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Oakland A’s 2019 Community Prospect List #26: Hogan Harris awaits pro debut

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Last year’s 3rd-round draft pick hasn’t yet pitched in the pros due to injury.

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Harris with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Photo credit: Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com

Our 2019 Community Prospect List adds just its fourth member of last summer’s draft class. 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%)
  13. Luis Barrera, OF (+15%)
  14. Brian Howard, RHP (+1%)
  15. Greg Deichmann, OF (+17%)
  16. Skye Bolt, OF (+11%)
  17. Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+12%)
  18. Tyler Ramirez, OF (+17%)
  19. Nick Allen, SS (+50%)
  20. Wyatt Marks, RHP (+1%)
  21. Marcos Brito, 2B (+4%)
  22. Gus Varland, RHP (+7%)
  23. Kevin Merrell, SS (+18%)
  24. Tanner Anderson, RHP (+7%)
  25. Jonah Heim, C (+29%)
  26. Hogan Harris, LHP (+8%)

There’s not a lot to say about Hogan Harris yet, because he hasn’t started playing in the pros. In the meantime, we can at least put together what little info we do have about the left-hander.

Harris was drafted out of college last summer in the 3rd round, with the 85th overall pick, so right away he’s got at least a little bit of prospect stock to begin his career. That’s not a premium draft position, but it’s not nothing. Some recent A’s 3rd-rounders include now-major leaguers Ryon Healy (2013) and Brett Graves (2014), as well as current national Top 100 prospect Sean Murphy (2016), so Harris is in solid company.

His stuff is certainly interesting, as you’d expect for a relatively high draft pick. The various reports peg his fastball in the low-90s, but they all note that he’s been clocked as high as 98 mph in the past; MLB Pipeline gives the pitch a 55-grade. He supplements that heater with a curve, slider, and changeup, but it’s the curve that garners the most praise (including another 55-grade from Pipeline). On the downside, his control and command reportedly need improvement.

Add it all up, and one potential comp is Drew Pomeranz, suggested Melissa Lockard of The Athletic at the time of the draft. Another name is Wade Miley, according to A’s scouting director Eric Kubota (via A’s Farm). His college coach praised his high spin rate, via Dan McDonald of The Acadiana Advocate.

Unfortunately, that talent is attached to some injury concerns. The reason Harris didn’t pitch after the draft was an elbow strain, reports MLB Pipeline. They note that the recovery has gone well this winter, but also that durability and nagging injuries were a problem for him throughout college — his career-high for the Ragin’ Cajuns was 67⅔ innings, as a sophomore starter. All of that is a big red flag to start a career, but that’s the kind of gamble you take in the draft when you’re looking for all the upside you can find.

And so, like with so many of the pitchers on this list, we wait for Harris to get healthy and show us what he can do in the pros. If it all goes well, he has the tools to be pretty darn good.

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 Lawrence Butler. He was drafted out of high school last summer in the 6th round, so his only pro experience so far is a handful of games in Rookie Ball. He’s got a lot of upside, but he’s also a long-term project.

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

Lawrence Butler, OF

Expected level: RK/A- | Age 18

2018, A-: 124 PAs, 98 wRC+, 1 HR, 14.5% BB, 34.7% Ks

Athletics Farm scouting report:

The only high school player taken by the A’s in the first ten rounds of this year’s draft, Butler is still just 17. He’s clearly talented but also very raw. Butler boasts a big, athletic build and possesses an explosive swing with clear power potential. He also has above-average speed. The talented teen will need to develop a more defined approach at the plate, but he has the potential to blossom into a well-rounded impact player. Butler has spent time both at first base and in the outfield, and he could represent a legitimate option at both spots.

* * *

Dairon Blanco, OF

Expected level: AA | Age 26

2018, A+: 346 PAs, 102 wRC+, 1 HR, 22 SB, 7.2% BB, 19.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 35 | Run: 80 | Arm: 45 | Field: 55 | Overall: 40

When Blanco made his A’s debut in the California League in 2018, it had been nearly two years since he had played competitively in Cuba. At the outset, it was all about his speed, an 80 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, and defense. But he quickly shook the rust off and showed more offensive acumen than anticipated. There wasn’t as much swing and miss as some expected to see and he often showed a solid approach at the plate, with some signs of potential extra-base ability. His physicality and speed could add up to an average hitter.

There’s no doubt Blanco’s speed is his calling card. It allows him to be aggressive on the basepaths (22 steals in 82 games in his debut) and really go get the ball in the outfield. After his first season was cut short by a hamate injury, it will be interesting to see how quickly he can climb the ladder.

* * *

Jordan Diaz, 3B

Expected level: A- | Age 18

2018, RK: 186 PAs, 121 wRC+, 1 HR, 10.2% BB, 11.8% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

The key to Diaz’s progress offensively was an increased understanding of his approach, and the right-handed hitter stayed with it all summer. He had some good exit velocity numbers with a line-drive approach and showed much better discipline, with a solid walk rate to show for it. Diaz didn’t try to lift the ball too much, but with a strong, stocky build, there is some power to grow into. He also improved defensively at third, working hard at it and putting aside some lazy tendencies he displayed in his first summer, and he looked like one of the better defenders at the hot corner in the AZL.

The A’s are excited to see how Diaz’s newfound maturity in terms of his approach, work ethic and consistency will allow him to progress moving forward. It’s too early to tell exactly what he’s going to be, but watching how he builds off of his encouraging 2019 should be interesting.

* * *

Dalton Sawyer, LHP

Expected level: A+ | Age 25

2018 stats: Missed entire season due to Tommy John surgery

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (from mid-2018):

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

After working out of the bullpen exclusively during his pro debut, Sawyer made the transition to starting in 2017 and passed all tests. A 6-foot-5 southpaw whose delivery is loaded with deception, Sawyer pitches with fringe-average velocity, usually sitting around 90 mph. A changeup and a curveball comprise his secondary arsenal, with the former grading as an above-average pitch and the latter needing further refinement. He throws a lot of strikes but needs to improve his command, especially when it comes to his fastball.

Sawyer’s effectiveness against same-sided hitters is his greatest strength, and he held them to a paltry .100/.202/.127 slash line in 125 plate appearances in his first full season. That said, he’ll need to figure out a way to retire right-handed hitters to remain a starter after they slugged .446 with 17 home runs against him. Sawyer’s future might not be as a starter, but there’s enough there for him to carve out a bullpen role at the highest level.

* * *

Alfonso Rivas, 1B

Expected level: A+ | Age 22

2018, A-: 257 PAs, 137 wRC+, 1 HR, 14.0% BB, 17.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

The left-handed hitter’s calling card is his bat. He can flat-out hit and makes a ton of contact at the plate while showing solid on-base skills. The one knock on Rivas offensively has been his power, which hasn’t shown up consistently from his solid 6-foot frame. Some think the power will eventually come, and that will be important for him to profile at a corner position. He primarily plays first base, and has good footwork, solid hands and an above-average arm there, but he’s also played the outfield and might prefer playing right field if given the choice.

In either spot, Rivas’ ability to be a run producer will be important for him to profile as an everyday player there. Given his strengths as a hitter, Rivas could move relatively quickly through the Minors, especially if his power emerges as the A’s hope it will.

* * *

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!