Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top 32 International Oakland Athletics prospects: #32-17

Oakland has long been noutorious for their aggressive philosophy obtaining assets from overseas, currently housing two individuals within their system who they have guaranteed a cumulative $6.45M to between Michael Ynoa and Renato Nuñez, both ranking amongst the five most lofty signing bonuses in Athletics franchise history. Additionally splurging upon pieces such as Jesus Lopez and Carlos Hiciano the previous summer, the Athletics have just recently undergone their most cost intensive international spending cycle since the 2010 campaign when they reeled in Renato, Vicmal, Fang Pan, Avila and Penalo to replenish their international requirement. At the moment, Alcantara and Ynoa have Oakland gleeming as a prominent beacon in Latin American recruiting excellence throughout baseball while Ronald Herrera is establishing himself as the upcoming ace within the A's midst after inking for pennies ($20,000) in 2011, quite possibly one of largest steals upon the international circuit over the previous half decade. With statistical performers surging forth such as JC Rodriguez and Gregory Paulino, the Athletics have a fearsome farm system to be reckoned with regarding their foreign contributors, now poised for a sensational cumulative developmental campaign throughout 2014. With innumerable individuals to note, here's a dwindled list of the 32 chips who have separated themselves from the remainder of their fellow international counterparts thus far, representing the teeming hubs positioned in Phoenix and Santo Domingo: 

Honorable mentions: Robert Mullen, Deyvi Jimenez, Victor Veliz, Angel Duno, Eric Mariñez, Kevin Herrera, Anderson Mata, Michael Soto, Yhoelnys Gonzalez, Ruber Aquino, Enmanuel Sullivan

#32: Jhonny Rodriguez (OF)

Oakland's Dominican investment inked alongside Robert Mullen, Rodriguez' approximate $300,000 made him one of the most expensive acquisitions of the 2012 period behind Luis Berrera. Rodriguez orchestrated a solid debut campaign with a .247/.283/.363 slash as a 16 year old (7/20/1996), the youngest position player in the organization last season. Despite the walk percentages (4.1% BB%, 11 in ~270 PAs), Rodriguez was the short season leader in triples with six and flashed plus athletic feats in the outfield as the 6'3", 170 pound lefty figures to be retained in the Dominican academy as a 17 year old, 

#31: Cristhian Perez (RHP)

Alcantara's impersonator, Cristhian has exhibited phenomenal precision throughout his ascent to his Vermont debut during the 2013 season. Perez, a Venezuelan righty, has issued a mere 48 walks between 218 IP throughout his four professional campaigns (5.2% BB%) and nine through his 60 2/3 IP between the AZL and the NYPL (3.5% BB%) in 2013. Unfortunately, his additional production has been somewhat subpar with 15 cumulative dingers permitted, including eight smashed off the 6'2", 180 pounder for a 1.18 HR/FB upon his domestic debut. Wielding plus groundball percentages (2.19 GB/FB) and a 16.9% K% over his 15 appearances in the United States, Perez still offers some value as a long relief and momentary injury replacement asset between Beloit and Stockton as his likely ceiling, similarly to Deyvi Jimenez. For the 2014 stint though, he'll likely attempt Vermont once more after a putrid 17 IP, 22 H, 12 R (3 HR), 4 BB, 7 K résumé with the Lake Monsters previously. 

#30: Ivan Andueza (LHP)

Andueza, the Venezuelan southpaw, arrives as another five figure South American steal in succession of Ronnie Herrera, featuring as a statistically exquisite rotation force throughout the previous 2013 Dominican schedule. Born February 7th, 1995, Andueza produced a 3.05 FIP between 14 outings (67 IP) with a 49:22 K/BB (17.2% K%/ 7.7% BB%) and a 1.31 GB/FB ratio which unfortunately was not noted following the emergence of fellow rookies Zambrano and Mendoza. Previously a teenage reserve upon the Venezuelan winter club in Lara, he'll attempt a second consecutive campaign amongst Latin competition prior to an assured AZL assignment during the 2015 short season slate within the Mesa facility as a 20 year old, the equivalent of a Junior College draftee. 

