Before the 2018 college season began, Jeremy Eierman drew so much attention that it appeared he would be long gone before the A’s would even have a shot at him.
Baseball America ranked the shortstop as the No. 5 college prospect in the 2018 draft, and he was coming off a sublime sophomore season for Missouri State. Then came a junior season when he lost his swing and everything else seemed to go wrong.
He fell all the way to the pick No. 70, where Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota ended the free fall. And it may well turn out to be one of the A’s best selections. Eierman, who recently turned 22, has made a huge impression since joining the organization.
“He’s extremely athletic with a good, quick twitch. He’s probably one of our best athletes,” said A’s farm director Keith Lieppman. “It’s fun to watch him. He moves side to side and in on the ball extremely well. It’s amazing to watch how quick he gets to the ball.”
Eierman has shown all the tools to become a legitimate shortstop, with above-average defense and arm strength. He compares defensively with Richie Martin, the 2015 first-round pick the A’s lost in the December Rule 5 Draft to Baltimore. The difference is the bat.
He showed his skills in college. As a sophomore, he hit .313 with 23 homers in a lineup that was anchored by slugger Jake Burger, the 11th overall pick by the White Sox in 2017. Then came his junior year, when he batted .287 with 10 home runs without having Berger there to serve as protection. It became easier to pitch around Eierman, and his production diminished as he struggled to regain his swing. The big improvement came after he joined the A’s.
“He has good power potential,” Lieppman said. “We’ve seen him absolutely demolish the baseball. Some of the home runs he hits are moonshots. When the timing and rhythm all come together, there will be some pretty violent collisions with the baseball.”
The young shortstop also takes a leadership role in the field and notices all the little nuances of what is happening in the game, Lieppman said. These are the skills that can make an outstanding infielder. In addition, he has a sense of how to steal bases. He has average speed, but he uses it well.
“He’s one of the best young players we’ve signed in the last few years,” Lieppman said.
— The A’s have hired Sean Rooney as the new assistant scouting director. Rooney has scouted for the A’s in the past and spent the last four years as national cross-checker for the Braves.
— Steve Abney has been named the A’s new regional scout for the Missouri and Arkansas region, where the A’s found Eierman. Missouri State is located in Springfield, where Wild Bill Hickok killed Davis Tutt in perhaps the most famous face-to-face gunfight in the Wild West.