Top 36 Prospects: Oakland Athletics by Eric Longenhagen June 8, 2020 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 my own 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 resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2020 2019 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Athletics Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Jesus Luzardo 22.7 MLB LHP 2020 60 2 A.J. Puk 25.1 MLB LHP 2020 55 3 Sean Murphy 25.7 MLB C 2020 50 4 Robert Puason 17.7 R SS 2025 45+ 5 Logan Davidson 22.5 A- SS 2022 45 6 Daulton Jefferies 24.9 AA RHP 2020 45 7 Nick Allen 21.7 A+ SS 2022 45 8 Brayan Buelvas 18.0 R CF 2024 45 9 Sheldon Neuse 25.5 MLB 3B 2020 40+ 10 Austin Beck 21.5 A+ CF 2021 40+ 11 James Kaprielian 26.3 AAA RHP 2020 40+ 12 Austin Allen 26.4 MLB C 2020 40+ 13 Jonah Heim 24.9 AAA C 2020 40 14 Jorge Mateo 25.0 AAA CF 2020 40 15 Grant Holmes 24.2 AAA RHP 2020 40 16 Tyler Baum 22.4 A- RHP 2023 40 17 Parker Dunshee 25.3 AAA RHP 2020 40 18 Brian Howard 25.1 AAA RHP 2020 40 19 Skye Bolt 26.4 MLB CF 2020 40 20 Vimael Machin 26.7 AAA UTIL 2020 40 21 Miguel Romero 26.1 AAA RHP 2021 40 22 Jordan Diaz 19.8 A- 3B 2022 40 23 Jeremy Eierman 23.7 A+ SS 2021 40 24 Jhoan Paulino 19.0 R 3B 2024 40 25 Kyle McCann 22.5 A- 1B 2023 40 26 Marcus Smith 19.7 R CF 2024 40 27 Drew Millas 22.4 R C 2023 40 28 Buddy Reed 25.1 AA CF 2020 35+ 29 Wandisson Charles 23.8 AA RHP 2021 35+ 30 Greg Deichmann 25.0 AA RF 2021 35+ 31 Alexander Pantuso 24.6 A- RHP 2022 35+ 32 Eric Marinez 24.7 AA RHP 2020 35+ 33 Lazaro Armenteros 21.0 A+ LF 2021 35+ 34 Luis Barrera 24.6 AA RF 2020 35+ 35 Jose Mora 22.7 A- RHP 2021 35+ 36 Gus Varland 23.6 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 60 FV Prospects 1. Jesus Luzardo, LHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) (WAS) Age 22.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 70/70 65/70 55/55 50/55 94-98 / 99 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, and touching 97. Four starts into his senior season, Luzardo tore his UCL and needed 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) wasn’t enough for many teams to have high-level decision makers get in to see him and want to 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 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. After a dominant first full year in Oakland’s system, Luzardo appeared poised to seize a rotation spot early in 2019, when suddenly, the very contagious injury bug that has bedeviled Oakland pitching prospects for the last several years infected his shoulder and, later during rehab, his lat. He was confined to early-morning sim games on the Mesa backfields until June, when he was sent to rehab at Hi-A Stockton and then to Triple-A Nashville, where Luzardo’s pitch count climbed back to typical starter norms. Oakland ‘penned him for September, a multi-inning weapon for the stretch and playoff run. He was sitting 94-96 and touched 99 as a starter in the minors, the same as he was out of the big league bullpen. It’s a sinker, but it has barrel-shattering tail and pairs nicely with both of Luzardo’s secondaries, which live at the bottom of the zone and beneath it. He’ll add and subtract from his breaking ball to give it a curveball shape that bends into the zone for strikes, or add power to it and coax hitters into waiving at pitches that finish well out of the zone. His changeup is firm but has late bottom and should also miss bats. The violence in Luzardo’s delivery combined with his injury history is slightly worrisome, but he was clearly operating at full speed late last year and has top-of-the-rotation stuff and pitchability, so his 60 FV has that risk baked in. 55 FV Prospects 2. A.J. Puk, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Florida (OAK) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 65/65 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 94-97 / 99 Puk looked like he had leveled up during 2018 Spring Training. His delivery was more balanced and repeatable, and he rebooted his old high school curveball, which he hadn’t used in college, and quickly reclaimed the feel for locating it; his changeup was also plus at times, much better than it was when he was an amateur. Then he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John, which kept him out for all of 2018 and most of 2019. Throughout the spring of 2019, you could just show up to Fitch Park in Mesa and run into one of Luzardo, Puk, James Kaprielian, or any of several other high-profile A’s rehabbers. Puk got into game action in April and May, throwing as many as four innings in an outing (that I’m aware of, anyway) before he was finally sent to an affiliate in June, but only in a two-inning start or bullpen capacity. He never threw more than 47 pitches in an outing and was limited to 20 or 30 bullets when the A’s finally called him up in September. He threw fewer curveballs in that role than he theoretically will as a starter, making that pitch tough to evaluate when he returned, but all the other weapons are intact, and Puk should contribute to Oakland’s rotation in 2020 assuming there’s a season. He projects as an above-average big league starter. 