Tuesday, January 20, 2015
A positional deficiency present within the A's organization, backstops have been at a premium recently with limited potentiality and overall ceiling abounding the system behind the plate. Having experienced a mild uptick with breakthrough campaigns by Seong-Min Kim and Chago Chavez predominantly within short season affiliates, the recent draftee in Max Kuhn converting towards the position during a controlled six weeks at the Papago complex during the Instructional League and bonus baby catching acquisitions in Jorge Gordon and Jose Rivas as the lone six figure additions during the ongoing present amateur signing period with a minimal pool and slot trading spree placing a leash on Oakland's ability to splurge overseas during the third to last period before an International Draft is expected to be implemented. Still, the position has yet to be replenished through the upper portions of the organization with a mere three represented upon the top ten listing having had full season experience and three additionally having played the position exclusively for less than a season with significant risk and minimal upside dotting those represented throughout, though of course not intentional with drafting not organized by positional preference but rather talent available when selecting and opposing organizations being extraordinary protective of catching prowess as chips in trades (For good reason).
Prospect: (OFP Ceiling/Realistic probability of ceiling achievement and risk associated with prospect)
1. Bruce Maxwell (45/Medium-High)
Oakland's current leading representative within a positionally depleted catching crop, Bruce Maxwell serves as the most realistic bet upon the listing to achieve a major league ceiling with plus makeup and significant tweaks to his defensive minutiae such as arm accuracy, receiving and footwork with the mitt despite raw offensive intangibles that have failed to actualize and develop to draft expectations thus far as a professional. Initially prescribed plus-plus raw pop ceiling by some amateur evaluators, Maxwell's raw power has failed to demonstrate up to collegiate expectations with his bat possessing above average 5 o' clock stuff on occasion and when warranted with an insufficient barreling ability during in-game situations that has sapped his capability to materialize his tool and presents a realistic projection of fringe with absolute average ceiling as loose hands, periodical swing elongation, in-game immaturity at the plate with frustration easily and at times viscerally being showcased by Maxwell and inconsistent extension and follow through to complete contact through the zone that had diminished his offensive potency within Stockton and has boded less than desirable statistical outputs despite ingredients still present to amass to something of major league worth. Demonstrating decent recognition abilities, Maxwell has showcased consistent tendencies to lay off middle-in breaks and stuff with elevated release with quick hands when committing to a pitch and flashing a tick above average bat speed at times with vacillating bat path that can flash an less than desirable pronounced uppercut at times with a frame that's thick through the lower half and has seen improvement as a professional after his weight had fluctuated previously with him trimming excess weight off of his midsection and thus assisting his agility behind the plate during his most recent campaign through Stockton and Midland. Maxwell's difficulty with the lumber was heavily exposed within Texas and periodically for Stockton with armside slides from the left side, outer velocity, gloveside tailing stuff from righties and middle-in plus stuff frazzling Maxwell with a nagging quality surfacing with chasing tailing spin down and away and bat speed not elite enough with his timing to catch velocity consistently towards the inner portions of the plate resulting in visible bouts of irritability and immaturity/poor body language regularly. Zone command has additionally served as a present means of development and adjustment as stuff commanded through the zone has stunted the thickly built backstop with issues catching to stuff not true or fluky appropriately spotted while sometimes forgeting to maintain shortness into the zone that has exacerbated his addressed flaw. Maxwell has made strides defensively with physical regimen boosting his quickness at catcher with improved catch and release skills and arm accuracy to capitalize upon a consistently solid average arm that can flash above average at times. Establishing a rapport with pitching staffs and receiving recognition as a backstop arms within the organization have prefered throwing to and creating batteries with, the German born bat has made an internal reputation as a quality glove with a positive clubhouse presence despite immaturity during contests that can pose a negative impact. Cumulatively, Maxwell's potential defensive attributes and stock increase behind the plate has kept his profile and major league potentiality treading water with an exploitable swing requiring significant refinement and instruction having yet to be overtly demonstrated and an insufficient barreling ability with inconsistency regarding his shortness into the zone depleting probable materialized pop impact with the stick, concluding with 40/45 (Hit), 45 (Power/55 Raw), 20 (Run), 50 (Glove) and 50/55 (Arm) potential grades that point towards a probable backup position at the majors with his initial full upper minors campaign upon the horizon during 2015. Rule 5 eligible following the conclusion of the approach season, Maxwell's offensive success and ability to acclimate to upper minors arms shall undoubtedly determine as to whether or not the Alabama product shall secure a 40 man position or rather be stashed upon the Nashville roster to avoid AA/AAA portion plucking. Showcasing a somewhat pull intensive approach with difficulty allowing the ball the travel deep into the zone and dropping the back shoulder while maintaining hand position and barreling up through extension, Maxwell's copious flaws with his hitting capability have placed a present cap upon his hit tool until an ability to counter adjust can be shown with adequate recognition ability being negated by nagging tendencies on gloveside break and spin and middle-in command/velocity that shall have to be addressed and corrected prior to arriving within the majors and being exposed to genuine advanced scouting with his hitting instruction ultimately determining his upcoming probability to sustain a major league opportunity.
2. Seong-Min Kim (45/Extremely High)
Instructional League report:
"Serving as the backstop for the hefty majority of the arms for Oakland during his short season and Instructional League campaigns, Seong-Min Kim burst forth to prominence his loud tools behind the plate and with the lumber that vault the thickly proportioned backstop into the upper echelon of the Athletics developmental system. Boasting a massive 6'2"/250 pound frame, though with the weight fairly well distributed and not centralized within any one lone region, Kim announces his presence instantaneously upon stepping footy onto the diamond with the extremely thick Korean bonus baby inking for $510,000 during the 2011 offseason additionally weilding plus to plus-plus raw power potentiality to accompany his heavy build. Incorporating a pronounced uppercut through his bat path, Kim utilizes his average bat speed and strong frame to make loud contact upon tracking and recognizing a pitch appropriately, an aspect the rare Pacific Rim catcher must greatly continue to improve upon. Kim often commits towards fastballs, with an exaggerated side step and foot raise that shall cost the Korean as he ascends to grapple with full season arms as sliders tailing outside and 12-6 breaks consistently trip Kim and diminish his capability to demonstrate his plus potential power projection with a swing often loopy and a tendency to sometimes be forgetful to remain short into the zone. Kim's mobility behind the plate additionally presents an issue as the gigantic backstop struggles to appropriately get behind balls and get into glove position while still amending his defensive negatives with an ability to call contests and a rapid release. Kim's arm strength boasts another awe inspring attribute with an easy plus grade stamped upon the 21 year old's cannon with a capability to generate pop times from 1.82 to 1.91 with lackluster footwork which presents more significant incremental subtractions upon sharpening his quickness as Kim likely presents the most superior catching arm throughout the Oakland organization. With a nelegable tool within that of his blatantly subpar speed upon the basepaths, Kim concludes with 40 (Hit). 60+ (Raw Power), 20 (Run), 60+ (Arm), 40-55 (Glove) grades with significant developmental instruction still for the collegiate draftee age catcher following two consecutive campaigns in which Oakland refrained from utilizing Kim within significant in-game situations prior towards his AZL breakthrough versus underwhelming rookie league repetiores. Essentially a pure fastball dependent bat the moment with pull tendencies and an inherent difficultly to recognize and track breaking offerings, Kim still requires copious seasoning and assistance through his gradual ascent upwards through Oakland's affiliates as one of the Athletics' more toolsy and upside based positional prospects with his probable potentiality to eventually acquire a major league opportunity definitively hinging upon the ability of Kim to greater recognize secondary offerings and ultimately prioritize his hitting development. Still certainly an unaccustomed and loud flag to plant within the often untapped amateur Pacific Rim market, Seong-Min Kim shall service as a pivotal representative for the Oakland development staff as a posterchild for future Asain recruiting endeavors even if Kim's ultimate offensive ceiling may have an extraordinarily slight chance of actualizing"
The heaviest tool oriented name on the listing, Kim's easy plus arm with soft hands and rapid release and plus raw pop, though predominantly 5 o' clock at the moment, provide some dreaming off of the rarely seen high dollar Pacific Rim amateur signing. With the frame a probable issue, already 250+ pounds with footwork, blocking and mobility issues with the mitt though fairly evenly distributed, Kim shall have to prioritize physical condition and attempt to develop his hit tool and recognition ability to an extent where his pop can be utilized consistently during game situations. Showcasing an exaggerated slide step and often selling out on fastballs, leading to continuously getting poached off the front foot by fringe secondaries, Kim's recognition ability, aggressiveness, occasional tendency to collapse the inner elbow and elongate the swing and short duration within the zone due to a pronounced uppercut while often selling out for power shall have to be modified with miticulous instruction with fringe bat speed and middle-in holes dotting his swing at the moment preventing the Korean addition from consistently flashing stuff as he was able to demonstrate during this most recent AZL stint, proving an ability to capitalize off of mistakes and true stuff with discipline refinement that gradually dissipated through Vermont and the Instructional League.
3. Santiago "Chago" Chavez (40-45/High)
Instructional League report:
"Flanking his International backstop companions, Santiago Chavez flashed admirable maturity throughout his stateside debut following two consecutive campaigns amongst within the La Victoria Dominican academy and a 2011 acquisition for $200.000 from the Saltillo region in Mexico. The thickly built 19 year old boasting a 5'11"/190 pound frame possesses minimal offensive upside with subpar bat speed and thus a lessened ability to square plus velocity unless having guessed on pitch location, which Chavez did ultimately guess correctly in instances through his Instructional League stay on velocity ranging from 91-95 MPH with a decent ability to recognize exaggerated breaks, though frazzled by any secondaries flashing average with a low minors caliber pitch recognition, thus encountering difficulty upon confronting changeups and average to above average curves and sliders. A product of lackluster bat speed, Chavez' power potentiality bodes an extraordinarily low ceiling given the tradional catching offensive profile though could potentially increase to a marginal extent as he becomes more in touch and coordinated with his physical frame and develops more strength. Routinely generating 4.8-4.9 times out of the box, Chavez also presents subpar speed upon the basepaths, though an aspect not relevant for a backstop given his profile and potential projection. Chavez' redeeming components amongst his skill set lie within that of his defensive capabilities, capable enough to lift the teenage Latin American catching prospect towards the cusp of the majors with pinpoint and outstanding blocking, arm accuracy,release, footwork, receiving and game calling tendencies accumulating to potential plus-plus defensive grades while already demonstatring an above average defensive package at the moment just weeks following his 19th birthday while flashing extreme maturity given his youth as well. Chavez' arm strength routinely generated 50-55 grades with consistent release and mechanics behind the plate which permits the Carribean youngster to play up his average arm considerably as Chavez was able to successfully gun 13 of 18 attempted basestealers within Vermont and 7 of 8 including a pair of pickoffs at first and third base during a four game duration amongst his fellow Instructional League competition in Arizona with superb accuracy off his throws laced directly in front of bag continuously. Chavez' extraordinarily polished defensive intangibles provide a probable major league projection for the stocky backstop, though his offensive tools lag significantly behind his glove not weilding a stick boding even average potentiality with a definitive permanent 9th position within a probable lineup having to feast and ultimately capitalize upon being a mistake bat. Regardless, Chavez' glove at the very least vaults him to a capable backup post with a floor residing in that of an organizational asset that shall provide instruction and guidance to upcoming pitching and catching farmhands throughout the system. Concluding with 35 (Hit), 25 (Power), 30 (Run), 65 (Glove) and 55 (Arm) projections, Santiago Chavez still shall become a useable cog to some extent for Oakland as he gradually ascends and embarks upon a 2015 campaign in which the Mexican catching prospect shall remain 19 until August and possibly vacillate between affiliates as he experienced through his stateside debut"
With pronounced maturity with the leather, Chavez at the very worst services as an organizational piece that can service as an impromptu coach for imcoming batteries throughout the system. With outstanding arm accuracy, release and footwork despite some occasional misjudgements on pitch movement, Chavez has established himself as a mitt pitchers within the organization have enjoyed and prefered throwing to with helium enough on the glove and polish probable to actualize on a backup ceiling despite underwhelming bat speed, recognition, strength and periodical mechanical inconsistency that diminish his likely ability to capitalize with the bat against upper caliber competition.
4. Max Kuhn (40-45/High)
Instructional League report:
"Forming the battery with Kyle Finnegan during his mechanical tweak was Max Kuhn, the previous utility cog at Vermont following his 13th round selection by Oakland after being plucked for the second consecutive instance by the Athletics after his preparatory selection out of high school in 2011. A blatantly offensively oriented prospect, Kuhn provides value through a thunderous bat with 60 grade raw power which, while likely shall not actualize to its full potential, has been flashed in instances including an appearance within the NYPL clearing a batter's eye at 420 feet to CF and making some of the most visceral contact at the Instructional camp injuring tagging a fastball middle of the zone at Papago well out of the ballpark to pull center keeping the bat head steady through the zone with a solid follow through with strong, quick wrists that resulted in a monsterous blast out of the facility that highlighted the power oriented contingent of the cast this Fall coupled with Sandber Pimentel, who tagged one on a line 400 feet to opposite center in Scottsdale, and Seong-Min Kim. Kuhn additionally possesses a swing intensive approach, with a projection having a rely upon average and power percentages to ascend through the organization with an ability to recognize and square slightly below average to slightly above average fastball velocity and make contact consistently off offspeed offerings, with the most susceptible being to changeups. Despite decent yet lacking awe inspring projection upon the offensive edge, Kuhn's defensive capabilities could easily stunt his offensive arsenal as the Kentucky alumni struggled mightily primarily stationed at third base collegiately for the Wildcats before bouncing from 1B, 2B, 3B, LF and DH duties between the AZL complex and Vermont throughout his initial Oakland professional debut. In an attempt to have Kuhn definitively latch onto a defensive post, the organization opted to audition the newly found catcher behind the plate as the 23 year old would be prevented from debuting within a game situation until the latter portion of camp. Despite never acquiring an opportunity to recordi a pop time through his appearances, Kuhn surprisingly demonstated sufficient receiving abilities with some blocking and footwork startlingly registering with just a below average grade for someone having immediately shifted to one of the more demanding defensive posts within the sport. Having demonstrated a 45-50 grade arm within left field previously during the October schedule, one could deduct Kuhn's potentiality gunning baserunners had he acquired an opportunity as Kuhn would routinely amass ~2.10 times inbetween innings when properly receiving the ball. The aspiring Snapper shall have an opportunity to greatly improve defensively upon acclimating towards the position during the offseason and March while currently settling with 40 (Hit), 55 (Power), 35 (Run), 40 (Glove), 45 (Arm) projections at the moment."
Kuhn's adequate pitch recognition, tick below average bat speed and mistake recognition coupled with extreme raw pop from the right side with strong and quick hands make him an intriguing bat first prospect with his defensive intangibles behind the plate probable to see him shift back to corner outfield or right infield duties despite some progress made with receiving ability and overall adjustment to the high glove profile position during his brief Instructional League tenure.
5. Lana Akau (45/Extremely High)
Yet another Instructional League participant within Papago to close out the tenure of the long accustomed Oakland minor league facility, Iolana Akau played sparingly similarly to his sophomore campaign within the AZL as the Hawaiian overslot acquisition continued to encounter difficulty with professional acclimation as Oakland, similarly to Seong-Min Kim, has opted to retain Akau outside of excessive game situations for controlled and concentrated development preference with Akau not providing enough of a sample to provide a tangible and definite scouting report. Showcasing a moderate, stout frame behind the plate with minimal physical projection remaining as the 19 year old has essentially filled out to the entirety of his adult stature with an average build and thick backside, Akau has been under watchful observance and been treated with kid gloves after losing a developmental campaign prior to his drafting after missing his senior high school campaign with a fractured thumb. With a lone campaign of AZL eligibility remaining, Akau is expected to ascend towards an incorporated affiliate momentarily after serving as a reserve backstop within Beloit breifly during the previous spring with his advertised defensive maturity as an amateur still flashing in stretches. Akau's offensive upside remains restrained however, with moderate bat speed sapped through continuously loose hands and an elongated stroke while having reoccurring difficulties with pitch recognition, often getting caught off on the front foot when combating and encountering a rare quality complex level changeup with armside wiggle and tailing breaks towards the outer portion of the zone, plus velocity and crisp 11-5/12-6 curves through the zone figuring difficult for Akau to track from release and lay off of. Often extending his inner elbow, Akau's barreling ability has been extremely minimal despite flashing quick hands and adequate bat speed at times with strength still needing to be prioritized for the still exceedingly raw farmhand with well below average raw pop not bailing out Akau and thus having to remain dependent upon his hitting development to carry him offensively. Flashing solid defensive intangibles behind the plate with consistently mature receiving and blocking ability, Akau pertains to less polish than fellow glove based backstop, Chago Chavez, presently with arm accuracy inconsistency with a presently fringe cannon that can eventually play to average thus having to play up on a rapid release, above average footwork and accurate ropes, all attributes still underdeveloped for the Hawaiian product with agility and mobility at the dish still clunky at times while demonstrating periodically choppy hands and tense movements at times as Akau visbilibly remains uncomfortable in game situations occasionally. Still showcasing attributes that can accumulate to an average mitt, Akau's development shall remain gradual and steady with his potential ceiling remaining extremely lofty at the moment with his status within the organization only for that of the patient. With potential grades amassing to that of 40 (Hit), 30 (Power), 30 (Run), 50+ (Glove) and 50 (Arm), Akau's ultimately ideal scenario lies in that of a leather oriented reserve backstop with some potential hit tool ability with recognition refinement and instruction to retain a shortness into the zone with proper hand placement. Only permitted to participate for a minimal amount of time within the AZL and Instrcutional League, reevaluation shall be available for Akau as he begins to progress through the system and reaches physical maturity.
