2014 Oakland Athletics

C – Seong-min Kim–  AZL/Short Season Vermont – 21 yo; – (2011 – Int. FA signee/TW) 
  • .256 – 5 HR – 25RBi – 17R – .331/.451/.782 slash   –   csPAG: 2.76
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Kim didn’t really have a superior season per say. My choice of the 6’2 – 250 lb. Taiwanese righty was based solely on his own performance mixed with the PAG performances of his organizational catching mates. Twenty-three year old Bruce Maxwell logged a csPAG of 2.43 between HiA Stockton and AA Midland while fellow backstop Iolana Akau didn’t play enough games (19) nor post a worthy enough PAG score (1.68) to warrant any consideration. As you can see above, Kim is a hulk behind the plate and owned the running game with a 46% caught-stealing rate in 2014. 
1B – Matt Olson – HiA Stockton  – 20 yo;  – (2012 – 1st round) –
  •  .262 – 37HR – 97RBi – 111R –  .404/.543/.947 slash  –  – PAG: 4.38
  • BA/#12  –  MLB Pipeline(mid-season)/#2  –  BP-NR
  • Olson headed into 2014 sitting behind 24 year old Max Muncy on the organizational first base depth chart. However after Olson’s performance for HiA Stockton this season, I believe it’s Muncy who’s now looking up instead of down. The 6’4 – 240 lb. Olson headed into this season with a 2012 debut csPAG of 3.88 and a 2013 PAG of 3.34 for LoA Beloit on his resume.  Of course this seasons 4.38 PAG score could be attributed to the hitter haven California League, but no one can argue with Olson’s ‘Ben Roesthlisberger-like” physique and his undeniable power. The lefty slugger lead the Cal League in runs scored (111), home runs (37) and total bases with 278.  Yet what is most impressive and unlike your prototypical power hitter, the Georgia native also lead the league in walks with 117. With Russell and McKinney now in Chicago, Olson may very well sit atop the system as the A’s #1 overall prospect. 

2B – Chad Pinder  – HiA Stockton  –  22 yo;  – (2013 – 2nd round)

  • .288 –  13HR –  55RBi – 61R –  .336/.489/.824 slash   –  PAG: 3.69
  • BA/#15 (as a SS)  –  MLB Pipeline(midseason)#6 –  BP-NR
  • The 22 year old Virginia Tech alum posted his sophomore season in 2014 to the tune of a 3.69 PAG for HiA Stockton.  Not bad for the righty who also lead all California League second baseman in doubles with 32. However, I’m going to temper my enthusiasm just a bit. The Richmond, VA native logged a rough 1.81 PAG score in his professional debut for Class A Vermont of the New York Penn League in 2013.  Pinder drew heavy major league comparisons and carried above-average ball-to-bat skills after a successful season in the Cape Cod League prior to his pro debut.  Therefore, I’m anxious to see where the A’s assign Pinder for 2015.  Let’s see if his 2014 was either a product of the league he played in or a heavy inflation from the norm.  The seasonal PAG splits are far too great for me to expect anything but a slight dip in production. Hopefully I’m wrong. 
 
