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Oakland A's Top 50 Prospects

Oakland Athletics top-50 prospects mid-season review: 20-11

During the off-season, we named our top-50 prospects in the Oakland Athletics system. Now that we have passed the midway point of the season, we thought it would be a good time to check the progress of those players. In the fourth of our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 20-11 from our off-season list.

Joey Wendle / Photo by Chris Lockard
Joey Wendle is back on the field after missing time with a shoulder injury. / Photo by Chris Lockard

Note: every season, it is our tradition to do a mid-year check-in on our preseason Oakland Athletics top-50 prospects. This is not a re-ranking of current prospects. A new top-50 prospects list will be released this off-season. To view our preseason top-50 Oakland A’s prospects list, click here.

Stats as of 6/29/17

20. Max Schrock, 2B

Schrock had an eye-opening first full professional season, when he hit .331/.373/.449 in 129 games split between two Nationals and two A’s affiliates. The A’s acquired Schrock in late August in exchange for reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Schrock began his A’s career with Stockton and finished the year with Double-A Midland. After participating in the Arizona Fall League, Schrock returned to Midland at the start of this year. He hit only .228 in April, but Schrock has been one of the RockHounds’ top hitters ever since. He hit .371 in May and .324 in June. Schrock missed nearly three weeks with a lower leg injury, but he hasn’t skipped a beat since returning. He is batting .307/.352/.436 for the season and recently participated in the Texas League All-Star game.

Schrock is arguably the best contact hitter in the A’s system. He has a 10.6% K-rate this year and a 21% line-drive rate. Schrock doesn’t have huge power, but he can reach the seats from time to time. Defensively, Schrock has continued to improve at second base each year he has been in pro baseball. With Joey Wendle getting the bulk of the playing time at second in Triple-A, Schrock is likely to stay in Midland for now, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him reach Nashville by the end of the year.

Progress: Continuing to spray line-drives around the park

19. Daulton Jefferies, RHP

Jefferies went to the A’s with the 37th overall pick in the 2016 draft. The Cal alum was a projected top-15 pick early last spring, but questions about his health caused him to fall to the A’s. Once he signed, Jefferies threw only 11.1 innings in the Arizona Rookie League, as the A’s were cautious with his health. Jefferies didn’t throw during Extended Spring Training, but he began his throwing program in November and was on a normal schedule this spring.

Jefferies was part of a talented Stockton Ports’ pitching staff on Opening Day. He had two outings for the Ports, allowing two runs on seven hits in six strike-outs over seven innings. Unfortunately, Jefferies injured his elbow during his final appearance and he had Tommy John surgery. Jefferies will miss 12-18 months recovering from the surgery. When healthy, Jefferies’ stuff is electric. If he regains his pre-surgery form, Jefferies should rise through the minor leagues quickly after he returns.

Progress: Recovering from Tommy John

18. Jaycob Brugman, OF

After earning team MVP honors from the Nashville Sounds last season, Brugman was added to the A’s 40-man roster this off-season. His 2017 campaign got off to a slow start when he was sidelined with a hamstring injury at the end of spring training. He returned to Nashville on May 2nd and a little more than a month later, he got the call to the big leagues. Brugman hit .288 with a .373 OBP in 33 games with the Sounds. Thus far for the A’s, Brugman is batting .242 with a .329 OBP in 19 games.

Brugman hasn’t hit for much power yet this season, but he has a career .428 SLG in the minor leagues. What he has done well is work deep into counts and play good defense in centerfield, two elements that were sorely lacking in the A’s everyday line-up before his arrival. Brugman’s numbers with the A’s aren’t eye-popping, but he has made a positive contribution in nearly every game he has played in. He should continue to get a long look in the big leagues with the A’s this season.

