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Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #18: Chad Pinder looks for spot in crowded infield

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

We’ve reached a point on the Community Prospect List where the precise numbers don’t matter quite as much as the general range. The differences between each player’s stock is getting slimmer, and the votes are getting closer — this time, infielder Chad Pinder got the narrow nod. 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%)

This is a big drop for Pinder, who ranked No. 5 on last year’s CPL after his MVP season in Double-A. His tour of Triple-A didn’t go as well, with a 93 wRC+, albeit significantly better numbers away from what is shaping up as a tough home park in Nashville. He also didn’t do much in his brief MLB debut, posting a .645 OPS in 55 sporadic plate appearances. In particular, many AN commenters worry about whether he’ll make enough contact against big league pitching.

Still, Pinder offers a bit of power and the ability to play all over the infield, so unless his hit tool turns out to be a complete dud he should at least carve out a utility role, if not more. The question is where he might fit on a future A’s roster, between the incumbent Semien and fellow prospects like Wendle, Chapman, Barreto, and then Martin, Schrock, and Munoz. They won’t all pan out, but that’s eight guys fighting over three positions and a utility spot. (One thing we can more or less count on is that there’s no room at the beginning of 2017, with veterans Lowrie, Plouffe, and Rosales taking up all the space.)

This also marks the biggest departure from my own personal list, at least in the negative direction. A few have gone in the positive direction — Schrock, Jefferies and Ruiz got much higher rankings from the community, all of which make sense to me even though they differ from my own version. But I had Pinder in my Top 10 (at No. 8 specifically, though if I redid it today I’d probably have him at No. 10).

Once again, it’s an interesting example of how we all have unique viewpoints on different prospects, and what we see in them and hope for from them. I like Pinder because I see him as an almost guaranteed utility guy with a chance for more (basically, the same as Bruce Maxwell’s backup catcher floor), but I also get why others would either disagree with that valuation, or agree with it and not be excited by it.

Pinder will surely repeat Triple-A to start 2017, with Oakland’s infield already full of veterans. At age 25 this won’t be a make-or-break year for him, but it would sure help his prospects if he could show improvement from last season.

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 Heath Fillmyer. He was a sleeper entering last year, as a former infielder who only recently switched to pitching, but he had a breakout in High-A that continued into Double-A. If he follows that up with another strong performance in the upper minors this season, he could fly up this list next winter.

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

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!