BA Newsletter: Subscribe Today!
Use the options to filter your search.
Barreto is accustomed to performing in the spotlight. He played for Venezuelan national teams regularly as an amateur and won MVP awards at the 12-and-under Pan American championships in 2008 and the 14-and-under Pan Ams in 2010. The Athletics began scouting him at age 14, and several teams regarded him as the top prospect in the 2012 international amateur class before he eventually signed with the Blue Jays for $1.45 million. That spotlight will burn even brighter given the trade that brought him to the organization. The biggest move in Oakland's latest rebuilding project came in November 2014, when the A's traded Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays for four players: third baseman Brett Lawrie, righthander Kendall Graveman, lefty Sean Nolin and Barreto. While A's fans had to watch Donaldson win the American League MVP award and lead the Blue Jays to the playoffs, Lawrie underperformed before getting traded again, and Graveman and Nolin battled injuries. That left Barreto, who more than held his own after skipping a level, to play at high Class A Stockton as a 19-year-old. He dealt with a wrist injury of his own in July but returned in time to help Stockton reach the California League playoffs, hitting .367/.383/.642 in the second half. Barreto can do some of everything, offensively. Multiple observers compared him with former Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal, given his 5-foot-9 frame, explosiveness and fast-twitch athleticism. He has loose hands at the plate, allowing him to wait back on balls and still hit them from line to line. His swing does have some moving parts, and Cal League pitchers exploited him on the inner half in the early portion of the season, but he worked to shorten his swing and handled those pitches by the end of the year. Barreto has the physicality and particularly the strength in his wrists to hit for solid-average power, and his 13 homers in 90 games in 2015 were more than he hit in two years of short-season ball combined. While Barreto makes plenty of contact, the A's want him to be more selective, as drew just 15 walks all last season. He's not a lock to stick at shortstop, but the A's feel optimistic about his chances. His arm is the biggest potential stumbling block because it's solid but not spectacular. He committed 34 errors (.911 fielding percentage) to lead all Cal League shortstops in 2015. The A's went back to basics in terms of giving him fundamental instruction so he can handle routine plays more consistently. He had a tendency to rush himself too much, and the A's tweaked his throwing mechanics as well. He has good range and instincts for the position, and his footwork improved. Despite his youth, his body is already fairly mature and doesn't involve much projection. Barreto's bat would have the most value at shortstop, but he can still be an impact player even if he does have to slide across to second base at some point down the road. He also played left and center field for Zulia in the Venezuelan League, with the A's approval. Even after trading away Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson in 2014, the A's still have a quality group of shortstops in the system in Barreto, Chad Pinder, Yairo Munoz and 2015 first-rounder Richie Martin. Barreto has the most offensive upside of the lot, and he will play at Double-A Midland as a 20-year-old in 2016.
Manaea played an important role in the Royals' 2015 World Series title. Granted, that role was as the key piece Kansas City traded to the Athletics at the trade deadline for playoff hero Ben Zobrist. For his part, Manaea bounced back from an abdominal strain that had kept him out of the first half of the year and pitched well at Double-A Midland, including a dominant 13-strikeout performance in his last regular-season outing and then a pair of quality starts in the Texas League playoffs. Manaea always has missed bats, having put himself on the map when he led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts in the summer of 2012. A big, power lefthander, his fastball sits at 92-93 mph, but he can reach back for as much as 98. He also can vary the velocity on his slurvy slider, which looks like a plus pitch at times but needs more consistency. He worked hard to improve his changeup both before and after the trade. The A's kept experimenting with his changeup grips, and he threw some nice sinking changes in the Arizona Fall League. Manaea's delivery is fairly clean, but the A's worked to give him a better rhythm to his motion and a more consistent finish. Scouts worried about his command during the season, but he showed improvement in the fall. Manaea has a frontline arm but needs to get through a season healthy. Injuries might be the biggest knock on him, dating back to when he needed hip surgery coming out of college. He nevertheless finished last season strong, leading the AFL in strikeouts with 33 in 26 innings. He'll go back to Midland or Triple-A Nashville to open 2016, but a big league look might not be far off.
