Oakland Athletics 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
STATE OF THE SYSTEM
The A’s have an impressive top three in LHPs Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk and C Sean Murphy, all of whom are on the major league roster and should have prominent roles in Oakland as long as they are healthy. The system drops off after that, though, with the lower levels particularly thin.
1. Jesus Luzardo, LHP
Luzardo tested positive for COVID-19 during intake testing and was not cleared to re-join the team until July 17. The 22-year-old phenom remains a big part of the A’s plans for 2020, but he will need time to build up to starting after his delayed arrival.
2. A.J. Puk, LHP
Puk dropped 10-15 pounds and arrived to camp in particularly good shape this year. His changeup has taken a step forward to give him a third plus pitch, which will smooth his ascent to the rotation after he debuted in the bullpen last year, although he will start the season on the injured list due to shoulder strain.
3. Sean Murphy, C
Murphy took over as the A’s starting catcher down the stretch last season and has all the tools offensively and defensively to be an all-star backstop. The only question is whether he can stay healthy after two left knee surgeries last year and injuries to both hamate bones in previous seasons.
4. Daulton Jefferies, RHP
Jefferies had a sensational return from Tommy John surgery with 93 strikeouts and nine walks over 79 innings last season. He’s not built up for starting yet, but he is in the A’s player pool and could be a bullpen option if needed.
5. Tyler Soderstrom, C
Soderstrom, who grew up less than 100 miles from Oakland, was one of the top high school hitters in the draft and surprisingly fell to the A’s at No. 26 overall. Most scouts suspect he will eventually move out from behind the plate, but the A’s believe his athleticism, arm strength and strong work ethic give him a chance to remain a catcher.
6. Austin Beck, OF
Beck was not added to the A’s player pool, a second straight blow to his prospect status after a disappointing and injury-plagued season at high Class A Stockton last year. He fell into the trap of trying to hit more home runs at the expense of his plate discipline and natural contact ability, an approach issue the A’s believe is fixable.
7. Robert Puason, SS
The A’s added the 17-year-old to their player pool after signing him for $5.1 million last year. He is rapidly learning English and adjusting well to life in the U.S., giving the A’s confidence he can handle playing against older players at the alternate site camp and learn from them.
8. Sheldon Neuse, 2B/3B
Neuse made his major league debut last season and was motivated by the experience to come back this year in better shape. Franklin Barreto and Tony Kemp are the leaders for the A’s starting second base job, with Neuse set to play a versatile, multi-positional role as needed.
9. Logan Davidson, SS
The A’s added Davidson to their player pool and will keep him at their alternate training site this season. The 2019 first-round pick has impressed with his strong fundamentals, excellent hands and plus arm at shortstop, and now needs to find a consistent swing from both sides of the plate.
10. Nick Allen, SS
The A’s added the defensive wizard to their player pool despite the fact he has yet to play above high Class A. Arguably the best defensive shortstop in the minors, Allen has a good approach at the plate and will spend the summer working to add strength to make harder contact.
11. Austin Allen, C
12. Lazaro Armenteros, OF
13. Skye Bolt, OF
14. James Kaprielian, RHP
15. Tyler Baum, RHP
16. Jeff Criswell, RHP
17. Greg Deichmann, OF
18. Grant Holmes, RHP
19. Jordan Diaz, 3B
20. Brayan Buelvas, OF
21. Marcus Smith, OF
22. Parker Dunshee, RHP
23. Dane Acker, RHP
24. Luis Barrera, OF
25. Jonah Heim, C
26. Seth Brown, OF
27. Michael Guldberg, OF
28. Jeremy Eierman, SS
29. Hogan Harris, RHP
30. Miguel Romero, RHP
Luzardo and Puk give the A’s two of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in baseball, while Murphy and Soderstrom are two premium catching prospects on opposite ends of the development spectrum. The A’s also have a solid group of athletic, up-the-middle players in the lower levels of their system led by Beck, Puason, Davidson and Allen, although all face doubts about how much they’ll hit.
The A’s system is short on potential impact hitters aside from Murphy, although that’s not an immediate problem with their young, talented position player core in the majors. Most of the A’s top outfield prospects have failed to hit thus far into their careers.
PLAYER POOL TIDBITS
The A’s are a contending team but weren’t shy about loading up on prospects in their player pool. Nine of their top 10 prospects—including teenagers Soderstrom and Puason—are in their pool, as are many more prospects in the 11-30 range. RHP Jordan Weems, a 2011 third-round pick who spent five seasons as a catcher before converting to pitching, made the Opening Day roster as a reliever after signing with the A’s as a minor league free agent during the offseason.
Luzardo has returned from his positive COVID-19 test. The A’s are building up his innings as a reliever until he’s ready to be unleashed as a starter.
Puk will start the season on the injured list due to a shoulder strain and will be out for “at least a couple of weeks” according to manager A’s manager Bob Melvin.