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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #7: Austin Beck, high-ceiling draft pick

The A’s used last year’s No. 6 overall draft pick on a promising high school outfielder.

Austin Beck
Photo provided by Oakland A’s

In our last vote, we added the first member of the 2017 draft class to our Community Prospect List — top pick Austin Beck. 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%)
  5. Sean Murphy, C (+0%)
  6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP (+37%)
  7. Austin Beck, OF (+14%)

The Oakland A’s landed the No. 6 overall pick in the draft last summer, for the second year in a row. Back in 2016 they used it on a college pitcher in A.J. Puk, but this time they opted for a toolsy high school outfielder in Austin Beck.

There’s not much to say about Beck yet as he begins his pro career. His stock here is based entirely on projection at this point, with his power, speed, and arm all eliciting praise. He already has an ACL tear on his medical record, but otherwise the sky is the limit for the 19-year-old and it’s easy to dream on him as Oakland’s future star CF.

Beck debuted in Rookie Ball last year. I don’t care at all about stats at that level, but it’s worth pointing out the rapid improvement he showed upon arrival:

First 59 PAs: 6 wRC+, around 6 Ks per walk
Next 115 PAs: 114 wRC+, around 2 Ks per walk

More interesting to me is a look back at the A’s recent high school draftees. Since choosing pitcher Jeremy Bonderman back in 2001, the only prep players they’ve taken in the 1st round are Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson, and Billy McKinney — all from 2012 and ‘13, and all position players. Russell is already an All-Star with a ring, Olson got ROTY votes last season, Robertson debuted last year for the Rays (after netting us Ben Zobrist, and thus Sean Manaea indirectly), and McKinney is hitting enough in the Yankees’ upper minors and seems certain to at least reach the bigs. That’s an excellent record.

Of course, no amount of previous Oakland success stories will guarantee anything for Beck. Now it’s up to him to translate his raw talent into production and climb toward his high ceiling.

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 Greg Deichmann. The outfielder also came from last summer’s draft, in the 2nd round (No. 43 overall). His calling card is his power, and it showed up immediately in his pro debut at Low-A Vermont. As noted in the Sickels scouting report below, though, the real test for this polished college bat will come against higher-level pitching in the upper minors.

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

Greg Deichmann, OF

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A-): 195 PAs, 171 wRC+, 8 HR, 14.4% BB, 20.5% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

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

Lefty hitter with 55 or 60 power; hit quite well in pro debut and will probably mash in full-season A-ball with Double-A being the first real test; some question about how batting average and OBP will hold up; right field defensive profile with decent arm but mediocre range. ETA late 2020.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Grant Holmes, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 22

2017 stats (AA): 4.49 ERA, 148⅓ ip, 150 Ks, 61 BB, 15 HR, 4.02 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50

Relies on low-to-mid-90s power sinker, mixed with power curveball; change-up and overall command remain inconsistent and results don’t always seem to match the stuff; on the right day he looks like a number three or even number two starter but consistency issues could make him more of a four; it would be interesting to see how he would look in the bullpen although I haven’t heard of any moves in that direction. ETA 2019.

* * *

Sheldon Neuse, 3B

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+/AA): 169 PAs, 176 wRC+, 7 HR, 8.9% BB, 27.2% Ks, .510 BABIP
2017 stats (AFL): 99 PAs, .315/.364/.554, 5 HR, 7.1% BB, 18.2% Ks, .338 BABIP

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

I tend to fall in love with this type of player; tools don’t stand out, best physical tool is his throwing arm, raw power is average but he knows how to get to it and has hit at every level; not a butcher at shortstop though range is limited, fits better at third base in long run. 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!