 3B – Renato Nunez  – HiA Stockton – 20 yo;  – (2010 – Int. FA signee – VE) –
  • .279 – 29HR –  96RBi – 75R –  2SB –   .336/.517/.853  slash   –  PAG: 3.79
  • BA/#6  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#9  –  BP/#10
  • As you can see by reading down through my list so far, the A’s system, outside of their HiA affiliate Stockton, isn’t that good. As much as I tried to gather the best UTR list possible, it was as glaring as I’ve seen in the American League portion of my off-season work that beyond the A’s blue chippers, there’s a steep, Steep drop off in impact hitters. One layer of protection is Jim and I declared that we’d include top prospects within these lists even though we’d try to avoid it at all costs; and Oakland issued me the obvious ultimatum.  Nunez is an absolute stud to put it bluntly.  At 20 years old, he ranked in the California League top-5 in HR(29), RBi (96) and total bases with 263. However, Nunez shared time at third base with 2013 – 3rd rounder Ryon Healy, who posted a pretty darn respectable 3.12 PAG of his own. Healy, a former Oregon Duck, collected 28 doubles, hit 16 homers, drove in 83 runs and ranked third overall in the Cal League with 160 hits.  It’s a shame that the 22 year old  3B/1B Healy happened to be stuck behind two younger, slightly better players in Nunez and the above mentioned Olson. I expect to see Healy possibly repeat HiA this season. Even though Nunez was my O.A.S choice, it’s Healy who I have my eye’s on. He could explode. 
SS – Yairo Munoz  – Class A Short Season Vermont – 19 yo; – (2011 – Int FA signee – PR) 
  • .298 – 5HR – 20RBi – 29R – 14SB  –   .319/.448/.768  slash   – PAG: 2.77
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR 
  • I decided not to get suckered in by another top prospect for my shortstop choice. The clear-cut choice here was Daniel Robertson. The 2012 – 1st rounder posted a 3.82 PAG for -you guessed it- HiA Stockton. Robertson played behind Addison Russell and was clearly the #2 SS in the system. However, this is UTR and a nearly full list of top prospects would seem too “sold-out’ish” if you will. The Puerto Rico born Munuz led Short Season Vermont in several offensive categories including hits (75), doubles (17), steals (17) and total bases with 113. Munoz could find himself with a clear path behind only Robertson at short stop as the A’s dealt top prospect Addison Russell to the Chicago Cubs and above mentioned Chad Pinder played over 80% of his 2014 games at second base. The 6’1 – 170 lb. Munoz’s 75 hits ranked fifth in the New York-Penn League and he also ranked within the league top 10 in doubles, stolen bases and total bases.  If Munoz could be more aggressive, while improving upon his BB:K ratio (1:6)and his .941 Fld% (17 errors), he could shoot up the depth chart. It doesn’t hurt that he already supplies a superior arm strong enough to stick at the position. 
LF – Jaycob Brugman  – LoA Beloit/HiA Stockton –  22 yo; –  (2013 – 17th round)
  • .280 – 21HR – 72RBi – 67R – 8SB  –  .354/.506/.860 slash  –  csPAG:  3.52
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline(mid-season)-NR  –  BP-NR
  • Now, this is more like it. A nice under-the-radar 17th rounder who enters my O.A.S. list, having sifted his way through a crowded yet mediocre bulk of outfielders in the overall system. Brugman entered 2014 after posting a rough 2.41 PAG for Short Season Vermont in his 2013 professional debut. With a surprising assignment to LoA Beloit to begin 2014, the Brigham Young alumni laid down a solid 3.29 PAG on what would be the front end of a near 60/40 split between LoA Beloit and HiA Stockton.  The 6’0 – 195 lb. lefty earned an early July promotion to Stockton where he built upon his success with a 3.84 PAG in 50 games. Not only does Arizona-born Brugman bring a strong bat the the ballpark, he brings the glove and major-league defense as well; committing only 4 errors since his professional debut.  
CF – Boog Powell  – LoA Beloit/HiA Stockton  –  21 yo; – (2012 – 20th round) –
  • .343 – 3HR –  28RBi – 54R – 16 SB  –  .451/.435/.886  slash  –  csPAG: 3.57
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline(mid-season)/#20  –  BP-NR
  • I have to admit: it was equally as exciting as it was frustrating to see Powell make the O.A.S list.  Exciting because after posting a debut PAG of 2.51 in 2012 in the Arizona League, then logging a slightly improved 2.66 PAG in 2013 for Class A Short Season Vermont, the 2012 – 20th rounder out of Orange Coast Junior College (CA) busted out  in 2014.  The 5’8 – 185 lb. lefty posted a 3.45 PAG while at LoA Beloit. Then broke the 4-mark with a 4.14 PAG in 14 games for HiA Stockton.  Where the frustration lies is with Powell’s 50 game suspension on July 7th for testing positive for amphetamines. I won’t sit here and say Powell’s 2014 production is an aberration. He possesses a superior collection of top-of-the-order tools: supreme bat-to-ball skills, more career walks than strikeouts (102:96), owns a career .317 batting average and .412 on-base percentage, and is an above average defender with only 6 errors in three minor league seasons. I’ll give Powell the benefit of the doubt. His HGH hiccup could become a distant memory once he takes the field and puts up the same numbers in 2015 as he did this season. And I think he will. 
RF – Tyler Marincov – LoA Beloit/HiA Stockton – 22 yo; – (2013 – 8th round) –
  • .268 – 18HR – 77RBi – 70R  –  .347/.486/.833  slash  –  – csPAG: 3.47
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • The University of North Florida alum reminds me a lot of fellow corner outfielder O.A.S. mate Jaycob Brugman. Both were drafted in 2013 and both struggled mightily in their professional debut. The right handed Marincov posted a 62 game PAG of 2.21 for Class A Short Season Vermont in his debut. And again, like Brugman, the 6’2 – 205 pounder saw an aggressive 2014 assignment to LoA Beloit. He went on to log a 3.41 PAG, swatting 16 home runs and driving in 64 runs in 111 games. The Orlando, FL native saw a promotion to HiA in mid-August and concluded the season with a 16-game PAG score of 3.94.  Like Jim and I stated before, we aren’t swayed by age/level kids. Is it a factor, yes. However, production is the driving force behind PAG and TPS.  I like Marincov. He brings game to the ball park each day. I won’t say he’s going to win batting titles or gold gloves, however he’s a good prospect in a system that needs as many as they can get after dealing away blue chip prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney.   
 
