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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #12: Logan Davidson, 1st-round draft pick

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Oakland selected the college shortstop with the 29th overall pick in the draft.

Photo by Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 12th member, and last summer’s 1st-round draft pick. 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 (+84%)
  2. A.J. Puk, LHP (+1%)
  3. Sean Murphy, C (+95%)
  4. Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+10%)
  5. Nick Allen, SS (+1%)
  6. James Kaprielian, RHP (+2%)
  7. Robert Puason, SS (+32%)
  8. Sheldon Neuse, IF (+26%)
  9. Jorge Mateo, SS (+5%)
  10. Jonah Heim, C (+2%)
  11. Austin Beck, OF (+9%)
  12. Logan Davidson, SS (+45%)

The A’s won 97 games in 2018, and as such they didn’t pick until quite late in the 1st round of the ‘19 draft. Their slot at 29th was their lowest top pick since 2006, when they lost their 1st-rounder entirely for signing free agent Esteban Loaiza. With that 29th overall pick last year, they selected shortstop Logan Davidson.

And now finally, Davidson makes our CPL, in 12th place. How unusual is it for the team’s top pick to wait this long for the nod from AN? Here’s a recent history, with their debut CPL rank, and with the year referring to when the player was drafted (h/t Jack_S for the idea):

  • 2009: 6th (Grant Green)
  • 2010: 3rd (Michael Choice)
  • 2011: 6th (Sonny Gray)
  • 2012: 1st (Addison Russell)
  • 2013: 2nd (Billy McKinney)
  • 2014: 3rd (Matt Chapman)
  • 2015: 8th (Richie Martin)
  • 2016: 3rd (A.J. Puk)
  • 2017: 7th (Austin Beck)
  • 2018: 7th (Kyler Murray)
  • 2019: 12th (Logan Davidson)

The last time the top pick missed out on the Top 10 of our CPL was Jemile Weeks, who was drafted in 2008 and placed 12th on the 2009 list. Above him were names like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Gio Gonzalez, first baseman Sean Doolittle, and catcher Josh Donaldson, plus the previous year’s 1st-rounder (James Simmons) and a high-profile international signing (Michael Ynoa).

So what gives? What’s wrong with Davidson? Nothing, really, except circumstance.

Let’s begin at the top of the list. Luzardo, Puk, and Murphy all debuted in MLB last year, but didn’t quite spend enough time there to graduate off our list. Luzardo and Murphy in particular missed substantial periods to injury, and given even slightly better health they almost certainly would have gotten the playing time they needed to graduate from prospect status. As things stand now, all three are extremely likely to graduate this year by the end of April. By all rights, at least two of them should have moved off this list by now, but instead they’re still hogging the top three spots and thus pushing everyone else down below them. There’s the difference between Davidson being 10th vs 12th.

Next up are the boom-and-bust guys. There are trade acquisitions like Kaprielian and Mateo, and draftees like Jefferies and Beck. These are players with major flaws that have kept them in the minors for extra time, but whose raw talent still gives them ceilings high enough that they can’t be ignored, so they keep hanging out in the upper ranks of our list. And it’s not a coincidence, either, but rather a clear strategy by the A’s to gamble on upside at all costs. For example, Kaprielian was only available in the Sonny Gray trade because of his injury history, and Jefferies’ own questionable health caused him to fall in the draft to where the A’s could nab him, and they each went through extra-long recoveries from those setbacks. Beck was a high-risk, high-reward high school draft pick, who was always going to be a long-term project.

Then there’s Puason. It’s not every year that a team scores one of the biggest talents on the int’l market, but it happened to be this past year, right as they were also drafting Davidson. You could make an argument that, functionally speaking, Puason was the club’s top “draft pick” (he got paid like the 8th overall slot in the draft) and Davidson was more like a supplemental 1st-rounder after him. This also parallels the Weeks situation, in which Ynoa was signed to a record-breaking contract in time to overshadow Weeks’ debut on the CPL.

And then there’s Davidson’s low draft position. Of the list above, only McKinney, Chapman, and Martin were even as low as the 20s, while everyone else was picked much higher in the 1st round and thus had more exciting potential. And it’s no wonder those other late-1st guys fared better in our voting — McKinney arrived at a time when the A’s were deep into contention and had an extremely weak farm; Chapman jumped straight up to Double-A in his draft year and helped Midland win a championship; and Martin only finished 8th in another fairly weak farm system.

Add it all up, and it’s really a perfect storm keeping the team’s top draft pick so low on our list. Not a single prospect graduated off of last year’s list, not even the ones who literally debuted in MLB, and eight of the 11 names above him are already on the 40-man roster. They added an unusually great int’l name, a once-per-decade achievement. And they had their lowest draft position in 13 years. Knock off Luzardo and Murphy, and ignore Puason, and Davidson would be 9th here (and in a virtual tie for 7th with Heim and Beck). Pick 19th instead of 29th in the draft and get an even higher-rated prospect, or graduate/trade a couple more of the promising names from the 40-man logjam, and maybe he’d rank even higher than that.

