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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #3: Jorge Mateo has all the tools to be a star

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His 80-grade speed is the single best tool in the A’s system.

He ran here all the way from New York. It only took an hour.

Our Community Prospect List welcomes its first new addition of the year, with 2017 acquisition Jorge Mateo landing third in the rankings. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between his % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up):

  1. A.J. Puk, LHP (+62%)
  2. Franklin Barreto, SS (+56%)
  3. Jorge Mateo, SS (+22%)

When the Oakland A’s traded Sonny Gray to the Yankees last summer, their return package didn’t include one obvious headliner who stood out above the rest of the group. Instead, they got three Top 100-level talents who all carried notable flaws, any of whom could end up being considered the prize of the deal when all is said and done.

In the case of Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian, the drawback is that they’re recovering from major injuries. Jorge Mateo is a different story though, as his questions revolve around his make-up. In particular, during his time with the Yankees he’d publicly received discipline for grumbling about not being promoted quickly enough.

That hiccup wasn’t enough to keep him down on our CPL, though. Not when he brings 80-grade speed, a solid bat, and strong defensive tools. Baseball America calls him the best athlete in Oakland’s system, and he spent half of 2017 shredding Double-A pitching. The attitude questions will follow him around until he makes it in MLB and maybe even beyond, but for now Athletics Nation is giving him the benefit of the doubt until he gives us another reason not to.

As for the Sonny Trade Trio, Mateo lands at the top for now. He’s got the single most elite tool of any of them in his speed (also the top tool in the whole A’s farm), and he doesn’t have to begin 2018 by proving his health. He can still flame out just like any prospect, but the potential ceiling he offers is special and even if he winds up as a bench player he could still change games with his legs.

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, the community 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 his 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 James Kaprielian. The right-hander has top-notch stuff that earned him a first-round draft selection in 2015, but he’ll have to re-establish that arsenal this year when he returns from Tommy John surgery. The ceiling is what the A’s wanted out of their Sonny trade return, and the major injury is why he was available at all in that deal. When he does get back he’ll basically be starting his pro career at age 24, but his high level of talent is worth waiting for.

Scouting grades: MLB Pipeline
Scouting reports: John Sickels
Hitter average rates: 100 wRC+, 8.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

James Kaprielian, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 24

2017 stats: Missed entire season due to Tommy John surgery

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

When healthy he can hit 99 while mixing in three strong secondary pitches and throwing strikes, but he’s been hampered with physical problems in pro ball; I love a healthy Kaprielian but we need to make sure he doesn’t turn into Kyle Zimmer and the grade reflects that uncertainty; monitor spring reports closely, if he’s healthy and maintains his stuff he’s at least a B+. ETA 2019.

* * *

Jesus Luzardo, LHP

Expected level: Low-A | Age 20

2017 note: Returned from Tommy John surgery prior to July acquisition
2017 stats (A-): 2.00 ERA, 18 ip, 20 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2.93 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

Can hit mid-90s, throws strikes, both curveball and change-up draw positive reviews; main issue now is building up stamina and proving health; possible comp: Gio Gonzalez. ETA 2020.

* * *

Sean Murphy, C

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+): 178 PAs, 130 wRC+, 9 HR, 6.2% BB, 18.5% Ks
2017 stats (AA): 217 PAs, 69 wRC+, 4 HR, 9.7% BB, 15.7% Ks
2017 stats (AFL): 83 PAs, .310/.410/.366, 4 doubles, 10 BB, 9 Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 70 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Excellent throwing arm and a reliable defensive catcher, will get to majors on his defense alone but future will depend on the bat; flashes above-average power and will draw walks but uncertain what his batting average will look like against the best pitching, has never hit particularly well with wood; some caution with the hitting is advisable but overall I like him. ETA 2019.

* * *

Dustin Fowler, OF

Expected level: MLB | Age 23

2017 stats (AAA NYY): 313 PAs, 138 wRC+, 13 HR, 13 SB, 4.8% BB, 20.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

60-grade speed before the injury, 55 power; another hitter with aggressive approach that may be problematic against the best pitching; you can make a B+ case but my instincts hold me back a tad on this one. ETA 2018.

* * *

Austin Beck, OF

Expected level: Single-A | Age 19

2017 stats (RK): 174 PAs, 77 wRC+, 2 HR, 7 SB, 9.8% BB, 29.3% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Broad tools stand out with 60 raw power, 60 speed, 60 arm; results did not match reputation in rookie ball due to contact problems and there are concerns about ability to hit for average and get on base at higher levels; high-upside certainly but risk profile seems a bit higher to me than commonly realized, thus a touch of conservatism with the grade. ETA 2022.

* * *

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!