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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #20: Buddy Reed has elite defense but must prove bat

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The outfielder is already making his presence known in spring training camp

Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and one who’s already getting headlines this week in outfielder Buddy Reed. 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%)
  19. Junior Perez, OF (+21%)
  20. Buddy Reed, OF (+11%)

If you’ve been following Oakland A’s spring training so far, then surely you’re already familiar with Reed. Through the first two games, he’s been the star of the team.

That’s because he’s finally getting a chance to unleash his full defensive talents right in front of our eyes, instead of just reading about them in scouting reports. What does 65-grade fielding look like? How about a 60-grade throwing arm? The last two days provided a real-life illustration.

In the Cactus League opener on Sunday, Reed posted a pair of highlights in right field. He nabbed a runner at home plate with a strong, accurate throw, and later he nearly picked up a second outfield assist at third base. He made the second throw from nearly the warning track, and toward the RF corner, but still delivered a perfect strike on one hop to the 3B bag, soon enough to beat the runner but not quite get the out.

Then on Monday he did it again. This time he was playing CF, and the catcher threw errantly in pursuit of a basestealer. Reed backed up the play and fired to third base in time to get the runner trying to advance farther. Two games, two assists and almost a third.

And his arm isn’t even his top tool in the field, as his 70-grade speed helps give him serious range as well. All of that explains why MLB Pipeline put him in their All-Defense Prospect lineup this winter, for the second time in three years.

So why isn’t Reed in the majors yet, entering age 26? The holdup has been his bat, which hasn’t yet found above-average production even in Double-A. The switch-hitter’s strikeouts have been too high, and he hasn’t made enough contact to maximize the plus speed and decent raw power he possesses.

He won’t have to hit much to provide value in the majors with this kind of up-the-middle glove, but he will have to at least hit a little bit. Fortunately, the Cactus League has also provided an encouraging data point in that regard, as Reed homered on Monday. He went 0-for-3 on Sunday, but even then there was a positive sign as he used his wheels to beat out a potential double play grounder.

Pro athletes are always working to improve, and some of them figure it out. Reed already has one side of the ball down pat better than most players can even achieve. Now he just needs to master the other side enough to get his defense up to the majors.

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 Parker Dunshee. The nickname on his Hall of Fame plaque will be “Mr. 7th Round” as a nod to how embarrassed every team is for missing him in the draft. He got knocked around in Triple-A Las Vegas’ silly launching pad park in 2019, but only because he was curious to finally see what it’s like to give up runs before moving up to MLB. His tears could cure the sport’s longtime labor dispute, if only he would ever cry. (citations needed)

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:

Parker Dunshee, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 1.89 ERA, 38 ip, 34 Ks, 11 BB, 1 HR, 3.19 FIP
2019 stats (AAA): 5.38 ERA, 92 ip, 90 Ks, 37 BB, 21 HR, 6.21 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 45 | Cutter: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 40

During his rapid climb up the ladder, Dunshee relied on deception more than stuff to miss bats and get hitters out. His fastball will sit 90-91 mph on most days and he throws a solid slider while also flipping in a get-me-over curve and his changeup is close to average now. Like many A’s farmhands, he’s worked on a cutter that’s sort of a hybrid off of his slider. He would often leave evaluators scratching their heads at how he could miss so many bats despite the overall lack of movement of his stuff.

Some of that got exposed when he got to Triple-A as his lack of an out pitch made it tough for him to find consistent success. He has to learn to live on the corners more and he’s working on throwing up in the zone more to change a hitter’s eye level. Smart on the mound and very athletic, Dunshee could be a poor man’s Kyle Hendricks type if it all clicks.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Colin Peluse, RHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 23

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at fall instructional league)
2019 stats (A-): 2.25 ERA, 24 ip, 26 Ks, 6 BB, 1 HR, 3.15 FIP

Baseball America 2021 scouting report:

Peluse’s fastball sat 96 mph and touched 98 at instructs, a marked increase from his low-90s readings in college. His slider was already a plus pitch, showing late life and more drop than a typical slider. His changeup is firm, sitting at 88-89 mph, and the A’s worked to soften it a bit during instructional league. Peluse already possessed one of the better deliveries among Oakland’s starting pitching prospects and showed solid command and control during his time at Wake Forest, walking 3.18 batters per nine innings.

* * *

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!