Top 30 Prospects: Oakland Athletics by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel March 1, 2019 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Oakland Athletics. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2019 2018 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Athletics Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Jesus Luzardo 21.4 AAA LHP 2019 55 2 Sean Murphy 24.4 AAA C 2019 55 3 A.J. Puk 23.9 AA LHP 2019 55 4 Austin Beck 20.3 A CF 2021 45 5 Jorge Mateo 23.7 AAA SS 2019 45 6 Jameson Hannah 21.6 A- CF 2021 45 7 Lazaro Armenteros 19.8 A LF 2021 40+ 8 Sheldon Neuse 24.2 AAA 3B 2019 40+ 9 Jeremy Eierman 22.5 A- SS 2021 40+ 10 Nick Allen 20.4 A SS 2022 40 11 James Kaprielian 25.0 A+ RHP 2019 40 12 Daulton Jefferies 23.6 A+ RHP 2020 40 13 Grant Holmes 22.9 AA RHP 2019 40 14 Marcos Brito 19.0 A- 2B 2022 40 15 Parker Dunshee 24.1 AA RHP 2019 40 16 Luis Barrera 23.3 AA CF 2019 40 17 Skye Bolt 25.1 AA CF 2019 40 18 Jordan Diaz 18.6 R 3B 2022 40 19 Greg Deichmann 23.8 A+ RF 2020 40 20 Kevin Merrell 23.2 A+ 2B 2021 40 21 Brian Howard 23.9 AA RHP 2019 40 22 Miguel Romero 24.9 AA RHP 2019 40 23 Gus Varland 22.3 A RHP 2021 40 24 Alfonso Rivas 22.5 A- 1B 2021 35+ 25 Dalton Sawyer 25.3 AAA LHP 2019 35+ 26 Hogan Harris 22.2 R LHP 2020 35+ 27 Jhoan Paulino 17.7 R SS 2024 35+ 28 Alexander Campos 19.0 R 2B 2023 35+ 29 Lawrence Butler 18.6 R RF 2023 35+ 30 Jose Mora 21.4 A- RHP 2021 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 55 FV Prospects 1. Jesus Luzardo, LHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (WAS) Age 21.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/60 50/60 45/55 92-95 / 98 The summer before his senior year of high school, Luzardo looked like a relatively unprojectable pitchability lefty, albeit an advanced one. His fastball was only in the 88-92 range at Area Codes, though his changeup and curveball were each above-average. He did not throw during the fall and instead devoted more time to working out. The following spring, with a new physique, Luzardo’s stuff was way up across the board, his fastball now sitting comfortably in the mid-90s, touching 97. Four starts into his senior season, Luzardo tore his UCL and need Tommy John. After most of the first three rounds of the 2016 draft had come and gone it seemed as though Luzardo might end up at the University of Miami. Four outings (including the one during which he broke) was not enough time for many teams to have high-level decision makers in to see him and take him early, but the Nationals (who have a history of drafting pitchers who have fallen due to injury) called his name and signed him for $1.4 million, a bonus equivalent to an early second rounder. Luzardo rehabbed as a National and continued to strengthen his body. When he returned the following summer, his stuff had completely returned. He made just three starts for the GCL Nats before he was traded to Oakland as part of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson deal. He has quickly climbed Oakland’s minor league ladder and reached Triple-A at age 20 in 2018. Those crafty pitchability traits from high school are still extant. Luzardo will vary the shape of his breaking ball — he can throw it for strikes to get ahead of hitters, he back foot it to righties — and he uses his changeup against lefties and righties. His delivery is a bit violent but it doesn’t inhibit his command, and Luzardo’s musculature seems better able to deal with the effort than it was when he was in high school. His fastball, which has been up to 97 in his big league appearances this spring, may not play like a mid-90s heater because he is undersized and a short-strider, but he locates it well enough to avoid getting hurt. He has mid-rotation upside and is abnormally polished. We may see him in Oakland this year. 2. Sean Murphy, C Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Wright State (OAK) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/55 55/55 40/50 20/20 50/55 70/70 Once a walk-on at Wright State, Murphy has become one of the more well-rounded catching prospects in the minors. He has always had near elite arm strength but because he didn’t catch much pro-quality stuff in college, his receiving and ball-blocking were undercooked for a college prospect when he first entered pro ball. Those aspects of his defense have vastly improved, and he’s now an average defender with a chance to be above, and his arm douses opposing baserunners. Murphy also has plus raw power, though he hasn’t typically hit for it in games for various reasons. In college, a broken hamate likely masked his power and was part of the reason he fell to the 2016 draft’s third round. In pro ball, his swing has been very compact, relying on Murphy’s raw strength rather than efficient biomechanical movement to deliver extra-bases. He broke his other hamate last year. Murphy’s nearly .500 SLG at Double-A Midland is above what we expect moving forward, and instead think Murphy will be a high-contact bat with doubles power, which would be an above-average regular behind the plate. 