2016 Oakland Athletics

  • – Argenis Raga – 21 yo
    • 2.60/.661 – PAG/APPA – (HiA Stockton) 
    • 2016 stats:  .263/.329/.356;   .686 OPS;   19 doubles, 2 home runs;  27% CS rate; .985 Fld%

Shuffling through the extensive lineup of catching prospects, it quickly became apparent that there were only a select few worthy of UTR consideration. The only catching prospect inside the current MLB Pipeline top 30 is 2016 – 3rd rounder Sean Murphy. The Wright State University (Dayton, OH) draftee posted a 2.30/.602 PAG/APPA; and batted .228 with only three extra-base hits in 23 games (across two levels – AZL and Short Season Vermont). This shifted my OAS pointer toward 2010 free agent signee Argenis Raga. The 6’1″ – 175 lb. Venezuelan began his career logging consecutive seasons in the DSL (2011-’12) followed by two seasons in the AZL (2013-14); and in his first 534 at-bats he batted .245 with 25 doubles, 3 home runs and a meager 2.06/.547 PAG APPA. Last season, Raga started with Vermont of the New York-Penn League playing only five games with the Lake Monsters (2.80/.700) before receiving a promotion to LoA Beloit. He broke out the power with 16 doubles, a couple of home runs and finished within the team’s top five in batting (.278) and slugging percentage (.383). This season Raga spent all year with HiA Stockton and showed off suggestive power, good batting average and defense that still could use some polishing. I’d like to see Raga (finally) post a full season worth of games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him spend more time in HiA to begin 2017 or an assignment to AA Midland; with hopes of breaking out even more because he has the skills to do it. 

  • 1B – Chris Iriart – 21 yo
    • 3.31/.818 combined – PAG/APPA – (AZL – 4.50/1.500;  LoA Beloit – 2.94/.734;  HiA Stockton –  5.00/1.111) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .250/.340/.503;   .843 OPS;   22 home runs;  .990 Fld%

It’s certainly no secret that 2012 – 1st round draft choice Matt Olson is the future at first. In his five years as a minor leaguer, Olson averaged 30 home runs, 72 runs scored and 74 RBi’s per season. Sure, he also averages 121 strikeouts per season, but we all know that’s what comes with prototypical power hitting first basemen. Now, analyzing Oakland’s first base vector, it comes in much different a fashion than their catching corp. There’s an ample amount of quality first baggers toiling in the low minors and this season’s OAS came down to two kids: Sanber Pimentel and Chris Iriart. Pimentel, a 2011 free-agent signee out of the Dominican Republic, registered a good season for HiA Stockton clubbing 18 doubles and 21 home runs, but batted only .237 with 145 strikeouts. Enter Iriart. The 2015 – 12th rounder from the University of Houston brought serious power to Short Season Vermont, but struggled to show it during games, slugging only five long balls in 69 New York-Penn League games. This season Iriart made a rather crooked ascension starting the season with the AZL squad (2 games), totally bypassing Short Season Vermont into LoA with Beloit (79 games), then onto HiA Stockton (16 games). His overall numbers indicate that despite having work to do with his plate discipline, Iriart can hit a ball far, but he needs to work on  not pulling the ball, as 83% of his balls in play went to the pull side. I think Iriart (and his 70-grade power) could spend all season in HiA, and if so, could easily challenge for the California League home run crown, which could (possibly) skyrocket him up prospect boards. 

  • 2B – Max Schrock – 21 yo
    • 3.31/.818 combined – PAG/APPA – (LoA Hagerstown – 3.67/.823;  HiA Potomac – 3.33/.738;  HiA Stockton –  0.50/.111;  Double A Midland – 2.67/.667) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .331/.373/.449;   .823 OPS;   32 doubles, 9 home runs; 22 stolen bases;  31:42 BB:K ratio.  

