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Oakland A’s 2020 Community Prospect List bonus #2: Ranking the new draft picks

Results of our vote, plus one run-off ballot

Major League Baseball Archive: Prospect Development Premiere - Stockton Photo by Peter DaSilva/MLB Photos via Getty Images

On Monday, we held a bonus vote for our 2020 Community Prospect List Top 31. On the ballot were the Oakland A’s top two picks from last week’s MLB draft, plus one more international prospect whom they’re expected to sign in January. We’re not adding them to the actual CPL, just getting an idea of where they would theoretically rank.

We’ve got results for draft picks Tyler Soderstrom and Jeff Criswell, but I aimed too high on international free agent Pedro Pineda so we’ll do a run-off vote in the comments to finish placing him. Click here for a reminder of what the full list looks like.

First up is Soderstrom, a high school catcher and the A’s 1st-round pick. Out of 39 votes, the leading choice was to slot him in after James Kaprielian (No. 6). Next up were nine votes for putting him after fellow teenage prospect Robert Puason (No. 7). The other 18 votes were split evenly, with nine above Kaprielian and nine below Puason. This one is pretty clear-cut: Soderstrom would rank No. 7 on the list, between Kaprielian and Puason.

Next is Criswell, a college pitcher from the 2nd round of the draft. Out of 35 votes, the top choice was to put him after last year’s 2nd-round pick, fellow college righty Tyler Baum (No. 19). That narrowly edged out the eight votes for Hogan Harris (No. 22), who was the bottom of the ballot range. There were 14 votes above Baum, and 12 below him, so he seems to be the middle ground. Result: Criswell would rank No. 20, below Baum (or No. 21 if you include Soderstrom above him).

The Soderstrom placement sounds about right to me. He’s an easy comp with Puason because of their age, but Soderstrom has louder tools with the bat. Puason could be a plus defender at short, but Soderstrom might also have that beat if he can stick as even a decent catcher. Meanwhile, the players above him are also highly rated talents, including two other late-1st-round picks, but each has done at least done something of quality in the pros already — Daulton Jefferies and James Kaprielian impressed in the upper-minors last year after long injury layoffs, and Nick Allen (also a high school draft pick, in 2017) broke out in High-A.

As for Criswell, I’m surprised he didn’t go higher. At the very least, I thought he’d place above Baum. While Baum’s superior control and wider pitch selection might give him a better chance of sticking as a starter, Criswell’s more powerful arsenal could give him a higher ceiling, and moving to the bullpen might not be such a negative if he can be a quality late-inning reliever. It’s a classic ceiling/floor question, but I’m not even sure Criswell has a lower floor due to the chance of his velocity playing well in the pen (as a backup plan if he doesn’t succeed as a starter). I might even listen to cases for having Criswell as high as No. 14, after Grant Holmes and before a few outfielders who are strong but have a lot to prove.

That brings us to Pineda. Out of 33 votes, nearly half (15) placed him below the bottom of the range, which I had set at No. 14 Lazaro Armenteros. However, there were also 15 votes for No. 11 Austin Beck or higher, so we’re only going to drop down a few spots in our run-off ballot. Let’s go 11-19, reaching down to fellow teenage outfielder Brayan Buelvas and then Baum. Read the instructions in the comments section for how to vote.

Finally, we gauged interest in the other three new draft picks from last week (Michael Guldberg, Dane Ackers, and Stevie Emanuels), but none of them came close to cracking the bottom of the CPL. They’re all interesting prospects, but they’ll have to wait until next winter for another try — and even that could be tough, since there will likely be no chance for them to prove anything on the field before then.

Here’s what the list would look like with the two new draftees added. I’ll insert Pineda as well when his vote is settled.

  1. Jesus Luzardo, LHP
  2. A.J. Puk, LHP
  3. Sean Murphy, C
  4. Daulton Jefferies, RHP
  5. Nick Allen, SS
  6. James Kaprielian, RHP
  7. Tyler Soderstrom, C
  8. Robert Puason, SS
  9. Sheldon Neuse, IF
  10. Jorge Mateo, SS
  11. Jonah Heim, C
  12. Austin Beck, OF
  13. Logan Davidson, SS
  14. Grant Holmes, RHP
  15. Lazaro Armenteros, OF
  16. Greg Deichmann, OF
  17. Luis Barrera, OF
  18. Seth Brown, OF
  19. Brayan Buelvas, OF
  20. Tyler Baum, RHP
  21. Jeff Criswell, RHP
  22. Jordan Diaz, 3B
  23. Marcus Smith, OF
  24. Hogan Harris, LHP
  25. Vimael Machin, IF
  26. Buddy Reed, OF
  27. Jeremy Eierman, SS
  28. Skye Bolt, OF
  29. Wandisson Charles, RHP
  30. Richard Guasch, RHP
  31. Parker Dunshee, RHP
  32. Brian Howard, RHP
  33. Dustin Harris, 1B