3. A.J. Puk, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (OAK) Age 23.9 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/65 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 93-96 / 97 It’s counterintuitive to call a lefty with a plus slider and mid-90s velocity a ‘breakout’ candidate, but that’s exactly what Puk looked like during 2018 Spring Training before he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John. Puk was soft-bodied and relatively unathletic as an amateur, but he arrived to Mesa in good shape and his landing leg was more stable throughout his delivery, leading to superior command than he had had at Florida. Additionally, Puk dusted off his high school curveball and reintroduced it to his repertoire. His feel for it returned very quickly, and it was comfortably average near the end of spring and gave him a fresh way of starting off at-bats the second and third time through a lineup. His changeup was also better than it had been in college, and looked like a potential plus pitch. Scouts thought he had a chance to reach Oakland by year’s end, and a surprisingly competitive Oakland club would have been motivated to move him quickly. Puk has recently begun throwing bullpens and should be going full-tilt later in the spring. He appeared to have No. 2 or 3 starter upside before his injury. 45 FV Prospects 4. Austin Beck, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Davidson HS (NC) (OAK) Age 20.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/65 30/55 60/55 40/50 60/60 Beck was a name in the back pocket of area scouts in the Carolinas entering the winter of his draft year. Then word started to trickle out that the kid who had missed the summer and fall showcases with an ACL tear had turned into a completely different player, one who now had 70 bat speed. Early in the spring, videos of his first few majestic homers led to a rush of national crosscheckers and scouting directors getting in to see Beck, as most of them never had before. It’s rare for a prep hitter to land in the first 10 picks with only one spring of looks and data, none of it on TrackMan, and almost none of it against pro-quality pitching, but Beck’s tools were just that loud: 70 bat speed, easy plus raw power, plus speed, and a plus arm. It’s similar to how Clint Frazier looked at the same stage, though Frazier had a long summer of production, faced strong prep competition, and still only went fifth overall. Beck’s pro debut revealed some weaknesses that aren’t evident against mediocre prep pitching and he was clearly overmatched in the AZL during his first pro summer and often visibly frustrated. He was 19 in Low-A last year and was able to hit for average, but very little power. Like Frazier, Beck has a good chance to lose a step as his body matures, and move to right field as a result, so pressure is on the bat. Pro scouts don’t see the impact power that amateur scouts saw. We’re cautiously optimistic that improved strength and swing work will tease out more game power during his age-20 season in the hitter-friendly Cal League. 5. Jorge Mateo, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic (NYY) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 55/55 40/45 80/80 45/50 55/55 Not only was Mateo unable to carry his torrid 60-game offensive stretch at Double-A into 2018 (half with New York before the 2017 Sonny Gray trade, half with Oakland after it), but he had his worst statistical season to date, as he reached base just 28% of the time. He remains one of the more physically gifted players not only in this system, but in all of the minor leagues. He is a no-doubt 80 runner who circled the bases during an inside-the-park home run in the Dominican this winter in just 14.40 seconds. That’s approaching Byron Buxton territory even though Mateo paused on his way to first and slowed up as he approached and needlessly slid in to home. He also has above-average raw power that he has never manifested in games due to a variety of issues that make it unlikely he ever will. His lower half usage in the box is sub-optimal, he too often expands the zone, and he frequently settles for middling, opposite-field contact. These have been Mateo’s issues for over seven years now, and with each passing season, they’re less and less likely to improve. But because Mateo has such prodigious athletic gifts and is going to play somewhere up the middle (he has the physical tools for shortstop and has looked fine there in big league trials this spring, but remains procedurally immature), he’s likely to force his way on the field somehow, and he has a better chance of making a big league impact than everyone below him on this list. That’s probably as a low-end regular or utility type, with a dwindling chance for stardom if the tools suddenly actualize. 6. Jameson Hannah, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Dallas Baptist (OAK) Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 45/45 30/45 60/60 45/50 40/40 Hannah had three remarkably consistent years at Dallas Baptist and ended his college career with a .340 average. He has excellent hitter’s timing and bat control, and his swing is athletic but compact, enabling not only high rates of contact, but also promising contact quality. That’s not to say Hannah will have in-game power. He’s a line drive hitter, an old school, two-hole type of hitter, the kind who’s sort of an endangered species in the current big league hitting environment. Some teams considered Hannah’s lack of power to be a bit of an issue in their pre-draft evals and thought he was more of a tweener fourth outfield type, a projection echoed by pro scouts who saw Hannah in the summer and fall. He has plus speed, speed that Hannah exhibited during instructional league even after he had been shut down for the summer with a foot injury. His frame is maxed out and he can’t afford to slow down much and still be viable in center field every day, but while this creates some long term risk for his profile, he’s fine out there right now. His most likely path to a sizable everyday role involves Hannah out-hitting what we currently have projected for his bat. 40+ FV Prospects 7. Lazaro Armenteros, LF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (OAK) Age 19.