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 6/27/17
30. Brandon Bailey, RHP
After posting a 2.93 ERA between the A’s two short-season squads during his pro debut last year, Bailey has been even better this season. The right-hander has a 2.68 ERA and a 73:21 K:BB in 57 innings for the Low-A Beloit Snappers. Midwest League batters are hitting only .199 against him and he has a 1.07 WHIP.
Bailey had a solid arsenal of pitches coming into this season (four-seam fastball, change-up and curveball) and he has been incorporating a knuckle-curveball into his repertoire with good results. Bailey misses plenty of bats, as his 32.4% K-rate indicates. He could stand to get a few more quick outs so he can work deeper into games, but that is nitpicking at this point. Bailey has proven better than the Midwest League competition and he should get a shot with High-A Stockton in the near future.
Progress: Dominating the Midwest League
29. Luis Barrera, OF
Barrera was a highly regarded international amateur signing in July 2012. It took him two seasons to find his groove in the Dominican Summer League, but he has been very productive since he came to the US in 2015. Barrera hit .287 for the AZL A’s that season and he batted .310/.361/.428 in 60 games between short-season Vermont and Low-A Beloit last season. This year, Barrera has been one of the Snappers’ most consistent hitters. In 61 games, Barrera is batting .285/.327/.421 with 20 extra-base hits.
The 21-year-old is still growing into his power, but he has a chance for double-digit homerun totals as he matures. He is an above-average runner and he has a plus throwing arm. The A’s won’t rush Barrera, but he is one of the most promising outfielders in their system.
Progress: Producing for Beloit
28. Casey Meisner, RHP
It was a long slog for Meisner with High-A Stockton. The right-hander joined the Ports in August 2015 after he was acquired from the New York Mets in the deal that sent Tyler Clippard to Queens. Meisner spent all of last season with the Ports, as well, and he struggled, going 1-14 with a 4.85 ERA in 117 innings. When Meisner posted an 8.84 ERA in April for Stockton, he must have started to wonder if he’d ever leave the Port City. Things turned around dramatically for Meisner after that. He had a 2.70 ERA in May and a 2.05 ERA in June. Earlier this week, he was finally promoted to Double-A Midland. He will arrive in the Texas League with a 3.98 ERA and an 80:20 K:BB in 74.2 innings.
Meisner had trouble throwing quality strikes last season, but he has improved his location significantly this year. His mechanics have improved, as well. Before his struggles last season, Meisner was one of the top pitching prospects in the A’s system. He looks poised to return to those ranks.
Progress: Ready to take on the Texas League
27. Corey Walter, RHP
Walter made the transition from reliever to starter last season, and the change was a successful one. He posted a 2.15 ERA in 100.1 innings for the Midland RockHounds last year. Walter returned to Double-A to start the 2017 season thanks to a backlog of starters in the upper-level of the A’s system. He continued to dominate the Texas League, posting a 2.44 ERA in 44.1 innings before finally earning a promotion to Triple-A. In seven starts for the Sounds, Walter has a 3.38 ERA in 40 innings. He has thrown two seven-inning complete games for the Sounds.
Walter doesn’t miss a ton of bats, which is why he has remained undervalued by prospect evaluators. But the big right-hander gets a ton of downward movement on his pitches and he can touch 94 with his fastball. He has a 1.45 GO/AO this year and a 2.05 GO/AO for his career. Whether Walter is a starter or a reliever in the big leagues remains to be seen, but with every strong outing, he moves closer to getting the opportunity in the Show.
Progress: Finding success in Triple-A
26. Tucker Healy, RHP
Healy has been one of the A’s top relief prospects for several years now, but he has yet to get an opportunity in the big leagues. The right-hander was a non-roster invitee to the A’s big league spring training camp this year. He didn’t allow a hit in three innings in big league spring games and he struck-out five, but he also walked five. Healy has had a similarly uneven season with Nashville. His ERA is a sparkling 2.70 in 30 innings for the Sounds, but he has walked 16 and has struck-out 21, a low total for a pitcher with a career 11.37 K/9.
Walks have been an issue for Healy during his time in Triple-A, but he has generally missed enough bats that the walks haven’t hurt much. This season, Healy’s location has been off, as batters have hit him at a higher rate than normal and his homer rate is up. Yet, he has been able to strand a significant number of the runners he has allowed to reach base. Healy has big league potential, but he will likely need to show a stretch with better command before he gets the call from the A’s.
