It was difficult to make the usual travel arrangements during the 2020 MLB season. Especially for those in the front office who are used to roaming around the country watching prospects in various levels of their organization.
With coronavirus pandemic safety protocols in place this season, players who weren’t on the main MLB roster would practice at an alternate training site. For the A’s, that site was San Jose and there were some promising updates now that the season has concluded.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo recapped each of the organizations and highlighted some of the findings out of San Jose, one of which from top pitching prospect Daulton Jefferies.
Jefferies made his major league debut this season but didn’t fare well in his start against the Texas Rangers. In two innings, he gave up five hits, including two home runs, and walked two batters. But A’s farm director Ed Sprague told Mayo he liked what he saw from the speed in some of Jefferies’ pitches.
“I liked where Jefferies was,” Sprague said. “He had his plus changeup. His velocity spiked a bit. He was 93-94 mph and touched 95-96 and maintained his velocity throughout his 3-4 inning outings. Any time you come off injury and get that velocity back, that’s a good thing.”
Luis Barrera is the organization’s top outfield prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and he showed quite a bit of improvement.
“He’s chomping at the bit to get an opportunity and he performed like that,” Sprague said.
A’s 2020 first-round draft pick Tyler Soderstrom also was at the alternate site and did well, but Sprague mentioned he had the typical frustrations. His power, as expected, showed though.
“He’s a good hitter, no doubt,” Sprague said. “He has a long way to go, but I think he has the skillset to do it. His hands and arms are good enough. He just needs reps.”
Sprague added that Soderstrom finished strong, however.
During A’s media availability after the team lost in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Houston Astros, general manager David Forst mentioned pitcher James Kaprielian, who made his way up and down to big league team to the alternate site throughout the season.
Kaprielian had been doing some relief work at the site, but it was made clear they were unsure how he will be utilized in 2021.
With uncertainty surrounding the A's roster this offseason, the organization might need several prospects to step up and help the big league club next season. Based on the positive reports out of the San Jose camp, that might just happen.