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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #29: Aramis Garcia competes for backup catcher job

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Former 2nd-round draft pick might finally get extended chance in MLB

2021 Oakland Athletics Photo Day Photo by Robert Beck/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Our 2021 Community Prospect List adds its next member, and one who could be on the Opening Day roster in catcher Aramis Garcia. 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%)
  28. Brian Howard, RHP (+4%)
  29. Aramis Garcia, C (+19%)

By all rights, Garcia shouldn’t even be a prospect anymore. He would probably have been the Texas Rangers’ starting catcher in 2020, but hip surgery in February ended his season before it began. Now he’s healthy, and a member of the Oakland A’s after coming over in the Elvis Andrus trade, and he’ll take another run at establishing himself in the majors this summer. Click here for his full scouting report.

The 28-year-old has already debuted in the bigs, playing a handful of games for the Giants in each of 2018 and ‘19, but so far he hasn’t delivered on his 2nd-round draft pedigree. Behind the plate his strengths include framing the strike zone, and also throwing out baserunners as he showed in the Cactus League on Monday. With the bat he’s got decent-to-plus power. But like so many hitters on this CPL, the lynchpin is making enough contact, as his strikeout rates have been colossal in his brief MLB trials.

Garcia is on the 40-man roster, and he stands as somewhere between a candidate and a front-runner for the backup catcher job behind Sean Murphy. He had to wait an extra year through injury for his next chance at the majors, but it’s right in front of him now if he can hit the ball often enough to grab it.

Our next vote is for the 30th spot on the CPL, which is usually where we stop. But we’re going until Parker Dunshee makes it, however long that takes, so I put another set of nominations in the comments in case Dunshee doesn’t win this ballot. I mean, you don’t have to vote for him today if you don’t think he deserves it, I don’t mind going a couple spots past 30 if that’s what it takes. But he’s gonna be on this list when we finish.

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 Richard Guasch. It’s been a while since we’ve heard about the right-hander, since nobody played in the minors last year and he wasn’t one of the few prospects invited to summer alternate site camp. But Baseball America still says he’s got the best slider in the A’s farm system, and between that and the massive strikeout rate he posted in 2019 he’s one of many potential breakout candidates to watch in the lower levels this year.

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:

Richard Guasch, RHP

Expected level: High-A? | Age 23

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY
2019 stats (A-): 0.00 ERA, 4 ip, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 1.65 FIP
2019 stats (A): 4.53 ERA, 59⅔ ip, 77 Ks, 37 BB, 1 HR, 3.25 FIP

Scouting report from Melissa Lockard of The Athletic (pre-2020):

The A’s signed Guasch, an international free agent out of Cuba, in July 2018. ...

His biggest issue was command, as he walked 38. While his ERA from 2019 doesn’t jump off the page, Guasch has two swing-and-miss pitches that portend better results in the future. Patterson says Guasch’s slider is an above-average major-league offering right now and his curveball isn’t that far behind the slider in terms of effectiveness. Guasch got nearly a 50 percent swing-and-miss rate with the slider in 2019, but he threw the pitch only 23 percent of the time. Patterson says that usage rate will increase in 2020.

The right-hander is projected as a starter, and his fastball has enough cut to work effectively with his two breaking balls. Patterson indicated that Guasch will need to improve his changeup to remain a starter longterm, but with the plus breaking ball, he has a strong chance to be an effective major-league reliever and could be a back-end starter if the changeup improves. He turns 22 in April and should begin the season with Stockton.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Michael Guldberg, OF

Expected level: High-A? | Age 22

2020 stats: DID NOT PLAY (drafted last summer)

Scouting report from Baseball America:

The A’s believe Guldberg can stick in center field despite playing mostly left field in college. He’s a quick-twitch, wiry athlete who pairs quality defensive instincts with his plus running ability. He has experience playing second base and the A’s may eventually get him occasional reps there, too. Guldberg takes a contact-oriented approach to the plate from the right side and has impressive bat speed. He lacks physicality but the A’s say he showed sneaky raw power in batting practice.

* * *

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!