50 FV Prospects 3. Sean Murphy, C Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Wright State (OAK) Age 25.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 232 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 60/60 40/45 20/20 55/55 70/70 Murphy’s surgeries are starting to pile up. He’s had them for broken hamates in both hands, then was cut again in October because of his meniscus. Purely on tools, he’s a 55 FV prospect and it’s amazing that he’s gone from a walk-on at Wright State to one of the more well-rounded catching prospects in the minors. But the injuries, Murphy’s age (some of the sixish years I’m projecting here include his early 30s now), and the fact that some of his skills (he’s become a good receiver) may soon be less important caused me to round down. Now if he starts hitting for more power in games, that’s a horse of a different color. He has plus raw power, though he hasn’t typically hit for it in games for various reasons. In college, his first broken hamate likely masked his thump and was part of the reason he fell to the 2016 draft’s third round. He had the second hamate break in pro ball and his swing is also very compact, relying on Murphy’s raw strength rather than efficient biomechanical movement to deliver extra-bases. He could be an above-average regular early on but I think there will be a little attrition over time, so I slid him back behind some players who I think have a higher long-term ceiling. 45+ FV Prospects 4. Robert Puason, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 17.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/60 20/50 60/55 45/55 60/60 A physically projectable switch-hitter with infield actions, Puason is very similar to Mets shortstop Ronny Mauricio when the latter was an amateur, but Puason has shown better feel for airborne contact during workouts than Mauricio did at the same age. He has a chance to have plus tools across the board, but there’s some industry sentiment that in-game aptitude might cause those tools to play down. Specifically, there’s worry about his approach at the plate, which will be more problematic if Puason outgrows shortstop. He had already arrived in Mesa before the shutdown and had clearly been in the weight room during the offseason, which was especially evident in his shoulders. 45 FV Prospects 5. Logan Davidson, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Clemson (OAK) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 55/55 30/50 55/50 45/50 55/55 Teams had seven-figure valuations on Davidson coming out of high school but he opted to go to Clemson, where he hit and hit for power for three consecutive years before getting $2.5 million as Oakland’s first rounder in 2019. He’s a big, switch-hitting 6-foot-3 shortstop (likely to stay there) with above-average power from both sides of the plate. He hasn’t hit for that sort of power with wood bats (he slugged just .266 both years on the Cape, .332 last summer) but that may be a stamina issue rather than a wood vs. composite one. There’s some hit tool risk here, and if Davidson ends up as a 30 or 35 bat in pro ball, he’ll probably end up as a utility guy, but if he’s making close to an even average amount of contact, he’s probably playing every day. 6. Daulton Jefferies, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Cal (OAK) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/50 60/60 60/60 91-94 / 95 Jefferies walked off the mound with a trainer during his February 24 start and was later diagnosed with a biceps strain, the latest in a long line of injuries that limited him to just 20 pro innings before he finally had something resembling a full season in 2019. His injury history impacts his value pretty severely. Purely on talent, Jefferies is arguably a top 100 prospect (and was a 2020 Pick to Click before the latest hiccup) thanks largely to his plus, upper-80s changeup and plus command. Jefferies terse, upper-80s slider is effective because of his ability to locate it, and the rest of his repertoire, with precision. If healthy, he’ll likely contribute to the big club this year, but that’s a significant “if.” 7. Nick Allen, SS Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Francis Parker HS (CA) (OAK) Age 21.