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Oakland A’s prospect watch: Looking back at the 2018 Community Prospect List

Year in review for the A’s farm system.

The A’s graduated three outfielders from prospect status: Fowler, Laureano, and Martini.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season is in the rear-view mirror, and there are still weeks to go before spring games begin. We spent all year following the Oakland A’s top prospects, so now it’s time for a progress report on the state of the minor league system. We’ll start with our preseason Community Prospect List Top 30, and then add some new names that emerged over the summer.

The first section of this post will be the big table of stats. We’ve got our Top 30 prospects, plus some new draft picks, and then a few more of the best of the rest. After that we’ll take a closer look at the graduates, departures, additions, and new standouts, and consider which of the remaining preseason Top 30 prospects have raised their stock with strong performances and which ones have taken a step back. Then we’ll wrap up with my take on an updated Top 10 list, with plenty of space in the comments for everyone else to share their version.

In the next post, we’ll nominate our first ballot for the 2019 CPL voting.

2018 Stats

Skip this intro and go straight to the big table if you don’t care about the details of the process.

Each player is listed at the highest level at which he spent what I deemed to be significant time, and his stats only include his performance at that level*. The levels refer to the Oakland A’s (MLB), the Nashville Sounds (AAA), the Midland RockHounds (AA), the High-A Stockton Ports (A+), the Single-A Beloit Snappers (A), the short-season Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters (A-), and the Arizona Rookie League (RK). For midseason acquisitions, I’ve only included their stats from after joining the A’s organization.

*Exception: The numbers for draftees Brady Feigl and Gus Varland are from A-/A because the samples are too small to be worth splitting between levels.

There wasn’t a lot of room for the stats, so I had to pick and choose which ones to include in order to pack in as much punch as possible. It’s meant to be read like this, from left to right:

  • big-picture, was he above or below average (ERA, wRC+)
  • sample size (IP or PAs)
  • underlying peripherals (K, BB, HR rates, FIP; also stolen bases when relevant)

I would have liked to include the slash line for hitters (AVG/OBP/SLG) but it’s just a bit too much for such a small space — and anyway, when it comes to the minors I prefer the league-adjusted numbers because each individual league brings its own unique environment and competition level (even though minor league wRC+ isn’t park-adjusted). In other words, the same raw OPS might mean wildly different things in different leagues — for example, Barreto and Armenteros are separated by nearly 100 points of OPS but only one point in their wRC+ marks. Finally, I put the pitching stats in green text in an attempt to differentiate them from the hitting stats.

A quick stats glossary

For hitters:

  • A 100 wRC+ is average, and higher is better; a range of 75-140 is poor-to-great.
  • A BB% around 8-9% is normal in the minors, with a range of about 5-14% being poor to great.
  • For K%, average is around 21% in the upper minors (AAA/AA) and 23% in the lower minors, with 10-30% constituting great-to-poor.

For pitchers:

  • FIP reads exactly like an ERA but is based on peripherals (K, BB, HR) instead of actual real-life runs. It’s meant to be predictive, and with prospects in particular we’re more concerned with their potential future performance than their past results.

The players in this table include our preseason Top 30, plus an additional seven from each of the following groups: others who stepped up (SU), and draft picks (DR). Players in bold got enough MLB time to graduate from prospect status. Players in strikethrough are no longer in the organization.

