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The lefthanded Puk, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, struck out 251 hitters over 194 innings in his three seasons at Florida. As a junior, he held hitters to a .191 average. All that prompted the A's to take him with the sixth overall pick in 2016 and sign him for a $4.07 million bonus. Puk blossomed in 2017. In a combined 125 innings at high Class A Stockton and Double-A Midland, Puk racked up 184 punchouts and led all minor league starters with 13.2 strikeouts per nine. He gave up only three homers in those 125 innings after not allowing any with in his pro debut at short-season Vermont in 2016. Over his final seven starts with Midland (including one in the postseason), Puk struck out 61 hitters in 39.2 innings while amassing a 2.72 ERA. Moreover, Puk's walk rate in his junior year with the Gators was 4.6 per-nine innings. Puk's raw stuff has never been in question as elite. His fastball resides comfortably at 93-96 and can reach 98 mph. His vicious side-to-side slider grades easily as plus and his changeup has developed into an potentially above-average pitch. Control has long been an issue, but Athletics minor league pitching instructor Gil Patterson helped Puk streamline his delivery, focusing mainly on his front leg. The altered motion produced a more consistent release point. With his height, Puk gets a pronounced downward angle in his delivery, which can make him both effective and intimidating. He gets a high percentage of swings and misses with all of his pitches. His stuff, competitiveness and pitching sense are all assets. So is his receptiveness to coaching. Over the past two years, the A's have arranged to have Randy Johnson and Al Leiter--two elite lefthanders in their day--give Puk advice. Barring an offseason deal, the A's will have at least two, and perhaps three, spots open in their rotation in 2018. Puk has a shot at nailing down one of those by the end of the season. He's still only 22 and has fewer than 160 minor league innings under his belt, so a few months in Triple-A Nashville to begin the season are likely. In any event, Puk projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter as long as he keeps his newfound control intact. If he doesn't, he can serve the club as an elite reliever in the mold of Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman.
Acquired from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson deal in November 2014, Barreto has steadily climbed the ladder of the Athletics organization. His .290/.339/.456 season at Triple-A Nashville in 2017 closely compares with his .292/.347/.463 career line in five minor league seasons. Barreto had two stints in the majors in 2017 and went 14 for 71 (.197). Strikeouts have become an issue in the upper levels. He struck out 141 times in 510 plate appearances for Nashville and 33 times in 76 PAs for Oakland. Originally a shortstop, Barreto has spent time at second base in the minors and majors. He has the arm and range to play shortstop in the bigs, but is better suited for second because his arm at short can be a little erratic. As a hitter, he uses the whole field and has more power than you'd expect from someone his size. He needs to improve his plate discipline to get the most from his above-average bat and surprising power. His plus speed makes him a basestealing threat (92 career steals). The A's will pick up the contract option on second baseman Jed Lowrie, which might mean that Barreto will begin the 2018 season back at Nashville. Oakland has several promising middle infielders in the organization, but Barreto remains at the top of the list. If he can become a bit more polished, he can be a first-division regular at second base.
One of three highly regarded prospects the A's received from the Yankees in the trade-deadline deal that sent Sonny Gray to New York, Mateo's game is based on his top-of-the-line speed. He had a combined 52 stolen bases for three teams in 2017. He stole a combined 82 for two teams in 2015. Mateo's development seemed to stall after he was sent back to high Class A Tampa in 2016. But a promotion to Double-A Trenton seemed to spur him to new heights and he was traded just a little bit more than a month later. Though the A's used Mateo exclusively as a shortstop in his stint with Double-A Midland, he did play some second base and center field in the Yankees' system. He's a disruptive force offensively. Infielders rush to make plays on his grounders, and pitchers can become distracted once he's on the bases. Mateo needs to make more consistent contact to best use his legs and sneaky power. He struck out 144 times in 584 plate appearances in 2017. Because Mateo hasn't played above Double-A in his six minor league seasons, he figures to begin 2018 at Triple-A Nashville. Whether Mateo ultimately stays at shortstop or moves to second or the outfield, he has the speed and arm to thrive in any spot. If he can cut down his strikeout rate, he can become an above-average major leaguer with the potential to steal 40-plus bases and hit 15 homers per season.