With hindsight being 20/20, 2014 was a pretty darn good year for UTR Organizational All-Stars when you look at MLB Pipeline’s current Oakland Athletics top 30. Franklin Barreto tops Pipeline’s list and was a UTR OAS in 2014 while with the Toronto Blue Jays. Oakland’s number seven prospect Yairo Munoz, number five ranked Renato Nunez and number eight Chad Pinder were all 2014 UTR Organizational All-Stars as well. Not bad huh? Repeating this feat may be a tall task, but all I do is report on who’s performing well. It’s not about projection here. One kid I’m a year behind, but wished like hell was UTR eligible is 2012 – 6th rounder Joey Wendle. Drafted by Cleveland, Wendle hit the prospect scene by storm. But over five minor league seasons, the West Chester University (West Chester, PA) draftee  — and friend of my close friend, fantasy football contributor @rotounderworld Brennan Pankiw (@FFBren) —  logged a five year PAG/APPA of 3.31/.759. So, you get the idea that Oakland is pretty loaded with middle infield prospects. There’s a caveat, however, to my A’s second base choice Max Schrock. Despite the fact that the vast majority of his playing time this season was spent as a Washington National, he’s now an Oakland A; and if someone asks for fantasy advice, I have to point to Oakland’s prospect list. However, I scratch my head over the trade that brought the 2015 – 13th rounder out of South Carolina to Oakland. But regardless, Schrock can flat out hit. He posted a combined 3.43/.759 PAG/APPA over four levels this season. I have a feeling the A’s will assign the 5’8″ – 180 lb. lefty back to HiA Stockton to help him get back on track after a late season production dip, but he could shoot up prospect boards with a repeat of his 2016. 

  • 3B – Jose Brizuela – 23 yo
    • 2.97/.737 – PAG/APPA – (HiA Stockton) 
    • 2016 stats:  .254/.337/.446;   .784 OPS;   18 doubles, 16 home runs

The Oakland third base vector is stacked. According to Jason Martinez (@jasonmartinez) at RosterResource.com (@rosterresource), the A’s plan to go with 24-year-old Ryon Healy at third base next season. Yet, he’s just the tip of the iceberg. Also in the fold is 23-year-old Matt Chapman and 22-year-old Renato Nunez, both of whom are embedded within several Athletic top 5 prospect lists. So, this year’s OAS choice, Jose Brizuela, has a big hill to climb. Thirty-nine percent of his hits for the Ports this year went for extra bases and his 16 home runs ranked second only behind first baseman Sandber Pimentel. Brizuela’s production has maintained consistency throughout his three years in the organization. With Healy in the majors, and Chapman, and Nunoz both at AAA, I project Brizuela to begin 2017 at Double-A Midland, where he could prove whether he belongs in the conversation as a legitimate third base prospect or not.  

  • SS – Richie Martin – 21 yo
    • 2.74/.623 combined – PAG/APPA – (HiA Stockton – 2.65/.597;  Double-A Midland – 4.20/1.167) 
    • 2016 stats:  .235/.327/.322;  .649 OPS;   15 doubles, 3 home runs; 14 stolen bases. 

Looking into Oakland’s crystal ball, the future up the middle will be where #1 prospect Franklin Barreto and fellow top 5’er Yairo Munoz play. Both are more than capable of playing both shortstop and second base. If the decision was up to me, Barreto would man second base, as Munoz’ natural defensive skills are a better fit at short. However, let’s not allow this situation to overshadow the fact that 2015 – 1st rounder Richie Martin is a future star in his own right. The former Florida Gator debuted with Vermont of the New York-Penn League where he registered a 2.82/.637 PAG/APPA in 51 games. This was enough for the organization to promote the 5’11” – 160 lb. righty to HiA Stockton to start the 2016 season. His numbers dipped slightly from 2015, but that took a turn for the better once Martin was promoted to AA Midland. Now I know Martin’s five games for the RockHounds is a small sample size, but Martin is a premium athlete who can drive the ball to all parts of the field and is most effective going the other way. However, it’s Martin’s highlight reel wizardry in the infield that will vault him to the majors. With the aforementioned Barreto and Nunez ahead of Martin on the depth chart, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Martin was the focal point of future trade talks. 