#29: Miguel Mercedes (3B)

Inked for $150,000 prior to the 2013 DSL campaign, Mercedes has yet to actualize to any extent as the thunderous 6'4", 200 pound 17 year old predictably showcased his extraordinarily underdeveloped capabilities following his being ushered into the academy alongside Jean Carlo Rodriguez in February of the previous calendar year. The righty participated at third base while floundering with a 28.9% K% through 249 plate appearances (72 strikeouts) to conclude with a .169/.285/.230 slash. Regardless, statistics can be neglected for the teenaged Dominican infielder as his current status is not indicative of his eventual performance. However, it could take until 2016 for Mercedes to debut stateside, as he still remain incredibly youthful and featured as one of the youngest assets within the farm system during the 2013 stint (9/12/1995). There was initial optimism produced from Mercedes however, even with his raw performance, amassing a cumulative 29 walks drawn to lead the DSL affiliate and resulted in a 11.6% BB%

#28: Sandber Pimentel (OF) 

Oakland's Dominican standout, Pimentel is prepared to debut within Arizona to commence 2014 as the teenage outfielder starred for the Santo Domingo bunch during the summer: 

"The sturdy 6'3", 230 pound Dominican right fielder and sibling of one of Texas' short seasoners, Pimentel inked for approximately $180,000 in 2012 and has since spent the entirety of his career within the Caribbean academy at Santo Domingo improving gradually for what is an expected 2014 opportunity in Phoenix for the 19 year old. Receiving acclaim for his arm strength and power potential, Sandber has proved to be a consistent contributor for the DSL squad through 2012 and 2013 and has quietly snuck up the international depth chart ladder for the Athletics. 

Born just around the same time as Billy McKinney, Pimentel demonstrated significant improvement throughout all aspects of his performance during this most recent season, slashing out to .255/.353/.422 with an ISO bump from .061 in 2012 to .167 in 2013, promising for his power development as he projects. Additionally, he possesses some of the most elite discipline of any short season prospect for Oakland, with 43 walks accumulated in a combined 270 DSL plate appearances (15.9% BB%) in a characteristic seldom seen by international signees of his age. In short, taking a behemoth in Pimentel to the humidity of Arizona after a season where he spiked in power production ought to result in some awe inspiring dingers versus opposing pitching staffs. He's one of the most heavily anticipated US arrivals for the A's in 2014"

#27: Juan Mendoza (RHP) 

Another outstanding rotation asset amongst Dominican competition, Mendoza shined as a brilliant right handed All-Star representative for the Athletics alongside JC Rodriguez in the DSL academy.

"Want an international sleeper that's even more so hidden than Ronald Herrera or Jesus Zambrano? Look no further. Mendoza, also born in 1996, was 17 throughout the previous DSL campaign in what was his debut professional season as well. In the process of his debut, he received a DSL All-Star game berth alongside Jean Carlo Rodriguez and featured as one of the more reliable producers of a developing Dominican bunch. As he accumlulated his 71 2/3 IP, he would amass one of the most outstanding groundball rates of any rookie league Oakland prospect while walking 21 (7.1% BB%) and allowing a minuscule two dingers to compensate for a less than desirable 42 strikeouts (14.1% K%). The numbers translate to a 3.44 FIP, and a even more pristine 1.88 ERA for the Venezeulan. Unlike his fellow countrymen, Zambrano and Herrera, Mendoza has a greater physical potential (6'2", 175 pounds) and has optimistism revolving amongst his projection. But despite that recent success, the organization seems skewed towards retaining Mendoza in the Dominican for another campaign, with a probable AZL promotion in July/August. He'll turn 18 on April 15th"

#26: Andres Avila (RHP)

Oakland's 2010 signee and stalwart Mexican league representative, Avila threw the closing pitch to induce a swinging strikeout and thus clinching Mexico's offseason Serie Del Caribe championship as the long relief component upon the Navajeros De Hermosillo, previously participating with the Caneros De Los Mochis and the Mayos De Navajoa before accompanying his countrymen to the proceedings. Avila went 47 2/3 frames between 40 offseason outings, going 44 H, 14 R (3 HR), 14 BB, 38 K in a legitimate attempt before what shall be a likely Stockton attempt after the 6'0", 185 pound farmhand was obliterated by California League offenses after the organization slotted him in the Ports rotation despite never having participated in the Midwest League. He would be demoted swiftly to Beloit though, and struggled with a 4.88 FIP through 23 appearances (11 starts) while amassing a lackluster 10.8% BB% in his 88 innings. Additionally, Avila was the individual who started one of the most absolutely absurd performances in the Athletics organization throughout all of 2013, going 1+ IP, 13 H, 12 R (1 HR), 0 BB, 1 K while in the midst of a start versus Clinton, as the occurrence inflated his BABIP significantly. Avila would man a 2/3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 1 K attempt in his next performance, as it wasn't necessarily the best sequence for the 23 year old. His pitch placement has historically been inconsistent and the Mexican righty shall have to adopt a more deceptive tactic should he wish to progress onward. Despite the regression upon his full season debut, Avila is a Stockton candidate for the 2014 campaign once more as the Ports long relief specialist. 

