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Weekly Prospect Update: Oakland A’s

The Oakland Athletics’ playoff chances have been gone for quite some time now. At 64-81, they sit in the basement of the American League West. However, their newly upgraded top 10 prospect list is loaded with talent and has the future looking bright for the A’s. With most Minor League seasons in the books, here’s how the A’s top 10 prospects did in 2017.

10. James Kaprielian, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Draft: 2015, Round 1(16) – NYY
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
2017 stats: Has not played.

The A’s acquired Kaprielian at the trade deadline this year in the deal that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees. In return for their ace, the A’s brought in a guy who’s fully capable of filling that role in the future. Kaprielian boasts a sinking fastball that has touched 99 mph, along with a curveball, slider, and changeup. All pitches rate above-average, and none has stood out as better than the other. Kaprielian underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-April and is currently rehabbing.

9. Grant Holmes, RHP

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 1(22) – LAD
  • Acquired by trade in 2016
2017 stats: (Double-A Midland): 148.1 IP, 11-12, 4.49 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 150 K, 61 BB.

Holmes was one of three righties the A’s received in return for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill at last year’s trade deadline. What they got was a ground-ball hurler with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with great sink. His curveball is his best swing-and-miss pitch and also helps in inducing ground balls. Holmes put together a decent 2017 season and capped it off with one of his best performances of the year. On September 3, Holmes went eight innings, allowed an unearned run on three hits, walked a batter and struck out five. It was his second eight-inning performance without allowing an earned run and was the perfect way to close out his age-21 season.

8. Logan Shore, RHP

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2016 Round 2(47) – OAK
2017 stats: (RK-AZL): 8 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP, 13 K. (High-A Stockton): 72.2 IP, 2-5, 4.09 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 16 BB, 74 K.  

The Arizona Rookie League was far too easy for Shore, who was nearly perfect in three starts. In eight innings, he allowed just two hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 13 en route to a quick promotion to High-A Stockton. While none of his pitches stand out as elite, his command and durability make him a prime work-horse candidate in the Major Leagues. Since being promoted, he’s shown progression, especially with limiting his walks. Shore ended his season with a great string of three quality starts.

7. Lazaro Armenteros, OF

  • Age: 18
  • Signed out of Cuba in 2016 – OAK
2017 stats: (FRk-DOSL): 6 games, .167/.385/.167, 1 RBI, 6 R, 2 SB, 3 BB, 9 K. (RK-ARIZ): 41 games, .288/.376/.474, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 24 R, 10 SB, 16 BB, 48 K.  

[the_ad id=”384″]Armenteros’ combination of power and speed earned him the No. 4 spot on’s Top 30 international prospects list last season. He put both of those tools on display after making his professional debut stateside with the AZL Athletics. In 48 games he knocked four balls over the fence and was 10-for-11 in stolen base attempts. The 18-year-old definitely has some fine tuning that needs to be made, but he’s a special talent that could end up as a versatile tool in the future.

6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP

  • Age: 19
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 3(94) – WSH
  • Acquired by trade in 2017 
2017 stats: (RK- GULF): 13.2 IP, 1-0, 1.32 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 15 K. (RK-ARIZ): 11.2 IP, 0-1, 1.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 1 BB, 13 K. (Low-A Vermont): 18 IP, 1-0, 2.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 4 BB, 20 K.   

The A’s targeted Luzardo at the trade deadline with good reason. He made his professional debut after recovering from Tommy John surgery this June and was sent to Oakland just a month later. Luzardo looks to be just as effective on the mound as he was before the surgery, sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball. He came on to help the Vermont Lake Monsters make it to the championship, posting a 2.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 18 innings. Now that he’s fully recovered, he should see a bigger workload next season and is a prime breakout candidate.

5. Austin Beck, OF

  • Age: 18
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 1(6) – OAK
2017 stats: (RK-AZL): 41 games, .211/.293/.349, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 23 R, 7 SB, 17 BB, 51 K. 

The A’s liked Beck enough to make him the No. 6 overall selection in this year’s Draft. He absolutely crushed the competition in his senior year of high school, batting .590 with 12 homers in 28 games. His success can be attributed to his well-above-average bat speed and great knowledge of the zone. Beck’s first 41 games as a professional weren’t great, but his talent is obvious and should start showing as he gains more experience.

4. Jorge Mateo, SS/OF

  • Age: 22
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 – NYY
  • Acquired by trade in 2017 
2017 stats: (High-A Tampa): 69 games, .240/.288/.400, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 39 R, 28 SB, 16 BB, 79 K. (Double-A Trenton): 30 games, .300/.381/.525, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 26 R, 11 SB, 15 BB, 32 K. (Double-A Midland): 30 games, .292/.333/.518, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 25 R, 13 SB, 9 BB, 33 K.

Mateo was one of three top-10 prospects the Yankees sent to Oakland in return for Sonny Gray at the trade deadline. Mateo, known for his elite speed, led the minors with 82 steals in 2015 and has continued to show off his wheels as he develops. In 60 games at Double-A, Mateo batted right around .300, hit eight homers and stole 24 bases. His speed also plays nicely with his defensive abilities, as well as his deceptive strength at the plate.

3. Dustin Fowler, OF

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2013, Round 18(554) – NYY
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#71)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Scranton Wilks-Barre): 70 games, .293/.329/.542, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 49 R, 13 SB, 15 BB, 63 K.

The other offensive prospect sent from New York was Dustin Fowler. Fowler, unfortunately, caught a bad break during his Major League debut in June, rupturing his patellar tendon in his right knee in the very first inning of his first game. Nonetheless, the A’s still liked his tools enough to target him in the trade. He’s an all-around solid player with the ability to hit for average, steal bases and make use of his surprising power. Fowler showed off all of those tools in Triple-A before the injury and hopefully will be back to 100% before long.

2. A.J. Puk, LHP

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(6) – OAK
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#36), Top 10 LHP Prospects (#3)
2017 stats: (High-A Stockton): 61 IP, 4-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 98 K, 23 BB. (Double-A Midway): 64 IP, 2-5, 4.36 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 86 K, 25 BB.

Puk’s value skyrocketed after his first full professional season last year. The tall lefty relies on his high-90s fastball and wipeout slider to keep his high strikeout totals up. His command and control have come a long way this season, and it’s shown in his K/BB. While he saw his ERA tick up after being promoted to Double-A, there was still plenty to like about Puk at the higher level. He struck out 86 compared to 25 walks and showed he could pitch deep into starts. Puk ended his season on a high note with six scoreless innings and 13 strikeouts.

1. Franklin Barreto, SS/2B

  • Age: 21
  • Signed out of Venezuela in 2012 – TOR  
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#34), Top 10 SS Prospects (#8)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Nashville): 111 games, .290/.339/.456, 15 HR, 54 RBI, 63 R, 15 SB, 27 BB, 141 K. (MLB Oakland): 19 games, .200/.254/.382, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB, 4 BB, 25 K.

Barreto’s great ability to hit for both average and power earned him a call-up in June and again when rosters expanded earlier this month. His first at-bat in the Majors resulted in a home run, but he hasn’t done too much at the Major League level just yet. At Triple-A, Barreto was a hit machine, posting an average of right around .300 and putting 15 balls over the fence. He can run, as well, stealing 15 bags with Nashville. Barreto’s versatility in the field gives him an advantage, as it should help him gain playing time in the future.

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