With the major league draft just a week away, it’s a good time to take a quick look at how the A’s top 10 picks from last year’s draft have been performing so far this season. Austin Beck, Nick Allen and Jared Poche have been playing for the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League, while Kevin Merrell, Greg Deichmann, Will Toffey, Parker Dunshee and Brian Howard have all been plying their trade for the Stockton Ports in the California League. You can always stay up to date on the A’s top prospects and all the daily action in the A’s minor league system on my Athletics Farm site, and you can get the latest on the team’s top picks from last year’s draft right here on Athletics Nation…
#1 – 1st Round
Outfielder Austin Beck
Beck has been performing well enough for a 19-year-old in the Midwest League who was still in high school at this time last year. While he’s been holding his own, he hasn’t exactly been setting the league on fire. He’s been making enough contact, and his .273 batting average is comfortably above the league average, but Beck’s .316 on-base average is a little below par. He has reduced his strikeout rate a bit from his rookie season in the Arizona League last year, but he’s still striking out once every four at-bats. His walk rate has also declined since last season, and he’s drawn just 11 walks in 190 plate appearances this season. But more notable are Beck’s power numbers. Touted for his big bat, Beck has belted just 1 home run and a total of 9 extra-base hits over his first 43 games, and he’s currently sporting a slugging percentage of just .347. The good news is he’s been healthy and playing every day and he’s still just a 19-year-old learning ropes while playing for his first full-season team.
#2 – 1st Round Supplemental
Shortstop Kevin Merrell
Merrell got off to a good start in April, but he’s been a little underwhelming since then. Known as a contact hitter, the 22-year-old’s .259 batting average is right around the league average but, surprisingly for a contact hitter, he leads the team in strikeouts with 52 in 193 at-bats, which means he’s been striking out more than once every four at-bats on average. He’s drawn just 12 walks so far this season and his on-base percentage stands at a sub-par .302. Merrell’s top tool was always considered to be his blazing speed, but he’s stolen just 4 bases in 7 attempts this season. He was never expected to show a whole lot of power, but he has just 8 extra-base hits and has yet to homer in his first 45 games while putting up a .316 slugging percentage in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League. Hopefully, he can get things back on track in the second half.
#3 – 2nd Round
Outfielder Greg Deichmann
Deichmann got off to a decent start but has been sidelined since April 24 with a wrist injury. Known as a power hitter at LSU, he led Vermont with 8 home runs in 46 games last year. So, it was a little surprising when the 22-year-old failed to homer in his first 50 at-bats for Stockton. He did collect 7 doubles though, and he showed his respected plate discipline by drawing 9 walks in his first 15 games. Deichmann’s .328 on-base percentage is right around the league average, but his lack of home runs led to a sub-par .340 slugging percentage when he landed on the disabled list. We’ll get a better sense of what he’s capable of doing once he makes it back on the field.
#4 – 3rd Round
Shortstop Nick Allen
The talented teenage shortstop had been holding his own in the early going, but he’s gone into a bit of a tailspin at the plate and is now batting just .186 with a .252 on-base percentage. Never expected to show much power, Allen has collected just 6 extra-base hits while compiling a .234 slugging percentage over his first 37 games in the Midwest League. The 19-year-old has been able to show off his speed though by swiping 8 bases in 10 attempts for Beloit, and reports on his defense have been good. Like Beck, he’s still quite young for the league, so let’s hope a little more seasoning will help.
#5 – 4th Round
Third Baseman Will Toffey
Unfortunately, Toffey injured his shoulder and landed on the disabled list on April 20. He’s been busy rehabbing it at the A’s minor league complex in Arizona and is hoping to be back before long. But before his injury, Toffey was starting to stand out as Stockton’s third baseman. Respected for his plate discipline during his time at Vanderbilt, the 23-year-old drew 11 walks in his first 11 games, and his impressive .465 on-base percentage still leads the team. Hopefully, he’ll be able to return to the team and get back on the field before long.
C Santis Sanchez, LHP Logan Salow, RHP Parker Dunshee, RHP Brian Howard, LHP Jared Poche
19-year-old catcher Santis Sanchez remains on the Arizona League A’s roster and has not yet played this seaon. LHP Logan Salow was dealt to the Dodgers for Wilmer Font and is currently pitching for Rancho Cucamonga in the California League. RHPs Parker Dunshee and Brian Howard have so far been the standouts of last year’s draft as the pair has anchored the Ports pitching staff. Dunshee has put up a 2.82 ERA and averaged 10.8 K/9, while Howard has posted a 3.00 ERA and averaged 9.4 K/9. And while pitching out of the Snappers starting rotation, LHP Jared Poche has compiled a 3.89 ERA and averaged 7.3 K/9.
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