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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List #24: Buddy Reed is a dynamic defender

The CF is great in the field but still learning at the plate.

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Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Our 2020 Community Prospect List adds its 24th member, and its second straight offseason acquisition. 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%)
  24. Buddy Reed, OF (+19%)

There’s a lot to like about Buddy Reed as a prospect. His defense is top-notch, and could give him a chance at making MLB on its own. MLB Pipeline gives him a 60-grade for his arm, a 65 for overall fielding, and a 70 for speed. Baseball America calls him a “Gold Glove-caliber defender in center field,” and anoints him the best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm in the A’s system. That’s all high praise.

So why is he still waiting for his Triple-A debut at age 25? The answer is his bat, which has not yet developed to match his glove. The switch-hitter has some power in his 6’4 frame, with Pipeline citing 20-homer potential, but hasn’t been able to make enough contact to use it. He broke out in High-A in 2018, but since then he hasn’t been able to figure out Double-A in over 600 plate appearances, and Baseball America still advises overhauling his swing.

As he is, Reed could be a useful fourth outfielder thanks to his dynamic defense. If he can put things together at the plate, then perhaps he could be even more. The clock is ticking, but we’ll see if a change of scenery can help him unlock the rest of his explosive tools.

Here is the voting process. There’s one change this time, in bold italics.

  • 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. Since we’re preparing for the final blowout ballot, the FOUR players with the most Rec’s will earn nominations.
  • 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 Parker Dunshee. The right-handed sleeper rode some early pro success into a Top 10 nod on last year’s CPL, but then he hit a wall in Triple-A. On top of his own limitations, it can’t have helped dealing with the Pacific Coast League’s juiced ball and absurd hitter’s park, though he was actually strong in his home bandbox of Las Vegas. He’s reached the top of the minor league ladder, so the question now is if he can make the final adjustments to push him the rest of the way to MLB.

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:

Parker Dunshee, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2019 stats (AA): 1.89 ERA, 38 ip, 34 Ks, 11 BB, 1 HR, 3.19 FIP
2019 stats (AAA): 5.38 ERA, 92 ip, 90 Ks, 37 BB, 21 HR, 6.21 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (pre-2020):

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

During his rapid climb up the ladder, Dunshee relied on deception more than stuff to miss bats and get hitters out. His fastball will sit 90-91 mph on most days and he throws a solid slider while also flipping in a get-me-over curve and his changeup is close to average now. Like many A’s farmhands, he’s worked on a cutter that’s sort of a hybrid off of his slider. He would often leave evaluators scratching their heads at how he could miss so many bats despite the overall lack of movement of his stuff.

Some of that got exposed when he got to Triple-A as his lack of an out pitch made it tough for him to find consistent success. He has to learn to live on the corners more and he’s working on throwing up in the zone more to change a hitter’s eye level. Smart on the mound and very athletic, Dunshee could be a poor man’s Kyle Hendricks type if it all clicks.

* * *

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 (pre-2020):

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 65 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

There’s definite power in Eierman’s right-handed swing, but he’s struggled to make contact to get to it with any consistency. As the strikeouts mounted, he fiddled with his stance, changed his approach, but could never get his timing down. The A’s held him out of games at instructs, instead retooling his swing from start to finish, with some results by the end of camp. He had more balance and more leverage while keeping his barrel in the zone longer. His mental approach, worrying about striking out, was as much of a culprit as his inability to pick up spin.

One of the big positives for Eierman was that he actually exceeded expectations defensively. The jury was out whether he could stick at shortstop as a bigger-bodied infielder, but he showed off an easily plus arm and at least an above-average defensive skill set. With the slate wiped clean and the work he put in with his swing, the A’s are hopeful he can have a bounce-back season in 2020.

* * *

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 (pre-2020):

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

Bolt is a switch-hitter who has always been better from the left side, especially in terms of him getting to his raw power. He has decent plate discipline with his ability to draw walks somewhat offsetting his strikeout rates and enabling him to hit for a decent average. He’s not a burner, but he uses his above-average speed well on both sides of the ball. A lean-bodied athletic player, he’s not been able to put an entire season together as he’s struggled to stay physical throughout a long year.

Bolt has played more center field than anywhere else in his career and has the ability to play above-average defense there. He’s seen time at all three spots and his future is probably as a fourth outfielder who keeps doing that at the big league level.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!