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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #13: Grant Holmes gets back on track

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After losing 2018 to injury, the righty returned for a productive 2019.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 13th member, and its fourth pitcher who bounced back after losing 2018 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 (+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%)
  13. Grant Holmes, RHP (+28%)

Four of the A’s top pitching prospects missed all of 2018 due to injury. Three of them were mired in recoveries from Tommy John surgery, and each of them returned to action in 2019 — A.J. Puk after one year off, Daulton Jefferies after two, and James Kaprielian after missing three seasons due to various setbacks. The whole trio pitched well in their comebacks, and now they’re in the Top 6 of our current CPL.

The fourth name was Grant Holmes. He sat out 2018 due to a balky shoulder, returning for a few token innings at the end of the season but then getting shut down again before he could compete in the Arizona Fall League. Last summer he finally got back on the mound for good, and like the other hurlers above him on the list he enjoyed a productive comeback.

Holmes sits several spots lower on this CPL than the other injury bounce-backs, but he’s still got a lot of potential to offer. On the bright side are his plus curveball and solid heater, a fairly high groundball rate, and his strong showing in the upper minors last year. He’s also the youngest of the group, turning just 24 next month. On the downside, he might be the likeliest one to end up moving to the bullpen, due at least in part to durability concerns.

The right-hander has a 1st-round draft pedigree and has now begun to build up a promising track record, and 2019 was the first time he wasn’t young for his level. The A’s showed their belief in his talent by adding him to the 40-man roster last winter, before he’d thrown a pitch above Double-A. Perhaps this is the year we finally see him arrive in Oakland, four years after his mid-2016 acquisition.

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 Brayan Buelvas. The 17-year-old is brand-new on the prospect radar, and all I know about him is what I’ve read on Baseball America this winter. He’s undersized but gets strong marks for his hit tool, speed, and work ethic, and the current thought is that he can stick in CF. After an excellent showing in his U.S. pro debut last year, he’s a youngster with intriguing upside.

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:

Brayan Buelvas, OF

Expected level: Arizona Rookie League | Age 18

2019 stats (AZL): 186 PA, 140 wRC+, 3 HR, 11.8% BB, 24.7% Ks

FanGraphs present/future scouting grades:

Hit: 25/55 | GamePower: 25/50 | Run: 55/55 | Arm: 55/60 | Field: 45/55 | Overall: 40

Baseball America scouting report (post-2019):

Though not overly physical, Buelvas carries some deceptively loud tools, including an average exit velocity of 89 mph. He also shows solid bat speed and barrel control, but some evaluators believe the length of swing and overall balance at the plate could be problematic. While Buelvas still has projection remaining, any power uptick could be marginal. Buelvas’ speed is an asset both on the bases and in the field. Scouts are confident Buelvas has the skill set and tools to stay in center field, and A’s personnel have raved about his work ethic, energy and professional approach to the game.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!