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Robertson always will be linked with Addison Russell, his close friend and former spring training roommate. The two shortstops, along with first baseman Matt Olson, spearheaded the Athletics' 2012 draft class in which Oakland abandoned a collegeheavy acquisition strategy by taking that trio of high schoolers with its first three selections. That class casts a long shadow now that Robertson and Olson stand as the system's two best prospects, while Russell served as the key piece the A's surrendered in the blockbuster trade that brought them Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs. While losing Russell is a difficult blow to the farm system, it does speak to the faith the organization has in Robertson. Signed for $1.5 million as the 34th overall pick in 2012, he tore up the high Class A California League as a 20-year-old in 2014. The cornerstone of Stockton's prospect-laden infield, he was consistently productive, finishing third in the minors in hits (170) and leading the Cal League with 37 doubles. He also handled himself well in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .301/.398/.356 in 20 games. Robertson has the makings of a well-rounded offensive shortstop. He has a quick swing, and he developed a much better load position in 2014, which helped him use his legs more naturally. He's a mature, professional hitter who consistently grinds out quality at-bats. He does a good job of staying inside balls, and while his approach isn't predicated on power, he has the strength to hit balls out if a pitcher makes a mistake. Robertson has gotten better about cutting his swing loose on pitches he can drive, and as he continues to mature physically he could develop into a 20-homer threat. Robertson played third base for most of his high school career, only moving to shortstop fulltime as a senior. Scouts had long projected him to move back to the hot corner, especially after turning pro and teaming up with Russell. Though such a position switch still is possible, Robertson may yet have a future as a shortstop. He's a below-average runner and doesn't have flashy range, but he's almost always in the right place--a tribute both to his instincts for the game and attention to detail in his preparation. His hands are steady and he has a quick release on throws, with enough arm strength for either spot on the left side of the infield. Russell's departure from the organization has changed Robertson's outlook significantly. Not only is Robertson now the organization's No. 1 prospect, but he no longer has Russell standing in his way at shortstop. Though he still faces the possibility of a position switch, Robertson's chances to stick look better today. With Jed Lowrie testing free agency, the A's will have to figure out a shortterm solution at shortstop, but Robertson won't be ready to take over the job until 2016 at the earliest. First, he'll head to Double-A Midland.
Barreto was one of the most decorated amateurs to come out of Venezuela when he signed with the Blue Jays for $1.45 million in 2012. He had a track record of hitting against top competition during international play, and he has continued to hit after two seasons in the minors. The Athletics acquired him as the key prospect in the November trade that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto for Brett Lawrie and pitching prospects Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin. Barreto's top tool is his righthanded bat, and he shows tools to be become a plus hitter. He has above-average bat speed to his line-drive oriented stroke and hits the ball well to all fields. His bat speed and strength should enable at least double digit home runs and lots of doubles. He is an aggressive hitter who is still learning to lay off breaking stuff out of the zone. His athleticism, plus speed, above-average lateral range and above-average arm give him an up-the-middle profile and he will be given every opportunity to remain at shortstop, but he could move off the position at the upper levels. His .901 fielding percentage must improve, as will his ability to make accurate throws on the finishing end of the double play, the source of many of his errors. His actions are not ideal for the position, though they are improving. He could move to second base or center field. Barreto has plus speed and solid baserunning instincts. After hitting at each stop the past two summers, Barreto likely will move to low Class A Beloit in 2015 and could move quickly because of his hitting ability.
Olson established a fearsome reputation when he hit 30 homers over his sophomore and junior years at Parkview High, earning himself a $1,079,700 bonus as the 47th overall pick in 2012. He has kept right on mashing as a pro, swatting 37 homers at high Class A Stockton in 2014, which was good for the third-highest total in the minors. He hit 22 of those homers in the second half, during which he slugged .614 over 70 games. Olson fits the mold of a slugger, and he has legitimate plus power. Most of that pop goes to his pull side, but he does have solid plate coverage and will hit balls out the other way on occasion. Olson knows the strike zone and is very selective, which results in many deep counts and high totals for both strikeouts and walks--he led the minors in the latter with 117. He shortened his swing and moved his hands away from his body in 2014, helping him hit pitches in different parts of the zone, and he lowered his strikeout rate by nearly five percentage points. Olson can adeptly pick balls out of the dirt at first base, and he's athletic enough with a strong enough arm that the Athletics gave him a few starts in right field at the end of 2014. The A's will continue trying Olson in the outfield, envisioning him as having similar versatility as Brandon Moss. Oakland won't expect the same home run production from Olson in 2015 when he moves to Double-A Midland.