Another prospect the A's acquired from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade, Fowler endured an awful injury in his major league debut with New York on June 29: He ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee when he crashed into the wall near the right field line in Chicago. He's since sued the White Sox for the placement of the unpadded electrical box that he ran into. Fowler had made strong progress through the Yankees' system, including a Double-A season in 2016 with 30 doubles, 15 triples, 12 homers and 25 stolen bases. Fowler's combination of speed and power gives him a chance to become an impact player. He has played the corner outfield spots, but figures to stick in center given his range and solid arm. His plus speed makes him a basestealing threat with 74 steals in five minor league seasons, but he could improve his success rate. The A's tried several players in center field in 2017, including Rajai Davis, Jaycob Brugman and Boog Powell, without much success. Fowler's recovery went as planned through the fall, and he is expected to be ready for spring training. Fowler should have every opportunity to become the A's starting center fielder in 2018, but how well he recovers will play a big factor. If he is deemed not quite healthy or ready, he will begin the season, and his Athletics career, at Triple-A Nashville
Born in Peru and raised in South Florida, Luzardo was viewed by area scouts as a possible first-round pick in 2016 before he had Tommy John surgery that March. The Nationals are a team that has never shied away from draft talented pitchers who are recovering from Tommy John surgery. They drafted him in the third round and gave him a $1.4 million signing bonus. Luzardo had pitched in only three Gulf Coast League games in 2017 before Washington sent him to the Athletics in the deal that brought Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nats. Luzardo's abbreviated 2017 season with three teams was impressive: a combined 1.66 ERA in 43.1 innings, with 48 strikeouts and five walks. Poised, confident and smart are adjectives used to describe the lefthander, and his stuff is prodigious too. Luzardo can reach 97 mph with his fastball and has solid command of his curveball. He's developing a changeup that is already seen as above-average by some scouts. He has a simple arm stroke and a repeatable delivery. He appears to understand the art of pitching quite well for someone who's a mere 20 years old. Considering Luzardo hasn't pitched above short-season, he remains many years away from the big league club. But also considering his tools and his refined skills at such a young age, he has the potential to rise to the level of a solid No. 3-or-better starter in the not-so-distant future.
Beck tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee as a junior in high school, but rebounded with a brilliant senior year in which he hit .590 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs in 28 games. The A's drafted Beck with the sixth overall pick in June and signed him for $5.3 million to pass up a North Carolina commitment. Beck didn't enjoy much success in the Rookie-level Arizona League after signing, hitting .211 with a 29 percent strikeout rate. Beck lacks polish at the plate, but the A's love his combination of bat speed and plus raw power. He can hit the ball out of any park to all fields. He has the plus speed to play center field and be a threat on the basepaths. His plus arm rounds out an enticing athletic profile. For all his tools, Beck's stint in the AZL revealed a tendency to chase pitches, and he needs to improve his plate discipline significantly as he moves through the system. Still a teenager, Beck figures to begin 2018 in either extended spring training or low Class A Beloit depending on his camp performance. An explosive, strong athlete, Beck has the ability become a mainstay in the Oakland outfield in a few years, but only if he can lock in his plate discipline to fulfill his power potential.
After enduring a painful 2016, Murphy blossomed in 2017. In 2016, a broken hamate bone forced Murphy to miss a considerable portion of his junior season at Wright State, then a staph infection cost him six weeks with short-season Vermont. Murphy made the jump from high Class A Stockton to Double-A Midland in 2017, although he still missed time with inflammation in his hand as a result of the scar tissue from his hammate surgery. Murphy's mashed in the California League before his offensive numbers dipped when he got to the Texas League, but offense isn't his calling card. His defense is primarily what earned him his promotion, and defense will probably define him as he progresses through the system. Murphy's arm is universally plus-plus, with some calling it an “80” tool. He's thrown out 41 percent of runners in his pro career, and most teams simply stop running on him. He knows how to call game from behind the plate and is a plus receiver and blocker. Pitchers love throwing to him not only for his defense but also for his baseball intellect. At the plate Murphy has a simple swing with not much of a load, but he uses his considerable brute strength to bash the ball up the middle and to his pull side. He doesn't projects as much more than a fringe-average hitter, but his power could improve as he learns to better incorporate his lower half. Murphy is set to return to Double-A Midland in 2018, and he'll need to show he can stay healthy for a full season and make the necessary offensive adjustments. If he does, he'll be the Athletics' starting everyday catcher sooner rather than later.