Oakland A's 2018 Community Prospect List
# Name Pos Age Level 2018 stats
1 A.J. Puk LHP 23 AAA Missed entire season to injury
2 Franklin Barreto SS 22 AAA 125 wRC+, 333 PAs, 18 HR, 11.7% BB, 31.8% Ks
3 Jorge Mateo SS 23 AAA 62 wRC+, 510 PAs, 3 HR, 5.7% BB, 27.3% Ks, 25 SB
4 Dustin Fowler OF 23 MLB 65 wRC+, 203 PAs, 6 HR, 3.9% BB, 23.2% Ks, 6 SB
5 Sean Murphy C 23 AA 131 wRC+, 289 PAs, 8 HR, 8.0% BB, 16.3% Ks
6 Jesus Luzardo LHP 20 AA 2.29 ERA, 78⅔ ip, 86 Ks, 18 BB, 5 HR, 2.89 FIP
7 Austin Beck OF 19 A 103 wRC+, 534 PAs, 2 HR, 5.6% BB, 21.9% Ks
8 James Kaprielian RHP 24 A+ Missed entire season to injury
9 Lazaro Armenteros OF 19 A 126 wRC+, 340 PAs, 8 HR, 10.6% BB, 33.8% Ks
10 Grant Holmes RHP 22 AAA Missed most of season to injury
11 Sheldon Neuse 3B 23 AAA 72 wRC+, 537 PAs, 5 HR, 6.0% BB, 32.0% Ks
12 Greg Deichmann OF 23 A+ 77 wRC+, 185 PAs, 6 HR, 9.2% BB, 34.1% Ks
13 Logan Shore RHP 23 AA 5.50 ERA, 68⅔ ip, 49 Ks, 19 BB, 7 HR, 4.27 FIP
14 Kevin Merrell SS 22 A+ 72 wRC+, 290 PAs, 0 HR, 5.2% BB, 22.8% Ks
15 Daulton Jefferies RHP 22 A+ Missed entire season to injury
16 Nick Allen SS 19 A 73 wRC+, 512 PAs, 0 HR, 6.6% BB, 16.6% Ks, 24 SB
17 Ramon Laureano OF 23 MLB 129 wRC+, 176 PAs, 5 HR, 9.1% BB, 28.4% Ks, 7 SB
18 Tyler Ramirez OF 23 AA 121 wRC+, 594 PAs, 10 HR, 10.4% BB, 24.9% Ks
19 Dakota Chalmers RHP 21 A Only threw 5 innings
20 Nolan Blackwood RHP 23 AA 4.08 ERA, 53 ip, 48 Ks, 16 BB, 3 HR, 3.45 FIP
21 Dalton Sawyer LHP 24 AA Missed entire season to injury
22 B.J. Boyd OF 24 AAA 78 wRC+, 427 PAs, 3 HR, 6.1% BB, 16.6% Ks
23 Lou Trivino RHP 26 MLB 2.92 ERA, 74 ip, 82 Ks, 31 BB, 8 HR, 3.69 FIP
24 Josh Lucas RHP 27 MLB 6.28 ERA, 14⅓ ip, 14 Ks, 9 BB, 1 HR, 4.21 FIP
25 Will Toffey 3B 23 A+ 106 wRC+, 197 PAs, 5 HR, 14.7% BB, 24.9% Ks
26 Skye Bolt OF 24 AA 109 wRC+, 315 PAs, 10 HR, 8.6% BB, 23.8% Ks, 10 SB
27 Parker Dunshee RHP 23 AA 2.01 ERA, 80⅔ ip, 81 Ks, 14 BB, 5 HR, 2.92 FIP
28 Alexander Campos SS 18 RK 39 wRC+, 84 PAs, 0 HR, 13.1% BB, 33.3% Ks
29 Brian Howard RHP 23 AA 3.48 ERA, 67⅓ ip, 63 Ks, 23 BB, 7 HR, 4.00 FIP
30 Richie Martin SS 23 AA 121 wRC+, 509 PAs, 6 HR, 8.6% BB, 16.9% Ks, 25 SB
SU J.B. Wendelken RHP 25 MLB 0.54 ERA, 16⅔ ip, 14 Ks 5 BB, 1 HR, 3.16 FIP
SU Wyatt Marks RHP 23 A 3.23 ERA, 106 ip, 127 Ks, 35 BB, 8 HR, 3.14 FIP
SU Jonah Heim C 23 A+ 113 wRC+, 348 PAs, 7 HR, 8.3% BB, 17.2% Ks
SU Eli White IF 24 AA 132 wRC+, 578 PAs, 9 HR, 10.7% BB, 20.1% Ks
SU Marcos Brito 2B 18 A- 89 wRC+, 241 PAs, 1 HR, 11.2% BB, 20.7% Ks
SU Luis Barrera OF 22 AA 128 wRC+, 144 PAs, 0 HR, 6.3% Ks, 12.5% BB, 13 SB
SU Nick Martini OF 28 MLB 129 wRC+, 179 PAs, 1 HR, 11.7% BB, 20.1% Ks
DR Kyler Murray QB 20 B12 4,053 yds, 40 TDs, 70.9% Cmp, 205.7 Rating
DR Jameson Hannah OF 20 A- 119 wRC+, 95 PAs, 1 HR, 9.5% BB, 25.3% Ks, 6 SB
DR Jeremy Eireman SS 21 A- 95 wRC+, 267 PAs, 8 HR, 4.9% BB, 26.2% Ks, 10 SB
DR Hogan Harris LHP 21 -- Missed entire season to injury
DR Alfonso Rivas 1B 21 A- 137 wRC+, 257 PAs, 1 HR, 14.0% BB, 17.1% Ks
DR Brady Feigl RHP 22 A-/A 1.73 ERA, 26 ip, 34 Ks, 8 BB, 1 HR, 2.41 FIP
DR Gus Varland RHP 21 A-/A 0.97 ERA, 37 ip, 50 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR, 2.02 FIP

