Oakland Athletics Top 28 Prospects

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Oakland Athletics. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but I use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Athletics Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Tyler Soderstrom 21.6 AAA 1B 2024 55
2 Ken Waldichuk 25.5 MLB SP 2023 50
3 Mason Miller 24.8 MLB SP 2025 50
4 Lawrence Butler 23.0 AA 1B 2024 45+
5 Zack Gelof 23.7 AAA 2B 2025 45+
6 Kyle Muller 25.7 MLB SP 2023 45+
7 Esteury Ruiz 24.4 MLB CF 2023 45
8 Daniel Susac 22.1 A+ C 2027 45
9 Royber Salinas 22.2 AA SIRP 2024 40+
10 Darell Hernaiz 21.9 AA SS 2025 40+
11 Luis Morales 20.8 R SP 2029 40+
12 Luis Medina 24.1 MLB SIRP 2023 40+
13 Ryan Noda 27.2 MLB 1B 2023 40
14 Freddy Tarnok 24.6 MLB SP 2023 40
15 Jordan Diaz 22.9 MLB 3B 2023 40
16 Shintaro Fujinami 29.2 MLB MIRP 2023 40
17 Gunnar Hoglund 23.5 A SP 2024 40
18 Max Muncy 20.8 A+ SS 2026 40
19 Denzel Clarke 23.2 AA CF 2025 40
20 Henry Bolte 19.9 A RF 2028 40
21 Joey Estes 21.7 AA SP 2024 40
22 Garrett Acton 25.0 MLB SIRP 2023 40
23 Brayan Buelvas 21.0 A+ CF 2024 40
24 Logan Davidson 25.5 AAA 1B 2023 40
25 Ryan Cusick 23.6 AA SIRP 2025 35+
26 J.T. Ginn 24.1 AA SP 2024 35+
27 Clark Elliott 22.7 A+ RF 2027 35+
28 Conner Capel 26.1 MLB RF 2023 35+
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55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Turlock HS (CA) (OAK)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/70 60/70 40/30 30/40 45

2022 was the first season in which Soderstrom’s time at first base surpassed his time behind the dish, though that was largely due to a month-long catching hiatus early in the season. The rest of the year was split relatively evenly between the two defensive roles, and the same is true so far in 2023, but the first base transition has long been seen as a possibility, maybe even an obvious move, due both to Soderstrom’s below-average defense as a backstop and as a way of protecting his offensive performance from the dings that are part and parcel with everyday catching. His blocking in particular is flawed. Soderstrom’s crouch is quite upright at times, creating a big five-hole, and he isn’t particularly keen on throwing his body in front of short hops, opting instead to pick them with his glove. This results in more passed balls and dropped third strikes that allow runners to reach than is typical. His receiving skills have gotten better and Soderstrom’s throws to second are fairly accurate and hover around two seconds, but his performance as a basepath protector has been lackluster, with a sub-20% caught-stealing rate. It seems inevitable that he’ll be a full-time first baseman in the long run.

And that’s okay, because Soderstrom should hit for enough power to be an impact first baseman. He’s had a nearly 50% hard-hit rate in both 2022 and 2023, and he swatted 29 homers last year and is on pace for more than that this season as a college-aged hitter at Triple-A. Soderstrom has widened and opened up his stance since the start of his professional career. Instead of a short stride toward the mound, his step is toward the plate as he closes his stance before his hips fire and he muscles the barrel through the zone. Soderstrom has some vulnerability to back foot breaking balls and he weirdly tends to muscle some up-and-in pitches the other way, but he’s strong enough to do damage even when making sub-optimal contact.

So far in 2023, he’s maintained or improved on many of his mouth-watering underlying metrics, but it’s come with a ballooning chase rate of over 40%, which is both concerning and largely to blame for his below-average performance at Triple-A. His chasing runs the gamut from below-the-zone breaking balls to heaters up at his eyebrows, and he’s swinging at 53% of the pitches he sees, far more than the major league or Triple-A average. Soderstrom’s aggressive approach may lead him to have a merely average hit tool even though his barrel feel is quite good, and that seems more likely as of his first few months of 2023. He’s still slugging a good amount, but his overall hitting has ebbed. Ultimately, because he has 70 power and actualized in-zone contact, Soderstrom projects as a middle-of-the-order anchor who hits 50 annual doubles at peak. He could probably reach the majors while Oakland is still the final destination for minor leaguers in this system, especially if the org cuts bait on him catching. But with a 2024 40-man timeline and no window of contention in sight, the A’s has incentive to slow play his development and hope he can actually catch.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from St. Mary’s (NYY)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/45 60/60 40/50 92-95 / 98

Waldichuk came to Oakland as part of the return for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino, bringing with him a nicely shaped four-seamer and an intimidating, sweepy slider with tons of horizontal movement. We had Waldichuk evaluated as a big-league ready, mid-rotation starter, but his command hasn’t been very good and the A’s move him into the bullpen near the end of May. Waldichuk’s arsenal also includes a changeup that he used to finish with remarkable precision, but like just about everything else, his feel for that pitch has regressed. He rounds out his four-pitch mix with a mid-70s curveball that he’s thrown just 2.4% of the time in 2023. He’s shown the ability to induce significant swing-and-miss across all four offerings, both in and out of the zone, aided largely by his funky arm action.

