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Oakland A’s 2019 Community Prospect List #12 (again): Jeremy Eierman could be a draft steal

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The post-2nd-round pick has a huge set of tools.

Photo provided by Vermont Lake Monsters

Our 2019 Community Prospect List adds its third member of the 2018 draft class, while simultaneously dropping the first one. 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. Jameson Hannah, OF (+4%)
  8. James Kaprielian, RHP (+13%)
  9. Sheldon Neuse, 3B (+12%)
  10. Parker Dunshee, RHP (+21%)
  11. Grant Holmes, RHP (+7%)
  12. Jeremy Eierman, SS (+31%)

Note: With Monday’s announcement that Kyler Murray has officially chosen to play in the NFL, he has been removed from our CPL. He had initially ranked 7th on the list, so everyone below him has moved up a spot.

The Oakland A’s 2018 draft class took a big hit on Monday with the loss of its top pick. Murray had been the ninth overall selection, and the A’s now have nothing to show for that premium 1st-round position.

The good news is that the class is made up of more than just one big name at the top. In the 2nd round the A’s chose Jameson Hannah, who profiles similarly to Murray in the speedy CF mold, and he could help take the sting out of Monday’s loss. Then at the end of the 2nd round they had an extra Comp Round pick, and they used it on shortstop Jeremy Eierman.

In one way, Eierman was already a draft steal. Beforehand he had projected as a possible 1st-round talent, including a nod at No. 29 overall from MLB Pipeline, but the A’s got him at No. 70. His reputation had been built on excellent raw tools, but a disappointing performance in his junior year of college dropped his stock.

Fortunately the tools are still there, and it’s easy to see the ingredients for a star. He has plus power and speed, a great throwing arm, and scouting reports suggest he has a chance to stay at shortstop. He has a lot of work to do in putting it all together, especially in regard to his plate discipline, but he gives the A’s another chance at an impact player even without Murray.

Even better, Eierman got off to a strong start in his pro career. He showed off his diverse skill set right away, leading Low-A Vermont in homers and nearly leading in steals as well. He struggled to get on base, but that was expected, and the important thing for now was that he was good at the things he was supposed to be good at.

The draft is always a crapshoot to some extent. Teams watch their 1st-rounders fizzle all the time, whether because of injuries or because they simply never play well enough to make it. The A’s just found a different route to that unfortunate conclusion, and immediately rather than gradually over several years. It’s a bummer of a loss, but not an unprecedented or franchise-crippling one. Besides, there is more 1st-round talent in this class in Hannah and Eierman, and nabbing them late could help Oakland salvage the 2018 draft after all.

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 Brian Howard. He was drafted one round after Parker Dunshee in 2017, and the two have skyrocketed up the minors together as my favorite sleepers in the system. Howard doesn’t bring a lot of velocity, but he’s got excellent control and his 6’9 height helps his mediocre stuff play up. He profiles as a back-end starter, so don’t expect a big star, but he’s got a great chance of making it to the majors at all and contributing once there.

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

Brian Howard, RHP

Expected level: AAA | Age 24

2018, A+: 2.38 ERA, 72 ip, 77 Ks, 14 BB, 9 HR, 3.91 FIP
2018, AA: 3.48 ERA, 67⅓ ip, 63 Ks, 23 BB, 7 HR, 4.00 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Howard compensates for his lack of plus stuff by combining natural deception with feel for commanding four pitches. Working from an over-the-top release point, Howard generates a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph but features a higher perceived velocity due to his angle and extension towards the plate. The tight spin on Howard’s upper-70s curveball gives the pitch late bite, and he’s effective at pitching inside against left-handed hitters with his cutter. Howard’s changeup requires further development but serves as a usable fourth pitch.

While most tall pitchers with long levers usually struggle to throw strikes, Howard has proved adept throughout his career at repeating his delivery and pounding the zone. He also receives high marks for his competitiveness and overall aptitude on the mound, with many evaluators pegging him as high-probability, back-end starter at the highest level.

