The Oakland A’s have made their first trade of what figures to be a busy
offseason week, sending All-Star pitcher Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets. In exchange they got two prospects, which means we’ve got two new players to meet!
Joining the A’s farm system are J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller. Both are right-handed pitchers, and both are quality additions, but the similarities end there. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
First up is Ginn, the clear headliner of the deal for Oakland. He ranked No. 4 in the Mets system per MLB Pipeline, and No. 6 per Baseball America, making a strong case that he’s now the A’s best pitching prospect. He was a 2nd-round draft pick in 2020, and he showed well in his pro debut last summer, keeping the ball in the park and limiting the walks.
- Ginn, 2021 A-: 2.56 ERA, 38⅔ ip, 35 Ks, 10 BB, 3 HR, 3.78 FIP
- Ginn, 2021 A+: 3.38 ERA, 53⅓ ip, 46 Ks, 12 BB, 0 HR, 3.90 FIP
He’ll turn 23 in May, so he fits the bill of a young prospect who can hopefully be developed into a star with long-term team control. On the downside, he had Tommy John surgery in 2020 so he does have an injury history already, but he looked strong in his return to action last year.
As for his scouting report, the short version is an arsenal featuring three plus pitches — a mid-90s fastball, slider, and changeup. Pipeline offers these details about the 6’2” hurler, including grades on the 20-to-80 scale:
Scouting Grades: Fastball 60 | Slider 60 | Changeup 55 | Control 50 | Overall 50
Ginn shows three promising pitches when he is on the mound. The fastball sits 91-95 mph and comes with a good amount of sink and life, pushing the grade up a touch. He can also touch as high as 97 with the offering when he rears back. The mid-80s slider draws promising reviews for its ability to move over two planes and is a weapon in its own right. The changeup was developing and showed promising signs with some sink of its own. Ginn still features some violence in his delivery, but is much improved in that department since his high school days. His control wasn’t an issue prior to the surgery after he walked only 5.7 percent of the batters he faced at Mississippi State.
Results were as good as could have been hoped for Ginn when he came back. He was touching 95 mph again on the radar gun and still throwing plenty of strikes across two levels of A ball. He appears to be right back on the track that made him such a big name in the 2020 Draft in the first place.
Baseball America notes that he “works fast, throws strikes and keeps the ball on the ground,” with the second-best grounder rate in the minors last year. They praise the “plus sink and boring action” of his fastball, which appeared to regain its velocity post-surgery; the “heavy vertical movement” of his slider, and his ability to command it for either a strike or a chase; and his developing changeup, which “gets swings and misses” when it’s on. They also mention his good athleticism, and his ability to “work inside against hitters on both sides of the plate from his extreme first base setup.” Their takeaway:
The Future: Ginn’s average velocity trended up in his final starts of 2021 as he moved farther away from surgery. Armed with three pitches and plus control, he projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter, and one who could be MLB ready late in 2022 or early 2023.
On an organizational level, Baseball America cited Ginn as having the Best Slider and Best Control in the Mets farm system. Here’s a video of the slider earning a swing-and-miss:
J.T. Ginn buries a slider in the dirt to pick up his first High-A strikeout. #Mets pic.twitter.com/lhW6DYCyF3— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 24, 2021
And the fastball, with notes on its metrics:
Some J.T. Ginn turbo sinker filth for your timeline.— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 24, 2021
The pitch averaged 23 inches of drop and 15 inches of arm-side run in Low-A. Sits 91-93 with about 2100 rpm (lower is better on a sinker).
Ginn struck out 6 over 5.2 innings of one-run ball in his High-A debut tonight. #Mets pic.twitter.com/S9lfuuzRPJ
As for the athleticism, here he is showing mobility off the mound to make a great defensive play. Athlete!
Not only did J.T. Ginn spin seven scoreless frames, but the @Mets' No. 5 prospect also made this barehanded play for the @BKCyclones. pic.twitter.com/fuY0lciGoP— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 15, 2021
If you were hoping to get a significant prospect for Bassitt, then here he is. Ginn hasn’t made a national Top 100 list yet but it’s easy to see a path to that happening in the near future. He was a 1st-round pick out of high school but didn’t sign, then a 2nd-round pick out of college despite being injured, and he’s put the surgery behind him for now with a healthy and promising pro debut. Best yet, if all goes well then he might not even take that long to reach Oakland.
Where Ginn is a traditional top prospect with a lofty pedigree, Oller is more of a sleeper coming off a breakout year. He was a 20th-round pick by the Pirates in 2016 and languished for a few years as a swingman in the lower minors until he was released. The Giants tried him out as a starter in Low-A in 2019, but that didn’t go much better, and last winter he was selected by the Mets in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Not the main MLB phase, but the nondescript minor league portion.
Then he found his groove in New York’s system last summer. He reported to Double-A with increased velocity and performed well as a starter, then moved up to Triple-A and continued to succeed there. At the end of the year he earned Mets’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors, and also a spot on their 40-man roster, just one year after being available on the scrap heap.
