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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #12: Brayan Buelvas is advanced beyond his years

One of only three teenagers invited to A’s alt camp last summer

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and one of its youngest in teenage outfielder Brayan Buelvas. 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%)
  11. Jeff Criswell, RHP (+10%)
  12. Brayan Buelvas, OF (+19%)

Last year Buelvas debuted on the list as an exciting new teenage prospect. Unlike most top names of his extremely young age, though, he didn’t get attention due to any particular standout tool. Rather, it was his strong all-around skill-set, advanced approach, and, as Baseball America put it, “his passion for the game, work ethic and competitiveness.”

That sounds to me like Jaycob Brugman, but a version that is already getting attention in the pros ahead of his 19th birthday this summer. If you follow Athletics Nation and our CPL, you know I mean any Bruggy comp as the highest possible praise.

The running theme of this year’s list is that nobody got a chance to prove themselves in games last summer with the minors canceled, but Buelvas still managed to add a new achievement to his resume. He was one of only three teenagers invited to the A’s alternate site camp, along with Soderstrom and Puason, and it speaks volumes that the club chose to use one of their limited player pool spots on him alongside a group of older and more experienced prospects.

There’s no more short-season Low-A ball, as that level of the minors was eliminated, but the optimistic hope would be that we see Buelvas make his full-season debut this year.

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 Jordan Diaz. He’s in a similar situation as his Colombian countryman Buelvas, with youth and talent on his side but an extra long wait for his chance to prove it on the field due to the 2020 season being canceled. Last year Diaz was No. 20 on our CPL, and nothing has changed about his stock in either direction since then.

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:

Jordan Diaz, 3B

Expected level: Low-A | Age 20

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (A-): 300 PA, 118 wRC+, 9 HR, 6.0% BB, 15.3% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Diaz has perhaps the best bat-to-ball skills in the organization. He has an advanced feel to hit with outstanding bat-to-ball skills, limiting his strikeouts. He’s more of a gap-to-gap hitter and he’s not a quick-twitch kind of hitter, though there is potential power in there.

While there’s faith Diaz is going to hit, there are more questions about whether he’ll defend. He doesn’t always keep focus there and while his hands and arm work, he needs to improve his footwork to stick at third long term. He can get caught flat-footed and make errors as a result. Some of that can get chalked up to youth, but he’ll need to be more consistent as he moves forward. The power will have to come more for him to really profile at the infield corner, but the A’s feel the bat will keep him going up the ladder.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Ka’ai Tom, OF

Expected level: MLB | Age 27

2020 stats (MLB): DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (AA): 343 PAs, 162 wRC+, 14 HR, 12.5% BB, 21.3% Ks
2019 stats (AAA): 211 PAs, 132 wRC+, 9 HR, 10.0% BB, 25.1% Ks

No current scouting report, so here are some assorted notes from various sources (from my December 2021 post):

“Honestly, Tom should have gotten a chance last year, he did not and I could see him sticking with the A’s easily. He plays all three spots and hits at every stop. He isn’t the best athlete and is way undersized, which has been the knocks but he just kept performing.” ...

“Never in my life have I seen a guy so small hit a ball so hard like him.” ...

“Ka’ai Tom doesn’t necessarily consider himself a power hitter but more of a guy who can spray line drives all over the field. Made an adjustment at the plate with his hands in 2019 that led to a big increase in extra-base hits.” ...

“He’s a fast runner who uses his legs to leg out doubles and triples more than steal bases.” ...

“While he’s experienced at all three outfield spots it is likely that his speed and quickness allow him to play center at the major league level.”

* * *

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!