Oakland’s pitching-friendly park might ding the overall upside of its hitting prospects, but on the flip side the pitching gets a slight boost. The Athletics have a balanced farm with solid prospects both in the box and on the mound. What this organization lacks in blue chip prospects, it makes up for with depth and a slew of players on the verge of joining the show. At the 2015 trade deadline, the A’s turned Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, and Tyler Clippard into three of the prospects listed below. Billy Burns emerged as a table-setter, while fellow graduate Mark Canha was third on the team in both homers and runs batted in. Oakland will pick sixth overall in the 2016 draft.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Franklin Barreto, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2017| 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 364 PA, .302/.333/.500, 13 HR, 8 SB, 4% BB, 18% K
A wrist injury at the end of July cost Barreto the second half of his 2015 season. It’s a shame, because he was on a tear at the time – hitting .375 with six home runs in July alone. The Athletics got their hands on Barreto in the controversial Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto, and we’re about a 1.5/2 years away from seeing the 19-year-old in the majors if he keeps raking. There’s lots of upside at a premium position, although I’d temper power expectations to ~12 homers, especially in Oakland.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Matt Olson, 1B/OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 585 PA, .249/.388/.438, 17 HR, 5 SB, 18% BB, 24% K
Olson is one of your typical three-outcome players. He has big power and can find the free pass, but he’ll also have his share of strikeouts. The A’s have added to his versatility by playing him in the outfield and he should surface later this season. We don’t know how his plus power will play in Oakland (and it looks like at least some of his 2014 performance was Cal League driven) but 20 dingers shouldn’t be a long reach.
Chad Pinder, SS | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 522 PA, .317/.361/.486, 15 HR, 7 SB, 5% BB, 20% K
Pinder has now put together two seasons of double-digit homers, and his average actually improved with the move from the Cal League to Double-A. It’s that hit tool that will be the key, as pretty much any middle infielder with a pulse and some pop is going to get noticed in fantasy right now. Personally, I think there’s a lot to like here in deep leagues, and the 2015 Double-A numbers are significant since they came against more advanced pitching.
Renato Nunez, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 416 PA, .278/.332/.480, 18 HR, 1 SB, 7% BB, 16% K
Like many prospects, Nunez enjoyed an offensive burst in the Cal League, and he carried some of that success into Double-A during the 2015 season. Against better pitching and in a less hitter-friendly environment, the 21-year-old still hit .278 with 18 homers and 23 doubles. For fantasy, Nunez’s 20-homer ceiling would look better from the hot corner, so hopefully his defense is good enough to stick there and he doesn’t wind up sliding over to first base.
Matt Chapman, 3B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 352 PA, .250/.341/.566, 23 HR, 4 SB, 11% BB, 22% K
If Nunez does move off of third base, it won’t be too long before Chapman is ready to take the reins. His plus power was evident this year in the Cal League, and he should spend all of 2016 in the upper levels of the minors. The 22-year-old might even get a cup of coffee towards the end of the year. Chapman is a good name to check in on in dynasty leagues, where a fantasy owner might be convinced that his 2015 numbers were just a product of the Cal League. I like the power upside if that’s how he gears his approach and there should be a relatively high floor even if he doesn’t.
Jacob Nottingham, C/1B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A/A+
2015 Stats: 511 PA, .316/.372/.505, 17 HR, 2 SB, 6% BB, 19% K
Nottingham became a household name after the Scott Kazmir trade with Houston. He’s more of an offensive-minded catcher, which makes him the type we want for fantasy leagues. The downside is that it means he takes a little longer to develop. He had reps at first base prior to the trade, so there are other ways to get his bat in the lineup if Oakland doesn’t think he can be an everyday backstop. 2017 might be an aggressive ETA, but if he continues to have success in Double-A, I don’t see why he wouldn’t continue to chug along towards Oakland.
Sean Manaea, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 74.1 IP, 2.66 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 10.9 K/9
Manaea came to Oakland in the Ben Zobrist trade with Kansas City. The 23-year-old lefty’s arsenal is built around a double-plus fastball, but also features a slider and change. Manaea missed the first half of the season with an ab issue, limiting him to just 74 innings. There’s #3 starter upside and enough strikeout potential to make him a good target in fantasy.
Joey Wendle, 2B | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats: 618 PA, .289/.323/.442, 10 HR, 12 SB, 4% BB, 18% K
Wendle fits this tier perfectly. He’s close to the majors – with average tools across the board that might be a better fit in a utility role. Now 25, Wendle should get a good look in 2016 and his middle infield eligibility might be useful in deeper formats. With enough at-bats, he could kiss double-digit homers and steals.
Dillon Overton, LHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 126 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
Overton was still coming off Tommy John surgery to start 2015, so his numbers should probably be taken with a grain of salt. He has good control, and while none of his pitches are well above average, his feel for them should help him succeed as a starter. Right now he projects more as a back-end guy who doesn’t hurt your ratios, but once he’s another year away from surgery that projection might seem conservative.
Sean Nolin, LHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 47.1 IP, 2.66 ERA, 3.6 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
Nolin had the injury bug in 2015, but could start the 2016 season in the Oakland rotation. Another piece in the Donaldson trade, Nolin has average stuff that fits best on a deep league roster. Like Overton, he won’t help you a ton in strikeouts, but won’t kill your ratios either. In that park, I’d take a gamble on pretty much any Oakland starter with a job.
Casey Meisner, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A/A+
2015 Stats: 143.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
If Meisner reaches his mid-rotation ceiling, the Clippard trade is going to end up being a nice deal for Oakland. The 20-year-old split 2015 between Single and High-A, keeping his ERA and walk rates in check at both stops. Meisner is tall, skinny, and what scouts call “projectable” so there’s a chance he just keeps getting better. He’s already shown a velocity bump.
Rangel Ravelo, 1B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 246 PA, .304/.377/.439, 3 HR, 1 SB, 9% BB, 17% K
Wrist surgery sidelined Ravelo to start the 2015 season. He didn’t project for a ton of power to begin with, but obviously that wasn’t good news for his development. He got back on track in the second half, and should split this season between Triple-A and the majors. While Ravelo is a decent hitter with good plate discipline, the power just isn’t there to make him a prime fantasy target at first base.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Yairo Munoz, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A/A+
2015 Stats: 565 PA, .260/.306/.397, 13 HR, 11 SB, 6% BB, 15% K
Munoz spent the majority of 2015 in Single-A, where he hit nine of his 13 homers. The added pop was another step forward for the 20-year-old, who could be a power/speed threat at shortstop down the road. He should be facing Double-A pitching by mid-2016 if not sooner.
Richie Martin, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)
2015 Stats: 226 PA, .237/.353/.342, 2 HR, 7 SB, 11% BB, 21% K
The A’s selected Martin in the first round of the 2015 draft (20th overall). He’s more of an on-base/speed profile, and there’s probably never going to be more than 8-10 homers in his bat. He’d be a good fit at the top of a lineup though, and one day contribute average, runs, and steals in fantasy. He could move pretty quickly through the minors.
Sandber Pimentel, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 471 PA, .243/.335/.380, 13 HR, 1 SB, 11% BB, 22% K
Pimentel has some swing-and-miss in his game that makes him a project, but he also has plus power. 2015 was his first full season of pro ball, so at the moment this is a name that you don’t really need to know unless you play in one of those massive sim-style leagues.