a poor campaign.

In reality, Munoz has really only had two good months in the last two seasons: May 2015 for Beloit, and August 2015 for Stockton. He was awful from wire to wire in Double-A Midland in 2016, with injuries not helping matters, and he didn’t do anything in the Arizona Fall League either. All of that lack of production is finally catching up to him in the prospect rankings.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the book is closed. For proof of that, look at the fact that the A’s added him to the 40-man roster this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft — they wouldn’t do that for a guy in Double-A if they didn’t still like his potential. His move to the upper minors last year was an extremely aggressive assignment (compounded by an offseason motorcycle accident), and it’s absolutely not a dealbreaker that he flunked the first round.

Munoz is only 22 this season, so he’s still got a couple years to figure things out. He deserved this drop down the CPL, but now it’s up to him to work his way back up by finally translating his talent into actual numbers.

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 Paul Blackburn. The former supplemental 1st-round pick (No. 56 overall, nine spots after Matt Olson) went from the Cubs to the Mariners last summer in the Mike Montgomery trade, and then a few months later came to Oakland from Seattle in exchange for Danny Valencia. He’s a right-hander who profiles as an innings-eating starter if all goes well — he has a low ceiling, but he’s on a fast track and only has one more minor league stop in Triple-A before knocking on the door to MLB.

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

Paul Blackburn, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23

2016 stats (AA): 26 games, 3.27 ERA, 143 ip, 99 Ks, 35 BB, 8 HR, 3.42 FIP

From MLB Pipeline:

Blackburn can throw 90-94 mph sinkers with downhill plane to both sides of the plate and back them up with a sharp curveball. But there were several starts last year when he had an 88-91 mph fastball and a vanilla curve. He still needs to add strength so he can maintain quality stuff deeper into games and longer over the course of the season.

Blackburn has good feel for his changeup and pitching in general. He has the athleticism to repeat his delivery and throw strikes, and he continues to pound the zone even when his pitches aren't at their best.

* * *

Logan Shore, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2016 stats (A-): 7 games, 2.57 ERA, 21 ip, 21 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR, 2.90 FIP

From John Sickels:

Doesn’t throw as hard as fellow Gator/Athletic A.J. Puk but is much more polished; posted 2.57 ERA with 21/7 K/BB in 21 innings in NY-P; change-up is excellent pitch, mixes in fastball around 90 with decent breaking stuff; all his stuff plays up due to command and location; strike-throwing fourth starter type. ETA late 2018.

* * *

Heath Fillmyer, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2016 stats (A-): 18 games, 3.60 ERA, 95 ip, 89 Ks, 31 BB, 4 HR, 3.53 FIP
2016 stats (AA): 8 games, 2.54 ERA, 39 ip, 29 Ks, 8 BB, 3 HR, 3.31 FIP

From John Sickels:

One of several potential number four starters in this system along with James Naile, Kyle Friedrichs, and Dillon Overton; fastball 90-95 with good action, mixes in sharp curveball, throws strikes; former infielder still learning how to pitch but making good progress. ETA 2018.

* * *

Raul Alcantara, RHP

Expected level: MLB | Age 24

2016 stats (AA): 17 starts, 4.80 ERA, 90 ip, 73 Ks, 27 BB, 11 HR, 4.15 FIP
2016 stats (AAA): 8 starts, 1.18 ERA, 45⅔ ip, 32 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 2.80 FIP
2016 stats (MLB): 5 starts, 7.25 ERA, 22⅓ ip, 14 Ks, 4 BB, 9 HR, 8.21 FIP

From John Sickels:

Fastball 90-95, mixes in changeup and slider; both secondaries flash above-average but are erratic; he usually throws strikes however which gives him a chance to surprise; lots of arms coming up behind him so he needs to establish himself now. ETA 2017.

* * *

Bobby Wahl, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2016 stats (AA): 33 games, 2.21 ERA, 40⅔ ip, 48 Ks, 17 BB, 3 HR, 3.11 FIP
2016 stats (AAA): 9 games, 2.79 ERA, 9⅔ ip, 14 Ks, 6 BB, 0 HR, 2.69 FIP

Note: Began year on brief rehab assignment in High-A.

From MLB Pipeline:

The right-hander was limited by an oblique injury [in 2014], prompting the A's to move him to the bullpen, and he then underwent season-ending surgery for a nerve impingement in his elbow in July 2015. But Wahl would get back on track in 2016 ...

Wahl's trademark velocity returned last season as he sat in the low-to-mid 90s while reaching 98 mph in short stints. His power breaking ball remains his best secondary offering and shows above-average potential, and he's dialed back the usage of his changeup since shifting to the bullpen. There's some effort in his delivery and his command is below average, but he also hasn't had enough time on the mound to properly address those issues.

Provided he can stay healthy, there's little doubt among evaluators that Wahl has the power stuff to pitch high-leverage innings in the Major Leagues.

* * *

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!