6. Jose Rivas (45/Extremely High)
"Rivas is a very good athlete. Soft hands, good transfer, flashes a present average arm. Some raw power, solid contact, good bat speed"
The presently youngest player in the Athletics organization, the 16 year old Venezuelan product celebrates his 17th birthday on August 5th while already possessing a mature 6'1"/175 pound build behind the plate with tantilizing raw instincts and tools that have made the Julio Franco signee the present and ultimately likely 2014-2015 signing period bonus baby at $220,000 joining Jesus Lopez ($950K/2013), Luis Barrera ($450K/2012), Seong-Min Kim ($510K/2011), Renato Nuñez ($2.2M/2010), Wilfredo Solano ($750K/2009) and Michael Ynoa ($4.25M/2008) from previous years past. Despite minimal excessive information on the acquisition with limited international tournament exposure, the right handed bat showcases average raw pop presently that can project to above average with solid bat speed, contact rates, and a supposedly notable arm behind the plate with decent blocking ability and agility as Rivas honed his arm strength as a member of the 15U Venezuelan national javelin team. With a notable DSL debut campaign amongst fellow Caribbean signees within La Victoria this summer, the youthful backstop could head stateside as early as the impending 2015 Instructional League which would serve as the youngest Arizona Instructs participant since 2013 with Jesus Zambrano and the then 16 year old Jesus Lopez. With the potentiality to see his prospect ascend rapidly with more eyes gazing upon him and in a depleted positional sect, Rivas addresses himself as a possible breakthrough name with upcoming physical development and maturity upcoming over the next couple seasons.
7. Beau Taylor (40>/Medium)
Having continuously struggled to acclimate towards Texas League competition with difficulty adjusting to secondary command with fringy bat speed, inconsistent hands and breaking recognition issues, Taylor has been teetering upon non-prospect status for Oakland following a successful statistical romp through Stockton in 2012 and standout run following his 2014 demotion with recognition ability enough to diagnose and capitalize off of mistakes with average raw pop and condensed stroke despite bat path vacillation and inconsistency with barreling on stuff towards the inner portions of the zone. With an iffy defensive skill set possessing a fringe arm with clunky release and stiff movements and footwork, Taylor's bat likely doesn't last within the upper regions of the minors and ultimately seems destined to float throughout middle minors opportunities with some mistake hitting ability and decent semblance of the zone allowing him to tread water within amongst AA competition as a reserve component. Essentially already actualized to the extent of which his raw intangibles have shown, Taylor possesses minimal risk as an upper minors flier and filler though unlikely to achieve a major league ceiling with a potential cup of coffee possible with successful swing experimentation and a slough of injuries as Bruce Maxwell, his Texas League postseason companion, shall undoubtedly take prospect precedence and surpass the former collegiate bat.
8. Robert Mullen (40-45/Extremely High)
The Panamanian backstop now flanking fellow recent signee from the region in Jorge Gordon, Mullen's $225,000 acquisition ushered him into the La Victoria complex where the stout and average built catcher had been housed for the previous couple campaigns prior to his stateside Instructional League debut and consequential Dominican Instructs stint afterwards alongside fellow La Victoria graduate, Sandber Pimentel, with only sparingly seen participation during game situations, similarly to Lana Akau, to work within a controlled developmental environment with personal coaching from Sam Geaney inbetween appearances before San Diego's swiping the Oakland's former International scouting director to oversee their farm across the valley in Peoria. Though limited in opportunities, Mullen demomstrated a solid average arm with above average stuff flashing, though erratic and often inaccurate, with consistent 1.90-1.96 pop times behind the plate with some clunky footwork and a rapid trigger on the release to compensate with decent receiving and blocking abilities that can be further refined. Still learning how to orchestrate contests and refine his game calling abilities, Mullen showcased adequate hands with some decent agility and blocking though still somewhat underdeveloped that seemingly point towards an ultimately average ceiling with the leather and thus allowing Mullen to profile and remain at the position defensively. Flashing inconsistency with the lumber within limited offensive chances within Arizona, Mullen often demonstrated loose hands and a less than desirable bat path, remaining loopy and remaining a short time within the zone, with an aggressive, slightly early trigger and showing off inadequate recognition on armside breaks, guessing on flashing fringe changes and cuts and struggling to get around on firm, boring velocity with authority. However, Mullen's offensive raw intangibles were more visibly present while participating within Panama's Probeis ALBP league for the Industriales de Herrera with consistent, quick hands and a compact, short stroke and barreling ability that permitted his average raw pop to be showcased during in-game situation versus more immature and inferior repetiores that presents a more promising potential ceiling and means for reevaluation upon returning towards Mesa for an assured extended spring training and AZL stint this upcoming season. Visibly uncomfortable with unfavorable body language at times during his stateside appearances, acclimating towards the new nation could've potentially had a psychological affect on the teenage product, not to mention having to combat an uptick of arm effectiveness. Ultimately flashing intangibles to provide a fringe offensive résumé with a 40/45 hit tool ceiling and 45 (50 Raw Pop) power grades showcased with 30 (Run), 45/50 (Glove) and 55 (Arm) grades that could eventually amass to a consistent reserve profile despite pitch recognition difficulties, fringe bat speed and an unrefined, significant development remaining on tracking and timing to more advanced arms and velocity with a tangible and excessive sample against stateside and mature pitching not having been witnessed thus far that make his ceiling achievement unlikely to be actualized at the moment until more sufficient developmental strides are proven to be taken.
9. Argenis Raga (40>/High)
Instructional League report:
"One of Oakland's numerous international backstops showcased during the Fall within Arizona, Argenis Raga flashed improved defensive ability behind the plate with his blocking revisions glowing as the most notable with the glove. Having manned post throughout the entirety of the infield previously amongst Oakland's Dominican academy, Raga has definitively settled into a permanent catching post domestically with a fringy bat enough to carry him towards the California League with bat speed and offensive consistency not likely enough to vault him forth into the Texas League caliber fray. Having inked amongst Oakland's 2010 Caribbean splurge behind Renato Nuñez and Vicmal De La Cruz, Raga split opportunities between third, shortstop and second base while only demonstrating a legitimate capability to remain at second base throughout his dual campaigns in La Victoria prior towards a 2013 AZL debut manning primarily third base before his shift towards backstop during the most recent summer and now corresponding Instructional League. Demonstrating decent receiving ability with game calling intangibles, Raga shined for his blocking attributes and consistent capability to body behind errand breaks and hops and prevent offerings from heading towards the backstop despite a fringe average arm at best, poping within a 2.01-2.07 range throughout his Instructional League, with some inconsistent release mechanics that degrade his cumulative defensive attributes behind the plate. Still somewhat acclimating towards the position following a professional résumé predominantly consistenting of infield work, Raga could aspire to enough of a defensive package to possesss the fringe amount of potential glove to stay at the post without presenting a significant quantity of defensive production. Raga's offensive capability leans heavily upon an adept all fields oriented slap hitting approach, often not short into the zone and having to guess upon plus velocity to compensate for mediocre bat speed with some inconsistent hand placement and bat paths that shall have to be more so refined should he wish to progress forward into full season competition, though does weild a pitch recognition and tracking capability vastly superior to complex league competition while being consistently able to acknowledge fastballs upon release and secondary offerings up to fringe average potential. Raga boasted gap power potential as well, despite having to compensate with a slide step, as he consistently punched up to above average velocity to all fields for average rates at times with some deceptive might housed within a somewhat underwhelming frame as he was able to often turn upon fastballs within the upper reaches of the zone. Boding a 35 (Hit), 40 (Power), 35 (Run), 40 (Glove), 45 (Arm) résumé, Raga likely doesn't possess the qualifications to ultimately aspire towards a major league ceiling with offensive mechanical inconsistency and a definitively fringy package behind the plate that was able enough to tread water within Arizona based upon his opposite field prowess and game calling ability though shall be heavily exploited upon assimilating amongst incorporated affiliates without a significant developmental undertaking. Likely to ascend to Vermont regardless given a statistical breakthrough during the AZL campaign and Instructional League in which Raga was able to flash maturity wholeheartedly deserving of another opportunity past Papago, the positionally versitile Venezuelan shall likely spend the remainder of his contractual period with Oakland bouncing through Vermont and Beloit."
10. Jorge Gordon (40/Extremely High)
"He's doing well. Remember that he used to be a third baseman and he's only been catching since October 2014 in the DR Instructional league. You know, that isn't easy for young kid. I like him, flashing good stuff like flexibility behind dish, soft glove. Poor range now, but will come. Soft 4/5 Arm with consistent transfer. Most instructions come from dugout at this level, bat needs to be more focused and attack his pitch while not missing it. Young guy that should improve with development. Bat will have to carry him to the major league level. Chance to be a backup catcher in the majors."
The offspring of an affluent dentist in Panama and additionally linguistically sound in Mandarin Chinese, Gordon is a representative the organizational, and often universal industry preference, revering that of international makeup with the foundation to develop into a quality human being and sound baseball player having been laid for the now 17 year old converted Panamanian backstop. Having already participated through Oakland's Dominican academy Instructional League where the Panama City native initially shifted permanently to catcher, Gordon arrived as Oakland's initially substantially notable International acquisition from this ongoing signing period, inking for $100,000 week past July 2nd following the immediate addition of Jesus Lage from Venezuela. Already gone through an excessive catching gauntlet through his Dominican debut and continual opportunities within the Panamaian Fedébeis juvenile league, Gordon receiving abilities have become more visibly polished despite some sluggishness and lack thereof of consistent agility and footwork behind the plate thus far, showcasing a present below average arm with average ceiling and a reliable release. Despite a muzzle placed upon his projected raw pop with some occasional barreling difficulty and lack of overt upper body strength at the moment, Gordon demonstrates quick hands and consistent shortness into the zone with potential average bat speed that signify his hitting capability shall have to be leaned upon in order to ascend through affiliates as a professional with decent preliminary recognition abilities and some occasional adjustment and timing struggles additionally accompanying the compact, fundamentally sound stroke. Keeping his bat in zone long, Gordon pertains to a present hard contact, line drive oriented approach with some budding opposite field ability having been shown that can blossom into gap potential with below average pop as the sturdy, 5'8" backstop develops and eventually matures while thick through the lower half already with a moderate build through the torso that can withstand muscular and strength development through the shoulders and chest. Expected rudimentary game calling abilities shall have to be harnessed as he matures and attempts to head stateside as a couple Dominican campaigns shall be likely prior to Gordon acquiring an opportunity to head towards the Fitch Park facility within Mesa with potential 45 (Hit), 40 (Power), 35 (Run), 45 (Glove) and 50 (Arm) grades spell a potential reserve position should Gordon mature sufficiently and begin to actualize with a significant amount of risk associated with the undersized and recently converted backstop possessing moderate tool upside. To eventually arrive at a major league plateau, Gordon all but certainly shall have to incorporate the lower body, currently adopting an upper body intensive and exclusive torque oriented swing, and develop shoulder/wrist strength to accompany his mechanics and exceed his hit tool ceiling with his defensive intangibles and raw pop likely not distinguished enough to compete for a prolonged major league position.
Nick Rickles (Surgery/Rehab)
Phil Pohl (Stockton/Beloit/NP)
Andy Paz (Short season/NP)
Kyle Wheeler (Short season)
Ryan Gorton (Middle minors)
Barry Hernandez (Complex)
Jesus Monserratt (Complex)
Ryan Ortiz (Organizational/NP)
Ryan Lipkin (Organizational/NP)
Luke Carlin (MiLB signee/AAA-Coffee)
Carson Blair (MiLB signee/AA-AAA)
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Ushering in another offseason contingent flanking the Instructional League bunch within Arizona, Oakland's upper minors assignments extended with an offseason regimen applied to Ryan Doolittle, Austin House, Matt Olson, Drew Granier, Boogie Powell, Daniel Robertson and Tanner Peters during the Arizona Fall League schedule with Peters, Doolittle and Granier contending for Rule 5 amnesty alongside 2015 eligible Rule 5 assets such as Powell and House with Robertson and Olson showcased as two of Oakland's most valuable pieces available within their present system given more extensive opportunities and an initial taste versus slightly more advanced pitching prior to diving into a Texas League assignment surely set to present developmental hurdles and adjustments. One of the more intriguing performances bursting forth from the squad, Ryan Doolittle demonstrated a significant velocity increase following his Tommy John recuperation and newly adopted late inning capacity while flashing a tangible major league projection upon the mound. Generating rotational torque with a wind-up twisting his torso and arm around to the extent where Doolittle exposes the ball prior to stride towards the plate to lefties, Doolittle unleashes his repetiore at a slightly higher than 3/4ths slot clip with fairly consistent mechanical intervals, release point and repetition with late arm extension despite some minor shifting on his arsenal at times that can result in minute control struggles. Peppering the zone often against inferior Instructional League and Arizona Fall League competition, Doolittle was able to definitively control and command the fastball while sitting with 93-95 MPH velocity while dipping into 92 on occasion out of the stretch and topping 96 MPH routinely with an ability to pitch with downward plane and sink and solid wiggle that frazzled fringe AA bats whom were unable to time and appropriately square his fastball as Doolittle was often susceptible to being more loose within the zone with Midland and thus was feasted upon in waves versus Texas League offenses. Weilding an improved slider flashing above average potential, Doolittle got tilt with periodical sweep off his primary secondary break while showcasing some cutting action on the pitch at times as well despite a slot more condusive for 11-5 and 12-6 movement with velocity fluctuating from 84-88 MPH that was able to successfully fare as a wipeout pitch and figures to play as a major league quality miss bat offering while Doolittle additionally complemented the slider with a tertiary cutter at 86-90 MPH that flashes armside cut and was successfully able to induce weak contact in on the hands against the pitch with appropriate command on the cut as well that figures as another potentially reliable offering at an average rate. Concluding with a 81-84 MPH changeup, Doolittle's arm speed remained inconsistent on the pitch and figured to be his lone pitch that generated lackluster release point and and strike zone location and thus shall regulate the righty to a pure three pitch variation with steady relief projection. At a 60-55-50 potential rate with above average present control and potentially above average command, Doolittle seems firmly planted into a possible 7th/8th inning relief role with an ability to generate weak contact and limit baserunners consistently with a lively repetiore and genuine stuff backed up by a presently average command rate despite some occasional lapses of mental difficulty with runners aboard shown in Texas. With a competitive attitude and athletic delievery, Doolittle's rejuvenated arsenal seemingly points strongly towards at the bare minimum a major league opportunity with a chance to stick there in a late inning capacity for the previous injury plagued organizational arm whom shall still have to maintain command and continual improvement upon the increased bite off the slide as his repetiore becomes less of a novelty as he progresses forward into the Pacific Coast League and therefore the cusp of a major league berth.
(13 1/3 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 11 K)
Planted predominantly at shortstop throughout the offseason proceedings, Daniel Robertson followed his California League statistical breakthrough with an offseason stint alongside Addison Russell within the Mesa middle infield while continuing to demonstrate an adept all fields approach and ability to barrel average velocity at consistent rates for both armside and left handed pitching while keeping his hands strong and steady through extension and into the zone with a line drive swing and ability to poke out mistake pitches on the outer portions of the zone and balls in on the hands as Robertson was able to demonstrate outstanding offensive polish given his age developmental state. Some occasional lapses and holes are already beginning to be exposed however as Robertson struggled to place lumber upon balls through his concluding portion of the league with more advanced arms capitalizing upon Robertson's difficulty with sink through the zone, quality armside changeups and inconsistent ability to square plus velocity with average to above average bat speed as upper minors fastball command shall prove likely as a developmental leap upcoming for the middle infield product. Struggling with power rates attributable partially to some fatigue following a six month campaign already undergone for the Californian, Robertson often didn't display the entirety of his capable bat speed as he previously had within Stockton with some timing adjustments though still comfortable enough to permit balls to travel deep into the zone as Robertson naturally remains comfortable with opposite field ability and primarily opts for gap and line drive production without a significant amount of loft in his swing and a bat path more reliable in its present condition with fewer means to exploit as he ascends towards the majors, although his wrist strength and ability to recognize mistake pitches within the zone provide fringe average power potential upside with annual 15 HR production very much likely with opposite field pop having just begun to surface throughout in-game bouts within Stockton. Weilding an upper minors caliber pitch diagnosis ability, Robertson tracks fastball movement and breaking offerings exquisitely with opposing arms having to possess a concrete semblance of strike zone command to fool the average built youngster despite his afforementioned issues with above average armside offspeed stuff and cutters/splitfingers alongside timing difficulty with plus fastballs. Set to be shifted towards second base as he approaches the major league threshold, Robertson's fluky and subpar foot speed at the position limits the amount of balls he's able to successfully arrive at and therefore his reactionary ability to field balls at the position with fringe average range and difficulty ranging towards his right at times while demonstrating soft hands, decent movements and reliable consistency to complete plays with balls hit within the grasp of his range that make Robertson able to possibly acquire opportunities there in the majors at a neutral to slightly below average clip with some instinctual ability at the post in gauging contact off the bat and playing back off balls having to be refined. With some legitamate intangibles having been shown and thus able to demonstrate an adequate ability at shortstop through the lower minors prior to in-game speeds drastically increasing, Robertson's glove figures to benefit exponentially from a shift down the spectrum to second with his range and instinctual ability with the glove able to produce for positive value there with a probable transition to third possible given his above average arm yet unlikely and a secondary option behind second given Robertson's offensive profile not fully suiting him at the corner and seemingly only purely set for Robertson to dabble at third for utility purposes. With some effort behind his arm, Robertson earns an above average grade that has assisted him with some range difficulty and unread hops at shortstop that figures to feature as a practical non-factor at second though enough for Robertson to tread water at shortstop when bestowed with major league opportunities at the position. Concluding with 55 (Hit), 45 (Power), 40 (Run), 45/50 (Glove) and 55 (Arm) rates, Robertson profiles as a concrete second division second baseman with Role 5 upside and present polish giving optimism to his ceiling achievement and pitch tracking ability enough to result in on-base rates with a glove playing at average to above average rates and thus providing maximum value at second with an all fields ability and average pop enough to seemingly grant Robertson with an assured major league bump in the upcoming future. His probable success hinges upon his ability to make copious adjustments to strike zone command and changeup recognition with some refinements to his velocity inconsistency at the plate with a statistical depression likely approaching within Midland though not impacting his potential at the slightest unless his swing mechanics begin to deteriorate and Robertson becomes psychologically affected by adjustment hurdles, a concern given his makeup and previous aptitude for the game that seems extraordinarily unlikely. A sparse profile of a second baseman with palpable all around value, Robertson's possible ceiling provides an undoubtedly prized commodity for average to above average major league production and an ability to carve out numerous seasons at the highest level as a consistent, yet not game changing, asset.