- Oller, 2021 AA: 4.03 ERA, 76 ip, 95 Ks, 29 BB, 8 HR, 3.61 FIP
- Oller, 2021 AAA: 2.45 ERA, 44 ip, 43 Ks, 18 BB, 1 HR, 3.34 FIP
He turned 27 over the offseason, he hasn’t made it to the majors yet, and he only got to the upper minors a year ago. But he’s headed in the right direction lately and he’s firmly forced himself onto the prospect radar, placing No. 19 in the Mets system per Pipeline, and No. 20 per Baseball America.
His scouting report features the same three pitches as Ginn, with a fastball, slider, and change, but none are as highly graded as Ginn’s versions. Pipeline has this to say about the 6’4” Oller:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 40
The 6-foot-4 right-hander goes right after hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball (touching 96) that he can spot well in the zone. That’s up a touch from previous years and part of the reason why his numbers took off last season. A mid-80s slider dives away from chasing right-handed hitters and occasionally fools lefties as well because of its speed out of his hand. The Mets may have come away most impressed by the development of his mid-80s changeup, which is now a solid third.
While Oller won’t boast plus stuff, he was at his most effective down the stretch in 2021 when he was mixing all three of his pitches and keeping hitters guessing. He is entering his age-27 season in 2022, so this might be him at his peak. That said, he’s ready to provide the A’s with starting depth with the potential to play a back-end rotation role.
Baseball America notes his “bulldog demeanor,” a favorite phrase here at Athletics Nation. His fastball can “compete in the zone and set up his quality secondaries,” which include a “swing-and-miss slider ... with low spin but outstanding velocity,” and his “firm but effective changeup” with drop and arm-side run that he’s able to place in the zone. Their takeaway:
The Future: Oller has a role on a big league pitching staff, potentially at the back of a rotation or in a bulk or middle relief role. He is 27 years old and will probably make his MLB debut in 2022.
Here’s a video of his full arsenal at work:
#Mets RHP Adam Oller continued his stellar run with five strikeouts over six scoreless innings for Triple-A Syracuse today.— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) September 4, 2021
Over his last 7 starts: 41 IP, 2 ER, 11 BB, 57 K, 0.44 ERA pic.twitter.com/7NZRjyXbrm
The fastball challenging and blowing past a bat:
More good stuff from Adam Oller tonight. Five scoreless, one hit, a couple of strikeouts.— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) September 25, 2021
Oller's Triple-A ERA is down to 1.88 through 7 starts. #Mets pic.twitter.com/IXEXKu6wV1
Going offspeed for a swinging strikeout in his incredible Triple-A debut:
Adam Oller’s Triple-A debut was one for the ages.— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 14, 2021
The @mets prospect fanned a career-best 13 over 6 2/3 scoreless innings for the @SyracuseMets. pic.twitter.com/pJCIe7mXmd
It hasn’t been an easy road for Oller, though, as he explains below.
TONIGHT ON SPORTS SUNDAY:@adamoller nearly retired from baseball in 2018.— Ari Alexander (@KPRC2Ari) January 24, 2022
Now he’s competing for a spot in the same rotation as Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.
The story of how a @clhstxathletics pitcher re-built himself into a force:@GaetaSportsMgt pic.twitter.com/6ecS4MSeWu
If you were hoping to cheer for another bulldog with a classic A’s story of resilience, then here he is. Oller doesn’t bring a high ceiling, but it’s easy to see him contributing in the majors right away this year, especially since Oakland’s rotation figures to have plenty of space for opportunity. He goes straight onto the 40-man roster, with sights set on an MLB debut sooner than later.
In a perfect world, the A’s wouldn’t need to trade Bassitt at all. Maybe they’d have the money to keep talent, or maybe the stars could just have aligned for one more win-now season with the old crew. Perhaps we could even come up with a compelling case for why they should have just run it back in 2022 as it is, real-life payroll constraints be damned. It would have been way cooler to keep The Hound in Oakland.
But within the assumption that he had to be dealt, this is the kind of package I wanted. It’s a full rebuild trade, not a half-measure retool, and it presents an attractive mix of serious upside and high floor without having to wait five years for a risky teenager to develop. It’s exactly the kind of swap that often yields great and rapid dividends for the A’s.
Whether these particular prospects in this particular trade pan out remains to be seen, but the idea is right and the names are acceptable. A good outcome would involve Oller hopping into the rotation sometime in 2022 and providing serviceable innings or better, hopefully for years to come, with Ginn following by 2023 and turning into a star. A decent version would be one of those things happening, or maybe one of them moving to the bullpen.
For now, the A’s have two new lotto tickets, and they both look pretty good in their own different ways. Let the rebuilding begin.
I love Chris Bassitt. His leadership, competitive nature, the man that stopped losing streaks and the next day roots for his teammate. This man never makes excuses. He’s a media delight, never dodges the tough question, but you better be ready for his answer. Good luck in the— Dave “Smoke” Stewart (@Dsmoke34) March 13, 2022