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Minor League Notebooks

Oakland Athletics prospects make a strong impression in big league camp

Several Oakland A’s minor league prospects have made a strong impression in big league camp this spring.

Franklin Barreto limbers up. / Photo by Chris Lockard
Franklin Barreto continues to turn heads. / Photo by Chris Lockard

The Oakland A’s are under two weeks away from the start of the regular season. This spring, the A’s have showcased several of their top prospects with playing time in big league camp. While top pitching prospect A.J. Puk received most of the coverage for his eye-opening spring, there are several others on our A’s top-50 prospect list who had strong springs.

Let’s take a look at some of the standout performances:

Stats as of 3/19/2018

Franklin Barreto (#1): The A’s top prospect has shown this spring why his time in the big leagues is coming closer. After taking the winter off from playing in the Venezuelan Winter League, a refreshed Barreto is second on the A’s in at-bats this spring. Through Monday, he was batting .295/.347/.641 with three home runs. He’s also played well defensively, especially at second base. Barring an injury, Barreto will begin the year in Nashville, but he’s bound to reach Oakland at some point this year.

A.J. Puk (#2): Puk’s final start in big league camp ended in the third inning, but he hadn’t allowed a run until that frame, when he was charged with four. Puk finished his stint in big league camp with four runs allowed in 10.2 innings pitched. The lefty is likely to make his major-league debut this year.

Jorge Mateo (#3): Mateo’s time in big league camp was limited due to a knee injury that kept him out of games for much of the spring. He returned in time to smack two home runs in one game. He also stole two bases in only five games played. Mateo will be the starting shortstop for the Sounds at the start of the year.

Jesus Luzardo (#4): Twenty-year-olds don’t generally get an opportunity to pitch in big league camp, let alone two opportunities, but Luzardo is far from your typical 20-year-old. The lefty recorded a save with a perfect ninth inning in his big league camp debut and followed that up with 2.1 scoreless innings in a start against the White Sox. Luzardo will get his first taste of full-season ball this year.

Sean Murphy (#10): Murphy continues to show why he’s the A’s catcher of the future with another strong stint in big league camp. Murphy collected five hits in 12 at-bats, including a home run, and flashed his plus arm and receiving skills behind the plate. He could be knocking on the door of the big leagues by the end of this season.

Sheldon Neuse (#13): Perhaps no prospect did more to raise his profile within the organization this spring than Neuse, who has put on a power display all spring. He leads the team with five home runs and 46 at-bats. Neuse has a 1080 OPS and has looked every bit as good as that number would suggest. The A’s need to find a spot on the field for Neuse, who is blocked at third base by Matt Chapman, but Neuse is versatile enough for the A’s to find a home for his glove in the near future.

Greg Deichmann (#14): The A’s third-overall pick in last year’s draft has made the most of his opportunities in big league camp. The outfielder has four hits in eight at-bats, including a home run and a double. He’s looked good in minor league camp, as well, and should start the season in Stockton.

Nick Allen (#15): If it is unusual to see a 20-year-old pitcher start a big league spring game, it’s almost unheard of for a 19-year-old shortstop to start one. Allen, less than a year removed from high school, got the start under the lights against the Dodgers on Monday. He made a spectacular defensive play, just as he has seemingly done in every appearance in big league camp this spring. Allen may be the best defensive player the A’s have had in their minor league system in more than 20 years.

Kevin Merrell (#17): I witnessed a funny exchange in the A’s clubhouse last week when I was in Arizona. Merrell was over from minor league camp and A’s manager Bob Melvin greeted him warmly, saying ‘you should have a permanent locker over here.’ Merrell, the A’s second-overall pick last season, made a strong impression in his big league stints this spring. He has five hits in 12 at-bats, including a home run, and he has swiped two bases. He may be the fastest player in the A’s system and should start the year in Stockton.

Tyler Ramirez (#19): Ramirez hasn’t had as much playing time as Merrell, but he’s taken advantage of his opportunities. In three games, he has two hits and an RBI in five at-bats.

Norge Ruiz (#25): Ruiz finished the 2017 season dealing with elbow discomfort. The A’s have brought him back slowly, but he has had a pain-free spring. He made an appearance in his first big league spring training game on Monday, tossing two scoreless innings against the White Sox. He struck-out two and walked one.

Nolan Blackwood (#26): A non-roster invitee, Blackwood continued to dominate as he did during the Arizona Fall League. In five appearances this spring, he has yet to allow a run in five innings of work. The sidearming right-hander has five strike-outs. He should start the year in Midland.

Lou Trivino (#32): In his first big league camp, Trivino fared well, allowing a run on one hit and two walks in 4.2 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander should start the year in the Sounds’ bullpen.

B.J. Boyd (#38): After a breakout 2017 season, Boyd has continued to swing a good bat this spring. He has eight at-bats in eight games played and has collected a home run and two walks.

Kyle Finnegan (#48): Finnegan remained in big league camp as a non-roster invitee until this week and opened eyes on the A’s coaching staff. He allowed three runs in one bad outing that lasted 2/3 of an inning, but threw 3.1 scoreless innings in his other appearances. He struck-out three and walked one and looked more aggressive in the strike-zone than in past seasons.

Other prospect performances of note

Santiago Chavez: The longtime A’s minor league catcher was his typical stalwart self behind the plate and he showed well with the bat, collecting three hits and a walk in five at-bats.

Beau Taylor: Taylor has four hits and two walks in 12 at-bats this spring and he continues to be a favorite receiver for A’s pitchers.

Slade Heathcott: A minor league free agent signing this offseason, Heathcott is batting .389/.480/.444 this spring while showing his versatility with the glove in the outfield and at first base.

Nick MartiniAnother minor league free agent signing, Martini has six hits and six walks in 19 at-bats over 20 games played this spring.

Anthony Garcia: Garcia won the MVP of the Caribbean World Series and carried that momentum over into his first camp as a member of the A’s. He has three home runs and three doubles in 17 games played.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Rene Hechabarria

    March 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Nick Allen just puts a smile on my face . It started with the play against Seattle , and what he did vs the Dodgers . If that guy could make the mlb by 2023 and bat .270 He would be gold . So what does that make Mateo rightfielder , because you want to see Merrell in center . House of Cards must be played right .

    • JBoot

      March 21, 2018 at 11:23 am

      I’d argue Mateo is faster than Merrell, and I’d like to see Mateo in CF once Allen pushes the issue at SS… Merrell could then be a super sub playing ss/2b/CF and pinch running etc…

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