clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #5: Daulton Jefferies makes MLB debut

New, 16 comments

Right-hander reached majors at age 25 after missing two years to injury

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers - Game One Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and its first right-handed pitcher in Daulton Jefferies. 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%)

The Oakland A’s drafted Jefferies just after the 1st round in 2016, at No. 37 overall. He was their second pick that year, after Puk, but was considered a mid-1st-round talent who had fallen due to injury issues.

Both sides of that coin have flashed themselves since the A’s picked him. We quickly saw the health downside, as he underwent Tommy John surgery less than a year after being drafted, and he didn’t get back on the mound in full-season ball until 2019.

But then we saw the talent upside. He shredded the competition in High-A, and continued to post sparkling stats in Double-A including a monstrous strikeout-to-walk ratio. That progress was stalled in 2020 when the minors were canceled, so he didn’t get to test himself in Triple-A, but after spending the summer at A’s alternate site camp he showed enough to earn his MLB debut.

In mid-September, Jefferies made a start against the Texas Rangers, on the road in Arlington just after his 25th birthday. He got lit up, lasting just two innings and allowing five runs on five hits including a pair of homers. He even uncharacteristically walked two batters, despite normally impeccable control.

But this is one of those situations where the results matter less than the fact that he was there at all. The rookie jitters were evident, and he clearly didn’t have his best stuff, and also it was technically the only real game he pitched all year, so there’s every reason to be excited for our next look at him sometime in 2021.

Don’t be discouraged by his poor initial results in the majors, be excited that he fought all the way up to the bigs after such a long battle with injury and still has all his upside intact. By the time he returned to action in Rookie Ball in late-2018, he’d spent more of his pro career hurt than healthy, but he didn’t just become the next busted pitching prospect. He’s now got some upper-minors success under his belt, his MLB debut behind him, and a fascinating no-seam arsenal led by a 60-grade changeup.

The A’s have five starters in their rotation, with the return of Mike Fiers, but it always takes more than that to get through a season — heck, sometimes even just to get through a spring. Jefferies is poised to get his next opportunity in Oakland sooner than later, and show us a more accurate depiction of what he can do.

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 Sheldon Neuse. He didn’t get a chance to play last season, even when the A’s needed infield help, but he did get a look at second base in 2019 and remains one of the top in-house candidates at the position. He’ll get a chance to compete for a job in the spring, and if he’s not in Oakland then he’ll be just a phone call away in Las Vegas, where he was crushing the ball at last sight.

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:

Sheldon Neuse, IF

Expected level: MLB? | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AAA): 560 PAs, 126 wRC+, 27 HR, 10.0% BB, 23.6% Ks
2019 stats (MLB): 61 PAs, 63 wRC+, 0 HR, 6.6% BB, 31.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Neuse’s future as a big leaguer lies largely in how much he’ll hit. After losing his way in terms of his game plan at the plate in 2018, he regained his footing late that year and then saw his strikeout rate drop considerably in Triple-A last year while his walk rate went back up. That allowed him to hit for average again and tap into his considerable raw power more consistently, though hitting in Las Vegas, and the Pacific Coast League in general, no doubt helped. He’s a below-average runner, but he’s a better athlete than people think when they see him.

That athleticism allows him to be an effective defender at a number of positions. Blocked by Matt Chapman at third, his best position, he showed he could handle second base during his time up with Oakland, can still play an acceptable shortstop in a pinch and even is an adequate left fielder. Neuse could be a big league regular in another organization, but for now looks like a very solid super-utility type whose bat will force its way into the lineup more often than not.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!