#25: Santiago Chavez (C)

Otherwise known as "Jose", Chavez is another Mexican product acquired from the same region as Arnold Leon, as the exceptional defensive backstop and six figure acquisition is prepared for his American debut as the 18 year old is currently attending the spring academy in Papago and placed upon the preliminary Beloit roster. After a campaign previously where Chavez demonstrated a contact intensive approach, walking twice in 115 plate appearances while striking out only four times, the DSL catcher had a whopping 94.7% of his PAs result in a batted ball in play within his minuscule sample size. After a 9:18 BB/K between just over 100 attempts upon his 2012 debut, Chavez has accumulated a .236/.281/.284 slash (49-208, 9 XBH) between his opportunities within the Dominican Republic. Regardless, his defensive intangibles and intriguing inability to swing-and-miss shall undoubtedly plop him amongst the AZL cast througout 2014. 

#24: Chih-Fang Pan (SS)

Oakland's Futures Game asset while accompanying Michael Choice in 2012, the Taiwanese $180,000 acquisition has persisted as an instanteously noticeable farmhand up until the previous season, which was squandered in its entirety due to Fang Pan having undergone shoulder surgery. The BABIP dependent chip was a rarity of an Asian international piece, a market Oakland seldom investigates, as Fang Pan had a short season ascent that raised eyebrows throughout the organization and constructed an incredibly favorable perception on the lefty middle infielder. After a .343/.392/.392 Vermont tenure with a 130 wRC+, .375 wOBA and a ludicrous .410 BABIP that propelled his NYPL stint as he was risen to Burlington for his full season debut during the 2012 campaign. Unfortunately for Fang Pan, his BABIP plummeted to .290 and his slash line bottomed out along with it, hitting .243/.300/.324 with a 78 wRC+ despite a minute power surge to a .081 ISO through 328 PAs. His discipline statistics have been admirably consistent throughout his affiliated rise, but his approach and physical limitation shall likely prevent him from materializing into the major league projected asset he was once anticipated to be. He'll reacclimate during this campaign though, likely to make his Stockton debut upon commencing in Wisconsin.

#23: Shawn Duinkerk (CF/1B)

The Aruban national representative, Duinkerk's startling athleticism have him as one of the highest upside short seasoners present in Arizona for the Athletics. With a potential Vermont assignment looming, Duinkerk shall attempt to finally materialize during 2014

"Duinkerk is the Arbuan stud that fronted a championship squad during the senior LLWS in Bangor, ME and now takes up residency in Papago within the A's Arizona complex. The lanky 6'5, 195 pounder initially began as a corner outfield asset by inking alongside Vicmal De La Cruz in 2010 for $200,000, yet transitioned to a practically permanent first base role during the previous AZL campaign, as that figures to be a probable route for the 19 year old as he matures physically and dons a Lake Monster uniform. Most A's fans aren't familiar with Duinkerk, a buried gem hidden within the short season affiliates for Oakland, but he is purely dependent upon athleticism at the moment as he has continuously exhibitited jaw dropping physical capabilities during his now two year AZL tenure. Yet Duinkerk is extraordinarily under developed in regards to his baseball expertise, reportedly having never faced left handed pitching prior to arriving in the United States, and thus will require excessive grooming to witness his athletic potential materialize. 

Though the statistical results can be neglected due to this at the moment, he hit .246/.288/.341 in 146 PAs with 32 punchouts compared to 8 walks, and obviously is rusty. But Duinkerk will garner more opportunities within a competitive professional format, and once the plate appearances accumlulate, he should begin to feel more comfortable as he ascends to Vermont. However, it's likely that a third AZL stint could occur if the organization feels as though would rather opt to have him blossom in an environment where he's already accustomed to instead of trekking across the country. What is certain is that Shawn shall not participate against opposing competition until Mid-June, as the short season ranks are the definite destination for him. But he remains an international sleeper that Athletics fans should become familiar with, as he'll start to surface up in the full season threshold come 2015."

