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Oakland A’s 2021 Community Prospect List #26: Miguel Romero brings new changeup to 40-man roster

Reliever could make MLB debut in 2021

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 reach the majors soon in reliever Miguel Romero. 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%)

This isn’t the first time Romero has made our CPL, as he’s been bubbling under the surface of the Oakland A’s prospect radar for awhile. He missed the list last winter, but he grabbed the No. 30 spot in 2019, and he’s only increased his stock since then.

When we last saw minor league ball, the right-hander spent the season in the daunting environment of Triple-A Las Vegas and the supercharged Pacific Coast League, and he quietly posted solid stats while just about everyone else on the Aviators staff got lit up.

Along the way he added a changeup, giving him a third pitch to go with his mid-90s heater and plus slider. That should take his arsenal from promising to downright fearsome if he masters the new offspeed offering, and indeed it’s received cautiously glowing reviews so far.

Between his stuff and his successful experience up through Triple-A, the A’s didn’t wait around to see if anyone would take Romero in the Rule 5 draft entering age 27. He was added to the 40-man roster over the offseason, putting him firmly on the bullpen depth chart as an arm with upside who is more or less ready for a chance in the majors. He’s already made a good first impression this spring, striking out three of the four batters he faced in a scoreless inning.

Don’t expect to see Romero on the Opening Day squad, especially since he still has minor league options to work with and the pen is packed full. But at this point it would be a surprise if he didn’t show up in Oakland later this summer when reliever reinforcements are needed.

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 Hogan Harris. The 2018 draft pick has only thrown around 50 innings in the pros so far due to injury setbacks, but he did reach High-A before the pandemic and had strong small-sample results there. The lefty has upside as a starter but a significant risk profile given his spotty health history, and MLB Pipeline reports “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.”

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:

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Cody Thomas, OF

Expected level: Triple-A? | 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:

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

Thomas’ raw power is his carrying tool and it immediately puts him among the best in the A’s system in that category, and he translates it into production against both left-handers and right-handers. However, his long left-handed stroke and aggressive approach limit his ability to make contact and have resulted in a 29 percent strikeout rate as a pro. He showed a better understanding of his swing during Spring Training in 2020, fueling optimism that he could break out this year before the coronavirus canceled the Minor League season.

Thomas moves well for a 6-foot-4, 211-pounder, showing average speed once he gets going. He ran well enough to play mostly center field in his first two years in pro ball, though he has settled in right field since. He’s an average defender on the corners with a solid arm, and his power fits the right-field profile well.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!