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 182 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 55/60 30/50 60/55 40/50 40/40 One of the last teenage Cuban prospects to leave the island before a new CBA implemented a hard-slotted international bonus system, Lazarito remains a polarizing and volatile prospect. Teams left his amateur workouts with widely varying opinions about his talent, especially his defensive future, and the situation became more unsettled when his American agent had to cut ties with him after receiving death threats from Lazarito’s Latin American trainer/investor. Once that situation resolved, Armenteros signed for $3 million, then came stateside and looked concerningly raw, but clearly talented. His timing and breaking ball recognition were especially poor, but he hadn’t seen live pitching for a long time, meaning it could have been due to rust. As the spring and summer of 2017 wore on, he started to develop a much better feel at the plate and by the fall of 2017, was hitting lasers to all fields off of curated instructional-league pitching. The Athletics pushed him to Low-A as a 19-year-old in 2018 and Armenteros posted a serviceable .277/.374/.401 line while striking out at a disquieting 34% clip. The K% is less worrisome because of his age, but he does have a bat path that limits the scope of his contact and some kinetic connectivity issues that cause him to rely solely on his dynamic hand speed to generate power. His arm limits him to left field, and he needs to rake to hit enough for that. He has the physical talent to do so, but there are some mechanical and statistical indications that he may not. 8. Sheldon Neuse, 3B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma (WAS) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 60/60 35/50 40/40 45/50 60/60 A college shortstop and closer, Neuse was viewed by the amateur arm of the scouting body as a third base prospect with big power. He was Washington’s 2016 second rounder, then was traded the following summer as part of the Luzardo/Doolittle/Madson deal. He wrapped his 2017 season with short, statistically insignificant stints in Hi-A, Double-A, and the Arizona Fall League, but he performed at each stop, so combined there was confidence that Neuse’s early-season showing was for real despite his relatively advanced age. He was sent right to Triple-A to start 2018 and flopped, hitting just .263/.304/.357 and striking out a concerning 32% of the time. Neuse has also thickened a bit, so while he’s still an arm-reliant fit at third, he’s trending more toward 3B/1B, and maybe right, than the SS/3B looks Washington gave him early in his career. The combination of the 2018 struggles and somewhat shaky standing on the defensive spectrum makes it imperative that Neuse have a bounce back 2019 performance. He’s a baseball rat and younger than similarly-skilled players we’ve written up so far (like Mets third baseman J.D. Davis), so we’re a little more bullish on a rebound here than we are elsewhere. If he struggles again it’s perhaps worth considering two-way duty. Neuse was up to 96 in our looks at him in college. 9. Jeremy Eierman, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Missouri State (OAK) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/60 35/50 50/45 40/45 60/60 Eierman’s older brother Johnny was a third round pick of Tampa Bay in 2011 and his father, John, played A-ball for the Red Sox in the mid-90s. Jeremy was a solid prep prospect, but not the type who gets a big bonus and signs out of high school, so he ended up at Missouri State and had a breakout sophomore year. He was often seen by high-level decision makers during that breakout because he was playing alongside first round third baseman Jake Burger, and he had 2018 first round buzz by the end of the college postseason because scouts thought he could be a passable shortstop with all-fields power, and analytics folks liked his huge sophomore season and higher-than-you’d-expect exit velos. Then Eierman had an inconsistent summer with Team USA and his draft spring was a bit of a letdown. He plateaued, arguably had a worse statistical season, and suddenly there were doubts about his approach and ultimate defensive home. He fell to Oakland at 70th overall last summer. Oakland has been a bit more open to non-traditional fits at shortstop recently and they clearly think that with more reps there, Eierman can stick. He may be a 45 hitter who gets to his raw power in games and passes at short, along the lines of currently projected mid-first-round 2019 draft prospect Logan Davidson at Clemson. Pro scouts think he moves to third base, at least, which makes the hit tool look a little flimsy on paper. 