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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #25: Lou Trivino makes the 40-man roster

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The flame-throwing reliever could debut in Oakland this season.

Lou Trivino
Photo provided by Oakland A’s

Our Community Prospect List adds its second pure reliever, but this one has a great chance of reaching Oakland this summer. 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%)
  23. Casey Meisner, RHP (+22%)
  24. B.J. Boyd, OF (+15%)
  25. Lou Trivino, RHP (+23%)

Sometimes a prospect sneaks up seemingly out of nowhere. The White Sox signed Jake Sanchez as an undrafted free agent out of independent ball, and the Oakland A’s acquired him in 2014. He flamed out as a starter, but in 2016 he moved to the bullpen full-time. His velocity skyrocketed to the high-90s, and suddenly he found himself closing games in the upper minors. If he hadn’t gone down with an elbow injury in July, then this post might well be about him.

Fortunately, the A’s have another similar story in their system. Oakland drafted Lou Trivino in the 11th round back in 2013, but like Sanchez he quickly failed as a starter, moved to the pen, and substantially increased his velocity. He can now top out at 101 mph, according to Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse.

With his new role and pumped-up stuff have come new, better results. Over the last two years, he’s put together a 2.95 ERA (supported by a 2.94 FIP) over nearly 130 innings. He’s striking out a batter per inning and nearly three per walk, and most interestingly he’s allowed just one home run over that span. Granted, most of that time came in Midland and Nashville, where power goes to die, but one dinger in two years is impressive no matter where you do it. Factor in his 50 relief innings from 2015, and it’s two total dingers in three years and nearly 180 frames.

The A’s saw enough to put Trivino on their 40-man roster this winter, so as not to lose him in the Rule 5 draft. The bullpen situation is crowded this spring and there’s almost no way he breaks camp with the team, but reinforcements are always needed as the summer goes on and being on the roster already is a great first step toward getting that call. Look for Trivino to make his MLB debut this year, and then dream on how far his triple-digit power can take him.

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 Norge Ruiz. The A’s signed him to a hefty international bonus last winter, leading to hopes that he could fast-track his way to the bigs. Instead, he missed the first half of the season due to visa issues, then missed part of the second half to an elbow injury, plus a couple more games to a suspension for cheating. When he did briefly pitch he got torched, and then he missed the Arizona Fall League with another elbow strain. Yikes.

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

Norge Ruiz, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 24

2017 stats (A+): 5.71 ERA, 34⅔ ip, 24 Ks, 12 BB, 4 HR, 5.24 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and Lockard scouting report (link):

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

When Ruiz was healthy and throwing well, he featured a low-90s fastball with sink and movement, as well as three quality off-speed pitches (slider, change-up and split-fingered fastball). Ruiz can command all four of his pitches and isn’t afraid to use his off-speed pitches early in counts.

Not surprisingly – given how new he was to baseball in the US – Ruiz went through some ups and downs as he adjusted to the minor leagues. At times he went away from his fastball too early, allowing hitters to sit on his secondary pitches. His mechanics fell out of whack at times, and when he was off with his release point, he lost some of the movement on his fastball, making the pitch very hittable. He was also suspended for two weeks for doctoring the baseball. Ruiz should have a better understanding of the nuances of professional baseball in the US in 2018. ...

The biggest question surrounding Ruiz is his health. The elbow strain hasn’t yet required surgery, but it will be something the A’s monitor closely.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Skye Bolt, OF

Expected level: Double-A | Age 24

2017 stats (A+): 496 PAs, 104 wRC+, 15 HR, 10.7% BB, 27.0% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

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

A switch-hitter, Bolt is considerably better from the left side of the plate, where he exhibits more bat speed and a more impactful swing. Some evaluators believe he’d be better off batting solely from that side. He has some raw power from both sides and is a relatively disciplined hitter, but his pitch recognition leaves much to be desired and hinders the quality of his contact.

One of the better college athletes in his Draft class, Bolt has a chance to stick in center field, where he gets excellent jumps and is an overall rangy defender. If he can’t, he has the necessary arm strength to slide over to a corner spot.

* * *

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!