The area that will be the most important for Waldichuk to develop is his fastball command. He can land his breaking balls for strikes, but hitters sit on them after they have seen them once or twice and can ambush them when Waldi’s trying to get ahead via his breakers. Commanding his fastball better than he has so far will help make him more unpredictable early in counts. Waldichuk’s delivery is freaky loose, particularly in his upper back and shoulders, a trait consistent with long-term big league starters. Even though he’s 25, there’s hope for progression in this area and, eventually, a more stable mid-rotation role, though our pre-season evaluation has been heavy to this point.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Gardner-Webb (OAK)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 55/60 45/50 97-99 / 101

After sustaining a right scapula strain during spring training, Miller spent most of 2022 rehabbing. When he returned to the mound in August, he leapfrogged his way up the minor league ladder. He pitched a couple of innings on the complex, skipped Low-A, threw seven High-A innings, skipped Double-A, then closed the season out with two appearances in Las Vegas and a stint in the Fall League. He blew triple-digits past batters at the top of the zone at every stop, with his fastball averaging 99 mph at Triple-A, and he maintained that upper-90s range in the AFL. So monstrous was Miller’s stuff that he became a lock as an offseason top 100 prospect, sliding to the back because of his injury history.

Miller pairs the heater with a sharp, mid-80s slider and locates both with consistency. His changeup flashed plus in the Fall League, where he posted a 10.8 K/9 and blew scouts away in live looks. As we noted in our previous write-up, his delivery is quite violent, so much so that after just 21.1 big league innings across four starts, he landed back on the IL with a mild UCL sprain; his return date is unclear as of now, though he’s recently begun throwing again. This reinforces the suggestion that he may only have so many bullets, so we expect that Oakland might eventually consider a bullpen role for the flamethrower to keep him healthy, though he has the stuff to be an impact starter.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Westlake HS (GA) (OAK)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/70 50/60 55/50 35/40 50

Butler has a penchant for hitting the ball very hard and quite often at an ideal launch angle, but tons of in-zone swing-and-miss have clouded his outlook and he still isn’t a very good outfielder. He missed time in 2022 due to injury and when he returned in late August, he showed a more mature approach, reducing what had historically been an inflated strikeout rate. He continued that during a very promising showing in the AFL, where he struck out at just a 20% clip and matched that rate in walks. Then, in his 12 spring training games, he struck out just four times and walked just as often while going 11-for-23 with four doubles, a triple, and a homer, good for a .478/.556/.870 slash line. It’s hard to say just how many small samples it takes to constitute sustained confidence in these improvements at the plate, but he’s continued to limit his swing and miss issues in thus far 2023, with a strikeout rate below 20% at Double-A. Assuming Butler stays healthy for all of 2023, his flirtation with a better approach shows promising signs of blossoming into a full-blown romance, which will be a major difference-maker regarding his big league viability. He was an offseason Pick to Click of mine and he’s tracking to be a “hit,” likely debuting at some point in 2024.

5. Zack Gelof, 2B

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Virginia (OAK)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 45/50 55/50 45/50 40

Gelof’s swing depends more on his raw strength than on nuanced mechanics, with almost no load, a flat path with a back-smacking finish more often associated with a softball swing. But the strength of his upper body enables Gelof to use that atypical swing to generate power, with above-average exit velocities and power-friendly launch angles. Coming into last season, his home runs were hit almost exclusively to his pull side, but in 2022, 13 of his 18 dingers were sent over the opposite field fence, including all five of the ones he hit in his nine games at Triple-A. His extra-base hits have been sprayed all over the field so far in 2023. Gelof’s improved ability to apply his power to all fields is a step forward in an already-impressive offensive profile. He’s currently on pace for more homers than last season, and his walk rate is one of the highest in the PCL. Even though he’s striking out more than is ideal, Gelof has performed above the league average throughout his entire minor league career, often by a wide margin. He’s spent time at both second and third base in the past, but thus far only played second base in 2023, which hints at what the A’s have in mind for his future development. There’s enough pop and on-base skill here to give Gelof a shot to be an average everyday second baseman, though his strikeout rates keep him just outside the top 100 at this stage.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Jesuit Prep HS (TX) (ATL)
Age 25.7 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / L FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 55/55 45/45 40/40 95-96 / 98

Part of a surplus of Braves pitching and seemingly more likely to wind up in their bullpen as his options dwindled, Muller was part of the three-team trade that sent Sean Murphy to Atlanta. He became Oakland’s Opening Day starter, which speaks volumes about the state of both orgs. The A’s acquired Muller just four outs away from him graduating from prospect eligibility, which he has since done despite being sent down in late May. A towering southpaw, he had brief big league stints in both 2021 and 2022, spending the majority of both seasons at Triple-A.