40 FV Prospects 10. Nick Allen, SS Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Francis Parker HS (CA) (OAK) Age 20.4 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 30/30 20/30 50/50 55/70 60/60 Even among a historically talented group of SoCal shortstops (Hunter Greene, Royce Lewis, Brice Turang), Allen was clearly the most gifted defender of the group and the best defensive high school infielder a lot of scouts have ever seen. He has 80 hands, above-average range, a plus arm, and an intoxicating flare and confidence not typical of humans of this stature. Allen’s size, or lack there of, is why he fell to the draft’s third round, as there was concern he would not have the requisite physicality to hit big league pitching. After a few years of pro ball, scouts think his wrists and forearms are strong enough to put viable contact in play, but probably not with enough force to truly profile as an everyday shortstop. Sources who have seen Allen and other punchless leatherwizards think the likes of Jose Iglesias and Freddy Galvis had more thump than Allen does at the same age. That’s not to say that they don’t think Allen is a big leaguer, as everyone thinks he’s going to have a very long big league career as an elite defensive shortstop and infield utility man a la Jack Wilson or Adam Everett. That type of player is going away, but we think Allen is exceptional. 11. James Kaprielian, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from UCLA (NYY) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/60 55/60 45/50 55/60 45/50 89-93 / 98 Kaprielian had a velo spike in pro ball (he was 89-94 at UCLA, and 94-97 after he had been with NYY for a while), then started getting hurt. Acquired by Oakland in the 2017 Sonny Gray deal, he still hasn’t thrown a single inning for an A’s affiliate. Let’s go over the injury history: Kap missed nearly all of 2016 due to a flexor-tendon strain, but his stuff was great when he returned for the 2016 Fall League. He blew out his UCL during 2017 spring training and needed Tommy John. In Eric’s looks at Kaprielian as he rehabbed back from TJ during extended spring of 2018, he was 91-94 instead of 94-97, then was shut back down with shoulder soreness. Up again during 2018 instructional league, his fastball was 88-91. He is again day-to-day with shoulder soreness as this list goes to press. Healthy Kaprielian will touch 99 and show four impact pitches, including a plus slider and changeup. His pitch grades are nearly identical to A.J. Puk’s. Even if his stuff comes back this spring, we’ll be hesitant to move him up beyond the 45 FV tier due to the threat of injury recurrence, a specter that could cause Oakland to push him quickly if his stuff bounces back, which means he could feasibly make a big league impact this year if he could just get healthy. 12. Daulton Jefferies, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Cal (OAK) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 55/55 45/50 55/60 50/55 50/60 91-94 / 96 Another exciting arm talent who cannot stay healthy, Jefferies has thrown just 20 innings in parts of three pro seasons. His injury issues date back to his college days at Cal when he had shoulder trouble that the coaching staff initially said was hamstring tightness. An excellent on-mound athlete with advanced command, Jefferies was 91-93 the summer after he signed, then 92-95 with a reshaped array of secondary offerings the following spring. He looked likely to be a quick-mover, someone who might reach Double-A in his first full season. Alas, his UCL did not cooperate and Jefferies had Tommy John a week after James Kaprielian did. Jefferies returned during 2018 extended spring training and his velocity had totally returned. He was 92-93 early in rehab outings, then 91-95 in his first official AZL game back from surgery, but it would be his last in-game outing of the summer as he was shelved for the remainder of the regular season by a setback. Healthy Jefferies has surgical command of a low-90s heater and plus power changeup. So firm is Jefferies’ cambio that TrackMan units often mistakenly classify it as a sinker as it resides in the mid-to-upper 80s. It bottoms out late and hard, and is Jefferies’ best secondary pitch. His breaking stuff has evolved since college and at last look, he was throwing a fringy curveball that is effective because of his ability to locate it, and an average upper-80s cutter. He’s a potential fourth starter with a value-altering injury history. 13. Grant Holmes, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Conway HS (SC) (LAD) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/55 40/45 40/45 92-94 / 97 Wire-to-wire shoulder issues kept Holmes off the field for nearly all of the 2018 regular season. He was limited to fastball/changeup-only bullpens in the spring but didn’t really got going until late in the summer, when he made two starts in August and showed stuff that was slightly beneath where he was earlier in his career, with his fastball residing in the 92-94 range. Poised to pick up innings in the Arizona Fall League, Holmes once again had shoulder discomfort and was shut down for the year. The A’s still felt compelled to add him to the 40-man this offseason rather than let another team take a $100,000 flier on him in the Rule 5 and hope his fastball/slider combination stuck in their bullpen. At his absolute best, Holmes will sit 93-96 with a plus slider and average-flashing changeup, a No. 4 or 5 starter if his change and command improve. Of this triumvirate of injured arms, Holmes is the most likely to be a reliever, but his injury history is the least lengthy. He was on the same bullpen schedule as Jesus Luzardo early in camp but still hasn’t pitched in a spring training game. 14. Marcos Brito, 2B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 19.