(22-73, 2 XBH/1 HR, 11 BB, 20 K, 0 SB/3 CS)
Robertson's substantially more girthy draft companion, Matt Olson made his offseason debut following a predictable rampage with plus-plus raw power and shortened right field dimensions in Stockton that saw the southpaw accumulate stunning statistical power totals and campaign for the MiLB home run title. Predominantly possessing a noticeable uppercut through the zone with significant loft applied to contact when made, Olson is able to do a sufficient job at actualizing his raw strength with a strong set of shoulders that permits Olson to channel his power through a pair of sturdy wrists with consistent hand placement and fringe average bat speed though does remain somewhat cumbersome in getting his bat around and into the zone rapidly upon starting his mechanics and thus makes him more exploitable to properly maintain as deceptive changeups and sliders with proper tilt through the zone have often fooled him in the past. Preferring to square up contact prior to getting too deep into the zone and starting his mechanics closer to the zone as well, Olson remains as an extremely intensive pull oriented bat and thus shall diminish his batting average and hitting capability to an extent as the thickly built corner infielder has shown an ability to sqaure up to plus velocity with authority for gap and over-the-fence production alongside pitch recognition and tracking ability mature for his developmental state that figures to appropriately supplant value lost due to an exploitable spray chart. Fooled often by 12-6 curves through the zone and quality changeups with secondary command seldom witnessed consistently within the California League, Olson shall confront more advanced fastball and secondary offerings commanded and thus able to locate his holes and deficiencies within the zone more consistently as Olson's present bat path shall possess significant swing-and-miss throughout the remainder of his professional career regardless as his upcoming assignment shall result in facing more mature and crafty arsenals with some weilding even more imposing stuff upon the mound. Often agile around the bag and showcasing solid instinctual ability with the glove, Olson earns average leather grades with a premium capability to dig out lackluster throws and hops while presenting a sufficient target enough to play a capable amount at the position with his glove value being relative and somewhat negligible given his placement upon the defensive spectrum and furthermore negating a slightly above average arm that can potentially play in right field during extreme utility situations though not possessing the mobility or foot speed remotely ideal to permanently man an outfield position. Earning 35 (Hit), 65/70 (Power/Raw Power), 25 (Run), 50 (Glove) and 50+ (Arm) tabulations, Olson figures to overcome his shortcomings with an extreme pull intensive approach and hole riddled strike zone with thunderous raw power topping out throughout those within the A's developmental system and competing for some of most elite througout the realm of minor league baseball that ought to at the very least allow him launch a significant amount of homers providing Olson makes sufficient contact versus more advanced pitching and can probaberly adjust with a committal amount of force in his swing while often selling out for power when seeing something tantalizing from release. With more secondary repetiores featuring above average command to be found within Midland and Nashville, Olson will certainly have to undergo a partial adjustment period to better sqaure up quality secondaries though will continue to make contact for power rates and continue to be pitched around and thus able to overcome his incomplete hitting tool within the upper minors. With advanced scouting awaiting Olson in the majors and numerous profiles such as his having been produced to provide a blueprint, adjustments shall dot Olson's upcoming transition with having to remain consistently short to the zone, prioritizing an opposite field approach with shoulder dip and allowing balls to travel slightly deeper, and deciphering above average command.
(9-35, 6 XBH/4 HR, 10 BB, 9 K, 2 SB/1 CS)
The lone probable projected rotation arm present amongst Oakland's Arizona Fall League cast, Tanner Peters arrived following Rule 5 eligibility and a desparate need for innings after sustaining a debilitating shoulder injury that squandered the majority of his Texas debut and dealt a blow to the Hound rotation alongside Raul Alcantara. Rocking into his motion with an exaggerated stride and 3/4ths release while briefly flashing though limiting view of his grip to lefties, Peters pumps out 87-90 MPH velocity predominantly while scraping 91 on occasion while having demonstrated adept strike zone control despite nagging command woes within the zone that hung with him through his Stockton tenure and have since figured as a point of contention within his rehabilitation process. Peters complements his primary yet fringy fastball, flashing some downward plane without a significant amount of life that puts a significant amount of pressure upon his command of the pitch, with a secondary repetiore fronted by a changeup floating at 80-84 MPH with consistent arm speed and deception for his level that may figure to be decoded at times with some occasional release point difficulties and thus pitch elevation but plays as an average potential offering with confidence enough in the offering to pitch backwards in counts consistently and effectively with it. Concluding his four pitch mix with a 77-79 MPH slider and 75-77 MPH curve variation, Peters opts for the slide to southpaws with tailing and sweeping action utilized as a chase pitch off the outer portion of the zone with some occasional release point tells, sometimes elevated and movement that can drift into bat paths if location is missed that diminishes the projection of the offering. With a lively 11-5 secondary break, Peters unleashes the curve with sharp late bottoming drop that tends to lack enough break and hang over the plate at times with another pitch presenting release difficulties and pitch elevation as Peters often remains susceptible to struggles in peppering the lower regions of the strike zone which doesn't necessary mesh well for an admitted contact dependent arm versus more advanced hitting. With a 45-50-40/45-50 likely projection with above average control and potential command enough to play as fringe average, Peters profiles as an eating eating arm with probable back end/5th starter upside with a reverence predominantly having to be centered upon his ability to better acquire zone command and more consistently tweak release to naturally sit in the lower parts of the strike zone with fringe stuff apt to be heavily exploited against superior lumber as he shifts into a prolonged stint within the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues.
(14 1/3 IP, 15 H, 6 R, 1 HR, 6 BB, 15 K)
Roundng out the positional cast, Boogie Powell arrived following a statistically dominant romp the lower level full season affiliates with an more condensed stance at the plate compared to his previous widened interpretation to shorten a committal slide step and keep himself more centered when tracking. With average bat speed and solid pitch tracking ability, Powell capitalizes deep and in the zone to all fields and line drive slap hitting ability while being able to keep his hands steady through his swing with subpar thump and power but an ability to recognize mistakes within the zone early enough to turn on and alter his approach at the plate in order sell out on inferior offerings for periodical yet unreliable power with below average raw pop. Far too mature with tracking low level minors offerings, Powell has struggled at times when confronted with those showcasing fastball command and quality secondaries with changeups specifically proving to be a challenge despite benefiting from an inherent ability to condense the zone and an extremely rapid trigger to get the bat into the zone that make Powell difficult to exploit with him likely to retain his ability to make contact consistently unless pitted versus overtly superior competition able to command through his minute holes. Struggling with timing on plus velocity however and bat speed not exceptional, Powell may be unable to produce productive contact versus those with fastball control and stuff. Weilding plus speed upon the basepaths, Powell often struggles occasionally with jumps and diagnosing pitching tells out of the stretch that places a present limitation upon his basestealing potential with pure speed enough for annual 25-30 rates with occasional sub 4.00 times from the left side and thus is able to capitalizing with a bunting strategy to catch defenses off guard when leading off innings and early in counts that proved to often be a successful route between the Midwest and California leagues and shall continue to likely assist him with times dwindled down to 3.75-3.80 on drags while cheating out of the box. Possessing solid range within center field with capable foot speed, Powell's subpar arm strength and ill advised decisions when fielding balls at times likely regulates the undersized leadoff man to an ultimate left field distinction with capable utility opportunities to be periodically had in center. With 50 (Hit), 30 (Power), 65 (Pure Speed), 50 (Glove) and 35 (Arm) projections, Powell figures as another profile already having been witnessed on numerous occasions by opposing clubs and a blueprint already established with decent velocity in the zone able to successfully trip him up despite pitch recognition ability enough to continuously generate decent on-base rates versus fringe arsenals and those with nibbling tendencies. With a ceiling that of a reserve outfield type that could potentially float through opportunities, Powell's speed, quickness into the zone and pitch tracking still seems enough to provide for enough success and probable value to arrive at an eventual major league pleateu as a Role 4 type with additional pinch running and outfield versitility to assist with playing time.
(21-70, 5 XBH, 2 HR, 12 BB, 11 K, 3 SB/4 CS)
Likely to remain within a permanent bullpen capacity following his most recent Texas League romp, Drew Granier emerged as another Rule 5 eligible participant having struggled with fastball control and release point throughout the entirety of his most recent stint within the Midland rotation with command not present for any tangible or dependable stretch despite life upon the pitch and a slider with sharp horizontal sweeping movement that provides some optimism for a probable late inning bullpen projection. Weilding a slightly lower than 3/4ths release with heavy pronation applied to his pitches, thus making him a seemingly more deceptive and effective situational arm, Granier generates velocity with a medium leg raise prior to rotating and extending his arms before to stride to the plate that exposes grip to lefties before heading forward with some noticeable torque and present yet blatantly inconsistent arm speed that allows him to sit at 88-91 MPH comfortably yet flash velocity up to 92-94 while touching as high as 95 MPH during one of his AZFL appearances while additionally dipping into 86-87 in an attempt attempting to take some off the fastball with mixed results and difficulty in maintaining constant and deceptive speed to the plate. Weilding a primary slider at 76-81 MPH with late movement and crisp sweeping action over the plate, Granier gets significant movement and rotation upon the pitch and is able to sufficiently utilize it as a bat missing pitch to right handed competition when ahead in counts despite some being able to eventually time to the offering without a tremendous amount of tilt and a slightly lower release point that can be detected versus more elevated sorts of offenses. With enough wiggle and movement on the pitch, Granier's most legitamate secondary could potentially play as above average with a present fringe average state dependent on a faulty release point and an easy tracking assignment for lefties with break detected nearly immediately from release. Additionally providing a 81-83 MPH three finger changeup with blatantly unconvincing arm speed, Granier's change-of-pace offering lags behind the developmental curve with early release point on the pitch and resulting elevation allowing the pitch to be easily detected and exploited against capable bats that all but certainly even more so points Granier's projection towards the bullpen with a cutter or splitfinger probable to better assist and provide a useable third pitch out of the bullpen. Concluding with a 45/50-55-35 potential repetiore with zero physical projection remaining coupled with struggling release and thus continual command woes, Granier's fastball command must be heavily prioritized and four-seam repetition revered in order to produce a probable and uncertain right handed situational bullpen role with his tendency to nibble and lapses and location inconsistency having hindered his production. Still able to miss bats at a decent clip and flashing capable stuff, Granier must stress consistency with some wavering fastball life and fluky command having been shown to noticeably bite the right hander who shall attempt to contend for a Nashville berth most likely in a pure bullpen capacity.
(14 1/3 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 1 HR, 9 BB, 9 K)
One of the more outstanding statistical bullpen successes from the most recent campaign in Stockton, Austin House flashed mature stuff with present command enough to frazzle inferior right handed bats consistently from the right side with a pronounced leg raise coupled with rock backward while keeping his hands set at the belt prior to bringing his arm directly backwards in a customary 90 degree angle before arm extension while lunging forward towards the plate with a slightly higher than 3/4ths slot which reduces probable looks lefties are able to get upon his grip. Weilding a fastball airing at an 89-92 MPH clip while occasionally touching higher, House maintains decent command with projected average to slightly above average control with some armside movement making him all the more effective versus righties alongside occasional yet inconsistently present wiggle and sink that elevates the profile of the average velocity. Similarly to Granier, House weilds another potential average to above average slider that assists a provable situational profile with more do legitamate tilt through the zone and flashing characteristics more inductive of a true, traditional slider that House is comfortable enough to pitch with to both handed sorts of competition and figures to project as a legitamate out offering at 81-84 MPH with consistent release and sharp horizontal movement. Bolstering his arsenal, House additional weilds a changeup at 77-80 MPH with fading action to lefties enough to flash average potential and a competent change-of-pace offering to utilize in situations requiring him to pitch backwards out of counts, though House shall remain firmly planted within a bullpen capacity despite the decent change with a mentality Oakland feels more suits the hefty righty in a bullpen facility coupled with fatigue issues through progression into outings and stuff inconsistency. House does struggle with fastball placement to lefties at times with his release not boding enough deception outside of his flashing armside movement to righties to consistently fool southpaws as lefties have been able to consistently pinpoint and track House's primary offering enough to place lumber upon it and on occasion can be significantly bitten when not possessing command in the zone as righties additionally with enough experience are able to easily get around to the fastball when his stuff goes through periods of lifelessness. With some control recognition at the moment and flashing spurts of appropriate command, fear does arise in that of House's physical stature with weight centralized in his midsection and potentially enough to dissolve mechanical repetition as he ages without proper training regimens as House additionally doesn't possess a significant amount of "good weight" at the moment. With a projected 50-55-50/55 repetiore coupled with solid control, developmenting command already flashing at a nearly present fringe average capacity and armside movement with a slider enough to keep righties consistently off balance, House profiles as a situational bullpen component for Oakland with advanced southpaws likely able to consistently get around on House's average velocity and spells of remaining flat despite his 6'4" frame while possessing an ultimate ceiling of a 7th inning arm with a pair of above average secondaries coupled with average command on both.
(11 1/3 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 2 HR, 7 BB, 8 K)
Sunday, November 30, 2014
One of the breakthrough arms bursting out of the desert this Fall, Dustin Driver has firmly established himself as posessing one of the highest ceilings amongst any Oakland pitching prospect
With the regular season campaign having long concluded, Oakland's recent class of previous draftees and farmhands struggling with the developmental curve ascended upon Papago Park for the conclusion of their 2014 stints in the Instructional League gauntlet as well as paying their respects to the soon to be abandoned Papago complex in favor of the Athletics' upcoming minor league facility adjacent to HoHoKam at Fitch Park. A gaggle of talented and toolsy prospects arrived to tangle with fellow Cactus League organizations of which were highlighted by Matt Chapman, Yairo Muñoz, Brett Graves, Branden Kelliher, Daniel Gossett, Kyle Finnegan, Bobby Wahl, Sandber Pimentel, Trace Loehr, Jesus Lopez, Jaycob Brugman, Bijon Boyd, Seongmin Kim, Santiago Chavez, and Tyler Marincov plus rehabilitating arms in Chris Kohler and Dustin Driver with the lone assets weilding Stockton or Midland experience settling at Wahl, Marincov, Chapman and Brugman. Showcasing primarily the lower reaches and plentiful depth of the A's MiLB system, where the secondary wave of talent residing in the organization dwells following the Stockton bunch that'll see the majority of their Californian standouts to the West Texan prairie to commence the 2015 season. Competing within game situations (Or at least resembling game situations) over an approximate four week duration, the Instructional League provides prospects an opportunity to tweak aspects of their mechanics, deliveries, mental viewpoints and numerous other miscellaneous developmental components to better prepare themselves for the impending season and boast an exclamation point prior to a recuperative, and hopefully relaxing, offseason. This is an intriguing portion of the minor league calendar to scout and chronicle as even more instruction and developmental means are being implemented as opposed to the actual MiLB campaign; where tweaks and regulations (i.e. Told not to swing on the first pitch of every trip to the plate for a game or told they are unable to utilize a slider for an appearance) are implemented, but not as often during the Fall sequence entirely devoted to experimentation and controlled coaching assistance.
The more prominent examples of this spectrum lied in Max Kuhn, who attempted to convert to a backstop during the Instructional proceedings, and Kyle Finnegan, whose wind-up was shifted and significantly altered his previous over-the-top arm slot prior to the conclusion of the camp. Finnegan, who labored through a statistically mediocre Beloit campaign, emerged in Arizona following a brief Texas assignment to unfurl the proverbial curtain over his initial entire season starting with a full season affiliate. Finnegan amassed a 119 1/3 IP Midwest League résumé during the 2014 campaign following a Snapper debut and postseason appearance in 2013 and emerged with a 99 H, 49 ER (12 HR), 52 BB, 55 K result with an extraordinarily concerning strikeout percentage despite inducing weak contact consistently with a lively yet inconsistent secondary repertoire. His lone Midland pitstop predictably demonstated Finnegan had dipped into the deep end versus a vicious Frisco squad with a 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R (3 HR), 1 BB, 6 K outcome. The advertised and projected bullpen asset hailing from Texas State, Finnegan became an enigma during this campaign while seemingly lacking an out pitch and as showcasing in Arizona, with fatigue seemingly sapping his fastball velocity as the 6'2" righty whom Oakland had been adamant with inserting into a rotation format to open his professional career sat 87-90 MPH through his initial three outings during the Fall league while dipping into 85-86 occasionally and topping 91-92 with his previous starting motion dipping behind his back while exposing the ball to lefties before coming practically straight over the top as the Texan coupled his fastball, which did have periodical wiggle and life plus some occasional plane that flashed why he remains a premiere farmhand within the organization, with a curve consistently at 75-79 MPH with a couple demonstrating cutting action to righties and a changeup anywhere from 80-84 that profiles as a 45 grade pitch upon achieving his realistic projection with some effectiveness but inconsistent arm speed coupled with the offering and having the pitch elevated at times. His control currently seems to be a deviation below average, settling at a 40/45 grade ability to locate the strike zone, while the ability to command his offerings remains non-existent at the moment. However, the 180 pounder shall have to be reevaluated come spring as he debuted his newly adopted delivery with a traditional over-the-head raise with the ball still concealed now additionally coupled with a more traditional 3/4th release that remains slightly lower than 3/4ths in a lone appearance consistenting of two pitches: 93 MPH on the outside edge to a RHB and 94 MPH on the hands poked for a flyout. It was the first instance Finnegan eclipsed the 93 MPH threshold during his Instructional League stint and thus could reignite his strikeout percentages from their previously ghastly state with what could permit him to play his secondary offerings off his fastball more effectively. Ultimately, Finnegan's projection still likely resides in that of a relief component as a transition towards the bullpen shall even more so assist his velocity and partially stunt fatigue for the 23 year old most certainly destined to commence within Stockton come April.