In 2022, his strike throwing ability was markedly improved across all four pitches in his arsenal. In his time at Triple-A in 2021, he only threw his fastball for strikes about 63% of the time. In contrast, 71% of the heaters he threw at Triple-A in 2022 were strikes, an obvious improvement that helped set up his secondary stuff for chase later in counts. Both his slider (thrown 30% of the time) and a two-plane, mid-80s curveball (13% usage) garner whiff- and chase-rates well above the big league average. He seemed able to carry his improved strike-throwing ability into 2023, but Muller’s fastball has lost two ticks compared to last year, which as you’ll read, is a common trend among pitchers in this org. Evaluated as a three-pitch set-up man who looked as though he might have found starter-worthy command, Muller has stalled out and his evaluation on the Imminent Big Leaguer list now looks optimistic.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 169 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/35 50/50 40/40 80/80 40/45 40

Ruiz began his pro career with the Royals and was traded to the Padres in 2017 as part of a six-player swap that included Travis Wood and Matt Strahm. After a few years toiling away in San Diego’s org while struggling with chase, Ruiz posted a 2022 stat line that will give you a strong urge to check for typos. He slashed .332/.447/.526 and, absurd as it may seem, Ruiz stole 85 bases last year. He started the season at the Padres’ Double-A affiliate, where he swiped 37 bags in 49 games, then moved up to Triple-A and increased that clip to 23 bags in 28 games. He was then dealt to the Brewers as part of the Josh Hader trade and added another 25 steals in his 37 games with Triple-A Nashville. He was traded yet again during the offseason as part of the Sean Murphy three-team swap and has slotted in as Oakland’s regular center fielder in 2023.

Having played second base up until 2019, Ruiz moved to the outfield when play resumed in 2021 after the lost pandemic season and has stayed there ever since, primarily in center with a smattering of innings in either corner. His speed is a natural fit in the outfield, and those wheels help make up for slightly below-average instincts and a second baseman’s arm. The progress he’s made as a defender in center field is the most important component of his profile. So far this year, Ruiz has shown an affinity for situational hitting, posting an eye-popping slashline with runners in scoring position despite a rather anemic one overall. But as predicted, he’s proven to be a speed-first player, leading the majors in stolen bases over the first several months of the season. Due to his grooved, pull-heavy swing, we’re still inclined to think he’s more likely to be a nine-hole hitting speedster with a solid glove and very little bat, basically a fourth outfielder on a contender.

8. Daniel Susac, C

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Arizona (OAK)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 35/55 35/30 30/45 45

Susac’s catching setup varied throughout his time at University of Arizona, sometimes using a traditional catcher’s crouch, sometimes a very upright position, and occasionally dropping to his glove-side knee. Given his 6-foot-4 frame, the more upright positioning resulted in difficult-to-rangle caroms off his gear when tasked with blocking pitches in the dirt, including well-placed, third-strike breaking balls. Now in his first full season of professional ball, he’s committed to the one-knee setup, which has limited how many long rebounds he has surrendered in the early goings of the season. On offense, meanwhile, he’s demonstrated mature barrel control that belies his long limbs, allowing him to spray hits all over the field at High-A. That said, his groundball percentage is above 50%, so his slugging is lower than you might expect for a guy his size and with his power-over-contact pedigree. He’s also cut back on his chase rate, lowering it from a scary 36% during his last college season to 29% thus far this season, while boosting his walk rate into the double digits. If they prove to be sustainable, and if he can eventually infuse them with his raw power, these improvements to Susac’s approach are promising in terms of rounding out his overall profile. A lot of the industry seemed unenthused by the Susac pick, but so far he’s doing well and is still tracking like a potential everyday catcher.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Royber Salinas, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (ATL)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 260 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 60/60 45/50 30/40 93-95 / 98

Salinas started the 2023 season at Double-A and fanned nearly a third of opposing hitters over 42.2 innings before he was shut down with an elbow injury in early June. He throws hard, averaging 94-95 mph before the injury, and both Salinas’ mid-80s slider and downward-tumbling high-70s curveball generate a tons of whiffs, though he struggles to command them. Before his IL stint, his walk rate was nearing 12%, which is actually a shade lower than in past seasons. Ultimately, the command will have to improve for him to be a convincing big league starter, but his stuff will make him a formidable bullpen presence otherwise.

10. Darell Hernaiz, SS

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Americas HS (TX) (BAL)
Age 21.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 45/55 35/45 50/45 50/50 55

Hernaiz signed with the Orioles as a 17-year-old in 2019, and as such, his development was significantly impacted by the lost 2020 minor league season. It’s fair to blame that lost time for his somewhat less than impressive numbers in 2021, but he was also one of the youngest players in the league and was still seen as bursting with raw talent. He started 2022 at Low-A and quickly earned a promotion to High-A, where he spent most of the season before closing things out with a couple weeks at Double-A. Part of the Cole Irvin swap, Hernaiz began 2023 at Double-A Midland, and has performed well above the league average there while still being several years younger than most of the players on the field with him. He’s on the free-swinging side, with a swing percentage above the 50% mark, but he has an obvious knack for barreling up the ball, with his extra base hits scattered to all fields and his home runs tending to clear the fence by a good distance. He’s athletic and defensively skilled enough to stay at shortstop, where he’s played most of this season save for a smattering of innings at second. The defensive versatility (his arm could likely slot in at third base as well) adds to an already promising prospect package, especially if he maintains his quick ascent through the system.

