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The 2015 Oakland A’s Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: For my analysis – including Ranking the Top 250 Prospects, Ranking the Farm systems, and in-depth commentary for over 900 minor leaguers – check out my book, The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, now available on Amazon!

For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.

 

 

1. Matt Olson, 1B

Born: 03/29/94 Age: 21 Height: 6-4   Weight: 236   B/T: L/R                                                          
Top CALs: Anthony Rizzo, Nelson Rodriguez, Chris Carter, Jonathan Rodriguez, Chris Marrero
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 18 R 197 .282 .345 .520 .865 .237 8.1% 23.4% 121
2013 19 A 558 .225 .326 .435 .761 .210 12.9% 26.5% 114
2014 20 A+ 634 .262 .404 .543 .947 .281 18.5% 21.6% 145

Background: Fashioned out of the same cloth as the typical slugging Oakland behemoth, Olson, a 6-foot-4, 236-pound, lefty-swinging first baseman, spent the year watching, swinging through, and battering baseballs in the California League. The former first round pick – and Three True Outcomes hitter – walked in more than 18% of his plate appearances, whiffed 137 times, and slugged 37 homeruns with Stockton en route to topping the league average offensive production by 45%. Grabbed out of the same school that birthed Jeff Francoeur, Parkview HS (Lilburn, GA), Olson continued his torrid pace in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .257/.435/.686 with another four dingers and a whopping 196 wRC+ in just 11 games.

Projection: On paper Olson looks to be the next patient slugger burped up through the Oakland system. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t without at least one red flag – namely, his work against southpaws up to this point. While he’s mashed RHP to the tune of .259/.371/.520, lefties have held Olson in check: .223/.348/.423. Even CAL seems to be a bit leery at this point, linking him to three nondescript minor league bats: Nelson Rodriguez, Jonathan Rodriguez, and Chris Marrero. The Rizzo comp is a bit optimistic; he showed a far better hit tool in the minors.

And just for comparison’s sake, look at the work done by Olson and Chris Carter at High Class A:

  • Olson (Age 20):    .262/.404/.543,    37 HR,    145 wRC+
  • Carter (Age 21):   .259/.361/.569,    39 HR,    138 wRC+

 

Ceiling:  3.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  Late 2016/Early 2017

 

 

2. Franklin Barreto, SS

Born: 02/27/96 Age: 19 Height: 5-9   Weight: 174   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Dilson Herrera, Alen Hanson, Jorge Vega-Rosado, Addison Russell, Franchy Cordero
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 17 R 58 .204 .259 .333 .592 .130 3.4% 24.1% 71
2013 17 R 194 .299 .368 .529 .897 .230 6.7% 21.6% 161
2014 18 A- 328 .311 .384 .481 .865 .170 7.9% 19.5% 141

Background: Deal two top shortstop prospects then go out and acquire another top shortstop prospect. It’s basically what GM Billy Beane did in a matter of a couple months. Barreto, who was packaged with Brett Lawrie, Sean Nolin, and Kendall Graveman from Toronto for Josh Donaldson, spent the year in short-season ball, hitting an impressive .311/.384/.481 with plenty of extra-base power (23 doubles, four triples, and six homeruns) and speed (29 stolen bases in 34 attempts). For his career, the teenaged shortstop owns a .296/.366/.482 triple-slash line.

Projection: And now the bad news, sort of: the Venezuelan-born shortstop, who originally signed with Toronto for a shade under $1.5 million in 2012, stands just 5-foot-9. To put that in perspective, only five players –David Eckstein, Jimmy Rollins, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel, and Rafael Furcal – have stood 5-foot-9 or less, posted an OPS+ 100 or better, and appeared in at least 120 games at shortstop in a season since 2000.

And not to throw out something so cliché, but this is such an Oakland move – acquiring a promising offensive-minded prospect despite any perceived physical limitations. You really do have to love that type of mentality. CAL is also a pretty big fan of Barreto’s just two seasons into his career, linking him to Dilson Herrera, Alen Hanson, and former A’s shortstop of the future Addison Russell.

Barreto offers surprising pop, decent plate discipline, above-average speed, and a promising bat. That’s certainly a set of tools to bet on.

Ceiling:  3.0- win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  Late 2018/Early 2019

 

 

3. R.J. Alvarez, RHP

Born: 07/08/91 Age: 24 Height: 6-1   Weight: 200   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Shae Simmons, Michael Schwimer, Michael Tonkin, Austin House, Ian Kennedy
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 21 A 27.3 3.29 3.28 12.5 31.2% 3.6 9.0% 0.66 62.5%
2013 22 A+ 48.7 2.96 2.85 14.6 38.0% 5.0 13.0% 0.37 78.1%
2014 23 AA 43.3 1.25 1.48 12.7 36.1% 2.7 7.7% 0.00 84.8%

Background: Shipped to Oakland along with right-hander Jesse Hahn for backstop Derek Norris and wild card minor league hurler Seth Streich, Alvarez absolutely decimated the Class AA competition in 2014, striking out 36.1% and walking just 7.7% of the batters he faced, which earned him a ten-game stint in San Diego where he flashed a mid-90s heater and hard mid-80s slider. For his career, the former third round pick out of Florida Atlantic University has struck out 178 of the 499 career hitters he’s faced, or just under 36%.