Progress: Big leaguer

17. Joey Wendle, 2B

After a 2016 season that culminated in a 28-game stint with the A’s in the big leagues, Wendle went to Mexico during the off-season to play winter ball and gain experience at shortstop. Wendle figured that adding some defensive versatility would increase his chances of sticking in the big leagues. He played well in Mexico and had an outside chance of making the A’s Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury ended his spring early and kept him back at Extended Spring Training until April 19. Since re-joining the Sounds, Wendle has a .278/.323/.444 in 61 games.

Wendle’s shoulder wasn’t 100% when he joined the Sounds, so he was limited to second base until this week, when he finally made his defensive debut at shortstop. Chad Pinder and Franklin Barreto have both received big league promotions this year in large part because of their ability to play both second base and shortstop. If Wendle stays healthy enough to continue to gain playing time at shortstop, it will put him in a good position for a promotion the next time the A’s have a need. With Marcus Semien on a rehab progression back to the big leagues, the A’s may not have a need for another middle infielder until September. If he stays healthy, Wendle should get another look in the big leagues in September, if not before then.

Progress: Back on the field

16. Bobby Wahl, RHP

Wahl was added to the A’s 40-man roster this off-season after he posted a 2.65 ERA in 54.1 innings for Stockton, Midland and Nashville. It was Wahl’s best season as a pro, and his healthiest, as he remained mostly injury-free for the first time since he turned pro. Wahl began the season with Triple-A Nashville, and he got off to a fast start. He posted a 1.93 ERA with 14 strike-outs in 9.1 innings for the Sounds before getting the call to the big leagues on May 3. Wahl had a shaky debut outing, but he had been pitching well before landing on the DL with a strained right shoulder on May 24. In 7.2 innings with the A’s before the injury, Wahl had a 4.70 ERA and eight strike-outs.

Wahl had a cortisone shot in his shoulder last week and appears to be making progress towards returning to the mound. Injuries have been an issue for Wahl throughout his career, but when he is healthy, he has electric stuff. If he can get back to 100%, Wahl should return to the A’s bullpen, so that Oakland can continue to evaluate whether he will be a part of their 2018 relief corps.

Progress: Rehabbing a shoulder injury

15. Bruce Maxwell, C

After one-and-a-half seasons with Double-A Midland, Maxwell parlayed an excellent 2016 spring training into an Opening Day assignment with Triple-A Nashville. Maxwell didn’t let the opportunity with the Sounds be wasted. He had a breakthrough season at the plate, batting .321/.393/.539 with a career-high 10 homeruns in just 60 games. The A’s promoted Maxwell to the big leagues on July 23. After a slow start, Maxwell finished his first big league stint with a .283/.337/.402 line in 33 games. This spring, Maxwell stuck with the A’s for most of big league camp, but he was sent back to Triple-A when it became clear the A’s were going to carry only two catchers. Maxwell spent the first two months of the season going back-and-forth between Nashville and Oakland. Then on June 22, the A’s designated starter Stephen Vogt, effectively opening a path for Maxwell to get regular playing time with the A’s. He has taken advantage thus far, collecting 10 hits in 18 at-bats since his recall.

Maxwell was drafted as a bat-first catcher, but he has worked hard to become an above-average defensive backstop. He has a strong arm and works hard on the game-planning aspect of the job. Offensively, he’s one of the best opposite-field hitters in the A’s organization, but he can also turn on a fastball when given the opportunity. With a strong second half, Maxwell should cement his spot as the A’s everyday catcher for 2018.

Progress: Big leaguer

14. Heath Fillmyer, RHP

Fillmyer parlayed a strong second half with the Low-A Beloit Snappers in 2015 into a breakout season with High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland in 2016. The right-hander posted 3.29 ERA in 134 innings between the two levels. This season, Fillmyer returned to Midland, and it has been much of the same. He currently sports a 3.48 ERA in 79.2 innings.