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 166 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 30/30 20/30 50/50 55/70 60/60 One of the best high school shortstop defenders many scouts have ever seen, 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, Allen’s wrists and forearms have become strong enough to put viable contact in play (and he makes plenty of it), though probably not with enough force to truly profile as an everyday shortstop. He’s quite similar to fellow punchless leatherwizard José Iglesias, and could be a 1.5-ish WAR everyday player like Iglesias has been, but Allen started seeing time at second base and (in the Fall League) third base for the first time as a pro, and could also be an elite defensive utility infielder. 8. Brayan Buelvas, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Colombia (OAK) Age 18.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 45/50 20/50 60/55 45/55 55/55 Buelvas doesn’t have monster tools right now. Instead, he’s got an advanced, well-rounded game and hit .300/.392/.506 in the AZL last year despite being two and a half years younger than the average player in that league. Yes, two and a half years younger than the average AZL player. Buelvas turns 18 today. His skillset is going to be augmented by how he physically matures. This isn’t a player with overt, striking physical projection like Kristian Robinson or any other 6-foot-3 prospect. Buelvas is an angular 5-foot-11, certainly likely to get bigger and stronger but probably not grow into huge power. He might hit 15 to 20 homers via consistent, quality contact, though. He’s fast and instinctive enough to stay in center field, so that would be all the power he needs to develop to play every day. His report reads a lot like contact/instincts high schoolers available in the 2020 draft — Pete Crow-Armstrong, Robert Hassell, Petey Halpin — and I have him valued in that range. 40+ FV Prospects 9. Sheldon Neuse, 3B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma (WAS) Age 25.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 60/60 35/55 40/40 45/50 60/60 Neuse was Washington’s 2016 second rounder, then was traded the following summer as part of the Luzardo/Doolittle/Madson deal. He had a rough 2018, his first at Triple-A, then went bonkers in Vegas last year, slashing .317/.389/.550 with 60 extra-base hits in 126 games. He struggled during a brief big league stint (lion’s share of the reps there came at second base after playing mostly third in Triple-A) but didn’t get consistent at-bats outside of the first week of September. While I think the dramatic strikeout rate dip last year will probably regress to the mean, he’s going to be a valuable, multi-positional player (2B/3B with maybe some left, and shortstop in a pinch) with power. 10. Austin Beck, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Davidson HS (NC) (OAK) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/60 30/55 60/55 40/50 60/60 What scouts think of Beck depends on how willing they are to view his struggles in the context of his pedigree. Remember, Beck had almost zero experience against elite high school pitching (he missed his showcase summer with a torn ACL) and was purely drafted based on the tools he showed during his senior spring. He’s only had two season’s worth of at-bats against pro-quality pitching, and (hopefully) he’s still adjusting. To that end, his ability to identify balls and strikes remains undercooked and it has undermined his performance in spite of blaring physical gifts. He still has power and arm strength but he’s swing-happy in the box, his swing is not yet geared for in-game power, and Beck is sometimes visibly frustrated, which appears to cause some of his approach issues to snowball. Again, Beck is only 21 and if you consider not only his relative inexperience but also his age (he was a 20-year-old at Hi-A in 2019 and was still nearly a league-average offensive player), there are reasons to be optimistic for late growth. 11. James Kaprielian, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from UCLA (NYY) Age 26.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 60/60 50/50 55/55 45/50 92-94 / 95 Kap finally threw his first innings at an A’s affiliate last year, making about 20 starts of three to five innings apiece, during which he threw plenty of strikes. His velocity was in the 88-91 range during Extended and then the 90-94 range during the summer. This spring, he was sitting 92-95, and while that’s not where Kap’s heater was at peak, it’s an encouraging sign for someone whose injury track record is as long as anyone’s in baseball. He missed nearly all of 2016 due to a flexor-tendon strain, blew out his UCL during 2017 spring training and needed Tommy John, then was shut back down with shoulder soreness in 2018 during rehab, and finally had more shoulder soreness early last year. So long as he has his spring velo if and when baseball returns, I think he’ll be a core member of Oakland’s staff in short order, possibly in multi-inning relief based on his 2019 usage. 12. Austin Allen, C Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from Florida Tech (SDP) Age 26.