* * *

The Graduates

The A’s had six players graduate to MLB this year and officially shed their prospect status, including four from the CPL Top 30. Two of them even came from the Top 5, but it was the lower pair of CPL names that made the biggest impact.

First on the list is reliever Lou Trivino, who debuted in mid-April and quickly became the primary setup man in the bullpen. Armed with a 98 mph fastball that touches triple-digits, plus the wide arsenal of a former starter, he teamed with closer Blake Treinen to carry the broken pitching staff through the shaky first half of the season. He was also the best performer in the otherwise forgettable Wild Card Game, tossing three scoreless innings. Here at AN, we voted him the club’s Rookie of the Year.

However, the race for that award was razor-thin thanks to Ramon Laureano. The outfielder didn’t debut until August, but he was so electric that he already feels like one of the biggest stars on the roster. Even in his very first game in the majors he notched the walk-off hit. He showed off all five tools plus good plate discipline, and along the way he made the single best play in all of MLB last year.

Oakland also welcomed two of its most famous prospects, though neither caught on full-time yet. Dustin Fowler got a long look coming off a major 2017 injury, but after a couple months of regular playing time he didn’t quite seem ready on either side of the ball. Fortunately, he kept hitting well in Triple-A (129 wRC+) and is still plenty young to put things together.

Fowler got more of a chance than Franklin Barreto did, though, as the latter mostly shuttled up to warm the bench during moments of emergency. He only got a few sporadic at-bats here and there, and the only reason he graduated is because he’d already played a bit in 2017, too. He continued striking out too much in Triple-A, which is his primary flaw right now, but on the bright side he also significantly increased his walk rate and showed more power than expected. He also just finished third place in the MVP voting for the Venezuelan League.

The other two graduates were less expected. J.B. Wendelken debuted in 2016 and was then forgotten after Tommy John surgery, but the changeup artist came back throwing harder than ever and can now touch 98 on his heater. He didn’t even throw 20 innings, but they were most encouraging and have left him as a popular sleeper entering 2019. He graduated purely due to service time, and just barely at that (cutoff is 45 non-Sept days, and if I’m counting right he hit that exactly).