Injuries plagued Chapman's first full season as a pro, which ended with him needing wrist surgery, but he tore up the high Class A California League when healthy. Despite being limited to 80 games, Chapman led Stockton with 23 homers, nearly doubling the 13 he hit over three seasons as a regular at Cal State Fullerton, where he was the 25th overall pick in the 2014 draft and signed for $1.75 million. Chapman came into pro ball with a gap-to-gap hitting approach. He has learned to drive balls with more regularity and can still go to right-center field when he needs to. He should continue to be an annual 20-25 homer threat at higher levels. Although he's not an undisciplined hitter, the A's would like him to be more selective to give him a better chance to hit for average. Some moving parts in his swing don't help, either. Chapman shines on defense, where he can range well to either side and has a plus throwing arm. He makes his share of errors--19 last season--as he'll sometimes try to throw rockets when he doesn't need to and can get careless on routine plays, but the tools are there for him to be a top-flight defensive third baseman. His surgery was done early enough that he should be good to go for spring training and then an assignment to Double-A Midland. Given Brett Lawrie's underwhelming debut campaign with Oakland, the A's third-base job could be Chapman's come 2017.
A prized $2.2 million signee out of the 2010 international class, Nunez has made steady progress up the ladder. A calf injury from spring training shelved him for the month of April last season, yet he still finished as Double-A Midland's leading home run hitter with 18 in 93 games, just edging out running mate Matt Olson. Like Olson, Nunez has power as his meal ticket. Though most of his pop goes to his pull side, he nonetheless can hit balls as far as anyone. At the same time, the quality of his at-bats has improved markedly. Though he still doesn't draw a ton of walks, he struck out just 16 percent of the time in 2015, compared to 25 percent at low Class A in 2013. He can be a dead red hitter at times and takes an attacking mentality to the plate, but he has learned to dial back his approach with two strikes and gotten better about waiting for a pitch to hit. He'll never be known for his defense, but improvements in his footwork and technique have at least made him a serviceable third baseman, though making consistently accurate throws remains an issue. With Matt Chapman coming up a level behind him, a full-time move to first base, where he already splits time, may be in Nunez's future regardless. He'll team up with Olson again at Triple-A Nashville in 2016.
Martin played somewhat in the shadows of fellow Southeastern Conference shortstops Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson while he was at Florida, but he nonetheless joined them as a 2015 first-round pick, going 20th overall to the Athletics and signing for a below-slot $1.95 million. Martin's defense is his calling card right now. He's a pure athlete with tremendous range and agility at shortstop, and he plays the position with some flair as well. He can rush himself on defense at times, but scouts noted he did a better job of not forcing things in 2015. His arm is strong enough albeit not a cannon. All this isn't to say he doesn't have offensive upside as well, but his bat isn't as polished. He can be a little rigid at the plate and the A's have worked to give him more rhythm, but he has the makings of a line-drive hitting, top-of-the-order player. His game won't be predicated on home runs, but he does have enough strength to pop some balls out. The A's like his makeup and work ethic, and he's gotten better at controlling the zone and hitting balls the other way. Martin was young for his draft class, just turning 21 in December, so there's more projection involved with him than most college juniors. He'll likely ease into full-season ball at low Class A Beloit in 2016.
With Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson since traded, Olson is the last man standing of the three blue-chip high schoolers the Athletics took at the top of their 2012 draft class. He's lived up to his billing as a power bat, as no one in the system has more homers over the last three seasons than Olson's 77. The tough hitting environment in Double-A Midland dragged down his numbers last season, but he hit .281/.394/.485 with nine homers in the second half. Olson's offensive profile comes straight out of the Moneyball era--he'll hit home runs and draw walks. He worked to hit more line drives and go the other way more often in order to survive in Midland, but ultimately his plus raw power remains his carrying tool. He's as disciplined as any hitter in the organization, finishing second in the minors in walks in 2015. The A's wouldn't mind him being more aggressive to give him a chance to raise his average, but there are holes in his swing and he'll still swing and miss in the zone. He's a standout defender at first base and plays passable defense in right field, splitting his time between the two positions. He's not a flashy outfielder, but he's got enough arm strength and a quick release on his throws. Olson's often compared to former Athletic Brandon Moss as a lefty power bat who can play first base or in the outfield. Given the organization's glut of corner infield prospects, it would be beneficial to all parties if he can make a go of it in right field. He'll take on Triple-A Nashville in 2016.
Pinder hit over better than .300 in all three of his seasons at Virginia Tech and hasn't slowed down against professional pitchers since being the No. 71 overall pick in 2013. He was the Double-A Texas League's player of the year in 2015 after finishing second in the league in both average (.317) and slugging (.486) and leading it in RBIs (86), despite the inhospitable hitting environment in Midland. Once bound for a career at second base, Pinder's career path changed with the trades of Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson, allowing him to serve as the everyday shortstop at Midland. The organization came away encouraged at how he handled the role, showing fluid actions and good body control. His throwing motion can be a little upright but his arm is strong enough for the position, and his instincts help him compensate for a lack of above-average range. While hitting for power won't be his forte, he's learned to pull more balls, which should help, and he's able to impart backspin. He's an intelligent hitter who can handle any kind of pitch, although the A's would like to rein in his aggression at least a touch. Pinder, who will move up to Triple-A Nashville in 2016, draws comparisons to Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. He could reach the majors at shortstop in the near future, but if he does have to move, he has prior experience at second and third base.
One of the premier college arms leading into the 2013 draft, Overton had Tommy John surgery after signing with Oakland that summer. Now two years removed from the operation, Overton made it unscathed through his first full minor league season in 2015, reaching Double-A Midland. He was at his best late, reeling off a 19-inning shutout streak over his final four starts in August. The A's still hold out some hope Overton can regain more of the mid-90s velocity he had at Oklahoma, but he works 87-90 now. He touched 91 mph late in the season. Learning to pitch without his old heater, Overton has developed excellent command and feel. He throws across his body, which doesn't look picturesque but gives him some deception. His fastball comes in with armside run and his fading changeup has become his best secondary weapon. He spots his curveball to both sides of the plate and varies its shape as well. The A's would like to see him add some bulk to his wiry frame, but he hasn't kept any weight on so far. The A's consider Overton close to a finished product, with how much velocity he ends up with the only real remaining X-factor. If he can get into the low 90s consistently, he could at least be a mid-rotation starter. Otherwise, he's a finesse, back-of-the-rotation lefty. He'll get his next test will be Triple-A Nashville in 2016.
The Athletics had a good idea of what they were getting in Meisner courtesy of Ron Romanick, Oakland's former big league pitching coach and current Mets pitching coordinator. When the pennant-driving Mets came looking for relief help in the form of Tyler Clippard at the 2015 trade deadline, the A's targeted Meisner, who'd just been promoted to high Class A. Meisner has an electric arm. He touched 96 mph earlier in the season when he was fresher and still sat 90-94 late in the year with Stockton, mixing two-seam fastballs with his riding four-seamer. The team expects he can add some more velocity as he puts some meat on his slender 6-foot-7 frame. His advanced changeup is his bread-and-butter secondary pitch. He came to Oakland with both a curveball and a slider, but the A's had him focus on the curve for now. It's a work in progress but he shows a feel for it, and the team figures to reintroduce the slider further down the road. Meisner takes advantage of his height to generate good downhill plane and has a clean delivery, though as with most taller pitchers, his long levers make him more susceptible to getting out of whack and losing some command. He'll have a chance to pitch in Double-A at age 21 in 2016, though starting the year back in Stockton remains a possibility.
