**Right below is the Athletics Top 20 list simplified. Scroll further down for FULL Present/Future Grades, FV, ETA, and summaries on EACH PLAYER ranked in the system! Tons of Statistics on each player as well! Some player highlights, future outlooks and more enjoy!**
If you like Podcasts, Click here to take a listen to the Athletics Top 20 Pod where you can hear our prospect Analysts discuss the Top 5 prospects, and 5 others they find interesting in the system! Who doesn’t like more prospect analysis?
|1||Jesus Luzardo||LHP||Trade with Nationals – 2017|
|2||AJ Puk||LHP||1st Round: 6th Overall – 2016 Draft|
|3||Sean Murphy||C||3rd Round – 2016 Draft|
|4||Nick Allen||SS||3rd Round – 2017 Draft|
|5||Robert Puason||SS||International FA Signing – 2019|
|6||Tyler Soderstrom||C||1st Round: 26th Overall – 2020 Draft|
|7||Logan Davidson||SS||1st Round: 29th Overall – 2019 Draft|
|8||Brayan Buelvas||OF||International FA Signing – 2018|
|9||Daulton Jefferies||RHP||CBA: 37th Overall – 2016 Draft|
|10||Jeff Criswell||RHP||2nd Round – 2020 Draft|
|11||Sheldon Neuse||INF||Trade with Nationals – 2017|
|12||Jonah Heim||C||Trade with Rays – 2018|
|13||James Kaprielian||RHP||Trade with Yankees – 2017|
|14||Luis Barrera||OF||International FA Signing – 2012|
|15||Austin Beck||OF||1st Round: 6th Overall – 2017 Draft|
|16||Marcus Smith||OF||2nd Round – 2019 Draft|
|17||Tyler Baum||RHP||3rd Round – 2019 Draft|
|18||Lazaro Armenteros||OF||International FA Signing – 2016|
|19||Austin Allen||C||Trade with Padres – 2019|
|20||Grant Holmes||RHP||Trade with Dodgers – 2016|
1. Jesus Luzardo LHP – Oakland Athletics (MLB)
Age: 22 | B/T: L/L | 6’0″ – 218 lbs | ETA: 2020
Luzardo is the A’s consensus top prospect, and for good reason. All he’s done since joining the A’s system in 2017 via a trade is excel, and he’s risen up prospect boards accordingly. Last season he made an electrifying debut for the Athletics during their playoff push, which culminated in a dominant showing in the AL Wild Card Game. He yielded only one hit over three innings while striking out four batters in relief, proving he could handle the bright lights of not only regular season baseball, but the postseason as well.
On the mound, Luzardo brings a three pitch repertoire, and all three pitches are at least league average, with the potential to be plus or plus-plus. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, and he can reach back for a few extra MPH in pitcher’s counts. There’s both depth and run to his fastball, which allows him to pitch effectively down in the zone. His breaking ball has shown different shapes and velocities, with it sometimes being a high-velocity, tight slider, and other times morphing into a slurve-like breaking ball that’s slower and loopier. The latter he throws mostly for strikes, while the former is an out pitch, used to get swings or weak contact in strikeout counts. Luzardo’s changeup complements his fastball well, as it shows a similar movement profile with both run and depth. He can throw it for strikes or use it as an out pitch as well. His command is already good enough to pitch in a starting rotation, and he’s shown the ability to command all three of his pitches to every quadrant of the zone.
2. AJ Puk LHP – Oakland Athletics (MLB)
Age: 25 | B/T: L/L | 6’7″ – 248 lbs | ETA: 2020
AJ Puk is the other lefty at the top of the A’s prospect lists, and he brings similar stuff to Jesus Luzardo, albeit with slightly less polish. Puk was in the running to be the number one overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida, and the A’s were happy to take him at number six overall. He moved quickly through the A’s system, even getting a Futures Game invite in his first season. However, Tommy John surgery set him back a year, pushing his MLB debut to 2019 during the A’s playoff push. He pitched well out of the bullpen in his brief big league stint, but his future is at or near the top of the A’s rotation.
