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Oakland A’s 2019 Community Prospect List #7: Kyler Murray is a great prospect if he picks baseball

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The two-sport star has a big decision to make.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Our 2019 Community Prospect List adds its most complicated case in recent memory. The newest addition is a great baseball prospect, but he’s also a hot football prospect and might leave entirely to play in the NFL. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between his % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up):

  1. Jesus Luzardo, LHP (+78%)
  2. A.J. Puk, LHP (+7%)
  3. Sean Murphy, C (+80%)
  4. Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+1%)
  5. Austin Beck, OF (+59%)
  6. Jorge Mateo, SS (+6%)
  7. Kyler Murray, OF (+7%)

There’s not much else to say about the Kyler Murray situation that hasn’t already been said a thousand times, and there’s no new information to add. The A’s drafted him in the 1st round last summer, but he stuck around school for one more season of college football and won the Heisman. Now his football prospects have gone from questionable to hot, and he might be a 1st-round draft pick in the NFL too. But he has to choose one sport or the other because quarterback can’t be a part-time job, so at some point he needs to make a decision on which to play.

Here’s the latest piece of actual news, from when he declared for the NFL Draft a couple weeks ago, and here’s a more recent take from Nico after FanFest last weekend. We can debate all we want, but really there’s nothing more to do but wait and find out what happens in the end. There’s nothing meaningful left but the final decision, and everything else between now and then is just another clue as to what that decision will be.

If he does choose baseball, then he’s a wonderful prospect. He’s an elite athlete with 70-grade speed according to MLB Pipeline, with a chance to play in CF and hit well. But none of that matters if he goes to the NFL, and there’s plenty of reason to think he will. There’s no point in discussing his baseball potential until we know if he’s going to be a baseball player.

Note that Murray is listed in italics above because of his uniquely uncertain status. It’s possible that in a couple months he’ll be out of the organization entirely, and out of the sport entirely, and so his inclusion in the CPL is tentative pending his final decision. If he does leave, then he’ll simply be removed from the list and everyone else will move up a spot.

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 (or leaves for the NFL), 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 Grant Holmes. Billed as the top prize in the 2016 Reddick/Hill trade with the Dodgers, he made the Top 10 of this CPL the last two years but then missed all of 2018 to a shoulder injury. He returned for a couple rehab innings, but then was shut down again and missed the Arizona Fall League. He’s a good pitching prospect with a couple of plus offerings if he returns to health, and he’s back to throwing (via A’s Farm) and expected to be ready for the spring.

Hitter rates (poor/avg/great): wRC+ (75/100/135), BB% (5.0%/8.5%/12.0%), K% (30%/22%/14%)

Grant Holmes, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23

2018 stats: Only threw six rehab innings due to shoulder injury

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

The owner of a 93-95 mph fastball that has exceptional, late sinking action, Holmes has generated strong ground-ball rates at each stop in his career. He can miss bats both with that and his breaking ball, a plus pitch that combines curveball depth with slider velocity. His changeup continues to be a work-in-progress, one that he’ll need to thoroughly develop to neutralize left-handed hitters at higher levels. Holmes has kept his walk rate in check over a full season in Double-A, although both his control and command leave much to be desired.

Holmes answered questions about his durability in 2017 en route to logging a career-high 148 1/3 innings, but the right-hander has been dealing with a concerning right shoulder injury that caused him to begin 2018 on the disabled list. There are many evaluators who still worry about his ability to pitch deep into games, and some scouts have already pegged him as a future reliever. The A’s, however, plan to keep Holmes in the rotation for as long as possible, with the hope that he can refine his delivery, develop a more consistent change and improve his command.

* * *

James Kaprielian, RHP

Expected level: ??? | Age 25

2018 stats: Missed entire season (and 2017) due to Tommy John surgery

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

After working at 88-92 mph in college with a fastball that stood out more for its sink and command than it did for velocity, Kaprielian saw his velocity jump to 93-96 mph while touching 99 upon entering pro ball. He possesses a deep secondary arsenal, including a curveball, slider and changeup that all grade as at least above-average pitches when they’re on. Kaprielian controls and commands his pitches very well, doing a good job of delivering all of them from the same arm slot.

Considered more of a pitchability right-hander with a ceiling of a No. 3 starter when the Yankees drafted him, Kaprielian has shown frontline stuff when healthy. He’s fallen well behind the development curve and will have his workload monitored carefully moving forward, but the overall ingredients are there for Kaprielian to still move quickly once he finally returns to the mound, likely in mid-2018.

* * *

Jameson Hannah, OF

Expected level: High-A | Age 21

2018 stats (A-): 95 PAs, 119 wRC+, 1 HR, 6 SB, 9.5% BB, 25.3% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 40 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Athletic college players who can hit are always in demand, and Hannah fits that profile. He recognizes pitches and manages the strike zone well, using his quick left-handed swing to repeatedly barrel the ball. He has the strength for at least 15-homer power and perhaps more and also should provide plenty of doubles. What’s more, Hannah has track record of performing well with wood bats, having overcome a slow start in the Cape Cod League to bat .392 during a season-ending 20-game hitting streak.

Hannah gets plus to plus-plus grades for his speed and was a successful if not especially prolific basestealer in college. He also uses his quickness well in center field, where he gets good jumps and can track down balls from gap to gap. His arm is his lone below-average tool but isn’t a huge handicap in center.

* * *

Parker Dunshee, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2018 stats (A+): 2.70 ERA, 70 ip, 82 Ks, 17 BB, 7 HR, 3.53 FIP
2018 stats (AA): 2.01 ERA, 80⅔ ip, 81 Ks, 14 BB, 5 HR, 2.92 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45

What Dunshee may lack in stuff he makes up for with pitchability, showing feel for sequencing and commanding for pitches. He works with average velocity, sitting 89-92 mph with a fastball that he throws with late sinking action and commands to both sides of the plate. He changes speeds well, utilizing a slider and a changeup, both average pitches, as well as a curveball that serves as a change-of-pace offering. He repeats his simple delivery with ease and throws all four of his pitches for strikes.

Dunshee gets the most of his average stuff, and while he doesn’t project to miss as many bats at higher levels as he has earlier in his career, he’s adept at generating weak contact and has proven plenty durable. It is a No. 5-starter profile if it all clicks, with the floor of a middle reliever capable of eating innings.

* * *

Sheldon Neuse, 3B

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2018 stats (AAA): 537 PAs, 72 wRC+, 5 HR, 6.0% BB, 32.0% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Neuse’s right-handed swing is short and simple, but he also keeps his barrel in the hitting zone for an extended period of time and drives the ball across the whole field. He has above-average raw power and already knows how to get to it in games, a notion supported by his 16 home runs and 26 doubles across three levels in 2017. Some scouts still question how it will translate at higher levels because his game does have some swing-and-miss tendencies, albeit with sound overall plate discipline.

Neuse is a fringe-average runner who shows good instincts on the bases and in the field. A shortstop in college, Neuse saw time there as well as third base prior to being dealt, but he handled the hot corner exclusively after joining the A’s. He profiles as an average defender there, with soft hands, good range and a plus arm that produced 94 mph off the mound in college. Regardless of his position, Neuse has the hitting ability to profile as a big league regular.

* * *

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!