Midseason Prospect Update: Athletics
The Athletics’ rebuild continues, as the team trundled into the all-star break with a 38-51 record, the fourth-worst mark in the American League and a hefty 15 ½ games behind the first-place Rangers. The good news is that rebuild may not be far from entering its next phase, as several of the team’s best prospects are at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, possibly just a heartbeat away from Oakland.
|2019 PROJECTED LINEUP|
|C Josh Phegley|
|1B Ryon Healy|
|2B Chad Pinder|
|3B Matt Chapman|
|SS Richie Martin|
|LF Franklin Barreto|
|CF Billy Burns|
|RF Josh Reddick|
|DH Renato Nunez|
|No. 1 Starter Sonny Gray|
|No. 2 Starter Sean Manaea|
|No. 3 Starter Jesse Hahn|
|No. 4 Starter Kendall Graveman|
|No. 5 Starter Daniel Mengden|
|Closer Ryan Dull|
MIDSEASON TOP 10 1. Franklin Barreto, ss/2b Barreto was the second-youngest player to make an Opening Day roster in the Double-A Texas League, an important consideration when evaluating his modest numbers. The Athletics still see the same explosive hands and bat speed when he hits, and he’s learning a more mature approach as he gets comfortable with Double-A pitching. He remains principally a shortstop but the A’s—ever conscious of positional flexibility—have been giving him starts at second base as well, rotating Barreto and fellow middle-infield prospect Yairo Munoz.
2. Matt Chapman, 3b/ss Chapman’s power—particularly his opposite field power—continues to open eyes, erasing one of the questions about him coming out of Cal State Fullerton, though there are some swing and miss issues the A’s want to address. He remains a standout defender at third base with a cannon arm, and the A’s have kicked the tires with him at shortstop.
3. Dillon Overton, lhp Now three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Overton has learned to live with his 86-91 mph fastball, thanks to a deceptive delivery and an array of effective secondary pitches. His changeup remains the best of the bunch, but his curveball has gotten tighter and he’s added a cutter to use inside against righthanders, earning him a big league promotion in late June.
4. Renato Nunez, 3b After a respectable .274/.329/.521 line in April, Nunez’s production has slipped in each month since at Triple-A Nashville, though he’s also one of the youngest players in his league. He still has all kinds of raw power, mostly to his pull side, and his footwork and reactions at third base have continued showing signs of improvement.
5. Richie Martin, ss Martin has lived up to his billing as a plus defender with range, quickness and a quality arm. His bat has been up and down with high Class A Stockton, though his missing the first month and a half didn’t help. He did come into the spring looking more physical, and balls had started coming off his bat firmer.
6. Chad Pinder, ss Pinder has held his own after a slow start at Triple-A Nashville. He’s a smart hitter with a quick bat and a chance for some power, though the A’s continue to want to see him draw more walks. A bout of inconsistency in his throwing has crept into his defense, though he’s generally been known as a fundamentally sound player.
7. Yairo Munoz, ss/2b A variety of lower-body injuries—groin, hamstring, foot—limited Munoz during the first half at Double-A Midland. Those and his free swinging approach have led to some struggles, but he’s still full of promise as a 21-year-old with quick hands, a physical build and one of the best arms in the system.
8. Dakota Chalmers, rhp Signed for $1.2 million out of last year’s draft, the 19-year-old Chalmers started strong against mostly older competition with short-season Vermont. Most importantly, he’s been throwing strikes with his 92-94 mph fastball—his biggest area for improvement after last year—while his changeup, curveball and slider all have their moments.
9. Ryon Healy, 1b/3b A couple mechanical tweaks—he’s standing more upright and loads earlier—and a more learned approach have Healy on pace to blow past his previous career high of 16 homers. His ability to use the whole field helps him continue to hit for average, and he’s a usable defender at either infield corner.
10. Matt Olson, of/1b The A’s are staying optimistic about Olson, but there’s no getting around it was a rough first half for a player whose bat is supposed to carry him. Olson’s raw 30-homer potential is still in there, but he continues to swing and miss at a high rate and hasn’t been showing that power for Nashville. With Oakland’s glut of corner infielders at that level, Olson has effectively moved to right field full-time.
