A's View Vimael Machin As Rule 5 Prize
Back when Tony La Russa managed the Athletics, he often said of his players, "These are men, not machines.”
The A’s finally got their Machin—26-year-old middle infielder Vimael Machin—in the major league Rule 5 draft from the Cubs.
"First and foremost, he's a really good baseball player,” assistant general manager Dan Feinstein said. "He’s not all that large in stature (a listed 5-foot-10), but he can really swing the bat. He plays multiple positions. We’re just happy to get what we consider an extremely good player.”
A’s scout Will Schock made the recommendation. The Phillies drafted Machin, a 10th-rounder in 2015 from Virginia Commonwealth, and sold him to the A’s in a prearranged deal.
"He was the guy we targeted in the draft," Feinstein said. "He can really hit. The bat is what drew us to him.”
Machin hit .295/.390/.412 this season in 129 games at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He collected seven home runs and 27 doubles. Most impressive to the A’s was that he drew 69 walks while striking out only 62 times.
As a lefthanded hitter, he has the potential to fill a need for the righthanded heavy Oakland batting order. He has played every infield position, and "he has stood in the outfield,” Feinstein joked. "I’m sure (manager) Bob (Melvin) will give him some time there during spring training to see what he can do.”
A’s scouts rank Machin as a plus hitter. He is a slightly below-average runner and ranks about average defensively at shortstop and second base. Feinstein believes that Machin plays above his talent levels because he has such good baseball sense. He has below-average power.
Machin was playing in the winter Puerto Rican League this offseason. He grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to the U.S. to attend college.
"What we really like is that he has continued to show improvement,” Feinstein said. If that carries over to the major leagues, the A’s may well have plucked a prize from the draft.
— According to scouting director Eric Kubota, John Hughes will fill the newly created position of master pitching scout. Hughes will crosscheck pitchers and mentor area scouts. Hughes served as California's pitching coach when Schock was the ace, then scouted for the Marlins.
— Jorge Mateo got off to a rough start in the winter Dominican League, hitting .187 through his first 35 games. Mateo is among the candidates for the second base job in Oakland in 2020, if the A’s do not deal for a player.