Stock Up, Stock Down for Oakland A's Top Prospects for Week 1
There has only been one week of baseball—games that count anyway—but so far, so good for many of the Oakland Athletics' top-10 minor league prospects.
As per the norm, MLB.com released their list of the top 100 prospects as well as the top 20 for each team. Here we'll use this list to discuss the top 10 in the A's system. Of course this includes the most familiar face, Addison Russell. The Billys (McKinney and Burns), four pitchers and three Single-A infielders round out the list.
Let's see how each player is doing in this young season.
The list is in numerical, descending order and comes with one of three designations when it comes to stock: up, down or even.
Note: Dillon Overton is listed as the eighth-best prospect; however, he has yet to pitch in 2014. He is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. He will be skipped.
11. Michael Ynoa
Michael Ynoa has the lowest stock of anyone on the list, fittingly since he appears as No. 11. If we looked beyond just the start of this season, Ynoa's stock would be even worse because once upon a time he was the most exciting pitching prospect in the A's system. But let's concentrate on what he's done for the organization lately.
In three innings of spring training ball, he allowed three runs, shooting his ERA to 9.00. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 1-to-1 as well.
It hasn't gotten better yet.
Reporting to the Stockton Ports (Single-A), Ynoa pitched in 1.1 innings of one game. He took the mound in the eighth and shut down the side. Unfortunately in the ninth, after two wild pitches and an error, Ynoa took the loss. He is now 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.
It's possible Ynoa is still just loosening up some rust, slowly.
10. Nolan Sanburn
Pitcher Nolan Sanburn starts the list with his stock even. He spent much of 2013 sidelined, so expectations should be tempered.
His 2013 ended rough (injury). His 2014 began rough (stats). Sanburn pitched in 1.2 innings of spring training, allowing three runs for an ERA of 16.20.
His sample size continues to be small, though. Sanburn has pitched in just two innings of this new season. Although, he hasn't allowed a run, and in fact, he's only given up one hit period. Meanwhile, he's struck out three on his way to picking up a save.
It's nothing overwhelming yet, but he's headed in the right direction.
9. Billy Burns
Not only is Billy Burns' stock up, it can also more accurately be described as way, way, way up. Of all 10 men on this list, Burns' stock is the highest of all stock profiles.
He started the 2014 season by hitting .304 in spring training. His 22 hits included one double and one triple. True to his name, Burns stole 10 bases as well. A's brass kept him around for two exhibition games against the San Francisco Giants prior to officially sending him down.
In 12 games at the Double-A level, Burns is still hitting over .300—.333 to be exact.
It's the intangibles that Burns brings to the table that make it so easy to root for him. For instance, he has three stolen bases so far. Furthermore, he's struck out just once but walked five times.
He's in Double-A now, but it won't be long before he advances to Triple-A Sacramento. He could be one of the first to get a call-up to Oakland as well.
7. Bobby Wahl
It should be noted that Bobby Wahl's stock is even, for now, but it's leaning much more heavily toward down. He's getting the benefit of the doubt here.
Wahl has started one game for the Beloit Snappers. It wasn't a terrible outing, but in just 3.1 innings, Wahl allowed three earned runs off two walks and four hits.
Wahl is currently 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA.
6. Renato Nunez
If Bobby Wahl's stock is even, but slightly down, then Renato Nunez's stock is even, but slightly up.
In spring training, Nunez went 0-for-3. That's a forgivable offense for a kid in major league spring training with very few opportunities.
With the Stockton Ports, he's getting back on track.
Nunez is batting .294 (5-for-17). Of his five hits, two are doubles. The average and the fact that almost half of his hits have been doubles is great. But seven strikeouts and zero walks is a concern. He needs to pick it up from here if he wants his stock to rise.
5. Matthew Olson
First baseman Matthew Olson is just about even, but he borders seeing his stock receive the "up" label.
He only received two at-bats in spring training, of which he went 0-for-2. Now in four games with the Stockton Ports, he's 4-for-14 (.286). At the major league level, a .286 average is terrific. At the Single-A level for the No. 5 prospect, that's less than desired. However, it's early.
Olson has one RBI, four strike outs and two walks.
4. Raul Alcantara
Raul Alcantara may be the next big pitching prospect to make a name for himself with the Oakland A's.
First, he pitched in four innings during spring training, allowing just three hits. Though one run scored, it did not count against his ERA, which finished at 0.00. He struck out two and walked one. That's not bad for a short stint in spring.
Now with the Midland RockHounds, he's only had one opportunity, but he's made the most of it. Just check out this stat line:
1-0, 1.13 ERA, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Alcantara only allowed the one run and one walk while keeping hits allowed down to just under one per inning. The only "down" note is the one strike out. But nearly going the distance and keeping the runs minimized gave him the quality outing.
3. Daniel Robertson
Daniel Robertson hit just .217 in spring training but it's what he's done with the Stockton Ports that has his stock rising.
So far in four games, he's 7-for-15 (.467). Two of his hits are doubles, and he's also walked twice. Conversely, he has only struck out one time.
Robertson is a natural shortstop but doesn't get much recognition due to being slotted behind top prospect Addison Russell. However, if he streaks his way through the minor league system, perhaps he can be the long-term answer somewhere else on the infield diamond.
2. Billy McKinney
Up or down? You be the judge.
Billy McKinney finished spring training with the A's hitting .385, the highest batting average of any player on the team with at least 12 games played. That's an up.
In four games with the Stockton Ports, though, he's hit .188 (3-for-16). That's not good. However, two of his three hits have left the yard.
Some are good, and some are bad. Hence, he's even.
1. Addison Russell
Prized prospect Addison Russell began 2014 with an invite to big league spring training. He finished well with a .280 batting average, two doubles, one triple and three RBI. He added a stolen base as well.
Afterward, he reported to the Double-A Midland Rockhounds.
In two minor league games to start, Russell is 5-for-7 (.714). He's picking up right where he left off in spring training, hitting one double, one home run, two RBI and a stolen base.
Unfortunately, Russell has landed on the disabled list.
According to Greg Berman of MiLB.com (RockHounds correspondent), Russell left the game on Friday, April 4, with a leg injury. His DL stint begins on April 5. Although it's a setback, it's still a minor setback. And everything Russell has done to this point has been positive, so his stock remains up.
All stats are courtesy of MLB.com.