Just hours ahead of the Rule 5 protection deadline, the Oakland Athletics traded right-hander Brandon Bailey to the Houston Astros for outfielder Ramon Laureano. To make room for Laureano on the 40-man roster, the A’s outrighted Bobby Wahl to Triple-A Nashville. Wahl is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.
Laureano joins the A’s after a disappointing 2017 campaign with Double-A Corpus Christi. Laureano was a breakout star in the Astros’ system in 2016, when he hit .319/.428/.528 for High-A Lancaster and Corpus Christi. He then went on to hit .295/.340/.477 for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the 2016 AFL season.
In 2017, Laureano struggled in his return to Corpus Christi. In 123 games, he hit only .227/.299/.369 with 11 home runs and 110 strike-outs. He did steal 24 bases in 34 chances.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Laureano was a 2014 16th-round pick out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Community College. He has above-average speed and has 89 stolen bases in 331 career minor league games. Laureano can play all three outfield positions, although he is strongest defensively in the two corner spots. He has a career .352 OBP and has generally done a good job of getting on-base throughout his career. Laureano’s power has started to emerge over the past two seasons. He has a chance to be a double-digit home run/stolen base hitter in the big leagues if everything comes together for him.
Laureano joins Boog Powell, Dustin Fowler, Jake Smolinski and Jaycob Brugman as A’s 40-man roster outfielders who can play all three outfield positions.
Bailey was the A’s sixth-round pick in 2016. He missed time with two groin strains during the 2017 season, but he still managed to throw 91 innings for Low-A Beloit and High-A Stockton. He had a combined 3.26 ERA and he struck-out 120, while walking just 31.
Bailey is listed at only 5’10”, which makes some scouts skeptical that he can be effective as a big league starter. However, Bailey has had swing-and-miss stuff dating back to college and he has a starter’s repertoire. He has a four-seam fastball, a four-seam change-up, a spike curveball and a slider. Bailey was also working on a cut-fastball late last season.
Wahl had an injury-plagued 2017 season that ended with surgery. The right-hander made his major-league debut with the A’s in May and appeared in seven games before landing on the disabled list. Wahl was a 5th-round pick of the A’s in 2013. If he clears waivers, he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, although it is very unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 draft after passing on the opportunity to claim him during the normal waivers process.
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