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 30/40 20/35 55/50 45/55 55/55 A skills-over-tools prospect, Brito is the most well-rounded, technically advanced player of Oakland’s splashy 2016 international signees, and the org saw fit to send him to the New York-Penn League as an 18-year-old last summer, where Brito was three years younger than the average regular. Brito has enough range for the middle infield and magician’s hands around the bag at second base, and while he lacks the max-effort arm strength for shortstop, he throws darts from second to first with a flick of the wrist. His ball/strike recognition is mature for his age and Brito has above-average bat control and hand-eye coordination, but the way his body develops is going to dictate much of what he’s capable of doing offensively. He needs to get stronger to be more than a utility option at best. He’s a switch-hitting middle infield fit with feel for contact, and that alone makes him one of the more interesting prospects in this system, but there’s a sizable gap between where his physicality is now and where it reasonably needs to be for him to punish big league pitching in a meaningful way. 15. Parker Dunshee, RHP Video Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (OAK) Age 24.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 45/45 50/50 50/55 50/60 89-92 / 94 Dunshee flew under the radar at Wake Forest, opting not to sign his junior year as a 14th rounder, then going in the seventh round as a priority senior sign to Oakland in 2017. He didn’t have huge stuff then and still doesn’t, with everything consistently grading a 50 and flashing 55s at times. But the 55s are showing up with a little more regularity, the command has gone from average to plus, and he knows exactly how to use the many pitches he has. Scouts think he’s now a high probability back-end starter who outperforms his raw stuff in the minors and may continue to do so in the majors. He should start 2019 in Triple-A and will likely have a few chances to fill in on the big league roster in 2019. 16. Luis Barrera, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 50/50 40/45 70/70 55/60 70/70 A likely bench outfielder, Barrera projects to be an uncommonly toolsy one. He’s a high-end speedster with a cannon for an arm, and while he’s got a long minor league track-record of hitting, his aggressive approach might create issues against big league pitching. He often settles for sub-optimal contact, typically resulting in groundballs, and even though he takes some occasional max-effort hacks that tease the raw power, he’s not likely to hit for much of it in games. His speed enables viability in center, but he’s just okay out there, and it’s not enough to override the offensive issues and enable an everyday role. He projects as a high-end pinch runner and corner outfield defensive replacement, but there’s a chance he ends up as the larger half of a center field platoon. 17. Skye Bolt, CF Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from North Carolina (OAK) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 50/50 40/50 60/60 45/50 55/55 Bolt was notable early in his prep career not only for his meteorological name, but also for his talent. He developed tools early — average raw power, plus speed, a good swing from both sides — and had a projectable body that enabled a favorable extended forecast for those tools. But scouts didn’t always see the performance they wanted from him during his developmental stage in high school or his maturation phase early in his college career at North Carolina, even though the tools were consistently there. His BB/K ratio was fine in college, but his BABIP was very low, due in part to weaker contact and a slow first step out of the box, but also some bad luck. He’s progressed offensively in pro ball and his power has finally begun to show up in the stat line. He’s fringy in center field and now has a textbook fourth outfielder profile. Some teams prefer his switch-hitting bat and power to Barrera’s; others would rather have Barrera’s wheels and superior feel for contact, but they have similar likely future roles. 18. Jordan Diaz, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (OAK) Age 18.