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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #27: Cody Thomas converts from quarterback to outfield

A’s finally added an Oklahoma QB to their farm system

Cincinnati Reds v Oakland Athletics Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and a new acquisition in outfielder Cody Thomas. 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%)
  21. Wandisson Charles, RHP (+25%)
  22. Colin Peluse, RHP (+23%)
  23. Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+10%)
  24. Kyle McCann, C (+18%)
  25. Jeremy Eierman, SS (+2%)
  26. Miguel Romero, RHP (+19%)
  27. Cody Thomas, OF (+6%)

The Oakland A’s drafted an Oklahoma quarterback in 2018, when they tried to lure Kyler Murray into playing baseball. But he chose football instead, and immediately became an NFL star.

A couple years later, the A’s finally got their Sooners QB. It just isn’t Murray. Instead, it’s Thomas, acquired in the trade that sent prospects Sheldon Neuse and Gus Varland to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Adam Kolarek.

Based on that background, Thomas’ profile is about what you’d expect — he’s big and strong and he can throw well. His raw power is his carrying tool, and his skills line up well defensively in right field.

The main drawback is that he’s already 26 and has only played as high as Double-A, where he was good but not great. Part of that is the lost pandemic season, but also the fact that he got a late start to playing the sport full-time, after splitting his focus on football in college. If you want potential late-bloomer credentials, those are 80-grade.

It won’t be easy for Thomas to set himself apart in an Oakland organization that’s already packed with lefty outfield bats at the upper levels, but he’s yet another promising name to keep an eye on when the minors finally get going again in May.

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 Skye Bolt. He made a brief MLB debut in 2019 but didn’t get the chance for a follow-up trip in 2020, and still finds himself amid a crowded outfield depth chart while the clock ticks on his age, stock, and options status. He’s likely to begin the year in Triple-A again, where he can continue to flash his power/speed combo and plus defense with the goal of making it back to Oakland this summer.

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:

Skye Bolt, OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 27

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AAA): 347 PA, 96 wRC+, 11 HR, 10.7% BB, 27.1% Ks
2019 stats (MLB): 11 PA, 1-for-10, double, 1 BB, 3 Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

The switch-hitting Bolt’s raw power has always shown better from the left side. With solid plate discipline that leads to a good number of walks, he’s able to mask his strikeout rates and hit for a decent average. Above-average speed helps Bolt, both on the basepaths and on defense. He has struggled to put together a full season in the Minors, perhaps due to a lean frame.

Bolt will have to show what he can do at the Major League level in order to stick. His solid defense and ability to play all three outfield spots should provide a future as a fourth outfielder.

* * *

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

Dunshee gained some velocity in 2020 after working on his arm strength and body conditioning. His fastball now sits 93-95, but he’s still not going to overpower guys. Dunshee needs to be fine with his pitches — which include an average changeup and get-me-over curveball.

Pitch sequencing is key for Dunshee. It’s what he will need to improve in order to graduate past the Triple-A level. If he can work on changing hitters’ eye levels more and perhaps develop a true out pitch, he could grow into a durable swingman at the Major League level.

* * *

Brian Howard, RHP

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (but was at alternate site camp)
2019 stats (AA): 3.25 ERA, 130 ip, 118 Ks, 39 BB, 7 HR, 3.33 FIP
2019 stats (AAA): 13.81 ERA, 14⅓ ip, 16 Ks, 8 BB, 4 HR, 7.29 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Though he is a 6-foot-9 right-hander, Howard was not necessarily a power pitcher early on. That changed a bit last year as he was touching 95-96 in shorter stints in the instructional league. His cutter/slider is still evolving, and his curveball and changeup still need some work.

Howard is close to breaking through. A big help to him will be finding a permanent role in 2021, whether it be as a starter or reliever. The increased velocity in shorter stints might suggest the bullpen is his best fit.

* * *

Aramis Garcia, C

Expected level: MLB | Age 26

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (AA): 532 PA, 108 wRC+, 23 HR, 8.6% BB, 27.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report ***FROM 2019***:

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

Garcia has settled on a pull-heavy approach designed to get the most of out of his solid raw power, the product of his strength and the loft in his right-handed swing. He might hit 15-20 homers per year with regular playing time in the Majors, but his pop comes at a cost. He rolls over more soft grounders to the left side of the infield than he should and his aggressiveness means that he rarely walks.

Somewhat rough behind the plate when he entered pro ball, Garcia has worked hard to improve defensively. He has turned himself into an average receiver while also getting quicker and more accurate with his throws. The Giants have Buster Posey in the big leagues and drafted Joey Bart No. 2 overall last June, so they’ve tried to add to Garcia’s versatility by having him play first base.

* * *

Hogan Harris, LHP

Expected level: High-A | Age 24

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (A-): 3.12 ERA, 26 ip, 36 Ks, 9 BB, 2 HR, 3.02 FIP
2019 stats (A+): 2.51 ERA, 28⅔ ip, 29 Ks, 10 BB, 2 HR, 3.70 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and scouting report:

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

Harris has shown he can really fill up the zone with a three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s with some run to it. He also brings a slurvy breaking ball that looks more like a curveball. His changeup gives him another solid pitch to work with.

The injuries continue to pile up for Harris, as he entered 2021 once again having to deal with an elbow injury. When he’s on the field, he can be a very good left-hander. The problem is keeping him healthy for a full season. If Harris can work out the health issues, his repertoire projects him to be a starter in the long term.

* * *

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!