Projection: Dominant future closer. Period. Alvarez’s control/command can waiver at times, but if he puts it all together watch out. He should team with Sean Doolittle to give Oakland one of the best eighth/ninth inning combos for the coming years.

Ceiling:  2.0-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014

 

 

4. Dillon Overton, LHP

Born: 08/17/91 Age: 23 Height: 6-2   Weight: 172   B/T: L/L                                                          
Top CALs: James Farris, Tyler Kelsey, Josh Ruhlman, Joey Centanni, Taylor Aikenhead
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 22 R 22.0 1.64 1.90 12.7 35.2% 1.2 3.4% 0.00 66.7%
2014 22 A- 15.0 2.40 0.91 13.2 37.9% 0.6 1.7% 0.00 69.2%

Background: A lingering forearm injury, which eventually led to Tommy John surgery, forced a downturn in Overton’s production during his junior season at Oklahoma. The 6-foot-2 lefty, who paired with eventual #3 overall pick Jonathan Gray, finished his collegiate career with 79 punch outs, 23 walks, and a 3.03 ERA in 92.1 innings – not bad work for a injured hurler. Overton finally made his professional debut in late June last season, and in 37.0 innings combined between the rookie level and the New York-Penn League he fanned 53 and walked four. FOUR.

Projection: He fell way behind the development curve and now enters his age-23 season with just a couple dozen professional innings his belt. However, given his track record and absolute dominance, he’s probably punched his ticket to at least the Cal League, maybe even Class AA.

Ceiling:  2.0- to 2.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2017

 

 

5. Daniel Gossett, RHP

Born: 11/13/92 Age: 22 Height: 6-2   Weight: 185   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Matthew Bowman, Kevin Brady, Zachary Neal, Justin Masterson, Geoff Broussard
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 21 A- 24.0 2.25 2.02 9.4 28.4% 0.4 1.1% 0.38 70.5%

Background: Prior to the draft I wrote: “Sort of a sleeper. Gossett’s one of the better collegiate arms available in the draft and, yet, he somehow isn’t recognized as one. The important numbers – his strikeout and walk rates – have been trending in the right direction for quite some time. He is a potential big league #4[arm] – an innings eater who will miss some bats, limit some walks, and give up the occasional homerun.” Sounds like the exact type of player Oakland has been targeting in the draft since its famed Moneyball Class. Gossett capped off his successful three-year career in the ACC by fanning 107, walking 30, and posting a miniscule 1.93 ERA in 107.1 innings. Oakland pushed their second round pick to the New York-Penn League, where he posted a preposterous 25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Projection: Obviously, I was a pretty big fan of the 6-foot-2 right-hander and he’s done absolutely nothing to dissuade anyone at this point.  He’s a very typical Oakland A’s-type pick with a pretty decent ceiling.

Ceiling:  2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2017

 

 

6. Sean Nolin, LHP

Born: 12/26/89 Age: 25 Height: 6-4   Weight: 230   B/T: L/L                                                          
Top CALs: Randy Wells, Boone Whiting, David Huff, Garrett Olson, Simon Castro
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 22 AA 15.0 1.20 2.20 10.8 30.0% 3.6 10.0% 0.00 81.3%
2013 23 AA 92.7 3.01 2.82 10.0 26.8% 2.4 6.5% 0.58 77.1%
2013 23 AAA 17.7 1.53 4.34 6.6 18.6% 5.1 14.3% 0.51 92.9%
2014 24 AAA 87.3 3.50 3.86 7.6 20.0% 3.6 9.5% 0.62 73.4%

Background: Also part of the Josh Donaldson trade, Nolin sandwiched a pair of DL trips and a brief one-inning stint with Toronto around 17 starts in the International League. Pitching with Buffalo, the former sixth round pick fanned 74 and walked 35 in 87.1 innings while posting a good, not great 3.86 FIP. For his career, the 6-foot-4 southpaw has averaged more than a punch out per inning.

Projection: In terms of fastball velocity, it’s a bit tough to get a solid read on Nolin. His fastball averaged just a smidge over 89 mph during his initial call up to Toronto two years ago, but jumped up to nearly 93 mph in his equally brief stint with the Jays last season. Nolin has a pretty lengthy history of missing bats with solid-average control. CAL links him to a bunch of fringy big league starters, though Randy Wells did total nearly 6.0-fWAR between 2009 and 2010. Nolin looks like mid- to back-of-the-rotation guy, something along the lines of a good #4.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2013

 

 

7. Renato Nunez, 3B

Born: 04/04/94 Age: 21 Height: 6-1   Weight: 185   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Zachary Green, Quincy Latimore, Dustin Geiger, Dustin Fowler, Tyler Goeddel
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2011 17 R 207 .268 .301 .407 .708 .139 2.9% 20.3% 103
2012 18 R 186 .325 .403 .550 .953 .225 9.1% 17.2% 147
2013 19 A 545 .258 .301 .423 .725 .165 5.1% 25.0% 102
2014 20 A+ 562 .279 .336 .517 .853 .238 6.0% 20.1% 117

Background: Part of Stockton’s three-headed trio of twenty-year-olds, Nunez slugged a career best 29 homeruns en route to finishing the season with a .279/.336/.517 triple-slash line, arguably the best season of his young professional career. But more importantly, the Venezuelan-born third baseman made far more contact than the previous year while seeing a slight uptick in his walk rate. His overall production topped the league average mark by 17%.

