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Hitting: 60. Power: 60. Running: 40. Fielding: 40. Arm: 55. TRACK RECORD: Soderstrom surged into the top tier of the 2020 draft class after a blistering summer on the showcase circuit. His rise culminated with the Athletics drafting him No. 26 overall and signing him for $3.3 million to forgo a UCLA commitment. It was the second-largest bonus ever given to a prep catcher, behind only No. 1 overall pick Joe Mauer’s $5.1 million from the Twins in 2001. The A’s promptly sent the 18-year-old Soderstrom into a win-now environment at the alternate training site and watched their top pick hit nearly .500 with three home runs in his first week. He continued to dominate at instructional league, where he posted a .441 on-base percentage and earned raves as one of the top hitters in Arizona. SCOUTING REPORT: Soderstrom is regularly compared with Eric Chavez and Ben Grieve in terms of high school hitters to pass through Oakland’s system, and the A’s believe he has the potential to be better than both. Soderstrom already posts exit velocities as high as 108 mph and has an exceptionally advanced approach that belies his youth. He has the physicality reminiscent of a college pick, but there’s more physical projection to go and it’s easy to envision 30-home run potential with loads of walks and a high OBP. Hardly an all-or-nothing slugger, Soderstrom has a polished lefthanded swing and projects to be a plus hitter. Soderstrom is much less polished defensively behind the plate and mostly succeeded on raw ability as a prep. His skills were tested immediately at the alternate site and he struggled at times, especially blocking and receiving. Still, Soderstrom shows above-average arm strength, solid athleticism and a desire to improve. His father Steve was drafted sixth overall by the Giants in 1993 and pitched one season in the majors. He instilled the work ethic and drive needed to succeed in his son. The A’s labeled Soderstrom a “baseball rat” with a meticulous work ethic and say it’s too early to consider a move off catcher. He quickly gained the respect of veterans at Oakland’s alternate site and picked up a pair of nicknames: “The Kid” and “The GOAT” after his hot start. THE FUTURE: Soderstrom’s bat is advanced to the point Oakland believes he could jump straight to high Class A in 2021. He’s more likely to begin at low Class A, which would put less stress on his defense. The A’s will give Soderstrom every chance to develop as a catcher, but a future move to a corner infield or outfield spot can’t be ruled out, especially if it allows Soderstrom to jump on a potential fast track to Oakland.
Fastball: 80. Slider: 70. Changeup: 50. Curveball: 45. Control: 45. TRACK RECORD: For all of Puk’s tantalizing ability, he has not been able to stay healthy since the Athletics drafted him sixth overall in 2016. Puk had Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2018 season, briefly returned in 2019 and made his major league debut, then missed all of 2020 with a pair of left shoulder strains. He was shut down in September and had shoulder surgery after the season. SCOUTING REPORT: Puk showed his upside when the A’s deployed the 6-foot-7 lefty out of their bullpen in 2019 while chasing a playoff spot. His fastball sits 96-100 mph and explodes on hitters with unique angle and impressive extension out of his imposing frame. He pairs it with a vicious upper-80s power slider that dives at the back foot of righthanded hitters, and he’s gaining confidence in his burgeoning changeup. Puk also features a low-80s curveball that flashes average. Even with just fringe-average control, he generates a ton of whiffs—12.9 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors—and uncomfortable at-bats. Health remains Puk’s biggest obstacle. He’s thrown just 194.1 innings combined in five professional seasons. THE FUTURE: The A’s hope Puk will be ready for spring training following his surgery. Injuries have clouded his future, but his arm is too good to give up on.
Fastball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 60. Control: 70. TRACK RECORD: Jefferies battled shoulder woes his final year in college, but the Athletics still drafted him 37th overall from California. He continued to struggle with injuries in pro ball and missed most of 2017 and 2018 after having Tommy John surgery. Jefferies rebounded with a dominant 2019 season that included 93 strikeouts against just nine walks as he rose to Double-A. He turned in an impressive summer at the alternate training site in 2020 and was rewarded with his first big league callup in mid September. SCOUTING REPORT: An athletic but undersized righty, Jefferies boasts an impressive fastball/changeup combination and peppers the strike zone with plus command. His fastball sits 92-95 mph as a starter and 94-97 in short bursts, and he locates it deftly to both sides of the plate. Jefferies’ plus changeup is his jewel and can make hitters look foolish when it bottoms out. His breaking stuff is less refined—his average slider is sometimes mistaken for a cutter—but can play up because of his command. THE FUTURE: Building innings and maintaining health is the last step of Jefferies’ progression. He did that successfully at the alternate site in 2020 and should compete for a rotation spot in 2021.