#22: Rodolfo Penalo (CF/2B)

The 5'7", 130 pound switch hitting center fielder and second baseman, Rodolfo is one of the more unique individuals in the organization and demonstrated his worth while orcastrating a cumulative performance that shall vault him to Arizona following four consecutive DSL attempts. While elderly for purposes of AZL rookies, Rodolfo's baserunning capabilities and discipline make him an intriguing on-base oriented asset that could possibly even zoom forward through to Vermont and challange for elevated assignments should his résumé translate amongst domestic competition. Somewhat of a bootleg Dominican interpretation of Billy Burns, Penalo participated predominantly at CF for the DSL Athletics throughout the previous season, logging 30 outings in center with six in LF and an additional eight at 2B, featuring as a defensively flawless chip with a mere one error committed while producing five outfield assists in 62 opportunities to place second upon the ballclub behind Jhonny Rodriguez. The switch hitter favors his left handed batting stance to an extremist extent, hitting .340/.473/.456 as a southpaw with a 23:11 BB/K compared to his destitute .250/.294/.292 slash with a 2:10 BB/K against lefties. Still, the performance cumulatively was enough to significantly inflate Rodolfo's value after three consecutive attempts without any considerably noticeable production, completing with a 13.6% BB%, 11.4% K%, 151 wRC+ and a .362 BABIP between his 184 plate appearances. Succumbing to injury, Penalo was unable to amass a more dissectable sample, but still managed to swipe an organizational leading 29 bags in 39 attempts, boding well for his AZL prospects. Despite his impressively diminutive stature, Penalo is an underrated short season asset to pinpoint as the June schedule commences in a few months. 

#21: Luis Barrera (LF/1B)

The $450,000 acquisition during the 2012 offseason, Barrera was the most monetarily taxing amateur international piece acquired during that specific phase, as Yoenis Cespedes' 4 years/$36M led easily in regards to a major league contract. Barrera, a heavy footed left fielder that figures to transition to 1B, demonstrated elite discipline and remarkable power production within the Caribbean prior to remaining absent throughout the concluding month with a hand injury: 

"The crowning amateur piece acquired by Oakland during the 2012 calendar year (Cespedes of course being the primary MLB international signing), Barrera inked for a $450,000 sum and entered the organization with the reputation of a fearsome bat with oodles of power production despite lackluster athleticism and received mixed acclaim prior to signing as some scouts adored his hitting potential yet some considered his defensive and athletic deficiencies to outweigh any upside. Regardless, the A's have taken a flier on the mature 6'1", 185 pound Dominican native and now wait as he figures to contend for Arizona following the completion of his most recent DSL debut. 

Barrera is an outfielder at this instant, yet will likely not stick there as he has terrible and sluggish release mechanics which shall in all likelihood gradually shift him towards 1B, which is his secondary position at the moment. In the DSL, he manned LF and DH and was the perennial offensive breadwinner with a team leading four dingers alongside 4 3Bs and 5 2Bs in his 149 plate appearances, with 13 of his 24 base hits being knocked around for extra bases. He contrasted that with a 18:22 BB/K (12.1% BB%) and finished third on the Dominican team in cumulative walks drawn despite bring absent for the final month with a hand injury, so the 18 year old already has power and discipline instincts. The issue arose in his pull and fly ball tendencies coupled with some unlucky circumstances, finishing with a .196 BABIP that ravaged his statistics. Still, as is more revered in the rookie ranks and the minors in general, the development was noticeable for Barrera,  and he still demonstrated that he possesses the capability to hit professional pitching up through the DR academy. Now he'll have to prove himself in the AZL versus recently graduated collegiate arsenals and significantly more advanced pitching"

#20: Robert Martinez (OF)

The 19th rounder during the 2012 Draft festivities and the first ever Puerto Rican draftee for the Oakland Athletics franchise, Martinez has been sanctioned in the Dominican after a supposedly anticipated AZL entry was thwarted following a sensational debut campaign. The versatile outfield farmhand, receiving an fairly evenly distributed opportunity at each positional post, went 9-33 with a pair of doubles and eight walks drawn in a minuscule 44 plate appearance professional rookie attempt immediately following his selection, but was prevented from a boarding stateside flight attributable to his 16 whiffs that convinced Oakland to retain him for another season. Through his corresponding 137 plate appearance crusade within the Dominican, Martinez amassed a 15:32 BB/K (10.1% BB%/ 23.4% K%) alongside a notable .126 ISO and 110 wRC+ that resulted in a .235/.331/.361 attempt for the 19 year old. An alumni of Quinones Medina high school, the same institution that produced fellow 2012 draftee Kristian Brito, Martinez' probably of an AZL assignment to commence 2014 is hazy at the moment and shall be dependent upon other transactions and promotions that ensue. Still, the the physically projectable 6'1", 180 pounder, the potentially keeps him relevant within the system at the moment. 

