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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #22: Dalton Sawyer adds lefty pitching depth

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Another tall lefty emerges from the 2016 draft class.

Working toward that Chris Sale arm angle.

Our Community Prospect List now features seven members of Oakland’s 2016 draft class. 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%)
  21. Nolan Blackwood, RHP (+6%)
  22. Dalton Sawyer, LHP (+1%)

The prize of the Oakland A’s 2016 draft class was No. 6 overall pick A.J. Puk, a tall lefty pitcher with top-of-the-rotation upside. However, another big southpaw has begun to emerge from the middle rounds.

The A’s took Dalton Sawyer with their 9th-round selection. He spent all four years in college rather than coming out after his junior season, which means he’s been on the older side of each professional league he’s been in so far. But with that caveat in mind, he’s racked up impressive strikeout rates at each stop — in Low-A Vermont after the draft, and then in Single-A Beloit and High-A Stockton last summer.

Like many pitchers who are working their way up the lower minors, it’s not yet clear whether Sawyer will stick as a starter or move to the bullpen. Melissa Lockard at Oakland Clubhouse suggests the development of his breaking ball will be the linchpin in that decision, and his velocity is good enough for either role — up to 92 as a starter, or 94 as a reliever. If he does end up in the bullpen then he could be a powerful weapon against lefties, whose mere .329 OPS against him last year is intriguing even in a tiny sample size.

If there’s one thing the A’s are good at doing, it’s developing sleeper/fringe pitching prospects into solid contributors. This big southpaw doesn’t get Randy Johnson comps like his more highly touted teammates Puk and Sean Manaea, but he’s still a left-handed drink of water in a desert of righty hurlers throughout the farm. We’ll learn a lot more about him this summer when he reaches Double-A and faces upper-minors competition, but what he’s done so far is impressive enough to get him on our CPL.

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 Will Toffey. He was the A’s 4th-round pick last summer, signing for exactly slot value. He was 196th on the MLB Pipeline pre-draft board, which may have made him a reach at No. 111 overall, but his scouting report suggests he’s a guy who can out-plays his raw tools thanks to makeup, competitiveness, and intelligence. He’s got a chance to be good on both sides of the ball, even if his low-power profile doesn’t traditionally match the corner position he currently plays.

Scouting grades: MLB Pipeline
Scouting reports: John Sickels (unless otherwise noted)
More scouting reports: Melissa Lockard at Oakland Clubhouse
Hitter average rates: 100 wRC+, 8.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

Will Toffey, 3B

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A-): 253 PAs, 125 wRC+, 1 HR, 15.0% BB, 17.8% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades, Sickels scouting report, and Lockard scouting report (link):

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

Sickels: Very polished, with excellent strike zone judgment in left-side bat; very solid glove at third base; main question is power development, should hit doubles but unclear how many homers will come at higher levels. ETA 2020.

Lockard: He has a high baseball IQ and is advanced both in his pitch selection at the plate and with his footwork and decision-making at third base. Toffey waits a long time before committing to swing, and he is a natural opposite-field hitter, as a result. Toffey also doesn’t bail out with his lead shoulder and the left-handed hitter found plenty of success against left-handed pitchers with Vermont. ... He may be able to add some pull power by learning to identify pitches to turn on earlier.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

B.J. Boyd, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2017 stats (AA): 578 PAs, 122 wRC+, 5 HR, 16 SB, 5.9% BB, 12.8% Ks

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

Boyd has the tools of a prototypical lead-off hitter. Although he has never had huge walk totals, Boyd has a solid approach at the plate. He waits a long time on pitches and is able to pounce on pitches he can handle and spoil off pitches deep in counts. At the start of his career, Boyd looked to pull a lot of pitches out of the park, but over the past two seasons, he has been content to work the opposite field gaps and to hit the ball on the line. That approach has produced much better results for Boyd. He is one of the fastest players in the A’s system. As one of the better bunters in the organization, Boyd can use his legs to put pressure on the defense both in the batter’s box and on the bases.

Defensively, Boyd is able to cover a lot of ground in center and he has sure hands in the outfield. During his career, he has logged significant time at all three outfield positions. His throwing arm is only average, but he has improved considerably over the years in getting the ball back into the cut-off man accurately.

* * *

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!