Hitting: 50. Power: 50. Running: 60. Fielding: 60. Arm: 70. TRACK RECORD: The Athletics signed Puason for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, which tied the Yankees’ Jasson Dominguez for the largest bonus that signing period. The coronavirus pandemic thwarted Puason’s professional debut, but the A’s brought him to their alternate training site in 2020 as one of just three teenagers alongside a mostly older, win-now group. SCOUTING REPORT: Puason is tooled up in a way that makes him easy to dream on. He’s a twitchy athlete with a wiry, projectable body and has shown a knack for barreling the ball from both sides of the plate. His long levers and projectable frame suggest more power is on the way, too. The A’s believe Puason can stick at shortstop in the long run, aided by his athletic ability and 70-grade arm, and he’s a plus runner now. While his tools are evident, it’s also clear Puason is still a ways away. He struggled at times with the speed of the game at both the ATS and during instructional league. Puason has worked to improve his English since coming to the U.S., including taking classes at Arizona State. THE FUTURE: The alternate site was a helpful, eye-opening experience for the 17-year-old Puason. He’ll look to take all he learned into his pro debut in 2021.
Hitting: 45. Power: 55. Running: 55. Fielding: 55. Arm: 60. TRACK RECORD: Davidson displayed big tools but struggled to consistently hit at Clemson. The Athletics drafted him 29th overall in 2019 and sent him to short-season Vermont, where he hit .239/.345/.332 in 54 games to further raise questions about his hitting ability. But Davidson arrived at the alternate training site in 2020 with increased physicality and took some of the biggest strides of anyone. SCOUTING REPORT: The switch-hitting Davidson has impressive tools with above-average raw power, above-average speed, plus arm strength and excellent throwing accuracy. The question has always been his bat. Davidson has been dogged about his ability to hit with wood dating back to an unimpressive Cape Cod League stint, and there is length in his swing that leads to swings and misses. Davidson displays solid pitch recognition, however, and the A’s were impressed with his approach at the alternate site, generating hopes he can be a fringe-average hitter and access enough of his power to play every day. A taller shortstop, Davidson worked to clean up his actions and has the athleticism to stick at the position. He also played second base and third base at the alternate site. THE FUTURE: The A’s was encouraged by Davidson’s gains in a disjointed 2020, particularly hitting from the left side. He is set to make his full-season debut in 2021.
Hitting: 50. Power: 30. Running: 60. Fielding: 70. Arm: 60. TRACK RECORD: Allen earned a reputation as a defensive wizard as an amateur and signed with the Athletics for $2 million as a third-round pick in 2017, nearly triple the slot amount. He began to progress offensively at high Class A Stockton in 2019 before a high ankle sprain wiped out the second half of his season. Allen returned healthy in 2020 and spent the summer at the alternate training site in San Jose before finishing at instructional league. SCOUTING REPORT: One of the top defensive shortstops in the minors, Allen is a Gold Glove-type caliber defender who was nicknamed “Magic Man” by his coaches in Stockton. He is a twitchy, instinctive defender who glides to the ball, has superb hands, covers a wide range with his plus speed and has a plus, accurate arm to convert every play. The 5-foot-8 infielder fights a glove-only perception and led the Cal League in doubles before his season-ending injury in 2019. Allen has good hand-eye coordination, and the A’s have worked with him to avoid chasing power—and fastballs up in the zone—and instead focus on a gap-to-gap approach, using fellow undersized infielder David Fletcher as a blueprint. THE FUTURE: How Allen progresses as a hitter will determine whether he becomes a slick-fielding backup or something more. He is slated to begin the 2021 season in Double-A.
