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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #18: Seth Brown is on the doorstep of the majors

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The 28-year-old is as ready as he’ll ever be to help out in Oakland

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners
What can Brown do for you?
Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and likely its oldest in slugger Seth Brown. 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%)
  18. Seth Brown, OF (+11%)

Brown is a member of an interesting club, as a player who has made it higher on the CPL (18th) than the round of the draft he was selected in (19th, in 2015). I’m not sure how often that happens, but it makes him the only one on this year’s list so far, though Puk (1st) and Allen (3rd) matched their draft rounds.

As a 19th-round pick, and a particularly old one as a college senior, Brown was never on the serious prospect radar in his early days in the pros. But he kept hitting at every level of the minors, and when he went on a dinger spree in Triple-A in 2019 it finally demanded attention. So much attention, in fact, that he earned an MLB debut late that summer, and even then he didn’t stop hitting in 26 games in Oakland.

Unfortunately, the outfield was too crowded for Brown to get much of a chance in the shortened 2020 campaign — just five plate appearances in seven games, including one start at first base. But he showed enough in ‘19 to demand further opportunity, and with his 29th birthday approaching in July there’s nothing left to wait for. He can rake in the minors, we’ve briefly seen him hit in the majors with our own eyes, and his lefty bat has an obvious fit on the A’s roster now that switch-hitting outfielder Robbie Grossman is gone.

Whether it’s on the Opening Day roster, or as a call-up sometime during the summer, Brown is sitting on the doorstep of the majors as much as any player in the game right now. What can he do for the A’s in 2021 and beyond?

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 Buddy Reed. The outfielder was acquired from the Padres in the Profar trade, and describing him as toolsy would be an understatement. Baseball America rates him as the Best Athlete, Best Baserunner, Best Defensive Outfielder, and Best Outfield Arm in the A’s system; the other 10 best-in-skill categories were split among 10 different players. MLB Pipeline put him in their 2021 All-Defense prospect lineup. But can he hit enough to reach 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:

Buddy Reed, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 441 PA, 93 wRC+, 14 HR, 9.5% BB, 38.6% Ks, 23 SB

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65 | Overall: 40

The A’s are hoping a change of scenery, some new instructors and new ideas might be just what is needed to unlock Reed’s treasure trove of raw tools more consistently. The switch-hitter can make loud contact and drive the ball from both sides of the plate, though his right-handed swing is a bit better. He had changed his swing path to be shorter to the ball with more extension, leading to his breakout to start 2018, but his strikeout rate soared once he got to Double-A.

Reed’s speed is close to top of the scale and he’s a major basestealing threat, swiping 51 bags in 2018. It also helps him cover a ton of ground in the outfield, where he’s a plus defender in center and has an arm that works really well in the corners. He still has 20-20 potential if he can refine his approach enough to make more contact with his new organization.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!