11. Luis Morales, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Cuba (OAK)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 40/45 50/55 30/45 30/50 94-98 / 100

Morales defected during a trip to Mexico as a member of Cuba’s U-23 squad. Despite how few stateside team personnel had actually managed to see him play, he had already earned a great deal of clout because of his strikeout numbers in Cuba’s Series Nacional. He got a hefty signing bonus of close to $3 million in January when the A’s had to outbid a slew of other interested orgs that still had bonus pool space remaining. At the time of his defection, his fastball sat 94-98 mph with an uphill angle and riding life. While the fastball is the most developed of his pitches, he’s got three secondaries in the works – a slider, curveball, and changeup. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League this season and, per Cuban journalist Francys Romero, has touched 100 a few times already. Morales’ arm action is on the longer side, but he repeats it beautifully and his build is that of a prototypical pitcher. The raw material for an impact starter is here, the 20-year-old is simply very far from the big leagues and we won’t know much about his command until he’s forced to face more advanced hitters.

12. Luis Medina, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 60/70 45/55 30/35 96-99 / 101

Part of the Frankie Montas trade, Medina’s long minor league career has been characterized by an ongoing inability to assign either a starter or reliever role to him. He mixed in his upper-80s changeup at a higher rate in 2022, and its usage saw an additional uptick upon his introduction to the A’s organization, perhaps an indication of their efforts to improve his viability as a starter. He favors it particularly against left-handed hitters while relying more heavily on his occasionally nasty low-80s curveball against righties. Neither secondary is very consistent. Command has always been of concern for the righty, and it took a turn for the worse upon his arrival in Double-A Midland, where he issued 22 walks in just 20.2 innings to close out the season. Even though he walked more than a batter per inning at Triple-A to start 2023, the big league clubs’ neediness led to Medina’s promotion, and he’s been a consistent member of the big league roster since mid-May. Like several Oakland pitchers, he has served as both a starter and a reliever, but his bullpen appearances have all been in long relief, taking over in the second or third inning after truncated starting performances from others (so, essentially, starts). His command still dogs his output, with an above-average walk rate illustrating his inconsistency at finding the zone. On a good team, Medina would probably have already been put in the bullpen, and his stuff would likely enable him to perform well in that role, but the rebuilding A’s have no incentive to make such a move proactively.

40 FV Prospects

13. Ryan Noda, 1B

Drafted: 15th Round, 2017 from Cincinati (TOR)
Age 27.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 217 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/45 55/55 50/50 30/30 50/50 50

Left vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft thanks to the Dodgers’ glut of 40-man talent, Noda was selected by the A’s as an obvious upgrade from the team’s big league alternatives at first base. Having far exceeded the league average offensive performance at every level of the minors during his career thus far, in 2022, Noda slashed .259/.395/.474 while walking 16% of the time at Triple-A. His refined approach allows for in-game power, which he has already flashed at the big league level this season. He is keenly aware of which offerings he’ll be able to damage (pitches middle-in), but he’s very vulnerable to high fastballs and will likely end up with a 40-grade hit tool. The power and on-base parts of his game will have to carry all the water of his big league profile, but given that his major league walk rate is hovering around the 20% mark, he’s risen to the occasion. He has slotted in as Oakland’s everyday first baseman in 2023 and thus far boasts one of the better wRC+ marks in baseball, but his advanced age dampens his overall value from a prospect perspective.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Riverview HS (FL) (ATL)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 40/45 50/50 50/55 45/50 93-95 / 98

Tarnok came to Oakland as part of the return for Sean Murphy. A lanky former two-way player, Tarnok creates an extreme downhill angle with his delivery, which features an over-the-top arm action. His fastball sits in the 93-95 mph range, while his plus mid-80s changeup is of the screwball variety and garnered a 47% whiff rate in 2022, the best swing-and-miss option of his four-pitch arsenal. His get-me-over curveball outpaced his changeup in usage in 2022 but didn’t induce as much whiff or chase, and he threw it for a strike less than half the time. His slider is seldom thrown, accounting for just 6% of his 2022 offerings, and he uses it mainly as a sneaky chase pitch against righties. If he’s able to command his arsenal and use it to effectively earn more consistent swing-and-miss, he could find his way to the back of a big league rotation, with the alternate route of a velocity-bump-aided move to the bullpen for middle-inning relief. He suffered a shoulder strain during spring training and wasn’t back until mid-June. As of list publication, Tarnok is still ramping up in Triple-A rehab outings, sitting 93 a couple of innings at a time.

