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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #20: Dakota Chalmers gets back on the mound

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Three years after he was drafted out of high school, can the fireballer begin to control his stuff?

Nice day for a walk.
Photo provided by Oakland A’s

Last time we had one of our closest races yet, with Dakota Chalmers edging out Nolan Blackwood by just two votes to round out the top 20 of the Community Prospect List. 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%)
  20. Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+2%)

The Oakland A’s 2015 draft class is not looking good. The top pick, shortstop Richie Martin, is creeping toward bust territory after washing out of Double-A. The second pick, infielder Mikey White, never really got going and hasn’t reached Double-A yet at all. After two full seasons of play, only 20th-rounder James Naile has established himself successfully in the upper minors, and he’s a long shot to even make this Top 30 list.

There’s still one chance left for a big hit out of this draft, though. In the 3rd round, the A’s rolled the dice on a top high school talent in pitcher Dakota Chalmers. The right-hander was always going to be a long-term project, but there was plenty of upside to be found in his power arsenal.

The teenage Chalmers began his career in Rookie Ball, and by 2017 he’d worked his way up to Single-A Beloit. He’s delivered the same line at each stop — tons of strikeouts and few hits, but way too many walks. Last year he peaked at fully a walk per inning in Beloit, though he only threw 29 frames before stepping away from the team in late May for a personal non-baseball-related matter.

Fortunately, Chalmers has returned to the mound, reports Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse. He was back in action during the fall instructional league, working on a delivery that will help him control his mid/high-90s fastball. He’s still a long way from the bigs, but he’s only 21 years old and he’s got some strong tools to work with. Between him and 4th-rounder Skye Bolt, who might still crack the bottom of the CPL, the book still isn’t quite closed on the class of 2015.

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 Parker Dunshee. He was the A’s 7th-round draft pick last summer, and he immediately opened eyes by posting a perfect ERA in Low-A Vermont. He also backed up that aesthetically pleasing stat with promising peripherals. He turned pro after his senior season of college, though, which means he was particularly old for his Low-A competition. His first real test will come in 2018, when he faces tougher opponents in High-A Stockton’s hitter-friendly park.

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

Parker Dunshee, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A-): 0.00 ERA, 38⅓ ip, 45 Ks, 8 BB, 0 HR, 2.02 FIP

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

Despite Dunshee’s dominating numbers with the Lake Monsters, he doesn’t have a power-pitcher’s arsenal. Dunshee’s four-seam fastball sits in the 88-91 MPH range and is true. Where he gets his most movement is on his secondary pitches – a changeup and a slider. Dunshee came to pro ball with the slider as his most effective secondary offering, but he threw his changeup more frequently with Vermont and it was an effective pitch for him. ...

Where Dunshee will find success is being able to keep hitters off-balance by mixing his pitches effectively and pounding the lower-half of the strike-zone. ... Dunshee is a good athlete who repeats his delivery well and has the frame to handle a starter’s workload. He may benefit down-the-road from adding a fastball with more movement to compliment his four-seam, either a two-seam or a cut-fastball.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!