  • LF – Luis Barrera – 20 yo
    • 3.03/. combined – PAG/APPA – (Short Season Vermont – 3.22/.746;  LoA Beloit – 2.63/.658) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .310/.361/.428;  .789 OPS;   14 doubles, 3 home runs

Barrera fits perfectly into the UTR mold. The 6’0″ – 180 lb lefty came to the A’s as a free-agent signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. The organization assigned him to the Dominican Summer League, which is where he spent his first two seasons as a pro batting a combined .174 in 55 games. The 2015 season saw a breakout of sorts in the Arizona League, as Barrera hit .287, but only logged five extra-base hits and drove in only 12 runs. This past season, the Traboril native saw even more improvements across two levels and Barrera finally began showing the power that the organization was hoping to see from the very beginning. Barrera brings a good swing to the plate and scouts say, “His bat stays in the hitting zone a long time, he hits to all fields and he offers average power potential.” He lacks speed and will need to work on strengthening his arm in order to stay in left, but the A’s hope that his methodical progression will eventually produce the left field prospect the system needs. 

  • CF – B.J. Boyd – 22 yo
    • 3.00/.661 combined – PAG/APPA – (HiA Stockton – 3.08/.746;  AAA Nashville – 1.86/.406) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .287/.344/.386;  .730 OPS;   14 doubles, 8 home runs

The Athletics drafted Boyd in the 4th round of the 2012 draft after scouts raved about his four-tool ability. Boyd came out of Palo Alto HS (CA) boasting supreme athleticism, plus-plus speed, above average defense and the ability to hit for high average. Boyd’s first two seasons as a pro went as planned. In his debut with the Arizona League, he posted a 39-game PAG/APPA of 4.05/.946. The following season he posted 71 games with Vermont of the New York-Penn League. His production dipped a little, but the 5’11” – 230 lb. lefty still logged a 2.85/.763 PAG/APPA. Boyd’s first year in full-season ball was a bit of a struggle registering a 2.45/.587 with Beloit of the Midwest League, which is known as a pitcher’s league. He rebounded in 2015 with a promotion to HiA Stockton, but it wasn’t the robust increase the organization was expecting (2.70/.697), but he did hit .270 and recorded career highs in doubles and steals. This season, Boyd repeated HiA and worked on becoming the hitter the organization saw when he was drafted batting .288. I expect the A’s to promote Boyd to AA Midland for 2017 with hope he can continue to build upon the bevy of skills he flashes on the field. 

  • RF – Tyler Marincov – 24 yo
    • 3.37/.783 combined – PAG/APPA – (HiA Stockton – 4.28/.922;  AA Midland – 3.05/.728) 
    • 2016 stats combined:  .265/.341/.436;  .776 OPS;   26 doubles, 19 home runs;  12 stolen bases

This is a rather bitter sweet moment of sorts. Not in my choosing Tyler Marincov as my Oakland A’s Organizational All-Star right fielder. But it’s the end of the line for the only right fielder who’s ever graced the Oakland A’s Organizational All-Star right field spot. Sadly, Marincov has reached UTR age limit requirements, but the thing is, he’s earned every accolade sent his way starting in 2014 (here’s what I had to say about him.) Unfortunately I was unable to post write-ups for the 2015 UTR OAS installment, but that was then. Now, I’ve always expressed my distaste for player comparisons. However, Marincov’s reign ends with more questions than answers; and it’s based upon comparison to fellow outfielder, organizational mate Jaycob Brugman. If you click on the link above, you’ll see that I compared Marincov to Brugman; and when you look at their stats from two years ago, they were quite similar. So, why is Brugman sitting in Oakland’s top 30 and Marincov isn’t despite their career numbers being strikingly similar?  In 460 career games, the 6’2″ – 205 lb. North Florida draftee Marincov carries a slash line of .257/.331/.426/.757 with a 3.18/.753 PAG/APPA. The Brigham Young alum Brugman boasts a 433 game slash of .274/.343/.434/.777 with a 3.20/.747 PAG/APPA. I mean, has there been that much of a disparity between the two over the last four years? The numbers say all they need to and I believe Marincov’s ground work and upper minors projection means he should garner major league consideration soon. 

