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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #16: Is Lazaro Armenteros the next big thing?

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This was one of the all-around closest Community Prospect List elections I’ve ever seen. Not only were the top two separated by a mere 7-of-139 votes (5%), but first and last place were just 21 tallies apart (15%) — that’s closer than most of the second-place finishers have scored so far. The winner, outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, only garnered 28% of the vote. 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%)

For the second straight ballot, Athletics Nation elected a recent international signing out of Cuba who hasn’t yet played pro ball in the U.S. The A’s have spent heavily on the international market since the signing period began in July, and the results are beginning to show up in our CPL.

As far as these two players are concerned, though, the similarities end at the fact that they’re from Cuba and they both got big bonuses from the A’s. Ruiz is a pitcher in his 20s who is already far in his development and could be fast-tracked to the bigs, as if he’d been drafted out of college last year. Meanwhile, Lazarito is a raw teenage outfielder who is all tools and projection, with a developmental comparison being a guy drafted out of high school this summer.

In other words, Lazarito has the high ceiling that catches your eye and demands a $3 million bonus, but with a thousand ways it could still go wrong between Rookie Ball and MLB. At the moment he’s the proverbial five-tool prospect with a chance to be good at everything, but he’ll have to work on his swing in particular as time goes on. Here’s a closer look from earlier this winter, and here’s some video:

I doubt we’ll see Lazarito play above Rookie Ball this year, but I guess a stint in Low-A Vermont isn’t impossible if things are going well.

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 Yairo Munoz. He was in the Top 10 on last year’s CPL as a shortstop with plus potential on both sides of the ball, but a miserable 2016 season has taken some of the shine off his stock. He was given an aggressive assignment to Double-A, but injuries slowed him down (including an offseason motorcycle accident that delayed the start of his year) and his numbers painted the picture of a guy who was overmatched. If he can bounce back in 2017, then he might fly back up the list.

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

Yairo Munoz, SS

Expected level: Double-A | Age 22

2016 stats (AA): 413 PAs, .240/.286/.367, 87 wRC+, 9 HR, 5.6% BB, 18.4% Ks
2016 stats (AFL): 80 PAs, .270/.313/.365, 88 wRC+, 5 XBH, 6.3% BB, 21.3% Ks

From MLB Pipeline:

Munoz is an excellent athlete whose tools are among the best in the A's system. His explosive right-handed swing yields hard contact from line to line, and there's enough physical projection remaining to forecast at least average power in his future. He already shows good feel for finding the barrel and works to drive the ball back up the middle, though, like many young hitters, he does deviate from his approach at times.

Munoz has the tools to stick at shortstop, with above-average speed and quick feet that give him good lateral range to go with his plus arm, although inconsistent footwork and a lack of body control have resulted in high error totals to begin his career. He needs refining, but Munoz has considerable upside as an everyday shortstop capable of impacting games on both sides of the ball.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Jaycob Brugman, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2016 stats (AA): 176 PAs, .261/.335/.439, 123 wRC+, 5 HR, 9.1% BB, 18.8% Ks
2016 stats (AAA): 433 PAs, .295/.352/.438, 109 wRC+, 7 HR, 8.3% BB, 20.3% Ks

From John Sickels:

Interesting to watch in person, no weak tools, everything is at least average including speed, raw power, arm strength; defense is ahead of hitting, can handle all three outfield positions with little trouble; will flash power and patience but performance record is erratic; older prospect but should be tracked for signs of more consistency. ETA late 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!