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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #19: Tyler Ramirez emerges as outfield sleeper

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The 2016 draft pick reached Double-A in 2017.

Tyler Ramirez notching a hit, probably.
Photo credit: Meghan Camino | Stockton Ports

We return to the 2016 draft for the next member of our Community Prospect List, but this time it’s a sleeper pick rather than a high-profile name. 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%)
  12. Greg Deichmann, OF (+17%)
  13. Logan Shore, RHP (+2%)
  14. Kevin Merrell, SS (+8%)
  15. Renato Nunez, DH (+7%)
  16. Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+9%)
  17. Nick Allen, SS (+24%)
  18. Ramon Laureano, OF (+44%)
  19. Tyler Ramirez, OF (+33%)

Over the last few years, I harbored a particular prospect crush on outfielder Jaycob Brugman. He was an underdog, high-makeup, jack-of-all-trades kind of sleeper, a guy with a nobody profile whom I thought (and still think) can carve out a legit MLB career. Brugman is in Baltimore now after being squeezed out of the picture here in November, but he’ll always hold a special place in my baseball heart.

I didn’t have to wait long for a new hope to fill Bruggy’s shoes, though. The Oakland A’s drafted outfielder Tyler Ramirez in the 7th round in 2016, and he spent his first full pro season enjoying a year-long breakout that sent him all the way up to Double-A.

My point here is only to pass on the sleeper torch from one prospect to another, not draw a direct comp between the two players. But that said, there are striking similarities to be found. Like Bruggy, Ramirez can hang at all three outfield positions but likely fits best in a corner spot defensively. He also possesses a little bit of every skill (power, speed, discipline, etc.) without truly standing out in any area.

But when it comes to putting up numbers at the plate, Ramirez has a big edge so far. Bruggy spent most of his first full season (2014) in Single-A Beloit before a midsummer promotion to High-A Stockton. Meanwhile, Ramirez opened 2017 in Stockton and hit his way up to Double-A Midland by the beginning of July. Once in Midland he kept on hitting without missing a beat, posting a better line there than Brugman ever did. By the end of the campaign, Ramirez had racked up a 132 wRC+, .304 average, and .398 OBP between the two levels — far superior than Bruggy ever posted anywhere above Beloit.

To really tie the story together: In October when Ramirez’s trip to the Arizona Fall League was cut short by a minor injury, it was none other than Brugman who arrived to replace him on Mesa’s roster.

There is plenty left for Ramirez to prove, which is why he’s still a sleeper and not higher on our CPL. He needs to show that his .394 BABIP wasn’t a fluke, and that he can keep hitting enough to shed the tweener label — the bat of a CF, but the glove of a LF. He also carries the undersized label, at 5’9 and 185.

But count me as a believer so far. Ramirez put up numbers that I can’t ignore, especially in the upper minors on a fast-track timeline. There are bigger prospects in this system, but this guy is on my short list of top names to watch in 2018.

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 Dalton Sawyer. The 6’5 lefty was a mid-round pick in 2016, two rounds behind Ramirez, and he enjoyed his own mini-breakout last year. He maintained a high strikeout rate as a starter in both Beloit and Stockton, and as an extra bonus he even got the call for a couple of emergency spot starts up in Triple-A. He should get his first long-term test in the upper minors this summer.

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

Dalton Sawyer, LHP

Expected level: Double-A? | Age 24

2017 stats (A): 2.25 ERA, 56 ip, 64 Ks, 21 BB, 3 HR, 3.14 FIP
2017 stats (A+): 3.68 ERA, 66 ip, 74 Ks, 20 BB, 12 HR, 5.17 FIP
2017 note: Also made 2 emergency spot starts in Triple-A

Scouting report from Melissa Lockard at Oakland Clubhouse (link):

As a starter, Sawyer’s fastball sits in the 88-92 MPH range, but he has been clocked as high as 94 MPH as a reliever. He hides the ball well and his fastball tends to get on hitters quicker than most pitchers who throw it in a similar velocity range. Sawyer’s change-up sits in the low-80s and has downward action. ...

