by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When the A’s sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to Los Angeles we knew they received a bounty in return. All three of the starters they acquired sit among the team’s Top 10 prospects, but only one is among our Top 5 for the team. Who does sit atop the rankings? Where does the high-profile Lazaro Armenteros fall? Let’s take a look:
1) Franklin Barreto – Shortstop
Grade – A-
ETA – 2017
Barreto spent the bulk of ’16 at Double-A, putting up 10 HR and 30 SB to go along with a .281 average. A 17.8% strikeout rate shows a good command of the strike zone, though that doesn’t mean that his prospect status doesn’t carry some questions:
- Base running efficiency – He did go 30-for-45 last season (66.7%), something that he needs to improve upon
- Size – While there is a little bit of power, standing at 5’10” is going to bring questions regarding how well his power will translate to the Majors
- Position – While he’s been a shortstop, there are questions about his ability to stick at the position and a move to 2B could soon be in his future
None of those questions eliminate his status as a prospect and the upside is obvious. Just know the questions hovering over him.
2) A.J. Puk – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
The sixth overall selection in the 2016 draft presented himself extremely well in his first taste of professional baseball, with 40 K vs. 12 BB over 32.2 IP. Many felt that he had the best stuff of any pitcher in the ’16 draft, and there was a time he was expected to be the first overall selection. At 6’7” he certainly has the size and if his changeup develops as expected, he’ll carry three above average pitches with him.
That makes the hard thrower an ace in the making, especially if Oakland gives him the time to develop. At 21-years old the team may want to force the issue, but we all know that it can take time for taller pitchers. As long as they are patient, he’s going to develop into one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
3) Grant Holmes – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
When the A’s acquired a trio of pitchers from the Dodgers many pointed to Holmes as the key acquisition. He struggled at High-A last season, though, to the tune of a 4.63 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. The big problem was a drop in strikeouts, something that was an issue for both teams he pitched for:
- Dodgers (105.1 IP) – 8.54 K/9
- A’s (28.1 IP) – 7.53 K/9
Part of it could working on the development of his third pitch, and he also did show improvement in his control after struggling with it in ’15 (53 BB over 134.0 IP). He throws hard and should figure it out, especially when coupled with his impressive 1.73 GO/AO. Don’t get too down on him, because the upside is there.
4) Lazaro Armenteros – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
The 17-year old Cuban defector has garnered a lot of attention, with people comparing his upside to that of Yoan Moncada. It’s certainly possible he gets to that level, but keep in mind that he’s going to need significant time to get there. He’s not going to emerge overnight, and while the talent is impressive (he reportedly brings both power and speed to the table), he needs to get the work and development time that any prospect would.
5) Jharrel Cotton – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
He made five starts for the A’s in September, showing himself well with a 2.15 ERA and excellent control (1.23 BB/9). While the strikeouts weren’t there (7.06 K/9), it’s an extremely small sample size and not a number to be read into. Keep in mind that he had 155 K over 135.2 IP at Triple-A last season, and he also had a 12.5% SwStr% and 38.0% O-Swing% in his brief time in the Majors.
His changeup is his best pitch, and he certainly showed a willingness to use it (28.4%). With a fastball that averaged 92.2 mph, the discrepancy in the speed certainly is going to get opponents off balance (77.2 mph, helping lead to an 18.40% Whiff%). While we’d love to see a few more groundballs, pitching in Oakland that isn’t going to be the biggest red flag.
6) Matt Chapman – Third Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2017
Power… Power… Power… Chapman has more than enough, after slugging 36 HR over 514 AB between Double and Triple-A last season. The question is going to be if he can make enough contact in the Majors to tap into it:
- Double-A – 29.2%
- Triple-A – 30.6%
That’s obviously something to watch, and could turn him more into a Chris Carter type player in the Majors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit his overall upside
7) Frankie Montas – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
8) Daniel Gossett – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Note – The 2014 second round pick pitched across three levels last season, including a pair of Triple-A starts, posting 151 K, 41 BB and a 1.79 GO/AO over 153.2 IP (27 starts). He’s not a big name, but that type of makeup puts his name at least at the periphery of our radars
9) Renato Nunez – Third Baseman (Grade – C+)
10) Chad Pinder – Second Baseman (Grade – C+)
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB.com
*** Pre-Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $5.50 By Clicking Here!! ***
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: