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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #15: Greg Deichmann salvages stock with hot fall

The outfielder has struggled for two years but broke out in the Arizona Fall League.

Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 15th member, and its second straight outfielder. 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%)
  14. Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+13%)
  15. Greg Deichmann, OF (+36%)

It’s been a tough pro career so far for Greg Deichmann. He arrived with a strong pedigree, as a 2nd-round draft pick and the 43rd overall selection out of a top college conference. He got off to a nice start in the minors that same summer, blasting off in Low-A Vermont and showing off his highly touted power. It was a great foundation to build on.

And then it all fell apart. He only made it two weeks into his first full season (2018) before a wrist injury knocked him out of action, and it took three months for him to return to the lineup in High-A Stockton. Even then the wrist continued to affect him for the rest of the season, ultimately leading to surgery in September, and by the end of the year he had awful numbers in limited playing time.

His 2019 campaign was more of the same. In June he suffered a shoulder injury while diving for a ball in RF, and once again it cost him a large chunk of the season. What’s worse, before the injury he’d spent those first two months of the year struggling at the plate while he adjusted himself to upper-minors pitching. Nothing was going right, and despite all the valid excuses, the shine was in danger of fading from his prospect stock.

However, things began to turn around in August. It started quietly, after he got back from his shoulder problem, but for the final 20 games (85 plate appearances) he finally found his stroke. He hit four homers, posted an isolated slugging mark over .200, and graded out well above-average with a wRC+ of 130. It was a tiny sample of late-season minor league ball, but still an intriguing glimpse of what a healthy Deichmann might be capable of.

Then came the Arizona Fall League, and that’s the reason we’re here talking about him at a solid No. 15 on the list. Deichmann exploded against premium competition in the AFL, swatting a league-leading nine homers in 23 games — that was more than twice as many as the runners-up, with only four dingers apiece. His .982 OPS ranked second in the league, and along the way he received praise for improving his patient approach at the plate and for opening up the whole field instead of being too pull-heavy (via Baseball America).

That leaves us with a classic ink-blot test. What do you want to see in Deichmann? A draft bust who has rarely hit well over the last two years and can’t stay healthy? Or a legit slugger who has been perpetually impeded by freak injuries but finally healed up and showed his true talent last fall? We can’t know the real answer for sure yet, but it’s easy to be encouraged by his most recent sample. At the very least, his monster AFL was enough to salvage his stock for now, and buy him some more leash on the prospect radar.

It’s also worth remembering that, while power is Deichmann’s carrying tool, it’s not the only thing he does well. He gets the most out of his unremarkable speed, grading out as an excellent baserunner and swiping 19 bags last year at a good success rate. And while he’s limited to a corner position on defense, he’s at least decent there, with a plus arm that helps him stick in RF — it’s not like he’ll give back all his batting value on the other side of the ball. Heck, he got a few games in CF during the AFL.

But still, even though he’s not a purely one-dimensional slugger, the real test for Deichmann in 2020 will come with his bat. First he’ll need to stay healthy, and then he’ll need to show that his AFL performance wasn’t a fluke. On the bright side, that could be especially fun to watch if he ends up in Triple-A, where he’d play in the offensive paradise of the Pacific Coast League, with home games in the launching pad of Las Vegas. Nothing would put those early-career struggles behind him faster than a quick 80 or so dingers in the friendliest hitting environment in the sport.

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.

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The new nominee is Jordan Diaz. He’s still a teenager but could already find himself in Single-A Beloit this season, after a strong performance in Low-A Vermont last summer. So far he’s shown excellent plate discipline and the ability to make lots of contact, and that’s added up to above-average batting lines the last two years. He’s still got work to do on both sides of the ball, but he’s got a lot going for him with an enticing mix of future promise and a quality early track record in real games.

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:

Jordan Diaz, 3B

Expected level: Single-A | Age 19

2019 stats (A-): 300 PA, 118 wRC+, 9 HR, 6.0% BB, 15.3% Ks

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

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

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Marcus Smith, OF

Expected level: Low-A? | Age 19

2019 stats (AZL): 119 PA, 156 wRC+, 0 HR, 16.8% BB, 24.4% Ks

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

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 70 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 40

Smith isn’t the biggest guy in the world, at 5-foot-11, but there are some tools to like here. His standout one is his speed, and it’s close to top of the scale. That should allow him to be a threat on the basepaths and allow him to stay in center field long-term. At the plate, it’s unclear how much pop he is going to have, but he does make a ton of contact using a handsy, line-drive oriented slashing swing with an excellent feel for the barrel.

One thing Smith will have to prove as he moves on in pro ball is his ability to impact the baseball. He doesn’t have to grow into a ton of home run power, but if he can learn to drive the ball a bit more, he could become a much more dynamic up-the-middle player.

* * *

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!