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 65/65 50/60 30/30 40/40 45/45 Allen, who was acquired in exchange for non-tender candidate Jurickson Profar during the offseason, is a big, immobile defender with power. Some of his issues might be rendered moot by the eventual use of an electronic strike zone, but for now Allen’s reps need to be limited the way Evan Gattis’ were when he was seeing regular playing time, pairing him with pitchers who work in such a way that Allen’s problems are masked. With 26-man rosters coming, his presence as a third catcher, a late-inning lefty bench bat, a late-inning catcher when the A’s trail, or an occasional DH sub for Khris Davis against righties all make him immediately rosterable. He profiles as a bit player who does that sort of thing rather than an everyday catcher or first baseman. 40 FV Prospects 13. Jonah Heim, C Drafted: 4th Round, 2013 from Amherst HS (NY) (BAL) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/50 50/50 30/30 30/30 55/55 60/60 Heim has been around for a while now and he’s always been notable because he’s a good receiver despite his size, and has an unusually low strikeout rate for a switch-hitter with such long levers. The quality of his at-bats has improved over the last couple of years and he’s pretty likely to play a big league role this year since Sean Murphy has had some issues staying on the field and Austin Allen isn’t a good defender. He might be more valuable than a 40 FV in the short-term because he’s a good framer, but if balls and strikes are soon called by tech, he’s probably more of a third catcher. 14. Jorge Mateo, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic (NYY) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 55/55 40/45 80/80 45/50 55/55 I’ve spoken with folks who think that even though he was one dinger away from going 20/20 and had perhaps the best surface-level stats of his career, Mateo’s approach actually regressed last year as he leaned into selling out for power in a hitting environment where it was more viable. That’s not to say that Mateo’s stats are a caricature of his physical abilities. He’s still an 80-grade runner with some power and arm strength, but at age 25, he remains somewhat inconsistent as an infield defender and is swing-happy at the plate. He hasn’t played center field since he was with the Yankees and it might be too late to revisit that. I think he’ll carve out a bench role somewhere based on his physical ability. 15. Grant Holmes, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Conway HS (SC) (LAD) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/50 60/60 40/50 35/40 92-94 / 97 Wire-to-wire shoulder issues kept Holmes off the field for nearly all of the 2018 regular season and he was handled with care in 2019, working three to five innings at a time, same as Kaprielian. Also like Kaprielian, Holmes was 90-94 last year and came into 2020 spring training with more juice, sitting 92-95 before the shut down, with his typical slider and what looked like a new cutter. Based on the health and command track record, I have Holmes projected in middle relief. 16. Tyler Baum, RHP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from North Carolina (OAK) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 45/50 40/50 93-95 / 97 For most of his college career, Baum’s stuff was not as electric as it was during his high school peak, but it ticked back up toward the end of his junior year at UNC. He was up to 96 after the draft. Baum’s arm slot wanders a little bit and some times his fastball has more run than at others. His changeup has fairly consistent fading action that mirrors the best of those fastballs, but his upper-70s, two-plane curveball is the headline pitch, and flashes plus. He’s on the starter/reliever line depending on how you feel about the delivery. 17. Parker Dunshee, RHP Video Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (OAK) Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 45/45 50/50 55/55 55/60 89-92 / 94 I’m not sweating Dunshee’s 5.38 Triple-A ERA. The Pacific Coast League is not a favorable environment for pitchers in general, and especially not for pitchers who take an approach like Dunshee’s (which results in lots of fly balls); the Las Vegas elevation is particularly punishing. Dunshee started nibbling and gave up way more homers in Vegas than he has for his entire career. I still view him as a deceptive, strike-throwing fifth starter or swingman. 18. Brian Howard, RHP Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from TCU (OAK) Age 25.1 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 I’m inclined to round to the top of that range based on the weirdness created by Howard’s height and his purported competitiveness. 19. Skye Bolt, CF Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from North Carolina (OAK) Age 26.