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A’s minor league affiliates announce projected 2021 rosters

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Triple-A Las Vegas and High-A Lansing pencil in rosters as the minors near return

MiLB: APR 14 Fresno Grizzlies at Las Vegas Aviators
Aviators manager Fran Riordan
Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The minor leagues are back! After being canceled entirely in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and then delayed for another month this year, baseball’s next wave of prospects can finally return to the field for a new season of games.

Play won’t begin until next week, but preliminary rosters are now being announced. On Friday, the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators and High-A Lansing Lugnuts officially posted their projected lists, and between some other reports and process of elimination we can speculate on some initial details regarding the Double-A Midland RockHounds and Low-A Stockton Ports.

Note: In the tables below, I’ve taken the liberty of separating the pitching sections between starters and relievers, but those are just my distinctions based on track records. Stay tuned to find out what roles everybody will actually pitch in.

Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators

The Triple-A roster has lots of high-profile prospects, but they’re all concentrated in two areas of the roster. The starting rotation and outfield are stacked, and the rest is mostly depth.

Players in bold are on our Community Prospect List Top 30, and those with asterisks** are on the 40-man roster.

AAA Las Vegas Aviators
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Tanner Anderson (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Parker Dunshee (R)
Grant Holmes (R)**
Brian Howard (R)
James Kaprielian (R)**

Matt Milburn (R)
James Naile (R)

IL: Daulton Jefferies (R)**

Relievers

Domingo Acevedo (R)
Argenis Angulo (R)
Cam Bedrosian (R)
Matt Blackham (R)
Ben Bracewell (R)
Adam Kolarek (L)**
Miguel Romero (R)**
Brian Schlitter (R)
Jordan Weems (R)**
Catchers

Austin Allen (L)**
Francisco Peña (R)
Carlos Perez (R)

Infielders

Edwin Diaz (R)
Pete Kozma (R)
Nate Mondou (L)
Frank Schwindel (R)
Mikey White (R)
Jacob Wilson (R)

Outfielders

Luis Barrera (L)**
Greg Deichmann (L)**
Buddy Reed (S)
Cody Thomas (L)

Two pieces of recent news, per Melissa Lockard of The Athletic: Jefferies will open the season on the injured list due his shoulder, and Bedrosian was signed to a minor league deal reported today.

Even without Jefferies, there are still several promising arms in the rotation, between top prospects Kaprielian and Holmes, and top sleepers Dunshee and Howard. There’s also some MLB experience in Blackburn and Anderson. The bullpen features surplus MLB relievers Kolarek and Weems, a notable prospect in Romero, and then a collection of depth flyers including several minor league free agents.

The lineup is highlighted by the outfield. Barrera and Deichmann are both Top 10 names in the A’s farm system, Reed was the darling of the 2021 Cactus League, and Thomas is a particularly encouraging newcomer.

Beyond that, there’s some veteran depth in the infield and behind the plate, like Peña, Perez, Kozma, and Schwindel; as well as some longtime org mainstays who have impressively battled their way up to the highest rung of the minors ladder, like Diaz, Mondou, and White.

One sleeper to watch is Diaz. He was drafted in 2013 and has never sniffed any prospect radar, but he’s built an interesting track record and is still only 25. He got some at-bats in the Cactus League this spring and chipped in a couple doubles.

Nobody saw Seth Brown coming either.

Here are the Aviators’ rankings on our preseason CPL Top 30 list: Jefferies (5th), Kaprielian (7th), Barrera (8th), Deichmann (9th), Holmes (10th), Reed (20th), Romero (26th), Thomas (27th), Howard (28th), Dunshee (30th).

Double-A Midland RockHounds

There isn’t yet an official roster for Double-A, but insider Jonathan Mayo did release a few details this week. Mayo says the A’s plan to have the following infielders in Midland:

  • Nick Allen
  • Logan Davidson
  • Jeremy Eierman

That’s not a long list, but it does answer one of the biggest questions about how the farm will be arranged. All three currently profile as shortstops with the defensive chops to stick at the position, so it will be interesting to see how playing time is distributed. Furthermore, 2019 draft pick Davidson skips High-A entirely, with his 2020 summer at the alternate site camp apparently enough of a substitute.

Another likely bet for Midland is reliever Wandisson Charles, who was officially optioned to Double-A when he was cut from the spring roster in March. A few other pitchers from the Cactus League squad who aren’t on the Las Vegas list are starter Trey Supak and relievers Cristian Alvarado and Montana DuRapau, all of whom arrived as minor league free agents.

Browsing through the rest of the farm system for names who don’t show up in Triple-A or High-A, here’s an idea of what the RockHounds roster might look like. THIS IS NOT A REPORT, this is an artist’s rendering, and some of the players might end up actually being injured or down in Low-A.