Finally. Nick Martini truly came out of ... well, left field, both literally and figuratively. He was the classic A’s Misfit Toy, a minor league free agent who waited nearly a decade for his chance in the bigs and then ran with it. After eight seasons toiling in the minors, he played 55 games for an upstart playoff team, nearly posted a .400 OBP, and even picked up a postseason hit. It remains to be seen whether he was a fun fluke or a true keeper, but he’s already come further than anyone would have guessed last spring.

One other borderline case is reliever Josh Lucas. He only threw a hair over a dozen innings, but he did spend some time waiting idle in the bullpen. I count 47 days of relevant career service time, but Baseball-Reference says he didn’t graduate; my only guess is that maybe the All-Star break doesn’t count, which would drop him down to 43 or 44 days? Anyway, it doesn’t matter either way, because he elected free agency after the season and is now in the Orioles’ system.

I didn’t have space to include WAR in the table above, so here’s a rundown (sorted by bWAR):

Hitter PA ↓bWAR↓ fWAR
Ramon Laureano 176 2.1 2.1
Nick Martini 179 1.3 1.3
Franklin Barreto 75 0.0 0.2
Dustin Fowler 203 -0.9 -0.6
Pitcher IP ↓bWAR↓ fWAR
Lou Trivino 74 1.6 0.6
J.B. Wendelken 16⅔ 0.6 0.2

They didn’t put up big WAR totals, but they provided some major, timely contributions.

The Departures

With the A’s enjoying a contending season, a few prospects were used in trades to strengthen the MLB roster. On top of that, a few more floated away during the offseason.

Fortunately, Oakland managed to do its midseason shopping without losing anyone from the Top 10 of the CPL, and only one from the Top 18. They picked up a new starter (Fiers), two setup men (Familia, Rodney), and two middle relievers (Kelley, Gearrin), all in exchange for Nos. 13, 19, 20, and 25, plus a couple more fringe names — most notably, perpetually injured Triple-A reliever Bobby Wahl and 20-year-old lotto ticket pitcher Abdiel Mendoza.

A few more names exited during the winter. Eli White was dealt in the swap for Jurickson Profar, and while White wasn’t on the CPL, he would have made the Stepping Up section below and cracked the new list this year. B.J Boyd and Lucas elected free agency, and Richie Martin was infamously lost in the Rule 5 draft.

Looking back at recent drafts, the 2015 class lost Martin (1st round) and Dakota Chalmers (3rd), the 2016 class lost Logan Shore (2nd), and the 2017 class lost Will Toffey (4th). White (11th) and Nolan Blackwood (14th) were both mid-rounders in 2016, so turning them into legitimate trade assets was a coup.

All told, the A’s parted with some interesting players but nothing close to a top prospect. The biggest names (like Martin and Shore) bring spotty track records, modest ceilings, and pesky injury histories, while the most interesting names (like White and Blackwood) profile mostly as role players. I might be most bummed to lose Toffey, who brings two-way potential and immediately played well in Double-A for the Mets. Fortunately the A’s already have a solid long-term plan at third base.

Stepping Up

This section is for the sleepers who missed the CPL but then broke out and jumped onto the radar. Usually, I limit this to five players, but I made it seven this year since there were no new prospect acquisitions to include. We already talked about Martini and Wendelken, and there’s no need to say too much about White since he’s gone — he was Midland’s best hitter despite a lack of power, he played a bunch of positions, he was alright in the Arizona Fall League, and then he got traded for amazing value.

Next up is outfielder Luis Barrera, who stepped up so far that he was added to the 40-man roster this winter. He thrived in a mid-year callup to Double-A, and he impressed scouts in the AFL with his speed and arm despite lackluster raw stats at the plate. He’s been in the organization for more than half a decade, and he’s finally beginning to make some noise.

Down in High-A, newly acquired catcher Jonah Heim made a good first impression. He arrived with a strong defensive reputation, and the switch-hitter also did well at the plate for Stockton. He faltered badly upon a promotion to Double-A, but just getting there was enough to earn our attention — especially in a system nearly devoid of catching depth.

