Like most major baseball sources, every winter FanGraphs releases top prospect lists for every organization. However, this offseason they just ... skipped the A’s. They did 27 of the 30 teams! But never got around to ours. No worries, that’s par for the course in the national media and Oakland fans are used to the team being ignored even when they’re a reigning division winner.
We all still love FanGraphs, and now they’ve come through, better late than never. On Friday they put out an A’s list, ranking the Top 33 prospects in the organization.
However, at this point it can’t really be considered a preseason list, and indeed it includes info collected in spring and beyond. Really it’s an early midseason update. And since today is today and it’s not last winter anymore, perhaps that’s more useful for us to have than looking back on another blind February guess like all the others. After all, in this weird year there was no data to work with before March. So ... actually thanks FanGraphs for holding off until mid-June, when there was something new worth saying? This is turning into a roller coaster of emotion.
Since this list is working with new info that came out after everybody else’s rankings, of course it’s quite a bit different than everybody else’s. Click the link above to see the full 33, but here are some notes on the Top 15.
- Tyler Soderstrom, C (A-): Everybody agrees he’s No. 1 now, though last winter we put him No. 2.
- A.J. Puk, LHP (AAA): We put him No. 1 last winter, but after another round of injuries, he’s the consensus No. 2 now.
- Pedro Pineda, OF (RK): This is a huge development, and we’ll discuss more below. Nobody even had him Top 10 entering the year.
- Daulton Jefferies, RHP (AAA): Nothing new here.
- Nick Allen, SS (AA): Nothing new here.
- Brayan Buelvas, OF (A-): He’s made a jump, from outside most of the preseason Top 10s, after a great showing in Stockton.
- Jeff Criswell, RHP (A+): The placement itself isn’t notable, except that it comes after an elbow injury, so that risk hasn’t dropped his stock yet.
- Greg Deichmann, OF (AAA): Nothing new here.
- James Kaprielian, RHP (MLB): Nothing new here, and he’ll graduate after a couple more starts in the majors anyway so he’s not long for this list at all.
- Drew Millas, C (A+): Another huge jump. Entering the year he hadn’t yet played in the pros (since the 2019 draft), and he placed 17th, 24th, and 32nd at various sources. Off to a huge start in Lansing.
- Colin Peluse, RHP (A+): A hot preseason riser who cracked the Top 10 at Baseball Prospectus, and FanGraphs is buying him too.
- Daniel Palencia, RHP (A-): Brand new addition, who signed in February, after some other A’s lists had been published. More info below
- Logan Davidson, SS (AA): A slight drop from preseason Top 10s, as they’re not sold on his bat.
- Brian Howard, RHP (AAA): By far his highest placement anywhere, which makes me happy because he’s one of my favorites. They still see him making it as a fifth starter.
- Robert Puason, SS (A-): After entering the year in almost everybody’s Top 5, he’s gotten shaky reviews to start his pro career, and you can see it in his severe drop on this list.
- Other notables who placed much higher at FanGraphs than on our preseason Community Prospect List: OF Luis Barrera (18), RHP Grant Holmes (20), OF Junior Perez (27), OF Jordan Diaz (28), OF Buddy Reed (30).
- OF Austin Beck and OF Lazaro Armenteros were left off entirely.
- Others who are much higher at FanGraphs than elsewhere, some of whom already had early breakouts in the regular season: RHP Brady Feigl (16), RHP Stevie Emanuels (17), RHP Jack Weisenburger (22), RHP Aiden McIntyre (25), RHP Jorge Juan (26), 3B Jhoan Paulino (29), RHP Jose Mora (33).
We already discussed Puason in a recent Stockton update, and Millas in a recent Lansing update; see the links in their sections above to read more. We’ll talk more about Peluse soon in a Lansing pitchers update.
That leaves three to focus on here. First is Pineda, who officially signed in January for a high-profile multi-million bonus and placed No. 13 on our preseason list. He hasn’t yet played in the minors, but he could soon, reports Melissa Lockard of The Athletic this week:
High-profile international free agent signing Pedro Pineda should make his official professional debut during the rookie ball season. [Director of Player Development Ed] Sprague says the 17-year-old outfielder has looked “really good” in the camp setting thus far.
“He’s starting to show some power. He’s driving some balls into the gap. Hitting some doubles,” Sprague said. “He’s been fun. He can really run. He seems like a really happy kid. His English is improving and he’s smiling all the time.”
Eric Longenhagen adds this in the FanGraphs writeup:
Pineda has looked electric during my spring and Extended looks, and has as much power-hitting potential as anyone in this system, including Soderstrom. His swing has lift but isn’t long, and his high-effort cuts generate huge bat speed. He’s currently a plus runner with a big, projectable frame. He’s probably going to fill out and slow down at least a little bit. I’ve only seen him DH and play an outfield corner because of Brayan Buelvas’ presence during the spring, so I don’t have great in-person feel for his ability to play center, but it’s worth trying to start Pineda’s career. Obviously we’ll know more about the bat to ball skills as Pineda generates a year of data, but right now he looks like he has everyday ability and no contact red flags that might undo things.
The souring on Puason has been a bummer after the excitement of the massive outlay the A’s made to sign him, but Pineda got a hefty bonus too and appears to be stepping into that vacated spotlight as the dynamic teenage international prospect.
Another teenager moving up is outfielder Buelvas. He opened the year No. 12 on our CPL and barely in a couple Top 10s at other sources, but he’s tearing up Low-A Stockton, hitting about as well as Soderstrom at the same age, and with more power.
- Buelvas, A-: .240/.354/.510, 131 wRC+, 7 HR, 11.5% BB, 29.2% Ks
That’s an especially impressive performance for a 19-year-old in full-season ball, much less one who’s seeing the plurality of his defensive time in CF. As we’ve heard before, FanGraphs notes that his profile is based more on advanced skill than raw physical tools. Longenhagen goes on to add: “Buelvas currently has a skillset similar to many of the high school outfielders who typically go toward the back of a draft’s first round except without their usual physical projection and power potential.”
A center fielder who’s supposed to lack power, but now he leads his team in homers? That’ll get your attention.
As for Palencia, he’s so new to the system, signed in February out of Venezuela, that he wasn’t even part of our CPL voting. Longenhagen offers this introduction to the 21-year-old right-hander:
He came out in 2021 Extended throwing huge heat in just an outing or two before he was sent to Stockton not long before list publication. He was 97-99 in those outings. Palencia is a squat young man with a longer arm action, but he has feel for creating bat-missing breaking ball depth, and he obviously has a huge arm.
It’s all projection with absolutely no track record yet, but a scouting report like that immediately goes on the radar. Lockard noted Monday that he “hit 100 mph three times in an extended spring training outing last week.”
Palencia debuted for Low-A Stockton on Tuesday, with the following line: 2 ip, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HR, 4 hits, 1 balk, 1 wild pitch.
One other name worth mentioning from the lower section of FanGraphs’ list (No. 26) is RHP Jorge Juan. The 22-year-old hasn’t pitched in full-season ball yet, but Longenhagen notes his 6-foot-9 stature and mid/upper-90s velocity. He’s still working on secondary pitches and might end up in the bullpen, but add him to the list of lower-minors lotto tickets.
As a reminder, here’s what the various preseason lists looked like in March. See below for a poll to vote in!
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Which prospect development has you most excited?
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Pedro Pineda rave reviews
Brayan Buelvas hot debut
Daniel Palencia impact addition