The Athletics made sure to acquire Kaprielian from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal at the 2017 trade deadline, even knowing Kaprielian's alarming injury history. A strained flexor tendon in Kaprielian's right arm limited his 2016 season to just three starts, and when arm problems arose again in 2017, Kaprielian had Tommy John surgery in April. Kaprielian's small-sample-size stats in the minors are impressive: 18 hits allowed in 29.1 innings, with 36 strikeouts and seven walks. He dominated hitters in his three seasons at UCLA (17-10, 2.06 ERA), serving as a freshman reliever on the Bruins' 2013 national championship team and as a starter the next two seasons. Considering he has missed the bulk of the past two seasons and probably won't be ready for the start of the 2018 season, a scouting report on Kaprielian should be taken with several grains of salt. When healthy, he employs a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can reach the high-90s. He complements his heater with a deep arsenal of a curveball, slider and changeup that all flash above-average. He's not afraid to attack the strike zone. Kaprielian is roughly targeting an early summer return to the mound and, once healthy, is in line to begin his Athletics career at Double-A Midland. His fastball, stuff and competitiveness give him a No. 3 starter projection, but staying healthy is the first step he needs to master.
The A's invested heavily in the international market in 2016 and made Armenteros their marquee signing, getting the Cuban teenager for $3 million. He spent the bulk of his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2017 after only six games in the Dominican Summer League. As an 18-year-old in the AZL Armenteros more than held his own, with a .288 average, 17 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases in 41 games. One member of the A's organization likened Armenteros' body to that of a young Andre Dawson. Armenteros probably will fill out his body in the next couple of years. He shows feel to hit and his above-average power is real and could grow as his body does. Defensively he already plays a corner, and is limited to left because his well below-average arm strength leaves a lot to be desired. He is still learning some of the cultural nuances of pro ball in the U.S. Armenteros will probably begin the 2018 season at low Class A Beloit. His idol is former A's and current Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. If Armenteros progresses the way Oakland officials believe he can, he could have a big league career worthy of his idol, offensively at least.
Shore was A.J. Puk's teammate at Florida, and Shore, not Puk, was the Gators' normal Friday starter. As a junior in 2016, Shore went 12-1, 2.31 and was drafted by the A's in the second round, one round after they took his teammate Puk. After a solid showing for Vermont in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2016, Shore advanced to high Class A Stockton in 2017. A lat strain sidelined him for nearly two months. After Shore returned to the Ports, he struggled in his first four appearances before regaining his form for the final four outings. Shore's fastball sits in the average 92-94 mph range. What seperates him is a changeup that flashes plus and excellent control. How well Shore develops his fringy slider might determine how soon he can reach the big leagues, and how effective he'll be once he gets there. He will start 2018 at Double-A Midland. Shore doesn't have the upside of a lot pitchers in the A's system, but his polish and intensity give him a chance to rise as a back-end starter.
A shortstop in high school and a corner infielder as a sophomore at Louisiana State, Deichmann moved to right field as a junior in 2017 and found his niche. He hit 19 homers, earning him All-America honors and a second-round selection by the Athletics. He signed for $1.7 million. The A's like Deichmann power stroke and his plate discipline. He had 28 walks and a .385 OBP in 195 plate appearances with Vermont in the short-season New York-Penn League. He's considered a mature player who knows his swing and what he needs to do to improve. With his inexperience in right field and merely average speed, Deichmann wouldn't rate as a plus defender at the moment, but his above-average arm gives him a chance to succeed at the position. Deichmann profiles as a classic power-hitting corner outfielder. It's not hard to envision Deichmann becoming a consistent 25-home run hitter in the majors. He figures to begin 2018 at high Class A Stockton.
