After finishing up Day Two with a run on college seniors, the Oakland Athletics draft class added nine college players and one prep prospect in rounds 21-30. Learn more about the A’s 2017 21-30 round picks below.
Round 21: Heath Donica, RHP, Sam Houston State, Huntsville, Tex.
Bio details: 6’2’’, 210, R/R, Birthdate: 05/20/1994
Analysis: Donica was a key starter for Sam Houston State the past two seasons, racking up 19 wins. In 2017, Donica threw 110.1 innings and posted a 2.53 ERA. He struck-out nearly a batter an inning (109) while walking just 32. Donica was a semi-finalist for the NCAA Pitcher of the Year award.
Donica is already 23, in large part because he walked away from baseball after high school for a year before deciding to return to the mound in 2014. The big right-hander’s fastball sits in the low-90s, but he has an excellent sinker as well as a good feel for his slider and change-up. Donica is a strike-thrower who challenges hitters and gets plenty of swings-and-misses. He may be limited to a bullpen role in his pro debut since he threw so many innings during his college season, but Donica should return to the rotation next year.
Round 22: Bryce Conley, RHP, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Ga.
Bio details: 6’3’’, 200, R/R, Birthdate: 08/22/1994
Analysis: Conley moved around a lot in college, suiting up for three different teams – Mercer, Chattahoochee Valley and Georgia State. Conley had a 7.46 ERA for GSU this season, but he struck-out nearly a batter an inning (58 in 60.1 innings). Command issues were Conley’s biggest hurdle, as he walked 44 and allowed nine homeruns.
Conley has a starter’s frame, arm strength and a good feel for his breaking ball. His command issues will need to be addressed, but pitchers can often improve their strike-throwing under professional instruction. He should be a good project for the A’s player development staff.
Round 23: Malik Jones, RHP, Missouri Baptist College, Creve Coeur, Mo.
Bio details: 6’1’’, 185, R/R, Birthdate: 03/14/1996
Analysis: The Atlanta native moved around to several schools before settling at NAIA’s Missouri Baptist this season. He threw 25 innings for Missouri Baptist, posting a 3.60 ERA with 33 strike-outs. He walked 19, but opposing batters hit just .213 against him.
Jones is tall but slender. He has a quick arm and utilizes a three-quarters arm slot that creates some deception. His delivery may need smoothing in the pros, but he has shown a consistent ability to miss bats.
Round 24: Slater Lee, RHP, Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Bio details: 6’0’’, 220, R/R, Birthdate: 03/05/1995
Analysis: A reliever at Cal-Poly, Lee put up outstanding numbers for the Mustangs this season. After not posting an ERA under 5.50 his first three seasons for the Mustangs, Lee put up a 2.86 ERA and struck-out 54 while walking 14 in a career-high 44.1 innings. He allowed just one homerun.
Lee dropped his arm angle down significantly late in his career, and his stuff played up with the added deception in his delivery. He gets movement on his pitches and plenty of groundballs. Lee is likely to remain in a relief role in the pros.
Round 25: Hunter Hargrove, 1B, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Tex.
Bio details: 6’0’’, 220, R/R, Birthdate: 03/05/1995
Analysis: The Big 12 co-Player of the Year, Hargrove had a monster season at the plate for the Red Raiders. He hit .343/.423/.535 with a team-leading 26 doubles. Hargrove walked (29) more than he struck-out (25) and he drove-in 51 runs in 62 games.
Hargrove was announced as a first baseman, but he has moved around the field defensively. In high school, he played pretty much everywhere. A junior college transfer to Texas Tech, Hargrove played third base his junior season and first base this year. His hitting profile is similar to that of former A’s prospect Anthony Allioti in that most of his power is gap power, but he can work a count and he uses the whole field well. Hargrove is a high-energy player who was a leader on his Red Raiders team.
Round 26: Nate Webb, C, Martin Luther King HS, Riverside, Calif.
Bio details: 5’10’’, 200, R/R, Birthdate: 07/30/1998
Analysis: Webb was considered one of the more promising high school catchers in this draft class. He has a commitment to play at UC-Riverside. He hit .389 with a .423 OBP during his senior year in high school. A good athlete with a strong throwing arm, Webb did some pitching in high school, as well, and was clocked as high as 92 MPH by Perfect Game. He has also played corner infield.
Webb employs a high leg kick in his swing and there are some moving parts that may need to be calmed down in the pros. However, he has quick wrists and some juice in his swing. He is well built for a high school player and runs well for a catcher. Here’s video of Webb’s swing from the draft team at 2080baseball:
Round 27: Ben Spitznagel, CF, UNC, Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Bio details: 5’11’’, 180, L/R, Birthdate: 08/30/1994
Analysis: After moving around a bit early in his collegiate career, Spitznagel found a home his final two seasons with UNCG. The centerfielder hit .385 his junior year and .355 his senior season. He also stole 33 bases between those two seasons and he walked significantly more (55) than he struck-out (40).
Spitznagel had no Division I college offers coming out of high school, but he put up big numbers in all four of his college seasons (one in NAIA, one in junior college and two in Division I). Spitznagel has experience at both second base and centerfield, so he brings versatility along with good speed and an advanced approach at the plate. He carries a lot of similarities to current A’s prospect J.P. Sportman.
Round 28: Pat Krall, LHP, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Bio details: 6’6’’, 220, L/L, Birthdate: 08/27/1994
Analysis: After spending a year at Temple, Krall transferred to Clemson when the Owls program folded. He was a key reliever for the Tigers for two seasons and then moved into the starting rotation as a senior. The lefty had a 3.50 ERA and a 64:25 K:BB in 90 innings this season. As a reliever the year before, Krall had even better results, posting a 1.67 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 80.2 innings.
Krall, who was teammates with current A’s farmhands Zack Erwin and Eli White at Clemson, had the opportunity to turn pro after his junior season when he was selected by the Cardinals in round 28. He elected to return to Clemson and, ironically, went to the A’s in the 28th round again. Krall is a rangy left-hander who gets plenty of extension towards the hitter with his delivery. He tops out in the high-80s with his fastball but he has an excellent change-up and a decent breaking ball. Krall pitched in a lot of big situations for a top program and excelled in many of those moments. It will be interesting to see whether the A’s try him as a starter or a reliever.
Round 29: Adam Reuss, RHP, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Bio details: 6’5’’, 220, R/R, Birthdate: 03/14/1995
Analysis: The Horizon League has produced several intriguing prospects in recent years and the UW-M program is on the rise. Reuss spent four years with the Panthers, pitching in relief for most of his first two seasons and out of the rotation for most of his junior and senior years. Reuss had a 5.95 ERA and a 49:34 K:BB in 59 innings for the Panthers this season.
Reuss Is a good athlete with a big frame that could produce more velocity with more polish. He was a successful quarterback in high school and grew up in Illinois, so he hasn’t thrown as many pitches as many college seniors who hail from warmer weather climates. Under professional instruction, Reuss has the build and arm strength to make significant improvements.
Round 30: Cody Puckett, LHP, Middle Tennessee State, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Bio details: 6’1’’, 190, L/L, Birthdate: 03/29/1995
Analysis: Puckett, not to be confused with the former Reds’ prospect of the same name, pitched two seasons at MTSU after transferring from community college. The southpaw posted a 4.76 ERA this season, but he struck-out 71 in 58.2 innings. He also walked 37 and finished his collegiate career with a 5.56 BB/9.
Puckett has a deep arsenal, featuring a fastball, slider, split-finger and curveball. His command needs work, but he has some tools for professional pitching coaches to work with.
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