Fillmyer’s peripherals have taken a bit of a dip this season. His strike-out rate is down from 19.6% with Midland last year to 16.4% this season. His walk-rate has gone up from 5.4% to 9.8%. His groundball rate has gone up 3%, however. In June, Fillmyer held Texas League batters to a .230 average and he struck-out 28 in 33 innings. He has plenty of weapons – a fastball that sits 92-94 and can touch 96, a change-up that mimics a split-fingered fastball with its 86-88 MPH velocity and late downward action, and a tight spinning breaking ball. He is also an excellent athlete who fields his position well. At 23, Fillmyer is still young, but he has a chance to reach Triple-A by the end of the year.

Progress: Strong and steady in Double-A

13. Dakota Chalmers, RHP

The A’s have been deliberate with their development of Chalmers, their talented third-round pick from the 2015 season. The tall right-hander pitched with short-season Vermont last year, showing both electric stuff and erratic command in striking out 62 but walking 32 in 67 innings. This year, Chalmers received his first full-season assignment as a member of the Low-A Beloit Snappers. Again, Chalmers showed both electric stuff and erratic command. He held Midwest League batters to a .155 average and struck-out 47 in 29 innings, but he also walked 29, leading to a 4.34 ERA. On May 27, the A’s re-assigned Chalmers to Vermont. Although the Lake Monsters season has begun, Chalmers isn’t currently with the team, as he is away dealing with a non-baseball related issue.

Chalmers is only 20 and he has shown that he can dominate hitters when he is around the plate. If he can reign in his command, he has a chance to an electric pitcher in the highest levels.

Progress: Inactive

12. Daniel Gossett, RHP

After a difficult 2015 season, Gossett had a breakout 2016 campaign. Pitching at three different levels, Gossett posted a 2.69 ERA in 153.2 innings. After earning a non-roster invitation to big league camp, Gossett began the season as the Sounds’ Opening Day starter. He struggled some in April, posting a 6.27 ERA. He dominated in May to the tune of a 1.54 ERA in six starts. After one start in June, Gossett was promoted to Oakland when Andrew Triggs landed on the DL. In four starts with the A’s, Gossett has had two very good outings, one so-so outing and one poor start.

So far, when Gossett has hit his spots in the big leagues, he has been very effective. When he has fallen behind, hitters have taken advantage. Homeruns have been a problem when he has caught too much of the middle of the plate, but he is also getting groundballs at a solid 48% rate. Gossett has also walked only three and he has worked at least into the sixth inning in three of his four starts. The A’s rotation is currently in flux with several starters on the DL at various stages of their rehabs. If the A’s regular starters get healthy, Gossett is likely to return to Triple-A, but there is a strong likelihood that he will get a long look in September as the A’s try to determine the make-up of their 2018 rotation.

Progress: Getting his feet wet in the big leagues

11. Jharel Cotton, RHP

Cotton joined the A’s last July when Oakland sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander opened eyes right away with the A’s, posting a 2.82 ERA in six starts with Nashville. The A’s recalled Cotton in September and he was arguably their best pitcher the final month of the season. He had a 2.15 ERA in five big league starts. Cotton earned a spot in the A’s Opening Day rotation, but he quickly hit his first speed bumps as a big leaguer. After four starts, Cotton had a 5.68 ERA and he was sent back to Triple-A. He would remain with the Sounds for just two starts before returning to Oakland. Since then, he has pitched better than he did early in the year. He has allowed more than three runs only twice in six starts. Cotton’s best start was his last against the White Sox, but it was cut short by a blister. He is expected to pitch again sometime early next week.

Cotton, like many of the A’s starters this year, has been hurt by the longball. He has allowed 13 homers in 71.2 innings. Cotton has also walked nearly two more batters per nine innings than he did in his stint with the A’s last year. His K/9 is still very strong, and when he has been locating, he has been very difficult to hit. Given the flashes of brilliance they have seen from Cotton, the A’s are likely to be patient with him as he develops consistency.

Progress: Working out the kinks in the big leagues

Oakland Athletics top-50 prospects mid-season review: 30-21

Oakland Athletics top-50 prospects mid-season review: 40-31

Oakland Athletics top-50 prospects mid-season review: 50-41

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