Chapman went undrafted out of high school yet quickly earned an everyday role with powerhouse Cal State Fullerton as a freshman. He went on to earn third-team All-America honors as a junior in 2014 when the Athletics made him the 25th overall pick in the draft and signed him for $1.75 million. Chapman might have had a future on the mound--he left scouts buzzing after making a couple pitching appearances with USA Baseball's College National Team in 2013--but he prefers hitting and the A's were adamant when they selected him that they want him for his bat. He has a physical frame and big raw power, though his in-game power plays closer to average since he hits with a line-drive, gap-to-gap style. The A's would like him to be less upright in his stance so he can create more leverage, but he stays on balls well and has a knack for driving them to right-center field. Chapman is a premium defender at the hot corner, showing good reactions, clean footwork and a cannon arm--he threw 98 mph off the mound. The A's love his polished makeup and see a future clubhouse leader as well. Chapman's profile as a third baseman suffers if he doesn't tap into more power, but he does just about everything else. He probably will begin the 2015 season at high Class A Stockton, while Renato Nunez gets reps at Midland.
The Athletics signed Nunez, then a touted teenager out of Venezuela, for $2.2 million in 2010, and he's beginning to prove that initial excitement was justified. He hit .301/.351/.579 with 20 homers in the second half of 2014 at high Class A Stockton and had an impressive showing at the Futures Game, hitting a single on a 98 mph fastball from Twins righthander Alex Meyer. Nunez hit behind Matt Olson in Stockton's lineup in 2014, and his raw power is in a similar class. Balls explode off his bat, and he can hit any pitch a long way when he's going well. Nunez's approach comes and goes, but at his best, he shows he can wait on breaking pitches and use the whole field. His mechanics break down when he gets pull-happy, as was the case at the end of 2014 when he started pressing to reach 30 homers. Doubts remain about Nunez's future at third base, but he showed some encouraging signs by cutting his errors to 15 after making 39 in 2013. He's a well below-average runner and has limited range, but he's working to clean up his footwork and find a consistent release point with his strong arm. Nunez may wind up shifting to first base one day, but the A's will keep him at the hot corner in 2015 as he teams up with Olson and Daniel Robertson again at Double-A Midland.
The Athletics acquired Bassitt from the White Sox in December's Jeff Samardzija trade, the third close-to-ready starting pitcher Oakland acquired in the offseason. He's somewhat similar to ex-Blue Jays Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin in that he was an under-the-radar prospect who had seen big league time in September 2014. Bassitt is a late-bloomer who burst on the amateur scene as a fourth-year junior in 2011 and was drafted as a reliever. The White Sox put him in the rotation in 2012 and his command actually improved, and a broken right hand at Double-A Birmingham in 2014 couldn't keep him from reaching the major leagues by season's end. Bassitt pushed his fastball up as hard as 96 mph even in a starting role, and it has solid life down in the zone. While he throws consistent strikes, he doesn't command the fastball enough for him to be a frontline starter. He's focused on a slider over a curve as his breaking ball, and it gives him an average second pitch. White Sox officials believed it would play up in the bullpen to make him a potential setup reliever. His changeup remains fringe-average but has some sink as well. Bassitt impressed again in the Arizona Fall League in a relief role, but the Athletics will give him a chance to win a spot at the back of their revamped 2015 rotation.
