Who is the Oakland Athletics’ top prospect? During the preseason vote, this was pretty much a runaway for Tyler Soderstrom. Judging by the votes in the initial nomination for the mid-season list, the top spot could be a very close race.
Here is the process:
Five nominees will appear on the ballot. The one who receives the most votes earns the top spot in the CPL while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by the next nominee.
In the comments, commenters will nominate a player to be put onto the ballot for the next round. After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec’ing that comment. The player with the most Rec’s earns the nomination.
The format for the comment should be “Nomination: Player Name”.
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 players should rank.
As a result of our intro article, we have five nominees for the No. 1 spot. They are:
Mason Miller, RHP
A power arm who can light up the radar gun at triple digits, Miller also brings what is looking more and more like a wipeout slider. He continues to work on integrating a mid-80s changeup as a third offering, though that pitch still could use some developing.
There’s no question Miller can throw a bunch of strikes with his big arm, and his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame seems durable enough to hold up as a starter. A quicker path to Oakland, however, could come in a bullpen role as a reliever with all the makings of a flame-throwing closer. Whether he reaches the Majors as a starter or reliever likely hinges on how far he can refine that changeup.
Zack Gelof, 2B
When he’s locked in, Gelof provides an exciting combination of approach and raw power from the right side of the plate to any lineup. His swing is a bit unorthodox, but he understands it well and he shows good knowledge of the strike zone. His strikeout rate was a bit high in 2022 (27.5 percent), but it was offset by a healthy walk rate (11.4 percent). The latter helped him get to his power more consistently, even late in the year when he was out of sync overall post-injury.
While his speed is just a bit above average, he’s a good baserunner and his overall athleticism is an asset on the field. A third baseman out of college, he shifted over and played a lot of second late in the year and exclusively in the AFL, where he showed solid overall defensive skills. That should be his spot most of the time going forward, though he could see some time in the outfield.
Lawrence Butler, OF
Butler’s speed and power to all fields gives him 20-20 potential. He continues to work hard on improving his plate discipline and walked at a higher rate last season, though there is still plenty of swing-and-miss to his game as evidenced by his 31.5 percent strikeout rate with Lansing in ‘22.
Butler has worked hard on cleaning up his body, leaning out while adding more muscle over the past year. He’s also changed his tune on defense from when he first joined the A’s, emerging as a solid defender at the corner outfield spots with a good arm and speed and athleticism that enables him to cover a ton of ground. There’s still time to improve the strikeout rate, but even if his punchouts remain at a high clip, his other attributes should help him progress through the system.
Tyler Soderstrom, C/1B
A left-handed hitter, Soderstrom has long displayed an excellent feel for the barrel and solid overall approach at the plate. He can make consistent hard contact to all fields, and his combination of strength and bat speed point to the kind of power and run production consistent with his 2022 output, with the ability to hit the ball out to all fields. His strikeout rate did tick up last year, but he spent the first month of the season playing through a thumb injury and the A’s are confident that his feel for hitting will allow him to be more consistent contact-wise as he faces better pitching more consistently.
Where Soderstrom plays defensively long-term is more of a question. He has solid arm strength, and while his glove is still behind his bat, the A’s have been pleased with his progress behind the plate. He split time between first base and catcher in 2022 and that should be the case moving forward, giving the organization options to get his bat into the lineup if his blocking and receiving aren’t big league ready, not to mention the presence of Shea Langeliers ahead of him on the depth chart.
Darrel Hernaiz, INF
Athleticism is the first thing that stands out about Hernaiz. Last season brought encouraging improvements to his offensive game, as he displayed strong bat speed and a solid ability to make contact, while also tapping into more of his power than he’s shown in the past.
Having swiped 32 bags last season, Hernaiz is a real threat on the basepaths. He could use some refining on the defensive end, with an average arm that eventually could lead to him moving off shortstop. With the A’s always placing an emphasis on versatility, he’ll likely see plenty of time at second base and maybe even third in addition to short, depending on other personnel.