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 50/55 25/45 45/40 40/45 50/50 Diaz signed for $275,000 in the 2016 signing period and has steadily progressed to be among the best homegrown Latin prospects Oakland has, arguably with Armenteros and Brito for some observers. There’s a shot for average all-around offense, and most see Diaz as a hit-over-power prospect, evident through the high-contact numbers he showed 2018 in the AZL, while some see potential above-average power and that Diaz will prioritize over contact down the road. He’s also a good enough athlete to stick at third base at the moment, though that may change depending on how his body matures. Diaz was already pretty filled out at 16 and may outgrow third. The offense will dictate his future and there are some exciting elements already present, especially for a lower-bonus prospect who signed just two years ago. 19. Greg Deichmann, RF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from LSU (OAK) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 65/65 40/50 50/45 40/45 55/55 Deichmann has long been on the national scouting radar, standing out as a prep underclass third baseman in Louisiana, but his age and contact issues pushed him to LSU. He barely played as a freshman, was solid as a sophomore, then broke out as a 22-year-old junior, hitting 19 homers en route to a .996 OPS while also posting top-of-the-scale amateur exit velocities as he grew into easy plus raw power. Since he signed as a 22-year-old and is a corner-based, power-over-hit bat, Deichmann needed to perform quickly but a broken hamate limited his 2018 and may keep him from getting to that power in games until later in 2019. He is a fine right fielder and good athlete, but is just fringy defensively, so the pressure is on for his age-24 season, with only 47 career games at full-season levels. 20. Kevin Merrell, 2B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from South Florida (OAK) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 40/40 20/30 80/80 40/45 55/55 Merrell was a sleeper prep prospect as a 70 runner without much else in terms of present tools to offer, so he headed to South Florida, where he blossomed in his draft year. He’s now an 80 runner but still doesn’t quite have the hands or actions for the infield; he could work his way into being a passable second baseman, but we would guess center field is where he lands. His approach is solid but not great, in part because he has above average bat control and, obviously, the speed to outrun softly-hit balls. There’s enough power to hit homers to the pull side when he gets ahold of a fastball in, but not much in way of home run potential. He’s gotten a little too pull-heavy in pro ball and should use more of an all-fields approach to have a shot to develop the contact skills he needs to turn into a low-end regular. 21. Brian Howard, RHP Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from TCU (OAK) Age 23.9 Height 6′ 9″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 45/50 45/50 50/55 50/55 89-91 / 93 Howard was a $40,000 senior sign in the eighth round of the 2017 draft and spent half of 2018 pitching well at Double-A. His stuff is pretty generic — 89-93 with an average cutter and curveball — but Howard’s size (he’s 6-foot-9) creates a unique angle on his pitches that hitters clearly aren’t comfortable with. He also has remarkable control for a pitcher of this size. It’s fifth or sixth starter stuff, which would already be a great outcome for a high-priority senior sign, and we’re inclined to round to the top of that range based on the weirdness created by Howard’s height. 22. Miguel Romero, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (OAK) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/60 50/50 45/50 94-97 / 98 Romero experienced an unexpected velocity spike as a 24-year-old, his heater creeping into the 93-97 range after it was 92-94 the year before. He also drastically improved his slider, which he lacked feel for just after signing, and he now looks like a standard fastball/slider middle relief prospect in most outings, though remember that Romero also throws a knuckle changeup — coined ‘The Critter’ by Mat Latos, the only other guy we know who throws it — which he has de-emphasized as the slider has emerged. 23. Gus Varland, RHP Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Concordia (OAK) Age 22.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 45/50 40/50 92-94 / 95 We knew nothing of Varland until he threw after the draft, and now we think he’s at least a good relief prospect with a chance to be more. Thick and physical throughout the torso and thighs, Varland has a lightning-quick arm that generates mid-90s velocity at peak. His fastball has bat-missing life, and both his breaking balls have sufficient bite to avoid barrels as well, especially when they’re well-located. He was pushed to the Midwest League fairly quickly after signing and carved up the Penn League in three and four-inning stints. It may be worth trying to start him but he could move pretty quickly as a reliever. 35+ FV Prospects 24. Alfonso Rivas, 1B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Arizona (OAK) Age 22.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ At 6-foot-1, 180, Rivas would look out of place in a team photo of big league first basemen, full of big-bodied mashers and explosive rotational athletes. He lacks prototypical first base pop but there’s a non-zero chance he makes enough contact to balance the offensive scales sufficiently to profile as a platoon 1B/LF or low-end regular. His 2018 post-draft showing in the NYPL was impressive from a bat-to-ball standpoint and he took great at-bats and made hard contact during instructional league, though that was all against pitching comparable to what he saw in college. He’s a sleeper bat we like but it’s a tough profile, one he’ll have to hit his way to. 25. Dalton Sawyer, LHP Video Drafted: 9th Round, 2016 from Minnesota (OAK) Age 25.