Projection: Sort of a light Three True Outcomes hitter, Nunez has always flashed impressive power – he owns a career .195 Isolated Power – and a questionable bat. He’s always been young for his level of competition. But CAL isn’t overly impressed. Defensively, he took a huge step forward last season.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2018

 

 

8. Matt Chapman, 3B

Born: 04/28/93 Age: 22 Height: 6-2   Weight: 205   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Julio Cedeno, Levi Carolus, Deibinson Romero, Wilmer Difo, Whit Merrifield
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 21 A 202 .242 .287 .400 .687 .158 3.5% 22.3% 96

Background: Despite a solid, though far from a standout three-year career at Cal State Fullerton, Chapman still wound up being selected in the first round last June, 25th overall – basically making him the Chad Pinder-pick of 2014. Chapman spent the majority of his pro debut manning the hot corner for Beloit, where he hit .237/.282/.389. His overall production was 9% below the league average mark.

Projection:  Prior to the draft I wrote,

“The Titans’ home ballpark is incredibly hitter-friendly, so much so, in fact, that his 2013 park adjusted wOBA (according to CollegeSplits.com) is 13 points lower than his raw total (.394 to .381). On the positive side, Chapman’s power is solid-average with the potential to peak in the 17- to 20-HR range; the plate discipline is decent, as is the hit tool.”

I continued,

“If everything breaks right, Chapman could develop into a league average regular (depending upon his defense). Nice solid prospect, far from elite.”

He flashed plus-arm strength during his relief appearances in college, so at least that could be a nice fall back plan.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  2018

 

 

9. Raul Alcantara, RHP

Born: 12/04/92 Age: 23 Height: 6-3   Weight: 225   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Joe Wieland, Ryan Weber, Teddy Stankiewicz, Arquimedes Nieto, Zeke Spruill
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 19 A 102.7 5.08 5.08 5.0 12.9% 3.3 8.6% 1.05 67.9%
2013 20 A 77.3 2.44 2.77 6.8 18.0% 0.8 2.2% 0.35 72.7%
2013 20 A+ 79.0 3.76 4.21 7.5 20.2% 1.9 5.2% 0.91 59.2%
2014 21 AA 19.7 2.29 3.17 4.6 13.0% 2.3 6.5% 0.00 79.2%

Background: I pegged the promising young right-hander as the club’s sixth best prospect heading into the season, and then he lasted all of 19.2 innings before his elbow gave way and he eventually required surgery. Alcantara was coming off of a 156.1-inning campaign – at the age of 20 – where he whiffed 124 and walked just 24.

Projection: He looked like a decent bet to develop into a #3/#4-type arm prior to the injury, flashing plus control with improving strikeout rates. Here’s hoping he can come back fully.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  2016

 

 

10. Kendall Graveman, RHP

Born: 12/21/90 Age: 24 Height: 6-2   Weight: 195   B/T: R/R                                                          
Top CALs: Enerio Del Rosario, Anthony Vazquez, Scott Roy, Dean Kiekhefer, Dallas Keuchel
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 22 A 39.7 4.31 4.12 5.7 14.6% 3.0 7.6% 0.68 63.0%
2014 23 A 26.3 0.34 2.27 8.5 26.6% 2.1 6.4% 0.00 88.2%
2014 23 A+ 96.7 2.23 2.88 6.0 16.2% 1.7 4.6% 0.09 74.8%
2014 23 AAA 38.3 1.88 2.94 5.2 15.2% 1.2 3.5% 0.23 82.5%

Background: Talk about a rapid rise to the major leagues – Graveman was originally drafted out of Mississippi State in the 36th round following his junior season; he headed back to school and jumped all the way up to the eighth round and he would make his big league debut just a little over a full year later. The 6-foot-2 right-hander, who was acquired in the Josh Donaldson deal with Toronto, made five stops last season, going from Low Class A to the Florida State League then to the Eastern League which led to a promotion to Class AAA and an eventual September call up to the Blue Jays. In total, he finished the year with a sparkling 1.83 ERA and 115 punch outs, 31 free passes, and just two homeruns surrendered in 167.1 innings.

Projection: During his brief stint in the big leagues last season, Graveman flashed a low- to mid-90s fastball, a hard cutter, slider, and a splitter-type change up. CAL thinks he has a chance to develop into a #4-type arm, but isn’t overly optimistic. Plus, I’m always leery of a major step back after a season in which a player bounces through a ton of levels. Plus control with a good fastball is a fantastic combination for success.

Ceiling:  1.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014

 

 

 

**All Stats Courtesy of FanGraphs**

 

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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