Signed for $280,000 four days after his 17th birthday in January 2012, Munoz soldiered through the first half of 2015 in the cold weather of the low Class A Midwest League before getting a chance to go to high Class A Stockton when Franklin Barreto went on the disabled list in July. The move rejuvenated Munoz's bat and he played a central role in Stockton's late-season run to the California League playoffs. Even when he struggles with the bat, Munoz's defense opens eyes. He has soft hands and a well above-average throwing arm, comparable to Matt Chapman as the best in the system. He can make highlight-reel plays, but his exuberance leads to too many errors--34 combined between his two stops last year. Although only a solid-average runner down the line, he does have long strides that help him run closer to plus under way. Munoz's hitting can be similarly out of control at times. He knows how to manipulate the barrel, however, and can adjust quickly to whatever a pitcher's trying to do to him. His swing has some loft and he has the strength to hit for power, although the A's again would like to tone down his effort level there. Some scouts can see Munoz moving off shortstop depending on how his body develops. The A's have no desire to shift him for now though, and he'll man the position again for Stockton to begin 2016.
Nottingham established himself as a rising star in the Astros system, leading the low Class A Midwest League in OPS (.931) at the time Houston promoted the 20-year-old catcher to high Class A at the end of June. His big first half also attracted the Athletics, who brought him over with prospect righthander Daniel Mengden in their July trade that sent Scott Kazmir to Houston. A two-sport standout in high school, Nottingham had an offer to play linebacker at Arizona but instead signed with the Astros for $300,000 as a sixth rounder in 2013, and he still looks the part of football player on the diamond. Nottingham's an imposing figure in the batter's box with a quick bat and plus raw power. He gets caught up at times in trying to hit balls out and will start trying to pull everything, but he shows a feel for using the whole field and hitting with two strikes when he's going well. His defense is further behind, although the A's were encouraged by his progress in the instructional league. He has good hands and a solid arm, and threw out 38 percent of basestealers in 2015, but he'll have lapses in concentration and needs to improve his agility; he committed 19 passed balls in 89 games. The Astros dabbled with playing him at first base but the A's are intent on developing him as a catcher, seeing him in the Mike Napoli mold. He'll go to Double-A as a 21-year-old in 2016.
San Diego State recruited Derby as a two-way player, but his career quickly took off on the mound--he was an all-Mountain West Conference performer all three years he was there, serving as the Aztecs' closer as a freshman and later as their Friday ace. He finished his college career with a flourish, throwing a complete game to beat Dillon Tate and UC Santa Barbara in the NCAA tournament before signing with Oakland for $200,000. Especially given the organization he's in, Derby is often compared to Sonny Gray, another undersized college righthander. Derby doesn't have Gray's stuff, but he does have similar athleticism and the ability to get the most out of his frame. He gets plenty of run on his 90-92 mph fastball and can bump 94, though that movement gets to a point where he can have a tough time controlling it. His hard slider looked like his best secondary pitch in the spring, but the A's were more enamored with his changeup, giving it above-average grades, and he can mix in a solid curveball as well. He's generally a solid strike-thrower, but he has a tendency to get ahead of hitters and then start nibbling, running up his pitch count. He has enough polish to jump straight to high Class A Stockton to open his first full pro season.
Muncy reached the big leagues for the first time in 2015, but his results suffered as he tried to adjust to life as a part-time player in Oakland. He held his own in May, hitting .256/.353/.488 in the one month he got semi-regular at-bats while Ike Davis was sidelined. Muncy's a natural hitter. His ability to control the strike zone is as good as anyone's in the system and is his biggest asset, along with his hitting lefthanded. His short swing is tailored for his gap-to-gap approach, and while he's never been projected as a significant power threat, the A's would nonetheless would like him to swing more authoritatively when given the chance. He has just 14 homers over the past two seasons combined since hitting 25, mostly at hitter-friendly high Class A Stockton, in 2013. His ability to play either corner infield position boosts his chances of staying on a roster, particularly in versatility-conscious Oakland. His athleticism and throwing arm are solid enough to get by at third, but he's better suited for first base. Muncy tried to get some more at-bats by playing winter ball in Mexico, but a pulled oblique muscle curtailed that plan after just seven games, leaving him to head to spring training back on the bubble for a big league roster spot.