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tommy John surgery sank Sawyer’s 2018 season and he’s now a 25-year-old who has yet to pitch a meaningful slate of innings above A-ball. He also only throws in the low-90s/upper-80s, but he locates it in spots that make it difficult for hitters to punish, and his funky, low-3/4s arm slot disorients them, especially lefties. His delivery, fastball command, and ability to dump his curveball in for strikes should be enough for him to deal with lefties and Swayer’s best pitch, a late-sinking, bat-missing changeup, could be enough to keep righties at bay. The report reads like a that of fifth starter, a 40 FV. But Sawyer’s age and what might be an innings limit coming off of surgery are at odds with one another, and ideally we’d like a pitcher firmly in his mid-20s to be a big league lock for 2019, so we’ve shaded down his FV beneath his true evaluation. 26. Hogan Harris, LHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Louisiana Lafayette (OAK) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+ Harris broke onto the national scene in the summer of 2015, working 90-94 with an above average slurve but well below average command due in part to an extreme crossfire delivery. He was a version of this for a few years, then made some adjustments in college to develop more starter traits and throw strikes with the sort of stuff he showed before his senior year in high school. He’ll run it into the mid 90s at times and flashes three above average pitches, but had an oblique injury kept him from playing after signing and the stuff still waxes and wanes. 27. Jhoan Paulino, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 17.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Paulino had an impressive fall instructional league during which he showed uncommon power for a teenage infield prospect. He’s somewhat physically mature and soft-bodied, but is likely to grow into at least a little more raw power as he matures and though he may not be a long-term fit at shortstop, he does have infield actions and arm strength. He won’t turn 18 until June, and will be one of the more interesting prospects on Oakland’s AZL team. For now, he simply has an intriguing combination of power and defensive profile, very little is actually in focus. 28. Alexander Campos, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (SEA) Age 19.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 178 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Campos was acquired from Seattle in the Ryon Healy deal before he had even set foot on American soil for an affiliated game. He posted a statistically impressive season in the DSL, but struggled in his first attempt at rookie ball in the States. Campos is very physically mature for his age, his build that of a high school fullback. He’s not a long term shortstop due to arm strength and needs to keep his frame in check to retain sufficient range for second, but the bat speed alone is worth a mention here, as is his early-career feel for the strike zone. 29. Lawrence Butler, RF Video Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Westlake HS (GA) (OAK) Age 18.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Butler emerged late in the 2018 draft, first getting national scouting attention in the spring at a high school in the Atlanta suburbs. He’s a prototypical projection prospect, with a great frame, solid average present power, and athletic actions. Scouts who are optimistic see the components of a 45 or 50 hit tool and 60 or more future raw power in an everyday right field profile. Since Butler is somewhat raw and hasn’t faced a lot of high level pitching, there are concerns that the hit tool never materializes enough to get to the rest of his tools. 30. Jose Mora, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Mora often struggled to throw strikes after he was sent from extended spring training to Vermont, and he likely fits in relief, long-term due to command. Mora has a well-balanced lower half through release, but he lacks tactile feel for release. His upper body rotates in unison like a tilt-a-whirl, and his low 3/4s arm slot generates mediocre angle on his fastball, but he throws pretty hard, in the 90-94 range, and will flash an above-average slider. He’s only ever thrown from the stretch in Eric’s looks, reinforcing our relief projection, but he may end up as a good three-pitch one. