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A.J. Vanegas: Prospect Profile for Oakland Athletics' 19th-Round Pick

Adam WellsFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2016

Player: A.J. Vanegas

Drafted by: Oakland Athletics (No. 581 overall)

Position: RHP

DOB: 8/16/1992 (Age: 20)

Height/Weight: 6'3"/215 lbs

Bats/Throws: R/R

School: Stanford

Previously Drafted: 2010: seventh-round pick by San Diego Padres

 

Background

While obviously not as hyped as that other Stanford pitcher this year, A.J. Vanegas is going to carve out a good career for himself as a two-pitch reliever. He garnered a lot of attention three years ago as a very raw, very talented high school pitcher and has lived up to some of the hype. 

Being limited to the bullpen does limit his ultimate ceiling, though it pushed him down a lot of draft boards, but considering how teams are always scrambling for relievers, he is as safe a bet as anyone in this class. 

 

Full Scouting Report

Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.

Body/Mechanics:

Very strong, sturdy body; gets easy velocity on the fastball with quick arm action; works strictly from the windup and moves quick to the plate; command and control suffer as his hips fly open and the ball sails inside; could stand to slow motion down. 

 

Fastball: 65/65

Explosive fastball; velocity is plus-plus; pitch can jump on hitters in a hurry thanks to quick motion; lack of refinement and command hold it back from being a true grade-70 offering; only true weapon in arsenal right now. 

 

Slider: 50/60

Shows good feel for slider; inability to command pitch holds down present projection, but has enough tilt and late bite to grade as plus down the line; has to find good release point to miss bats; must prove it is a weapon to stick as reliever. 

 

Changeup: 40/45

Doesn't show much faith or feel in pitch; more of a show-me offering than a true third pitch; with fastball and slider, won't have much need to throw changeup in professional baseball; could drop it from arsenal and no one would worry. 

 

Control: 40/50

Has really struggled throwing strikes throughout his career; hitters know they can wait on him to throw the ball over the plate, leading to a lot fewer strikeouts than someone with his stuff should have; mechanics are a big problem right now; shows enough with the fastball to at least project average control.

 

Command: 35/45

Problems with delivery will limit command; has grown into much more of a thrower than pitcher, which could relegate him to mop-up duty in the future; has to prove he can hit the glove in spots to be good reliever. 

 

MLB Player Comparison: Antonio Bastardo

 

Projection: Powerful late-inning reliever on second-division team; could pitch in some high-leverage spots for first-division club. 

 

MLB ETA: 2015

 

Chances of Signing: 75 percent

Vanegas has battled some injuries this year, which limited him to 8.2 innings as a junior. Even with the small sample size to judge, he is still one of the better relievers in this class and could move quickly if he stays healthy. 

Given the volatile nature of relief pitching, Vanegas would be smart to make sure he strikes a deal with a drafting team this year. 

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