AA Midland RockHounds GUESSES
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Tyler Baum (R)
Bryce Conley (R)
Brady Feigl (R)
Hogan Harris (L)
Trey Supak (R)

Relievers

Cristian Alvarado (R)
Wandisson Charles (R)**
Chase Cohen (R)
Ty Damron (L)
Montana DuRapau (R)
Zack Erwin (L)
Brett Graves (R)
Zach Jackson (R)
Eric Mariñez (R)
Zac Reininger (R)
Norge Ruiz (R)
Jesús Zambrano (R)
Catchers

Cooper Goldby (R)
Kyle McCann (L)
JJ Schwarz (R)
Collin Theroux (R)

Infielders

Nick Allen (R)
Wilson Alvarez (R)
Jonah Bride (R)
Logan Davidson (S)
Jeremy Eierman (R)


Outfielders

??Lazaro Armenteros?? (R)
Chase Calabuig (L)
Devin Foyle (S)
Mickey McDonald (S)
Tyler Ramirez (L)

The biggest question there is Armenteros — he’s not in High-A, so does that mean he’s up in Double-A or that he got demoted in some way? Harris might be injured, based on his latest report from MLB Pipeline. Mayo’s report mentions that Cohen was “sitting 96-97 mph with his fastball and touching triple digits” during the spring and will switch to the bullpen this year.

Among the other names, Baum and McCann are recent high draft picks, as is Harris. Graves and Jackson are here as minor league Rule 5 picks, though Graves was also originally drafted out of college by the A’s. Most of the others have been around Oakland’s system for a while, as either a mid-round draft pick or an international signing. Theroux is an annual spring training invitee, while Erwin (acquired for Brett Lawrie) and Mariñez (a converted infielder) are especially interesting relief prospects.

The following are on our CPL Top 30 prospect list, in order of placement: Allen (3), Davidson (6), Baum (16), Charles (21), Armenteros (23), McCann (24), Eierman (25), Harris (31).

High-A Lansing Lugnuts

This roster is packed with the last couple draft classes, though it’s light on high-profile names. I won’t bother trying to separate the pitchers into starters and relievers, and anyway there might not even be much of a distinction at this low level.

A+ Lansing Lugnuts
Pitchers Hitters
Righties

Reid Birlingmair (R)
Charlie Cerny (R)
Jeff Criswell (R)
Michael Danielak (R)
Stevie Emanuels (R)
Richard Guasch (R)
Charles Hall (R)
Rafael Kelly (R)
Aiden McIntyre (R)
Bryce Nightengale (R)
Colin Peluse (R)
Seth Shuman (R)
Shohei Tomioka (R)
Jack Weisenburger (R)

Lefties

Brady Brasso (L)
Dalton Sawyer (L)
Catchers

Jared McDonald (R)
Drew Millas (S)
William Simoneit (R)

Infielders

Jordan Diaz (R)
Ryan Gridley (R)
Patrick McColl (L)
Elvis Peralta (L)
Max Schuemann (R)
Cobie Vance (R)

Outfielders

Austin Beck (R)
Michael Guldberg (R)
Lester Madden (R)
Shane Selman (R)
Jake Suddleson (R)

You can see the CPL prospects in bold: Criswell (11), Beck (14), Diaz (17), Peluse (22). But the better way to look at this group is by their draft class. Here they are by year and round.

  • 2020: Criswell (2nd), Guldberg (3rd), Emanuels (5th), Simoneit (undrafted), Suddleson (undrafted)
  • 2019: Shuman (6th), Millas (7th), Peluse (9th), McColl (10th), Brasso (16th), McDonald (19th), Weisenburger (20th), Selman (21st), Peralta (26th), Hall (33rd)
  • 2018: Cerny (7th), Nightengale (16th), Vance (18th), Schuemann (20th), McIntyre (22nd), Birlingmair (28th)
  • 2017: Beck (1st), Gridley (11th), Danielak (19th)
  • 2016: Sawyer (9th)
  • Int’l (with ages): Guasch (23), Kelly (23/24), Tomioka (25), Diaz (20), Madden (22)

The latest draft class is well represented, as is the 2019 group that hasn’t yet gotten to play a full pro season. Beck repeats at High-A after a frustrating ‘19 campaign, and Sawyer is back in action after Tommy John surgery.

Diaz is a notable promotion at a young age, and southpaw Brasso will get the chance to start (per Mayo’s report). The pitching staff has several fun sleepers to track, including Peluse, McIntyre, Guasch, and Danielak, among others. Tomioka was signed in February, making him the most recent addition.

Most importantly, the system still has a player named Hall, after pitcher Kris Hall was let go in 2018. Please be good, Charles, so I have a reason to see my name on an A’s jersey!

Low-A Stockton Ports & Arizona Rookie League

The entire organization got a demotion down from High-A, but they could wind up being the most interesting of all the A’s affiliates this summer with some serious high-ceiling talent.

There’s no official roster yet, but here are some names that aren’t in High-A. Some will be in Low-A, and others down in the Arizona Rookie League:

  • C Tyler Soderstrom (No. 2 on our CPL)
  • SS Robert Puason (No. 4)
  • OF Brayan Buelvas (No. 12)
  • OF Pedro Pineda (No. 13)
  • OF Junior Perez (No. 19)
  • RHP Jose Dicochea (8th-round pick in 2019)

The minor league season begins on May 4 for Midland, Lansing, and Stockton, while Las Vegas will get going on May 6. Remember to click all the links in this article for more info on who all of these players are, especially our latest Community Prospect List!