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/40 50/50 40/45 60/60 50/50 55/55 Bolt is somewhat injury-prone, but is otherwise a high-probability bench outfielder with some pop and speed. He’s a much better hitter from the left side than the right. 20. Vimael Machin, UTIL Drafted: 10th Round, 2014 from VCU (CHC) Age 26.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 60/60 40/40 35/35 30/30 45/45 50/50 Selected from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft, Machin walked more than he struck out at Double-A (he was 25 all last summer) and hit .294/.386/.403 there. He can play all four infield spots passably, and has favorable handedness. That’s a rosterable utility guy. 21. Miguel Romero, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (OAK) Age 26.1 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 40/40 93-96 / 97 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 I know of who throws it — which he has de-emphasized as the slider has emerged. 22. Jordan Diaz, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (OAK) Age 19.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 50/55 20/40 45/40 40/45 50/50 The stocky Diaz took his advanced bat-to-ball skills to Vermont and performed pretty well, slashing .264/.307/.430 while only striking out 15% of the time. There’s a moderate chance he eventually has to move to first base, and he likely lacks the power for that, but if he can stay at third Diaz could end up a plus bat who makes enough contact to be a low-end regular despite modest power. 23. Jeremy Eierman, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Missouri State (OAK) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/60 35/50 50/45 40/45 60/60 Eierman’s older brother Johnny was a third round pick of the Rays 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, where he 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 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 70th overall. He made his full-season debut at Hi-A and struck out so much that he only slugged .357 even though 40% of his hits were for extra bases. He’s trending down but still has power and a chance to stay on the dirt. 24. Jhoan Paulino, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 19.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 50/55 25/50 40/40 40/45 55/55 Already Paulino’s size suggests he’s not a long-term fit at shortstop, but he does have infield actions and arm strength and could be quite good at third, or perhaps even shoehorned at second. He won’t turn 19 until later this week, 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, with very little actually in focus. His approach is immature so I consider him a high-risk prospect, but he has enough power projection to profile as a low-end regular if he can be more selective and attack pitches he can drive. 25. Kyle McCann, 1B Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Georgia Tech (OAK) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 217 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/60 35/55 30/30 40/50 50/50 Pro scouts considering McCann’s post-draft, sub-Mendoza line flailing at Vermont think the lack of contact he made there is an early career red flag. I’ve held his pre-draft evaluation here. His head does have a tendency to fly out and he’ll swing through stuff in the zone, but my goodness McCann has big power. He caught at Georgia Tech and split time behind the plate and at first base after signing. The pre-draft consensus was that he’d eventually move to first. 26. Marcus Smith, CF Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Pembroke Hill HS (MO) (OAK) Age 19.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 35/40 20/30 70/70 45/60 55/55 Smith has a promising contact/speed offensive profile enabled by his uncommon feel for all-fields, line drive contact. This is a classic tweener teenage outfield profile that’s shaded a bit differently because, unlike most others, Smith is actually kinda stocky and physical-looking, which perhaps means he’s less projectable. His lower half is very upright throughout his swing and he struggles to get underneath some pitches because of it. There’s a path to an everyday role here, one spearheaded by contact and good center field defense, but Smith has to clear some strength/power checkpoints. 