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Oakland A’s 2019 Community Prospect List #12: Grant Holmes takes a mulligan after missed season

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Another in the long list of A’s top pitching prospects who missed 2018 to injury.

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Our 2019 Community Prospect List adds yet another pitcher who missed last season to injury. 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%)
  9. James Kaprielian, RHP (+13%)
  10. Sheldon Neuse, 3B (+12%)
  11. Parker Dunshee, RHP (+21%)
  12. Grant Holmes, RHP (+7%)

What else is left to say about the Oakland A’s bounce-back farm system? Holmes’ story is the same as two more before it on this list, and conceptually similar to a few more: He had a lost 2018, and hopes to rebound this summer. His obstacle was injury, like with Puk and Kaprielian, but unlike them it was his shoulder instead of his elbow. He went down during spring training, finally returned in September for a couple rehab outings in the lower minors, then was shut down again and missed the Arizona Fall League.

And now, the next paragraph in the injured pitching prospect template, about how he’s still talented and it’ll be interesting to see if yadda yadda yadda. Holmes was good enough to make the Top 10 of the last two CPLs, even when the A’s farm as a whole was Top 10 in the sport, and that speaks for itself. He hasn’t fallen off Oakland’s radar in any way, as they added him to the 40-man roster this winter for Rule 5 protection, and he hasn’t even dropped far on this CPL so his prospect stock is still mostly intact. He’s throwing again and expected to be ready for spring and yadda yadda yadda.

It will be more interesting to talk about Holmes once he’s begun pitching in games again, so instead let’s take a moment to look at the trade that brought him here. The A’s rented out their final couple months of Josh Reddick and Rich Hill in 2016, and in exchange they got Holmes, Jharel Cotton, and Frankie Montas from the Dodgers. The next winter, they ranked fourth (Cotton), fifth (Montas), and sixth (Holmes) on our CPL.

So far that trio of pitching prospects hasn’t panned out, due mostly to injury, but the book isn’t closed on any of them. Holmes and Cotton both missed 2018, with Cotton among the long list undergoing Tommy John surgery, but they should return soon. Unless anything has changed, Cotton should already be throwing off a mound, and there’s every expectation that he’ll be back in action this season — maybe even in the first half. Of course, once there he’ll still have plenty to prove after a poor rookie year in 2017, but there are sensible theories for how he can adjust and unlock his potential.

The one who did manage to pitch last summer was Montas, which is ironic since he was the one with the most injury concerns at the time of the swap. After struggling as a reliever in ‘17, he got another crack at starting in ‘18 and ran with it. Due to the club’s rotation crisis he got to make 11 starts in the bigs, and he responded with an ERA and FIP both below 4.00 and five outings that registered as quality.

Montas wasn’t exactly leading the charge toward the Wild Card, but he certainly helped a little. He held his own in his first extended chance as an MLB starter, and that distinction alone puts him concerningly high on the 2019 depth chart. Even if he never gets any better than what we saw last season, he could at least be a back-end innings-eater, and who knows what kind of upside might remain with further experience.

It’s been more than two years since the Reddick/Hill trade, and we still don’t really know what the A’s got in return even though we thought we would by now. That doesn’t make the deal a bust though, not yet, not even close. They might have three good MLB starters, or maybe just one or two decent arms, or the whole group could yet flame out. We’ll just have to wait and see if yadda yadda yadda aww dangit this still just turned into an injured pitching prospect post.

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 Luis Barrera. After years as a deep sleeper, he broke out in 2018 and now finally finds himself on a CPL ballot. He reached Double-A and hit well there, then he went to the AFL and made the Fall Stars roster, and after all that the A’s rewarded him with a spot on the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft. His speed and arm might be closer to elite than merely plus (70-grade?), and he’s got the safe-but-with-upside profile of a fourth outfielder who could turn into more.

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

Luis Barrera, OF

Expected level: AA | Age 23

2018, A+: 351 PAs, 110 wRC+, 3 HR, 9.1% BB, 17.9% Ks
2018 AA: 144 PAs, 128 wRC+, 0 HR, 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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Jeremy Eierman, SS

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2018 stats: 267 PAs, 95 wRC+, 8 HR, 10 SB, 4.9% BB, 26.2% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Eierman’s bat speed and strength create natural power from the right side of the plate, but he sold out for home runs as a junior with negative results. He widened his setup, adopted more of a crouch and was overly aggressive and pull-happy. Though he doesn’t always get out of the box quickly when he takes a big hack, Eierman can show plus speed once he gets going.

Eierman may not have true shortstop quickness, but he has a chance to stay at the position with his good body control, soft hands and cannon arm. He may wind up at third base, where his tools could make him a Gold Glover. His grinder makeup is another asset.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!