Thanks to some nice work on the trade market, the Oakland A’s have a revamped farm system. They have an exciting Top 10, comprised of other teams top farm hands and some nice draft picks the past two seasons.
Oakland has also gotten a bit deeper outside the Top 10 the past few seasons by the same formula: trades and smart draft picks. Here’s a look at three prospects you need to know. (UPDATED 1/13/17 — This list originally had Max Schrock, who has since been traded to the Cardinals and is part of their “3 to Know”.)
Sheldon Neuse, 3B
Neuse began the season as John Sickels’ No. 7-ranked Washington Nationals prospect. He came over to Oakland as part of the Sean Doolittle/ Ryan Madson deal and looked sharp. Here’s what John had to say about him preseason:
Age 22, second round pick in 2016 from University of Oklahoma; hit .230/.305/.341 in New York-Penn League, well off the .369/.465/.646 spring he had for the Sooners; best tool is arm, college shortstop looked comfortable at third base in NY-P; will need to get the hitting back to project well at the hot corner but scouts still seem confident that he will hit for average and moderate power with more adjustment time. ETA late 2019.
So, heading into this season, we knew he could handle the hot corner. He pitched and played shortstop at Oklahoma, so the arm plays in plenty of places. He has good instincts and is learning the range of the new position, but is athletic enough to stick.
He also started hitting much more consistently this season. He played in three different leagues — South Atlantic, California and Texas — making contact and putting up numbers at each stop. Overall, he put up a .884 OPS behind a .321/.382/.502 slash line. He continues to find his power at the pro level with 26 doubles and 16 home runs. He has a quick swing and barrels up on the ball to all fields, making him even more dangerous. If he can improve on his overwhelming ground ball percentage and add some more loft, he’ll have the power expected of a third baseman.
Whether Neuse is a utility guy on the left side of the infield or an everyday third baseman will be determined at the higher levels. If he hits, he has a real shot.
Greg Deichmann, OF
Deichmann hit one of my favorite home runs in college baseball last season. That made him my favorite power bat entering the 2017 MLB Draft.
Deichmann has the baseball know-how and work ethic to succeed. Despite average skills defensively, Deichmann has embraced his journey to the outfield, and is able to make great plays on balls his speed can’t get to thanks to baseball smarts and instincts.
“I’m not really a stranger to position change," Deichmann told me. "I was a shortstop in high school. Coach Mainieri wanted me to move to third base, but I got hurt my freshman year. My sophomore year I worked at third, second and first. There wasn’t really a spot for me, because I hadn’t proven myself on defense up to that point, my offense always carried me.
“First base didn’t really suit me too well. Coach approached with the idea [of right field] starting with going to summer ball. I started off slow, just shagging the ball. It’s the one position that I really felt comfortable and natural at throughout my career. It’s been a decent adjustment, but that’s where I feel like I belong and moving forward. I have the speed, the arm and the corners are made for power bats.”
Deichmann’s best tool is his power and he showed that in his half-season debut. He put up a .915 OPS in 195 New York-Penn League plate appearances. Slashing .274/.385/.530, the powerful lefty slugged 10 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. He showed improved swing mechanics, and patience, walking 14.4 percent of the time.
If he starts off hot in 2018, and shows his defense sticks at the professional level, Deichmann could be a fast-track candidate to get his bat to the bigs.
Logan Shore, RHP
Imagine if you will, two college pitchers from the same rotation rising all the way from the SEC to big league stardom together. That could be the case for Shore and A.J. Puk, albeit, Puk’s rise is going a little more quickly and better.
Shore was part of the Gators rotation that saw Puk go to the As in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, and Shore in the second. Both pitched in the California League this season. Puk made it to Double-A and had the best FIP in the minors.
Though the numbers weren’t there for Shore, he was hindered by injury and inconsistency. John Sickels still has Shore ranked No. 13 in his preseason Top 20. Here’s what he said:
posted 4.09 ERA with 74/16 K/BB in 73 innings in High-A, 81 hits; missed a month with a lat strain; fastball around 90 and a bit higher can play up due to contrast with excellent change-up; slider needs more consistency as it varies between mediocre and plus, probably more of a number four starter than an ace unless his velocity picks up further, or unless the breaking ball becomes more consistent, which could happen. ETA 2019.