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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #27: Skye Bolt searches for his breakout

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The outfielder has the tools but needs to put them all together.

The Skye is the limit.
Photo provided by Oakland A’s

For the third time in the last four ballots, our Community Prospect List adds a former 4th-round draft pick. 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%)
  26. Will Toffey, 3B (+6%)
  27. Skye Bolt, OF (+5%)

In the last post we looked back at the recent history of Oakland A’s 4th-round picks, including CPL members Will Toffey (2017) and B.J. Boyd (2012). That particular round has often been one last chance for the A’s to unearth a true upper-draft talent that has slipped for one reason or other. In 2015 that meant betting on the big, untapped tools of outfielder Skye Bolt.

Entering the draft, MLB Pipeline gave Bolt above-average grades in speed, arm, and fielding, with decent power to boot. The whole package earned him the No. 67 spot on Pipeline’s pre-draft board, which equates with a late-2nd-round pick (Oakland took 2nd-rounder Mikey White 63rd overall that year). However, a lackluster college career dropped him down to the 4th, where he eventually signed over-slot for mid-3rd-round money. In other words, the A’s gambled on undeveloped raw tools to maximize potential ceiling, which is a shrewd risk to take at that point in the draft.

So how has the project gone since then? Bolt is still a work in progress and he’s been slowed by some minor nagging injuries, but by no means has he flamed out yet. He’s at least managed average batting lines up through High-A last year, with an emphasis on strong walk rates. He finally found some power last summer in hitter-friendly Stockton. And he’s done all of that while playing almost exclusively in CF, where there’s no reason to expect he can’t stick long-term. He figures to test out the upper minors this year in Double-A Midland.

One question for Bolt is how long he will continue switch-hitting. Even before his draft there was talk of whether he should convert to strictly lefty, and last year not a single one of his 15 homers came as a righty. One way or other, he has the chance to be an impact player if ever puts it all together, more so than most guys you’ll see this low on the CPL. The Skye is truly limit.

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 Richie Martin. The A’s 1st-round pick in 2015 has not panned out so far. His calling card is plus defense in the middle infield, but his bat has held him back and injuries haven’t helped. He appeared to be figuring something out in late 2016, but last summer he washed out of Double-A and still struggled after a demotion back to High-A.

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

Richie Martin, SS

Expected level: Double-A? | Age 23

2017 stats (AA): 325 PAs, 77 wRC+, 3 HR, 7.4% BB, 17.5% Ks
2017 stats (A+): 103 PAs, 94 wRC+, 1 HR, 7.8% BB, 20.4% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45

Martin’s range is a product of his athleticism and above-average speed, and scouts rave about his first-step quickness as well as his overall instincts. His arm is a clean fit at shortstop and enables him to make highlight-reel plays, but he’s also capable of getting rid of the ball quickly while on the move, without sacrificing any accuracy.

Martin has good bat-to-ball skills but also a tendency to get tied up and roll the ball over to the left side, and in general he makes too much weak, ground-ball contact. His simple, low-effort swing limits his power, though he does have some pop to the gaps. Having offered little in the way of offense since beginning his career, Martin will need his defense to carry him to the big leagues.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Brian Howard, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A-): 1.15 ERA, 31⅓ ip, 29 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 1.68 FIP

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

Although Howard isn’t overpowering, he generates a decent amount of swing-and-miss, striking out nearly a batter an inning with Vermont and striking more than a batter an inning in college. A’s Scouting Director Eric Kubota says that Howard’s height and delivery make it difficult for hitters to get a good read on him. ...

Howard has a simple rock-back-and-fire, over-the-top delivery that he is able to repeat. His fastball sits at 87-90, topping out at 91, but the angle at which he releases the ball allows the fastball to get on hitters quickly. Howard has a well-developed four-pitch mix: a four-seam fastball, a cutter that sits 85-87 MPH, a sharp-biting curveball that sits in the 76-79 MPH range, and a developing change-up that he threw with more confidence during his stint with Vermont. ... Many tall pitchers struggle with command, but Howard was able to locate well during his pro debut.

* * *

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!