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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #10: Grant Holmes remains part of pitching equation on 40-man roster

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Can the longtime prospect finally make his MLB debut?

Oakland Athletics v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, finishing off the Top 10 with pitcher Grant Holmes. 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. Luis Barrera, OF (+34%)
  9. Greg Deichmann, OF (+24%)
  10. Grant Holmes, RHP (+3%)

The Oakland A’s have three MLB-ready top pitching prospects who were stalled by long-term injuries but have since regained their health and momentum and been placed on the 40-man roster. Two of them are already on this list, in Jefferies and Kaprielian. Now Holmes joins them in the Top 10.

Unlike the other pair, Holmes has not yet debuted in the majors. Jefferies and Kap each got that chance in 2020, though both struggled with the long ball in their brief cups of coffee. Holmes waited out at the alternate site camp, leaving him with just one Triple-A game from 2019 as his highest-ever level of play. That should change this year, as he’ll presumably open the season in Las Vegas and try to force his way up to MLB.

Holmes brings a wide arsenal of pitches, including a low-90s fastball, curve, cutter, and changeup that all rank above-average on MLB Pipeline — the curve and change each get 60-grades there, and the fastball is praised for generating grounders. But his control and command are his question marks, so we’ll see how he progresses this spring and then upon the long-awaited return of minor league ball this summer.

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.

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The new nominee is Seth Brown. The outfielder made an impressive MLB debut in 2019 after knocking 37 homers in a friendly Triple-A environment, but he only got five plate appearances in the short 2020 campaign while spending most of the year at the alternate site camp. He’s once again part of the spring competition for a lefty OF/DH bat, and with Robbie Grossman gone there’s never been a clearer path for Brown to get another chance in the majors.

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:

Seth Brown, OF

Expected level: MLB? | Age 28

2020 stats (MLB): 0-for-5, 2 Ks
2019 stats (MLB): 83 PA, 120 wRC+, 0 HR, 8.4% BB, 27.7% Ks
2019 stats (AAA): 500 PA, 126 wRC+, 37 HR, 7.6% BB, 25.4% Ks

Baseball America scouting report (from January 2021):

Brown re-tooled his swing in search of more launch angle prior to 2017 and unlocked considerable power. It has yet to translate to the big leagues in a very small sample size — zero homers in 88 at-bats—but his plus raw power is as good as any in the A’s system. He makes solid contact and has a chance to be an average hitter against righthanders as part of a platoon. Brown has worked hard to improve his outfield defense in the hopes of enhancing his versatility and giving him more avenues to playing time. He’s a fine defender at first base.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Pedro Pineda, OF

Expected level: Rookie Ball | Age 17

2020 stats: Signed in January, hasn’t played yet

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (from international draft class capsule):

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

Pineda has broad shoulders, an athletic, projectable body and a collection of some of the best tools in this year’s class.

He’s best described as “explosive” and it’s easy to see why.

Pineda is raw, but has the potential to have plus tools. Specifically, he’s been praised for his hands and excellent bat speed. Like many prospects his age, there is some swing and miss to his game and his overall swing is a work in progress, but that’s not uncommon. For now, there’s some loft to his swing and his mechanics continue to improve. He also consistently hits the ball hard to all fields and can drive the ball out of the ballpark. He has the potential to be a base-stealer and an above average baserunner.

On defense, he has the ability to shine at the corner outfield spots, but is also comfortable in center field. He is learning how to contain his arm strength for improved accuracy and is expected to improve in that area once he signs and receives daily instruction in a team’s academy. Coachable and energetic, Pineda is a student of the game. He is also currently taking English classes.

* * *

Jeff Criswell, RHP

Expected level: High-A? | Age 22

2020 stats: Drafted last summer, played at fall instructional league

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (from international draft class capsule):

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

Criswell maintained his velocity while transitioning from reliever to starter, showing the ability to work at 93-96 mph with heavy sink for several innings at a time. Both his slider and his fading changeup are solid secondary pitches that arrive in the low 80s.

While Criswell unquestionably has the repertoire and strong build to start at the pro level, he’s still learning to harness his stuff. He lapses into overthrowing at times, which causes his delivery to get out of sync and his control to waver. If he can do a better job of locating his pitches, he could develop into a mid-rotation starter.

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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!