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Minor League Notebooks

Oakland Athletics acquire Jake Bray, Jonah Heim to complete Jaycob Brugman, Joey Wendle deals

**STORY UPDATED AT 1:40 pm PST**

The Oakland Athletics added minor league relief prospect Jake Bray and minor league catching prospect Jonah Heim as the players to be named later from the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays in the trades that sent Jaycob Brugman to Baltimore and Joey Wendle to Tampa, respectively.

Like Brugman, Bray is a member of the 2013 draft class. Not on the 40-man roster, Bray was eligible for last week’s Rule 5 draft but went unclaimed.

A right-hander, Bray came to the Orioles in the 12th round of the 2013 draft from Feather River Community College. He would miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery that May. Bray made a successful return to the mound midway through the 2015 season, throwing 31 innings for the GCL Orioles and short-season Aberdeen. He posted an 0.87 ERA and struck-out 39 while converting all 10 of his save attempts.

In 2016, Bray began the season with Low-A Delmarva, but an injured left oblique shut him down for six weeks mid-season. He returned to Aberdeen after recovering from the injury and spent most of the rest of the season there before returning to Delmarva for the final two weeks of the regular season.

Last year, Bray finally got a fully healthy season in the books. Returning to Delmarva, he appeared in 43 games. In 51 innings, Bray had a 3.88 ERA and a 82:14 K:BB.

Thanks to the injuries, Bray is old (25) for a player who hasn’t pitched above Low-A. However, when he has been healthy enough to pitch, he has dominated in pro ball. He has a 2.76 ERA in 124 innings with 163 strike-outs and only 25 walks. He has allowed just seven home runs.

Bray is primarily a fastball-slider pitcher who can touch the mid-90s with his fastball. He has pitched in relief exclusively as a pro, and, given his injury history, is likely to stay in that role. A third baseman/closer as an amateur, Bray is a good athlete who fields his position well. He will likely compete for a spot in the High-A Stockton bullpen this spring.

Heim was also a member of the Orioles’ 2013 draft class. A fourth-round pick from Amherst Central (NY) HS, Heim was traded from the Orioles to the Rays at the deadline in 2016 in a deal that sent Steve Pearce back to Baltimore.

Heim is considered one of the better defensive catchers in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He has a tall, lanky frame similar to current A’s catching prospect Sean Murphy. A 2016 scouting report on Heim from 2080baseball had this to say about Heim’s defense:

“Behind the plate, Heim is a big but quiet target. He has soft hands when receiving but a strong wrist, when pitch framing. His quick-twitch ability allows him to make subtle movements left or right and move pitches from small increments out of the zone to in inside the zone. He has plus lateral agility and has shown the ability to deaden and block balls in the dirt. Heim is a very intelligent game caller and always is on the same page as his pitcher. When throwing out runners, he routinely pops in the low 1.9s (major league average is 2.0) and his athletic ability allows him to get out of the crouch quickly and get to his phenomenally sound footwork. The one fault of Heim has been when pitchers are slow to the plate, he tends to rush his footwork and his accuracy on his throws can be hindered, but that’s an easy fix.”

In 2017, Heim split the season between Low-A Bowling Green of the Midwest League and High-A Charlotte of the Florida State League. He hit a combined .260/.317/.402, but his best numbers came with Bowling Green. Only 22, Heim still has time to develop offensively. He is a switch-hitter who has historically hit better from the right side. Heim will compete with Collin Theroux and Jason Goldstein for a spot with High-A Stockton this spring.

 

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