In Single-A Beloit, the pitching standout was Wyatt Marks. Drafted alongside Dunshee ‘N’ Howard in 2017, Marks struck out nearly 30% of his batters in Single-A and then barely skipped a beat in five starts for High-A. His walk rates were too high, and he reportedly profiles as a future reliever, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

The final pick is Marcos Brito, a teenager who made it out of Rookie Ball and into Low-A Vermont last summer. He didn’t put up monster numbers, but he held his own as an 18-year-old in a league full of college juniors. While the other two super-young middle infielders (Yerdel Vargas, Alexander Campos) were stuck in Rookie Ball getting blown away, Brito was at a higher level showing vastly better plate discipline. Campos made the CPL because Shiny New Toy Syndrome is a powerful intoxicant, and it’ll be a long time before we know which of this trio will pan out (if any), but it was Brito who took the early lead in 2018.

The Draft

With a Top 10 pick and an extra Comp selection, the A’s put together a fun draft class last summer. Unfortunately, they may lose their 1st-round pick before he ever sets foot on the diamond, since outfielder/QB Kyler Murray looks increasingly likely to head toward the NFL instead.

Still, there’s a lot to like. OF Jameson Hannah (2nd round) is another athletic, speedy, up-the-middle player to add to Oakland’s growing collection, and SS Jeremy Eierman (2nd/Comp) brings an interesting mix of tools with plus power, speed, and arm. 1B Alfonso Rivas (4th) has the tweener profile of a low-power first baseman, but at least so far he’s showed the kind of plate discipline necessary to make it work.

On the pitching side, top pick Hogan Harris (3rd) dealt with an elbow injury and never took the mound. Instead, the early highlights were Brady Fiegl (5th) and Gus Varland (14th). Both of them earned their way from Vermont up to Beloit, and Varland in particular put up ludicrous stats at both levels — in fact, he almost exactly matched the numbers from Dunshee’s famous 2017 debut, other than the perfect ERA, and Varland did half of it at a higher level. He’s not a hard thrower, but he enjoyed a brilliant college career as a big fish in a Division-II pond.

These next three sections deal exclusively with the players on our preseason Top 30 list.

Stock Rising

5. Sean Murphy, C
6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP
17. Ramon Laureano, OF (grad)
23. Lou Trivino, RHP (grad)
25. Will Toffey, 3B
26. Skye Bolt, OF
27. Parker Dunshee, RHP
29. Brian Howard, RHP
30. Richie Martin, SS

As you can see from this list, most of the good news in the farm came from the bottom of the CPL rather than the top. While many of the best prospects floundered or got hurt, the system’s depth kicked in and produced a bunch of breakouts from the less heralded ranks. Even the most successful grads were from the bottom half of the list.

Two big names did have encouraging campaigns. The main one is obviously Jesus Luzardo, who will unquestionably top our new CPL this spring. He made a mockery of both High-A and Double-A at age 20, and even made a few starts at Triple-A to finish the year, and started the All-Star Futures Game, all while staying completely healthy in his full return from Tommy John surgery. In their updated rankings this week, MLB Pipeline named Luzardo as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the entire sport. He should debut in 2019, and the only question is whether he’ll make the Opening Day roster.

Meanwhile, after ending 2017 with a slumpy debut in Double-A, Sean Murphy put all doubts to rest with an excellent summer in Midland. Even a late-season broken hamate couldn’t keep him down, as he returned for the final few games and even got to taste Triple-A in September. He went from being the Catcher of the Indeterminate Future, to being a decent bet for a mid-2019 debut in Oakland.

As for those lower reaches of the CPL, two pitching sleepers went big. Parker Dunshee and Brian Howard were drafted back-to-back in 2017 and then dominated Low-A together, and this year they kept that momentum rolling. They both annihilated the hitter-friendly High-A Cal League, then moved up to Double-A and kept cruising — Dunshee in particular didn’t miss a beat upon his promotion. Neither is considered high-ceiling due to their pedestrian stuff, but so far they just won’t stop getting outs.