* * *

Daulton Jefferies, RHP

Expected level: ??? | Age 23

2018 stats: Only threw two rehab innings (and nine since 2017) due to Tommy John surgery

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45

When he’s healthy, Jefferies will add and subtract from his heater, sitting comfortably in the low 90s but also reaching back for 95 mph, with feel for locating to both sides of the plate as well as down in the zone. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, a mid-80s offering thrown with fastball-like arm speed and late fading action, and he has the makings of a slider that should be at least Major League-average. A consistent, over-the-top release point allows him to create extension and angle toward the plate, and everything he throws plays up due to his advanced control and command. In general, Jefferies should miss even more bats with improvement to both his changeup and slider.

Jefferies is a good athlete with clean arm action and a repeatable delivery. But as an undersized righty with a checkered medical history, he’ll need to prove he can handle the rigors of a full season on the mound. If he can do so, Jefferies’ stuff, pitchability and deception could make him a No. 4 starter at the highest level. He’s expected to return to game action sometime around the middle of the 2018 season.

* * *

Skye Bolt, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2018, AA (11 gms): 50 PAs, 17 wRC+, 0 HR, 0 SB, 8.0% BB, 34.0% Ks
2018, A+ (46 gms): 209 PAs, 141 wRC+, 9 HR, 9 SB, 14.8% BB, 22.5% Ks
2018, AA (64 gms): 265 PAs, 125 wRC+, 10 HR, 10 SB, 8.7% BB, 22.5% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

A switch-hitter, Bolt is considerably better from the left side of the plate, where he exhibits more impactful swing and hit 17 of his career-high 19 homers in 2018. Some evaluators believe he’d be better off batting solely from that side. He has some raw power from both sides and is a relatively disciplined hitter, but his pitch recognition leaves much to be desired and hinders the quality of his contact.

One of the better college athletes in his Draft class, Bolt has spent the majority of his pro career center field, where he gets excellent jumps and is an overall rangy defender. That ability to play up the middle as well as Bolt’s above-average arm strength give him inherent value as a future fourth outfielder, especially if he can learn to make more contact.

* * *

Greg Deichmann, OF

Expected level: A+/AA? | Age 24

2018, A+ (47 gms): 185 PAs, 77 wRC+, 6 HR, 9.2% BB, 34.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Deichmann’s power is his calling card. The big left-handed hitter has impressed scouts with his bat speed and strength dating back to his high school days, and he’s shown that he can get to it consistently in the past year-plus after shortening his swing and adopting a more selective approach. Deichmann’s improved approach also has helped him in using the entire field, though much of his power remains to his pull side. And while strikeouts will always be a part of Deichmann’s game given his power-over-hit profile, he does offset some of those concerns with perennially strong walk rates and on-base skills.

A shortstop in high school, Deichmann saw time at first base at LSU before finding a home in right field, where his above-average arm and power profile are clean fits. He’s a below-average runner but moves well underway, and with improved reads and routes, he could become an average defender.

* * *

Luis Barrera, OF

Expected level: AA | Age 23

2018, A+: 351 PAs, 110 wRC+, 3 HR, 10 SB, 9.1% BB, 17.9% Ks
2018, AA: 144 PAs, 128 wRC+, 0 HR, 13 SB, 6.3% BB, 12.5% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Barrera makes a lot of contact from the left side of the plate, where he employs an open setup with a flat swing that enables him to spray the ball across the whole field. While it does limit his power potential, Barrera has a knack for finding the gaps and uses his plus speed to take extra bases when possible. That speed also makes Barrera a capable center fielder, and he has the requisite arm strength needed to play right field.

With his left-handed bat, speed and defensive versatility, Barrera has the makings of becoming a future bench outfielder at the highest level. If he can make further strides as a hitter, and possibly add some power to his game, he could take on a greater role.

* * *

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!