Forming the battery with Kyle Finnegan during his mechanical tweak was Max Kuhn, the previous utility cog at Vermont following his 13th round selection by Oakland after being plucked for the second consecutive instance by the Athletics after his preparatory selection out of high school in 2011. A blatantly offensively oriented prospect, Kuhn provides value through a thunderous bat with 60 grade raw power which, while likely shall not actualize to its full potential, has been flashed in instances including an appearance within the NYPL clearing a batter's eye at 420 feet to CF and making some of the most visceral contact at the Instructional camp injuring tagging a fastball middle of the zone at Papago well out of the ballpark to pull center keeping the bat head steady through the zone with a solid follow through with strong, quick wrists that resulted in a monsterous blast out of the facility that highlighted the power oriented contingent of the cast this Fall coupled with Sandber Pimentel, who tagged one on a line 400 feet to opposite center in Scottsdale, and Seong-Min Kim. Kuhn additionally possesses a swing intensive approach, with a projection having a rely upon average and power percentages to ascend through the organization with an ability to recognize and square slightly below average to slightly above average fastball velocity and make contact consistently off offspeed offerings, with the most susceptible being to changeups. Despite decent yet lacking awe inspring projection upon the offensive edge, Kuhn's defensive capabilities could easily stunt his offensive arsenal as the Kentucky alumni struggled mightily primarily stationed at third base collegiately for the Wildcats before bouncing from 1B, 2B, 3B, LF and DH duties between the AZL complex and Vermont throughout his initial Oakland professional debut. In an attempt to have Kuhn definitively latch onto a defensive post, the organization opted to audition the newly found catcher behind the plate as the 23 year old would be prevented from debuting within a game situation until the latter portion of camp. Despite never acquiring an opportunity to recordi a pop time through his appearances, Kuhn surprisingly demonstated sufficient receiving abilities with some blocking and footwork startlingly registering with just a below average grade for someone having immediately shifted to one of the more demanding defensive posts within the sport. Having demonstrated a 45-50 grade arm within left field previously during the October schedule, one could deduct Kuhn's potentiality gunning baserunners had he acquired an opportunity as Kuhn would routinely amass ~2.10 times inbetween innings when properly receiving the ball. The aspiring Snapper shall have an opportunity to greatly improve defensively upon acclimating towards the position during the offseason and March while currently settling with 40 (Hit), 55 (Power), 35 (Run), 40 (Glove), 45 (Arm) projections at the moment.
The Instructional League also provides a hotbed for prospect breakthroughs, providing a platform for those previously undiscovered to dramatically rocket up organizational rankings and interpretations with glimpses of brilliance. The more notable Oakland members capitalizing on their Fall opportunities included Dustin Driver, Jordan Schwartz, Justin Higley and Yairo Muñoz. The most prominent prospect unearthed from the contingent happened to be Dustin Driver, Oakland's 7th round acquisition during the 2013 draft class whom the Athletics rapidly persuaded from a supposedly concrete UCLA commitment as the previously projected third round talent debuted with the AZL complex with a gaudy 11 1/3 IP, 11 BB, 4 K result as the then teenager floundered with control prior to the offseason and his initial Instrictional League go-around. The Washington native would suffer a blow prior to the 2014 campaign however, losing an entire season of developmental time attributable to a shoulder ailment that brought the $500,000 investment back for a secondary Instructional League attempt to reestablish himself within a rotation format, being paired with Heath Fillmyer this previous month. The refreshed righty instantly burst forth and showcased a heavy 94-96 MPH fastball while topping 97 MPH versus the first of three consecutive assignments against one of the visiting Korean ballclubs competing against organizations in the southwest with outstanding sequencing off the changeup and slider, with both offerings flashing average potential while the slider was broken off with occasionally above average movement as Driver, posessing the physique of a linebacker, has flashed an enticing 65-55-50+ projected repetiore with a fastball with potential command enough to vault towards plus territory. With these attributes established, Driver has definitively asserted himself as a fringe potential #2 starter of which only Raul Alcantara could've boasted within the A's system prior to Tommy John, though a realistic ceiling resides in that of a middle of the rotation component for Oakland as the righty heads down his developmental path. Starting set completely facing towards the plate before rocking into motion and opting to position himself his left side completely parallel to the plate and facing third base while out of the stretch, Driver weilds a high 3/4ths arm slot with an athletic delivery at stride towards the plate with repeatable mechanics which ought to more so complement a curve with other slurve and slider breaks demonstrating he possesses hand speed and finger strength to appropriately snap off a 12-6 break as his primary breaking offering as he progresses throughout the organization and was already visible as Driver flashed numerous breaking variations with an 11-5 slurve with late darting horizontal action at 76-81 MPH, a sweeping slider over the zone and often into more advanced bat speed at 79-83 MPH that shall likely ultimately be disbanded and an enticing plus potential slider with two plane bite at 85-88 MPH through his initial couple outings plus alongside an 80-84 changeup placed predominantly on the outer portion of the zone to lefties that tailed with notable armside movement with arm speed, that while still presently inconsistent, was enough to fool inferior bats and figures to be a point of development as he encounters more advanced offenses with enough movement, control and present state to flash solid average potential. His fastball command is already present however, pitching aggressively inside to righties and sequencing off the slider well while the velocity did slightly diminish through his concluding couple outings to sitting 93-95 MPH while scraping 96. There could still be some strength plopped onto an already extremely athletic frame for the 20 year old, listed at 6'2"/215 pounds and chiseled, but he's likely filled out to the extent one shall see another half decade into the future. Questions still surround the hurler with zero extensive experience and durability still having yet to be witnessed, but with a frame presenting athletic projection, sustainability ought to develop as the righty contends for an upcoming Beloit rotation assignment with his fellow rehabilitating 2013 high school draftee in Chris Kohler. With a repeatable and athletic delievery, Driver at the very least figures to play as a late inning bullpen asset should his rotation potential not materialize and his present stuff diminished continuously late into contests or his command proves to be too unreliable to trust. Presenting a repetiore boasting three projected average offerings and two of which bode above average ranks coupled with one of the better fastballs in the organization while demonstrating command of the pitch on occasion that flashes potential with Driver now just beginning to recuperate from injury, Driver establishes himself as one of Oakland's more prized prospects for the cumulative 15 or so scouts outside of the Athletics organization that witnessed him during his four separate appearances this Fall. Eventually, Oakland will have to unleash Driver to an incorporated affiliate where, should his Instructional League performance correlate, he may be targeted by fellow organizations as a trade chip. Still pertaining to five campaigns prior to minor league free agency, Driver will have a rigorous path to determine if his stuff shall withstand the tribulations of the upper affiliates in Texas and Nashville as secondary control shall be the next hurdle upon a developmental path that even despite Driver's present professional immaturity an extreme risk strongly points towards a major league pleateu.
Defying previous reports from earlier during the Instructional League schedule, Jordan Schwartz' muzzle was lifted through his concluding outing within Scottsdale and shone as another breakthrough arm to have emerged amongst his fellow Arizona farmhands. Oakland's 4th round acquisition during the previous draft proceedings, which some speculated to be selected partially to conserve cumulative bonus surplus, the Athletics brass was unbelievably fond of the northeastern product for his potentially having recently devoted the entirety of his attention towards the mound from his prior affiliation as a first baseman with velocity reportedly esclipsing 97 MPH with projectable league average secondaries. Posessing extremely broad shoulders with a cross body finish, extreme upper body torque and low 3/4ths arm slot, the 6'2"/200 pounder peppered in mundane 87-91 MPH velocity through his initial pair of appearances while touching 92/93 occasionally with a slider lacking life fluctuating from 75-80 MPH despite flashing periodical bite with a 79-82 changeup in which the converted positional player struggled to disguise his arm speed shift while throwing the offering thus deflating the effectiveness of it while it additionally hung far too often while drifting into the zone with control difficultly. During his final appearance however, Schwartz burst forth with a revigorated repetiore showcasing a fastball with late explosion towards the plate while sitting 93-95 and touching 96 MPH while dipping into 91-92 out of the stretch. While hanging in a couple of instances, the slider was reanimated with ballooned 78-84 MPH velocity with solid 10-4 break to righties with plus cutting action on a couple offerings with a much improved changeup at 79-82 MPH maintaining arm speed and flashing armside run while missing bats fairly consistently to present a legitimate 60-50-45 projection with additional probable increased precision upon acclimating more so towards the mound even with demonstrating 50 control and 45 command during his concluding outing. Scott Emerson, Oakland's MiLB pitching coordinator, stated he instructed Schwartz to adopt an aggressive approach and pursue strikeouts while disbanding his previously finesse gameplan witnessed beforehand at Papago. Celebrating his 23rd birthday prior to the opening of the 2015 schedule, Schwartz is seemingly assured of a Beloit roster position with a rotation post probable as the New York native boasts fringe 4th starter projectability though his command inconsistency and questionable and still presently inconsistent secondary assets alongside a more prominent amount of stuff during bursts points towards a long relief or late inning bullpen capacity. Schwartz'ceiling does ascend to that of a starting component however should he corral his arsenal and consistently churn out performances as he flashed previously as mechanical tweaks to alter his delivery still seemingly dot his developmental path with some release point woes haunting his ability to appropriately and routinely locate the zone. Having yet to accumulate a significant amount of frames and not having been unleashed upon full season positional bats, Schwartz does present helium despite a lengthy route awaiting him to pursue his ceiling.
Amongst the positional breakthroughs, Oakland's Dominican infield prodigy of Yairo Muñoz began his stretch of noteriety to commence June with a stellar campaign embarked upon within Vermont that has steered the previous $280,000 acquisition to the forefront of the Athletics' international contingent. Stationed currently at shortstop, the 19 year old possess the physical intangibles to acquire an opportunity to remain at the post while flashing smooth movements, plentiful range, instinctual jump off the bat to both sides, foot speed enough to play at the position, an easy plus arm and a glove flashing consistency off terrible hops and backpicks. Muñoz often succumbs to lackluster hands at the position however with clunky miscues and an inability to continuously handle routine plays with some disinterest and lagging mental lapses haunting Muñoz with a baseball IQ requiring some assistance to better assist his physical and tool oriented components. With continual inconsistency at the position while ascending upwards into the upper minors, Muñoz could play with an above average glove second and an arm, offensive profile and reactionay ability solid enough to easily see Muñoz slotted at third as he progresses as well thus providing the raw infield chip numerous routes should he eventually move off the position, which he has demonstrated enough intangibles at to prevent his displacement from being a forgone conclusion at the moment and speaks to his qualities with the leather. Muñoz additional weilds decent foot speed as a 50/55 grade runner presently as the youngster was able to detect pitching tells occasionally upon the basepaths and able to effectively guess thus providing overt jumps and stolen base production that bodes 15-20 annual production alongside a contemporary frame likely to be retained as he matures as any more significant bulk applied towards Muñoz' dimensions shall likely veer him towards third base with some minute lower body mass still having yet to develop through his thighs. Offensively, the former Under Armour All-American participant was often inconsistent his his timing towards the latter portion of the camp, often struggling to approach plus velocity as he started his swing prematurely comsistently and then found himself vulnerable to commanded secondaries because of it. Regardless, Muñoz did occasionally compensate with his fringe plus bat speed to square velocity ranging from 94-96 MPH with life while flashing power to opposite field and capitalizing off of inferior offerings focusing upon increasing his all fields ability offensively as he was pegged as a heavily pull oriented farmhand within the NYPL. Keeping his bat continuously short into the zone with extension and an essentially flat plane swing alongside strong hands and concrete wrist strength, Muñoz figures to develop for major league caliber line drive potential given his present intangibles at the plate with enough thump within his bat to charge balls out of the ballpark to all fields for an average clip. Adopting an aggressive approach and swing first mentality, Muñoz likely shall have pitch tracking reverence placed upon his development with the stocky Dominican often gets caught sitting on fastballs with armside and left handed changeups up to fringe average potential frazzling Muñoz with tailing sliders dotted towards to the lower portions of the zone additionally often inducing missed bat swings. Celebrating his 20th birthday this January, Muñoz is practically cemented into a competitive projected Snappers squad while acquiring to opportunity to contend for a Stockton with an impressive spring complex performance and shall continue to remain at shortstop with zero other immediate competitors presenting themselves within this caste of the Athletics organizational depth chart that distinguish themselves as possessing any probable future projected ability at the position. Still weilding a hit tool grade amounting to a 55 ceiling with realistic 50 (Hit), 45/50 (Power), 50/55 (Run), 50 (Glove), 60+ (Arm) outputs, Muñoz presents another extremeist dream prospect for the A's with his current state merely flashing brief and instanteous blips of his theoretical future projection. One of the premiere potential talent throughout the organization, expectations still must be regulated for Muñoz as, despite his ability to respond to instruction and adjust to superior pitching, numerous hurdles remain for Muñoz prior to his full season debut despite his presently outstanding raw attributes and maturity.
His positional counterpart and prospect presenting extreme potential, Justin Higley showcased his outstanding athleticism and ceiling establishing himself as one of Oakland's more underappreciated farmhands externally from the organization themselves. With a wiry 6'4" frame, the 22 year old Sacramento native flashed an improved disciplinary approach as Higley seemingly was instructed to witness a requisite amount of offerings before being permitted to swing during the Fall gauntlet with above average bat speed and plus-plus pure speed intangibles to second and third base. Higley clocked mediocre times from home to first, yet demonstated his ability to steam around the basepaths upon gaining momentum, clocking ~7.7-7.8 times to second base with legitimate basestealing instincts in recognizing pitching mechanisms and tells. While not often squaring up offerings for power this October, Higley seldom impressed upon connecting failing to surpass 400 feet on any contact through his 2 1/2 week duration yet still smacked a HR on a 92 MPH fastball elevated and tailing outside in which Higley smoked out to opposite center essentially entirely upon bat speed and wrist strength which still provides optimism despite an occasionally loopy bat path and getting caught with loose hands periodically. Fautige could also be attributable for Higley after embarking upon his initial entire professional campaign, and with an empirically tantalizing frame even for someone of his age, the potential Snapper still has an ability to pack on home run projectability. Higley's hit tool, one of his more questionable aspects, seemed somewhat improved this Fall as the Californian squared numerous offerings ranging from below average to plus velocity alongside changeups and curves consistently with an ability to acknowledge 11-5 and 12-6 breaks and arm speed diffentials on changes to a decent extent despite timing issues towards the initial portion of the league that prevented him from immediately assimilating. His aggressiveness occasionally still bit him as Higley prefers to swing early in counts and thus was forcibly made to grapple with unfavorable counts off of an inconsistent bat path along with being susceptible to pursuing elevated changeups away and struggled in catching plus velocity at times as well due to his timing issues. Defensively, Higley was predominantly stationed amongst left field despite the the bare minimum and fringe amount range to patrol center field with an average arm and presents a projection likely to vacillate between both positions dependent upon necessity, but an ultimate placement in a corner given the standards for an up the middle defensive talent. Boasting 50 (Hit), 55 (Power), 70 (Pure Speed), 45 (Glove) and 40/45 (Arm) tabulations, Higley resides as a fringe asset with extreme ceiling to exceed expectations should everything congeal accordingly for the organizational project and remains as a prospect probable to greatly improve and amount far superior scores within another years time thus keeping his stock towards the upper portion of the Athletics' system. Having to demonstrate his ability to sufficiently confront counter adjustment periods and with lumber heavily exploited amongst Midwest League competition, Higley still must revere mechanical instruction to better place a limitation upon his overt aggressiveness and fastball feasting tendencies while better tracking and recognizing offerings upon release to better position himself within counts. With physical projection still required to boost his stock, Higley still remains as merely flashing intriguing aspects such as his pure speed, bat speed and raw power potential and must demonstrate a more sufficient instinctual capability for the game prior to the actualization of his tools. Should everything entirely compile together for the full season participant after numerous failures and developmental sequences of which, given his present holes, there shall be numerous, the athletic oriented outfielder has the absolute bare necessity and fringe amount of ceiling to snag a starting major league position at a second division clip should everything Max out with all but more certain fourth outfielder status probable with continual development.
Another Dominican brotherin and best friend of the afforementioned Yairo Muñoz, Sandber Pimentel starred during his stateside debut with prominent success versus Instructional League competition as the previously accomplished junior of the La Victoria academy finally received his domestic debut this October. The gargantuan 6'4"/230 pound 20 year old weilding a thick midsection and abnormally large hands demonstated easy plus power potentially with a strong upper body and hands that allowed the Dominican asset to connect and barrel offering with average bat speed and remarkable extension through the zone, cracking one specifically within Scottsdale on a line 400+ feet left as the batter's eye as the southpaw brought a noticeably more actualized and arguably overall superior potential power rate than his fellow Instructional League counterparts as the remarkably mature 20 year old initially feasting upon his first stateside competition was able to appropriately track and time up to plus velocity while debunking advanced secondaries with command and chase pitches through the zone that dizzied his fellow participants. Possessing a slight uppercut within his bat path, Pimentel caught and squared average potential changeups and curves routinely with a fringe upper minors pitch tracking ability alongside an ability to adjust and turn on offering failing outside and in on the hands for an all fields approach with power to opposite field still in fledging states and able to barrel loud line drive contact into left field. Often unraveled when pitted versus offerings elevated and outside and having to guess in a fastball count coupled with slightly below average to slightly above average sliders cutting inside, Pimentel did still demonstate plate discipline far more mature than one would assume versus vastly superior arsenals previously seen within the Dominican Summer League with a learning curve having been traversed during a short burst at an astounding rate for someone of his maturity. With a run tool negligible given the orientation of his skill set, Pimentel presents himself as a subpar defender at first base with mediocre footwork and some awkward movements given his stature occasionally, though demonstates an ability to effectively pick horrendous throws and hops at the position. Concluding with a 50 (Hit), 55/60 (Power/Raw), 30 (Run), 40 (Glove), 40 (Arm) profile with above average pitch recognition, Pimentel ought to dismantle AZL competition and could easily withstand a NYPL or Midwest League assignment to commence the 2015 campaign, though shall have to acclimate and readjust eventually as the hefty Carribean corner infielder has yet to be overtly pushed throughout his professional tenure and shall have to showcase an ability to sufficiently counter adjust when opposing staffs are able to definitively pinpoint his holes and heavily exploit them. Still posessing an offensive repetiore still worthy of note, Pimentel is a candidate to amass stunning lower level offensive statistics with a probable bench ceiling given his position upon the defensive spectrum as he attempts to achieve his projection.