15. Jordan Diaz, 3B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (OAK)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 45/50 35/40 30/30 50/50 55

Diaz has whiff and chase metrics on par with good big league infielders, but his 54.4% swing rate would have ranked amongst the most swing-happy players in 2022. Still, he’s maintained a mid-teens (or lower) strikeout rate at every stop in the minors and combines that with an impressive ability to make contact throughout the zone to offset his miniscule walk rate. He also hit for more power in 2022, which is a welcome addition to his offense, especially if he ends up as a corner infielder. After debuting last season, he’s played a couple dozen games at the big league level in 2023, striking out more often than he had in the minors (though still not at a concerning rate), but also belting four home runs, all on hanging sliders left over the middle of the zone. He was sent back down to Triple-A at the end of May and seems to be focusing on refining his swing decisions; over a comparable sample, his 7.9% walk rate since returning to Las Vegas is nearly triple what it was in the majors, where just two of his 72 big league plate appearances resulted in a walk.

Diaz has historically been hard to place defensively. He’s got the arm strength for third but not the range, he’s on the small side for a first baseman, and he lacks sufficient speed for the outfield. As a result, the bulk of his big league innings in 2022 were spent at second base, where he’d spent virtually no time in the minors until 2023. While a move to the keystone could shift his profile from that of a corner bench player to an everyday roster presence thanks to his proven bat-to-ball skills, the introduction of the shift ban may mean that the range concerns that pushed him away from third base follow him to the middle infield and diminish his viability there as well. His ability to make contact should enable him to be a part-time, low-impact infielder at a few different positions.

International Free Agent, 2023 (OAK)
Age 29.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 55/55 35/35 97-99 / 100

Fujinami was an NPB All-Star three times before he turned 22, but he became like Japan’s Rick Ankiel in his mid-20s and had issues with strike-throwing so severe that he had to be demoted for big chunks throughout the last half decade. While being yo-yo’d back and forth between the minors and the majors (and the bullpen and the rotation) in 2022, Fujinami posted the lowest walk rate of his career (8.2%) while 43% of his pitches were in the strike zone, which is more in line with his career norms. Coinciding with Fujinami’s surface-level improvement in this area was an uptick in his splitter usage and effectiveness, as well as his overall arm strength. He sat 95-96 mph and was up to 100 (about a three-tick bump compared to 2021) while more than doubling his splitter usage (52% fastball, 20% slider, 26% split, and the occasional curveball) in his Central League (Japan’s top league) outings. Coming into the season, opinions were split regarding his viability as a starter and hinged mostly on whether or not his strike-throwing improvement was for real. After a few big league starts at the beginning of the season, Fujinami did indeed move to the bullpen, where his arsenal seems better suited in smaller bursts, rarely lasting more than two innings in relief despite his repertoire depth.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Ole Miss (TOR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 40/45 35/60 90-94 / 96

Hoglund was many scouts’ favorite non-first round prep projection arm for 2018: up to 96 mph with average off-speed stuff, but a clean delivery and a frame with room to grow. He didn’t sign as a Pirates’ comp pick and instead went to Ole Miss. He had growing pains as a freshman, but looked crisp in the fall of 2019, which was the start of his ascent to legitimate college ace. Through 2021, Hoglund was arguably the most polished college arm in the class, sitting in the low-90s while dotting a plus slider on the corner with remarkable consistency. He also had the best command in that year’s draft. His fastball’s tailing action garners looking strikes on the glove-side corner and sets up his changeup, which needs to develop. Toward the end of a dominant 2021 season, Hoglund looked awkward and uncomfortable warming up for a start and was removed from it early on. He would need Tommy John, but that didn’t prevent Toronto from selecting him in the first round. He was dealt to the A’s as part of the Matt Chapman trade while still rehabbing from TJ.

At the time, we looked at his rehab as an opportunity to rework a softer build and maybe exit the process with more velocity, but when he returned in 2022, his velo had dropped by a couple of ticks and his secondaries had lost some of their bite. He was shut down again after just eight innings, this time with a biceps injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. Hoglund is now back from that injury and his velo is still down per a scout who saw him rehabbing in Arizona before he was sent to Stockton. The question now is whether Hoglund’s ability to locate will enable him to be a big league starter even though he has below-average velocity, but it has been a couple of years since he’s been both healthy and good.

18. Max Muncy, SS

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Thousand Oaks HS (OAK)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 30/45 50/50 45/50 50

Muncy is exhibiting a frightening amount of swing-and-miss; so far in 2023, the 20-year-old has the highest swinging strike rate of any player in the A’s system with as many plate appearances. Unfortunately, the increase in whiffs hasn’t come with a corresponding increase in slugging, and while he’s hitting a bit more than in years past overall, it’s still below the Midwest League average. His increase in opposite field contact is perhaps encouraging, as is the trend of his strikeouts decreasing over the course of the season (his strikeout rate is down around 20% since the beginning of June). Muncy still runs pretty well and has a penchant for legging out grounders hit to the left side of the infield. His instincts and arm are less advanced than may be expected of player drafted as a no-doubt shortstop, but he’s young enough that there’s still time for him to continue to develop there. A light-hitting middle infield utility role is still within his reach.

