Down on the Farm: 10 A's prospects to watch in 2017
The A's have frustrated fans in recent years trading high profile players for high profile prospects. Whether these prospects live up to their billing is yet to be seen, but the recent hauls Oakland has received, plus quality draft picks, comprise an impressive list of names A's fans must know...
1. Matt Chapman, 23, 3B
Baseball America A's rank: 3
MLB.com A's rank: 4
2016: 135 G, .237/.328/.519, 36 home runs, 92 runs, 96 RBI
From bat to arm, Chapman is all power. But with his 36 home runs last year came 173 strikeouts.
Oakland signed veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe this offseason and that was certainly with Chapman in mind. The move makes Ryon Healy more of a DH and first baseman, paving the way for Chapman to man the hot corner in the future. If the strikeouts come down and plate discipline improves, Chapman can be a star routinely knocking balls out of whatever stadium Oakland plays in.
From A's OF Matt Joyce: "Man, he’s strong. He’s really strong. He’s going to be a fun player to watch, and watch him mature. You can tell, he’s quiet and he works his butt off. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
2. Franklin Barreto, 21, MIF
Baseball America A's rank: 1
MLB.com A's rank: 1
2016: 123 G, .284/.342/.422, 11 home runs, 65 runs, 53
Barreto was the key return in the A's sending Josh Donaldson to Toronto, and for good reason. At only 20 years of age, Barreto proved his worth in Double-A and then finished the season with four impressive games at Triple-A.
With his compact stature, Barreto has some pop in his bat and also a knack for stealing bases, swiping 30 bags last season. Blocked by Marcus Semien, Barreto's quickest path to the majors could be second base instead of his natural position at shortstop.
3. Jharel Cotton, 25, RHP
Baseball America A's rank: 4
MLB.com A's rank: 6
2016: 28 G, 11-6, 4.31 ERA, 135.2 IP, 155 K; MLB: 5 G, 2-0, 2.15 ERA, 29.1 IP, 23 K
Cotton is one of three prospects we're highlighting after coming over in a trade with the Dodgers where Josh Reddick and Rich Hill moved to the NL West last season. And fans are already happy with Cotton on the hill.
After excelling in a brief sting in the bigs last season, Cotton is expected to be the A's No. 4 starter as a rookie this season. Though he only stands 5-foot-11, Cotton can throw in the mid 90s and his tumbling changeup is a dirty strikeout pitch for both lefties and righties.
4. Frankie Montas, 23, RHP
Baseball America A's rank: 5
MLB.com A's rank: 5
2016: 7 G, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 7-4, 16 IP, 22 K
Montas is the pitching version of Chapman -- power, power, and more power. The 255-pounder first touched triple digits as a teenager, but he's already been traded three times, both for his potential and for the questions surrounding him.
Will Montas be a starter or reliever? Can he stay healthy? The A's seem like they will at least put Montas on track to be a starter, but his fastball-slider combo can make him a quick bullpen addition. Montas was another part of the Dodgers trade from which the A's can benefit greatly.
5. A.J. Puk, 21, LHP
Baseball America A's rank: 2
MLB.com A's rank: 2
2016: 10 G, 0-4, 3.03 ERA, 32.2 IP, 40 K
The A's handed Puk the largest bonus in team history ($4,069,200) after drafting him No. 6 overall this past June. Standing 6-foot7, Puk brings power to the hill with a fastball touching high 90s.
Once considered the possible No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Puk has a huge ceiling and can certainly reach it if he stays consistent with his command.
From A's manager Bob Melvin: “I was saying we should get ‘Rags’ over here because that slider looked like Dave Righetti’s slider, which was one of the best sliders in all of baseball.”
6. Grant Holmes, 20, RHP
Baseball America A's rank: 6
MLB.com A's rank: 3
2016: 26 G, 11-7, 4.63 ERA, 134 IP, 124 K
Holmes, the youngest and final piece of the Dodgers trade, signed for $2.5 million out of high school as the No. 22 overall pick in 2014. The curly-headed hurler can strike out batters with his fastball, sitting in the low to mid 90s, and his hard breaking ball.
While he's only 20 years old, don't expect to see Holmes in Oakland any time soon. But once you do, he seems to have the raw stuff to stick around.
7. Daniel Gossett, 24, RHP
Baseball America A's rank: 8
MLB.com A's rank: 7
2016: 27 G, 10-6, 2.69 ERA, 153.2 IP, 151 K
The A's may have landed a steal in Gossett with their selection of him in the second-round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Full of success in his three seasons at Clemson, Gossett continued the trend in 2016, pitching at all three levels in the minors.
Gossett saw his strikeouts rise and his walks fall last season. If he continues his success, Gossett could easily be up with the A's in 2017.
From A's manager Bob Melvin: "He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about the fifth spot, who knows?"
8. Daulton Jefferies, 21, RHP
Baseball America A's rank: 12
MLB.com A's rank: 8
2016: 5 G, 0-0, 2.38 ERA, 11.1 IP, 17 K
Jefferies puts an unneeded 'u' in his first name, but we'll give him a pass. The former Cal ace draws parallels to current A's ace Sonny Gray, standing at 6-foot and weighing 180 pounds.
Sitting in the low 90s, Jefferies knows how to mix speeds and can hit mid 90s with his fastball when needed. All traits point to a solid pitcher that has a feel for the game for years to come.
9. Richie Martin, 22, SS
Baseball America A's rank: 9
MLB.com A's rank: 12
2016: 91 G, .235/.327/.322, 3 HR, 47 R, 38 RBI
Martin is the opposite of the A's big league shortstop, Marcus Semien. Selected with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Martin has a plus glove and arm, but his bat is far behind. His development at the plate will be one to watch down in the minors this season.
While Martin's glove is his key to the bigs, his bat must get much closer to the same level.
10. Lazaro Armenteros, 17, OF
Baseball America A's rank: 11
MLB.com A's rank: 11
Armenteros has already been called the next Yoenis Cespedes as a teen in Cuba. Whether the hype is real or not, he is certainly one of the most talked about Cuban prospects to reach the open market when the A's signed him at the start of the 2016-17 international period.
Armenteros is all mystery, making him one to watch for years. The athleticism is already there, now Armenteros just needs to continue growing as a complete player to one day live up the legend that surrounds him.