One of three pitchers along with Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas the A's acquired from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill-Josh Reddick trade at the 2016 deadline, Holmes spent all of 2017 as a 21-year-old at Double-A Midland. Holmes has intriguing stuff with a 92-95 fastball that has riding life up in the zone, and a power curveball that draws plus grades. With that stuff he averaged more than a strikeout per inning with Midland, on par with his four-season average in the minors. What Holmes needs to improve and refine is his fastball command, not only to find the strike zone but to avoid throwing hittable fastballs across the middle of the plate as well. Back-to-back starts near the end of the regular season highlighted the “bad” and “good” Holmes. On Aug. 29 against San Antonio, he threw 94 pitches, courtesy of six walks, in five innings. On Sept. 3 against Frisco, he threw 94 pitches, with a one walk, in eight innings. Holmes figures to begin 2018 at Triple-A Nashville. How quickly and effectively he can harness his command will go a long way toward determining when he might pitch for Oakland.
After two April starts at high Class A Stockton in 2017, Jefferies had Tommy John surgery. The righthander definitely has a high ceiling, but the caveat is his injury history. He missed a good chunk of his junior season at Cal because of shoulder injury, but still got drafted 37th overall and received a $1.6 million bonus. When on the mound for the Golden Bears in 2016, Jefferies dealt. He went 7-0, 1.08 with 53 strikeouts and eight walks in 50 innings and limited hitters to a .185 average. Jefferies' fastball resides in the low- to mid-90s. He possesses superior command and an excellent changeup that has significant sink. Though their deliveries are much different, Jefferies, with his baby-face visage, slight build and all-around athletic ability, reminds some people of a young Tim Lincecum. Jefferies will still be rehabbing from his surgery at the outset of the 2018 season. When he does get cleared to pitch he'll likely head back to Stockton, about 60 miles from where he grew up in Atwater. If he can remain fully healthy, Jefferies has a decent shot to move quickly up the system, possibly as a closer if durability remains a problem.
The Nationals made Neuse the 58th overall pick in 2016 after a junior season at Oklahoma in which he hit .369 and slugged .646. One year later, the Athletics acquired Neuse from the Nationals in the July deal that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington. Neuse was a shortstop in college and is a third baseman as a pro, but his main asset is his bat. He is a mature hitter with a high baseball IQ, a feel for the barrel and significant power in his thick, bulky frame. He shot through three levels in his 2017 pro debut and finsihed in Double-A, hitting a combined hitting a combined .321 with 26 doubles, 16 homers and 79 RBIs. He capped 2017 by going 6-for-14 in Midland's best-of-five Double-A championship series win over Tulsa. Neuse's bat and plus arm will play at third base, but he will have to watch his fitness with a thick midsection and lower half. Matt Chapman appears ensconced as the A's third baseman of the future, but if Neuse keeps hitting, he'll find a place on Oakland's roster, maybe as soon as 2019. He'll open 2018 back at Double-A Midland.
Allen became known as a defensive wizard at San Diego's Francis Parker School and on the national showcase circuit, with evaluators considering him the top defensive shortstop in the 2017 draft class. A strong commitment to Southern California dropped him out of the first round, but the A's drafted him in the third round and signed him for $2 million, nearly triple slot value as the 81st overall pick. In an organization brimming with promising middle infielders, Allen rates as the best defensive shortstop in the system. He has a plus arm and plus speed. Combine those assets with great hands, and his defense is plus-plus with ease. The main question about Allen is his size. He is generously listed at 5-foot-9 and extremely slight with little projection for strength. His bat is light and doesn't project to ever be much of a weapon, although his plus speed makes him a stolen base threat. Some see Brendan Ryan as Allen's future, but even Ryan hit well in the minors. Allen will have to prove he can hit, even with his elite shortstop defense. He figures to begin 2018 at low Class A Beloit.
Merrell hit .384 with 19 stolen bases as a junior at South Florida in 2017 and earned second-team All-America honors. The Athletics selected him with the 33rd overall pick and signed him for a below-slot $1.8 million. Shoulder and foot injuries limited him to 31 games with Vermont in the New York-Penn League after signing, but he did manage to hit .320 and steal 10 bases. Merrell is probably the fastest player in the organization not named Jorge Mateo. His plus-plus speed gives him the range to play shortstop, but his arm is considered only average. With Oakland's surplus of shortstops, Merrell could move to second base, which he played for most of his first two college seasons, or even center field at some point. His speed and lefthanded stroke draw comparisons to the Yankees' Brett Gardner. Gardner has averaged 24 steals per season in his 10-year big-league career, and Merrell could be similarly productive on the basepaths. He figures to begin 2018 at low Class A Beloit.
