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Oakland Athletics' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2014

Oakland Athletics' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Not that he is lacking appreciation, but the work general manager Billy Beane has done with the Oakland Athletics over the last two years only adds to his illustrious legacy. 

    Prior to the 2012 season, when the team traded Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey, it was assumed the A's were in full-blown rebuilding mode and would need time before contending in the American League West again. 

    Now, two years later, the A's have won back-to-back division titles and have built an impressive roster of young talent that includes Jarrod Parker, Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Sonny Gray and Dan Straily. 

    Beane has been able to find impact talent through the draft (Gray, Straily), trades (Reddick, Donaldson, Parker) and international signings (Cespedes). The A's are starting to spend a little more money than we are accustomed to, which only makes them more dangerous. 

    Scott Kazmir was added to take the place of Bartolo Colon. The bullpen has been given a makeover through a series of trades that brought Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Drew Pomeranz into the fold. 

    Of course, staying at the top in the AL West is never easy. Texas is a serious threat after adding Shin-Soo Choo. Los Angeles has added two intriguing young starting pitchers and could get a healthy Albert Pujols. Even Seattle is trying to catch up by signing Robinson Cano. Houston will be in the mix eventually but is still a few years away. 

    Oakland's young talent is going to keep coming in 2014, as top prospect Addison Russell figures to make an impact if/when Jed Lowrie gets injured.

    As impressive as Russell is, he's not the only intriguing young star to watch in Oakland's system. Let's take a look at the team's top 10 prospects heading into the season. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. Scouting reports and rankings based on personal evaluations/opinions. 

No. 10 Dillon Overton, LHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 08/17/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 172 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Oklahoma)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Originally thought to be better than Oklahoma teammate Jonathan Gray, Overton battled injuries early in the season before having Tommy John surgery after the draft; at peak, prototypical control left-hander; solid-average fastball with deception; spins a quality breaking ball with feel for changeup. 

    Good arm speed; hides ball well; loose arm action; must work inside to right-handers; good size with room to add more muscle, possibly leading to a small velocity spike; uncertain status for 2014 hurts projection. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: High

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 9 Chad Pinder, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 03/29/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Virginia Tech)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Polished college hitter; doesn't boast big tools but very smart baseball player; excellent bat control; innate ability to make contact; doesn't offer power projection but could hit for average; solid-average defensive profile; below-average speed limits range; instincts and above-average arm strength allow glove to play up. 

     

    Projection: Second-division starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

No. 8 Nolan Sanburn, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 07/21/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 175 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2012 (Arkansas)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    College closer flashes starter's arsenal; undersized and small frame could limit ability to handle big workload; lacks plane on fastball; has three average or better offerings; fastball touches mid-90s in short stints but can sit 91-93 for multiple innings; curveball isn't consistent but has hard snap when it's on. 

    Slowly developing feel for changeup; lacks control of pitch right now; present command is fringe-average; tries to blow hitters away right now; will need to work on off-speed stuff to start; most likely outcome is late-inning reliever. 

     

    Projection: No. 4 starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via DiamondScape Baseball

No. 7 Raul Alcantara, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/04/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: July 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Pop-up prospect who shined in second year of full-season ball; offers excellent mix of present stuff and projection; ideal right-hander frame at 6'3", 180 pounds; could add more bulk with some velocity on fastball. 

    Heater already sits in above-average range with great extension and plane; changeup flashes plus with late fade and arm speed; slider is still developing; lacks feel and confidence at times; shows good bite and could be above-average offering; exciting ceiling. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via In the Shadows of Wrigley

No. 6 Renato Nunez, 3B

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 04/04/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 185 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: July 2010 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Young slugger had breakout season with 19 homers at Low-A; big-time power profile; plus-plus raw power that could play plus in games; still incredibly raw with little approach and plate discipline; will crush a good fastball, but off-speed stuff causes nightmares; bat speed is among the best in the minors; too often sells out for power.

    Still getting feel for third base; has good range and arm strength; reactions and lateral quickness lag behind; shows good athleticism and soft hands; good athleticism leads to average defensive projection.  

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via Reds Minor Leagues

No. 5 Michael Ynoa, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 09/24/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’7”, 210 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: July 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    High-profile international signee finally put together healthy season; stuff looked good in spurts; fastball still has plus velocity and good arm-side movement; still too much of a thrower than pitcher, which isn't a surprise given missed time; curveball can be a monster; big 12-to-6 snap on pitch with late bite. 

    Struggles to throw strikes consistently; High-A hitters weren't fooled by anything; still doesn't show feel for changeup; limited workload, possibly unable to handle turning lineup over multiple times; long limbs that can be difficult to control and repeat delivery; still has high ceiling but has to throw more than 75 innings. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: High

    Video via Reds Minor Leagues

No. 4 Matt Olson, 1B

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 03/29/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 236 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (Parkview HS, GA)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Intriguing offensive profile; must overcome first base stigma but projects as plus hitter to be an everyday player; already displays good feel for hitting; good patience and willingness to work deep counts; big body and long limbs leave holes in swing; contact has been an issue early in career. 

    Ability to get on base with plus raw power; already slugged 55 extra-base hits in Low-A at age 19; underrated athlete; good actions at first base; dangerous hitter when arms get extended; will have to rake in order to remain legitimate prospect. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via In The Shadows of Wrigley

No. 3 Billy McKinney, OF

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    Position: LF

    DOB: 08/23/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Plano West Senior HS, TX)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Surprising polish for high school hitter; lacks impact power projection and physical profile; bat-to-ball ability is special; very quiet, line-drive approach; excellent eye at the plate, able to work deep counts; plus hit tool could evolve into more pop than expected but likely fringe-average homer player.

    Below-average arm strength and speed; limited to left field; bat has to be special to be above-average regular; tremendous feel for the game; plays beyond his years; best pure bat in system. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via Baseball Factory TV

No. 2 Bobby Wahl, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 03/21/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 210 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Fifth round, 2013 (Mississippi)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Underrated college arm; showed improved stuff in short-season ball; very good athleticism; repeats mechanics well; flashed plus velocity with movement on the fastball; stays on top of ball, generating good plane; slider is best pitch; excellent velocity, hard two-plane tilt. 

    Doesn't show great control of changeup; has feel for pitch; will get hit because he doesn't move out of strike zone; injury issues that led to diminished stuff during college season are worrisome; excellent polish; should move quickly. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Jeff Reese, Bullpen Banter

No. 1 Addison Russell, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 01/23/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (Pace HS, FL)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Superstar shortstop prospect destroyed Double-A in first full season; boasts incredible offensive potential; plus bat speed; innate ability to barrel the ball; all contact is loud and hard; power is more to pull side but will evolve as frame fills out; swing will get long at times; gets through zone so quickly that average won't suffer due to strikeout totals; mature approach and pitch recognition; going to draw a ton of walks and post high on-base percentages. 

    Still adjusting to shortstop in pro ball; shows incredible range to both sides; plus arm strength will make throws from anywhere; doesn't always set himself properly, so balls will sail; athleticism and experience will lead to plus defensive profile; one of the highest ceilings in baseball. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular: All-Star potential

    Risk: Low

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

    If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter. 

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