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Nick Allen, Buddy Reed make MLB Pipeline’s 2021 All-Defense prospect lineup

The shortstop and outfielder are among the best defenders in the minors

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Last weekend, MLB Pipeline released its sixth annual All-Defense team, naming the best defensive minor league prospect at each position. Two of the eight players in this year’s lineup are from the Oakland A’s organization.

Shortstop Nick Allen got the nod for the second straight winter, and Buddy Reed earned one of the outfield spots after previously doing so in 2019. Here’s the full list:

  • C Jake Rogers, DET
  • 1B Nick Pratto, KCR
  • 2B Nick Madrigal, CHW
  • SS Nick Allen, OAK
  • 3B Ke’Bryan Harris, PIT
  • OF Cristian Pache, ATL
  • OF Buddy Reed, OAK
  • OF Leody Taveras, TEX

It’s not news that Allen is a top-rated defender, which has been the case since the moment he was drafted out of high school in 2017. We’ve even seen glimpses of it in spring training, when he’s occasionally gotten to play in big league camp. Pipeline’s video scouting report explains some details, including praise for his range, hands, footwork, arm, and instincts.

Allen’s bat was last seen thriving in High-A in 2019, and presumably it needs a bit of time in the upper minors to finish developing, but he won’t have to hit much to earn his keep and anything beyond average offense will just be a bonus. There’s no question about his glove being a plus at a critical up-the-middle position, and now the 22-year-old has another vote of national recognition to prove it. It’s easy to envision him inheriting the shortstop job in Oakland by 2022 and staying there for a long time.

As for Reed, he might not be as familiar to A’s fans because he’s yet to play a game in Oakland’s organization. He was acquired last winter from the Padres in the Jurickson Profar trade, but never got to suit up once the minor league season got canceled.

Reed had already made a name for himself in San Diego’s system, earning a spot on the 2019 All-Defense team, and this year Pipeline raves about his “wheels (plus-plus speed), unusual (plus) arm strength for a center fielder and the instincts to get the most out of them.” That speed is rated 70-grade by both Pipeline and FanGraphs, with his arm graded at 60.

Despite his excellent glove, Reed’s overall prospect stock isn’t as high as Allen’s for a couple reasons. He’ll turn 26 in April, making him old for a prospect, and he hasn’t yet gotten any experience higher than Double-A. His bat has mostly been below-average and was never projected to be a plus. But his defense is great enough for FanGraphs to offer a Jake Marisnick comp, as a hyper-athletic fourth outfielder who can lock down CF while sprinkling in some dingers.

The A’s already have the best defenders in the world at two positions, with Matt Chapman at third base and Matt Olson at first base. They might be able to add catcher to that list soon, with Sean Murphy getting himself established in the majors. Their center fielder, Ramon Laureano, was a Gold Glove finalist last year and could probably win the award if he played in RF. If they were to add Allen and Reed to that mix, and maybe some Chad Pinder and Luis Barrera in LF, they might never again let a batted ball fall for a hit.