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
1. RHP Seth Streich – (15) SP/TPS .088
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (April 17thMay 23rdJune 22nd)
  • Ranked #25 by Baseball America / #8 by MLBPipeline
  • The California League is well-known as a hitter’s league but Seth Streich had a season that should solidify his standing on the A’s prospect radar. He was among the leaders in the A’s system in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. He could have possibly been the overall leader had he not suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him in the final weeks of the season. The Pennsylvania (Johnsonburg) native showed great command of his pitches issuing only 22 walks over 114 innings.  Streich throws a 93-95 MPH fastball and a developing curveball. It was his much improved change-up that has not only gained notice within the organization, but also other MLB teams. The righties name has surfaced as a possible secondary trade piece in couple of trade rumors, especially this past August when the A’s made their play for Jon Lester.
2. LHP Chris Lamb – (10) cSR/TPS .082
  • 24 years old – (LoA Beloit / HiA Stockton / Triple-A Sacramento / HiA Stockton
  • 11th round – 2011
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (April 11thJuly 17thAugust 3rd)
  • Lamb is a late-bloomer type that came on like gangbusters in 2014. With a ceiling as a possible lefty specialist, Lamb turned heads when he found the strike-zone groove with three double digit strikeout outings this season. He struck out a record-setting 17 against Hi-A Rancho Cucamonga batters on August 24th which included a staggering 10 K’s in row. Lamb began the season in LoA Beloit as a swingman and quickly moved up to Hi-A and actually saw relief appearance at Triple-A Sacramento.
3. RHP Kyle Finnegan – (9) SP/TPS .177
  • 22 years old – (LoA Beloit / Double-A Midland)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • Ranked #16 by Baseball America /
  • Finnegan finishes near the top in mention points, but next to last among all the Oakland  pitchers (64) that I tracked this summer. Two glaring stats that weighed him down were the 15 HR issued and a 53/61 BB/K rate. In his defense, the organization overhauled his mechanics which may have caused his command struggles. Every effort will be given for Finnegan to improve and display some consistency as a starter, but his stock may come from the bullpen. He has a scorching fastball that can touch 97 mph which would play as a closer. 
4. RHP Angel Duno – (7) SP/TPS .115
  • 20 years old – (DSL Athletics)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • After three season in the DSL, we should see Duno in the States to start the 2015 season. Though aggressive, he could possibly make the roster with short-season Vermont after posting strong stats over the last two years as a starter.
5.  RHP Argenis Blanco – (7) SP/TPS .083
  • 18 years old – (DSL Athletics)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (June 2ndJuly 12th)
  • Another promising young arm in the Dominican League to follow in the next couple years. Blanco will repeat the DSL for the third time in 2015.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Mention Points/TPS
 
* RHP Nolan Sanburn came in at #3 on this list with (8) points and a .085 RP/TPS, but was dealt to the Chicago White Sox on August 31st in the Adam Dunn deal. Checking back with the White Sox, Sanburn would rate as the top relief pitcher in the Mention Points/TPS in their system. 
 
1. RHP Austin House – (12) RP/TPS .063
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton / Triple-A Sacramento / HiA Stockton)
  • 14th round – 2012
  • UTR Mention (May 20th)
  • House led the A’s minor leagues with 19 saves. Though he saw a short mid-season stint with Triple-A Sacramento, look for him to serve as the closer with Double-A Midland next season.
2. RHP Kris Hall – (10) RP/TPS .065
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton)
  • 8th round – 2012
  • All that Kris Hall has done since being drafted in 2012 is win games. Going back prior to his junior season in his draft year through this past season, Hall has posted a 24-2 record. He went 5-0 with HiA Stockton and strikeout 77 batters over 56.2 innings. Some says Hall is a less refined version of Nolan Sanburn.
3. RHP Sam Bragg –  (8) RP/RPS .094
  • 21 years old – (LoA Beloit)
  • 18th round – 2013
  • Oakland can be very stingy when it comes to promoting players through the levels. As a JUCO low round draft choice, Bragg gives me that feeling that he could be the frontrunner for the 2015 UTR Breakout candidate for the A’s. This isn’t because he saw three levels in 2013, nor had any dominate stat outlier during his time with Beloit. Rather, it’s his attitude on the mound, pitchability, solid repertoire, in-conjunction with his young age, that could make Bragg a fast mover up the ladder.
 
