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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #25: Bobby Wahl closing in on MLB chance

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Image provided by the A’s

We’re nearing the end of our Community Prospect List, but there are still a few spots left! Bobby Wahl made his way onto the A’s 40-man roster this winter, and now he’s also made his way onto our CPL. 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%)
  21. Logan Shore, RHP (+30%)
  22. Heath Fillmyer, RHP (+23%)
  23. Raul Alcantara, RHP (+23%)
  24. Bobby Wahl, RHP (+11%)

For the third straight year, Wahl is hanging out in the mid-20s on the CPL — 21st in 2015, down to 29th in 2016, and now 24th this year. His power arm has held AN’s attention for a while, but relievers have a lower ceiling and so it makes sense that he’s never higher than this.

Meanwhile, Wahl has moved all the way up to Triple-A, and he was even added to the 40-man roster this winter for Rule 5 protection. He put in two strong years in Double-A Midland with better than 10 K/9, and served as their closer last season before his brief promotion to Nashville. He has serious late-inning potential in the bigs with his upper-90s fastball.

Of course, there are obstacles to overcome. His injury history is long, and he’s hit the DL each of the last three seasons with various ailments. He was mostly healthy last year, but still landed on the shelf just before the Triple-A playoffs. And even when he’s able to take the mound, his walk rate is a bit high — around 10% in Double-A (4 BB/9) and up past 14% in Triple-A (6 BB in 9⅔ ip). But if he can work past the injuries and the walks, then, well, here’s an idea of his best-case scenario:

Expect Wahl to open the year in Triple-A, with the chance to make his MLB debut depending on how the chips fall over the summer.

Here is the process. It’s slightly different this time, and the changes are in bold:

  • 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 three new nominees for the final blowout vote.
  • 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 THREE PLAYERS with the most Rec's earns the nominations.
  • 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 Tucker Healy. No, he’s not related to Ryon. He’s a righty reliever who has put up enormous strikeout totals, including 13 K/9 last year in Triple-A, and he’s yet another near-ready prospect who could find his way to Oakland this summer.

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

Tucker Healy, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 27

2016 stats (AAA): 44 games, 3.61 ERA, 52⅓ ip, 76 Ks, 26 BB, 3 HR, 3.11 FIP

This scouting report is from July 2014 (MLB.com), but it still gives you the right idea:

Healy doesn't overpower hitters, but he has had no problem missing bats throughout his career. His fastball can get up to 95 mph, but it more often sits in the low 90s, with hard sinking action. Healy's slider has the potential to be a solid second offering. He throws from a low arm slot that adds to his deception, and that helps his stuff play up.

* * *

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.

* * *

Sean Murphy, C

Expected level: Single-A | Age 22

2016 stats (A-): 85 PAs, .237/.318/.329, 99 wRC+, 2 HR, 10.6% BB, 14.1% Ks

From MLB Pipeline:

Murphy might have the strongest arm among catchers in his class, with multiple evaluators rating it as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's more athletic than most backstops, too, and has the receiving and blocking skills to stay behind the plate.

Murphy's bat speed and strength give him solid power potential from the right side of the plate. That was on display when he homered four times in his first eight games to start the season, before a broken hamate in his left hand sidelined him for six weeks. That being said, there is some concern about his overall hitting ability, as he never posted big numbers at Wright State and batted just .226 with wood last summer in the Cape Cod League.

* * *

Skye Bolt, OF

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2016 stats (A): 402 PAs, .231/.318/.345, 97 wRC+, 5 HR, 10.4% BB, 21.9% Ks

From MLB Pipeline:

A switch-hitter, Bolt is considerably better from the left side of the plate, where he exhibits more bat speed and a more impactful swing. Some evaluators believe he'd be better off batting solely from that side. He has some raw power from both sides and is a relatively disciplined hitter, but his pitch recognition leaves much to be desired and hinders the quality of his contact.

One of the better college athletes in his Draft class, Bolt has a chance to stick in center field, where he gets excellent jumps and is an overall rangy defender. If he can't, he has the necessary arm strength to slide over to a corner spot.

* * *

Chris Iriart, 1B

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2016 stats (A): 316 PAs, .231/.320/.451, 126 wRC+, 16 HR, 9.2% BB, 28.2% Ks
2016 stats (A+): 72 PAs, .311/.417/.689, 188 wRC+, 6 HR, 12.5% BB, 20.8% Ks

No major scouting report available, so I’ll fill in:

Iriart profiles as a corner slugger. He’ll need to make more contact in order to continue succeeding up the ladder, because his strikeout rate in Single-A was already testing the limits of acceptability and that was still four levels away from MLB. I’m unaware of his speed or defense being specific strengths or deal-breaker weaknesses.

If you read this series then you know about my prospect crush on Jaycob Brugman, who is my favorite sleeper prospect even if he only ends up as a bench guy in the bigs. As things stand now, Iriart is my next Brugman, and he can seal it with a good 2017. I recognize the flaws, but their performance is enough to keep them relevant and I just have a hunch -- with Bruggy as the proverbial glue guy, and with Iriart as the classic professional hitter. You can decide for yourself whether you agree with my hunch, but that’s my two cents.

* * *

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!