Described as a “natural hitter” who can “flat-out hit,” the lefthanded-batting outfielder put together a fine 2017 in which he owned a .304 average and 11 homers over stints with high Class A Stockton and Double-A Midland. Ramirez hit lefties (.297 in 111 at-bats) almost as well as he did righties (.306 in 376 ABs). Ramirez possesses solid plate discipline. He walked (121) nearly as many times as he struck out (148) in his three seasons as a starter at North Carolina. His patience both helped (73 walks in 571 plate appearances) and hurt (133 strikeouts) him in 2017. Ramirez has played all three outfield spots in the minors, and seems to have found a home in left field. If necessary, he could play center at the big league level, but his lack of premium speed and first-step quickness make him better suited to left. It's not certain whether Ramirez has the power for a prototypical corner outfielder. His patience, bat-to-ball skills and general maturity as a hitter from the left side give him a chance to keep rising.
Still relatively inexperienced on the mound, Fillmyer has made significant strides in understanding the art of pitching. Mainly a shortstop through high school and his first year in junior college, the righthander went to the mound full-time in his sophomore season, after which the A's drafted him. As a sophomore, he went 9-0 with an ERA under 1.00 as he helped Mercer County CC reached the Division II Junior College World Series. Fillmeyer's fastball sits in the low-90s, and he also throws a curveball and a changeup. Fillmyer doesn't have wipeout stuff, but he knows how to use both sides of the plate, change speeds and sequence pitches. He drops in a quick pitch every now and then, a la Johnny Cueto. Fillmyer capped his 2017 season by working five innings in Double-A Midland's 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the Texas League championship series. He has made steady progress in terms of innings pitched in the past three seasons, from 99 in 2015 to 134 in 2016 to 150 in 2017. If Fillmyer keeps progressing in his adjustment to pitching, he could become a back-end starter in the next few years.
Known for his excellent plate discipline, Toffey walked 99 times and struck out 74 over his final two seasons at Vanderbilt. In 2017, Toffey led the Commodores' regulars in average (.354), on-base percentage (.475) and slugging percentage (.602). He also hit 12 homers. The A's picked him in the fourth round and signed him for $482,600. Toffey comes from an athletic family: His father, Jack, is an agent. Will's brother, John, coached him in baseball and hockey at Salisbury (Conn.) Prep. Will was good enough in hockey to have Cornell, Harvard and Yale want him for that sport. Toffey's athleticism and mature approach help, but evaluators have questions about his ultimate offensive impact. With Vermont in the New York-Penn League after signing, Toffey exhibited his strike zone knowledge--38 walks and 45 strikeouts in 253 plate appearances--but managed only a .263 average and one home run. With his size and ability to wait for his pitch, Toffey could develop into more power. He is considered above average defensively at third base with a plus arm. His speed is fringe-average. Members of the A's organization like Toffey for his approach and knowledge of the game. He figures to begin 2018 with low Class A Beloit.
Nunez hit 32 homers for Triple-A Nashville in 2017, and has hit no fewer than 18 in each of his past five minor league seasons. The problem is, Nunez doesn't get the bat on the ball enough to project to make a sizable impact at the major league level, even with his power, Nunez hit .249 with the Sounds in 2017 (after hitting .228 in 2016) and struck out 141 times. Nunez rarely uses the opposite field. Though his arm is fine, Nunez doesn't have much speed, and is considered a below-average defensive player. He spent most of his first six minor league seasons as a third baseman, then split time between third and left field in 2017. He has also played a few games at first base. Nunez's power potential is real, but the time for him to make his mark in the majors is drawing near. Nunez will have a shot at winning a bench spot on the Opening Day roster, but whether he can stick will depend on the strides he makes to control the strike zone and his aggressiveness.