Graveman was a four-year contributor at Mississippi State and its most consistent starting pitcher as it reached its first College World Series Final in 2013. But Graveman didn't miss many bats in college (5.4 strikeouts per nine) and he signed for $5,000 as a priority senior. Barely a year later, he was in the big leagues. In November, the Jays shipped him to the Athletics in the Josh Donaldson trade. Graveman's stuff improved in his first full pro season and he became the fifth player from the 2013 draft class to reach the majors. His fastball velocity ticked up, ranging from 89-94 in the rotation while sitting 90-93 and touching 95 out of the bullpen. Graveman's sinker has above-average sink and arm-side run. With pitchability, above-average fastball life to both sides of the plate and plus control, Graveman gets outs with his heater. After throwing both a curveball and slider in college, Graveman added a cutter this season that flashed above-average and projects to be at least average. His changeup has average potential, as does his curveball, though it can be inconsistent because of his loose arm action that is long in the back. His makeup and aptitude are plusses. His groundball tendencies, home run prevention and plus control, as well as belowaverage strikeout rate (6.1 K/9 as a pro), make Graveman a back-end starter candidate, and he should compete for a spot in the Oakland rotation in 2015. He'll report to Triple-A Nashville if he's crowded out.
Nolin was the second player to reach the majors from the Blue Jays' first draft of the Alex Anthopoulos era in 2010, signing for $175,000. He made a spot start for Toronto in 2013 but a groin strain slowed his development in 2014. He also joined the Athletics as part of Toronto's payment for Josh Donaldson. Nolin is a four-pitch lefthander with the potential to be a No. 4 starter with improved command of his secondary stuff and control, as his walk rate this season (3.6 per nine) was the highest of his career. Nolin's fastball sits 89-92 but can touch 95 at its best or sink in the upper 80s. His high three-quarters arm slot creates downhill plane, and his four-seam fastball has riding life through the zone when he gets extension out front. His top secondary offering is his changeup that has above-average potential, though he can slow his arm on the pitch. He has better feel for his fringy curve than his below-average slider, but he needs to land both breaking balls for strikes more often. A big-bodied lefthander with a large, durable frame, Nolin has the body to pitch in the rotation, though his physique has shown some softness in the past. Nolin is a lefthanded contrast to Kendall Graveman, the other starter Oakland acquired from Toronto, as an extreme flyball pitcher while Graveman thrives on grounders. Nolin's profile fits better in the Athletics' spacious O.Co Coliseum than it did in Toronto's Rogers Centre, and he'll compete for a rotation spot in 2015.
The Athletics signed Overton for a discounted $400,000 in the second round of the 2013 draft knowing he would need Tommy John surgery. Overton returned to the mound in late June 2014 and carved up hitters over 37 innings in short-season ball, notching 13 times as many strikeouts as walks. The 95 mph velocity Overton showed at times with Oklahoma hasn't come back yet, though the A's are hopeful that a normal offseason routine will bring about a harder fastball in the spring. He pitched at 88-91 mph in 2014, though he also dipped as low as 86 toward the end. His fastball plays up thanks to its armside sink and the fact he throws somewhat across his body, aiding his deception. Overton produced dominant results in 2014 because he has two projected plus secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup. His changeup receives the edge right now, for it looks just like a fastball out of his hand then drops off the table, but his curve has good shape and can be a chase pitch too. He brings strong control and and a fearless attitude to the mound. Prior to requiring elbow surgery, Overton was hailed as one of the elite arms in the 2013 college draft class. He will begin 2015 at one of Oakland's Class A clubs before potentially reaching Double-A Midland by season's end.
A relative bargain signee as a 2010 fifth-rounder for $125,000, Ravelo moved down the defensive spectrum but up the White Sox prospect list prior to being traded to the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija deal in December. He had one of the best seasons of any organization farmhand, ranking second in the Double-A Southern League in batting (.309). Ravelo doesn't fit the typical profile of a mashing corner bat. Instead, he features an advanced approach with outstanding plate coverage. His barrel awareness allows him to square balls up, and he handles good pitching with his ability to stay inside the ball. His feel for hitting could allow him to hit for more power as he learns to keep his hips closed and pull the ball with authority. Having moved from third base to first, Ravelo defends adequately and still has solid-average arm strength. He's a below-average runner who could become a clogger if he doesn't watch his weight. If Ravelo keeps hitting, the A's will find a spot for him, possibly in a platoon role at first base or DH.