Establishing himself amongst his fellow competition as well, Matt Chapman built upon his impromptu transition forth towards Texas to conclude his initial professional foray with a startling ability to adapt to an extremely elevated caliber of competition amongst Texas League arsenals. The lone representative present within Oakland's Instructional League contingent with any prior, albeit brief, AA experience, the first round acquisition was unleashed upon Fall arsenals to better prepare himself for an impending entire full season 2015 sequence within Stockton and flashed noticeable maturity with Instructional League arsenals failing to consistently challenge him. Boasting a hallmark of outstanding defensive efforts at third base, the 21 year old presents a stunning reactionary ability for the position with a soft and smooth glove/movements coupled with the premiere positional arm throughout the entirety of the organization with an easy plus-plus grade, and even possibly amongst Oakland pitching prospects as well as he has been able to approach elite velocity from the mound as an amateur. A stocky build, average range, and subpar foot speed permanently tether the native Californian towards the corner for those proposing a shortstop transition while his easily plus capability with the leather makes him a value asset for opposing organizations seeking seldom acquired elite defensive third base profiles with enough thump in the bat to stick. Throughout the duration of his stay, there were minute miscues to be anticipated with a farmhand undergoing his initial Instructional League with some hops misplayed attributable to attempting to apply more flash as opposed to squaring himself up behind the ball and a lone instance where Chapman flung a corralled grounder into right field ranging far to his left when an underhand toss would've been more appropriate for a 5-4 FC completion. Regardless, Chapman's cumulative capability defensively out shone some mishaps with pinpoint positioning on screeching liners and horrendous hops showcasing an aptitude to pick hard hit contact more often seen towards the upper portions of the minors and handle the post consistently while being able to gun plus runners on softly hit infield nudges by unleashing the cannon attached into his shoulder mid-sprint ranging deep inward towards the plate with outstanding footwork. Offensively, Chapman presents average to above average projection with the lumber keeping his bat short into the zone and continuously long through while completing hip rotation consistently through contact as well with a bat path with an extremely slight uppercut though not quite a flat plane swing. Still enough to maintain a steady bat and retain his lumber within the zone for as long as possible, Chapman proves to be.a difficult bat to get in front of in counts with additionally above average bat speed. Demonstrating phenomenally mature above average pitch recognition and tracking ability, the 200 pounder continuously debunked above average fastballs and recognized plus breaks on sliders with tilt through the zone and curveballs consistently while being able to square breaks and changeups as well thus divi sting himself from the predominant fastball oriented contingent present currently within the Instructional League as Chapman possessing an inate zone pressence and presently upper minors caliber tracking ability. Turning and squaring up to plus velocity, Chapman hit for power to all fields consistently at a slightly above average clip with an ability to distinguish and capitalize off mistakes and offerings not commanded with plus stuff appropriately within the zone enough to be able to thrive at a major league level. Occasionally dizzied by quality changeups at times, the Fullerton alumni shall have to further showcase his uncanny aptitude to adjust to superior competition as he has adequetely accomplished thus far as a professional with there assuredly remaining roadbumps for the rookie to encounter along his developmental route. Closing with 55 (Hit), 55 (Power), 40 (Run), 65 (Glove) and 70+ (Arm) tool tabulations, Chapman likely perches atop the Oakland organization advertising himself as an extremely sparse commodity of an elite defensive third baseman with an offensive projection applicable enough to hang there upon arriving within the Major Leagues as one of the lone Instructional League participants likely assured at the very least to reach the majors with extreme present polish and upcoming campaign within Stockton surely to result in statistical inflation.
Shifting once more towards the mound, Branden Kelliher plopped alongside Daniel Gossett within an Instructional League piggyback tandem and intermittently shared starting opportunities with his collegiate counterpart. The stocky 5'9", though listed at 5'10", teenage asset hailing from the northwest, Kelliher embarked upon a topsy turvy and inconsistent stretch within the AZL to commence his professional campaign with amassing more walks and strikeouts cumulatively than innings pitched prior to what ought to be an impending Vermont assignment barring physical issues. The strikeout percentages can be attributable to a deceptive fastball tallied consistently sitting at 91-93 MPH while occasionally dipping into 89-90 and topping out at 94-95 in short bursts through his Fall as the offering boasted wiggle and late life at times projected to be a slightly above average offering for the undersized righty. Weilding an over-the-top arm slot, Kelliher disguises his release to both like-handed and southpaw bats until the ball appears from out of his shoulder, similarly to his fellow Instructional League companion in Corey Walter, and thus provided even less reaction and tracking opportunities for opposing offenses to accompany a fairly lively repetiore. Kelliher's complementary secondaries in an 80-82 MPH changeup and 74-77 MPH both bode average to slightly above average projection as well with Kelliher maintaining arm speed off the changeup to an acceptable extent for someone of his developmental stage coupled with a definitive out offering encompassed within that of his curveball possessing 11-5 and periodical sharp 12-6 shape which he sequenced appropriately and commanded occasionally while the changeup as the most well harnessed pitch amongst his arsenal. The former Oregon commitment's most glaring present deficiency resides in that of his control woes, often struggling considerably with release point on his offerings coupled with a frenzied curve that makes the strike zone all the more difficult to consistent dot for the undersized Oregonian. Boding a deceptive fastball/changeup combination plus a crisp curve, Kelliher shall undoubtedly amass plus strikeout percentages through the latter portion of the minors, though shall have to definitively place reins upon his repetiore and locate appropriately as he ascends as mere deception won't be able to vault Kelliher past the Texas League. With the offerings equating to a potential three pronged 55-55-55 mix, Kelliher possesses a 3rd starter ceiling with 4th starter likelihood as well should his release point and control continuously haunt him regardless of instruction through his rise upwards towards the majors. With the potentiality to shove his way towards the forefront of the system with an evenly distributed arsenal incorporating deception and movement, Kelliher can become a solid flag for Oakland's system to wave as he incrementally develops.
Likely to accompany Kelliher within a rotation format upon arriving in the New York-Penn League, Heath Fillmyer flanks the teenage righty as another instantaneous prospect of note amongst Oakland arms acquired during the most recent draft crop. Possessing a loose arm action with a fastball scraping 93-95 MPH, thus flashing plus velocity in bursts while routinely sitting 92-94 within Oakland's Instructional League camp and dipping into 91-94 range during his concluding appearance, the recently converted asset previously was showcased as a middle infield cog prior to his permanent shift towards the mound while housed at Mercer CC through his 2014 amateur spring campaign in New Jersey. Already flashing worthy velocity and mechanics probable of marginal future increases should arm strength be prioritized through the avenue of excessive four-seam utilization, the 6'1" 20 year old presents an intriguing farmhand with significant developmental strides still possible given Fillmyer's inate aptitude for the mound with extremely minimal professional instruction thus far. Occasionally flashing legitimate downward plate upon his primary fastball, the 5th rounder utilized his slightly lower than 3/4ths arm slot and easy delivery to generate an plus fastball velocity that, with sharpened control, release point and incremental velocity upticks, may easily bode a plus pitch upon arriving at his eventual ceiling. Weilding a primary breaking pitch as his quintessential secondary offering, Fillmyer utilizes a slurve with 10-4 bite and periodical 11-5 movement as well as opposed to the usual sweeping action of hybrid breaks with horizontal movement associated with that of a slider coupled with sharp curve with nice rotation on the offering upon being released, settling at 76-82 MPH velocity and probable slightly above average projection given that Fillmyer still retains two plane shift on the pitch. Fillmyer briefly threw an 86-88 MPH cutter during his concluding Instructional League outing as the newly accustomed professional would likely benefit from the change-of-pace pitch, however the offering remained elevated and lacked sufficient movement thus having to undergo astronomical development before arriving at a point where the pitch would be able to pumped in effectively during game situations. Lagging behind the remainder of his repetiore, Fillmyer hurls an 80-82 MPH changeup that, while periodically showcasing sink, lacks consistent movement and stays flat at times thus having Fillmyer seemingly headed towards an ultimate relief projection should the changeup not take significant developmental strides through the upcoming few seasons. With some explosion on the fastball at times plus sink alongside a capable out break with sharp cut, Fillmyer establishes two probable 55-60 grade potential offerings with a changeup hovering within a current 45 grade projection at the moment, which shall not prevent the junior collegiate product from being emersed within a rotation format initially as Fillmyer's accumulated innings shall be revered through the initial portion of his ascent through the minors. Presenting at the very least an above average bullpen asset with 7th inning potentiality already with minimal experience upon the mound thus far and an arm that can continue to tick up velocity rates with fastball repetition and physical development, Fillmyer bodes a strong potential ceiling dotted with upside and backend rotation potential with an absolute ceiling of a third starter should the changeup progress significant towards a more reliable average projection though the New Jersey product seems heavily pointed towards the bullpen at the moment.
Joined by Michael Ynoa as the lone bullpen arms possessing 9th inning potentiality housed in the Athletics' system, Bobby Wahl consistently abused the zone within Arizona with the greatest consistent velocity amongst Oakland participants as the previous Midwest League rotation cog sat 94-97 MPH with routinely touching 98 despite the pitch occasionally remaining flat and elevated with periodical late life and bite off the four-seam. Having fallen permanently from rotation consideration with a subpar changeup having presented minimal development thus far after having commenced as the headlining Beloit starter the previous spring, Wahl succame to a shoulder ailment that thrust the former Mississippi ace and previously considered first round talent into the bullpen en route to Stockton in a role that more fittingly suits the rare arm in the Oakland system that can touch plus-plus velocity. With significant inconsistency on the control with occasional lapses of psychologically outguessing himself, Wahl currently stands as an effectively wild arm whose velocity can dispose of inferior lower level minor league bats similarly to Michael Ynoa with strike zone recognition, release point and arm slot shifts upon opting for his secondary assortment that shall have to be significantly refined and harnessed prior to grappling with Texas League competition. Through some release point and slot issues, Wahl did locate the zone more often than not in Papago while dominating the inner portion of the zone versus righties and inducing weak contact by getting in the hands to batters on both sides of the plate. Showcasing separate slider variations, Wahl threw an 81-83 MPH slider with horizontal sweep over the zone that was predominantly utilized versus righties to induce swings towards the outer portion of the strike zone. Coupled alongside a more mundane slider, Wahl unleashed what flashed as an actualized plus pitch with an 85-89 MPH slide with pronounced two plane snap that ought to present a true major league out offering despite some development still required to more consistently produce the movement that shall envoke missed bats as opposed towards to occasional variations that more often glide through the zone and potentially into advanced bats. Despite an arm slot slightly lower than 3/4ths and more appropriately assisting slide secondaries, Wahl debuted a power curveball at 81-84 MPH with sharp 11-5 break dotted off the right portion of the zone to lefties that supplanted his changeup and additionally provides another out pitch that could provide major league average projection through his rise upwards towards Midland and Nashville. Wahl lastly unfurled a changeup consistently flat and elevated with inconsistent release at 86-89 that should be deemed irrelevant given his probable late inning relief projection and deep plethora of breaking pitches demonstrated during his offseason Arizona instruction. With 60/65 (FB)-65 (SL)-50/55 (CB) grades accumulated, Wahl presents a worthy bullpen arm whose velocity and repetiore ought to thrive upon acclimating towards relief with control and consistent slider movement having to be prioritized upon debuting with Stockton during the upcoming minor league campaign. More than likely, Wahl shall acquire a major league opportunity in some capacity with miss bat stuff and velocity touching 70 grade heat despite the pitch being partiality downgraded through inconsistent mechanical intervals that suggest continual release difficulty on the fastball. With some consistency regarding his release and mechanics prepared to undergo developmental instruction, Wahl possesses undoubted 9th inning ceiling with legitimate closer stuff that more so complements his repetiore in short bursts.
Another definitive bullpen prospect and one that bodes a repetiore and effort filled delivery not the slightest bit indicative of starting potential, Brendan McCurry burst into Arizona off a statistically dominating campaign through Beloit and Stockton with a seamless transition from amateur to lower level professional competition with refined control and a diverse secondary arsenal that frazzled bats not traditionally accustomed towards the vast velocity differentials thrown by the lower round senior collegiate acquisition. With a fastball hovering within the 88-91 MPH range despite an encouraging 91-93 uptick during his final Instructional League appearance, McCurry's subpar velocity was boosted through arm slot shifts from a traditional 3/4ths rendition to sidearm with significant effort used to pump out borderline acceptable heat coupled with a wind-up adequately disguising the ball to both handed bats prior to release and thus thriving off a deceptive assistance to elevate the effectiveness of his repetiore. Furthering McCurry's intriguing novelty, the undersized righty weilds a vast secondary arsenal including a sinker and splitfinger not utilized during the Instructional League proceedings coupled with a loopy curveball hovering around 65-71 MPH thrown from his upper slot with late bite bottoming out and changing speed mid-break while at times able to control the wild offering with above average pitchability and sequencing off of it regardless when pitching backwards or forwards, an attribute extremely sparse and seldom witnessed given traditional curve movement and making the offering able to potentially play at league average as a pure chase selection. McCurry compounds the curve with a slow slider fluctuating from 67-77 MPH with sweeping action, late sink and wiggle that assists the less than exceptional and peculiar velocity on the slider that puzzles lower professional offensive prospects that can be utilized from both slots and sequenced appropriately off the fastball and changeup. McCurry's changeup, similarly towards the remainder of his arsenal, possesses late movement and downward plane that misses bats while periodically maintaining arm speed at 79-82 MPH which assists the fastball at this stage, which additionally boasts late wiggle, as McCurry predicates his stuff off extremely sharp late movement and a firm grasp on control with above average command of an extraordinarily unique arsenal which non-advanced bats struggle to place their finger upon with most not accustomed to a velocity differential with above average pitchability, command and movement plus having to navigate shifting arm slots and release points. However, Texas League and Pacific Coast League bats shall likely eventually decode McCurry with velocity not quite prevalent and a not exactly aesthetically pleasing delivery that are enough to consistently overcome for the bullpen hopeful predicated upon the exceptional peripheral pitching attributes such as deception, pitchability and movement which the elderly and undersized relief asset does showcase consistently. McCurry, unique enough with significant bite consistently sprinkled throughout his arsenal, may ascend and eventually acquire an opportunity as a specialist with a 45-50-55-50 projected repetiore partiality decreased through having to rely heavily upon deception that shall be unlikely to last upwards towards the majors. Virtually untouchable past the Midwest and California Leagues with bats not sure how to time him, ballclubs will likely slowly begin to lift the curtain on McCurry's repetiore and eventually dent him though the 5'10" formerly converted middle infielder whom permanently transitioned towards the mound during his junior campaign will be probable to continuously accumulate phenomenal periphery ratios while still fooling some enough to maintain strikeout percentages through the minors with impeccable control. Still with enough novelties to initially fool some, McCurry still possesses a major league ceiling with his command and pitchability having to be impeccable and absolutely flawless in order to stick for any amount of time at the highest level.
Paired alongside Branden Kelliher throughout his initial Instructional League gauntlet, Daniel Gossett flashed 4th starter potentiality within a rotation format with subpar to average velocity alongside a grasp of a diverse secondary contingent often commanded towards the latter portion of his offseason in-game regimen. Predominantly settling at 89-91 MPH with 92 being touched and dipping into 88 MPH an occasion, Gossett wielded a sometimes inconsistent fastball that strengthened as he progressed into appearances and accumulated frames with some late jump at times and consistent sink though could drastically improve from more substantial movement and wiggle upon the four-seam. With a methodical leg raise and funky arm action producing an arm slot slightly more elevated from a traditional 3/4ths, Gossett boasts a sharp curve pumped into the zone with 11-6 movement thus demonstatring some horizontal hop and decent drop upon the offering consistently hovering at 77-79 MPH and flashing attributes of a quality out pitch alongside a slider at 79-81 MPH with sweeping action that significantly dwarfs the curve in regards to projection and probable effectiveness with a pronounced and visible slot shift and gliding action lacking bite that provides an easy tracking assignment to lower level bats. Gossett equally brings an 80-82 MPH changeup that rests alongside Dustin Driver and Branden Kelliher as one of the more consistently strong changes amongst Oakland's Instructs contingent that was sequenced appropriately with downward plane and command at times and consistent slot and arm speed that brings sufficient deception that provides a probable average to slightly above average eventual developmental ceiling. Though more visibly discombobulated pitching out of the stretch with some mechanical inconsistency associated with runners aboard, Gossett limits baserunners with an adept grasp upon control and firm understand of command at this stage with plus pitchability and placement consistently through the lower and outer portions of the strike zone though shall have to retain his command upwards through towards the more advanced regions of the minors with marginal velocity and lack of bite on the fastball that shall be feasted upon if elevated and not placed routinely. Boding a repetiore more condusive for a rotation berth, Gossett's projection resides in that of a potential 4th starting asset with ultimate fringe 3rd starter ceiling alongside a probability present for an innings eating capacity should his development not progress sufficiently. Still flashing a 50-55-35/40-50/55 repetiore with plus control and plus potential command, Gossett provides a collegiate arm with the potentiality to ascend rapidly through the organization given his arsenal being as harnessed to the point it currently stands with a probable Beloit assignment to commence the 2015 campaign awaiting the righty. Having yet to confront consistent full season competition thus far however, vast developmental strides must still be witnessed for Gossett's projected ceiling to begin partially materializing with probable mechanical tweaks in order to better revise his arm action and stretch inconsistency coupled with the likely subtraction of a subpar slider.