Pitchers

Rewind the Athletics from the last two UTRMinor seasons and you would find a whole lot of misses and “what could have beens.” The 2014 season was filled with later misses, starting with Chris Lamb, who was released during 2016 spring training. His highpoint came during that 2014 season while with HiA Stockton and then a taste of Triple-A. The next season went completely south and it was apparent that he’d hit the proverbial wall, thus receiving the “thank you-but-good luck” talk. My top choice in 2014 was a central PA native, Seth Streich, who became a trade piece in the deal that sent Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres to Oakland. He has yet to pitch an inning with his new club, as he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and missed the 2015 season. He didn’t resurface during the 2016 season, which leaves me wonder if his funky, deceptive delivery calling played havoc in making a rehab. The TPS system completely missed the mark with Branden Kelliher. TPS loved the 8th round UTR after his debut season with the AZL Athletics, despite his 9.3 BB9 rate in 11 appearances with 7 starts. He was an arm straight out of high school that threw a 96 mph heater and a curveball that rates above average. Well…TPS can’t ascertain whether a kid can harness his command and control. My system did see him fall hard down through my spreadsheet in 2015, and this season was an absolute nightmare for the 20 year old. Over two levels, spending most with Short-Season Vermont, Kelliher finished with a 11.2 BB9 and 2.1 K9 rates. The switch may just suddenly flick on for the right-hander, so there’s time yet to develop. Speaking of turning on the switch, Bobby Wahl was my “One to Watch” prior to the 2014 season. He didn’t have the breakout that I expected and I mentioned (post-season) that he might be best suited for the bullpen. Well…that’s were he ended up full-time in 2015; and it all came together at Double-A Midland in 2016, earning him a promotion to Triple-A Nashville and leading the A’s system with 14 saves. The only bright spot from my 2014 selections was Dillon Overton, which is expected from a 2nd round draft choice. Overton went on to repeat the following year and garnered the “Solid Stash” tag. He had a successful stint at Triple-A and got the call-up to Oakland in late June.
The 2015 UTR-OAS roster also saw a “Solid Stash” for top draft pick in Sean Manaea, who had a solid year with Oakland in 2016. A solid year wasn’t had by Casey Meisner in 2016, who spent his first full-season since coming over from the New York Mets. You would’ve thought he experienced horrible luck in losing 11 straight outings during the start of the season, but a closer look would find that his command and control totally left him; and recent reports find that his size might be his only best trait…not good. Daniel Mengden made the 2015 UTR-OAS list after coming over from the Houston Astros at the trade deadline.  He had an awesome 2016 running through Double-A and Triple-A hitters before landing in Oakland. The list for 2016 below contains new faces on the UTR front, except for Angel Duno. He snuck into the 2014 list after a successful 3rd season with the DSL Athletics. The 22-year-old Venezuelan was my pick for the 2016 “One to Watch” and has reached Lo-A Beloit. Lou Trivino also appears below; again from his role as a relief pitcher. He joined Sam Bragg, but Bragg earned the “Legit UTR” label and just spent 2016 with Double-A Midland with decent results.
The UTR international hopes for the Athletics hinged on the above mentioned Duno, Argenis Blanco, and Alexander Calderon. The 20-year-old Blanco repeated the Arizona League in 2016 displaying vast improvement. Calderon on the other hand, hasn’t made it state-side yet, spending his 3rd season in the DSL.
 