19. Denzel Clarke, CF

Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Cal State Northridge (OAK)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 60/70 45/50 55/50 45/50 45

Clarke’s athleticism always grabbed scouts’ attention, and a breakout junior year at Cal State Northridge led to a fourth round selection in 2021. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Clarke combines an NFL-style frame with exceptionally loud tools. He has plus-plus raw power, the speed for center field, and a high ceiling if his hit tool can develop even a little bit. That hasn’t happened, and Clarke still has some big holes in his swing, as he’s beatable up in the zone and can get busted inside as a long-levered player who likes to get his arms extended. Per Synergy, he’s hitting .143 against fastballs tracked on tape this season. The Canadian Clark’s baseball experience still lags behind that of his peers, and his development could take longer than your average college draftee’s, with plenty of bumps in the road. Things haven’t clicked yet, and this FV grade is more about prospect “value” than it is projecting a role at this point, as Clarke is still more of a dev project than an actual prospect.

20. Henry Bolte, RF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Paolo Alto HS (CA) (OAK)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 40/60 40/55 55/50 40/50 45

Bolte was a second round selection out of Palo Alto High School in the 2022 amateur draft and spent the rest of that season on the complex, where he struggled to find his footing, posting a near-50% strikeout rate in 11 games. Nevertheless, the 19-year-old started 2023 at Low-A. It’s been fits and starts with him there thus far, with occasional brilliance, like when he earned Cal League Player of the Week honors in early May, as well as obvious areas in need of significant improvement, including rating towards the top of the system in terms of both swinging strikes and groundballs. He’s spent roughly equal time in right field, where he’s sometimes seemed uncomfortable reading caroms off the outfield wall, and in center, where he seems more comfortable and where his speed is put to good use, making up for a so-so arm. Bolte still has time to iron out the wrinkles in his approach, and has raw speed and power that would give him a tremendous boost if he’s able to tap into them in games.

21. Joey Estes, SP

Drafted: 16th Round, 2019 from Paraclete HS (CA) (ATL)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 50/55 35/50 92-94 / 97

Still just 21-years-old, Estes started the 2023 season at Double-A, where his fastball is sitting 92-94 mph. His strikeout rate is in the low 20s – a far cry from the eye popping 32% he posted in his breakout 2021 season – but he’s garnered a very high percentage of in-zone swing-and-miss, particularly on his fastball. This is largely thanks to the shape of his four-seamer, which has consistent ride and run, as well as his ability to vary his sequencing in a way that keeps hitters off balance. His two mid-80s secondaries are about average. His slider features occasional sweep, while his changeup is a firmer, tumbling offering, and he’ll deploy them both against hitters on either side of the plate. He looks the part of a backend starter, with a high likelihood of reaching that role barring development-delaying injury.

22. Garrett Acton, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (OAK)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/45 40/40 94-96 / 97

Acton hasn’t had success during his few big league innings but still projects as a solid middle reliever. He’s consistently struck out close to 30% of opposing hitters, but he’s not the flamethrower those high strikeout rates might imply, instead relying on the pitch’s shape and the deception created by his unique delivery while sitting 94-96. The whiff and chase rates he induced with his mid-80s slider in 2022 were better than the big league average, and he threw it for a strike 69% of the time, which is also better than the average major league slider. The downward shape of his breaking ball is also encouraging, but Acton has used it less often as a chase pitch this year and instead is deploying it as an in-zone offering, with his fastball more often used to induce chase. He’ll likely be back in the A’s bullpen at some point this season, though he was recently put on the IL with an undisclosed injury.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Colombia (OAK)
Age 21.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/45 20/40 60/55 45/55 55

Buelvas spent the bulk of 2022 at Low-A with a two-month hiatus in the middle due to a hamstring injury. Before the time off, he had put up paltry numbers across the board and improved them only marginally over the course of the last couple months of the season upon his return. He started 2023 at Low-A and looked like he had made significant progress in correcting the dents in his approach, which prompted his promotion to High-A in the last week of May. But at the higher level, his numbers tumbled across the board (except his strikeout rate, which ballooned toward the 30% mark) as he struggled to adjust to more advanced pitchers, with his swing-and-miss coming largely on breaking balls out of his reach and fastballs in the upper third of the zone. The promise he showed as a teenager has dimmed, but he’s still just 21 and has shown flashes of improvement that, if sustained, could redirect him toward a fourth outfield role.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Clemson (OAK)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/55 30/40 50/50 50/50 60

Davidson played all of 2022 at Double-A and his numbers there were a touch below league average, finishing the season with a 91 wRC+. His strikeout rate came down from a concerning 30% in 2021 to a somewhat more palatable 27%, and he hit the ball hard, with 43% of his contact leaving his bat upwards of 95 mph. He continued to improve in the early goings of 2023, starting the season again at Double-A and besting his previous season slashline in all three columns. His hot start prompted a promotion to Triple-A just before list publication. It’s not pertinent to read into a 25-year-old’s uptick in performance in his second year at Double-A, especially when he’s slipped down the defensive spectrum. Davidson has historically spent most of his time at short, though he also spent at least a few innings at first base this spring, which is where we saw him playing on the back fields. At the time, his appearance at first was surprising, and we wondered if it was due to a specific roster need during that game, but before his promotion, his time at first far surpassed his time at either spot on the left side of the infield, so the defensive realignment seems more indicative of the org’s opinion of his long-term role. His development has been predictably slow, but if his whiffing continues its downward trend and he keeps improving his ability to bring his power into games, he could find his way to the big league roster by the end of 2023.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Ryan Cusick, SIRP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Wake Forest (ATL)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 30/35 92-93 / 96