27. Drew Millas, C Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from Missouri State (OAK) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 60/60 30/45 50/45 40/50 55/55 Millas is a good catch-and-throw backstop who had a really strong sophomore year with the bat before regressing a little bit as a junior. He has above-average bat speed when he’s swinging at stuff down the middle but has to sacrifice whip for contact to get to pitches in most parts of the strike zone. 35+ FV Prospects 28. Buddy Reed, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Florida (SDP) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/35 50/50 30/35 70/70 65/70 60/60 Reed was a lightly-scouted multi-sport high school athlete in Maryland who also played hockey before he arrived at the University of Florida. Soon after he stepped on campus, scouts saw and become enamored with his enormous athletic potential. He has 70 speed and defensive ability in center field, along with a 60 arm and average raw power. As a 6-foot-4, 210 pound athletic specimen, he’ll probably play forever as a fourth outfielder in the Jake Marisnick mold. 29. Wandisson Charles, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 70/70 50/55 55/55 30/35 94-98 / 99 Catch Charles on the right night and he’ll show you three 55 or better pitches. Other nights, though, he’ll walk three or four guys just trying to get through an inning or two of work. I have him in up/down relief right now because the control is too erratic to trust Charles as a core part of your bullpen day in and day out, but if he ever starts throwing strikes (and finds a more consistent release for his splitter), he’ll be an absolute monster. 30. Greg Deichmann, RF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from LSU (OAK) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ 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 hit nearly as many home runs during his six week Fall League stint as he did during all of 2019 at Double-A Midland, where his statline may have been compromised by an injured shoulder. It was the latest of several weird injuries that have limited Deichmann’s playing time each of the last three years. He was hit in the face by a pitch in 2017 and required surgery, then broke a hamate in 2018. While his performance may have been impacted by this, we’re still talking about a 25-year-old corner outfielder who has struck out in excess of 30% of the time at his last couple stops, and that scares me. 31. Alexander Pantuso, RHP Drafted: 31th Round, 2018 from Slippery Rock (OAK) Age 24.6 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/55 30/40 94-96 / 98 Pantuso looked like a 31st round steal last summer. He’s a leviathan small-school senior sign who was up to 98 in the AZL, and flashes a plus slider in the 83-86 range that has more length than most sliders that firm. He’ll move as fast as his fastball control allows and has strong relief stuff. 32. Eric Marinez, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 24.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 50/55 35/40 93-95 / 97 Mariñez was a notable infield prospect early in his career due to his hands, actions, arm strength and frame, but he never developed even viable upper-level feel for hitting, so he was moved to the mound late in 2018. He barely threw at an affiliate, and so was most widely seen during instructional league, where he was a fluid and easy 93-97, with good nascent secondary stuff. He had a strong 2019 in the mid-minors and I thought he deserved Rule 5 consideration, but he went unselected. 33. Lazaro Armenteros, LF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Cuba (OAK) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 182 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/60 35/55 60/55 40/45 40/40 There are scouts and front office personnel who see Lazarito’s strikeout issues (he punched out 42% of the time last year) as entirely disqualifying, and clearly his ability to make contact needs to improve dramatically if he’s going to be any kind of big leaguer. He still has a rare power/speed blend, though, and I think his issues have more to do with swing path than anything else, which is more fixable than, say, issues caused by pitch recognition. His cut is fairly similar to what Luis Robert’s was before Robert and the White Sox made relevant adjustments to his mechanics, so I’m holding onto some optimism for Armenteros, though it has largely dwindled throughout the industry. 34. Luis Barrera, RF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 24.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 50/50 30/35 70/70 55/60 70/70 Barrera slugged over .500 during an injury-shortened 2019 (right shoulder surgery) at Double-A Midland, but his approach and swing path aren’t really conducive to him hitting for power going forward. I have him projected as a bench outfielder, albeit an uncommonly toolsy one because of his impact speed and throwing arm. 35. Jose Mora, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (OAK) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 45/50 55/60 30/40 90-93 / 94 Mora was sent back to Vermont for a second consecutive year and was moved to the bullpen, where he struck out 47 hitters in 27 innings after experiencing a little velo bump. He has a well-balanced lower half but he lacks tactile feel for release, which impacts his command. 