Tag: Sheldon Neuse

Oakland Athletics 2019 Preseason Top 10

Oakland Athletics 2019 Preseason Top 10

1)

Player: Jesus Luzardo
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’ Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: When the Nationals traded for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in 2017 there was a lot of reaction from the A’s fans they didn’t get enough, fast forward 18 months and it looks like they got a massive haul from the nation’s capital. Luzardo might be the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball with a career ERA of 2.53 and working his way through three levels a season ago. He has a slurvy breaking ball that plays plus thanks to the heaviness of it, a plus change, and a fastball that can sit into the high-90s with late run. His command is still not where the A’s would ideally like it, but he has made strides and there is belief he will have above average command before long. All in all, the A’s may have gotten an ace in the deal as well as other pieces, one of which will be highlighted later on.

2)

Player: Sean Murphy
Position(s): C Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 230 lbs.
Quick Report: As strong an arm as you will find from any catcher, Murphy is an elite defensive backstop who just happens to be a quality hitter. There is length in the swing that is especially susceptible to velocity up in the zone, but he has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball otherwise and is quickly improving at the plate. How much contact he will make is still TBD but he has shown signs of being at least an average hitter regardless of position. Add to that the borderline plus raw power that is represented by average to better game power and you have a guy who could be one of the better catchers in baseball within a few years.

3)

Player: A.J. Puk
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: DNP
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’7” Weight: 240 lbs.
Quick Report: Just one of the long list of former Florida starters scattered throughout the top of prospect lists, Puk seemed destined to be in Oakland in 2018 before blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery last Spring. He is long bodied and gets great extension and downhill plane from his 3/4 delivery that he repeats well despite his size, although the front leg can get stiff at times. He started working in a curve that was very good in high school but not needed at Florida, which may become a solid above-average offering. He also has a good change to go with a fastball that can touch 97 and a dominating power slider. He has the upside of being a number two or three starter and could be there by the end of the season if the arm is back to full strength.

4)

Player: Austin Beck
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: I saw Beck in his first taste of pro ball in the AZL in 2017 where he has about as unimpressive debut as a top pick can have. Many were already criticizing the A’s for overdrafting the outfielder, and the .211/.293/.349 slash line didn’t help much. Despite the numbers a handful of things really jumped out seeing him in person. The athleticism is real and should make him an easy candidate to stay in center field. The body is mature, strong forearms and legs could allow him to advance quickly. The bat speed is unreal, the only Minor Leaguer I have seen with more bat speed is Clint Frazier, and that bat speed makes the ball jump off the bat. Beck put most of those tools together and had a very good full-season debut in 2018, although the power is still more raw than game at this point.

5)

Player: Jameson Hannah
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: Short A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 5’9” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: I was a big fan of at Dallas Baptist and I may have written about him a time or two at my previous stop. He is a dinosaur of sorts in this day and age, relying on a compact swing to spray line drives all over the field, relying on gaps and not worried about home run power. He has no real plus tool unless you consider instincts a tool, in which he might get a 70 grade on it. He has a good first step on the bases and in the field where he doesn’t look like he should be able to hold down center, but always seems to make the play. He should be able to stick in center and be a quality asset there despite many feeling he has a ceiling of a fourth outfielder.

6)

Player: Jorge Mateo
Position(s): OF/SS Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: Some of the shine has certainly come off the Mateo train (to get my metaphors mixed up), but the athleticism certainly has not gone anywhere. He has off the charts speed that rival anyone in baseball at any level. He has seen the vast majority of time at short but has also played second and center in his pro career and may have to be versatile if the bat doesn’t improve soon. He has strength in his frame but has busy feet in the box and finds himself off-balance and swinging at bad pitches too often. The pitch selection and balance sap the power from his bat, as does a seeming insistence to go the other way with the ball rather than pull the ball on the inner half. The track record makes it hard to believe these issues at the plate are going away, but the tools and athleticism still make him a guy who could be an everyday player or elite utilityman.

7)

Player: Lazaro Armenteros
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: Armenteros’ journey stateside highlights many things wrong with the international signing system, but that is a conversation for another day, and not really anything of his own doing as much as merely a broken system. In terms of on the field, he is a raw ballplayer, but has all the tools and flare we have come to expect from Cuban outfielders. He is as strong as they come, with incredible raw power, but the bat is long and has plenty of swing-and-miss concerns. He can run, but he has poor reads in the outfield that will likely prevent him from staying in center. The arm is well below average so his future is in left field, where he can focus on tapping into that raw power and becoming an impact power bat.

8)

Player: James Kaprielian
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 25 2018 Highest Level: DNP
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: One of the pieces, along with Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler, the A’s received from the Yankees in 2017 for Sonny Gray, a deal that has not held up as the blockbuster it appeared to be at the time. Kaprielian had elite control stats at UCLA and had an advanced feel for pitching and a repeatable delivery. He has held up to the billing in terms of command, barely walking two per nine innings, but the reliability expected to come with the repeatability hasn’t been there as he has struggled with injuries and missed all of 2017 and 2018. He flashes signs of being a quality mid-rotation arm when healthy thanks to a fastball that really improved after turning pro, along with a quality curve, slider, and change. If he can put in a healthy and productive season, he could be a top 100 type prospect, but for now he was someone I gave some consideration to not even making my top 10 A’s prospects.

9)

Player: Sheldon Neuse
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight:220 lbs.
Quick Report: The other piece that came to Oakland along with Luzardo in the Doolittle/Madson deal, he is the one I anticipated being a true breakout at the time. While at Oklahoma, he played short and even saw time there early in his pro career. Since then he has become a guy who is purely a corner infielder and may end up at first before all is said and done. The arm would have had him drafted as a hard throwing reliever if is wasn’t for the bat, but his below average footwork doesn’t allow him to show off a raw arm that is plus but plays below average for the position in games. At the plate, he struggled some in 2018, striking out far too much and walking far too little, and he was unable to tap into his power. That said, the power is still there, as is the arm and glove skills, so putting it all together could turn Neuse into a sure fire impact bat and quality third baseman, but that just hasn’t happened yet.

10)

Player: Grant Holmes
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 225 lbs.
Quick Report: Yet another piece in the farm system brought in via trade, this one from the Los Angeles Dogers, Holmes has legit 80 grade hair. When it comes to the pitching part, he is a shorter and stocky righty with a power fastball and big, slurvy breaking ball that both grade out as potentially plus. He has a developing cutter and below average change that, along with command trouble, could prevent him from being the mid-rotation arm many expected when he was drafted. Instead, he will likely be a late inning reliever that will allow him to sit closer to 96-97 he touches than the 93-94 he currently sits at as a starter. It is also worth noting he only put in six innings last season with a shoulder injury that never resulted in surgery, so it will be something to keep an eye on to see if he is truly fully healthy this season.

Others of Note:

Nick Allen – SS – 20 – Low A
Skye Bolt – OF – 25 – AA
Parker Dunshee – RHP – 23 – AA
Luis Barrera – OF – 23 – AA
Greg Deichmann – OF – 23 – High A
Jeremy Eierman – SS – 22 – Short A
Daulton Jefferies – RHP – 23 – High A