Back on the hitting side, Skye Bolt had a roller coaster year but came out looking good. He quickly washed out of Double-A, then smashed High-A enough to earn his way back up, and then looked much better in his return to Midland. In fact, he did enough to earn himself a 40-man roster spot and protection from the Rule 5 draft, which is a significant vote of confidence from the team.

Although Richie Martin didn’t earn that same roster spot from Oakland, he did get it from someone else after a breakout campaign that put him back on the map. Will Toffey missed some time to an injury, but before he was traded he also flashed the strengths he was supposed to have.

Holding Steady

2. Franklin Barreto, 2B (grad)
7. Austin Beck, OF
8. James Kaprielian, RHP
9. Lazaro Armenteros, OF
15. Daulton Jefferies, RHP
16. Nick Allen, SS
18. Tyler Ramirez, OF
20. Nolan Blackwood, RHP

First, a disclaimer: This is not a bad list to be on. It means that the player probably had a solid year, or at worst had some ups and downs that cancelled each other out. They didn’t break out, but they also didn’t fall apart. They just plugged right along, somewhere near their median expectations, and that isn’t the worst thing in the world.

For example Franklin Barreto did enough to get some MLB at-bats and graduate, but he didn’t stick full-time in the bigs. He kept striking out too much, but he also made progress on his plate discipline by upping his walk rate and he still managed to hit a ton overall. It could have gone better, but it also could have been much, much worse. He would still be Top 5 on the next CPL if he hadn’t barely graduated from eligibility.

The two super-young outfielders, Austin Beck and Lazaro Armenteros, were both fine in their full-season debuts. Neither were bad at the plate, but they also didn’t break out like Jo Adell either (for the Angels). Beck graded around average with the bat, while Armenteros showed superior power and walked more but also struck out at a far higher clip. I’m also giving a mulligan to Nick Allen, another teenager on an aggressive assignment in Beloit. His numbers were poor but he’s considered a glove-first player anyway, and at least he managed to keep his strikeout rate low (so he wasn’t being totally blown away).

The TJS recovery cases also gave us nothing new to work with. James Kaprielian and Daulton Jefferies both missed the entire year while they continued to recover from the major surgery. You could argue that missing a second straight season should constitute a Stock Down label, but they’re still barely within a reasonable timetable so they get a little more patience — especially since they’re expected to be ready to play this spring, finally.

The last two guys had breakouts in 2017 but then plateaued last summer in Double-A. Tyler Ramirez came within reach of his ‘17 numbers but didn’t build on them or get promoted to Triple-A. Nolan Blackwood posted decent peripherals but struggled to find consistency, before eventually being traded.

Stock Down

1. A.J. Puk, LHP
3. Jorge Mateo, SS
4. Dustin Fowler, OF (grad)
10. Grant Holmes, RHP
11. Sheldon Neuse, 3B
12. Greg Deichmann, OF
13. Logan Shore, RHP
14. Kevin Merrell, SS
19. Dakota Chalmers, RHP
21. Dalton Sawyer, LHP
22. B.J. Boyd, OF
24. Josh Lucas, RHP
28. Alexander Campos, SS

Unfortunately this is the longest of the three lists, and it features nearly half the Top 10. Fowler landed here because he lost the CF job and went back down the minors. The hope was that he’d be MLB-ready sometime this season, and that turned out to not be the case. He also might not be a CF at all moving forward, which would lower his stock further.

The big culprit was injuries: A.J. Puk and Dalton Sawyer missed the year to Tommy John surgery, Grant Holmes missed the year to a shoulder issue, Dakota Chalmers barely pitched, and Logan Shore, Greg Deichmann, and Kevin Merrell had their seasons set back by lengthy DL stints (and played poorly when healthy). Those who remain in the organization have every chance to bounce back, but the fact is the three pitchers all added new major injuries to their records and the two hitters stunk, and that lowers their stock.