Cusick earned a first round selection from the Braves in 2021 after impressing scouts as a member of Wake Forest’s rotation despite a walk rate that seemed likely to eventually land him in a relief role. At the time, his stuff was good enough to make up for that penchant for free passes, with a fastball that touched triple digits and a plus slider. He plowed through hitters with his heater in a short post-draft stint with the Braves’ Low-A affiliate, and, more notably, added six ticks to his slider. Shipped to Oakland as part of the Matt Olson trade, Cusick was assigned to Double-A and has taken steps back each of the last two seasons. He maintained the velocity uptick on his slider in 2022, but his fastball was down from its former high-90s home, instead living in the 96 mph range, and while it maintained good shape, it failed to prop up his strikeout rate the way it had at the lower levels. He missed a couple of months in the middle of the season with an oblique strain, then came back and looked about the same as he had pre-injury. In 2023, still at Double-A, Cusick’s slider is back down in the low 80s and his fastball has continued to dip even further, now residing in the 92-93 mph range, and he’s missing the zone with both offerings too often to be effective.

26. J.T. Ginn, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Mississippi State (NYM)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/50 40/50 30/50 90-91 / 94

Ginn underwent Tommy John surgery just before the shutdown in 2020, but that didn’t deter the Mets from selecting him in the second round of that year’s draft. He was traded to Oakland for Chris Bassitt before the 2022 season and has had a myriad of arm issues since the deal. Forearm soreness cost him a chunk of 2022, and Ginn was only sitting 90-91 mph upon return. He began the 2023 campaign with three starts at Double-A Midland, where his velocity dipped several notches and his command evaporated, walking more batters than he fanned. Again he was shut down with forearm soreness. He returned for one start in mid-May, where he allowed six earned runs without getting out of the first inning, and hasn’t pitched for an affiliate since. The persistent arm issues are hard to look past at this point, and Ginn is more of a bounce-back candidate than a prospect at this juncture.

27. Clark Elliott, RF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Michigan (OAK)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 40/55 30/50 55/50 40/50 40

Elliott started 2023 at Low-A, where he walked more often than he struck out while splitting his time between left and right field. He was promoted to High-A after a few weeks and his swinging strike rate ticked up a notch, while his chase rate more than doubled. He particularly struggles against left-handed pitchers, having recorded an combined three hits in his 32 plate appearances against southpaws. It isn’t so much a matter of offering at pitches he shouldn’t, as it is not offering at the ones he should, illustrated by a sub-40% swing rate against lefties. He first garnered serious attention with a stellar Cape Cod League performance, characterized by a tremendous uptick in power as compared with his college career to that point. His speed makes that power potential much more enticing and keeps open the possibility of a move to center field if he can put it together as a professional.

28. Conner Capel, RF

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Seven Lakes (TX) HS (CLE)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 50/50 40/45 55/55 45/50 60

Selected out of a Texas high school in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, Capel underwent a swing change that allowed him to slash his groundball rate from 57.7% to just 38.1%. He shined in his first full professional season back in 2017, launching 22 home runs and slugging .478, to the tune of a 121 wRC+ in Low A as a 20-year-old. His home run hitting evaporated the next year when he was promoted to High-A. He recorded just six dingers with Cleveland before being dealt to the Cardinals and hit just one in the 29 games he played with St. Louis’ High-A affiliate after the trade. His in-game power lay largely dormant as he worked his way up through the minor leagues, but he made up for it somewhat with a patient approach, posting very few strikeouts and showing a knack for drawing a walk and taking advantage of his speed on the basepaths. It wasn’t convincing enough for St. Louis, who DFA’d Capel after a lackluster big league stint in 2022, allowing Oakland to scoop him up. He’s a solid outfielder with an above-average arm, but his bat isn’t loud enough to be a convincing corner presence. He’s been an up-down guy so far this season, and he’s a useful bench option for the A’s for now, which is likely to be his ceiling barring a convincing return of his in-game power.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Fallen Stars
Pedro Pineda, CF
Robert Puason, SS
Lazaro Armenteros, OF

Each of these three was a top 10 prospect in the A’s system at one point but has since hit significant stumbling blocks. Pineda, who missed time in 2022 due to injury, has good bat speed but struggles to recognize strikes, resulting in an inflated K rate while still at Low-A. He is now seen as a player with high injury risk and frightening swing-and-miss issues. Puason has stopped switch hitting. He continues to bounce back and forth between Low-A and the complex with little sign of lasting improvement regarding his lack of contact. Lazarito’s strikeout rate is lower than last season, but that’s only because last year it was in the mid-40s. Oakland can ill-afford for their high-bonus international misses to be this big.