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers  
 
1. RHP Branden Kelliher – cSR/TPS .077
  • 18 years old – (AZL Athletics)
  • 8th round – 2014
  • Kelliher was projected to be drafted anywhere between the 2nd and 5th rounds as he was the #1 high school prospect out of Washington state. He fell to Oakland in the 8th round, as possible concerns of signability with his commitment to the University of Oregon. For an arm just out of high school, Kelliher fared well in the Arizona League. He struck out 37 batters over 28 innings in 11 appearances (7 starts). He can touch up to 96 mph and has decent curveball which held AZL hitters to zero home runs and a .229 batting average.
2. LHP Dillon Overton – SP/TPS .079
  • 22 years old – (AZL Athletics / Short-Season Vermont)
  • 2nd round – 2013
  • Ranked #5 by Baseball America and MLBPipeline / “On The Rise” by Baseball Prospectus
  • Overton made 12 starts in the 2014 and went over 3 innings of work only once, a 4 inning stint in mid July. Making this list should come easy as a 2nd round draft choice, but Overton finds himself here in his debut year, bouncing back from Tommy John surgery short after being drafted. He looked awesome in his limited work by striking out 53 and only walking 4 over 37 innings. He a polished pitcher that can play up his low 90’s fastball by mixing in his plus slider.
3. LHP Chris Lamb – cSR/TPS .082
  • 24 years old – (LoA Beloit / HiA Stockton / Triple-A Sacramento / HiA Stockton
  • 11th round – 2011
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (April 11thJuly 17thAugust 3rd)
  • Lamb is a late-bloomer type that came-on like gangbusters in 2014. With a ceiling as a possible lefty specialist, Lamb turned heads when he found the strike-zone groove with three double digit strikeout outings this season. He struckout a record-setting 17 against Hi-A Rancho Cucamonga batters on August 24th which included a staggering 10 K’s in row. Lamb began the season in LoA Beloit as a swingman and quickly moved up to Hi-A and actually saw relief appearance at Triple-A Sacramento.
4. RHP Argenis Blanco – SP/TPS .083
  • 18 years old – (DSL Athletics)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (June 2ndJuly 12th)
  • Another promising young arm in the Dominican League to follow in the next couple years. Blanco will repeat the DSL for the third time in 2015.
5. RHP Seth Streich – SP/TPS .088
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton)
  • 6th round – 2013
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (April 17thMay 23rdJune 22nd)
  • Ranked #25 by Baseball America / #8 by MLBPipeline
  • The California League is well-known as a hitter’s league but Seth Streich had a season that should solidify his standing on the A’s prospect radar. He was among the leaders in the A’s system in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. He could have possibly been the overall leader had he not suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him in the final weeks of the season. The Pennsylvania (Johnsonburg) native showed great command of his pitches in issuing only 22 walks over 114 innings.  Streich throws a 93-95 MPH fastball and a developing curveball. It was his much improved change-up that has not only gained notice within the organization, but also other MLB teams. The righties name has surfaced as a possible secondary trade piece in couple of trade rumors, especially this past August when the A’s made their play for Jon Lester.
 
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP  Cody Stull – RP/TPS .052
  • 22 years old – (AZL Athletics)
  • 29th round – 2014
  • Stull had a strong debut which would be expected from a collegiate hurler pitching in the AZL. Stull comes out of the small college (Belmont Abbey) in North Carolina and though not typical baseball powerhouse, the school also produced Emilio Pagan who was drafted in 2013 . Pagan could make the list with the Seattle Mariners, which will be announced on Thursday. His exceptionally low TPS may be suspect, but he is an intriguing arm who had success pitching in one of the top U.S. Summer Leagues (Coastal Plain League). As his frame fills out, Stull will probably be stretched out and given the opportunity to start.
2. RHP Austin House –  RP/TPS .063
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton / Triple-A Sacramento / HiA Stockton)
  • 14th round – 2012
  • UTR Mention (May 20th)
  • House led the A’s minor leagues with 19 saves. Though he saw a short mid-season stint with Triple-A Sacramento, look for him to serve as the closer with Double-A Midland next season.
3. RHP Tucker Healy – RP/TPS .064
  • 24 years old – (HiA Stockton / Double -A Midland / Triple-A Sacramento)
  • 23rd round – 2012
  • 2014 UTR Breakout
  • UTR Mention (May 7th)
  • A late season injury in 2013 hampered Healy’s progression. And just like his demeanor on the mound, the A’s got aggressive with the righty in 2014 in pushing up through Triple-A in his second year as a pro. Healy goes after the hitters with a 95 mph 4-seamer that pounds the zone.
 
 2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
SP Bobby Wahl – Chosen last year by posting a .075 TPS, Wahl didn’t have the breakout year that I expected. Though it may still come for the 22 year old, Wahl is a big-bodied righthander that throw his fastball in the mid 90’s. Looking back, Wahl may have better success from the bullpen, which showed during his time with HiA Stockton. Grade C-
 
RP Tucker Healy – Progressing through 3 levels in 2014 and based on how the above list shook out, I believe I hit on the 23rd rounder. This season will be make-or-break for Healy. Grade B-
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