RISING Righthander Heath Fillmyer continues to improve as his curveball tightens up, complimenting a low to mid-90s fastball, and he gets more comfortable with his craft. The former junior college shortstop posted sub-3.00 ERAs in both May and June at Stockton ... Righthander Daniel Gossett has smoothed out the command issues that plagued him in a difficult first full pro season last year. He’s also added a cutter to go with his 90-95 mph fastball, curveball and changeup, which helped him go 4-1, 3.52 at Stockton and earn a promotion to Midland.
FALLING Righthander Casey Meisner posted a 4.55 ERA in 12 starts at Stockton before the A’s moved him to the bullpen to try to get his mechanics straightened out. His 90-94 mph velocity hasn’t diminished, nor has the quality of his bread-and-butter changeup, but the lanky 6-foot-7 righthander has some moving parts in his delivery that’ve hurt his ability to locate ... Infielder Mikey White was considered more of a gamer than a player with premium tools, but as a shortstop coming out of the Southeastern Conference the A’s still would’ve hoped to get more production than they have out of White, their 2015 second-round pick. His average hovered in the low .200s in the first half at Stockton, nor was he showing much power or speed.
HURTING Righthander Dylan Covey had been pitching well for Midland—1.84 ERA in six starts—before a strained left oblique felled him on May 8. The A’s were evaluating him on a week-to-week basis, his return to action is uncertain ... Shortstop Richie Martin tore meniscus in his knee halfway through spring training, which kept him from joining Stockton’s lineup until May 23 and forced him to play catch up ever since ... Infielder Yairo Munoz’s injury issues started with an offseason motorcycle accident. He fell behind in his conditioning as a result, missed most of April and, like Martin, has been behind in terms of the number of at-bats he’s gotten.
GRADUATING Lefthander Sean Manaea made just three starts in Triple-A before Oakland called him up to make his debut on April 29. He’s had his ups and downs in the A’s rotation, but his potential as a frontline arm has been evident when he’s on ... Righthander Ryan Dull was once an afterthought 32nd-round senior sign. Dull has been the A’s best middle reliever as a rookie. He went into the all-star break allowing just a .150 opponents average and with 47 strikeouts in 45 innings ... Righthander Daniel Mengden saw his star rise quicker than anyone else in the organization. A secondary piece in the package the A’s got for Scott Kazmir last year—the since-traded Jacob Nottingham was thought to be the main attraction—Mengden torched Double-A and Triple-A to the tune of a combined 5-1, 1.19 mark, earning his way to the majors in early June ... Versatile Max Muncy had a couple of callups in May and June, hitting a combined .257/.366/.314 before going back to Nashville. With 137 big league at-bats to his credit between last year and this year, he’s exceeded our prospect eligibility limits, though he’s still looking to carve out a full-time place in Oakland.
COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks) The Athletics' first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round) 1. A.J. Puk, lhp, Florida. Puk could be enigmatic at times with Florida, but the bottom line is that when he was at his best—with a 95-97 mph fastball, plus slider and usable changeup—the 6-foot-7 lefty showed the talent to be the No. 1 overall pick, and the A’s were able to get him at No. 6. 1s. Daulton Jefferies, rhp, California. Oakland stayed close to home with its second pick, taking Cal ace Jefferies. A shoulder injury caused him to miss significant time this spring with the Golden Bears, and the A’s planned to keep his load light in his first pro summer. 2. Logan Shore, rhp, Florida. The A’s doubled down on Gator pitchers by nabbing Puk’s rotation mate Shore in the second round. While Puk has louder stuff, there’s no arguing Shore has the better track record of success, as he was the 2016 SEC pitcher of the year and posted a 2.41 ERA for his college career. 3. Sean Murphy, c, Wright State. Like Jefferies, Murphy’s junior season was greatly affected by an injury, in his case a broken hamate bone. Nonetheless, he has the upside to be a big-league catcher with a power bat. 4. Skylar Szynski, rhp, Penn HS, Mishawaka, Ind.