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Oakland Athletics Top 20 2015 PRE-SEASON prospects in review

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Billy Burns
Billy Burns
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Oakland Athletics.

This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.

These are the pre-season grades.

This list was originally published March 6, 2015

1) Franklin Barreto, SS, Grade B+/B: Hit .298/.329/.492 with 12 homers, 15 walks, 65 strikeouts in 329 at-bats in High-A at age 19, on disabled list since late July with wrist injury. Successful season before getting hurt, very young for High-A. Elite prospect.
2) Matt Olson, 1B, Grade B+/B:
Hitting .237/.376/.413 with 15 homers, 97 walks, 132 strikeouts in 431 at-bats in Double-A. Age 21, true-outcome type hitter. I am old enough to remember when the Texas League was an easy place to hit. That’s not so true now, his wRC+ is 122.
3) Renato Nunez, 3B, Grade B/B+:
Hitting .264/.319/.453 with 15 homers, 25 walks, 59 strikeouts in 333 at-bats in Double-A. Missed time with hamstring injury. Scouting reports have improved over the last two years, like Olson he’s just 21.
4) Kendall Graveman, RHP, Grade B-:
21 major league starts, 4.05 ERA with 77/38 K/BB in 116 innings, 126 hits. Not a great year but not horrible for a rookie, can improve from here.
5) Sean Nolin, LHP, Grade B-:
Missed much of season with shoulder trouble but back on the mound now, 2.95 ERA with 32/19 K/BB in 43 innings in Triple-A, 39 hits. Rotation candidate if healthy next spring.

6) Matt Chapman, 3B, Grade B-/C+: Hitting .259/.353/.587 with 23 homers, 39 walks, 77 strikeouts in 293 at-bats in High-A, out with wrist injury. Very produtive season before getting hurt, could advance quickly in 2016.
7) Yairo Munoz, SS, Grade B-/C+:
Not a great year in Low-A (.236/.278/.363 in 369 at-bats) though scouting reports weren’t bad, promoted to High-A and has hit better in Cal League (.310/.336/.466), age 20, needs to settle down on defense, strong arm, has some power and speed, high ceiling.
8) R.J. Alvarez, RHP, Grade B-/C+:
Effective in Triple-A (3.71, 40/16 in 34) but hit hard in majors (12.54, 16/6 in 9.1 but 14 hits, 13 runs), on the bullpen bubble.
9) Raul Alcantara, RHP, Grade C+:
4.14 ERA with 27/8 K/BB in 46 innings, 52 hits in High-A. Returning from Tommy John so just being on the mound is a positive at this point.
10) Daniel Gossett, RHP, Grade C+:
Rough season for former Clemson stalwart, 4.98 ERA with 105/51 K/BB, 145 hits in 134 innings in Low-A. Durable but secondary pitches haven’t impressed Midwest League sources.

11) Dillon Overton, LHP, Grade C+:
Solid Tommy John recovery season, 3.88 ERA with 91/23 K/BB in 111 innings,116 hits between High-A and Double-A. Good pitchability has remained intact, stuff may yet tick up.
12) Chad Pinder, INF, Grade C+:
Fine season in Double-A,.319/.362/.492 with 30 doubles, 15 homers for Midland. Caveat is weak 27/100 BB/K in 457 at-bats, but it hasn’t hurt him yet. Should get a trial sometime in 2016.
13) Max Muncy, 1B-3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .268/.351/.408 in 179 at-bats in Triple-A, .207/.275/.378 with eight walks, 24 strikeouts in 82 at-bats in majors. Seeing action as a role bat, his fate going forward.
14) Mark Canha, 1B, Grade C+:
Rule 5 pick has held job in majors, hitting .254/.308/.420 with 10 homers, 21 walks, 68 strikeouts in 307 at-bats, 104 wRC+. Far from spectacular but has enough in the bat to be useful.
15) Rangel Ravelo, 1B, Grade C+:
Hitting .322/.398/.466 with two homers, 20 walks, 34 strikeouts in 174 at-bats between Double-A, Triple-A, and rehab. Always hits for average but without classic home run power for a corner bat.

16) Chris Bassitt, RHP, Grade C+:
One of the better rookie pitchers in baseball this year, 2.82 ERA with 54/24 K/BB in 73 innings, 59 hits. Don’t see why he can’t be a solid mid-rotation arm.
17) Bobby Wahl, RHP, Grade C+:
4.18 ERA with 36/14 K/BB in 32 innings in Double-A before going on disabled list in July.
18) Joe Wendle, 2B, Grade C+:
Hitting .286/.318/.428 with 37 doubles, eight homers, 19 walks, 100 strikeouts in 528 at-bats in Triple-A. Huge deterioration in BB/K/PA ratio compared to past seasons although has remained productive otherwise.
19) Brett Graves, RHP, Grade C+:
5.02 ERA with 88/41 K/BB in 133 innings in Low-A, 148 hits. Can hit mid-90s but breaking ball and change-up are below average, too hittable even in Midwest League.
20) Dustin Driver, RHP, Grade C:
5.28 ERA with 36/31 K/BB in 58 innings between Low-A and NY-P, 58 hits allowed. Main issue is poor command, has good arm strength, age 20.

Not a good season at the major league level obviously: 55-73, fifth place in the American League West. There has been some good news rookie-wise: outfielder Billy Burns has hit .298/.338/.392 with 25 steals. I had him as Grade C pre-season due to his substandard 2014 campaign, but he’s exceeded those expectations and has shown enough with the bat to make his speed meaningful. He’s fun to watch, too. Kendall Graveman was okay before getting hurt and Chris Bassitt has been very good. Rule 5 pick Mark Canha has held his job. And we must not forget switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, who has pitched well enough in the pen so far to indicate that his persistently strong minor league numbers in the Yankees system weren’t just a fluke.

Although there have been some annoying injuries, for the most part things have gone pretty well down on the farm. Barreto, Chapman, Olson, and Nunez could all be regular bats; so could Chad Pinder for that matter if he can keep the zone under control. Right-hander Joel Seddon has been an effective strike-thrower in High-A (3.63, 79/17 K/BB in 102 innings) and could sneak up on us. Venezuelan southpaw Jose Torres is pitching relief in Low-A but throws hard and has been effective (2.72, 79/22 in 73, just 55 hits).

Trades and the 2015 draft add more depth. Sean Manaea, coming from the Royals in the Ben Zobrist trade, becomes the top pitching prospect in the system. Jake Nottingham in the Scott Kazmir trade with the Astros has thunder in his bat while right-hander Daniel Mengden could be in the majors within a year. The same could be true for right-hander Casey Meisner over from the Mets. College up-the-middle talents stand out in the 2015 draft, with Richie Martin out of Florida and Mickey White out of Alabama adding depth behind Barreto and the other incumbents. Outfielder Skye Bolt can run and field which will buy his enigmatic bat some time.

Overall, while the major league team has struggled this year the farm system is looking better.