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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #4: Dustin Fowler, Opening Day CF?

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Injury recovery is the main thing standing between this midseason acquisition and the 2018 starting lineup.

Our Community Prospect List now boasts four members, and half of them came to Oakland in last summer’s Sonny Gray trade. 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%)
  4. Dustin Fowler, OF (+24%)

Last time we discussed the high-risk, high-reward nature of the Sonny trade return. The topic then was Jorge Mateo, with his explosive tools but something to prove in terms of make-up and attitude. Next up is Dustin Fowler, who is ready for an MLB trial just as soon as he gets healthy.

Fowler is so ready to go that he was called on to start last summer, by a contending Yankees team no less, before a freak injury ended his season after one inning. He’s suing the White Sox for negligence over the incident, but the A’s say his recovery is going well and he’s expected to compete for a job in spring training. His speed is an important part of his game, so that will be the biggest thing to watch when his knee heals.

There isn’t as high of a ceiling on Fowler as most of the other players we’ll see in this Top 10, but it’s possible he could step on the field day one of next year and immediately become an above-average player on both sides of the ball. There isn’t a part of his game that is definitely going to be great or sure to be a glaring weakness — his aggressive hitting style might play well or MLB opponents might find holes, and his defense will be contingent on how his knee/speed recovers. But what puts him high on this CPL is that we’re almost certain to see him in Oakland next year, with a great chance that we see a lot of him.

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.

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The new nominee is Lazaro Armenteros. The teenager was a high-profile signing out of Cuba, and there have been many debates on Athletics Nation about his merits compared with 1st-round pick Austin Beck. They aren’t exactly the same player, but they are both young outfielders with sky-high ceilings who played Rookie Ball together last year. Lazarito is a long way off, but it’s going to be fun watching him develop.

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

Lazaro Armenteros, OF

Expected level: Single-A | Age 19

2017 stats (RK): 181 PAs, 131 wRC+, 4 HR, 10 SB, 8.8% BB, 26.5% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

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

60 speed, 50 or 55 raw power, needs polish with swing mechanics but draws positive reviews for bat speed and overall athleticism; glove needs work as well but could be OK in center with more experience; long way off but I like the upside and have a good intuitive feeling on this one. ETA 2021.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

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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!