Puk brings power stuff from the left side of the mound, drawing comparisons to Randy Johnson because of his stuff and body type. His fastball averages 97 mph, and he has the ability to reach back and touch 99 mph, but his fastball doesn’t get much run or sink, which keeps it from being an elite pitch. The best secondary pitch Puk offers is his power slider, which he throws in the low 90s with plus movement. His changeup has flashed plus at times, and with more refinement will give him another out pitch to go along with his slider. His curveball was added during Spring Training in 2018, and while it isn’t a plus pitch, he can still throw it for strikes and force hitters to honor it in the box.
What may keep Puk from becoming a true ace is his command. While he has improved his strike-throwing as he’s moved through the minors, he still lacks the polish that Luzardo has, and because of his troubles repeating his mechanics and perceived lack of athleticism, he may never have more than average command. Still, his stuff is good enough that he has the ceiling of a top of the rotation arm, and a floor of an elite bullpen weapon in the mold of Josh Hader.
3. Sean Murphy C – Oakland Athletics (MLB)
Age: 25 | B/T: R/R | 6’3″ – 228 lbs | ETA: 2020
Sean Murphy is another member of the A’s 2016 draft class that’s poised to make an impact in the big leagues. An unheralded recruit out of high school, he was a preferred walk-on at Wright State, where he gradually built his prospect stock until he became considered as one of the best college catchers in the 2016 draft. He fell slightly to the third round because of a hamate injury, but the A’s scooped him up with the 83rd overall pick. Murphy has been slightly injury-prone in the minors, suffering from both another hamate injury and a knee injury during his time in the A’s system, but those injuries didn’t stop him from moving through the ranks and eventually making his MLB debut last fall.
The calling card for Murphy since his college days has been his defense, as he was considered the most advanced defensive catcher in his draft class, and more recently was honored as the best defensive prospect in the MLB at catcher in a poll of executives conducted by MLB Pipeline. Murphy’s arm strength is plus-plus, as he registered the fourth-highest velocity on a caught stealing attempt in the MLB in 2019 at 87.4 MPH. His blocking is also excellent because of his athleticism behind the plate, and while his receiving may slightly lag behind the rest of his defensive skills, he has shown improvement in that area as a pro prospect. At the plate, his raw power really stands out, which is also a product of his athleticism. As his hit tool progresses, it will allow him to get to his raw power more during games. Specifically, better plate discipline and a slight adjustment in his swing could bump his potential power production to a new level.
Murphy’s floor is an average MLB catcher with some pop, but if his hit tool progresses to allow him to both get on base at a higher clip and tap into his raw power more, he could become an All-Star level catcher that contributes to the A’s both offensively and defensively, which is becoming a rarity for a catcher.
4. Nick Allen SS – Stockton Ports (A Adv)
Age: 21 | B/T: R/R | 5’8″ – 166 lbs | ETA: 2021
Nick Allen is another defensive wizard in the A’s system, and another prospect they drafted in the third round, this time with the 81st overall pick in 2017 out of a California high school. The A’s paid him what was tied for the highest signing bonus in the third round of the draft that year, $2 million, to lure him away from his college commitment. Allen’s body type and height were the main factors in his draft position, as he was considered one of the best overall defenders in the draft, and potentially one of the best defensive high school shortstops in years. He struggled initially in rookie ball and in his first full season in the minors, but added weight and an adjustment to his plate approach and swing led to a large offensive uptick for Stockton in 2019 before his season was cut short by a high ankle sprain.
As mentioned earlier, Allen is a borderline defensive phenom at shortstop, with the focus to make all of the routine plays and the talent to create highlights every game. He has quick, soft hands and a strong arm, in addition to great instincts and plus range. He grades out as an above average defender at the Major League level right now, with the potential to win multiple Gold Gloves if he reaches his full potential. His bat is what will either elevate him to a role as an everyday starter and potential impact player, or relegate him to a super-utility role in the big leagues. His diminutive stature limits his power production drastically, but in his second full pro season he made contact more consistently, got on base at a higher clip, and was hitting close to .300 when he suffered an injury. This provides some hope that he can become a league average hitter, capable of hitting at the bottom of the lineup and holding his own while contributing Gold Glove defense at shortstop. Allen’s defensive ability is what will carry him to the major leagues and gives him a strong floor, but his ceiling will be determined by how much progress he can make at the plate.
