The Oakland A’s are the hottest team in the majors, riding a 12-game win streak entering the weekend. But putting together this precise roster meant parting with some young prospects along the way, so let’s check in on a few of them.
First off is the bummer news, as two former Oakland farmhands were designated for assignment by their new teams last week. Catcher Jacob Nottingham was acquired in the Scott Kazmir star dump and then soon flipped to the Brewers in the Khris Davis trade, serving as the headline prospect in both deals. However, five years later, after 85 MLB plate appearances spread over parts of three seasons, the 26-year-old was DFA’d by Milwaukee on Thursday.
Over in Pittsburgh, the Pirates auditioned outfielder Dustin Fowler this month. He was cut by Oakland this spring, four years after being acquired as part of their return for Sonny Gray, but with the Pirates he went 7-for-41 (.171) with a 43% strikeout rate. Pittsburgh DFA’d him on Thursday, the second time that’s happened to him this year. The Pirates also picked up Ka’ai Tom from the A’s this week, but he already went on the 10-day injured list.
Now for the happier news! Bittersweet perhaps, but happy in the sense that our old prospects are playing well. Infielder Sheldon Neuse was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers a couple months ago for reliever Adam Kolarek, and LA called up Neuse to the majors last weekend. He already has his first dinger, and it came off former A’s reliever Emilio Pagan, who was sent away in the trade for Jurickson Profar, who is now Pagan’s teammate in San Diego.
NEW GAME, MAKE SOME NEUSE. pic.twitter.com/qp3IynwkQY— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 23, 2021
Neuse is 1-for-9 with five strikeouts overall, but hey, gotta start somewhere. Try not to have nightmares thinking about a future championship Dodgers infield that includes Neuse and Max Muncy.
Meanwhile, back in 2013 the A’s drafted outfielder Billy McKinney out of high school in the 1st round, primarily due to his bat. And that’s finally going well for him, now with the Brewers at age 26, as he’s got a 125 wRC+ and good Statcast marks so far this year despite shaky K/BB tendencies. But how about this play on defense?
Billy McKinney are you kidding me?— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) April 21, 2021
We currently have this charted as a remote (1-10% probability) play.#ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/RChObzuJFH
Don’t feel too much regret if McKinney does eventually pan out elsewhere. Since moving to the Cubs in the Sharknado 1 trade in mid-2014, he was then dealt to the Yankees, then to the Blue Jays, and then waived and claimed by the Brewers, so Oakland isn’t the only team to not stick with him. The important thing is their 1st-round pick from 2013 might be turning out well!
In other news, Jorge Mateo (from Sonny Gray return, then traded to Padres last year) has around a league-average batting line this year (97 wRC+). However, through 14 games and 26 plate appearances the speedster is yet to even attempt to steal a base. His strikeout rate is under control for now, but he’s not walking. On defense, he’s played all three outfield positions already, and also a couple innings at 3B.
Finally, there’s catcher Jonah Heim, who was acquired for Joey Wendle and then sent to the Rangers in the Elvis Andrus trade. He’s played six games this year for Texas, and his K and BB numbers are still greatly encouraging, but he’s only 3-for-20 with poor Statcast marks behind it. Bright side, the three hits are a homer and two doubles, and he’s also got a steal.