The bottom line is that none of this is a criticism of Davidson. He’s a perfectly fine late-1st-rounder, as a switch-hitter with promise in his bat who is expected to stick at shortstop defensively, and he had a decent pro debut in Low-A Vermont. Let’s get stoked to watch his progress in High-A this summer!

Here is the voting 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, 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 Seth Brown. The former 19th-round draft pick was never on any serious prospect radar until last summer, when he blasted 37 homers in Triple-A Las Vegas and earned a surprise promotion to MLB. He didn’t homer in the majors but did put together enough hits for a quality batting line, and also authored a few defensive highlights in the outfield. He still has everything to prove, and the peripheral stats aren’t optimistic about his small-sample success in the bigs, but he’s already made it further than expected so it will be interesting to see if he can keep that momentum rolling.

Hitter rates (poor/avg/great):

  • wRC+ (75/100/135)
  • BB% (5.0%/8.5%/12.0%)
  • K% (30%/22%/14%)

Nominees on the current ballot:

Seth Brown, OF/1B

Expected level: Triple-A? MLB? | Age 27

2019 stats (AAA): 500 PA, 126 wRC+, 37 HR, 7.6% BB, 25.4% Ks
2019 stats (MLB): 83 PA, 120 wRC+, 0 HR, 8.4% BB, 27.7% Ks

Baseball America scouting report (post-2019):

After a nondescript 2016 at high Class A Stockton, Brown returned to California League at the age of 24, perhaps at a career crossroads. He responded adding more lift to his swing in 2019, which showed up in a 20-degree launch angle and 30 home runs. That was the start of a three-year run for Brown, which ended in the major leagues during the A’s playoff chase. Brown has gotten better every year by narrowing the zone and maximizing impact in advantage counts. Brown has a classic platoon profile with most of his damage coming against righthanders.

* * *

Luis Barrera, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2019 stats (AA): 240 PAs, 139 wRC+, 4 HR, 5.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (mid-2019):

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 65 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Perhaps the most improved player in the organization, Barrera came into his own in 2018 in terms of his approach and consistency in his at-bats. With a line-drive, slashing style, Barrera is showing he has the ability to hit for average with excellent bat control, a decrease in his strikeout rate and an increased willingness to draw walks. He won’t be a home run hitter because of his flat bat path, but there could be a bit more pop to unlock at some point. Aggressive with good instincts, Barrera uses his speed well to steal bases. He also uses it to play all three outfield positions and his defensive play has improved nearly as much as his bat has.

Barrera does have the tools to play center field regularly. If his step forward offensively is for real, he could shed the fourth outfielder profile and become a regular in the big leagues.

* * *

Greg Deichmann, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2019 stats (AA): 340 PAs, 90 wRC+, 11 HR, 10.0% BB, 30.3% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (mid-2019):

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

Even when Diechmann was on the field in 2018, he wasn’t fully healthy as he tried to play through the issue. Initially misdiagnosed as tendinitis, it turned out to be an injury near his hamate and sapped him of his best tool when he was able to play. The A’s liked what they saw in terms of his power potential in his first summer and at instructs that fall, and they are hoping to have that player back again in 2019. His approach has helped him get to his power consistently and while he will strike out, he’ll also draw walks.

His strong arm and power profile are good fits in right field, his likely long-term home, and he should be an average defender there. The first order of business for the left-handed hitter is to get a full season of reps in 2019.

* * *

Grant Holmes, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2019 stats (AA): 3.31 ERA, 81⅔ ip, 76 Ks, 27 BB, 9 HR, 4.20 FIP
2019 stats (AAA): 1.93 ERA, 4⅔ ip, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 5.08 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (mid-2019):

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

The A’s are keeping their collective fingers crossed that he’s put the shoulder ailment behind him and all signs are pointing in the right direction. He’s worked very hard to be ready to go and get his stuff back to where it was. He throws his heavy 93-94 mph fastball with excellent movement, leading to high GO/AO rates every year. He misses bats with his plus breaking ball, a hard power curve with depth, and he can mix in an average changeup. Holmes would sometimes throw a four-seamer with cutting action, so he just went with it and has developed an above-average cutter, that has late cut and comes in hard at 90-91 mph. He’s never been a big command guy and he will have to throw more strikes to stay in a rotation.

More than anything, Holmes needs to show he can answer the bell every fifth day and see how he responds. Then the A’s will really be able to get a read on if he can start long-term or if he’s best suited for relief work.

* * *

Lazaro Armenteros, OF

Expected level: High-A? Double-A? | Age 21

2019 stats (A+): 538 PA, 107 wRC+, 17 HR, 13.6% BB, 42.2% Ks, 22 SB

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (mid-2019):

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

Armenteros has the chance to have four at-least average tools at the Major League level. He has plus bat speed that makes it easy to project the ability to hit for average with potentially plus power down the road. He’s not afraid to see pitches and draw walks, though he needs to continue to refine his overall approach and pitch recognition in order to cut down his strikeout rate, which was 33.8 percent in 2018.

While he does have excellent speed, he is expected to slow down some as he matures. He’s largely played left field, likely his long-term home given his fringy arm strength. That puts pressure on him to be a corner outfield type bat, but he has the potential to easily fit that profile.

* * *

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!