The season was also disappointing for Jorge Mateo and Sheldon Neuse. They each got an extremely aggressive assignment to Triple-A thanks to their 2017 breakouts, and in fact Neuse essentially skipped Double-A (the pair combined for only 78 games at that level). Unfortunately they both fell as flat as can be last summer, with huge strikeout rates and no power or OBP. Neuse didn’t hit his first homer until late June.

As for the fringe names, B.J. Boyd broke out in Double-A in 2017 but couldn’t build on it in Triple-A this year. Josh Lucas was a taxi-squad option on the bullpen depth chart, but his next step was to stick in MLB and he didn’t even come close. I told y’all not to vote for Alexander Campos last winter, and that Brito would be the better pick if you really wanted a teenage lotto ticket on the CPL, but here we are.

Looking forward: Updating the list

This is NOT the new CPL. This is just my preliminary take, before we really start debating in earnest. I’m only doing a Top 10 for now.

  1. Luzardo
  2. Murphy
  3. Puk
  4. Mateo
  5. Beck
  6. Armenteros
  7. Neuse
  8. Dunshee
  9. Kaprielian
  10. Hannah/Eierman

Next few (not in order): Holmes, Allen, Howard, Barrera, Bolt, Jefferies, Varland

A couple of notes:

  • I expect that the Top 3 will be pretty much a consensus when we do the actual votes.
  • I’m sticking with Mateo’s tools for one more year. I know his 2018 was bad, but he probably should have opened down in Double-A if we’re being honest. He also won’t have to contend with Nashville’s pitcher-friendly ballpark anymore, with the move to likely hitter-friendly Las Vegas. There are still enough major excuses for me to wait a little longer before I start to seriously sour on him, especially with less competition at the top of the list now.
  • You can say pretty much the same stuff about Neuse, who can’t have completely turned back into a pumpkin after all he did in 2017 ... right?
  • I’m also sticking with Kaprielian’s ceiling for one more year. But he has to at least pitch now, and preferably well.
  • I still have Beck over Lazarito for two reasons: Beck is the one playing CF instead of a corner, and his strikeout rate is two-thirds Laz’s. While Lazarito put up the prettier overall numbers, Beck was superior in the kinds of forward-thinking things I’m looking for in a Single-A prospect.
  • Yeah, Dunshee is in my Top 10 and you can’t stop me. Don’t act surprised. You knew I was gonna do that. Dude will be in the A’s rotation by July, book it.
  • The last spot is split between the top two recent draft picks, Hannah and Eierman, to show that I see them as about even right now. They’re extremely different players, which makes it tough to compare them straight-up, and on top of that Hannah didn’t play much after the draft. But they’ve each got a lot to offer, and they both showed well in their brief pro debuts. I was going to put Kyler Murray at No. 7, but now he’s off my list entirely until/unless he shows up to spring training.


I’m not gonna lie: It was a bad year for the A’s farm. There were a ton of injuries, plus several disappointing performance too, and the Top 10 was hit hard by both of those factors. The new CPL is going to be quite a bit weaker and thinner than last year’s, and they probably lost their most recent 1st-round draft pick in a high-stakes gamble that busted spectacularly. Also, Midland’s championship streak ended at four years, as they missed the playoffs entirely.

On the bright side, the A’s also resisted the urge to mortgage the farm at the first sight of a Wild Card run. Furthermore, one of their top guys elevated to elite status, and they now have two of the four best LHP prospects in all of baseball — with both expected to debut this year. Between those hurlers, the top-notch catching prospect, and a stacked Triple-A lineup, they have the chance to call up some truly impact talent in 2019 rather than the mostly role players of yesteryear.

So, it was a bad year, but not a totally lost one, and the whole thing was overshadowed by the big club making the postseason. That’s a tradeoff we’ll happily make every time.