Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (21) | 2013 (25) | 2012 (26) | 2011 (28) | 2010 (12)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [88-74] AL West
AAA: [79-65] Pacific Coast League – Sacramento (2015: Nashville)
AA: [77-63] Texas League – Midland
A+: [85-55] California League – Stockton
A: [55-84] Midwest League – Beloit
A(ss): [33-43] New York-Penn League – Vermont
Marcus Semien, INF (from CWS)
The Athletics were in win-now mode in 2014, which prompted them to trade their prized prospect Addison Russell (and to a lesser extent Billy McKinney) to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. That left this already light system even lighter, but recent offseason moves have restocked the farm moving forward. By trading Samardzija to the White Sox and Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, the A’s acquired four of the ten prospects listed below as well as recently graduated middle infield prospect Marcus Semien. There may not be any “elite” fantasy prospects in this top ten now that Russell is gone, but there are still several players that could be useful fantasy options in the near future. High-A Stockton was loaded with talent and three of the top four on this list played their 2014 seasons on that team.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Daniel Robertson, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Robertson can hit, and that’s what will carry him to an everyday role in the big leagues. Offensive-minded middle infielders are a good thing in fantasy. The big plus for Robertson this year came in the trade of Addison Russell, who was sitting directly in front of him on the depth chart at short. With Russell gone, it’s possible Robertson assumes shortstop duties for the Athletics at some point in 2016. The 20-year-old doesn’t have much speed for a middle infielder, but evaluators grade his power as average and see a plus hit tool. He’ll face a big jump in competition this year at Double-A.
2. Matt Olson, CI/OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Olson is a typical “three true outcomes” type with big power and a pile of walks and strikeouts. He’s a good target in leagues that value on-base percentages over batting averages. Even in standard leagues his power will play though. The A’s already have several corner infield options and recently traded for another, so Olson has started taking reps in the outfield to improve his versatility. Like Robertson, Olson will make the jump to Double-A in 2015 as a 21-year-old. Any player that hits close to 40 homers is going to get attention, but if Olson continues to put up big numbers at the next level, he should shoot up prospect rankings. First base is relatively shallow as far as fantasy prospects, which adds to his appeal.
3. Franklin Barreto, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2017
Barreto was acquired in the controversial Josh Donaldson trade. It’s always a bad idea to judge trades right after they happen, but it’s particularly true in this case given Barreto’s distance from the majors. Reports consistently mention Barreto’s plus hit tool and that’s what will carry him as he advances. He also has plus speed and enough power to run into 8-12 homers. It’s too early to say if Barreto will be able to stay at shortstop long term, but he’ll likely end up at one of the two middle infield positions, where his offense will be more valuable in fantasy. Dynasty owners have an exciting prospect in this youngster, but need to remain patient as he hasn’t even hit full-season ball yet.
4. Renato Nunez, 3B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Along with Robertson and Olson, Nunez was part of a stacked Stockton team in High-A. He has plus power like Olson, but he doesn’t take as many walks. The A’s have several corner infield prospects, and Nunez could end up as a first baseman eventually. Bringing Rangel Ravelo into the fold further complicates the corner infield situation for guys like Nunez. He was signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela and had his first taste of a full season in 2013. In 2014 he saw his strikeout rate improve 5% and his home run total improve by ten. He’ll also make the jump to Double-A in 2015, and that will tell us more about his approach and how his power will play against tougher competition.
5. Matt Chapman, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
The Athletics selected Chapman in the first round (25th overall) in this year’s draft. He was also a pitcher, so he has a great arm that should help him remain at third base as he progresses. Chapman saw three levels in 2014, but spent the majority of the year in the Midwest League (A) where he hit .237/.282/389 with five homers. The 21-year-old has average power which could translate into ~15 homers at the major league level. That may not be enough to make an impact in fantasy outside of AL-only leagues or deeper dynasty formats, especially if he is going to call the Coliseum his home park. Chapman should start 2015 with High-A Stockton for his first full season of pro ball.
6. Rangel Ravelo, CI | Age: 22 | ETA: 2015
A fifth-round draft pick from 2010, Ravelo was part of the return for Samardzija. He’s a big man with little speed and not much power – but he can hit. Ravelo has shown good on-base skills and hasn’t posted a batting average under .290 since he was 18. He recently transitioned from third to first base with the Sox but could get more time at both positions with Oakland. Ravelo spent the entire season at Double-A in 2014 and was one of the best hitters in the Southern League. He should be on the Triple-A roster to start the 2015 season. Evaluators seem to think there could still be more in-game power lurking in the bat, but for now he’s a better option in AL-only or OBP formats.
7. Chad Pinder, 2B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Pinder gets points for bringing a little of everything to the second base position, where offensive value is a little harder to come by in fantasy. He’s similar to a Kody Eaves type from the Angels’ system. Pinder was also part of the Stockton crew in 2014 and like them he will get his first taste of Double-A this season. Not to sound redundant, but that jump is considered one of the larger ones from level to level so it’s important to note. Pinder is two years older than the others but he is destined for a position at which the A’s aren’t nearly as deep. With average tools, Pinder makes more sense in deep dynasty formats where the large majority of prospects are owned.
8. Kendall Graveman, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Graveman was part of the return for Josh Donaldson from Toronto this offseason. He’s polished and close to the majors – in fact he appears as the fifth starter for the A’s on some depth charts. That’s despite throwing less than 210 total innings in the minor leagues to this point. In 2014, the 23-year-old pitched at four different levels with the majority of his season spent at High-A Dunedin. He even threw a handful of innings for the Jays in September. Graveman has a four-pitch arsenal that includes a plus fastball. He also has above average control and that was evident in his sub-2 walk rate in nearly 170 innings. It’s that control of his stuff that will give him the chance to reach the majors quickly. Put him in the Coliseum and he’ll be fantasy relevant in deep leagues even as a fourth or fifth starter.
9. Sean Nolin, LHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2015
The other arm in the Toronto trade, Nolin could be in the mix with Graveman for the fifth rotation spot in 2015. He throws four pitches including a slider, curve, and changeup. The change is his best offering outside of his fastball according to Baseball America’s scouting report. Arms attached to warm bodies can carry fantasy value when they pitch in Oakland, but Nolin’s ceiling is limited to a fourth starter. His control wasn’t as good as Graveman’s this season but his strikeout numbers were also better. Prior to 2014, Nolin posted walk rates under three per nine, so it’s a matter of getting that good control back in 2015. He’s an AL-only/deep league option like Graveman.
10. Raul Alcantara, RHP| Age: 22 | ETA: 2017
Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery hit the pause button on Alcantara’s development after only three starts. Prior to the injury and the trade with Toronto, Alcantara was Oakland’s best arm with a plus fastball, plus changeup, average slider and curve. He was part of the return for Andrew Bailey from Boston way back in December 2011. Like a lot of other TJS pitching prospects, this presents a buy-low opportunity for deep dynasty league owners that can afford to stash injured arms. His upside is a #3 starter if he can return to his pre-injury form.