How Sawyer’s breaking ball develops will go a long way towards determining whether he stays in the rotation or moves into a left-handed relief specialist role out of the bullpen. ... Sawyer throws a hybrid breaking ball that could be called a slider or a curveball. It’s a big bender that also moves from one side of the plate to the other. The pitch is inconsistent, but it is an effective swing-and-miss pitch when Sawyer is throwing it well. ...

A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson saw a lot of Chris Sale in Sawyer’s tall left-handed frame and three-quarters release. Patterson and Stockton pitching coach Steve Connelly worked with Sawyer towards the end of the season on a tweak to make Sawyer’s motion even closer to Sale’s.

* * *

Nolan Blackwood, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+): 3.00 ERA, 57 ip, 48 Ks, 18 BB, 2 HR, 3.84 FIP, 19-of-20 saves
2017 stats (AFL): 1.59 ERA, 11⅓ ip, 16 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HR

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

Most sidearm and submarine pitchers rely heavily on their deception to help improve what usually is below-average stuff. ... Blackwood’s velocity is atypical compared to hurlers with a similar arm slot, as he’ll sit at 91-93 mph with heavy sink that results in extreme ground-ball contact but few whiffs. He pairs it with an average breaking ball as well as a changeup, both of which play up on account of his tremendous deception, although he’ll need to develop the latter in order to be successful against lefties.

With an ideal fastball-breaking ball combo that helped him limit right-handed hitters to a .167 average in the California League, Blackwood could be a fast riser through the Minor Leagues.

* * *

Dakota Chalmers, RHP

Expected level: Single-A | Age 21

2017 stats (A): 4.34 ERA, 29 ip, 47 Ks, 29 BB, 1 HR, 4.22 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45

An athletic and projectable right-hander, Chalmers generates a fastball that sits in the 92-95 mph range and has been as high as 97 in the past. His curveball shows above-average potential and projects as an out pitch, thrown with tight spin and some downer action, and he also shows feel for throwing his changeup. The A’s adjusted Chalmers’ mechanics at the outset of his pro career, and, for the most part, he did a better job repeating his delivery last season. His control is still below average, though.

Club officials believe Chalmers has the necessary athleticism and aptitude to make strides as a strike-thrower. He’ll need time to develop, but the potential is there for him to become a No. 3 or 4 starter at maturity.

* * *

Casey Meisner, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+): 3.98 ERA, 74⅔ip, 80 Ks, 20 BB, 9 HR, 4.30 FIP
2017 stats (AA): 4.12 ERA, 59 ip, 37 Ks, 27 BB, 4 HR, 4.77 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

Meisner’s velocity began to tick up in 2015, with the right-hander sitting at 90-93 mph and at times bumped the mid-90s, but adopting a lower arm slot last season negated that progress while also changing the shape and angle of his curveball and hindering his control. While velocity has been better in 2017, Meisner has been inefficient in using his height to create downhill plane to the plate.

Meisner’s size and durability bode well for him becoming an back-of-the-rotation innings-eater, possibly more if his stuff and control return in full.

* * *

Alexander Campos, SS

Expected level: Rookie Ball | Age 18

2017 stats (RK): 254 PAs, 136 wRC+, 2 HR, 16.1% BB, 15.4% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Evaluators believe Campos has the potential to stick at shortstop. He’s an athletic and instinctual defender with good actions and the necessary arm strength for the position. Campos’ above-average speed translates on both sides of the ball, though he has gains to make as a baserunner. At the plate, the right-handed hitter is short to the ball and has good feel for the barrel, resulting in lots of line drives and some gap power, and he already has shown on-base skills with an advanced approach.

Campos has started to grow into his athletic frame since signing and should continue to tack on good strength. His defense-speed combination at an up-the-middle position gives him a possible floor as a big league reserve, though further progress at the plate could very well thrust him into the conversation as an everyday player.

* * *

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!