Alcantara joined the organization in the Andrew Bailey-Josh Reddick deal with the Red Sox in 2011 and had a big 2013 at two Class A levels, prompting the Athletics to protect him on the 40-man roster. Tommy John surgery halted his momentum in 2014. When healthy, Alcantara showed a solid four-pitch mix and a smooth, repeatable delivery. His fastball and changeup highlight his repertoire, the heater sitting in the low 90s and topping out at 95 mph, while his changeup looked like a plus pitch with fading action. He had been working to improve his slider, getting more depth on it, and he also had a serviceable curveball. Alcantara's rehab has him on track to get back on the mound by July 2015. The A's won't expect much from him this year, but he has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter.
Pinder played primarily third base in college but not necessarily with profile power for the position. However, the Athletics felt he was underdeveloped physically for his age. Pinder worked hard in the weight room prior to 2014 and now does a better job of using his legs in his swing, lending credence to the belief he can have average power down the road. He also has an ability to backspin balls along with very quick hands. The A's hope his plate discipline improves. Transitioning to the middle of the diamond, his footwork requires cleaning up, but he can handle the routine play at second base. He still has a strong enough arm for the left side of the infield. He's a decent runner but needs to do a better job of picking his spots on the bases. He'll move with the core of the 2014 Stockton team to Double-A Midland.
Muncy hit his first real rough patch in several years in 2014. The conditions at Double-A Midland, where the wind constantly blows in, presented a stiff challenge, and his production fell. He made slight adjustments to his swing path to be able to use the whole field better and play to his strength'staying inside the ball. His swing doesn't feature much length, so he's able to cover all parts of the zone. Plate discipline is a Muncy hallmark. At the same time, his lack of power is the biggest knock on him. The A's have worked to give his swing more leverage, but Muncy still doesn't project for more than 15 homers annually. The A's tried him out at third base last season and liked what they saw. He's not tremendously athletic and has below-average speed, but he's a fundamentally-sound defender with enough arm. Muncy should continue seeing action at both corner-infield positions as he moves up to Triple-A Nashville in 2015.
Streich had shown encouraging signs ever since the Athletics brought in the former Ohio two-way player in 2012, and now the results are catching up. He went to the challenging high Class A California League in 2014 and won the league ERA (3.16) title. Streich is generally more of a command pitcher, though he does show impressive stuff on his best days. His fastball sits in the low 90s but he can reach 96 mph. His heater has some natural cut at times and he can also throw two-seamers with armside sink. He doesn't have a wipeout secondary pitch in either his curveball or changeup, but both are effective and he'll use any pitch in any count. Streich's changeup has good depth, while his curve has tight top-to-bottom movement. He didn't make any real mechanical changes, but he didn't pitch as passively as in past years. He'll have to prove he's more than a back-of-the-rotation arm, with Double-A Midland his next stop.
Gossett was one of the premier high school pitchers in South Carolina but chose Clemson over signing with the Red Sox as a 16th-round pick in 2011. He parlayed a 7-2, 1.93 season as a junior into a $750,000 bonus from Oakland. Gossett has a slight build but a quick arm. His lively fastball sits in the low 90s and reaches 96 mph at its best, though he has to prove he can maintain his velocity deeper into games. Scouts who saw him at Clemson preferred his curveball as his best secondary pitch, but the Athletics were impressed with his slider. His slider acted as his put-away pitch with short-season Vermont, showing depth and late break. He has a solid changeup he throws with good arm speed. Gossett's delivery looks unorthodox, but he gets in proper position eventually. He'll start his first full season at low Class A Beloit.