Nolin rose from relative obscurity as an amateur to establish himself as one of the Blue Jays' better prospects, and the A's brought him in as part of the four-player bounty that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto. However, Nolin rarely got to build any momentum, logging just 76 innings combined between Oakland and Triple-A Nashville. Offseason sports hernia surgery kept him out until May, and later shoulder and more groin issues shelved him again in the middle of the season. Nolin showed he could hit up to 95 mph in the past, but his velocity fluctuated from 87-92 mph last season as he battled through his injury issues. At his best, Nolin commands a four-pitch mix with nice downhill angle in his delivery. He can place his fastball in all parts of the strike zone and complements it with an above-average changeup. His curveball rates ahead of his slider and he'll use either of them at any time in the count, though the changeup has been his best secondary pitch overall. Nolin will compete for a big league job in spring training, but above all, the A's just want to see him at full strength and improve his durability. Although he has the physicality to be a starter, groin problems have hampered him on and off going back to 2013.
After coming over from the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal last offseason, Ravelo was out until June after wrist surgery. He regained his form quickly though, hitting a combined .304/.371/.439 at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Ravelo faces hard questions as a righthanded-hitting first baseman without profile power, but he has pure hitting ability. Ravelo has a level swing that keeps his bat in the hitting zone a long time, has consistent quality at-bats and a feel for barreling balls in any part of the strike zone. There's enough strength and physicality in his frame to suggest he can hit for power, but his approach isn't optimized for it, preferring to go gap to gap. Unlike other members of the Athletics' crowded picture on the corner infield spots, Ravelo hasn't shown any signs he can play multiple positions. A below-average runner, his future looks to be strictly as a first baseman, where he's a passable defender but nothing special, his solid throwing arm being his best defensive tool. He's on the A's 40-man roster and could make his major league debut in 2016, especially if injuries create openings, but he'll otherwise be back in Nashville.
The Athletics went over slot to sign Chalmers, the pick of the litter in a good year for Georgia high school arms, for $1.2 million in the third round of the 2015 draft. He'll need his development time, but he's also one of the system's more intriguing arms. He has a lean, projectable frame with broad shoulders and can already throw fastballs in the 93-95 mph range, and he can touch 97. He spins a sharp 1-to-7 curveball that looks great when he has it dialed in, though it can be erratic. His changeup has developed into perhaps his best secondary pitch right now, looking just like his fastball out of his hand and then disappearing with nice downward action. As with most teenage arms, Chalmers still has to harness his stuff. He threw with a head whack in his delivery in high school and the A's have worked to smooth him out. He arrived without much understanding of sequencing and setting hitters up but proved an eager learner and absorbed information quickly. The A's are in no hurry with Chalmers, which most likely means a stay in extended spring training followed by an assignment to short-season Vermont in 2016.
Wendle has gone from being a $10,000 senior sign in 2012 to the precipice of the major leagues. After being acquired by the Athletics from the Indians for Brandon Moss in December 2014, Wendle made a good first impression, setting a Triple-A Nashville single-season franchise record with 42 doubles. He's an old school--no batting gloves--high-energy player with an aggressive style. He has a handsy swing that allows him to hit balls in all quadrants of the strike zone. His wrists are strong enough to give him some sneaky power, particularly to the pull side, though doubles will continue to be his forte. .His speed is average at best but he's smart enough and athletic enough to still be a threat on the bases. His arm wouldn't play at shortstop, so he's strictly a second baseman. He needs to improve his double play pivot but is otherwise a solid defender. The A's didn't call Wendle up last year despite his success in Nashville, but they've added him to the 40-man roster and he should make his major league debut in 2016.
