Jorge Mateo

Re-ranking A's top prospects following conclusion of minor league season

Re-ranking A's top prospects following conclusion of minor league season

With the minor league baseball season coming to an end, at least for the A's affiliates, we figured this would be the perfect time to look back on the past year and reexamine Oakland's top prospects.

The A's farm system features a great deal of young talent, some of which has already helped the major league club. We've also seen pleasant surprises among older players like Seth Brown, who has caught fire since making his big-league debut.

But for now, let's rank the top five prospects under the age of 25 in the A's system:

1. Jesús Luzardo

Despite battling injuries this season, Luzardo remains the top prospect in the Oakland organization. The hard-throwing left-hander finally earned his first major league call-up on Monday after a strong showing in Triple-A Las Vegas recently.

Luzardo, 21, went 1-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven starts, notching 34 strikeouts against eight walks in 31 innings. Overall this season, he went 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 11 outings.

Luzardo has excellent command of his high-90s fastball, as well as his curveball and changeup. He mixes all three pitches incredibly well for someone his age and has the stuff and composure to be an ace for years to come.

2. A.J. Puk

Puk has already shown his ability at the major league level, allowing just one run in five innings over his last three outings, with six strikeouts. The 6-foot-7 left-hander is coming off Tommy John surgery but hasn't had any setbacks, and his fastball velocity is still close to 100 mph.

Puk, 24, has notched 38 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings this season between the majors and minors. In addition to his dominant fastball, he has a nasty slider and also mixes in a curveball and changeup. That four-pitch mix should prove effective for a long time. 

Puk and Luzardo figure to be a dominant one-two starting pitching tandem for years to come, but for now, the two left-handers will work out of the bullpen.

3. Sean Murphy

Murphy also recently made his highly-anticipated major league debut. The 24-year-old catcher launched his first home run in his second career at-bat, continuing a power surge that began in Triple-A this season, where Murphy hit 10 homers in just 31 games.

Murphy has always been a terrific defensive catcher, but now his offense is starting to catch up. He slashed .308/.386/.625 in Triple-A this season, despite battling a couple of injuries.

Now fully healthy, Murphy looks poised to be a mainstay behind the plate in Oakland.

4. Sheldon Neuse 

Neuse put up a huge season in Triple-A Las Vegas, slashing .317/.389/.550 with 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games. Since joining the A's, the 24-year-old has struggled a bit, going 3-for-21 with a double and two RBI, but the power potential is undeniable.

Third base is Neuse's natural position, but with Matt Chapman occupying the hot corner, Neuse has moved over to second recently. He's picked up the position quickly, recording 10 putouts, nine assists, and two double plays without an error since joining Oakland.

Neuse has an opportunity to take hold of second base next season and beyond. His natural hitting ability, particularly his power, makes him an exciting prospect moving forward.

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5. Jorge Mateo

Mateo has always had elite speed, but this season in Triple-A, he took a major step forward with his bat. The 24-year-old middle infielder slashed .289/.330/.504 with 19 home runs, 29 doubles, 14 triples, 78 RBI, and 24 stolen bases in 119 games.

Mateo made the vast majority of his starts at shortstop, but he also played some second base. He has tremendous range and a very strong arm, which allows him to play the shortstop position at a high level.

Mateo figures to join the A's at some point in September, as he's already on the 40-man roster. If nothing else, he could serve as an excellent pinch-runner. But moving forward, Oakland expects Mateo to be a key contributor at the top of the lineup.

Three minor league hitters can help A's regardless of trade deadline moves

Three minor league hitters can help A's regardless of trade deadline moves

On Monday, we detailed three minor league pitchers who could help solidify the A's starting rotation and bullpen for the stretch run. Now we want to focus on position players.

While it's a less significant group, Oakland does feature three talented minor-league infielders who are just about ready to make an impact at the major league level:

Jorge Mateo

The A's No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is having a phenomenal season at Triple-A Las Vegas. Mateo, 24, is slashing .302/.339/.537 with 17 home runs, 25 doubles, 13 triples, 72 RBI, and 20 stolen bases.

Mateo has spent the majority of the year at shortstop but has also started 14 games at second base. Of course, Marcus Semien owns the A's shortstop position, but Mateo might get an opportunity at second base come September, especially if Jurickson Profar and Franklin Barreto continue to struggle.

At the very least, Mateo should serve as a valuable pinch-runner. His speed has always been his best attribute, with MLB Pipeline ranking it as a perfect 80 on the 20-80 scale. That will definitely come in handy during the final month of the season.

Sheldon Neuse

Oakland's ninth-ranked prospect is also having a terrific season in Las Vegas. Neuse, 24, is slashing .321/.387/.543 with 19 home runs, 27 doubles, and 84 RBI. His biggest problem is the position he plays -- third base happens to be occupied in Oakland for the next several years.
 
However, Neuse has moved around the infield a bit this season, starting six games at shortstop and three at second base. He's even played three games in left field. That type of versatility will help Neuse's chances of getting playing time at the big-league level this year, particularly at second base.

Even if Neuse doesn't get many starts, he could provide the A's with a dangerous power bat off the bench in late-inning situations.

[RELATED: Report: A's have called Mets on potential Syndergaard trade]

Sean Murphy

The A's No. 3 prospect is undoubtedly the team's catcher of the future. Murphy is ranked as the fourth-best catcher prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline.

The 24-year-old has missed the majority of the season with a knee injury, but returned to the Las Vegas Aviators last week and went 6-for-12 with four home runs and nine RBI in his first three games back. Overall, Murphy is slashing .349/.422/.640 with six homers and 18 RBI in 22 games this year in Triple-A.

Incredibly, Murphy's hitting is not even his best attribute. His defense is MLB-ready and would rank above average already. Now that his bat is coming alive too, he has a chance to be one of the best catchers in the game.

Murphy will almost certainly take over the A's starting catcher job next season, but he has a chance to make an early impact in September this year as well, especially if Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann falter.

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A's No. 8 prospect Jorge Mateo to represent team at All-Star Futures Game

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USATSI

A's No. 8 prospect Jorge Mateo to represent team at All-Star Futures Game

It's been a pretty good week for Jorge Mateo. Two days after being named to the Triple-A All-Star Game, the A's prospect has been selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game.

Mateo, 24, has spent the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, slashing .316/.349/.547 with 12 home runs, 13 triples, 17 doubles, 58 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 74 games. The 13 triples lead the entire Pacific Coast League, as do his 108 hits and 187 total bases. The middle infielder is tied for second with 42 extra-base hits and 62 runs, and his 16 stolen bases are tied for fifth.

The A's acquired Mateo from the Yankees in 2017 along with outfielder Dustin Fowler and pitcher James Kaprielian in exchange for Sonny Gray. Mateo is ranked as Oakland's number eight prospect by MLB Pipeline

The shortstop will be the 11th current member of the A's organization to participate in the Futures Game, joining Yusmeiro Petit, Liam Hendriks, Jurickson Profar, Josh Phegley, Frankie Montas, Matt Olson, Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, Jesús Luzardo, and Sean Murphy.

The Futures Game will be played on July 7 in Cleveland as part of MLB All-Star Weekend. The game features the best prospects throughout Minor League Baseball.