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Kyler Murray Kyler Murray, CF Murray is a supreme athlete who was a top-10 draft talent after having not played baseball full-time for several years. He has 70 speed, 55 raw power, and plus bat speed that played surprisingly well in games given the layoff. Last fall, the whole sport-watching world got to see how good of an athlete he is on the football field, and it now looks unlikely that Murray will have a baseball career of any consequence due to his preference for football. We had a 45 FV on Murray before the draft, and he’d be fourth or fifth on this list if he’d have stuck with baseball. But part of what we think about when we FV someone is their trade value, and because it doesn’t seem likely that he returns to baseball (and if he does his chances of success are low due, again, to the layoff), that trade value is akin to other 35 FVs at this point. Murray had a good chance to turn into a 50 FV by midseason if he had shown some progress with pitch selection in a hypothetical 2019 Hi-A campaign. Exciting Longshot Arms Eric Marinez, RHP Wandisson Charles, RHP Ismael Aquino, RHP Marinez is a converted third baseman who threw just two innings last year but was pumping mid-90s gas with ease in those two innings (and during instructs), and he has nascent breaking ball feel. He’s a sleeper to develop into a good two-pitch reliever. Charles is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound beast with elite arm strength (95-98, touching at least 99) but zero feel for pitching. He’ll snap off the occasional plus slider in the 86-90 mph range, but he’s relatively undercooked for 22. Aquino is 20 and sits 93-96, but it’s a relief-only delivery. Possible Role Players Cobie Vance, UTIL Tyler Ramirez, LF Dairon Blanco, CF Luke Persico, 1B/OF Vance is an athletic multi-positional player with max-effort 55 bat speed. He made several highlight reel defensive plays in the fall. Ramirez has performed at Double-A for multiple years but we think he’s limited to left field and lacks the bat to profile there. He might hit enough to prove us wrong but we think it’s more likely he becomes a star in NPB or the KBO one day. Blanco is an 80 runner and potential fifth outfielder. Persico has good feel for the zone and some contact skills. He’s not a great fit at third base but has played there and might be a righty bench bat who can play the corner positions. Young Latin American Talent Danny Bautista, Jr., OF Yerdel Vargas, SS Kevin Richards, CF George Bell, Jr., OF Bautista is the most well-rounded of this group but doesn’t have any plus tools and might max out as a bench outfielder. Vargas was once a strong 40 FV on here but hasn’t developed as hoped, in part due to injury. Richards is carpaccio raw but is a 70 runner with a good frame. He might fill out and suddenly have some pop. Bell is similar to Richards but has less speed. Pitching Inventory Brady Feigl, RHP Kyle Finnegan, RHP James Naile, RHP Norge Ruiz, RHP Clark Cota, RHP Feigl has solid average stuff and some feel, and is likely a long relief type but has some chance to be a backend starter. Finnegan throws in the mid-90s and has an above-average split and could be a middle reliever. Fastball and curveball spin rates are usually correlated with one another but Naile has a low-spinning, sinking heater and a 2800 rpm curveball, so who knows what going on there. He could be a middle reliever. Ruiz is a kitchen sink righty with average stuff, sometimes cruises in the high-80s, works backwards, and is generally a bit of an enigma but could be an inventory multi-inning piece. Cota has a Mark Melancon looking delivery, a fastball/curveball/changeup pupu platter repertoire, and surprising feel that could lead to him being a solid middle reliever. System Overview In the Moneyball days, Oakland pressed a market inefficiency in the draft, generally scooping up under-tooled college prospects with higher probabilities of success and lower upside. Over time, they’ve slowly shifted to favoring upside with their biggest amateur expenditures. They took prep righty Trevor Cahill in the second round in 2006 and signed Michael Ynoa, a 16-year-old righty, for a then-record $4.25 million bonus in 2008. One could argue that they should value upside as much as any club, as their small payroll means that a couple of stars emerging at once could open a window that causes them to push their chips in for a multi-year run, whereas one or two stars doesn’t change the Yankees’ team-building calculus as dramatically. Their 2017 first rounder, sixth overall pick Austin Beck, was arguably the highest risk/upside proposition yet, a prep hitter with the shortest track record of any of his peers, taken at a pick where anything short of a multi-year regular is a failure. Oakland is also tied to top players in the 2019 and 2020 July 2nd classes, in Dominican shortstop Robert Puason and Dominican center fielder Pedro Pineda, respectively. Even in the universe of 15- and 16-year-olds, these two are seen as top-of-the-market talents because of their upside, with more risk and upside than other elite peers according to most scouts. Lefties A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo are elite prospects who are close to the big leagues right now, but also came with their own risk factors, as Puk, the sixth overall pick in 2016, was maddeningly inconsistent and appeared headed in the wrong direction as the draft approached before needing Tommy John early last season, while Luzardo is a shorter lefty with a Tommy John surgery as a high schooler. Two of the three pieces in the Sonny Gray haul — Jorge Mateo (consistency, makeup) and James Kaprielian (injuries) — were also seen as upside/risk types and haven’t returned value yet, but 2019 will go a long way to defining that trade. It has been a slow but interesting shift for the club most closely associated with one extreme of the acquisition spectrum to have moved almost as far to the other end.