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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #11: Sheldon Neuse bursts onto the scene

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Neuse raised the volume to 11 last season.

Making some loud contact.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

We’re on to the second third of our Community Prospect List, but more importantly we seem to have hit the end of the top tier of talent in the system. 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%)
  8. James Kaprielian, RHP (+2%)
  9. Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+41%)
  10. Grant Holmes, RHP (+18%)
  11. Sheldon Neuse, 3B (+68%)

Last time we wrapped up our Top 10 list, but Sheldon Neuse is here to turn it up to 11. The key number to notice here is his 68% margin of victory, which tells us that this vote was beyond a landslide.

The reason for that gap is that we’ve hit the end of our top tier of talent in the system. Not all of these names are on national Top 100 lists, but six of them have made at least one version so far and all of them are surely Top 200 overall. You could make an argument for an elite tier at the top with just Puk and Barreto, but there exists a mainstream list (Keith Law) in which Barreto is only fourth in the system.

What makes this farm system so strong is that you would expect to see this dropoff several spots higher. Last year it was probably around the No. 6 spot (Grant Holmes) or maybe No. 9 (Daniel Gossett), and the year before it was also No. 6 (Renato Nunez). There’s certainly some injury risk on this list, as there is on literally every list of pro athletes, but the ceilings are enviable.

As for Neuse, his job this year will be to build on his 2017 breakout. He dominated the pitching he faced in High-A and then kept right on hitting in Double-A, but along the way he struck out quite a bit and masked that flaw with an unsustainably high BABIP. He continued to mash in the Arizona Fall League, and even better he cut down the Ks and succeeded despite regressing back to a more normal BABIP.

Neuse is blocked at 3B by Matt Chapman, but that shouldn’t inherently affect his prospect stock. His defense is fine there and his future could easily be at that position, but if he’s to make it in Oakland then presumably he’ll have to switch spots. One way or other, he’ll be a top name to watch in the upper minors this year.

Like most of the guys above him on this list, Neuse was a recent trade acquisition. That makes 7-of-11 that came to Oakland via trade, including five from last summer’s July deadline alone. Rebuilding the organization takes patience, but the good news is that the A’s have actively taken a huge step forward over the last year.

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 Renato Nunez. He’s become something of a forgotten man entering his age-24 season, but he still has power to offer. He nearly led all of Triple-A in homers last year, despite playing in a home park in which dingers are illegal. However, he has nothing to offer on defense and might wind up needing the DH spot, which is never an encouraging trait in a rookie. He’s out of minor league options, so this spring could be do-or-die for his time in Oakland.

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

Renato Nunez, DH

Expected level: MLB | Age 24

2017 stats (AAA): 533 PAs, 109 wRC+, 32 HR, 8.8% BB, 26.5% Ks
2017 stats (MLB): 3-for-15, 1 HR, 1 BB, 8 Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 40 | Overall: 45

The power is legitimate and he’s still young but stock has dropped due to contact concerns and defensive questions; he’s just barely adequate at third base, which won’t be enough to play there for Oakland, and marginal as a corner outfielder; I remain intrigued with his bat but I think he’s trade bait. ETA 2018.

* * *

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.

* * *

Logan Shore, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+): 4.09 ERA, 72⅔ ip, 74 Ks, 16 BB, 5 HR, 3.43 FIP
2017 stats (AFL): 6.00 ERA, 24 ip, 18 Ks, 2 BB, 5 HR

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

Missed a month with a lat strain; fastball around 90 and a bit higher can play up due to contrast with excellent change-up; slider needs more consistency as it varies between mediocre and plus, probably more of a number four starter than an ace unless his velocity picks up further, or unless the breaking ball becomes more consistent, which could happen. ETA 2019.

* * *

Kevin Merrell, SS

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2017 stats (A-): 140 PAs, 135 wRC+, 2 HR, 10 SB, 6.4% BB, 15.7% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 70 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

70-grade speed and he knows how to use it, should be significant stolen base threat at all levels; line drive hitter with doubles/triples power; arm strength is questioned at shortstop, could end up as speed-oriented super-utility guy in the long run. ETA 2020.

* * *

Nick Allen, SS

Expected level: Low-A | Age 19

2017 stats (A-): 154 PAs, 84 wRC+, 1 HR, 7 SB, 8.4% BB, 18.2% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65 | Overall: 50

Draws praise for defensive ability, running speed, overall hustle and intensity; makes contact and packs some strength into a 5-9, 160 pound frame, but game power is questionable and we need to see how his bat will hold up at higher levels; grade may be a notch too low but I want to see him higher than rookie ball. 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!