Over the last two months, the Athletics Nation community has worked together to construct a top prospect list for the team via crowdsource votes. We voted on each spot individually, and we now have a complete list of the Top 30 Oakland A's prospects entering the 2017 season. Here it is! (Click here to learn more about each player.)
|1||Franklin Barreto||SS||21||AAA||Trade (Donaldson)|
|2||Matt Chapman||3B||24||AAA||Draft (1R, 2014)|
|3||A.J. Puk||LHP||22||A/A+||Draft (1R, 2016)|
|4||Jharel Cotton||RHP||25||MLB||Trade (Reddick/Hill)|
|5||Frankie Montas||RHP||24||AAA||Trade (Reddick/Hill)|
|6||Grant Holmes||RHP||21||AA||Trade (Reddick/Hill)|
|7||Matt Olson||1B||23||AAA||Draft (1R, 2012)|
|8||Bruce Maxwell||C||26||AAA||Draft (2R, 2012)|
|9||Daniel Gossett||RHP||24||AAA||Draft (2R, 2014)|
|10||Max Schrock||2B||22||AA||Trade (Rzepczynski)|
|11||Richie Martin||SS||22||AA||Draft (1R, 2015)|
|12||Daulton Jefferies||RHP||21||A/A+||Draft (1R, 2016)|
|16||Dakota Chalmers||RHP||20||A||Draft (3R, 2015)|
|17||Chad Pinder||SS||25||AAA||Draft (2R, 2013)|
|18||Jaycob Brugman||OF||25||AAA||Draft (17R, 2013)|
|19||Joey Wendle||2B||27||AAA||Trade (Moss)|
|21||Logan Shore||RHP||22||A+||Draft (2R, 2016)|
|22||Heath Fillmyer||RHP||23||AA||Draft (5R, 2014)|
|23||Raul Alcantara||RHP||24||MLB||Trade (Bailey)|
|24||Bobby Wahl||RHP||25||AAA||Draft (5R, 2013)|
|25||Sean Murphy||C||22||A/A+||Draft (3R, 2016)|
|26||Paul Blackburn||RHP||23||AAA||Trade (Valencia)|
|27||Chris Iriart||1B||22||A+||Draft (12R, 2015)|
|28||Casey Meisner||RHP||22||A+/AA||Trade (Clippard)|
|29||Skye Bolt||OF||23||A+||Draft (4R, 2015)|
|30||Tucker Healy||RHP||27||AAA||Draft (23R, 2012)|
(The "Level" column features my own guesses at where each player will open 2017. The "Age" column refers to the age at which the player will play in 2017, even if he hasn't quite had his birthday yet.)
(If a prospect is dealt/cut before the end of spring, then RHP Skylar Szynski is next in line to take the open spot after finishing 31st in our voting.)
Where do they come from? Of the 30 names, 17 were drafted by Oakland (three each in 2012, ‘13, and ‘14; four each in 2015 and ‘16), four more were international signings, and the other nine came from seven different trades (the Reddick/Hill deal is the only one that represents multiple players on the current list). The seven trades include three since last July (Reddick/Hill, Rzep, Valencia), one from the 2015 deadline (Clippard), and several past high-profile All-Star sell-offs (Donaldson, Moss, Bailey).
Quick comparison to last year’s CPL:
- 11 of the 30 players are new to the organization -- five via trade (three different deals), four from the top of the draft class, and two international signings.
- Eight of those newcomers are in the top half of the list.
- Another two players stepped up from within the organization to join the CPL (Iriart, T. Healy).
- Therefore 13 members of last year’s CPL are gone, with the following breakdown: 4 graduates (Manaea, Mengden, Dull, R. Healy), 3 gone from the org (Overton, Covey, Ladendorf), and 6 more who simply lost support (Ravelo, White, Erwin, Wendelken, Pimentel, Driver).
- Five players moved up the list without graduating, led by Maxwell (28 up to 8) and Gossett (27 up to 9).
- 10 players moved down the list without falling off, especially Meisner (9 down to 28), Munoz (7 down to 20), and Pinder (5 down to 17).
The farm had a weird year in 2016 and it’s tough to say that it simply got better or worse. The CPL as arranged last year turned out somewhat backward, as most of the Top 10 either disappointed or completely flopped while nearly as many names from the bottom half of the list broke out and raised their stocks (if not outright graduated).
Meanwhile, the A’s added substantially to the system. In basic terms, they had two Top 100 prospects last winter and one of them graduated (Manaea); since then, they’ve drafted or acquired four more guys who made multiple Top 100 lists, in addition to one of their own prospects raising his stock enough to crack a few (Chapman). They have unquestionably increased their top-level talent, which itself is one small reason for the fact that more prospects moved down from the 2016 list than up — four of the top six spots are held by newcomers.
