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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #23: Vimael Machin, Rule 5 draft pick

The versatile infielder has a chance to make Oakland’s Opening Day roster.

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Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 23rd member, and one who might not be in the A’s organization for long. 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%)
  21. Marcus Smith, OF (+26%)
  22. Hogan Harris, LHP (+4%)
  23. Vimael Machin, IF (+4%)

This is a big spring for Vimael Machin. If he plays well enough, he could earn a ticket straight to the big leagues. As a Rule 5 draft pick, the A’s only get to keep him if he stays on the 26-man roster, so they have extra incentive to give him the nod if they like what they see this month.

He’s making the most of his opportunity so far. In 25 plate appearances, he’s batting .318 (7-for-22) with a pair of doubles, three walks, and only three strikeouts. That’s a good representation of his offensive game overall — high contact and strong plate discipline, and the ability to get on base, with some doubles power mixed in.

What’s more, he’s exactly what the A’s need right now in the battle for their final roster spots. He bats left-handed on a roster of mostly righties; he controls the zone and gets on base in a lineup full of whiffy sluggers; he’s a versatile defender, which the team puts high value in; and he can play second base, which is the most glaringly open position on the diamond.

Machin is already 26 years old and has only played 12 games as high as Triple-A, which explains why he was available in Rule 5 at all instead of being protected on a 40-man roster. He had a really nice year in Double-A last year, though, which explains why the A’s would take a flyer on him this spring. He’s got a legitimate chance of reaching MLB this month, which explains why AN found room for him on the CPL.

It’s possible that Machin could be out of the organization in the next few weeks, if he doesn’t make the team in Oakland and gets sent back to the Cubs. But for now, he’s an intriguing role player who is currently auditioning for a real-life spot in the Show.

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 Richard Guasch. He’s still a relative unknown, but he fared well last year in Single-A and is the age of college picks from last summer’s draft class. He’s here because Baseball America rated his slider as the best in the A’s system, which is saying a lot when A.J. Puk is also in the same system.

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:

Richard Guasch, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 22

2019 stats (A-): 0.00 ERA, 4 ip, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 1.65 FIP
2019 stats (A): 4.53 ERA, 59⅔ ip, 77 Ks, 37 BB, 1 HR, 3.25 FIP

Scouting report from Melissa Lockard of The Athletic (pre-2020):

The A’s signed Guasch, an international free agent out of Cuba, in July 2018. ...

His biggest issue was command, as he walked 38. While his ERA from 2019 doesn’t jump off the page, Guasch has two swing-and-miss pitches that portend better results in the future. Patterson says Guasch’s slider is an above-average major-league offering right now and his curveball isn’t that far behind the slider in terms of effectiveness. Guasch got nearly a 50 percent swing-and-miss rate with the slider in 2019, but he threw the pitch only 23 percent of the time. Patterson says that usage rate will increase in 2020.

The right-hander is projected as a starter, and his fastball has enough cut to work effectively with his two breaking balls. Patterson indicated that Guasch will need to improve his changeup to remain a starter longterm, but with the plus breaking ball, he has a strong chance to be an effective major-league reliever and could be a back-end starter if the changeup improves. He turns 22 in April and should begin the season with Stockton.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Skye Bolt, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 26

2019 stats (AAA): 347 PA, 96 wRC+, 11 HR, 10.7% BB, 27.1% Ks
2019 stats (MLB): 11 PA, 1-for-10, double, 1 BB, 3 Ks

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

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

The A’s always felt Bolt had the ability to succeed, but just hadn’t been able to find the level of consistency to tap into his tools. He can hit for average and power from both sides of the plate, though the power really shows up left-handed (17 of his 19 homers in 2018 came from that side). He has enough speed to steal a base, and he finished just one home run and one steal shy of a 20-20 campaign last year.

Bolt has the speed and instincts to play center field and the strong arm to play right. He has the acumen to play all three outfield positions and he’s likely to be a fourth outfielder in the big leagues. Now that he’s starting to put it together on a daily basis, though, don’t rule out Bolt finding a regular spot in the lineup.

* * *

Wandisson Charles, RHP

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2019 stats (A): 3.22 ERA, 22⅓ ip, 37 Ks, 20 BB, 1 HR, 3.54 FIP
2019 stats (A+): 3.16 ERA, 25⅔ ip, 39 Ks, 18 BB, 1 HR, 3.59 FIP
2019 stats (AA): 1.88 ERA, 14⅓ ip, 17 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR, 3.03 FIP

FanGraphs “Excited Longshot Arms” honorable mention (pre-2019):

Charles is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound beast with elite arm strength (95-98, touching at least 99) but zero feel for pitching. He’ll snap off the occasional plus slider in the 86-90 mph range, but he’s relatively undercooked for 22.

Oakland Clubhouse scouting report (pre-2018) (lightly edited):

A behemoth on the mound, Charles has a very similar build to Jansen and similar arm strength. Charles is a currently a two-pitch pitcher with his fastball and his slider. The A’s may try to add a reliable third pitch once he is commanding his two primary offerings more consistently. His fastball sits 96-98, running up above the 100 MPH mark, and his slider sits in the mid-80s and has some late-breaking action.

For Charles to find success in full-season ball, he will need to be able to command his pitches more consistently. “A year ago [in the 2017 season], he couldn’t throw the ball over the plate. It’s an amazing transformation for him,” said A’s director of player development Keith Lieppman. ... “He was still 97-99 this [2017] Instructional League and during the [2017] season he had some 102s,” said A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson.

* * *

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!