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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #19: Tyler Baum, 2nd-round draft pick

The right-hander was selected 66th overall in last year’s draft.

Photo provided by Oakland A’s

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 19th member, and its second 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 (+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%)
  16. Luis Barrera, OF (+14%)
  17. Seth Brown, OF (+48%)
  18. Brayan Buelvas, OF (+17%)
  19. Tyler Baum, RHP (+9%)

The A’s drafted Tyler Baum in the 2nd round last summer, 66th overall, out of UNC. As such, there’s not much to say about him yet — he’s only thrown a couple dozen innings in the pros so far, in Low-A Vermont, so all we have for now are scouting reports. He’s a right-hander with a deep arsenal of solid-to-good offerings, but for various reasons there’s a chance he could end up in the bullpen. That’s the story so far, and we’ll learn more about him this year when he pitches a full season in the minors.

In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at Oakland’s recent 2nd-round picks (including comp picks that get listed as 2nd round). Here’s the list, going back to 2012, with the number in parentheses indicating their overall slot in the draft (some years have multiple picks due to free agent compensation):

2012 (No. 62): Bruce Maxwell, C
2012 (No. 74): Nolan Sanburn, RHP
2013 (No. 63): Dillon Overton, LHP
2013 (No. 71): Chad Pinder, IF
2014 (No. 65): Daniel Gossett, RHP
2015 (No. 63): Mikey White, IF
2016 (No. 47): Logan Shore, RHP
2017 (No. 43): Greg Deichmann, OF
2018 (No. 50): Jameson Hannah, OF
2018 (No. 70): Jeremy Eierman, SS

Four of the first five names on that list reached MLB, which is an impressive hit rate, even if none became stars. Maxwell and Overton flamed out of the majors fairly quickly, while Pinder and Gossett are still members of what has become a perennially contending A’s team. Pinder in particular has rounded out as a useful role player, while Gossett has a chance to help out the pitching staff again after a layoff for Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2019. Sanburn was used as a trade chip (for Adam Dunn in 2014) and never got healthy enough to reach the bigs (nor even Triple-A).

The more recent section of the list hasn’t been quite as compelling. White isn’t quite a full bust yet, and to his credit he’s made it all the way to Triple-A and is still active in Oakland’s farm system. But he’s also 26 already and took two years to become even slightly above-average at each of High-A and Double-A. What’s worse, he’s slowly migrated from the middle infield to the corner spots, putting even more pressure on his bat to carry him. He’s not done yet, but it would still take a big breakout for him to make the jump to the majors (and the corner infield spots are currently fully blocked in Oakland).

Shore and Hannah were both traded. Shore went to Detroit in the Mike Fiers swap, and he’s reached Double-A at least, but his progress has been slow and full of injuries and inconsistent performance. Hannah went to Cincinnati for Tanner Roark last summer, and it’s too early to really judge much about him, other than that he was fine in 2019.

That leaves Deichmann and Eierman in the A’s organization. Deichmann is still firmly on the radar, at No. 15 on this CPL, with his great Arizona Fall League breakout overshadowing two seasons of constant injuries and lackluster hitting. Eierman struggled in High-A last year in his first full season, but still has lots of potential and will likely crack the bottom of this CPL Top 30.

After a string of modest successes from 2012-14, the 2nd round hasn’t been too friendly to Oakland lately. Among those recent picks since 2015, Deichmann might have the best chance of panning out, though Hannah (for the Reds) and Eierman still have time to make noise. Overall, there seems to be a theme of safe, college picks in this round, more notable for high floors than high ceilings (Hannah might be a slight exception). That’s been true regardless of whether they took a college name in the 1st round (like Matt Chapman or A.J. Puk) or gambled on a high-upside high schooler (like Addison Russell, Matt Olson, Billy McKinney, or Austin Beck). They tend to go bolder in the 3rd round, where they sometimes spend big on a high schooler with 1st-round talent who requires overslot money to skip college (like Dakota Chalmers or Nick Allen) (or to a lesser extent Marcus Smith last summer, who actually went underslot).

Which camp will Baum fall into? Will he make the majors like Pinder’s group, falter in the minors like Sanburn and White, or get flipped in a win-now trade like Shore and Hannah? Stay tuned to find out!

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 Hogan Harris. He was the A’s 3rd-round draft pick in 2018 but didn’t make his pro debut until last summer, with strong small-sample performances in both Low-A Vermont and High-A Stockton. The lefty has good stuff, with multiple quality offerings in his arsenal, but he’s still learning to command it and he comes with an injury-prone label.

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:

Hogan Harris, LHP

Expected level: High-A? Double-A? | Age 23

2019 stats (A-): 3.12 ERA, 26 ip, 36 Ks, 9 BB, 2 HR, 3.02 FIP
2019 stats (A+): 2.51 ERA, 28⅔ ip, 29 Ks, 10 BB, 2 HR, 3.70 FIP

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

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 40

The first pitch Harris throws during the 2019 season will be the first one he throws for the organization. An elbow sprain kept him from making his debut over the summer and he didn’t pitch at instructs, adding to questions about his durability, as nagging injuries hampered him during his college career. The good news is there were no issues during the offseason, and he was coming back well from rehabbing the injury. At his best, he has four quality pitches at his disposal: A fastball with some run to it, thrown typically in the low-90s, a curve with power and depth that he can morph into a slider and a solid changeup.

Command has been an issue for Harris at times, so while he has the stuff to start, he’ll have to show he can find the strike zone enough to stick in a rotation. More than anything, he needs to go out and prove he can stay healthy over the course of a long Minor League season.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Buddy Reed, OF

Expected level: Double-A | Age 25

2019 stats (AA): 441 PA, 93 wRC+, 14 HR, 9.5% BB, 28.6% Ks, 23 SB

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

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65 | Overall: 45

A switch-hitter, Reed has the potential to hit for both average and power, though he’s historically been better form the right side. Before the 2018 season, he made an adjustment, allowing him to be shorter to the ball with more extension after contact. But he’ll need to continue to cut down on the strikeouts. If he can add more contact to his game, he has plus-plus speed — which translates on both sides of the ball.

Reed has a tall, athletic build that gives him the potential to do a lot of things well on the baseball field, but he still has gains to make as a hitter. If he can get back to a more refined approach and better swing mechanics, he has the tools to be an impact player. But questions linger as to whether his game, particularly his hitting, will translate at higher levels.

* * *

Vimael Machin, IF

Expected level: MLB or bust | Age 26

2019 stats (AA): 498 PA, 129 wRC+, 6 HR, 12.7% BB, 11.4% Ks
2019 stats (AAA): 31 PA, 144 wRC+, 1 HR, 19.4% BB, 16.1% Ks

Baseball America scouting report (from January) (lightly edited):

As a lefthanded hitter, he has the potential to fill a need for the righthanded heavy Oakland batting order. He has played every infield position, and “he has stood in the outfield,” [A’s Assistant GM Dan] Feinstein joked. ...

A’s scouts rank Machin as a plus hitter (most impressive to the A’s was that he drew 69 walks while striking out only 62 times last year). He is a slightly below-average runner and ranks about average defensively at shortstop and second base. Feinstein believes that Machin plays above his talent levels because he has such good baseball sense. He has below-average power. ...

”What we really like is that he has continued to show improvement,” Feinstein said. If that carries over to the major leagues, the A’s may well have plucked a prize from the [Rule 5] draft.

* * *

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!