Oakland Athletics Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jim Shonerd




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Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

Moderator: Jim Shonerd will chat about the Athletics farm system beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

Jim Shonerd: Hey everybody. This was my second year doing the A's system and it definitely felt like there was a lot less clarity in putting the rankings together than last year. This Top 10 could've gone in a number of different orders. With all that said, let's get to your questions.

    AC (Atlanta): Brett Hunter: a complete lost cause at this point?

Jim Shonerd: I'll reluctantly say no, but it doesn't look good. Hunter's strikeout rate was spectacular for Stockton, but his control was as bad as ever. He's still got a good arm with a lively fastball, so there's reason to stick with him. The A's are hoping he'll be better with a full offseason to rest up, but they've already tried tinkering with his delivery, lowering his arm slot, to no avail last year.

    Cliff (San Jose): Is Steve Parker someone that we should be keeping an eye on for any reason?

Jim Shonerd: I like Parker, the A's fifth round pick from BYU in '09. He's got a nice swing and a good feel for hitting. He won't have huge power for a third baseman, but he can be a 20 homer threat. His defense is a worry, as he's not particularly agile and has an unusual throwing motion. He also led Cal League third basemen in errors, so a move to left field might be in order at some point.

    AC (Atlanta): How far off the top 10 did Chad Lewis fall?

Jim Shonerd: The order for the 11-30 rankings hasn't been 100-percent finalized yet, but I've got Lewis pegged in the teens. The A's fourth-round pick this year and the last of their premium high school position players, Lewis has plus power, but his swing needs some smoothing out and his defense is a work in progress. If he's able to hit enough, he'll definitely fit the profile for a big league third baseman, but he's going to need some time.

    AC (Atlanta): What can you tell us about Renato Nunez and Vicmal de la Cruz? Did they both make the book?

Jim Shonerd: Nunez will be in the book, while de la Cruz just missed out. Nunez has a sound swing with plus power for his age, and the A's believe he'll develop more pop as he matures. There are concerns about whether he can stay at third, as his hands and agility aren't great and he needs to clean up his footwork. De la Cruz, an outfielder, has more of a violent swing and can get too aggressive. But he's physical with a strong arm and the A's think he'll develop power.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How far did Michael Ynoa fall since last year's list? Your thoughts on the A's investment in him thus far?

Jim Shonerd: Ynoa will still be in the Handbook, but his ranking took another tumble. He just has to pitch. He flashed his potential in the Arizona League, getting his fastball up to 94-95 mph with a tight curveball. But he won't get a chance to show something again until 2012. Until then, it's going to be tough to rank him very high. He's got to show he can get through a year healthy. He still probably has the most upside of any pitcher in the system, but that doesn't mean all that much if he's never healthy.

    Gary (IN): Did Matt Thomson come close to the top 10?

Jim Shonerd: Thomson, the righthander who was the A's 12th round pick from San Diego this year, made the Handbook but wasn't that close to the top 10. He's got a nice three-pitch mix, with a fastball whose velocity picked up into the low 90s after he signed and a couple of solid-average secondary pitches in his slider and changeup. He's not a world beater, but he's a nice prospect who could be a useful back of the rotation guy.

    Frank (Oakland, CA): Is Adrian Cardenas still in your top 30? What are scouts currently saying about him?

Jim Shonerd: Cardenas is still in the top 30, yes. He had a thumb injury that contributed to his slow start at Sacramento, but he tore it up at Midland and hit well at Sacramento after getting back there in August. Cardenas' story is still pretty much the same. He's a sound hitter with an easy swing and disciplined approach. But he only has gap power which makes him profile better at second base than third. The problem is it's going to be hard for him to fit anywhere else but third, defensively, as long as Jemile Weeks is in the organization.

    Tony Thompson (Nearby): Am I on your prospect radar, Mr. Shonerd? (I called you Mister in the hopes the answer will be yes.)

Jim Shonerd: Thompson's power makes him hard to ignore, but his swing can get long and he'll have to make some adjustments to it if he's going to hit at higher levels. There are also question marks about whether Thompson, who was the A's sixth round pick this year from Kansas, can stay at third base due to a lack of range.

    Dylan Paul (Chapel Hill, NC): Does Tyler Vail have a ML ceiling as a starter?

Jim Shonerd: Yes, but not as a frontline guy, for me. The A's fifth round pick this year from a Pennsylvania high school, Vail's fastball is average right now and he's got a good changeup. His curveball is well behind though. He was trying out some different grips for the curve in instructs and it sounded like he found one that was getting results, so we'll see how that carries into next year.

    Steve (Chicago): Where do you see Jonthan Joseph???? Is he a big league starter or reliever???

Jim Shonerd: Ah, Jonathan Joseph, one of my favorite under-the-radar A's prospects. The results haven't been there for Joseph yet, although he was really good after getting promoted to Kane County in August after he'd struggled there early on. He's got a low 90s fastball and a tight downer curveball that can be plus when it's on. He has to command the ball better though, and the other problem is he'll be 23 in May and hasn't pitched above low Class A yet, so he needs to get going.

    Jasen (FLL): It appears that Stassi struggled some at the plate in 2010. Do you expect him to be able to turn around his offense next season and eventually become the A's starting catcher? What do you expect his offensive numbers to look like in the majors? Thanks for the chat!