When your fastball consistently hits triple digits on the radar gun, teams will keep you in their plans for a while. Such is the case with Montas. He made Oakland's 25-man roster as a reliever out of spring training in 2017, but struggled mightily with a 6.91 ERA in 21 appearances and was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Montas got recalled by the A's in late July, and made two underwhelming appearances before returning to Triple-A for the rest of the season. Montas learned that at the big league level, hitters can get to 100-mph fastballs, especially if those fastballs lack major movement and aren't supplemented by at least one worthy secondary pitch. The A's like Montas' changeup, and want him to use it more. He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning in his pro career, but control can be a problem. He has pitched mainly as a starter in his minor league career, and made eight starts in his nine appearances with Nashville in 2017. Montas' future in the big leagues is in the bullpen, but only if he can develop some semblance of control or a secondary.
Emilio Pagan in a November trade that sent first baseman Ryon Healy to the Mariners. Oakland had interest in Campos as an amateur before Seattle signed him in July 2016 for $575,000. Campos is more highly regarded for his defensive skills--his arm rates as plus--than for his offense at this point, but he put up solid numbers in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, batting .290/.413/.367. Perhaps most impressive was the fact he drew more walks (41) than strikeouts (39) in 254 plate appearances. Campos doesn't project to have a ton of power, but he does hit the ball to all fields. He's considered a plus runner, but he stole just seven bases in 17 attempts in the DSL. Oakland seems to have an abundance of promising shortstops--he's one of six included in the system's Top 30 Prospects--but his defense ought to be good enough to keep him at the position for the foreseeable future. He figures to begin 2018 in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Injuries and a lack of offensive production have stunted Martin's progress in the Athletics' system since they made him the 20th overall pick in 2015. Surgery to repair a torn meniscus delayed his 2016 debut with high Class A Stockton until May 23. In 2017, he missed more than two weeks with Double-A Midland after getting hit in the face by a pitch on May 30. When healthy, Martin hasn't excelled at the plate; he owns a .235 career average in three minor league seasons. After he batted .224 in 86 games with Midland in 2017, the A's sent Martin back to Stockton. His demotion coincided with Jorge Mateo joining Midland after the A's acquired him from the Yankees. Martin remains more than capable as a defensive shortstop. He has a plus arm and plus range. The problem is few believe he hit enough to allow him to display his defensive skills at the big league level. He's considered a good enough athlete to find a way to improve his offense and is still young enough to do so. The A's think his problem is he doesn't get into a good position to hit, and that it can be rectified. Martin will try again at Double-A Midland in 2018.
Boyd put together his best minor league season by far in 2017. With Double-A Midland, Boyd led the Texas League in hits (172) and finished third in average (.323). Boyd employs a compact stroke and is adept at hitting the ball to the opposite field. Boyd knows how to make contact (74 strikeouts in 578 plate appearances in 2017). He has plus speed, but doesn't get great jumps on the bases. Boyd had alternated between center field and left for most of his pro career. He spent the bulk of 2017 in center, and his defense clearly improved. He doesn't possess a plus arm, so remaining in center could be problematic, but he doesn't have the power associated with many corner outfielders. Some believe that his power could improve to the point that he might hit 10-15 homers per season in the big leagues. He'll likely begin 2018 with Triple-A Nashville.
The A's signed Vargas as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic with a $1.5 million bonus in July 2016. After a 13-game stint in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, Vargas joined Oakland's Rookie-level Arizona League team. Not surprisingly for a 17-year-old, Vargas had his troubles at the plate in Arizona, hitting .208 with no homers and a mere six walks in 157 plate appearances. The A's signed him as a shortstop, and then played him at short (15 starts), second base (15 starts) and third (nine starts) in the AZL. Vargas has the hands, arm and quick release necessary to play short, but as his body matures, he could become bigger than the prototypical shortstop. Also, with the Oakland system's wealth of promising shortstops a move to second base or third might make sense. Those in the organization like Vargas' body, makeup and baseball IQ. As he'll be only 18 in 2018, Vargas is, in the words of one member of the A's organization, “miles and miles away” from big league consideration. A repeat in the AZL is possible in 2018.