Here’s a different visualization I came up with. Throughout the voting I keep track of each winner’s margin of victory, to give an idea of how much separation there is between each place on the list. This is far from scientific, but theoretically the gaps should illustrate the notable drop-offs from one general tier of talent to the next, while the bunches reveal the parts of the list that are effectively ties.
Barreto ran away with the top spot, and there are big cutoffs after the Top 4 and the Top 9. Once you get into the 12-19 range the precise ordering isn’t that important, though things space out again for a few spots after that.
I’d split the list up into the following tiers (labels are meant to be broad and general, not specific and perfect):
- Nos. 1-4: These guys should be in the Top 100 (Barreto to Cotton)
- No. 5-9: Fringe Top 100, down to around Top 200 (Montas to Gossett)
- Nos. 10-19: B-/C+, esp high draft picks and MLB-ready guys (Schrock to Wendle)
- Nos. 20-26: Same idea as above, but more like the C+/C range (Munoz to Blackburn)
- Nos. 27-30+: Sleepers and long-term projects (Iriart to Szynski and beyond)
Next up, here are AN's rankings compared with some other prominent lists.
(Links to each list: MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, John Sickels, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law)
Last winter, there was essentially a consensus on who the A’s Top 10 prospects were, even if the exact order differed from source to source. Of the eight lists I collected, they all included the same 10 names, with only one exception (John Sickels dropped Overton in favor of Mengden, so, props on that call); in other words, only 11 total players were mentioned.
This year, however, using only six lists so far (A’s Farm and Oakland Clubhouse haven’t yet published), there are 18 different players present in at least one Top 10 list. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything on its own, but in this case I think it got tougher to fill out the Top 10 because the team has better prospects than it did a year ago (it can also work the opposite way; I’m sure Angels fans have a tough time agreeing on a “Top” 10).
Only seven prospects made every version of the list, and here are their average rankings. After the cutoff (Gossett), the rest of the names here showed up on at least four versions of the list, and their average ranking reflects only the lists on which they were mentioned:
- Barreto, 1.00
- Puk, 2.33
- Chapman, 3.67
- Holmes, 4.33
- Cotton, 4.67
- Montas, 5.17
- Gossett, 7.50 (cutoff)
- Jefferies, 9.80
- Chalmers, 11.75
- Martin, 11.80
- Olson, 12.75
- Maxwell, 13.25
- Pinder, 13.40
- Shore, 13.60
- Lazarito, 14.00
- Fillmyer, 17.00
Notice how it gets jammed up around the Nos. 9-15 range. Those seven players are separated by only 2.25 average places. (Ruiz may have ended up slotting in around Lazarito and Fillmyer if he’d made more lists.)
Finally, a new twist on the depth chart. I included the full updated org chart in the last post, but here’s a slightly different version meant to highlight the cream of the crop and leave out the hoi polloi.
This one only includes the Top 30 list, plus 10 more extra names in italics from that last CPL post — the three leftovers from the final ballot, the next five “Other Nominees” who never quite made the ballot, one more guy who made other lists but not ours (Blackwood), and one more from my list of “Alex’s sleepers” (Naile). I also included six more players (in italics and parentheses) who graduated to rookie status last year. All of them but Dull still have six years of team control left, and the point of this chart is to give a representation of the A’s long-term future, so even though they aren’t technically prospects they’re close enough.
Players are listed at the level where they could realistically open the 2017 season. If they’re above the MLB cutline then I think they are likely to open in MLB, while the group just below the line has already debuted in MLB but would probably require an injury above them in order to make the 25-man roster out of camp.
To complete the long-term picture: Hahn and Bassitt have 5 years of control left; Graveman, Doo, and Semien have 4 years; Sonny, Hendriks, Vogt, and Khrush have 3 years. That’s four starters including a potential ace, two shutdown relievers, a bat-first catcher, and two low-OBP sluggers.
The starting pitching is deep from top to bottom, as is the pipeline of middle infielders. There are so many promising prospects in those two categories that there is barely even room for all of them to play, all the way down to High-A. The corner infield spots are also probably covered for the next few years at least.
On the other hand, the catching depth is almost nonexistent, though that might not be a problem if Maxwell pans out and holds down the fort for a few years. The outfield is in even worse shape, as it will require a sleeper striking gold (or an infielder moving out there) if the farm is to provide any help in the foreseeable future.
Most of the Top 10 is at Triple-A already, which is a good thing for a rebuilding team because it means that the best talent is close to helping in the bigs.
The regular season starts in a month! Regardless of how the A’s do this year, their entire farm system should be fun to watch. And there’s more to come, because they’ll have picks Nos. 6, 33, and 43 in the draft this summer!