Hitting: 50. Power: 45. Running: 60. Fielding: 55. Arm: 60. TRACK RECORD: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Barrera is on the doorstep of the majors after a slow climb through the system. A shoulder injury cut his 2019 season short at Double-A Midland, but he returned healthy in 2020 and was one of the Athletics’ top standouts at the alternate training site. He hit nearly .450 in camp at San Jose and won the program’s batting title on the final day. SCOUTING REPORT: Barrera is a bit of a throwback as a dynamic slasher with a fervent passion for the game. He is a line drive-oriented hitter, though the A’s believe he has 15-home run potential with a slightly altered approach. Barrera is aggressive, sometimes to a fault, but he makes enough contact to make it work. The A’s believe he has developed a bit more selectivity. Barrera’s plus speed shows up both on the basepaths and in the outfield, where he’s an above-average defender with a strong arm who could play all three positions. Consistency was the missing ingredient for Barrera, but A’s officials say they saw much more of it at the alternate site. THE FUTURE: Oakland’s starting outfield mix is mostly set entering 2021. Barrera could force his way into at least a part-time role if he carries his momentum into spring training.
Hitting: 50. Power: 45. Running: 30. Fielding: 60. Arm: 55. TRACK RECORD: Heim took a circuitous path to his major league debut in 2020. Drafted out of high school by the Orioles in 2013, he’s been traded twice: first by Baltimore to the Rays in 2016 for Steve Pearce, then a year later by the Rays to Oakland for Joey Wendle. Heim didn’t break camp with Oakland in 2020, but the A’s installed him as Sean Murphy’s backup midway through the season and kept him on their playoff roster. SCOUTING REPORT: Heim is a strong defender with impressive receiving and blocking chops, especially considering his 6-foot-4 frame. He has a solid-average arm that plays up with his strong accuracy. Long branded a glove-first catcher, Heim’s bat has begun to catch up the last two seasons. He controls the strike zone as well as any player in the system and has begun to show moderate all-fields power to go along with his average hitting ability. Oakland challenged Heim prior to last season to play with more energy and assertiveness, and he responded by assuming more of a leadership role. THE FUTURE: Heim should compete for a backup role again in 2021. Some in the A’s organization believe his ceiling is a second-division regular, but it will be tough for him to start in Oakland with Murphy entrenched behind the plate.
Hitting: 40. Power: 60. Running: 50. Fielding: 50. Arm: 55. TRACK RECORD: Bizarre injuries have plagued Deichmann since 2017, when he was hit in the face by a pitch as a junior at Louisiana State. He dealt with a combination of hamate, wrist and shoulder injuries in 2018 and 2019, but was healthy for the 2019 Arizona Fall League and hit nine homers in 23 games. That was enough for the Athletics to bring Deichmann to their alternate training site in 2020, and they added him to their 40-man roster after the season. SCOUTING REPORT: Deichmann’s carrying tool is his plus raw power from the left side. He has the bat speed and lower body strength to hit 25-30 home runs in the majors, but it will likely come with a low average and elevated strikeout rate. Scouts have been concerned about Deichmann’s grooved swing since college, and he hit just .219 with a 30% strikeout rate at Double-A in 2019. Deichmann simplified his movements and made mechanical adjustments in 2020 to restore some athleticism to his swing in hopes of getting to his plus raw power more frequently. Defensively, Deichmann projects to be an average right fielder with an above-average arm. THE FUTURE: The A’s were encouraged by Deichmann’s performance at the alternate site. Now he needs consistent at-bats—and to control the strike zone better—to build on it.
Fastball: 55. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Curveball: 50. Control: 55. TRACK RECORD: That Kaprielian pitched in the majors for the first time in 2020 is a feel-good story in itself. A 2015 first-round pick of the Yankees who was traded to Oakland in the Sonny Gray deal, Kaprielian missed most of the 2016 season with a flexor strain and all of 2017 and 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery and a subsequent bout with shoulder soreness. He returned in 2019, albeit under a monitored workload, and opened 2020 at the alternate training site. He received his first callup on Aug. 16 and made two appearances out of the Athletics’ bullpen. SCOUTING REPORT: Kaprielian’s stuff continues to inch toward a return to form, though it’s still not where it was coming out of college. His fastball is back up to 93-95 mph as a starter and averaged 95 in relief. While his secondaries haven’t fully returned, he has the most trust in his above-average 85-86 mph slider with tight shape. Kaprielian’s curveball and changeup also show average potential, and he throws everything for strikes with above-average control. Kaprielian’s delivery remains effortful, leading to long-term health concerns. THE FUTURE: The A’s are eager to see what Kaprielian looks like in 2021 now that his stuff is on the mend. He can reach his back-of-the-rotation potential only if health permits.
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