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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Franklin Barreto, ss|
|2. Sean Manaea, lhp|
|3. Matt Chapman, 3b|
|4. Renato Nunez, 3b/1b|
|5. Richie Martin, ss|
|6. Matt Olson, 1b/of|
|7. Chad Pinder, ss/2b|
|8. Dillon Overton, lhp|
|9. Casey Meisner, rhp|
|10. Yairo Munoz, ss|
The Athletics’ latest attempt at a roster makeover fell flat in its first season, but the good news is that help is on the horizon.
Coming off three straight early playoff exits, punctuated by an epic collapse at the end of 2014, general manager Billy Beane blew things up. The A’s made seven trades during the 2014-15 offseason, most of them exchanging veterans for prospects.
Stalwarts like Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris headed out the door. Donaldson’s loss proved the most painful, as the third baseman’s stardom reached new heights after he was dealt to Toronto, where he won the American League MVP award and helped the Blue Jays reach the AL Championship Series.
Meanwhile, the A’s trudged through a 68-win season, the worst record in the AL and the worst of Beane’s tenure as GM. Oakland made five more most veteran-for-prospect trades during the season, most notably sending Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist to eventual World Series participants the Mets and Royals, respectively.
With all the comings and goings among prospects, the A’s farm system made little imprint on the season. Just five players who suited up for Oakland in 2015 were fully homegrown, although 2011 first-rounder Sonny Gray proved one of the season’s few bright spots as he blossomed into a first-time all-star.
The homegrown ranks should start growing before long. The heart of Oakland’s system formed the core of players who led Double-A Midland to the 2015 Texas League championship, headlined by lefthanders Sean Manaea and Dillon Overton, corner infielders Matt Olson and Renato Nunez and shortstop Chad Pinder. All of them rank among the system’s top 10 prospects and will start at Triple-A Nashville in 2016, just a phone call away from the majors.
Still, the future is always in motion for the A’s, as Beane has proven no prospect is untouchable. Just three of the organization’s last 10 first-round picks are still A’s. Beane’s wheeling and dealing is felt throughout the system, where its top two prospects, Manaea and shortstop Franklin Barreto, and six of its top 15 were all acquired in trades. Beane didn’t wait around after the season to start dealing again, sending Brett Lawrie—a big part of the return for Donaldson—to the White Sox for a pair of pitching prospects.
More meaningful changes are afoot as the A’s will break in new hitting and pitching coordinators in 2016. Greg Sparks (hitting) and Garvin Alston (pitching) left after the season to join the big league coaching staffs of the White Sox and Diamondbacks, respectively.
Jim Eppard comes over after 13 seasons working for the Angels to take over as the new hitting coordinator. The A’s found a familiar face to take the reins as their new pitching coordinator when Gil Patterson returned for his third stint in the organization. Patterson returns to his old post, having previously served as Oakland’s pitching coordinator from 2008-12 before leaving to join the Yankees.