Preliminary rosters have been announced for the 2018 Arizona Fall League. Each club will send seven prospects, creating six total AFL squads. The Oakland A’s contingent will suit up for the Mesa Solar Sox, alongside players from the Angels, Cubs, Tigers, and Red Sox, with their first game coming on Tue., Oct. 9.
Seven A’s youngsters have already been named to Mesa’s roster, which is still a work in progress. These assignments aren’t set in stone, as injuries or other factors can change things over the next few weeks, but this is where the list stands now. (Click here for full roster.)
- RHP Grant Holmes
- RHP Jake Bray
- RHP Angel Duno
- RHP Sam Sheehan
- IF Eli White
- OF Skye Bolt
- OF Luis Barrera
This group doesn’t carry the name power we’ve seen in past years, but there’s still a lot worth watching. Two of them made our preseason Community Prospect List (Holmes 10th, Bolt 26th), and two more have stepped up enough this season that they have a good chance at making the rankings next winter (Barrera, White). Here’s a look at each player.
Grant Holmes | RHP | Age 22
Acquired: Reddick/Hill trade (2014 draft, 1st round)
It’s been a lost season for Holmes, which is not uncommon for players in the AFL. He missed the entire campaign to a shoulder injury, so these extra fall games will give him a chance to get some work in to make up for missed time. After consistently moving up a level each year, he would likely have gone to Triple-A this summer if he’d been healthy. He entered 2018 as a Top 10 name in the A’s farm system, and he’s one of the club’s best starting pitching prospects both in terms of talent and proximity to the bigs, so getting him back on track will be a big boost.
Eli White | IF | Age 24
Acquired: 2016 draft, 11th round
2018, AA: .308/.392/.448, 132 wRC+, 8 HR, 10.9% BB, 20.1% Ks, 18-for-27 SB
White was probably the A’s biggest breakout story in the minors this year. After a nondescript start to his career, the right-hander set himself apart in Double-A as the best hitter on the team. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power, but he maintained a high average, got on base, showed off some speed, and made enough contact to kept the strikeouts at a reasonable rate. On the other side of the ball he flashed some versatility, spending significant time at 2B, SS, and 3B, and even taking a couple turns in CF. He’s gone from being a fringe mid-rounder to a legit prospect.
Skye Bolt | OF | Age 24
Acquired: 2015 draft, 4th round
2018, AA (11 gms): .133/.220/.200, 17 wRC+, 0 HR, 8.0% BB, 34.0% Ks
2018, A+ (46 gms): .266/.382/.521, 141 wRC+, 9 HR, 14.8% BB, 22.5% Ks
2018, AA (64 gms): .275/.341/.493, 125 wRC+, 10 HR, 8.7% BB, 22.5% Ks
Bolt opened the season in Double-A but immediately washed out after a slow start. He quickly found himself down in High-A, though, showing off his strong on-base ability and power. Those gains remained when he moved back up, and his second tour of Double-A went much better. He’s also stolen 18-of-22 bases overall and played primarily CF on defense, so it’s easy to see where his prospect stock comes from given his all-around skill set. The switch-hitter was drafted as a tools monster who was looking to unlock his considerable raw talent, and 2018 has turned out to be by far his best season in terms of translating it all into actual production.
Luis Barrera | OF | Age 22
Acquired: Int’l free agent (Dominican Republic), July 2012
2018, A+ (88 gms): .284/.354/.415, 110 wRC+, 3 HR, 9.1% BB, 17.9% Ks
2018, AA (32 gms): .330/.381/.435, 125 wRC+, 0 HR, 7.1% BB, 11.0% Ks
Barrera has been in the organization for a while, and he finally took a big step forward this year. The lefty showed he can make a ton of contact, get on base, and use his speed to make a difference once there (22-of-29 steals overall). On defense he split his time between CF and RF, and he rated well on the small-sample defensive metrics for whatever those are worth. He’s gone from being a talented question mark to an outright upper-minors outfield prospect.
Jake Bray | RHP | Age 25
Acquired: Brugman trade (2013 draft, 12th round)
2018, A+: 4.74 ERA, 43⅔ ip, 35 Ks, 18 BB, 8 HR, 5.91 FIP
The A’s acquired Bray as a high-strikeout reliever, but they gave him a chance as a starter this year and his Ks plummeted. He carried a 1.25 ERA through his first five games, but his shaky peripherals caught up with him after that and he got roasted, including a 10-run outing. An injury cost him June and July, and upon his return he went back to the bullpen where he’s rediscovering his groove (4 ip, 1 run, 4 Ks, 2 BB). He’s old for a lower-minors prospect, but that’s not as important for relievers so it’ll be interesting to see what he does in his extra opportunity this fall.
Angel Duno | RHP | Age 24
Acquired: Int’l free agent (Venezuela)
2018, A+: 2.66 ERA, 64⅓ ip, 64 Ks, 17 BB, 4 HR, 3.46 FIP
Duno began his pro journey with the A’s DSL squad in 2012, but he may have finally found his niche this summer. After getting pounded as a starter in High-A last year, he moved to the bullpen in 2018 and put up excellent numbers while racking up 15 saves. He’s a strike-throwing machine who has always maintained a low walk rate, but as a reliever he did a better job of also missing bats along the way. His strikeouts went up, his hits went down, and suddenly he’s an interesting bullpen lotto ticket.
Sam Sheehan | RHP | Age 25
Acquired: 2016 draft, 31st round
2018, A+: 4.41 ERA, 49 ip, 77 Ks, 32 BB, 1 HR, 3.20 FIP
If you enjoy the underdog story of a late-round draft pick, then Sheehan is your guy. He kept the ball in the park in a hitter-friendly league and struck out over a third of the batters he faced this year, though his swinging-strike rate was only good rather than elite. He’s slumped over the last month so his ERA isn’t anything special, but for a 2½-month stretch in the middle of the season he was dominant (1.57 ERA, 42.7% K-rate, .146 average against). The A’s pulled Ryan Dull out of the 32nd round, so it’s not impossible to find a contributor that late in the draft.
All told, unless anything changes in the next month, the A’s are sending a premium SP prospect coming off an injury, three breakout hitters, and three intriguing lotto-ticket relievers. It doesn’t have the star power of past contingents like Murphy/Neuse/Shore, Barreto/Montas/Munoz/Schrock, or Manaea/Pinder/Nunez, but every name on the list has something to offer and they’re all worth keeping an eye on.