Name: Dakota Chalmers
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 175
How Acquired: Selected in the 3rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
The talented Dakota Chalmers has struggled to find a consistent pitching motion since turning pro. With the changes he made during fall Instructional League, can Chalmers make the jump from talent to performer?
The A’s spent seven figures on an over-slot bonus to sign the Georgia high school star away from a college commitment to pitch at the University of Georgia. The right-hander spent his pro debut season with the Rookie-level Arizona A’s, making 11 appearances and posting a 2.66 ERA in 20.1 innings.
In 2016, Chalmers remained in Arizona until June, when he joined the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters at the start of the New York-Penn League campaign. He met with mixed results with Vermont, holding opposing batters to a .217 average and striking out 62 in 67 innings but also posting a 4.70 ERA and walking 37.
Despite the struggles with command, Chalmers moved up to full-season ball in 2017. He began the season with Low-A Beloit as part of the starter tandem. He made 10 appearances and logged 29 innings for the Snappers, posting a 4.34 ERA. Chalmers was nearly unhittable with Beloit, holding Midwest League batters to a .155 average and striking out 47. Unfortunately, he also had trouble pitching in the strike-zone. He walked exactly a batter an inning. The free passes led to almost as many runs allowed (14) as hits allowed (15).
Chalmers made his final appearance for Beloit on May 22. It was a season-high five-inning appearance in which he allowed just one run on one hit and four walks. He struck-out eight. Shortly after that appearance, Chalmers was placed on the inactive list. He spent much of the rest of the season dealing with a non-baseball related matter.
By the time the regular season concluded, Chalmers was ready to get back on the mound. He was a full participant in the A’s fall Instructional League, and he put that time to good use. Working closely with A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson and A’s minor league rehab coordinator Craig Lefferts, Chalmers made significant changes to his delivery. The work took him past the close of Instructs, and he stayed on in Mesa to continue his work after the camp concluded.
“It was one of those worms that turns into a butterfly, a metamorphosis. We tried a couple of different things this Instructional League and we went from a Kershaw delivery that he tried for a few games to almost a lower arm-slot delivery,” Patterson said in a post-Instructs interview. “Lefty [Lefferts] and I both had some play in the Roy Halladay move years ago with his arm action. We are basically working on that with Dakota. The other day, we put him up next to James Naile and tried to get that arm in about the same slot.
“Basically, we are trying to tweak his delivery a little bit, mostly with his arm slot, and get him a little bit stronger with his front leg and get his head more online. I think all of us have come together and believe that this is the direction that we have to go for him to be a consistent pitcher and help the Oakland A’s win a championship one day. He’s in on it, so am I, so is Lefty and so is Keith [Lieppman].”
Since Chalmers turned pro in 2015, the A’s have been searching for a consistent throwing motion that will get him in good position to attack the strike-zone consistently. If this latest change is effective, Chalmers could easily dart up near the top of the A’s prospect list by the end of 2018. He is that talented. Chalmers’ fastball sits in the 92-95 MPH and has touched 97 on occasion, and it has some tailing action. He has two breaking balls, one that sits in the high-80s with a sharp break and the other that is a big bender in the low-80s. Chalmers also has a developing change-up.
The right-hander turned 21 in October, so he has plenty of time to develop and grow into his lean, 6’3’’ frame. Depending on how he looks this spring, Chalmers could return to Beloit to start the 2018 season.
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