The Walkers
Brennan Milone, 1B/2B
Caeden Trenkle, OF
Angel Arevalo, 2B/CF

Milone is a tad old for Low-A, but is nevertheless walking about as much as he’s striking out there, though he’s hard to place defensively. On the flip side, Trenkle is an easy fit in center field, and his patience at the plate resulted in him reaching base safely in his first 18 games at High-A. He was placed on the IL in early May and is now ramping back up on the complex. Also freshly returned from injury is Arevalo. His walk rate is comically high (as is his strikeout rate), but his sample is comically small, as his season only began in earlier this month.

The Runners
Junior Perez, RF
Euribiel Angeles, 3B
Max Schuemann, SS/OF

Perez’s 19 stolen bases rank second in the A’s system, while his OBP ranks as one of the lowest in the org due to him striking out in roughly a third of his plate appearances. Angeles is a threat on the basepaths as well, but his roughly 1% walk rate isn’t doing him any favors. Schuemann is a jack of all defensive trades. He returned to Triple-A earlier this year and proceeded to bring his strikeout rate down by more than eight percentage points relative to his Double-A mark while slugging more than ever and ranking second in stolen bases at Las Vegas.

Command Struggles
Jorge Juan, SP
Blake Beers, SP
Yehizon Sanchez, SP
Jacob Watters, SIRP

Juan started the year with 14.1 dominant innings at High-A, where he struck out nearly half his opponents to help make up for a walk rate above 16%. Since reaching Double-A, his walk rate has held steady while his strikeout rate has plummeted below 20%. Beers has put up similar numbers to Joey Estes this year, and his slider is still a plus offering, but he’s a few years older than Estes with a less data-friendly four-seamer. Sanchez posted a 2.51 WHIP at Low-A to start the season; opposing hitters averaged .378 against him, so he’s been sent down to the complex again. Watters is still starting this season, and his 15% walk rate so far at High-A is actually significantly lower than in his first taste of professional pitching last year, but the command and arsenal still seem more appropriate for a reliever.

Ailing Arms
Stevie Emanuels, SP
Eduardo Rivera, SIRP
Jack Weisenburger, SIRP

Emanuels and Rivera have both returned from injury this season to varying results. Emanuels began the year with three appearances on the complex and is now back at High-A, where he’ll look to recapture the movement and spin on his arsenal that has historically allowed it to play up. Rivera missed much of 2022 to injury, then started this season on the IL as well. When he returned, he skipped the complex, instead heading right to Low-A, where he has struggled to find the zone consistently. Weisenburger hasn’t pitched since May 2022, having thrown only nine innings that season. His injury track record is particularly concerning due to the violence in his delivery.

System Overview

Even the most casual baseball fans have heard about what’s going on with the A’s this year. But before persistent “sell the team” chants started to resound within the concrete confines of the Coliseum during every home game came the trades that inspired those disgruntled cheers, deals that sent away Oakland’s biggest names largely in exchange for prospects. As a result, only about half of the players listed above were originally signed by the A’s.

A few of the players acquired in the team’s recent blockbuster transactions are now on the big league squad, including Esteury Ruiz (Sean Murphy trade) and Shea Langeliers (Matt Olson trade), but most of them have had much less success since their arrival. In particular, nearly all of the highly-touted pitching prospects these trades netted have struggled in one way or another, whether it be a velocity decline, dwindling command, injury, or some combination of the three.

Based on how the A’s rotation and bullpen have performed at the big league level, it’s no surprise that their system is largely characterized by a downtick in pitching performance, one that isn’t limited to the trade acquisitions. Whether it’s the woes of Mason Miller (injury) and Ken Waldichuk (command) atop the list, or the downward skid of Ryan Cusick and J.T. Ginn, who now find themselves towards its bottom, it’s harder to find a hurler who is truly thriving than it is to spot the ones who are struggling.

There’s greater optimism to be mined from some of the homegrown position players, like Lawrence Butler’s improving swing and miss tendencies or the quick ascent of young Zack Gelof. But given the overall aura surrounding the Athletics at the moment, it would have perhaps been unreasonable to expect the apparent apathy exhibited by ownership towards the current team (at least, in its current location) not to impact the quality of its minor league system as a whole. When I attended an A’s game recently, I overheard groups around me hoping to see ownership start to invest more whole-heartedly in the team’s future when it relocates. But even if we see a meaningful shift in organizational philosophy — one that prioritizes retaining talented young players and winning at the big league level — Oakland has fallen behind other front offices and farm systems. The next good A’s team is likely a ways away wherever it plays.





Tess is a contributor at FanGraphs. When she's not watching college or professional baseball, she works as a sports video editor, creating highlight reels for high school athletes. She can be found on Twitter at @tesstass.

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David Wiersmember
8 months ago

Woof.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago
Reply to  David Wiers

25% winning percentage in the majors, only 28 prospects worth a writeup, and the top two were clearly misevaluated in the offseason in terms of how ready they were. This is bleak.

David Wiersmember
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Well, least I’m also a Tottenham fan.

ohmygod

dukewinslowmember
8 months ago
Reply to  David Wiers

Lads…