Munoz got to showcase himself in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in August 2011 and went on to sign with the Athletics the following January for $280,000. Munoz is a live-bodied athlete with all kinds of tools. He has quick hands and already shows some pull-side power. His youth gets exposed at times though. He hits off his front foot and doesn't control the strike zone yet. His defense has similar issues. He has the range and plus arm to stick at shortstop, but he can be too flashy on some plays and too casual on others, evidenced by his 20 errors in 66 games at short-season Vermont. He turns in some plus running times down the line right now, though his speed will more likely end up closer to average. The Athletics won't rush Munoz, but he's earned a chance to go to low Class A Beloit in 2015.
Undrafted as a junior, Wendle led Division II West Chester (Pa.)to a national title as a senior in 2012 prior to signing with the Indians for the modest sum of $10,000 as a sixth-round pick. Cleveland traded him to the Athletics for Brandon Moss in December. After a breakout year in 2013, he pulled out of an early-season slump at Double-A Akron in 2014 when a broken hamate bone in his right hand sidelined him in late June, though he did return a couple weeks before the end of the season. Wendle gets described as an old school, grinding type of player. He takes short, line-drive oriented swings from the left side with a natural feel for hitting to all fields. He hits the occasional homer, but most of his power comes in the form of doubles. Wendle's secondary tools don't stick out, but he's a reliable second baseman with good lateral mobility and a solid arm. He can play small ball too even though his speed is average at best. He will tackle the Double-A level again at Midland this time in 2015.
Wahl served as the staff ace at Mississippi for two seasons, going 10-0, 2.03 as a junior in 2013, the same year the Athletics made him a fifth-round pick. However, a portent of his future came in summer 2012 when he served as the closer for USA Baseball's College National Team. After struggling as a starter early in 2013, due in part to his trying to pitch through an oblique injury, Wahl moved to the bullpen in early June and quickly settled in. His velocity diminished during his final college season but has bounced back in the shorter relief stints. Wahl has an electric fastball now, pumping mid- to upper-90s velocity. His hard curveball plays as plus when it's going well, showing tight downward break. He could probably get by with just the two pitches as a reliever, but he continues to maintain a changeup with depth as part of his arsenal. Command has been Wahl's biggest obstacle, a product of over-striding in his delivery. He has worked to shorten up and get more downward angle on his pitches. He should reach Double-A Midland in 2015, with a return to Stockton for Opening Day also a possibility.
Covey was the 14th overall pick by the Brewers in the 2010 draft out of high school, but he decided against signing after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in an August physical. He went to the Athletics in the fourth round three years later, signing for $370,000. Splitting his 2014 season at two Class A levels, Covey struggled to find consistency. He would look unhittable at times and be incapable of getting an out at others, even within the same appearance. Covey broke out a much-improved sinking two-seamer at 88-92 mph. His four-seamer gets up to 93 mph with occasional cutting action. He can spin a plus downer curveball that's his best secondary pitch. He also features a serviceable changeup and a seldom-used slider. Covey has a starter's repertoire and a starter's frame, but he needs plenty of development. He does have some feel for pitching but his command can get erratic, and he needs to show better mound presence to limit the big innings that have been his undoing. He'll return to high Class A Stockton to open 2015.
Graves grew up in the St. Louis area but turned down a chance to join the Cardinals organization out of high school, when he was their 26th-round pick. Also eschewing a potential college football career--he'd drawn interest as a dual-threat quarterback--he chose instead to go to Missouri on his way to landing a $510,000 bonus from the Athletics as a 2014 third-rounder. Graves has a great pitcher's body and plenty of arm strength, as he sits 94-96 mph and can reach 97. He throws strikes with his fastball and has a feel for moving it around the zone. However, his secondary stuff needs work. Both his curve and changeup will look good in flashes but are mostly below-average for now. A long arm stroke in his delivery doesn't help in this regard, though he does do a good job of repeating and gets good angle on his pitches. Graves would fit the bill as a hard-throwing reliever, but he'll remain a starter for now to see if his secondary stuff develops as he goes to low Class A Beloit in 2015.