Jim Shonerd: He'll move up to the California League next year, so I'd expect his numbers to pick up. I'm still on board with Stassi. He might not hit for a tremendous average, but he can hit for power and be a dangerous offensive catcher, and I really like his defense.

    Dylan Paul (Chapel Hill, NC): Do you see AJ Kirby-Jones fitting any sort of every day profile down the road?

Jim Shonerd: He'll have well above-average power, but that looks like his only plus tool. He swings and misses a lot and his defense needs plenty of work. He could be a major league DH, but I'm not confident he'll hit enough to get there.

    Ryan Hall (Maryland): It looks like the A's have a nice crop of 3B prospects with Yordy Cabrera, Chad Lewis, Renato Nunez & Steve Parker. How would you rank them in order of upside, and probability to reach that upside?

Jim Shonerd: Cabrera, Nunez, Lewis, Parker. Parker's a different animal as a college guy. He's the safest bet to reach his potential, but I don't it's in the same ballpark as the other three.

    Joe (Chicago): What ever happened to Fautino de Los Santos?

Jim Shonerd: His velocity hasn't gone anywhere, as his fastball was sitting in the mid 90s and touched 98-99 this year. He was pretty much a one-trick pony though. He would flash a major league slider occasionally, but it's not nearly consistent enough at this point. His days as a starter are over, but he certainly could still make for a very useful arm out of the bullpen if his slider comes along. And of course there's his command. One A's official invoked Henry Rodriguez's name while talking about de los Santos, and there are some parallels.

    Sean (DC): Hi Jim, thanks for the chat. What is your take on Sean Doolittle? Have his injuries slowed him to the point that he's a non-prospect at this point or do you see him coming back with a strong 2011 season?

Jim Shonerd: The A's adding him to their 40-man roster looks like a pretty strong signal that they think he'll come back. I really liked him as a prospect before all these injuries slowed him down and it'd be a nice boost for the A's if he can come back and be what he was. We'll see. They were trying him out in the outfield before he went down, but I have a hard time believing that'll still be a long-term option after all these knee problems.

    Jon (Peoria): What are your thoughts on Tyreace House and Rashun Dixon?

Jim Shonerd: Dixon's got tools but is still developing a feel for the game. He was a football recruit in high school, so it's taken him some time to catch up. He's got power and started learning the strike zone this year, though he still swung and missed too much. House is an outstanding defender in center field and can really run. He's got a nice approach at the plate but lacks other tools.

    Bob Wagner, MD (Alameda, CA): No love for HROD? He's been clocked over 100 MPH, has a plus slider, and showed improved control at times last yr.

Jim Shonerd: Rodriguez exceeded our eligibility limits. We set the cutoff at 30 appearances or 50 innings in the majors, and he just got over the line as he's made 32 big league appearances over the last two years.

    BallBoy (Toledo): Jemile Weeks got pretty good treatment by BBA for a former college player(age) and the injuries/lack of AB's...playing time. IS HE just potentially that good, is the system weak/thin, or are there other factors. Remmbering A's Ricky Henderson, do Weeks or Shippman have the potential to get the offense going? Thanks.

Jim Shonerd: We ranked Weeks No. 7 last year, and it definitely felt weird to be putting him higher this year than he was a year ago, but then there were a number of players who battled injuries and/or had disappointing seasons. But his offensive upside and athleticism really stand out. If he stays healthy and produces, there's no reason he can't make his big league debut in 2011.

    Steve (Oakland): Don't you think that BA's staff is a little light on Ian Krol's upside? He really couldn't break the MWL Top 20? You might want to check how his numbers stack up against what Anderson and Cahill did in that league. It seems to me that what he did at 19 years old is pretty impressive and this guy is only going to get better as he matures.

Jim Shonerd: Krol's season was impressive, but a guy with pitchability and a good curveball excel in low Class A. He can be a big league starter, but his low strikeout rate in low A is a red flag for me. With a guy like him, I'm more inclined to not really run him up the rankings until we see what he does against more advanced hitters, guys that won't be easily fooled his offspeed stuff and will make him come in the zone with his fastball.

    steve (wichita): what is a realistic expectation for eric sogard?

Jim Shonerd: He can be a useful utility guy. He's got a good compact swing and hits line drives to all fields. He won't hit for much power, but his defense got better this year and while he fits better at second base, he could play shortstop in a pinch.

    Dan (Toronto): As a Jays fan, we've heard a lot about new addition Rajai Davis. I'm curious to know how you, and Oakland's organization value the two pitchers you got in return: Trystan Magnuson and Danny Faquhar. They both put up solid numbers last year, were they considered for the Top 30?

Jim Shonerd: They're both intriguing arms and they did make the Handbook. Magnuson has a power arm and has really blossomed since moving to the bullpen in 2009, though his secondary stuff is fringy. Farquhar is best known for how he uses two different arm angles, getting low- to mid-90s velocity from up top and good sink from more of a sidearm motion. They both should move up to Triple-A this year and could make their big league debuts by the end of the season.

Jim Shonerd: I've got to run, sorry I couldn't get to more questions. Thanks for coming out everyone and be sure to come back on Monday for Conor Glassey's Mariners chat. Have a great weekend!