Serving as the backstop for the hefty majority of the arms for Oakland during his short season and Instructional League campaigns, Seong-Min Kim burst forth to prominence his loud tools behind the plate and with the lumber that vault the thickly proportioned backstop into the upper echelon of the Athletics developmental system. Boasting a massive 6'2"/250 pound frame, though with the weight fairly well distributed and not centralized within any one lone region, Kim announces his presence instantaneously upon stepping foot onto the diamond with the extremely thick Korean bonus baby inking for $510.000 during the 2011 offseason additionally weilding plus to plus-plus raw power potentiality to accompany his heavy build. Incorporating a pronounced uppercut through his bat path, Kim utilizes his average bat speed and strong frame to make loud contact upon tracking and recognizing a pitch appropriately, an aspect the rare Pacific Rim catcher must greatly continue to improve upon. Kim often commits towards fastballs, with an exaggerated side step and foot raise that shall cost the Korean as he ascends to grapple with full season arms as sliders tailing outside and 12-6 breaks consistently trip Kim and diminish his capability to demonstrate his plus potential power projection with a swing often loopy and a tendency to sometimes be forgetful to remain short into the zone. Kim's mobility behind the plate additionally presents an issue as the gigantic backstop struggles to appropriately get behind balls and get into glove position while still amending his defensive negatives with an ability to call contests and a rapid release. Kim's arm strength boasts another awe inspring attribute with an easy plus grade stamped upon the 21 year old's cannon with a capability to generate pop times from 1.82 to 1.91 with lackluster footwork which presents more significant incremental subtractions upon sharpening his quickness as Kim likely presents the most superior catching arm throughout the Oakland organization. With a nelegable tool within that of his blatantly subpar speed upon the basepaths, Kim concludes with 40 (Hit). 60 (Power), 30 (Run), 65 (Arm), 40-55 (Glove) grades with significant developmental instruction still for the collegiate draftee age catcher following two consecutive campaigns in which Oakland refrained from utilizing Kim within significant in-game situations prior towards his AZL breakthrough versus underwhelming rookie league repetiores. Essentially a pure fastball dependent bat the moment with pull tendencies and an inherent difficultly to recognize and track breaking offerings, Kim still requires copious seasoning and assistance through his gradual ascent upwards through Oakland's affiliates as one of the Athletics' more toolsy and upside based positional prospects with his probable potentiality to eventually acquire a major league opportunity definitively hinging upon the ability of Kim to greater recognize secondary offerings and ultimately prioritize his hitting development. Still certainly an unaccustomed and loud flag to plant within the often untapped amateur Pacific Rim market, Seong-Min Kim shall service as a pivotal representative for the Oakland development staff as a posterchild for future Asain recruiting endeavors even if Kim's ultimate offensive ceiling may have an extraordinarily slight chance of actualizing.
Flanking his International backstop companion, Santiago Chavez flashed admirable maturity throughout his stateside debut following two consecutive campaigns amongst within the La Victoria Dominican academy and a 2011 acquisition for $200.000 from the Saltillo region in Mexico. The thickly built 19 year old boasting a 5'11"/190 pound frame possesses minimal offensive upside with subpar bat speed and thus a lessened ability to square plus velocity unless having guessed on pitch location, which Chavez did ultimately guess correctly in instances through his Instructional League stay on velocity ranging from 91-95 MPH with a decent ability to recognize exaggerated breaks, though frazzled by any secondaries flashing average with a low minors caliber pitch recognition, thus encountering difficulty upon confronting changeups and average to above average curves and sliders. A product of lackluster bat speed, Chavez' power potentiality bodes an extraordinarily low ceiling given the tradional catching offensive profile though could potentially increase to a marginal extent as he becomes more in touch and coordinated with his physical frame and develops more strength. Routinely generating 4.8-4.9 times out of the box, Chavez also presents subpar speed upon the basepaths, though an aspect not relevant for a backstop given his profile and potential projection. Chavez' redeeming components amongst his skill set lie within that of his defensive capabilities, capable enough to lift the teenage Latin American catching prospect towards the cusp of the majors with pinpoint and outstanding blocking, arm accuracy,release, footwork, receiving and game calling tendencies accumulating to potential plus-plus defensive grades while already demonstatring an above average defensive package at the moment just weeks following his 19th birthday while flashing extreme maturity given his youth as well. Chavez' arm strength routinely generated 50-55 grades with consistent release and mechanics behind the plate which permits the Carribean youngster to play up his average arm considerably as Chavez was able to successfully gun 13 of 18 attempted basestealers within Vermont and 7 of 8 including a pair of pickoffs at first and third base during a four game duration amongst his fellow Instructional League competition in Arizona with superb accuracy off his throws laced directly in front of bag continuously. Chavez' extraordinarily polished defensive intangibles provide a probable major league projection for the stocky backstop, though his offensive tools lag significantly behind his glove not weilding a stick boding even average potentiality with a definitive permanent 9th position within a probable lineup having to feast and ultimately capitalize upon being a mistake bat. Regardless, Chavez' glove at the very least vaults him to a capable backup post with a floor residing in that of an organizational asset that shall provide instruction and guidance to upcoming pitching and catching farmhands throughout the system. Concluding with 35 (Hit), 25 (Power), 30 (Run), 65 (Glove) and 55 (Arm) projections, Santiago Chavez still shall become a useable cog to some extent for Oakland as he gradually ascends and embarks upon a 2015 campaign in which the Mexican catching prospect shall remain 19 until August and possibly vacillate between affiliates as he experienced through his stateside debut.
Another teenage Caribbean asset present within Papago throughout Oakland's postseason Fall gauntlet, Jesus Lopez flashed offensive polish and maturity as a 17 year old during his second professional Instructional League following his $950,000 July 2nd bonus out of Nicaragua in 2013, falling five figures shy of accompanying Michael Ynoa and Renato Nuñez as Oakland's lone seven figure amateur International signees in franchise history. Not possessing the raw ceiling of the previous two afforementioned names, Jesus Lopez provides second division second base potentiality should his ceiling actualize with minimal projection remaining given his advanced offensive approach having already been consistently demonstrated despite fringy range, speed and glove grades as a 5'9" average built middle infielder with additionally minimal physical projectability. Having solid opportunities between both middle of the diamond infield posts, Lopez is permanently tethered to second base with lackluster foot speed coupled with range and an arm not enough to supplant his coordinative difficulties, though weilds a capable enough glove to remain seated firmly on the right portion of the infield. Lopez' value resides within that of his bat, with a hit tool enough to remain afloat at an average to slightly above average basis as he progresses upwards through Oakland's affiliates utilizing a concrete tracking ability off pitches flashing up to average potential with a compact and consistent capability to be short into the zone with mature bat speed. Lopez additionally has burst out displays of impressive raw power potentiality given his age and physical stature occasionally sending balls 375+ feet to all fields during in-game action with an impressive ability to extend through the zone and maintain his follow through into contact with a fairly even planed bat path making it a grueling task to exploit the now 18 year old. Sending some 400+ as a 17 year old with lumber, Lopez provides an above average power ceiling that ought to become more materialized upon recognizing more exploitable offerings upon release with a currently adopted line drive philosophy that shall assist Lopez as he develops. Additionally boding a switch hitting ability, Lopez shall admittedly have to greatly sharpen his mechanical consistency from the right side as his approach as a southpaw greatly serves as a presently superior projection with Lopez periodically falling more susceptible to armside pitching as a righty with a diminished strike zone recognition capability and less polished bat speed. Showcasing an ability to knock contact through to all fields and pounce off of mistakes routinely given his youth however, Lopez provides a tantalizing offensive prospect to mold throughout his development with present maturity providing reason for significant optimism for Lopez to arrive at a major league pleateu. Closing with 55 (Hit), 55 (Power), 40 (Run), 45 (Glove) and 45 (Arm) grades tabulated for potential given his present developmental state, Lopez services as one of the more assured Instructional League participants likely to acquire a major league opportunity at some instance, speaking volumes towards one of the youngest present prospects currently playing domestically for the Athletics. Not possessing a fretfully large ceiling however, Lopez shall have to rely upon his offensive maturity and baseball instincts as he progresses while continuing to adjust fittingly upon encountering developmental hurdles as any prospect does as Lopez won't be able to tread water upon pure athleticism and tools thus making adjusting periods more pronounced as opposed to Lopez' July 2nd class companion and tools filled farmhand with only a minute grasp upon the actual mechanics of the game, Carlos Hiciano. With a promising amount of inate ability already having been displayed, Lopez now must continue to acclimate to professional baseball in order to arrive at his ultimate destination with an emphasis assuredly to be placed upon his right handed offensive revisions and the actualization of his raw power.
Another recent acquisition upon the mound, Brett Graves made his initial professional Instructional League debut having arrived from Missouri as another thickly proportioned right handed arm with plus potential velocity hailing from the Show Me state. Weilding incredibly broad shoulders and a top heavy frame, Graves flashes significant velocity having scraped 96-98 MPH through his concluding collegiate campaign prior to his draft selection by Oakland the previous June while sitting upon a 93-95 MPH rate within a starting capacity with mechanical difficulties with a cross body finish stunting Graves' control capability and location consistency from a slightly higher than 3/4ths release. Demonstrating a similar tendency amongst fellow draftees within the Papago complex, Graves withstood some fatigue and marginal velocity decreases following an excess of 100+ frames between Missouri and Vermont with fluctuation varying from 93-94 MPH during his Arizona debut while settling into 89-92 and then 88-90 while touching 92-94 during his following outing to close his initial professional instructional period. Possessing occasional late jump and explosion upon the offering, Graves experienced control issues with a upper body intensive release seldom incorporating his lower half with an afforementioned cross body finish thus making it an inherent difficulty to repeat his mechanical sequence and locate the strike zone stunting any potential command. Graves' primary secondary offering lies in that of his slider, usually hovering within the 84-86 MPH range with legitimate two plane tilt through the zone with periodical appropriate snap that presents a possible above average pitch to utilize off the fastball with another slurve hybrid at 81-83 MPH that, while increasingly erratic and inconsistent, flashed extremist movement with horizontal shift and pronounced vertical drop that additionally could provide another secondary to be effectively used with continual mechanical revision though not projected as a presently reliable offering for Graves' repetiore to heavily lean upon. Graves' changeup lags behind the remainder of his arsenal with velocity shifts from 76-84 MPH dependent upon performance with blatantly inconsistent arm speed maintained on the pitch while often settling flat and located towards the upper portions of the zone, as Graves' offerings tended to gravitate towards with a troubling release point, that was quite exploitable for lower level minor league bats and thus nudges Graves' projection within the direction of a bullpen component with velocity more so likely to be sustained with conserved frames and mechanical attributes not indicative of an individual remaining within a rotation format. Still providing a pair of secondaries with frenzied movement capable enough of average to above average projection with fastball velocity still having been documented to approach plus-plus ranges despite stamina and mechanical hurdles still having yet to be traversed through Graves' development in order to sustain his fastball life, the righty still announced a probable 60-55/60-45-40 repetiore projection with a concrete late inning situational relief capacity likely to service as the present destination for Graves prior to him undergoing what shall assuredly be a rigorous organizational path through the upcoming seasons in order to stress repetition and iron out the pronounced mechanical creases from Graves' delivery. Should the changeup elevate upwards with consistent arm speed coupled with location improvement alongside fastball velocity showcasing an ability to be sustained with some arm strength programs, Graves could potentially squeeze into a rotation encompassing a fringe 3rd starting projection with 4th starter likelihood though presently outlandish given his woes with delivery repetition. Still serving as another intriguing arm for Oakland's developmental contingent to sculpt, Graves shall likely have to undergo revaluation with shifts towards his probable ceiling still quite realistically approaching through the upcoming few campaigns.
Requiring significant developmental strides as well amongst Oakland's Instructs pitching cast, Tyler Willman provides an intriguing physical proportion for the Athletics' minor league curators to experiment with through his ascent into the incorporated affiliates. Possessing a thin 6'6"/185 pound build, the right handed Willman services as an extraordinarily unforeseen raw college arm with heaps of projection still remaining despite his age from Western Illinois, weilding attributes similar towards that of a high school pitching prospect with velocity having the potentiality to skyrocket with weight added to a tantalizing frame and a constant stress upon four seam repetition. Willman currently unleashed marginal 88-91 MPH velocity off the fastball through his offseason appearances within Arizona with periodical late jump playing up the pitch and assisting the presently mediocre velocity. Willman's primary secondary resides in that of a breaking pitch in which he designates as a slider despite pronounced 11-5 vertical movement ranging from 76-80 MPH with solid rotation at times, though became an increasing means of frustration for the lanky bullpen piece as he was unable to consistently apply rotation and downward movement towards the pitch as his camp progressed and thus psychologically impeded the remainder of his repetiore as he experienced continual and nagging control and release point difficulties towards the latter portion of his October stay within Papago. Given his presence upon the mound, Willman does occasionally have lapses of release point and mechanical struggles from a 3/4ths slot at times becoming discombobulated and uncoordinated and thus finding an extreme issue in locating the strike zone upon a regular basis, though only exhibited periodically and predominantly remains knowledgeable of placement with effective control while flashing promising command. Flashing a useable 80-81 MPH changeup with arm speed at times appropriately maintained that assisted his repetiore versus less developed bats, Willman could potentially bid for a probable rotation berth within Vermont to commence 2015 with a likely retainment in extended expected for the organizational project weilding a present 5th starter ceiling with an innings eating projection also trailing shortly behind. Though not particularly startling at the moment, Willman's value resides amongst that of his probable velocity increases given his underdeveloped frame with an ability to drastically increase his internal worth with physical maturation and reverence upon arm strength. Already possessing an aggressive philosophy upon the mound by attacking the inner portion of the strike zone and getting in on the hands to lefties, Willman's repetiore would significantly benefit from velocity development with probable relief projection should his secondaries not catch up. Weilding a present potential 45-50-45 arsenal at the moment, Willman's present projection without any arsenal enhancement would bode a fringy arm with an unlikely ability to arrive at a major league destination, however given his stature Willman's ultimate projection remains extraordinarily difficult to diagnose at the moment and shall have to be miticulously monitored and reevaluated for probable increases and bolstering to a presently fringe average fastball with only a minimal amount of wiggle and life to play up the offering. One of largest differentials from projected ceiling to floor throughout the entirety of the organization, Willman presents a canvas in flux at the moment with the potential to burst forth as a prominent organizational breakout candidate over the upcoming few years.
One of a pair of Puerto Rican representatives present for Oakland within Arizona, Edwin Diaz embarked upon his second consecutive Instructional League assignment after two straight AZL years to season and develop his offensive intangibles currently drooping behind his defensive versitility. Relatively youthful as he still remains as a teenager until the conclusion of the upcoming August, Diaz presents a somewhat wiry frame developing into an average build as he matures with a stature sure not to infringe upon his ability to be slotted within the middle of the infield defensively. Possessing mature footwork and an instinctual capability with the glove, Diaz stands out for his ability upon the diamond having split opportunities between third, shortstop and second base throughout his initial professional stay for Oakland with an adequate enough glove, range boding average to slightly above average projection and the fringe requisite amount of arm strength to remain as a capable yet fringe average defensive shortstop with an ability to play up more noticeably upon being stationed at second. Diaz' arm, indicative of a present lack of overt physical strength, doesn't flash enough consistency to confidently be positioned at third base though demonstrates a solid reactionary ability at the post and shall have to develop into his frame more considerably prior to confidently manning the position. Somewhat indicative of bouts of instinctual immaturity, Diaz does tend to occasionally opt for a more flashy sidearm throw or purposefully approach routine balls without squaring himself behind for a more aesthetically pleasing affect, an attribute Diaz shall have to disband in favor of fundamental consistency in which the Caribbean utility man in perfectly capable of. Offensively, Diaz presents a probable hit tool ascending to average potentiality with sound bat speed with an ability to square up to average velocity, a consistent short stroke into the strike zone, fundamental follow through consistently through contact and an even bat path that present the glove heavy Puerto Rican prospect with a potential offensive projection enough to propel him onward through into the upper reaches of the organization. Diaz must revise his tracking abilities however, demonstrating an immaturity with pitch recognition common given his age and developmental stage with quality changeups and sliders presently able to dismantle Diaz if properly commanded or showcasing above average pure stuff as Diaz still must develop a notion of his own personal zone and pick up movement off release more consistently. Diaz' power potential remains unrefined at the moment with some physical development possibly able to lift him towards a merely subpar ceiling grade with numerous contact squared yet resulting in lackluster showings off offerings in which Diaz located the mistake appropriately that ought to have been sent over fences with only warning track power at the moment that could gradually increase for predominantly pull rates with Diaz' approach towards center and opposite fields having to likely be exclusively line drive oriented. Computing 45 (Hit), 30 (Power), 45 (Run), 50 (Glove), 45/50 (Arm) grades, Diaz projects towards a probable ceiling of a versitile utility asset having to predicate himself upon his defensive abilities and a bat, should actualize to its potential grade, could result in a deceptive batting average output that could assist Diaz in acquiring continual playing opportunities.