Powell's nickname of Boog--his given name is Herschel--is indeed a nod to the Orioles star first baseman of the 1960s and '70s, who was one of his grandfather's favorite players. He took off with a big first half in 2014. His momentum abruptly halted on July 7 when he tested positive for an amphetamine and was hit with a 50-game suspension. Powell doesn't have any especially loud offensive tools, but he plays hard and is sound fundamentally. He has a simple swing, and while he generates little power, he hits balls hard enough to keep defenses honest. He'll drive balls to both gaps and can run into the occasional homer. He's also a highly adept bunter. Powell's plus speed plays better on defense, where he's fearless in center field, than on the bases, where poor reads and jumps hinder his basestealing capability. Down the road, Powell figures to compete with a similar player in Billy Burns for big league time, but for now he'll go back to high Class A Stockton.
After five up-and-down seasons in the Marlins system, Canha joined the Athletics in December after Oakland purchased him from the Rockies, who selected him in the major league Rule 5 draft. His 2014 season at Triple-A New Orleans marked the first time he together two productive halves. He hit .319/.394/.529 in the first half and then .271/.363/.458 after the break. One scout called him the toughest out in the Zephyrs lineup. Canha regained his power stroke in 2014, slugging 20 homers and knocking in 82 runs. His .889 OPS tied for 10th best in the PCL. Though he has below-average speed, he runs the bases well. That he doesn't excel defensively at first base, left field or third base hinders his opportunity to play every day in the majors, though he'll go as far as his bat takes him in 2015.
The Athletics give Healy tremendous credit for sticking with it in 2014 at high Class A Stockton, for he didn't let himself get buried by his .185 average in April and recovered to hit .326/.356/.469 in the second half. Although Healy has 20-home run potential given his size and strength, he's at his best when he stays short and focuses on driving balls up the middle. His rhythm at the plate and path to the ball improved over the course of the year, while he gets in trouble when he starts pulling off and trying too much to lift the ball. Healy mainly played first base for Oregon, but the A's are trying him out at third and found the early returns encouraging. They're hopeful he'll have the positional flexibility they so covet. His footwork at the hot corner needs cleaning up, but he can handle the routine plays and shows enough arm strength and range to handle the job, though he's a below-average runner overall. He'll continue making starts at first, third and DH as he moves up to Double-A Midland in 2015.
Burns made a splash by hitting .306 in big league spring training in 2014 but had an underwhelming season at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. He can create havoc with his top-of-the-scale speed, but he needs to recalibrate his slap-hitting approach to maximize it. The Nationals reintroduced Burns to switch-hitting after drafting him--he hit righthanded only at Mercer after batting from both sides in high school. He still looks more comfortable and takes better swings from the right side. Burns has no over-the-fence power, but he nonetheless needs to start hitting more line drives or else upper-level pitchers and defenses can take away his strengths. He plays premium defense in center field and can steal bases at the drop of a hat. His arm rates below-average, though having a quick release helps. He'll return to Triple-A in 2015, and he'll have to show more punch if he's going to be more than an extra outfielder.
While his younger brother Brandon rocketed from Texas Christian to the Royals' playoff bullpen in a span of a few months, Kyle put up a good albeit not great first full season in the Athletics system. His fastball topped out at 94 mph early in the season, but he was pitching at 87-90 by the end. The Athletics have worked with him to shorten his stride since he came into pro ball, and he started to deliver the ball out front better during instructional league, which helped him recover some velocity. Finnegan barely used his changeup in college but it has improved to the point where it has overtaken his curveball as his best secondary pitch. His changeup has nice, late sinking action and he'll use it in any count, while he struggles to maintain the consistency of his downer curve. Finnegan pitches aggressively to both sides of the plate, but his low strikeout totals are a concern. Finnegan will move up to high Class A Stockton for 2015.
Jensen came to the Athletics along with Drew Pomeranz when Oakland sent Brett Anderson to Colorado in December 2013 and dominated in the second half at Double-A Midland, going 8-2, 2.26. Jensen pounds both sides the plate with 88-93 mph fastballs and can reach 95. Toying around with twoseam grips last offseason, he found one he was comfortable with that gave him a much-improved sinker. He gets good arm speed on his changeup and it has developed into his most useful secondary pitch. His curveball needs more work and will go a long way to determining whether he can be more than a backof- the-rotation starter. The pitch gets slurvy at times and isn't anything more than a get-me-over breaking ball at this point, its velocity ranging from the high 60s to low 70s. Jensen also lacked extension in his delivery, though the A's believe he made improvements by the end of 2014, and he will try to keep the momentum going at Triple-A Nashville in 2015.