#19: Seongmin Kim (C)

Another Pacific rim piece smuggled away by Oakland, Kim was the A's most hefty international asset acquired within a three year duration between Renato Nuñez' $2.2M and Jesus Lopez' $950,000 this previous signing period, as the stocky 6'1", 200 pound backstop was bestowed with $510,000 to persuade him towards Arizona from his native Korea in 2011. The teenage phenom was one of the last endeavors of the Kantrovitz era within international scouting prior to Sam Geaney usurping the position, as he was personally viewed by Athletics brass in Korea before his contract was announced. Having only recently undergone a transition to backstop as a 17 year old, Seongmin has had developmental difficulties one would expect from a budding prospect having agreed to a considerable positional shift, but his impressive power potentiality and defense intangibles make him a still prominent asset within the short season slate. After participating the the Australian Summer League during the 2011 campaign, Kim has since taken refuge in Arizona and Papago while accumulating 55 plate appearances over his previous two attempts with a cumulative .204/.291/.245 slash (10-49, 2 2Bs, 5 BB, 13 K). Should Oakland wish to capitalize upon Seongmin's potential, now turning 21 just prior to the AZL schedule, he'll have to amass a respectable sample size and likely participate in Vermont during this season, an assignment that while challenge will ultimately be beneficial towards his development. 

#18: Andy Paz (C/Pictured above)

Another catching asset, Paz is the third individual upon this list not to have been recruited from a Caribbean or Latin American country despite hailing from Havana, Cuba. As a teenager, he was transferred to France and participated in preparatory competition before the Athletics inked him and shipped him forth to the Dominican. One of the more on-base oriented individuals within the short season proceedings for Oakland, Paz shall grapple with his remaining backstops for opportunities within the northeast and NYPL throughout 2014: 

"Paz' backstory is incredibly unique in the realm of international prospects, a Havana native and Cuban defector who immigrated to France as a teenager and played prep ball in Europe prior to inking a $50,000 deal with the A's and being escorted to the Dominican Republic and the Latin academy. Through limited opportunities in the truncated DSL season, the backstop shined for his plate discipline, establishing himself as one of the best on-base oriented prospects at the Athletics' international camp as well as showcasing his plus arm behind the plate in his two campaigns as an 18 and 19 year old. In 2013, Paz finally reached the states, featuring in the AZL's calculated catching platoon between first year draftees, Kyle Wheeler and Iolana Akau. However, this past year was the first professional hiccup for Paz, posting a pedestrian .228/.304/.337 slash in 102 PAs in Arizona, however he improved defensively and hit his first two career dingers alongside, of course, his initial experience against American competition. Paz will have an opportunity to compete for a roster position in Vermont, but whether it be the northeast or the southwest, Paz is destined to spend at least another year in short season ball. He turns 21 in January, making him the average age of a collegiate junior"

#17: Jonathan Joseph (RHP)

The longest tenured Athletic upon the mound after inking on June 15th, 2006, Joesph was recently resigned to a MiLB contract once more and figures to participate amongst Stockton and Midland competitors throughout the 2014 campaign. Featuring a lively and vicious fastball alongside a fearsome curve, Joseph's newfound acceptance into a bullpen role has him rejuvenated and surging through to Texas for Oakland: 

"The longest tenured Oakland Athletics arm is Jonathan Joseph, originally inked out of the Dominican Republic as an 18 year old in 2006, and now enters his 9th campaign under contract with the A's after inking a MiLB deal this offseason in Mid-October and seems destined to arrive in Texas following a sensational campaign with Stockton in his California League entry. Featuring primarily as a starting asset until the Midwest League, his rotation duties gradually dissipated between Kane Country and Burlington until his seven appearance, bullpen exclusive attempt with the Ports in 2012. As 2013 approached, Joseph became a committed reliever for the first instance in his extensive career and flourished between 47 appearances with a 28.5% K%, 3.54 FIP, and a mere six dingers allowed between 64 1/3 frames to coincide with a 1.47 GB/FB with a career altering performance. Joseph was inconsistent, however, often struggling horribly in certain situations and permitting himself to overthink scenarios in one appearance while bring completely composed and dominant the next. He produced one the most absurd single game outputs during the 2013 campaign throughout minor league baseball as well, going 1/3 IP with 1 H, 5 R (1 HR), 2 BB, and 3 K... Striking out two that reached on consequent wild pitches to achieve that nearly impossible line. In his next appearance, he went 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB and 2 K in what sums up Joseph's 2013 perfectly. 

Throwing a dangerous 92-95 fastball in relief with a eyepopping 12-6 curve as his most legitimate secondary offering, Joseph starred and his continual changeup development assisted him through the previous season as well.  Lefties, figured to bat more favorably versus the righty in Joseph, were stifled by his repertoire with a cumulative .180/.282/.270 slash between 120 PAs while he produced a more expected slash when pitted against righties. It's a split that could affect his prospects within the organization, now packaged towards the Texan prairie to grapple with the most challenging competitors he's ever had to solve."

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