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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #7.5 re-vote, after Sheldon Neuse traded away

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The No. 8-elect prospect was traded before we could add him to the list. Let’s try again!

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees
Neuse heads to Los Angeles
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List was about to add its eighth member, infielder Sheldon Neuse, but he was traded away before we could get a chance to induct him. We’ll just to have to try again, with a re-vote to fill the spot! Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between his % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up):

  1. A.J. Puk, LHP (+42%)
  2. Tyler Soderstrom, C (+16%)
  3. Nick Allen, SS (+26%)
  4. Robert Puason, SS (+29%)
  5. Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+42%)
  6. Logan Davidson, SS (+15%)
  7. James Kaprielian, RHP (+32%)
  8. not Sheldon Neuse anymore

The vote was close but Neuse was going to edge out the runner-up by a few. I’m not sure this has ever happened before. If his trade to the Dodgers had come a few days later, we would have simply crossed him off and moved everyone up. If it had come a few days ago, when he was on the ballot but not winning it, we would have just eliminated him and added an extra nominee the next time around. If there’s one thing baseball will always find, it’s the uniquely weird situation you’d never thought of.

The reality is that Neuse had always been blocked in the Oakland A’s system. He was never going to play 3B because of Matt Chapman, and even at 2B he was going to have to beat out at least righty Chad Pinder for the job this spring — not to mention lefties Tony Kemp and Vimael Machin, and switch-hitter Jed Lowrie. And if he won that, he might have been bumped later if Nick Allen came up and pushed Elvis Andrus from short to second.

Pretty much everyone on Athletics Nation believes Neuse can be a quality MLB player of some sort, but there was just never a great path for him here and he might find more opportunity in Los Angeles. The Neuse era in Oakland has been silenced before it really began.

And so now, we re-vote on the No. 8 spot on the CPL. There’s a new nominee to replace Neuse on the ballot, and you can vote below as normal.

The voting process is explained below. Please take a moment to read this before participating:

  • 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 for the next ballot.
  • 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 Austin Beck. It was actually a tie between him and new international signee Pedro Pineda, so I’m casting a tiebreaker vote and sticking with Beck for one more year. The former No. 6 overall draft pick hasn’t yet delivered on his sky-high promise, but he also didn’t get a chance to play a 2020 season so it’s tough to suddenly give up on him relative to last winter — he’s still sixth on Baseball Prospectus’ version of this A’s prospect list. Let’s see what the kid’s got.

Hitter rates (poor/avg/great):

  • wRC+ (75/100/135)
  • BB% (5.0%/8.5%/12.0%)
  • K% (14%/22%/30%)

Nominees on the current ballot:

Austin Beck, OF

Expected level: High-A? | Age 22

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at fall instructional league)
2019 stats (A+): 367 PAs, 95 wRC+, 8 HR, 6.5% BB, 34.3% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Overall, Beck hasn’t lived up to the expectations usually put on a top 10 Draft pick. After chasing power too much during his debut, he became a better hitter in his first full season. His swing and miss skyrocketed in 2019, though, with a strikeout rate over 34 percent and he hasn’t been able to get to his considerable raw power consistently at all in games at the pro level. He struggles recognizing breaking stuff and his struggles seemed to get in his head at times. He has premium bat speed and his rotation and acceleration are elite and he worked on calming down in the box during instructs with the confidence that if he can make more contact, the power will naturally come.

Beck runs very well, and while that hasn’t translated to stolen bases, it does help him play a very good center field. He has an above-average arm that would work well in an outfield corner if he slows down enough to necessitate a move. But more than anything, he needs to refine his approach and start turning his tools into production at the plate.

* * *

Luis Barrera, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 240 PAs, 139 wRC+, 4 HR, 5.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 70 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Even when he was trying to play through his injury, Barrera was still doing what he does best: hit. The left-handed hitter is aggressive at the plate and makes a ton of contact with a line-drive, slashing kind of approach. He doesn’t walk a ton, but he also doesn’t strike out much. He’s never going to be a big home run guy, but he has shown the ability to hit the gaps on a regular basis, with his extra-base thump showing up more in Double-A last year. Barrera is a plus runner who can steal a base and is as aggressive on the basepaths as he is at the plate.

Barrera’s passion for the game shows up on defense as well and his shoulder injury wasn’t helped by diving for balls in the outfield. He’s probably best suited for an outfield corner, where his above-average arm plays well, but he’s also shown the ability to play center field if needed and the A’s love how fearless he is. He might break in as a fourth outfielder, but he has the ability to be a big league regular on both sides of the ball if the opportunity arises.

* * *

Greg Deichmann, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 340 PAs, 90 wRC+, 11 HR, 10.0% BB, 30.3% Ks
2019 stats (AFL): .256/.347/.634, 9 HR, 10.5% BB, 30.5% Ks (in 95 PAs)

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Before the injuries hit, Deichmann was a very stiff-bodied hitter, one who would over-rotate and whose shoulder would fly open too often, with his arms and hands not working independently at all. While he was rehabbing, he focused more on flexibility than just hitting the weight room and being more elastic at the plate allowed for more shoulder and hips separation. Staying on pitches more, keeping his shoulder in and being on time cut down on his swing and miss, allowed his walk rate to go up and he started to show the ability to drive balls to left-center field. He learned that as he barrels up the ball more, he didn’t need to chase power; it was going to come naturally with his strength and natural loft.

With a strong arm, Deichmann could fit the power-hitting corner outfielder profile well. Though he has below-average speed, he is a good baserunner who can steal a base. More than anything, though, he needs consistent and healthy reps so he can keep working on getting to his tremendous raw power.

* * *

Grant Holmes, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 3.31 ERA, 81⅔ ip, 76 Ks, 27 BB, 9 HR, 4.20 FIP
2019 stats (AAA): 1.93 ERA, 4⅔ ip, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 5.08 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Cutter: 55 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

For much of his Minor League career, Holmes has been more stuff than production. Much of that had to do with hitters being able to pick the ball up out of his hand too well and he worked on adding more deception in 2019 with some success. He still features a sinking fastball that sits in the low-90s that gets a lot of groundball outs and his curve is still a plus pitch that misses bats. Like most A’s farmhands, he’s developed a cutter, giving him a third at least above-average offering and his changeup has also improved.

Holmes was a more consistent strike-thrower in 2019 and he’ll have to continue to refine his command to remain a starter. He sometimes came out of the bullpen in a tandem system with Midland last year and his stuff was very impressive in shorter outings, something the A’s surely will discuss when talking about how the right-hander can impact the big league staff.

* * *

Brayan Buelvas, OF

Expected level: Low-A? | Age 19

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AZL): 186 PA, 140 wRC+, 3 HR, 11.8% BB, 24.7% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

One of the youngest players in the AZL, Buelvas handled being thrown into the fire with the aggressive assignment with aplomb. The A’s think he has the chance to be a plus hitter in time, with an advanced approach especially given his age and a willingness to draw walks. While he’s likely not going to be a big over-the-fence type of hitter, he did show extra-base authority to all fields and a penchant for going the other way. He may settle into being an average runner over time, but he’s aggressive on the basepaths.

Buelvas has seen time in all three outfield spots, something that’s likely to continue, but he’s a true center fielder who should be able to play there long term. As much as his tools excite the A’s, they also love his makeup and his passion for the game. He won an award for being the most valuable player at instructs after the season, leaving the organization very excited to see what he does for an encore in 2020.

* * *

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!