Coming off an erratic 2014, Covey turned a corner in 2015, serving as a leader on high Class A Stockton's pitching staff and having his best year since before he was a first-round pick of the Brewers out of high school in 2010. Getting diagnosed with Type I diabetes swayed him not to sign with Milwaukee and go instead to San Diego, with the A's taking him in the fourth round after three up-and-down seasons as a Torero. Covey still has a power arm that can reach 94-95 mph, but he's become a groundball machine thanks to a heavy, sinking 91-93 mph two-seamer, finishing fifth in the full-season minors with a 2.42 groundout/airout ratio last season. His biting curveball can be a plus pitch when he's locating it, and he also throws a changeup that's useful against lefty hitters and the occasional slider. Covey's embraced a pitch-to-contact approach, but his strikeout rate remains low for a pitcher with his stuff. His 6.41 K/9 rate in 2015 was at least an improvement over the year before. The A's still want to see him be more pitch-efficient and work fewer deep counts, something he'll try to tackle as he goes to Double-A Midland in 2016.
No sooner had Alcantara established himself as one of Oakland's best young arms than his momentum was stopped cold by Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss essentially the entire 2014 season. The good news was his velocity returned intact. He threw 88-90 mph in his first few outings after coming back but was back into the 92-95 range by the end of the year, touching 96. His fading changeup had been his out pitch before the surgery, and while he was searching to regain his feel for it, the Athletics still see it as a future plus offering. He also developed a quality cutter--sometimes labeled a slider--before the operation, but A's felt it might have contributed to his breaking down and hadn't allowed him to start using it again. He also has a usable curveball. Despite the injury, he throws with an easy delivery that wouldn't appear to lend itself to health problems, and the A's also like his sharp mind for the game and attention to detail. Already a part of the 40-man roster, he'll take on Double-A Midland in 2016.
Leon's had a long journey since the Athletics signed him out of the Mexican League as a 19-year-old in 2008. Tommy John surgery kept him out for almost two full seasons in 2010-11 and he's shifted backand- forth between starting and relieving, but he finally broke through to the majors in 2015, and the A's believe he's found a home in the bullpen. His velocity picked up a bit in the shorter bursts, working at 92-94 mph and as high as 96. He has three secondary pitches, but his 68-72 mph downer curveball comes to the forefront when he's working out of the pen. His slider and changeup are serviceable pitches as well, giving him enough depth to his repertoire that the A's won't close the book on him starting games again at some point. Leon finished last season strong, posting a 2.57 ERA for Oakland in September. He'll be out of minor league options in 2016, so the A's will look for him prove he can stick in the majors.
Dull's connection to the Athletics goes back to his high school days in Kernersville, N.C., where his coach was former A's farmhand Allen Plaster. He had an unassuming 4.65 ERA in four years as a starter at UNC Asheville before the A's took him as a senior sign in the 32nd round in 2012, costing them a mere $1,000 signing bonus. They promptly converted him to relief, and he has forced his way up the ladder ever since, becoming just the third UNCA alum to reach the majors when he debuted in September. Dull's not physically imposing at 5-foot-10, but he's a fearless competitor with command of two big league pitches. His 90-94 mph fastball has natural sink, and he relentlessly pounds the bottom of the strike zone. If anything, he throws too many strikes, and the A's encouraged him to throw more chase pitches when ahead in the count, particularly with his sharp slider. The slider is a true putaway pitch, showing tilt and depth, and he can command it to either side of the plate. Dull also mixes in the occasional changeup, though it's no more than a show-me pitch. He has the upside to be seventh- or eighth-inning reliever, and he'll go to spring training looking to earn another trip to the majors.
