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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #13: Pedro Pineda is youngest of A’s top prospects

Youngest player on the 2021 CPL

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and likely its youngest member of the year in age-17 outfielder Pedro Pineda. 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%)
  13. Pedro Pineda, OF (+23%)

Pineda was born in 2003. Let that sink in. He won’t turn 18 until September.

I remember the first time I noticed an MLB player who was younger than myself. I was 20 at the time, and starting to keep an eye out for a major leaguer who technically qualified by being a few days behind me. Then 19-year-old Felix Hernandez debuted, 14 months my junior. When it happened, that age line didn’t just get crossed for me, it got obliterated.

Now I’m noticing the next step in that progression. I was starting my freshman year of college when Pineda was born. We’re separated by enough that he could be my kid. I remember the A’s 2003 season, and watching Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off bunt from a dorm room in Malcolm Hall (that’s a building not a relative) at Davis. Pineda was less than a month old. The Streak predates him.

Of course, the “bright side” in terms of delaying my mid-life crisis is that he won’t be in the majors for a while. The A’s only just officially signed Pineda last month, after more than a year of rumored inevitability, and it will take lots of time and experience to develop his explosive raw tools. He’s an exciting prospect, but not one we’ll see in Oakland anytime soon.

The youngest player in MLB last summer was Luis Garcia of the Nationals, age 20, born May 16, 2000. He’s the second major league player born in the 2000s, after Elvis Luciano of the Blue Jays, who debuted in 2019. Garcia is also the first from the 2000s to hit a homer — in a game in which he was replacing an injured Starlin Castro, who had previously been the first player born in the 1990s to hit a homer.

The Y2K line has been crossed in terms of MLB birthdates, but at least everyone in the bigs so far was around when Barry Zito debuted. I wasn’t quite an adult yet when they were born. But that line will keep moving back with each season that goes by, and every summer another set of A’s fans will notice the first player who’s younger than they are. Perhaps Pineda will be the one to push it to 2003 someday.

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 Tyler Baum. He was the A’s 2nd-round draft pick in 2019, which means he’s been in the pros for nearly two years but barely gotten to play in any games. Once he gets going in full-season ball, he’s yet another addition to the system’s growing collection of pitchers with lots of promise but a question of whether they project toward the rotation or bullpen.

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:

Tyler Baum, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at A’s alternate site camp)
2019 stats (A-): 4.70 ERA, 30⅔ ip, 34 Ks, 7 BB, 4 HR, 3.76 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

Baum doesn’t have eye-popping stuff, but he does have a four pitch mix at his disposal. He’ll touch 94 mph with his fastball, throwing it with good armside run. He has two distinct breaking balls thrown from his high-three-quarters arm slot, with his upper-70s curve a bit ahead of his harder, more lateral-breaking low-80s slider. His changeup gives him a fourth at least average pitch, an offspeed offering that has some fade to it.

Baum’s strike-throwing improved during his junior year at North Carolina and it carried over during his pro debut. Though there’s some crossfire in his delivery, the improved command gives him a better chance to start, as a No. 4 type in a rotation, long term, though his fastball-breaking ball would play up should he have to move to the bullpen.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.”

* * *

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.

* * *

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!