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 nasty, two-plane movement on his slider. 36. Gus Varland, RHP Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Concordia (OAK) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 45/50 40/50 92-94 / 95 Like Pantuso, Varland became known to FanGraphs after he was drafted. 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 had Tommy John last August and will miss all of 2020. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Bat-to-Ball Sleepers Dustin Harris, 1B Cobie Vance, 3B Alexander Campos, 2B Marcos Brito, 2B Sahid Valenzuela, SS Pretty self-explanatory group here. Harris, a 20-year-old JUCO pickup in last year’s 11th round, has a shot to be a four corners role player. Vance and Campos are thick-bodied infielders who are tough to strike out. I was all in on Brito’s hit tool for the last couple of years, and though he’s been young for each level, he hasn’t performed at all. Valenzuela is more of a glove-first, switch-hitting utility infield type, but I wanted to cheat him on here somewhere because I liked him while he was at Fullerton. He had TJ last year and was a shrewd 13th round pickup. Pitchability Depth Dalton Sawyer, LHP Colin Peluse, RHP Sawyer was a 40 FV backend starter prospect who has now missed the last two and a half seasons due to TJ and the pandemic. 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. He’s now 26 and hasn’t pitched at the upper levels because of circumstances out of his control. Peluse had TJ toward the end of high school and began his Wake Forest career in the bullpen before transitioning into a weekend starter role as a sophomore. He’s a pitchability righty with fringe stuff that plays up because Peluse’s delivery screws with hitters’ timing. He lulls hitters to sleep at the onset of his motion, then suddenly speeds up half way through his delivery, which catches hitters off guard. Projectable Frames Jalen Greer, 2B Jose Dicochea, RHP Lawrence Butler, 1B Lester Madden, LF T.J. Schofield-Sam, 3B Three of these players were 2019 high school draftees. Greer was Oakland’s fifth rounder last year and really struggled in the AZL but he’s a cold weather high schooler from the Chicago area, so that’s not immediately disqualifying. Dicochea was their eighth rounder, a high school righty from Tucson who has been up to 96, sitting low-90s. His delivery needs some love. Schofield-Sam has quick hitter’s hands but his hand load was way too high and deep when I saw him as an amateur. He’s from Ontario so, like Greer, it’s probably going to be a slow burn. The same is true for Butler, though he’s first base-only. Madden signed out of Cuba for $300,000 and 2019 was his first pro season. He looked good during the spring and got off to a strong start at Beloit before floundering from June onward. Older Dudes with Arm Strength Aiden McIntyre, RHP Jaimito Lebron, RHP Robin Vazquez, RHP Nathan Patterson, RHP McIntyre pitched as a starter last year and, even at 89-93, his fastball was dominant because it has plus-plus vertical movement. His control is bad and he needs to move to the bullpen, where a velo bump could make his fastball really dominant. Lebron, 23, was a minor league Rule 5 pick from San Diego who sat 93-96 and touched 97 last year; he has a 45 cutter and 30 command. Vazquez, 22, was old for the AZL last year but he’s up to 95 with a fastball that spins at 2500 rpm. You probably know about Patterson’s story. He sits in the low-90s in games and has 40/45 secondary stuff. System Overview Assuming baseball is played this year and Puk, Murphy, and Luzardo have the opportunity to graduate, this is likely to become the worst farm system in baseball by the winter. That’s not an indictment on the org’s ability to find players. The reason Oakland remains competitive is because the amateur department drafted Matts Chapman and Olson (both of whom I was low on as prospects), while the pro department is responsible for Marcus Semien, Khris Davis, Ramón Laureano, etc. Injuries are often a superficial reason farm systems look worse, but in this case they’re arguably helpful. All three top 100 types, as well as Kaprielian, Jefferies, and Holmes all probably would have graduated by now had they not been hurt for most of the last couple years. Oakland is getting very little from its International program. Brito and Lazarito are barely hanging on, and Yerdel Vargas, Kevin Richards, Norge Ruiz, and little George Bell (injury) aren’t on here. I was high on several of those guys, too, but that group isn’t working out, which feels worse in light of the opportunity cost of that class. It kept Oakland in the bonus penalty box for the 2017 and 2018 signing periods, and then they dropped essentially their entire 2019 pool on Puason. This is a big reason this system is so shallow right now.