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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #4: Robert Puason awaits minor league pro debut

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The 18-year-old spent summer 2020 at A’s alternate site camp, but hasn’t yet played in the minors

Cleveland Indians v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and its youngest so far in shortstop Robert Puason. 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%)

There’s not much to say about Puason at this point. He’s got a ton of talent and potential, enough for the A’s to spend over $5 million on him in 2019, nearly their entire international bonus pool during that period. And he’s 18 years old and hasn’t yet played a pro game in the U.S., though he did get to spend time at alternate site camp last summer.

His development will be a long-term project, and he’s only just getting started, but if it all works out then he’s a plus defensive shortstop featuring a great arm and lots of speed, with a switch-hitting bat that could be at least average in both Hit and Power. Not every prospect with loud tools pans out in the end, but Puason has one of the highest ceilings in the system and it’s easy to get excited about his future.

His name is Robert Puason.

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 Greg Deichmann. He was last seeing destroying the Arizona Fall League in 2019, but it came after two disappointing and injured years in the minors, and was then followed by the 2020 season being canceled so he couldn’t build on his breakout. Still, he has one of the highest power grades in the system (Baseball America says 60-grade), and isn’t a slouch on defense in right field including a plus arm. He’s ready to prove himself in Triple-A.

Note: Two prospects, C Jonah Heim and RHP Dane Acker, were traded away on Saturday. Heim in particular was close to being nominated for the ballot, but hadn’t yet made it, so this move doesn’t affect our current list, voting, or ballot.

Hitter rates (poor/avg/great):

  • wRC+ (75/100/135)
  • BB% (5.0%/8.5%/12.0%)
  • K% (14%/22%/30%)

Nominees on the current ballot:

Greg Deichmann, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 340 PAs, 90 wRC+, 11 HR, 10.0% BB, 30.3% Ks
2019 stats (AFL): .256/.347/.634, 9 HR, 10.5% BB, 30.5% Ks (in 95 PAs)

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Before the injuries hit, Deichmann was a very stiff-bodied hitter, one who would over-rotate and whose shoulder would fly open too often, with his arms and hands not working independently at all. While he was rehabbing, he focused more on flexibility than just hitting the weight room and being more elastic at the plate allowed for more shoulder and hips separation. Staying on pitches more, keeping his shoulder in and being on time cut down on his swing and miss, allowed his walk rate to go up and he started to show the ability to drive balls to left-center field. He learned that as he barrels up the ball more, he didn’t need to chase power; it was going to come naturally with his strength and natural loft.

With a strong arm, Deichmann could fit the power-hitting corner outfielder profile well. Though he has below-average speed, he is a good baserunner who can steal a base. More than anything, though, he needs consistent and healthy reps so he can keep working on getting to his tremendous raw power.

* * *

Daulton Jefferies, RHP

Expected level: MLB | Age 25

2020 stats (MLB): 1 start, 2 ip, 5 runs, 1 K, 2 BB, 2 HR
2019 stats (A+): 2.40 ERA, 15 ip, 21 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR, 2.13 FIP
2019 stats (AA): 3.66 ERA, 64 ip, 72 Ks, 7 BB, 7 HR, 3.19 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 60 | Overall: 50

Not only did Jefferies stay healthy in 2019 as the A’s closely monitored his workload, his stuff and command came back, allowing him to post a ridiculous 93/9 K/BB ratio over 79 innings of work. He’s likely going to work with a low-90s fastball, around 91-93 mph, though he can reach back for a 94 now and again and it plays up because of his ability to command it so well. He complements it with a plus changeup that he sells really well with his arm action and good tunneling with excellent fade that drops off the table right at the end.

He’s never had a great breaking ball and he’s experimented with different pitches and grips. He didn’t throw it a lot in 2019 and it was inconsistent, looking like a slider-cutter hybrid more often than not. If he can commit to a breaking ball to give him a third average offering, he has the chance to be a No. 4 type starter in short order, a kind of Kyle Hendricks type with a bit more velocity.

* * *

James Kaprielian, RHP

Expected level: MLB | Age 27

2020 stats: 2 games, 3⅔ ip, 3 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 2 HR
2019 stats (A+): 4.46 ERA, 36⅓ ip, 43 Ks, 8 BB, 6 HR, 4.43 FIP
2019 stats (AA): 1.63 ERA, 27⅔ ip, 26 Ks, 8 BB, 2 HR, 3.60 FIP
2019 stats (AAA): 2.25 ERA, 4 ip, 6 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HR, 0.80 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report (note that the info about his velocity is out of date, and he topped out at 97 mph in the majors in 2020):

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

No one has worked harder than Kaprielian to get back on the mound and start moving towards the big leagues. If his 2019 is any indication, he’s not going to be the guy who was pumping mid-90s heat with potentially plus secondary stuff back in college. Instead, he’s learning to pitch at 91-93 mph while occasionally touching 95, commanding the pitch very well. Because of his injury history, Kaprielian was a little tentative in throwing his secondary stuff. He still throws a curve and a slider, with the latter being a bit better, but they do blend into each other at times and neither were better than average last year. He does show a solid changeup with fade at times.

While Kaprielian is a physical pitcher, kind of in the mold of a Kevin Brown type, he’s going to have to be more of a finesse and command type and he did fill up the strike zone consistently in 2019. There’s a chance his stuff snaps back a bit the further removed from injury he gets, but he looks more like a back-end starter than the potential frontline one he projected to be coming out of college.

* * *

Logan Davison, SS

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (A-): 238 PAs, 112 wRC+, 4 HR, 13.0% BB, 23.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

A switch-hitting infielder, Davidson has wiry strength and a lot of raw power, with more in-game pop to come as he fills out that 6-foot-3 frame. With some length to his arms, there’s swing and miss and he does have trouble being on time at the plate. If he’s going to get to average game power, there are going to be strikeouts as well, though he does offset that with an ability to work counts and draw walks. An above-average runner who does produce plus run times occasionally, Davidson is a good baserunner able to steal a base now and again.

Though he’s a bit tall for shortstop, that speed, his overall athleticism and his strong arm should be enough to let him stay at the premium position long term. The A’s do like to move infielders around, and he could see time on both sides of second base, and even some action at the hot corner, as he begins his climb up the A’s ladder.

* * *

Luis Barrera, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 25

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 240 PAs, 139 wRC+, 4 HR, 5.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 70 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

Even when he was trying to play through his injury, Barrera was still doing what he does best: hit. The left-handed hitter is aggressive at the plate and makes a ton of contact with a line-drive, slashing kind of approach. He doesn’t walk a ton, but he also doesn’t strike out much. He’s never going to be a big home run guy, but he has shown the ability to hit the gaps on a regular basis, with his extra-base thump showing up more in Double-A last year. Barrera is a plus runner who can steal a base and is as aggressive on the basepaths as he is at the plate.

Barrera’s passion for the game shows up on defense as well and his shoulder injury wasn’t helped by diving for balls in the outfield. He’s probably best suited for an outfield corner, where his above-average arm plays well, but he’s also shown the ability to play center field if needed and the A’s love how fearless he is. He might break in as a fourth outfielder, but he has the ability to be a big league regular on both sides of the ball if the opportunity arises.

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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!

Programming Note: Each CPL vote will run for around 24 hours, so don’t delay making your selections! Next ballot goes up at noon Thursday.