Leon missed the better part of two seasons from 2010-11 after having Tommy John surgery but earned a spot on Oakland's 40-man roster after the 2012 season. He has some physicality and a low- to mid-90s fastball which he can also sink at times. His secondary pitches come and go but all are useable. He'll show a hammer 11-to-5 curveball at his best, along with a short slider and a deceptive changeup. Leon does a good job of throwing strikes, but he ran into trouble last season when he worried too much about trying to trick hitters and got away from pitching off his fastball. With only one option season remaining, Leon needs to break through to Oakland sooner than later. He could help the A's as either a starter or in the bullpen, where his stuff might play up, in 2015.
The Rockies, intrigued by Fillmyer's arm strength, drafted him as a pitcher in the 28th round in 2013, even though he'd spent most of the spring playing shortstop at Mercer County (N.J.) JC, throwing just eight innings on the mound. He opted to return for a second season with MCJC to pitch full-time to see if he could raise his stock. All he did was go Fillmyer went 9-0, 0.68 to the Vikings to the Division II Junior College World Series in 2014 before landing a $305,000 bonus from the Athletics. After years of mainly being a position player, Fillmyer is still plenty raw, but he has an undeniably big arm. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with downhill angle and gets up to 97 mph. He spins a solid-average curveball that flashes plus, and while he's still learning his changeup, the pitch does show potential. Fillmyer's delivery required some extensive cleanup after the A's brought him into the fold, but he has come a long way in a short period. The team worked to get him to stay over the rubber longer and not jump at hitters, and he now throws with an easier, more repeatable motion and does a good job of throwing strikes. Fillmyer will need development time, but the A's are excited about what they have as he projects to open 2015 at low Class A Beloit.
Schwartz played outfield when he wasn't pitching for Niagara but didn't enjoy much success on the mound until his junior year. After posting ERAs north of 8.00 as a freshman and sophomore, he went 5-6, 3.12 as a junior in 2014 and led the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in strikeouts (109). The Athletics made Schwartz the Niagara program's highest-drafted player since 1972 when they took him in the fourth round in 2014, signing him for $175,000. He has a physical frame and fires fastballs in the mid-90s, getting up to 97 mph with some armside run. His changeup gets good depth and has a chance to be plus, putting it ahead of his slurvy breaking ball as his best secondary offering. Schwartz still has much to learn about the finer points of pitching and can struggle to repeat his delivery, leading to inconsistent command. Whether he ultimately lands in the bullpen is a question mark, but the A's will keep him in the rotation for as long as they can, beginning in 2015 at low Class A Beloit.
Loehr teamed with Pirates first-rounder Cole Tucker to form the double-play tandem for the gold-medal winning Team USA at the 2013 IBAF 18U World Cup in Taiwan. A shortstop by trade, Loehr played second base in deference to Tucker, and that versatility was one of the factors that attracted the Athletics in the draft. They spent $600,000, the third-largest bonus in their 2014 class, on the sixth-rounder to sign him away from Oregon State. He looks like a future top-of-the-order hitter. He has plus speed and takes short, quick swings. He's at his best when he focuses on line drives and keeping the ball out of the air, as he has little power, but he shows a feel for the zone and for hitting to different parts of the field. The A's see him fitting a similar mold as Cliff Pennington, their 2005 first-round pick, though Pennington was more of a pure shortstop. Scouts who watched Loehr in high school could envision him moving to second base because his arm is solid but not plus. Wherever he plays, he's a dependable defender with good instincts, and the A's like his blue-collar mentality as well. With Yairo Munoz slated to be shortstop at low Class A Beloit in 2015, Loehr may stay in extended spring training before going to short-season Vermont.
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