Progress: Trying to tighten his command
25. Paul Blackburn, RHP
On a roster of experienced minor leaguers, Blackburn began the 2017 season as the only member of the Nashville pitching staff to never have thrown an inning in Triple-A before the season began. The right-hander hasn’t been phased by the jump in levels. He is currently second in the league in ERA (3.05) and he was named to the PCL All-Star team.
Blackburn has a number of weapons to choose from on the mound, including a cut-fastball, curveball, change-up and a fastball. He isn’t a big strike-out pitcher, but he induces a lot of groundballs. Blackburn has a workhorse build and the efficiency to work deep into games. With the A’s focused on the future, they are likely to give Blackburn an opportunity at some point during the second half of the season.
Progress: Making his way towards the big leagues
24. Skylar Szynski, RHP
Szynski was the A’s fourth-round pick last season, but he signed an over-slot bonus nearly double his slot value at pick 112 overall. The Indiana high school right-hander came to pro ball with electric stuff and a body type that offered the possibility of future velocity. Szynski threw only a limited number of innings in his pro debut season, posting an 8.10 ERA in 13.1 innings.
Szynski had an impressive spring training and the A’s were considering sending him to Low-A Beloit at the start of the season but injury interrupted those plans. Szynski hurt his pitching elbow, and while the injury hasn’t required surgery, it has prevented him from throwing in games for the past three months. He is continuing to rehab and may not make it back on the mound before the regular season ends.
Progress: Rehabbing an elbow injury
23. Logan Shore, RHP
Shore was the A’s third overall pick (second round) in the 2016 draft. Arguably the most polished college pitcher available in the draft, Shore was expected to be a quick riser in the A’s system. Shore threw 21 innings for short-season Vermont in his pro debut, and he posted a 2.57 ERA with 21 strike-outs. At the start of the 2017 season, the A’s bumped Shore up to High-A Stockton, where he was part of a tandem rotation. Shore pitched extremely well out of the gate, allowing eight runs over his first 30.2 innings. Then in a start on May 14, Shore allowed four runs in four innings. After that game, he was placed on the DL with a strained lat.
Shore continues to rehab the injury. He is currently throwing side sessions in Mesa. If all continues to go well, Shore will begin throwing batting practice sessions next week followed by simulated games the following week. Before the injury, Shore was throwing his fastball a few ticks harder than he had in college (he was clocked between 92-94 MPH). He was also featuring a cut-fastball to compliment his excellent change-up and two-seam fastball. Assuming he can get back to 100% in the next few weeks, Shore still has a chance to reach Double-A by the end of the season.
Progress: Rehabbing a lat strain
22. Raul Alcantara, RHP
After making his major league debut last September, Alcantara came into spring training out of options but with an inside track to make the A’s pitching staff either as a starter or a long reliever. The right-hander had a so-so spring, posting a 4.76 ERA in 22.2 innings. However, when Sonny Gray went down with an injury during spring training, Alcantara was given an opportunity to be in the A’s starting rotation at the outset of the season. His audition as an A’s starter didn’t go well. He allowed eight runs in two innings and was quickly moved to the bullpen. After allowing seven runs (five earned) over five relief innings, Alcantara was designated for assignment on April 25. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Nashville.
Alcantara found his footing once back in Triple-A. He made five appearances for the Sounds (three starts) and allowed just five runs in 16 innings. He struck-out 12 and walked only two. Unfortunately, Alcantara was placed on the disabled list with bicep tendinitis on May 30 and he has yet to return. Alcantara is currently in a throwing progression with no set timetable for a return.
Progress: Rehabbing an injury
21. Sean Murphy, C
Murphy, a third-round selection, was the first position player selected by the A’s in 2016. Considered one of the top defensive catchers in the 2016 draft class, Murphy also flashed impressive power during his collegiate career at Wright State. A staph infection in his knee limited Murphy to just 76 at-bats in his pro debut with short-season Vermont. He hit .237/.318/.329 with two homers. This year, the A’s challenged Murphy with an assignment to High-A Stockton and he has responded with an All-Star performance thus far. In 45 games, Murphy is batting .297/.343/.527 with nine homers. He is also playing well on defense, throwing out a third of all attempted base-stealers.
The only blight on Murphy’s season thus far was a three-week stint on the disabled list with a wrist injury. He hasn’t shown any ill-effects from the injury since returning, and he will now get a chance to test that wrist against Texas League competition after a promotion to Double-A on June 28. With his 70-grade arm and potential 20-homer bat, Murphy has a chance to be a special catcher at the big league level.
Progress: Movin’ on up
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