Naile already owns a pretty cool distinction in his professional career: Pitching for Double-A Midland, he threw six shutout innings and got the victory in the deciding game of the 2016 Texas League championship series, and then threw six shutout innings and got the victory in the deciding game of the 2017 Texas League championship series as well. Naile doesn't possess overpowering stuff, but his fastball jumped from sitting in the high 80s in 2016 to the low 90s in 2017. He gets excellent sink on his fastball, which runs in on righthanded hitters. He attacks the strike zone, with just 62 walks in 256 minor league innings. He also employs a slider, changeup and cutter. Naile won a minor league Gold Glove in 2016, when he handled 48 chances without an error at four different levels. Naile does have an injury history: He sat out the 2014 season at Alabama-Birmingham after Tommy John surgery, and he missed about two months of the 2017 season with an oblique strain. People in the A's organization love his competitiveness. He figures to begin 2018 with Triple-A Nashville.
Oakland acquired Meisner in the deal that sent reliever Tyler Clippard to the Mets at the trade deadline in 2015. Meisner thrived in his first three minor league seasons before a miserable 2016 at high Class A Stockton, but he rebounded in 2017 after some delivery changes to go 10-9, 4.04 for Stockton and Double-A Midland. Meisner's fastball sits 90-92 mph and gets up to 95, and he flashes a plus changeup.He'll also mix in a slider, curveball and cutter to keep hitters guessing. While Meisner's arsenal is diverse, the A's would like him to be more aggressive in the strike zone. He showed some mental fortitude, not only bouncing back from a poor 2016 but finishing strong in Double-A after floundered initially after his promotion. Still just 22 years old, the tall, lanky righthander figures to return to Midland to begin 2018.
Signed for $1.1 million as a 16-year-old in July 2016 out of the Dominican Republic, Brito began his pro career in 2017 with a brief stint in the Dominican Summer League, followed by a longer stretch in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Brito played 34 of his 44 games in Arizona at second base. He also played five games at shortstop and four at third. Errors were a problem. He committed eight at second base and five at short. It's not certain where on the infield he'll ultimately settle, but second base is the best guess for most evaluators. Brito is a switch-hitter who didn't display much power in Arizona. The A's know he needs to add strength to his frame, and considering his age, there's still plenty of time for him to do that. Brito is slated to start 2018 in extended spring training, with a chance to get out to short-season Vermont if he progresses.
The Athletics acquired Laureano in a trade following the 2017 season, when they sent high Class A righthander Brandon Bailey to the Astros. Laureano required a spot on the 40-man roster to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. Houston was unwilling to make that move, but Oakland added him to its roster. A native of the Dominican Republic, Laureano enjoyed a breakout 2016 season. Playing at high Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi, he hit a combined .319/.428/.528 and led the minors in on-base percentage. His above-average speed and advanced instincts helped him steal 43 bases in 59 attempts. Laureano slumped decisively in a full season at Corpus Christi in 2017, althoug he still went 24-for-29 in stolen base attempts. Making contact can be problematic for Laureano. Given his well below-average power, his strikeout rate of 21 percent is too high. Laureano has played all three outfield positions in the minors. He spent most of 2017 in right field. He possesses a plus arm and racked up 16 assists. Laureano overcame a rough start to 2017, in which he hit .198 with three homers through June but rebounded to hit .262 with eight homers the rest of the way. The A's figure to give him a third crack at Double-A in 2018, this time with Midland, to see if he can rediscover his batting stroke.
One of the top high school arms in Georgia in 2015, Chalmers fell to the Athletics in the third round, where they signed him for $1.2 million, which was twice the slot amount. Three numbers from Chalmers' 2017 season at low Class A Beloit illustrate his problems and potential: 29, 29 and 47. That is, 29 innings with 29 walks and 47 strikeouts. He also hit five batters. Control is a big issue for Chalmers, but his stuff is undeniable. In a four-inning relief appearance at Kane County on April 17, he struck out 10, walked none and allowed one hit. He throws a fastball in the 94-98 mph range and has what one member of the organization termed a wipeout breaking ball. He generates swings and misses with his curveball but seldom locates it for strikes. Chalmers left Beloit in late May for what was reported as a personal issue and did not return the rest of the regular season. During instructional league, the A's spent time with Chalmers trying to create a repeatable delivery. Chalmers' youth and upside give the organization reasons to have patience with him. He could return to Beloit to begin 2018.
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