Corey Walter, a senior acquisition for Oakland towards the latter portion of the 2014 draft proceedings for Oakland, presents a probable starting capacity upon the mound with a thick upper body build and present life upon his offerings despite some mechanical inconsistency and control difficulties that decreased the West Virginia native's stock entering the June draft. Able to approach 95 MPH velocity while sitting up 91-94 within Vermont, Walter had succumb to some fatigue within Arizona and fluctuated with 88-92 MPH stuff while accompanied by late jump at times and occasional control on the fastball which figures to project towards that of a solid average offering based purely upon the velocity and movement of the pitch with an above average ceiling still with the potential to be achieved should Walter continue to prioritize and increase his command upon the pitch which Oakland's developmental staff stressed incessantly within Papago as Walter was limited to only a minute amount of secondaries during his appearances throughout his offseason stay. Additionally assisting the fastball, Walter's release disguised the pitch brilliantly towards both handed sects of competition with the ball only appearing from his shoulder just prior to delivery thus greatly increasing deception and limiting tracking opportunities upon the pitch similarly to Branden Kelliher's offering that provides a boosted ability to miss bats. Though possessing a likely relief projection, Walter flashed a 82-84 MPH changeup that presented fringe average potentiality with slot slightly lower and thus squandering deception upon the offering while remaining flat and not properly maintaining arm speed on occasion with the pitch as Walter additionally requires significant developmental assistance with the change-of-pace pitch to more consistently and appropriately play off the fastball. With a slightly higher than 3/4ths slot, Walter weilds a slider variation with sweeping action over the zone at 78-82 MPH as well as a slurve possessing 10-5 shape at 77-80 MPH with average ceiling potential of which both can be utilized to an extent appropriate enough to assist his fastball, though not boding an exceptional amount of projection enough to push Walter towards a late inning capacity. Lacking a significant amount of lower body incorporation within his delivery, Walter's mechanics are somewhat top heavy with stress probable to be centralized upon the shoulder and additionally retaining the remants of a cross body finish that decrease the amount of repetitive consistency upon his mechanics and reduce some of the luster upon his control, though still not requiring as much revision as someone such as Brett Graves. With a repetiore tabulating to 55-45-45-40/45 potential grades, Walter shall have to significantly sharpen his secondary arsenal in order to prescribe towards a major league ceiling with present projection pointing towards an inning eating bullpen capacity with a capable fastball yet fringe average breaks to bolster the pitch diminishing his cumulative package. With command and precision, Walter could acquire more opportunities as he ascends as he'll likely undergo developmental alterations towards his delivery with an emphasis upon elimating his lasting cross body conclusion and release point consistency while likely benefitting from the incorporation of a cutter or splitfinger to better assist the fastball. Still, a bargain for a 27th round senior addition, Walter provides another asset for Oakland's pitching instructors to toy with to better play off a surprisingly adequate fastball as he most certainly embarks upon his initial foray into full season competition following the spring.
One of the lone southpaws represented upon Oakland's Instructional League pitching staff, Mike Fagan burst ahead with a lively repetiore that justified his 9th round acquisition despite additionally serving as a cost conversation selection after inking for a mere $20,000 from Princeton. Suffering from extreme control difficulty throughout his collegiate stay, Fagan finally located a newfound mechanical consistency which permitted the Ivy League arm to be plucked within the draft while flashing a fringe average relief profile that carried into his initial professional offseason instructional period amongst his organizational teammates at the Papago facility. Fagan opens with his back parallel towards the third base dugout prior to initiating his wind-up, dropping his arm directly behind his back before revealing the ball through an avenue of an arm slot slightly higher than low 3/4ths and thus diminishing probable deception upon his repetiore to extent that an over-the-slot would bode given his mechanical sequencing. Regardless, Fagan compensates with above average wiggle upon a consistently 90-93 MPH fastball flashing armside despite some release point woes and this control inconsistency as hitters continuously struggled to pick up upon the late movement and hop off Fagan's primary offering which induced missed bats and figures to play up with average velocity and enough jump to service as a probable effectively wild pitch until his release can be definitively sharpened. His accompanying secondaries, a 78-80 MPH slider and 80-81 CH, both additionally bode late movement despite a sweeping action off the slider lacking two plane thump enough to provide a true plus pitch, though presents wiggle and fluttering movement attributable towards solid rotation that assists the offering enough to remain as average alongside and fringy changeup with late bite despite remaining elevated and flashing some underdeveloped tendencies often showcased amongst Oakland's cast of Instructional League arms. Fagan's slider occasionally lacked movement as well while only flashing average ability at times with a changeup with arm speed and release inconsistency not enough to project towards a secondary repetiore presenting anything other than average at best rates and shall have to undergo development to more consistently churn out quality sliders with a probable addition of a cutter vastly assisting Fagan's arsenal. Presenting a 50/55-50-40 potential output and ceiling, Fagan profiles as a fringe average situational relief asset to be utilized primarily within middle inning quantities with mechanical revisions and slot alterations possibly providing a transformative route towards a situational capacity for Fagan versus southpaws by maximizing off of deception. Demonstrating an aptitude towards development already however, Fagan possesses an ability to possibly aspire towards these revisions in order to break through the AA threshold, a barrier seemingly likely to trip the southpaw up at the moment upon eventual arrival, and possibly ultimately acquire a cup of coffee. Initially however, Fagan's remaining nagging control woes must undergo developmental assistance to better arrive at a consistent release point with a stress placed upon mechanical repetition.
One of Oakland's numerous international backstops showcased during the Fall within Arizona, Argenis Raga flashed improved defensive ability behind the plate with his blocking revisions glowing as the most notable with the glove. Having manned post throughout the entirety of the infield previously amongst Oakland's Dominican academy, Raga has definitively settled into a permanent catching post domestically with a fringy bat enough to carry him towards the California League with bat speed and offensive consistency not likely enough to vault him forth into the Texas League caliber fray. Having inked amongst Oakland's 2010 Caribbean splurge behind Renato Nuñez and Vicmal De La Cruz, Raga split opportunities between third, shortstop and second base while only demonstrating a legitimate capability to remain at second base throughout his dual campaigns in La Victoria prior towards a 2013 AZL debut manning primarily third base before his shift towards backstop during the most recent summer and now corresponding Instructional League. Demonstrating decent receiving ability with game calling intangibles, Raga shined for his blocking attributes and consistent capability to body behind errand breaks and hops and prevent offerings from heading towards the backstop despite a fringe average arm at best, poping within a 2.01-2.07 range throughout his Instructional League, with some inconsistent release mechanics that degrade his cumulative defensive attributes behind the plate. Still somewhat acclimating towards the position following a professional résumé predominantly consistenting of infield work, Raga could aspire to enough of a defensive package to possesss the fringe amount of potential glove to stay at the post without presenting a significant quantity of defensive production. Raga's offensive capability leans heavily upon an adept all fields oriented slap hitting approach, often not short into the zone and having to guess upon plus velocity to compensate for mediocre bat speed with some inconsistent hand placement and bat paths that shall have to be more so refined should he wish to progress forward into full season competition, though does weild a pitch recognition and tracking capability vastly superior to complex league competition while being consistently able to acknowledge fastballs upon release and secondary offerings up to fringe average potential. Raga boasted gap power potential as well, despite having to compensate with a slide step, as he consistently punched up to above average velocity to all fields for average rates at times with some deceptive might housed within a somewhat underwhelming frame as he was able to often turn upon fastballs within the upper reaches of the zone. Boding a 35 (Hit), 40 (Power), 35 (Run), 40 (Glove), 45 (Arm) résumé, Raga likely doesn't possess the qualifications to ultimately aspire towards a major league ceiling with offensive mechanical inconsistency and a definitively fringy package behind the plate that was able enough to tread water within Arizona based upon his opposite field prowess and game calling ability though shall be heavily exploited upon assimilating amongst incorporated affiliates without a significant developmental undertaking. Likely to ascend to Vermont regardless given a statistical breakthrough during the AZL campaign and Instructional League in which Raga was able to flash maturity wholeheartedly deserving of another opportunity past Papago, the positionally versitile Venezuelan shall likely spend the remainder of his contractual period with Oakland bouncing through Vermont and Beloit.
The most elderly participant within the Instructional League for Oakland, Matt Stalcup was pegged alongside Kyle Finnegan for rotation duties following a lengthy Midwest League campaign likely resulting within a Stockton opportunity during the upcoming season for the southpaw. Possessing a slightly higher than 3/4ths release and smooth mechanics in which Stalcup was able to consistently repeat, the lefty has significantly diminished a pronounced windmill orientation which Stalcup previously showcased collegiately to better revere mechanical repetition and strike zone command as the southpaw boasts an approach still dipping below to generate momentum to an extent though more controlled. Vacillating between 86-89 MPH, Stalcup's fastball flashed armside movement periodically and command at times with plane that plays up the increasingly marginal velocity down a few ticks from his initial opening sequence within Beloit; though still underwent lapses of control difficulty and elevation which Stalcup shall have to eliminate entirely in order to dispose of more advanced lumber as he arrives in Stockton. One of the more potentially exploitable secondaries within the camp, Stalcup unleashed a 69-71 MPH curve with extreme loop and 11-5 break that shall have to unfortunately feature as a pure chase pitch with it often being a simplistic task to track and if thrown within the zone can be easily deposited over fences while lacking sufficient bite a rather presenting a drifting movement through its arc. Stalcup does partially redeem his breaking offering with an 80-81 MPH changeup in which the Kansan was able to harness for brief durations while sequencing and commanding the changeup off the fastball brilliantly while demonstrating solid downward plane and lower strike zone location upon the pitch, though refused to remain consistent throughout his performances as his release and arm speed fluctuated upon the offering and thus resulted in periods which Instructional offenses were able to devour the arm as his changeup command lies as arguably the most pivotal component towards his possible success as he delves into the upper reaches of full season affiliates. Resulting in a 45-50-40 repetiore coupled alongside fluky command consistency, entirely actualized physical projection, and a breaking pitch having to undergo likely significant revision in order to survive amongst advance caliber bats, Stalcup's realistic potential resides in that of an upper minors inning eating asset with a probable capability to intermittenly shift between rotation and long relief bullpen duties. Should Stalcup harness his repetiore towards a more reliable extent and elevate his glimpses of simultaneous fastball and changeup command with armside run into entire outings, the southpaw could possess the capability to defy his theoretical ceiling and progress forth near the cusp of a major league berth. However extraordinarily unlikely and requiring more significant repetition and release consistency which shall take a significant amount of time given his developmental state, Stalcup ultimately seems destined to float between AA and possible AAA opportunities with his fate hinging upon the acquisition of immecable command rates.
One of Oakland's more intriguing present outfield farmhands, Jaycob Brugman was bestowed with marginal Instructional League opportunities alongside his full season companion, Tyler Marincov, after an already extensive five month competitive gauntlet between Beloit and Stockton for the lefty corner outfielder. Not demonstrating his previous mechanically competency with the lumber that he flashed while within Stockton, Brugman struggled with some occasional fatigue through his offseason schedule with timing difficulty and few means showcasing his ability to square above average to plus velocity within Arizona, though had shown his bat speed capability and potentiality for the Ports on average to plus potential fastballs consistently with solid hand placement and periodical quickness into the zone despite not continually remaining short into initially and an uppercut that shortens his ability to keep the bat within the zone for the lengthy amount of time and thus presents some probable mechanical revisions and developmental steps remaining as he progresses into the upper minors where his blatant holes shall be more often exploited with commanded secondaries. Weilding a predominant gap and pull oriented approach, Brugman doesn't sell out for over the fence power though will knock balls over at a decent clip with strong hands and flashy bat speed that shall assist in accumulating fringe average home run rates upon achieving his ceiling with a hitting capability already bolstered with his ability to square average to well above average velocity with decent pitch recognition upon changeups, though can become frazzled off of chase pitches at times and can struggle should his mechanical timing be altered after loading a bit before initiating his swing. Brugman additionally produces average to above average times upon the basepaths with a decent ability to swipe bases with recognition of pitching tells that should allow the southpaw to amass 10-15 rates upon arriving at his ultimate destination with foot speed and quickness not quite enough to patrol a center field post, though slots comfortably in right by recognizing contact off the bat well with more than enough athleticism at the position with an easy plus arm that contends with Aaron Shipman's for the best within the entirety of the organization. Still having yet to display his capability to acclimate towards Texas League arsenals boding outstanding sequencing and far more commonly witnessed pitch command, Brugman's mechanical flaws shall be undoubtedly magnified and bullied prior to what shall service as an adjustment period for the previous 17th rounder while still reigning as one of Oakland's premiere outfield farmhands at the moment; representing a position that has experienced depression recently with losses to Michael Choice and Billy McKinney. Earning 45/50 (Hit), 45/50 (Power), 50 (Run), 50 (Glove), 60 (Arm) potential attributes, Brugman's prescribed ceiling resides in that of a reserve outfield cog with utility potentiality whose swing must undergo assistance to better weather a difficult upper minors gauntlet ahead. Still a prominent talent for the Athletics, Brugman figures to tackle these flaws in an attempt to produce an encore to a phenomenally consistent campaign between a pair of full season affiliates.
The Athlertics' lone present Aruban representative with the departure of Mitchell Martes, Shawn Duinkerk has demonstrated himself as an athletic tool based project for the A's development staff to dream relentlessly upon with a 6'5"/200 frame possessing long limbs, slender yet athletic build and oodles of physical projection still present despite having now completed his third consecutive AZL stint and now resting as a collegiate age prospect. Despite weilding a nagging means to not always complete his hip turn through extension, Duinkerk demonstrates solid mechanics at the plate while being consistently short into and long through the zone and bat speed enough to square up to plus velocity at times, though often has timing and trigger difficulty while not often permitting the ball to travel into the zone and thus diminishing his power percentages and ability to thoroughly barrel up fastballs. Duinkerk has flashed raw power potentiality on occasion however within batting practice and during some AZL bouts, specifically sending a pair without even appropriately barreling up on a line ~370 feet to opposite field within Milwaukee's spacious spring training stadium including another line to pull in which Duinkerk completed the entirety of the mechanical sequences that saw another ~375 foot blast and thus showcases his potential with the tool, though so raw and seldom witnessed at this point that Duinkerk shall have to develop and mature into his physical frame first before being able to consistently trust and rely upon the thump within his bat. While demonstrating a solid ability to remain condensed at the plate given his size, Duinkerk's lanky limbs don't assist his poise at the plate or speed rates with subpar times to first base despite flashing average pure speed with a likely ultimate projection residing in that of LF/1B as Duinkerk struggles occasionally to recognize contact within the outfield with a fringy arm and remains inconsistent with picks at first base, though has flashed significant range for the position and figures to play average there. Additionally having pitch recognition difficulty with a faulty ability to pick up secondaries upon release, Duinkerk often sits off fastballs and thus gets exploited versus lower level arms with an expanded zone and aggressiveness attributable to his willingness to often swing early during counts. Though somewhat inconclusive given Duinkerk's extensive physiological development remaining ahead, his present tools grade out towards a 35 (Hit), 35 (Power), 50 (Pure Speed), 45 (Glove), 40 (Arm) with offensive potentiality flashing though still significantly underdeveloped to the extent where a major league ceiling seems unfathomable at the moment. Still one of Oakland's more intriguing projects to bank upon as Duinkerk heads forth towards an incorporated affiliate, the physical canvas of the 21 year old provides a significant means for optimism and tool improvement should his mass increase and more appropriately full out his frame to the extent where Duinkerk can become more coordinated throughout all facets his performance and thus substantially balloon his stock. Having yet to embark upon a campaign in which his potential attributes correlate with a sustained statistical performance, Duinkek likely shall encounter the same sorts of hurdles within the New York-Penn League with mechanical repetition and physical development having to be heavily prioritized for the Aruban in order to ascend towards full season caliber competition.
Joining Oakland's full season relief contingent alongside Brendan McCurry, Joel Seddon unleashed a four pitch repetiore through a lower than 3/4ths arm slot with whippy arm action that firmly places the 2014 acquisition within the realm of a situational bullpen ceiling for Oakland as he progresses forward into the upper reaches of the organization. Showcasing a 89-92 fastball with periodical armside run to like-handed bats and slight wiggle, Seddon was able to keep righties off balance with a diverse secondary arsenal to neutralize right handed bats, though fell victim to southpaws whom demomstrated quality pitch tracking and recognition capability and an advanced offensive approach with a wind-up exposing his grip prior to release to lefties. Additionally weilding a 75-77 MPH 10-4 break with slurve action, sweeping slider at 78-80 MPH and changeup with inconsistency though well sequenced at 82-84 MPH, Seddon was effectively able to pitch backwards and confidently control his arsenal with occasional command difficulty that saw the righty get bitten when drifting lazily within the zone too often. Seddon's repetiore is partially diminished with a tell during his wind-up with a lower leg kick upon his slurve and slider that shall be unearthed and capitalized upon versus more cognizant offenses as opposed towards an exaggerated kick through his fastball in order to initiate momentum on the pitch. Seddon's deep repetiore, comparable to Brendan McCurry and Derek Beasley for their pitchability, still requires excessive grooming to better adjust arm speed upon the changeup while additionally providing more movement and run consistently to the offering alongside buffering his separate slider variations with more effective placement off the fastball in order to continue ascending upwards past Stockton, the destination seemingly likely for the South Carolina alumni to open his initial entire professional campaign. Concluding with a 45-45-45-40 arsenal alongside some command struggles off quality control with probable mechanical revisions upcoming, Seddon's ultimate ceiling seems to reside within in that of a fringe pitch-to-contact situational relief bullpen component with his secondary breaks not providing the thump enough to consistently miss bats off his fringe average fastball. Still presenting solid pitchability and pitch sequencing to make for more difficult and uneasy plate appearances for opposing competition, Seddon shall have an opportunity to impress within the California League with immature bats still abundant for him to feast upon with the addition of a cutter or splitfinger a probable route to more considerably bolster a fringy repetiore presently reliant upon an armside fastball and slurve flashing occasional bite enough to fool lower level full season tracking ability.