Double-A Midland had no shortage of healthy competition in its lineup, with a group including the likes of Healy, Renato Nunez, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder. Production-wise, Healy didn't take a back seat to any of them, ending up fifth in the Texas League batting race. He takes short swings and hits as many line drives as any hitter in the system. He can lash balls from line to line but is at his best when he focuses on going up the middle. He has the size and physicality to hit for solid power, but it mostly comes in the form of doubles. The A's have worked with him to try to get him to pull more balls and add some loft, but he's still at his best going up the middle. Primarily a first baseman in college, Healy's worked hard to become a serviceable third baseman since turning pro. He's deceptively athletic and has a strong enough arm, having also drawn interest as a pitching prospect in high school. He'll continue seeing action at both corner infield spots as he moves up to Triple-A Nashville.
After passing on signing with the Nationals as a 26th-round pick out of high school, Bolt looked like a star in the making in his first season at North Carolina, earning Freshman All-America honors after hitting .321/.418/.491. He never got back to that level over his final two seasons in Chapel Hill, hitting .257 as a sophomore and .259 as a junior, but his considerable tools nevertheless landed him a $650,000 bonus. Bolt has the makings of a plus defender in center field because he gets good reads and has the pure speed to run down balls in the gaps. He can make highlight-reel catches and has a strong arm as well. Whether his offense comes along is the question. He has solid plate discipline--he walked more than he struck out during his three years in college--and some pull-side power from both sides of the plate. He's a more comfortable hitter from the left side though, and his overall pitch recognition has to get better. The A's will most likely let him work on things against low Class A competition in 2016, though they do like his aptitude enough that reaching high Class A Stockton is a possibility.
Mengden pitched through back pain as Texas A&M's Friday night starter in the spring of 2014, resulting in diminished stuff that dropped him to the fourth round of the draft. The Astros, his hometown team, signed him for $470,000 and dealt him just more than a year later, packaging him with catching prospect Jacob Nottingham to get Scott Kazmir from the Athletics. His fastball had dipped as low as the mid-80s at times in 2014 but was back into the 91-93 mph range last year, topping out at 96. His above-average changeup gets the highest marks among his secondary pitches. He can mix in a slider and curveball that both rate about average, though the slider is more consistent. Mengden's a bulldog competitor with an old school vibe, right down to his big, full windup and handlebar mustache. His pitchability is getting better and he's usually a solid strike-thrower. He could help a big league team as either a starter or reliever down the road, but the A's will keep him in the rotation as he goes to Double-A.
The Athletics are quick to point out the story of Fillmyer's season goes deeper than his uninspiring statistics. A former shortstop who converted to pitching full-time in the spring of 2014, Fillmyer came into the system after signing for $305,000 with a huge arm and plenty of room for development. He consistently works in the 92-96 mph range with his fastball and gets sinking action on it as well. It took him some time to find a comfortable grip on his curveball, but it shows promising, tight break now, while his changeup has splitter-like action. Despite his velocity, Fillmyer was knocked around to the tune of an 8.24 ERA in the first half at low Class A Beloit. As the year went along, he developed some feel for mixing his pitches. The team was able to get his mechanics in order as well, getting his delivery more online to home plate and improving the timing and rhythm of his motion. Although he's not the tallest pitcher, Fillmyer is solidly built and a good athlete on the mound. The club's efforts bore fruit almost immediately, as Fillmyer posted a 2.31 ERA over his last 10 starts at Beloit and then was named best pitcher during instructional league. He'll try to keep the momentum going at high Class A Stockton in 2016.
