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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #20: Jordan Diaz shows promising bat in lower minors

The teenager has now hit well at two levels of the low minors.

Photo credit: Mike Moore/Oakland Athletics

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 20th member, and its third teenage prospect. 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%)
  20. Jordan Diaz, 3B (+5%)

He’s still only 19 years old, but Jordan Diaz has already hit well at two levels of the minors. Granted, those two levels were Rookie Ball and short-season Low-A Vermont, which are as low as it gets on the farm system ladder, but again, he’s not even 20 yet. Much of his competition in Vermont was made up of recent college draft picks, in what would have been his freshman year if he’d gone to college himself.

What’s more, a central feature of his offensive success has been his low strikeout rate, which is especially nice to see from such a young player. Baseball America praises his approach and his “low-maintenance swing, strong hands and the ability to generate hard contact.” He still has some development to do, but he’s off to a great start, and quality plate discipline is an excellent building block for a young hitter.

Like fellow teenagers Puason and Buelvas before him on this list, it’ll be a long time before we find out what Diaz will become. But if you want to get excited about potential, then he’s got a good mix of promising tools and productive early track record in real pro games.

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 Jeremy Eierman. The shortstop was drafted by Oakland in 2018 in the Comp B round, just after the 2nd round. He’s got power, but last year he struggled to make enough contact to use it. If he can solve that issue, though, then his speed and arm also rate as plus tools, giving him an interesting profile. His defensive metrics were a mixed bag last year, and Baseball America isn’t sold on shortstop as his permanent long-term position.

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:

Jeremy Eierman, SS

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

2019 stats (A+): 552 PA, 71 wRC+, 13 HR, 7.1% BB, 32.1% Ks, 11 SB

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

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

There’s little question Eierman has legitimate raw power from the right side of the plate, with both bat speed and strength. He got into bad habits as a junior when he tried to sell out for power too much, changing his impact as an all-around hitter. While he homered eight times in his pro debut, he also struck out more than 26 percent of the time with a low walk rate, and will have to improve his pitch recognition so he can tap into that power more consistently. While not a burner, he’s an effective basestealer.

Eierman has every chance to stay at shortstop thanks to his plus arm, really good hands and quick feet. If he were to move to second or third, where he did see a little time during his debut, he could be a plus defender in either spot.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!