Preliminary rosters have been announced for the 2017 Arizona Fall League. Each club will send seven prospects, creating six total AFL squads. The Oakland A’s contingent will suit up for the Mesa Solar Sox, with their first game coming on Wed., Oct. 11.
So far, five A’s youngsters have been named to Mesa’s roster. These assignments aren’t set in stone, as injuries or other factors can change things over the next few weeks, but this is where the list stands now. (Click here for full roster.)
- RHP Logan Shore
- RHP Miguel Romero
- C Sean Murphy
- 3B Sheldon Neuse
- OF Tyler Ramirez
The final two spots will be used on pitchers, according to Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse. Here’s a look at each player named so far, in order of how I’d rank them on our prospect list.
Sean Murphy | C
Acquired: 2016 draft, 3rd round
2017, A+: 178 PAs, .297/.343/.527, 130 wRC+, 9 HR, 6.2% BB, 18.5% Ks
2017, AA: 193 PAs, .208/.277/.277, 57 wRC+, 2 HR, 8.3% BB, 16.6% Ks
His strength is his defense, with MLB Pipeline grades of 55 for his fielding and 70 for his arm. (That arm grade is elite.) That right there could make any positive contribution with the bat purely a bonus, but it took him only a couple months to blast his way out of High-A Stockton even despite a brief injury. He’s struggling in Double-A, but just the fact that he’s reached that level this quickly at all is impressive, in his first full pro season, as a catcher with all the extra demands of that position. He’s a serious impact prospect, and his career is off to a fast start.
Logan Shore | RHP
Acquired: 2016 draft, 2nd round
2017, A+: 16 games, 4.11 ERA, 65⅔ ip, 68 Ks, 15 BB, 4 HR, 3.32 FIP
The hope was that he’d be a fast-track candidate to the back of the rotation, as a polished, durable college arm with solid groundball stuff and excellent command. However, his first full pro season was limited by a lat injury that cost him two months, which slowed his progress considerably. He’s looked fully back to his old self over his last three games, at least in terms of results: 18⅓ ip, 4 ER, 21 Ks, 4 BB. Pitching in the AFL should give him a chance to recoup some of the innings he missed out on this summer.
Sheldon Neuse | 3B
Acquired: Doolittle/Madson trade (2016 draft, 2nd round)
2017, A+: 94 PAs, .386/.457/.675, 203 wRC+, 7 HR, 9.6% BB, 26.6% Ks
2017, AA: 49 PAs, .357/.429/.429, 145 wRC+, 0 HR, 10.2% BB, 26.5% Ks
For some reason, the Nationals stuck him in Single-A to start the season. When the A’s acquired him they assigned him to High-A and he absolutely smashed it for a few weeks. Now he’s up in Double-A, and while the power hasn’t followed him yet he’s still piling up hits at an astounding rate. His .494 BABIP in 143 PAs since the trade is at once ridiculously unsustainable, but also so off-the-charts good that you have to wonder if at least some of it will prove to be real. Maybe this dude can just rake.
Tyler Ramirez | OF
Acquired: 2016 draft, 7th round
2017, A+: 328 PAs, .301/.399/.434, 130 wRC+, 7 HR, 13.7% BB, 24.4% Ks
2017, AA: 221 PAs, .330/.416/.463, 150 wRC+, 4 HR, 11.8% BB, 21.7% Ks
The lefty is quickly becoming my next sleeper favorite. His ceiling probably isn’t high, especially given he’s played mostly the corner spots this year, but like the two hitters before him he’s already reached Double-A in his first full pro season after being drafted. A lot of his success is BABIP-based, but we’re now 549 PAs into him sporting a .405 mark — at this point that’s not all luck. He shows strong plate discipline, lines the ball all over the field, and takes a walk when he gets nothing to hit. His strikeout rate is higher than you’d like for a contact-over-power guy, so there’s work to be done on his journey toward the bigs.
Miguel Romero | RHP
Acquired: Int’l free agent (Cuba), Feb. 2017
2017, A+: 8 games, 6.87 ERA, 18⅓ ip, 25 Ks, 9 BB, 4 HR, 5.98 FIP
Remember last winter, when the A’s signed two low-profile Cuban free agents in a minor move? I didn’t even do a full article for it, just a FanShot. Well, this is one of those guys. The 23-year-old is at least missing bats already in High-A, though he’s also getting hit hard when they do make contact. Quick scouting report from Oakland AGM Billy Owens (via Lockard): “He is more of a power pitcher [topped at 95] with a good change-up.”
Two more spots
Each team sends four pitchers, and the normal breakdown is one starter and three relievers. Shore is presumably the starter, and Romero has been used as a multi-inning guy as well. We’re probably looking at two short relievers rather than any more big prospects. Names from the last two years include: Sam Bragg, Trey Cochran-Gill, Kris Hall, Jack Nawton, Jeff Urlaub, and Aaron Kurcz. I made one of those players up and the point is that you might not be entirely sure which one.
Switching over to speculation mode, here’s a list of arms I could see as possibilities. I’m sticking to the upper minors for now because the rules on the official AFL site suggest the A’s have exhausted their quota of lower-minors players, but I’m not positive those rules are up to date.
- Lou Trivino (3.09 FIP in 32 innings for AAA puts him on my bullpen radar)
- Corey Walter (struggled in jump to AAA but is getting hot after move to pen)
- Sam Bragg (pitched in AFL last year but still stuck in AA)
- Kyle Finnegan (flamed out of first try in AAA, too many walks)
- Ben Bracewell (ugly numbers all year in upper minors at age 26, but still getting innings)
As near as I can tell, this list of pitchers won’t be eligible because they were on the DL too late into the season (or are still on it now): Raul Alcantara, Norge Ruiz, James Naile, Brett Graves, Dustin Hurlbutt, Jake Sanchez. I also left off Carlos Navas, who pitched in the Venezuelan League the last two winters (that doesn’t guarantee he will again, but it seems noteworthy).
Note: Teams can designate extra “taxi” players to swap in and out, so we ultimately might end up seeing more than these two extra pitchers.