Oakland's most youthful four year collegiate draft acquisition from the most recent crop, Koby Gauna demonstrated another secondary dependent repetiore and definitive bullpen projection following his recent 21st birthday. The most physically notable pitching prospect for the Athletics upon the mound during the Fall, Guana's thickly built 6'3"/245 pound frame rests heavily upon the torso with a barrel chest and prominent midsection coupled with a upper half intensive delievery negating lower body momentum with a physique not providing significant optimism for his ability to maintain his mechanics upon the mound consistently as he trickles through the organization. Relying heavily upon an 86-88 MPH sinker with firm downward plans and sink that induces significant groundball and weakly hit contact, Gauna utilizes a slightly higher than low 3/4ths slot with some cross body finish while keeping his hand and wrist on top of the ball in order to continue to capitalize upon his primary sinking offering alongside a secondary repetiore boasting a 76-81 MPH slider, 80-85 MPH splitfinger and occasional 80-81 MPH changeup. Guana's slider drifts through the zone on a tilt, lacking a sufficient amount of bite to contend versus advanced bats unless purely utilized as a chase offering with downward movement while seldom featuring an early release that assists the pitch consistency. Boding a mediocre changeup with some arm speed inconsistency, though not as adherently blatant as some of his other Insteuctional League counterparts, that lacks armside run and movement in general while Gauna periodically struggled with release point off the pitch, the changeup squashes any possible doubt of Gauna's relief projection while even significant developmental assistance towards the offering shall only increase its profile to a marginal extent given Gauna velocity separation and additional secondary profiles. Coupling his remaining pitches with a tumbling splitfinger that flashed fringe average capability that shall assist Gauna's groundball and weak contact profile with effective downward drop demonstrated haphazardly off the pitch. His success undoubtedly hinges upon his command of the lower regions of the strike zone, which Gauna was able to consistently demonstrate with some additional deception; dropping his arm behind his back while initiating his wind-up and thus disguising grip to both handed bats prior to rocking forward towards the plate, that shall permit some occasional miss bit potential. Gauna additionally does remain methodical and slow towards the plate, weilding a three step repetitive sequence outside of the stretch and sluggish quickness to the plate out of the stretch alongside subpar footwork that make the hefty sinker specialist susceptible towards baserunners when aboard, though appropriately limits them with minimal hard hit and squared contact and an adept strike zone recognition bolstered by consistent release point. With a 45-45-50-35 repetiore coupled with presently average strike zone command upon three of his offerings and an ability to pitch backwards in counts, Gauna figures to overwhelm lower level lumber prior towards adjustments versus advanced competition though can overcome hurdles with even further tweaked command and more run added to the fastball alongside more deceptive movement off the splitfinger that could result in Gauna playing above his mediocre velocity. With a probable middle relief and 7th inning bullpen capacity ceiling, Gauna's probable route towards a major league pleateu shall be predicated entirely upon pitchability and command of the entirety of his arsenal, traits in which the relief farmhand has been able to consistently flash throughout his short season and Instructional League and shall have to retain at an above average rate throughout the majority of his organizational and developmental rise. While also possible to incorporate another sinking offering such as a palmball to further apply another means of deception towards his repetiore, Gauna ultimately shall have to additionally better regulate his weight and physical stature to maintain his mechanics as he further matures.
The slender back end rotation and long relief candidate within Vermont during the upcoming short season slate, Cody Stull arrived following his 29th round acquisition en route to his initial professional Instructional League campaign within the Papago complex. Presenting a lanky southpaw build as an elderly senior collegiate draftee, Stull predominantly nestled upon 87-89 MPH velocity that saw periodically armside fade and tailing action with sink that permitted the arm to amass strikeout percentages within the AZL while jumping into the 89-91 MPH range comfortably during his concluding Instructional League outing without squandering the remainder of his repetiore. Flashing a slightly lower than traditional 3/4ths slot, Stull exposes his grip towards right handed competition while in mid-stride and shall assist more mature bats with pitch recognition as he ascends given his mittling and fringy velocity despite the inconsistent fade Stull is able to generate upon the pitch. Merely flashing fastball movement, Stull's stuff tends to remain flat at times and thus has demonstrated an ability to become heavily exploitable with average control and deficient strike zone command that sees the lefty often squared up and surrendering hard hit contact while lacking sufficient wiggle off the fastball. Still bolstered his somewhat inconsistent fastball with a 77-80 MPH changeup that maintained appropriate arm speed at times with run, though additionally lacked command that made it difficult for Stull to get ahead in counts through his Arizona stay. Stull additionally weilded a pair of breaks, a 72-74 MPH curve with 11-5 drop with unreliable rotation and a 75-76 MPH sweeping slurve variation that often grazed over the zone and was thus susceptible to drift into lumber and bat paths while remaining elevated, that both present some difficulty in definitively boosting Stull's profile. Despite his age, Stull does present a physical profile indicative of some probable velocity increases with a strength regimen and four-seam repetition as his minute burst from fringy to average velocity during his final outing for the Athletics following an essentially fastball exclusively camp does present some optimism as velocity increases shall all but certainly be required given Stull's present package. With a cumulative 45-40-40-40 ceiling presently applied, Stull shall have to place a firm emphasis upon consistent fastball armside movement and sink coupled with strength repetition and sharpening of secondary breaks to better assist his arsenal prior to significant fastball command stress having to be placed upon the southpaw in order for a major league ceiling to start materializing. Either destined for a 5th starter or inning eating capacity, Stull remains as another prospect requiring rigorous developmental hurdles to be traversed before emerging as a notable asset.
Another pure bullpen asset flashing a diverse repetiore alongside McCurry and Seddon within the camp, Derek Beasley, successfully sustained a velocity increase throughout the entirety of his Instructional League assignment prior to a fatigue based deflation while in the midst of his concluding appearance that presents a more tangible projectable profile headed forward as Beasley shall contend for a full season affiliate position following the spring. A study southpaw with average build, Beasley utilizes an extreme lunge towards the plate and retains his arm in a firm 90 degree angle at an over-the-top position prior to a late torso rotation that generates torque and arm extension from a 3/4ths release that was able to consistently bode 89-91 MPH velocity continuously for the lefty with periodical wiggle and armside movement upon the pitch that successfully missed short season bats throughout his Arizona stay. Despite the drop towards 85-88 MPH, the outing figured to be an outlier as Bessley, with continual four-seam reverence, ought to maintain average velocity throughout his professional ascent within a relief capacity. Weilding a there pronged secondary mix, Beasley predominantly relied upon a 69-73 MPH curve that flashed buckling 11-5 drop on occasion though would remain flat and lack thump at times alongside a 75-80 MPH sweeping slider with some tilt through the zone and periodical bite that was able to be detected through the vision of advanced competition with an extreme amount of pronation having to be utilized by Beasley in order to generate sufficient horizontal movement that figures to feature as a probable tell as he progresses upwards through the system. Additionally peppering an 80-83 MPH changeup to righties, Beasley's arm speed visibly shifted upon the offering and lags behind the developmental curve at the moment though was able to sustain sink and control on the offering and thus limited the potential amount of damage off of the pitch as Beasley prefers to heavily rely upon the dueling breaks as more dependable and confident secondaries to assist off the fastball. Another individual possibly apt to benefit from the inclusion of a cutter or splitfinger as he progresses, Beasley struggled through lengthy durations with elevation and release point upon his arsenal and was not often able to command his offering when locating the zone as the southpaw was able to be exploited and sat upon during specific appearances. Contrasting with his inconsistent stretches, Beasley flashed occasional sequences of outstanding pitch sequencing and pitchability while being able to pitch backwards off his breaks at times and induce missed bats when appropriately spinning off enough rotation off the curve and slurve/slider that demonstrated full season promise for the senior collegiate selection. Concluding with a 45-45-50-35 arsenal ceiling coupled with fringy control and lackluster command, Beasley doesn't presently possess a major league ceiling though may be able to better pad his probability with increased changeup repetition, more consistent rotation off his breaks and a thorough four-seam diet to better stress fastball command to significantly boost the left-handed middle relief profile. Mechanical revisions and arm slot experimentation may very well occur for Beasley within his foreseeable future to better maximize his potentiality to develop into a major league asset with additional offerings or fastball/changeup variations to construct a fake deep arsenal probable as he tackles his initial incorporated affiliate during the upcoming year.
Possessing one of Oakland's more intriguing tool oriented and pure athleticism profiles, Bijon Boyd attended his annual Instructional League camp following a five month full season schedule plopped in Beloit and was made to heavily stress bunt repetition and mechanics as a possible asset that could benefit his potential success while easily able to flash plus times to first base (3.95-4.10). Following the tactic adopted by his Midwest League counterpart, Boogie Powell, the organization seemingly has permitted Boyd to experiment through a small ball avenue as well and thus capitalizing upon his speed from the left side with nearly half of Boyd's cumulative plate appearances during the Fall proceedings having been devoted towards mechanical repetition of the technique. Weilding a barrel chest, rotund build and prominent behind, Boyd's dimorphic dimensions don't necessarily bode well for upcoming aging with weight likely to accumulate rapidly within his midsection and thus neutralize his speed upon the basepaths as he matures unless he maintains a strict physical regimen as probable weight increases would also sap Boyd's capability to cover ground within the outfield sufficiently and see his offensive mechanics deteriorate. Having recently succumb to his initial developmental hurdle amongst Midwest Lesgue competition, Boyd often timed into his tracking early without permitting the ball to travel into the zone despite possessing fringe average and adequate bat speed that significantly stunted his ability to square any ball for loud contact as Boyd struggled to smack fringe velocity out of the infield with periodical extension prior to entering the zone and inconsistent hand placement that shall require significant instruction to correct alongside a nagging tracking tendency to bite off of breaks flashing fringe average potential through the zone and stumbling points over armside pitching heading forward towards his full season encore. Sustaining speed throughout his sprint, Boyd struggled with jumps upon stolen base attempts that limits his ability to accumulate totals indicative of his above average speed as he often opted for late timing on attempts and remained clunky with sliding technique into the bag, though will be able to produce 10-15 totals throughout the entirety of a season with 20 as a probable ceiling should he sharpen his instinctual abilities. With average range within the outfield coupled with a subpar arm, Boyd remains permanently tethered towards a left field profile and thus places stress upon his lumber to churn out reliable hitting results of which seem unlikely with funky and inconsistent mechanical timing at the plate hindering his hitting potentiality and power rates displayed during batting practice only equating to fringe raw pop. Concluding with 45 (Hit), 40 (Power), 55/60 (Run), 45 (Glove) and 30 (Arm) tool ceilings, Boyd still remains at a raw state having now been caught through his initial instance of professional struggles prior to adjustments that the sturdy Californian must now undergo in order to transition forth into the upper affiliates. Having demomstrated bat speed and wrists enough to play alongside an all fields line drive oriented approach with consistent fastball barreling through his short season gauntlet, there is still some tangible optimism to be had for Boyd despite his athletic based ceiling initially from high school having dwindled to an extent. With proper assistance a towards his timing, hand placement and shortness into the zone before extension, Boyd can still prescribe towards a fringe outfield and reserve component as an ultimate projection without a definitive guarantee of major league opportunity until significant refinement and counter adjusts can be undoubtedly showcased with another Midwest League assignment or probable Stockton bump to commence the upcoming spring dependent heavily upon his performance within the complex.
Only acquiring limited Instructional League opportunities, Trace Loehr entered his initial professional offseason sequence following his induction as Oakland first high school selection plucked during the most recent draft out of Oregon. The middle infield profile consistently keep his hands steady through extension and short to the zone that permitted him to make contact and square fringe to average velocity with borderline bat speed and a flat plane swing that figures to project for line drive potential and possible gap power should he get around on balls deeper into the zone and continue to add more significant muscle mass towards a short, average build that while devoid of excessive ceiling still bodes some probable development. Struggling often versus armside run and sliders tilting through the zone flashing up to average potential, Loehr still presents copious holes that have been capitalized upon by short season arms as above average velocity is able to confuse the developmentally immature asset and offerings commanded appropriately or tailing towards the lower outer portion of the zone have found the lefty to be exploitable and thus requiring grooming prior towards his incorporated affiliate debut. Showcasing fringy speed around the basepaths, Loehr shall be able to accumulate average stolen base totals with solid pickups upon pitching tells and consistent enough jumps from first to produce 10-15 annual outputs despite foot speed not enough to even entertaining the notion of the Oregonian remaining at shortstop. With a fringe amount of range at the position and another fringy tool in that of his arm strength, Loehr has been able to get to balls fairly consistently off of AZL and Instructional League bats though as speeds of in-game contests incrementally uptick and balls become more consistently and heavily squared Loehr shall have to rapidly and permanently shift towards second base where the 19 year old can play with an average glove without any lone attribute bursting forth with eyepopping potential or intrigue. Without any inherent utility value with a subpar ability to man the shortstop post and an arm far too lackluster to be stationed at third, Loehr seems specifically restrained towards second and thus places pressure upon his bat to churn out results and propel him through the system as probable yet ultimately futile experimentation in a corner outfield position may occur throughout his ascent to better squeeze out utility and positional value. With 45 (Hit), 35 (Power), 45 (Speed), 45/50 (Glove) and 45 (Arm) scores for potential ceiling, Loehr emerges as a probable fringe eligible asset with minimal tangible upside and a realistic projection residing in that of a cup of coffee second baseman given his present ability having been flashed within Arizona. Possessing mature mechanics from the left side, there's understandable reason to endorse Loehr's probable hitting potential for average should he demonstate makeup enough to not succumb to hurdles and adjustments though shall have to progress forwards versus more consistently mature arms and competition in order for a probable reevaluation to be tabulated.
Another recent bullpen addition acquired by Oakland via the draft, Rob Huber arrived as another elderly senior collegiate component to stash within the pen despite presenting significant prospect intrigue; celebrating his 23rd birthday prior to his initial full professional campaign. Weilding a wind-up similar towards Kyle Finnegan's previous interpretation, Huber generates momentum by rocking back significantly though shifts his torso ~30 more degrees towards the plate as opposed towards opting for a direct up and down variation as Huber additionally incorporates rotational torque through his follow through in order to produce velocity consistently peppering out at and sitting 90-92 MPH with some occasional yet unreliable wiggle. Exposing the ball and providing a good look to lefties prior to striding towards the plate, Huber's limited repetiore is subject to be exploited by more advanced southpaws at the plate as he progresses with his potentiality specifically tethered to righty exclusive capacities. With some mechanical repetition difficulty at times and release point shifts off his curve, modifying to a slightly higher variation from his slightly higher than 3/4ths fastball release, Huber becomes susceptible to lapses of strike zone inaccuracy and command issues as his curve additionally doesn't assist his ability to effectively pitch backwards in counts and having to rely upon a lagging changeup. For his woes, Huber does supplant his struggles with a solid 11-5 loopy curve with movement at a slight slant with consistently enough horizontal bite to miss short season bats appropriately and demonstrated outstanding pitch sequencing and repetition off of when ahead in counts. Essentially regulated to a specific two pitch mix, Huber threw a seldom witnessed 80-81 changeup with inconsistent arm speed and release point that requires a massive undertaking to improve to average potential and thus figures to silence any notion of Huber dabbling in rotation duties with another profile set to benefit from additional cutter or split interpretations that would boost Huber up enough to float through full season assignments. With a restricted potential 45-40 repetiore coupled with an unreliable changeup in the fledging stages of development, Huber must incessantly sharpen and revise his mechanical woes and release point inconsistency to better prepare himself for bats that shall be able to relentlessly feast off of the Texan arm when behind in counts with an absolute destination of an upper minor inning eater and middle relief asset with improve fastball command, more additions towards a limited repetiore and mechanical repetition having to be heavily revered for the undersized and stout righty.
The a Puerto Rican countrymate of Edwin Diaz additionally present within camp, Robert Martinez arrived following his stateside debut the previous summer on the heels of a wildly inconsistent and streaky AZL schedule in which his timing upon his swing and ability to barrel fastballs fluctuated in waves for the complex league bunch. With a sturdy, stout build thick evenly through his torso and lower body that may have the potential to become an out-of-shape physique over the coming seasons without proper training, Martinez possesses above average raw power potential with an ability to drive balls to pull and left-center gap consistently with while remaining evenly poised through his swing with strong wrists and an uppercut present within his bat path that permits him to get loft on balls when appropriately barreled despite a non-exsistent opposite field approach at the moment outside of being able to poke his bat head out into the zone and bloop outside offerings the other way with a probability to develop more evenly distributed power potential as his offensive maturity develops and realizes how to utilize his wrists and let balls travel deeper. Martinez' hitting capability and general mechanics remain inconsistent however, often extending prior to arriving into the zone with an inconsistent bat path that can become loopy and exploitable at times with a tendency to sit upon fastballs and struggle to recognize the most rudimentary of breaks, especially sliders tailing outside, as Martinez often commits with a noticeable slide step and stride that furthermore is stunted with hands that can become fluky times with Martinez getting caught with a loose lower hand and thus limiting his ability to barrel for authority and produce loud contact. Defensively, Martinez is thoroughly restrained towards a corner outfield position dependent upon the amount of room to cover between left or right with a subpar amount of arm strength and blatantly lackluster foot speed and agility that severely places a limitation upon Martinez' upside and further increases stress with his bat to consistently preform in order to acquire continual professional opportunities. With negligible speed upon the basepaths given Martinez' lumbering physical stature of speed not offering a pleasant deception with his size, the corner outfield project earns 40 (Hit), 50/55 (Power/Raw Power), 30 (Speed), 35/40 (Glove) and 35 (Arm) potential grades with his inconsistency at the plate the most noticeably nagging issue that shall prevent Martinez' ability to square and barrel up to average fastball velocity and thus sap his most prominent tool in his power potential during in-game situations. Though not naturally adept, Martinez can develop a greater semblance of pitch recognition and tracking with proper developmental exercises as his tendency to bite off of any sort of fading armside sliders and lagging timing mechanism off of armside changeups shall ultimately prevent him from acquiring a significant professional opportunity unless corrected. Flashing some aptitudes for mechanical consistency at times with some swings on occasion able to let balls travel while getting to the zone quickly and a completed shoulder drop with proper hip rotation allowing for some projection to be shown, Martinez still possesses the capability to carve out an offensive exclusive minor league role with an ultimate ceiling should the entirety of his ability at the congeal being that of an asset that vacillates through upper minors opportunities. Martinez could additionally be probable for first base duties on occasion, though his mobility at the position shall most likely be questionable and his bat not quite thunderous enough to boost his cumulative profile based upon a positional shift.