Nick Allen

MLB execs view A's Sean Murphy, Nick Allen as top defensive prospects

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MLB execs view A's Sean Murphy, Nick Allen as top defensive prospects

In a league where the home run has become the most efficient form of scoring runs, defensive play in baseball has lost some of its luster.

While web gems always make for a nice addition to the summertime highlight reels, elite defensive players continue to be valued lower than those who present a stronger offensive presence.

The A’s, however, feature some of the best defense MLB has to offer. In addition to finishing tied for third as a team in fielding percentage (.987), first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman won Gold Glove awards, Chapman's second-consecutive time receiving the honor.

Looking to the minor leagues, MLB.com’s Mike Rosenbaum put together a list of the top fielding prospects from each position, primarily based on an executive poll from all 30 MLB teams. Oakland was well-represented, with two of its younger players being named in catcher Sean Murphy and shortstop Nick Allen.

Murphy, the A’s No. 3 prospect (MLB.com), made the list despite playing just 53 games this past season. Rosenbaum noted that Murphy registered two of the hardest-thrown balls on base-stealing attempts, including one at 87.4-mph that would have ranked fourth-best in MLB.

Allen, meanwhile, was noted by Rosenbaum to have been “perhaps the best defensive player in the 2017 Draft.” Allen is listed as Oakland's No. 6 prospect by MLB.com.

“Yeah, I call him the magic man,” Stockton Ports manager Webster Garrison said about Allen (h/t The Athletic). “I mean, it’s fun to watch him play. Good hands, strong arm, lots of range out there and he positions himself.”

[RELATED: A's acquire speedy veteran Kemp in trade with the Cubs]

Not only are the A’s already a great defensive team, but there are more elite gloves coming up through Oakland’s farm system.

The future is looking bright for manager Bob Melvin and Co.

A's top pick Logan Davidson among spring training non-roster invitees

A's top pick Logan Davidson among spring training non-roster invitees

The A's aren't playing it safe with 2019 first-round draft pick Logan Davidson.

The No. 29 overall pick is among 10 non-roster players the A's invited to spring training Friday.

Davidson, a shortstop, isn't on the A's 40-man roster, but the invite will give him a chance to compete in big league camp. Barring an incredible showing in the Cactus League, the A's No. 7 prospect won't break camp with the A's. But this opportunity allows him to try to impress A's coaches.

In 54 games with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters, Davidson slashed .239/.345/.332 with seven doubles, four homers and 12 RBI.

[RELATED: A's compare Davidson to Corey Seager]

The other invitee to keep an eye on in camp is A's No. 6 prospect Nick Allen. While small in stature, the middle infielder is an incredible defensive player and could find himself playing for the A's at some point in 2020. While Marcus Semien is blocking Allen's path at shortstop, the 21-year-old could get a look at second base if none of the other in-house options pan out for Oakland.

Three other top-30 prospects were invited to spring training: Outfielder Greg Deichmann (No. 17), right-handed pitcher Brian Howard (No. 22) and right-handed pitcher Parker Dunshee (No. 24).

A's top prospect ranking: Why Nick Allen comes in at No. 10 overall

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A's top prospect ranking: Why Nick Allen comes in at No. 10 overall

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine the top 10 prospects in the A's organization. For each player, we will provide a scouting report and a realistic timetable for reaching the major leagues, as well as what he needs to do to stay there.

No. 10 - Nick Allen, SS/2B

The A's selected Allen out of high school in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft and he is beginning to develop into the shortstop they hoped he would be. At just 5-foot-9, the 21-year-old is far from imposing physically, but he is a defensive wizard.

Allen has tremendous range and a cannon for an arm, with MLB Pipeline assigning him a 65 fielding rating on the 20-80 scale and an arm grade of 60. There has never been any question about his defensive ability, which is already MLB quality. Now he's beginning to show improvement at the plate as well.

Allen struggled in 2018 at Class-A Beloit, slashing just .239/.301/.302 in 121 games. But this past season at High-A Stockton, that slash line shot up to .292/.363/.434, with improved power numbers across the board.

Allen also has above-average speed, with a 60 rating from MLB Pipeline. He stole 37 bases in 193 games over the past two seasons.

Allen can play shortstop and second base, both potential positions of need for the A's in the near future. Marcus Semien is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season and Jurickson Profar is far from a sure thing to return. Youngsters Jorge Mateo, Franklin Barreto, and Sheldon Neuse could also be options at the middle infield positions, but Allen has a great chance to earn a spot down the road.

Realistically, Allen doesn't figure to join the A's until at least 2021, with 2022 seeming more realistic. He just turned 21 earlier this month and has yet to play a single game above High-A.

Allen will likely start the 2020 season at Double-A Midland, with an opportunity to move up to Triple-A Las Vegas, based on his performance. If he continues to progress offensively, he could certainly earn a major league call-up at some point in 2021.

[RELATED: Why A's should move on from Grossman]

Allen has already added some strength, which has been reflected in his increased productivity at the plate. He will need to continue his work in the weight room, without losing his speed, which should be his biggest weapon offensively.

While Allen will never be a power-hitter, he can use his speed to wreak havoc on the basepaths. If he maintains his magical defensive prowess, he has an opportunity to develop into a solid major leaguer for Oakland.