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Oakland A’s 2019 Community Prospect List #8: Jameson Hannah is overshadowed but still a draft prize

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All the press has gone to the A’s 1st-round pick, but the 2nd-rounder is a good CF too.

Photo provided by Vermont Lake Monsters

Our 2019 Community Prospect List adds a 2018 draft pick for the second ballot in a row. 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%)
  8. Jameson Hannah, OF (+4%)

The Oakland A’s took a huge gamble with their 1st-round draft pick last summer, using the No. 9 overall selection on two-sport dynamo Kyler Murray. It may end up backfiring and leaving them empty-handed if he chooses football, and if so they’ll lose out on a premium prospect with 70-grade speed, a promising bat, and the tools to stick in CF.

Fortunately, they found another one in the 2nd round. Jameson Hannah gets slightly lower marks in a couple of areas, but he brings a comparable skill set as a speedy, up-the-middle, table-setter type of player, all in a similarly compact 5’9 frame. His wheels get more like a 60-grade from various sources, but that’s still great, and Pipeline and Baseball America variously praise everything from his plate discipline, to his reads and range in the outfield, to his skill on the bases. He doesn’t have a lot of power or a big arm, but there’s enough else there to be a quality player.

On the downside, Hannah was yet another victim of the farm-wide injury bug last summer, though not as seriously as some other guys. He was limited to just 23 games due a foot/ankle sprain, which is about a third as much playing time as his top draftmates got. But at least he was good when he did get on the field, with an above-average batting line and six quick stolen bases without being caught.

For a full profile on Hannah, check out Melissa Lockard at The Athletic. Among many other facts and details, she mentions that Hannah was healthy enough to participate in fall instructionals, that his well-regarded defense in center “included several highlight-reel plays,” and that he receives praise for his baseball IQ. One reasonable comp mentioned in the article is Matt Lawton, who was a productive hitter for most of a decade — if Hannah hits like Lawton but replaces the latter’s negative corner defense with plus work in center, then he’d be quite the player.

One way or other, the A’s found a wonderful, athletic CF prospect at the top of the 2018 draft. They may end up with two of them! But at the very least, Hannah is an exciting talent in his own right and it’ll be fun to see how he performs in his first full season this summer, presumably in High-A Stockton.

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.

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The new nominee is Daulton Jefferies. The A’s farm system had a ton of pitchers out with injury last summer, and Jefferies was one of them. In fact, he’s only throw about 20 innings in the pros since being drafted No. 37 overall in 2016, after Tommy John surgery wiped out more or less two full seasons. He was a talented draft pick but hasn’t yet had the chance to prove it. Three-fifths of the current ballot is now made up of pitchers who missed last year to injury.

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

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

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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!