KATOH Projects: Oakland Athletics Prospects

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Yesterday, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Oakland Athletics. In this companion piece, I look at that same Oakland farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The A’s have the 19th-best farm system in baseball according to KATOH.

There’s way more to prospect evaluation than just the stats, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Dan’s piece in addition to this one. KATOH has no idea how hard a pitcher throws, how good a hitter’s bat speed is, or what a player’s makeup is like. So it’s liable to miss big on players whose tools don’t line up with their performances. However, when paired with more scouting-based analyses, KATOH’s objectivity can be useful in identifying talented players who might be overlooked by the industry consensus or highly-touted prospects who might be over-hyped.

Below, I’ve grouped prospects into three groups: those who are forecast for two or more wins through their first six major-league seasons, those who receive a projection between 1.0 and 2.0 WAR though their first six seasons, and then any residual players who received Future Value (FV) grades of 45 or higher from Dan. Note that I generated forecasts only for players who accrued at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last season. Also note that the projections for players over a relatively small sample are less reliable, especially when those samples came in the low minors.

1. Franklin Barreto, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 7.4 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Barreto’s best known for being a part of the Josh Donaldson blockbuster, but he did quite well for himself in High-A last year. Although he spent the entire season as a 19-year-old, he slashed .302/.333/.500. Barreto’s demonstrated a rare amount of power for a teenage shortstop, while more than holding his own in the contact department. I’m terribly sorry about that top comp, A’s fans. Hopefully Barreto hits more like Batista than Ortiz.

Franklin Barreto’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Jose Ortiz 5.1 0.3
2 Brent Butler 4.8 0.0
3 Tony Batista 3.9 13.3
4 Juan Bautista 4.2 0.0
5 Juan Castro 3.6 0.1
6 Kelly Johnson 3.8 13.5
7 Ricky Magdaleno 4.2 0.0
8 Antonio Perez 7.4 1.7
9 Luis Rivas 7.7 1.6
10 Chin-lung Hu 4.5 0.2

2. Matt Olson, 1B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 4.7 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 50+ FV

An all or nothing hitter, Olson rode his immense power to a 37 homer season in 2014, but wasn’t quite as successful last year in Double-A. He only managed 17 taters, while his triple slash dipped from .262/.402/.543 to .249/.388/.438. Olson struck out a concerning 24% of the time last year, which points to some holes in his approach. But as a 21-year-old who’s already succeeded in Double-A, Olson appears to have a bright future.

3. Renato Nunez, 3B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 4.7 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Like Olson, Nunez also succeeded in Double-A despite being just 21. The third baseman hit .278/.332/.480 with an impressive 18 homers in 93 games last year. Year in and year out, Nunez has hit for power despite being young for his level, while simultaneously cutting down on his strikeout rate.

4. Yairo Munoz, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 3.7 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 40 FV

Munoz split last season between Low-A and High-A, where he slashed .261/.305/.400 with double-digit homers and steals. As a 21-year-old A-Baller, Munoz is a few years from the show, but he’s hit very well for a shortstop.

5. Sean Manaea, LHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.5 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 50 FV

Manaea threw just 74 innings in the minors last year due to groin and oblique injuries, but he was very good in those 74 innings. He struck out 29% of batters faced and walked just 7% on his way to a 2.70 FIP. KATOH’s a tad down on him because he’s a 24-year-old with a limited track record above A-Ball, but it’s hard to quibble with what he’s done when he’s managed to stay on the field.

6. Chad Pinder, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.5 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Pinder turns 24 in a couple of weeks, but had a fine season in Double-A last year. He hit .317/.361/.486 on the strength of his 15 homers and 32 doubles. Pinder’s high strikeout rates and low walk rates suggest his plate discipline could use some work, which is a bit concerning for someone his age. Though, he certainly has intriguing power for a middle infielder.

Chad Pinder’s Mahalanobis COmps
Rank Name Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 Enrique Cruz 0.9 0.0
2 Chris Valaika 1.8 0.5
3 Tim Olson 0.8 0.0
4 Billy Lott 1.3 0.0
5 Jason Donald 2.8 1.0
6 Ramon Vazquez 1.0 4.0
7 Zack Cozart 2.4 7.2
8 Kevin Nicholson 2.7 0.2
9 Jason Smith 1.6 0.6
10 Oscar Salazar 1.8 0.0

7. Casey Meisner, RHP (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 2.1 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 45 FV

Meisner came over from the Mets in the Tyler Clippard trade. He pitched well in both organizations, combining for a 2.45 ERA and 3.84 FIP across two levels of A-Ball. There isn’t anything that’s overly exciting about Meisner, but as a 20-year-old who’s already succeeded in full-season ball, he’s on KATOH’s radar.

*****

1-2 WAR Prospects
Rank Name Position KATOH Dan’s FV
8 Rangel Ravelo 1B 1.8 40
9 Jesus Zambrano RHP 1.6 Unranked
10 Argenis Raga C 1.2 Unranked
11 Ryon Healy 3B 1.2 40
12 Brett Siddall OF 1.0 Unranked

Jesus Zambrano had a decent season as an 18-year-old swingman in Rookie Ball. More interestingly, though, the A’s promoted him to Triple-A in September, where he posted a 4.04 FIP over two starts. Zambrano doesn’t strike many hitters out, but he also walks very, very few. Argenis Raga hit a respectable .275/.328/.385 as a 20-year-old catcher in A-Ball. KATOH sees backup catcher potential there. Last year’s 13th round pick Brett Siddall slashed a healthy .289/.356/.470 in a limited sample.

*****

Remaining 45 FV Players
Name Position KATOH Dan’s FV
Richie Martin SS 0.8 45
Matt Chapman 3B 0.8 45
Joey Wendle 2B 0.7 45+
Dillon Overton LHP 0.5 45
Raul Alcantara RHP 0.1 45

Oakland selected Richie Martin 20th overall, but he underwhelmed in both the contact and power categories in his pro debut. As with all recent draftees, his full-season stats should be more revelatory. Matt Chapman showed nice power in High-A last year, though he also struck out a lot. Joey Wendle hit decently as an infielder in Triple-A, but KATOH doesn’t like his age (almost 26) or his 18% strikeout rate. Dillon Overton turns 25 this season and was just alright between High-A and Double-A last year. Raul Alcantara posted a 14% strikeout rate in High-A last year with a reliever’s workload. Take these pitcher’s numbers with a huge grain of salt, however, as they were both coming off of injury.

We hoped you liked reading KATOH Projects: Oakland Athletics Prospects by Chris Mitchell!

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Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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