 
 
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score/TPS
 
1. RHP Kyle Friedrichs – 25 /.131  
  • 24 years old – ( LoA Beloit/ HiA Stockton / Double-A Midland)
  • 7th round – 2015
  • Friedrichs has received my highest score thus far for the American League. And why not, he was a workhorse in 2016. After throwing only 36 innings during his debut season in 2015 with Short-Season Vermont, he made 29 appearances (153 IP) going 6-9 with a 3.35 ERA. TPS, though, didn’t love that he lacked strikeouts (19%), but who can argue with the control. He issued only 16 walks and posted an 84% LOB rate. This performance will need to repeat in 2017 for Friedrichs to move-up the organization as he turns 25 years old at the end month; thusly falling off my UTR radar, which will occur anyway with a 2017 assignment at Double-A.
2. LHP Evan Manarino  – 20 / .103
  • 23 years old – (LoA Beloit / HiA Stockton)
  • 25th round – 2015
  • Manarino is almost a Friedrichs redux….doesn’t walk many (28), didn’t miss many bats (128), and pitched 150+ innings after only 38.2 at Vermont. Again impressive for both pitchers in their first full seasons. Manarino didn’t receive the same fast track like his counterpart Friedrichs, but his stock is higher being a lefty and having three secondary offerings that all rate outstanding. American League dynasty owners should keep close tabs on these two during their time at the level, especially in the California League.
3. RHP James Naile – 17 / .106
  • 23 years old – (LoA Beloit / Triple-A Nashville / HiA Stockton / Double-A Midland)
  • 20th round – 2015
  • My opening recap of the Athletic system explained about the misses, but halfway through this year’s UTR-OAS roster, it appears I won’t be repeating that theme going into 2018. The first two (hopefully) will be making their way through Triple-A just like Naile did in 2016. Though, Naile only got a taste last season, he ripped through four levels in 2016 leading the system in innings pitched (156.2). And just like the previous mentions, he got it done without much flash. He did flash the glove however,  garnering the Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove award. Naile is another soft tosser that has a sinking fastball that will elicit weak contact and some swing & misses.
4. RHP Boomer Biegalski – 14 / .116
  • 22 years old – (LoA Beloit)
  • 14th round – 2015
  • A pattern for A’s pitchers is emerging. Boomer only threw 11.1 innings in his 2015 pro debut with the AZL Athletics, then went off the charts in 2016 pushing Naile for the most innings pitched with 153.1 over 28 appearances. He also limits the free passes (2.2 BB9) and not striking out many (115). Biegalski’s top offering is his advanced changeup, which he uses to his advantage, but is heady in mixing his other pitches as well. He might not get away with the off-speed stuff as he advances to the next levels, so it’s something to watch.
5. LHP Angel Duno – (12) / .143 
  • 22 years old – (LoA Beloit)
  • International Free Agent – 2011
  • The beat goes on. Duno returns as a UTR-OAS after missing a mention in 2015. He didn’t put up the numbers like his one-time teammates, as an injury slowed him mid-season, but the season was a consistent success. Duno just turned 23 this past Tuesday (Jan 10th) Happy Belated Birthday. He went 7-7 with a 2.68 ERA over 121 innings with 16 walks and 76 strikeouts. He has a projectable frame, but doesn’t throw the heat with an upper 80s fastball. He comes at hitters with a near plus-slider and will pick around the zone with his fastball that has movement.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Factor Score/TPS
 
1. RHP Carlos Navas – 9 / .076
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton / AAA Nashville)
  • International Free Agent – 2010
2. RHP Lou Trivino – 9 / .084
  • 24 years old – (HiA Stockton / AA Midland)
  • 11th round – 2013
3. RHP Armando Ruiz – 7 / .091
  • 23 years old – (HiA Stockton)
  • 29th round – 2015