Gossett posted a 1.93 ERA in his final college season before earning a $750,000 as the first pitcher the Athletics took in the 2014 draft. The former Clemson ace found the going much tougher as he adjusted to the full-season minors last year. The A's didn't feel his overall stuff diminished, but rather that he started leaving too many balls up in the zone and struggled to come to grips with pitching at a level where hitters could catch up to his 90-95 mph fastball. He got better results in the second half as he mixed in more two-seamers, and the A's will continue to work with him on developing better sequences and even pitching backward. He has the secondary stuff to do it, beginning with a curveball that's average now and has the makings of being above-average in the future. He gets good arm speed on his changeup, another pitch that's usable already and could be better if he can hone its location. Gossett also features a slider that was a swing-and-miss pitch for him in college but has fallen behind the other offerings for now. He throws strikes--location within the zone is the issue--and is a good competitor on the mound. The A's will look for him to bounce back in high Class A in 2016.
The Athletics doubled down on SEC shortstops at the top of the 2015 draft by taking White in the second round after taking Richie Martin in the first. Named the state of Alabama's Mr. Baseball coming out of high school in 2012, he was the Crimson Tide's everyday shortstop for three years and finished as a .308 career hitter. They played the same position in the same conference, but the similarities between White and Martin end there. White doesn't have Martin's pure athleticism, instead getting the job done on instincts and quick reactions. The A's want to play him at shortstop as much as possible, but given their glut of prospects at the position he'll see time at second and third base as well. White doesn't have any plus tools offensively, although he'll wring the most out of what he has. He has enough pop to be a double-digit home run threat and controls the strike zone well. Scouts in college worried about a dead start in his swing, though, which hurts his power, and his speed is just fringe average. The A's do like his work ethic and potential versatility, and he'll head to one of their Class A affiliates to open his first full season.
The Athletics have gotten precious little return on the $500,000 they invested in Driver in 2013, but his arm strength and big league body keep him on the radar. Driver never pitched in an official game in 2014 thanks to a variety of maladies. The A's felt he tried to add too much muscle during the 2013-14 offseason, which led to a series of nagging back problems, and a bad bout with the flu didn't help matters. Driver struggled in his return to game action last season at low Class A Beloit and short-season Vermont, but the A's felt better after he had a good showing in instructional league. Driver's stuff is undeniable. He works in the mid-90s with his fastball and can reach 99 mph. His secondary pitches need more development, but he can spin a tight slider and get some sink on his changeup. He just has to learn how and when to use them. The A's worked to get his drop-and-drive delivery more on-line to the plate, and he showed a better comfort level with it during the fall. He'll get another crack at Beloit in 2016.
Wahl unfortunately has become familiar with pitching through injuries. Blister problems diminished his stuff during his final college season in 2013, and he dealt with oblique problems in 2014. Along the way, the Athletics moved the former Mississippi ace to the bullpen, which should've accelerated the power righthander's path to the majors, but he dealt with numbness in his arm while pitching for Double-A Midland. It turned out he had a nerve impingement in his elbow and needed an operation, which ended his season in July. When he's healthy, Wahl has the stuff to pitch at the back of a big league bullpen. His fastball can touch triple digits and work in the 92-95 mph range, and he backs it up with a hard, biting curveball that can be a second plus pitch. His changeup is serviceable but he doesn't use it often. Wahl should be ready for spring training after spending the fall rehabbing at the team's complex in Arizona. He'll head back to Midland, and the A's still see the potential for him to take off quickly if the results are there.
The Athletics ponied up $300,000 to sign Rodriguez as soon as he became eligible on his 16th birthday in 2012. Two years in the Dominican Summer League didn't yield spectacular results, but Rodriguez held his own as an 18-year-old in his U.S. debut last year in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He has an easy, smooth swing from the left side and makes hard contact to all fields. His projectable raw power mainly shows up in the form of doubles right now but it's a potential plus tool down the road. He shows some feel for hitting for his age, though he tended to get overeager as the season went on. Rodriguez has the arm strength to play right field, but he's not much of a runner and there are worries about how much athleticism he'll ultimately have. Regardless of where he plays, his bat will be carry him. Short-season Vermont would be his most likely destination in 2016, although a trip to low Class A Beloit is a possibility.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up