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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #17: Jordan Diaz has advanced bat in lower minors

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The 20-year-old is still waiting for a chance to prove it in full-season ball

Photo credit: Mike Moore/Oakland Athletics

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and another particularly young one in hitter Jordan Diaz. 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%)
  14. Austin Beck, OF (+13%)
  15. Ka’ai Tom, OF (+3%)
  16. Tyler Baum, RHP (+1%)
  17. Jordan Diaz, 3B (+21%)

Another prospect, the same story. Diaz has strengths in his skill set and something positive on his track record, but didn’t get the chance to further prove himself in the canceled 2020.

In Diaz’s case, the strength is his bat, and it served him well in early trials at age 17 in Rookie Ball and age 18 in short-season Low-A. In particular, he made a lot of contact and rarely struck out, with a bit of power potential yet to be tapped into.

Baseball America cites some comps to Renato Nunez, another former bat-first prospect who had enough arm for third base but always faced questions about his ability to stick there, which is similar to Diaz’s profile. Nunez ultimately didn’t stay at the hot corner, moving to 1B/DH, but he did make it as a hitter.

Can Diaz do enough hitting to keep moving up the system toward the majors? He’ll finally get to resume that quest this summer, still at the young age of 20, and hopefully in full-season ball.

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 Wandisson Charles. The fireballing righty can hit triple-digits on the radar gun, and with each passing year he gets better at controlling it. He’s now made his way onto the 40-man roster, and he has a little bit of Double-A success under his belt plus time at the MLB alternate site camp last summer. He could become a factor in the A’s bullpen at some point in 2021, with a high ceiling in the late innings.

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:

Wandisson Charles, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (A): 3.22 ERA, 22⅓ ip, 37 Ks, 20 BB, 1 HR, 3.54 FIP
2019 stats (A+): 3.16 ERA, 25⅔ ip, 39 Ks, 18 BB, 1 HR, 3.59 FIP
2019 stats (AA): 1.88 ERA, 14⅓ ip, 17 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR, 3.03 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 75 | Slider: 60 | Control: 40 | Overall: 40

Possessing the highest average velocity in the organization, Charles is still learning how to pitch as he looks to graduate to the highest level. Bringing a power fastball that can touch triple digits to go along with a wipeout slider, Charles showed improvement at both the A’s alternate site and in the instructional league.

If he can put it together, Charles has the makings of a strong-armed reliever who can fill the back end of a bullpen. Lowering his walk rate and throwing more strikes could speed up his call to the big leagues.

* * *

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.

* * *

Lazaro Armenteros, OF

Expected level: High-A? | Age 22

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (A+): 538 PA, 107 wRC+, 17 HR, 13.6% BB, 42.2% Ks, 22 SB

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

In 2019, Armenteros struck out in more than 42 percent of his plate appearances, only partially offset by his high walk rate. When taking that into consideration, it’s a testament to how strong he is that he still managed to hit 17 homers. But he really needs to re-work his swing because his barrel isn’t in the zone long enough for him to make contact to get to that power. He started working on that during instructs and it’s an adjustment, especially with breaking stuff, he’ll have to make if he wants to progress.

Armenteros is a physical specimen who can really run and should continue to be able to steal bases. His defense has improved, but he’s probably limited to left field because of a below-average arm. The good news is he’s still young enough to figure things out, but there will have to be some considerable changes to his swing and approach to make it happen.

* * *

Junior Perez, OF

Expected level: Low-A? | Age 19

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (RK): 238 PA, 126 wRC+, 11 HR, 10.1% BB, 24.8% Ks, 11 SB

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

That Perez possesses a strong, physical frame for a teenager makes it easy to dream on his power potential from the right side of the plate. He also makes a lot of quality contact, combining his strength with a quick bat and lofty swing. His swing-and-miss issues aren’t uncommon for a player his age and stand to improve as he gains experience and learns to recognize spin better.

Perez’s below-average speed limits him to an outfield corner, and he spent much of his 2019 campaign manning right field in the AZL. He may be a better long-term fit in left, though, because his arm strength is only a tick above average.

* * *

Kyle McCann, C

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (A-): 225 PA, 94 wRC+, 7 HR, 11.1% BB, 36.0% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 40

The left-handed hitter has legit power to all fields, reminding some of the Orioles’ Chris Davis power-wise. He can lift it out to the opposite field and has a little hook to the pull side and like Davis, his power will come with considerable swing and miss (He struck out in nearly 35 percent of his plate appearances in 2019). He may never hit for a high average, but he does mitigate the strikeouts a bit by working counts and drawing walks.

McCann caught and played first base during his pro debut, partically because he was nursing a sore shoulder. He showed off a much better arm during instructs, but while his hands work, his blocking and overall receiving are works in progress. If it all clicks, he could fit the profile of a lefty power-hitting backstop, but he also might have enough pop to be a first baseman if the catching end of things doesn’t come together.

* * *

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!