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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #16: Daulton Jefferies returns from lost season

The UC Berkeley alum missed 2017 due to Tommy John surgery.

Daulton Jefferies
Photo provided by Oakland A’s

Our Community Prospect List adds another injured player to a group already full of health questions. 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%)

There is a downside to the Oakland A’s high-ceiling farm system, and that’s the risk they accepted while racking up so much upside. Several of the top names have serious question marks regarding their health, including Dustin Fowler (recovering from season-ending knee injury), Jesus Luzardo (already had TJS as a teenager), and James Kaprielian (still recovering from TJS last April). Those are three of the biggest names from last summer’s trade deadline haul.

Now we’ve added one more injury case to the CPL, in pitcher Daulton Jefferies. He had his Tommy John operation at around the same time as Kaprielian, so presumably they should be on similar recovery tracks until we hear otherwise. For his part, Jefferies reported last week that he’d begun throwing changeups (link, Jan 29), which seems like a noteworthy milestone.

The smart bet for now would be to assume that a pitcher who went under the knife in April could be back in action around June or July, with a reasonable margin of error of a couple months either way. In other words, let’s assume we’ll see Jeff ‘n’ Kap in games in the second half of the season, and count it as a bonus if they get back faster than that.

When he does come back, the next step will be to see how close Jefferies looks to his pre-injury form. His fastball was considered his top offering alongside a change and slider, with both his command and control earning praise. If the whole package returns then he can continue working toward a mid-rotation ceiling. One way or other, there is still lots of promise to be found in the 2016 draft class, as the top four picks (Puk, Jefferies, Shore, Murphy) have all made the CPL already and are names to watch this season.

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 Dakota Chalmers. The right-hander earned a big signing bonus out of high school as a 3rd-round draft pick in 2015, and as expected his development has required plenty of patience. Initially that meant waiting for him to physically mature and harness control of his powerful stuff, but his track slowed even further last summer as he sat out most of the year on a personal, non-baseball-related matter. However, he’s back with the team now and working on his delivery, so all indications are that he’ll be on the mound again in 2018. (Here’s more from Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse.)

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

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.

* * *

Nick Allen, SS

Expected level: Low-A | Age 19

2017 stats (A-): 154 PAs, 84 wRC+, 1 HR, 7 SB, 8.4% BB, 18.2% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65 | Overall: 50

Draws praise for defensive ability, running speed, overall hustle and intensity; makes contact and packs some strength into a 5-9, 160 pound frame, but game power is questionable and we need to see how his bat will hold up at higher levels; grade may be a notch too low but I want to see him higher than rookie ball. ETA 2022.

* * *

Ramon Laureano, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23

2017 stats (AA): 513 PAs, 87 wRC+, 11 HR, 24 SB, 7.8% BB, 21.4% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and MLB Pipeline scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

He’s a similar athlete to fellow Astros outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, though Laureano is a better pure hitter with less power potential. He has good patience and uses the entire field, though there are some concerns about how much his simple right-handed swing will translate into power against better pitching. If he can cut down his strikeout rate, he could become a high-OBP player with 10-15 homers per year.

Laureano could fit nicely in the leadoff spot because he pairs his on-base skills with plus speed and the know-how to steal bases. He’s more of an average defender in center field, better on the corners and capable of playing all three spots with his average arm. Nicknamed “The Machine” for his relentless work ethic, he’ll get the most out of his ability.

* * *

Tyler Ramirez, OF

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+): 328 PAs, 130 wRC+, 7 HR, 13.7% BB, 24.4% Ks
2017 stats (AA): 243 PAs, 135 wRC+, 4 HR, 11.5% BB, 21.8% Ks

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

Ramirez doesn’t have any one standout tool, but he ticks the box as at least average in every category: He hits for average, he gets on-base, he has occasional over-the-fence power and solid gap power, he has above-average speed and he has some arm strength. That skillset likely won’t make any scouts drool, but they give Ramirez a good chance at a long major league career.

Ramirez has a smooth left-handed swing with a slight upper-cut. He is able to wait back on pitches, and he sees a lot of pitches. Ramirez does strike-out a lot, but he makes up for it by walking a lot. He uses the whole field well and hit nearly half of his home runs to center or left field in 2017. Ramirez is a good baserunner with the speed to reach double-digits in stolen bases, although he didn’t run that often last season.

Defensively, Ramirez is very fundamentally solid. He takes good routes and has an accurate throwing arm. Ramirez can play all three outfield positions, although he may eventually be best suited in a corner spot.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!