5. Robert Puason SS
Age: 17 | B/T: S/R | 6’3″ – 165 lbs | ETA: 2024
NO PROFESSIONAL STATS
Robert Puason was the A’s headline international signing in 2019, as he checked in as the 2nd-best international prospect according to most major outlets, behind the ultra-hyped Yankees signee Jasson Dominguez. He’s a switch-hitting shortstop with the potential to have average to above-average tools across the board as he matures and progresses.
Puason’s signature trait right now is his athleticism. He presently grades out as an above-average runner with an above-average arm, and he has the potential to have plus raw power as well once he fully matures. He also demonstrates good hands and smooth actions in the field, which coupled with his athleticism should translate into plus defensive ability. His bat, and especially his approach at the plate, are question marks as he’s yet to play a game in the minor leagues yet. In workouts and batting practice he’s shown the ability to hit the ball in the air and drive it, but his swing from both side of the plate has holes that need to be addressed, and his plate approach is far from refined. This is reflected in his present hit and power grade, but because he’s only 17 he has plenty of time to develop, and his physical traits will only get better as well as he grows and matures.
While there’s obviously a lot of projection with Puason, he has great potential because of his set of tools and he could even raise his FV if he produces once he gets the opportunity to play at the minor league level.
6. Tyler Soderstrom C/3B/RF
Age: 18 | B/T: L/R | 6’2″ – 200 lbs | ETA: 2024
NO PROFESSIONAL STATS
Tyler Soderstrom was the A’s first round pick this year, and they were able to sign him for an over-slot signing bonus of $3.3 million, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a first round pick (6th overall) in 1993. Soderstrom was viewed as the top high school catcher in the draft, and his name was linked to a few teams with picks in the top 20 before being selected by Oakland. He’s a bat-first catching prospect, but because of his athleticism, he may profile as a third baseman or corner outfielder if the A’s want to accelerate his development.
Soderstrom’s best tool is his hitting, with a smooth left-handed swing and an advanced approach for a teenager at the plate. Scouts and draft evaluators pegged him as one of the best pure high school hitters in the draft regardless of position, and it’s evident when looking at both his production at the showcase level and in a workout setting, his bat has the potential to carry him to the big leagues.
His defense will be his biggest question mark, as it is with most high school catchers. Soderstrom has solid arm strength that should become above-average or plus once he’s fully grown, but he’ll have to learn the nuances of catching in the professional game in addition to improving nearly all aspects of his catching game (receiving, blocking, handling a pitching staff, etc.) before he’s ready to catch at a big league level. With his average speed, his above-average/plus arm strength, and glove work (outside of catching), Soderstrom could profile at a corner outfield spot or at third base if his development is being hindered as a catcher.
He has the chance to be a difference maker as an offensive-minded catcher if he’s able to handle the position at the pro level, but even if he can’t, he could still move quickly through the A’s system at another position.
7. Logan Davidson SS – Vermont Lake Monsters (A Short)
Age: 22 | B/T: S/R | 6’3″ – 185 lbs | ETA: 2022
Logan Davidson was the A’s first round draft pick with the 29th overall selection in 2019 after a great career with the Clemson Tigers. Davidson demonstrated above-average power at Clemson from both sides of the plate and the potential to stick at shortstop, but his lack of success in the Cape Cod League with wood bats concerned teams enough that he fell to the end of the first round after being projected as a potential Top 15 pick. The concerns about his ability to hit with wood weren’t exactly put to rest after a terrible start to his pro career, but a great month of August and then progress in Oakland’s instructional league might be reason for optimism that he can make enough contact to utilize his power and progress through the minors quickly.
Davidson is another guy who fits a profile the A’s seem to value; he’s an athletic player that will stick at shortstop and provide solid defense there while hitting for above average power and stealing bases. He has good arm strength and good range because of his speed, and while he doesn’t have the defensive upside of a prospect like Nick Allen, he should provide serviceable defense at shortstop, as well as the ability to play other positions in the infield as well. His power is his calling card at the plate, as his raw power and game power both have the potential to be average to above average from both sides of the plate. However, he strikes out a lot and his overall plate approach needs work, and he needs to make more contact in order to tap into his power.
He’ll never be a .300 hitter, but if he can hit .250 it could allow him to eclipse 20 home runs annually. Davidson has the ceiling to put up multiple 20-20 seasons in his prime with solid defense at shortstop, but the question marks surrounding his hit tool make it more likely he ends up as a utility player or a below average regular.
8. Brayan Buelvas OF – AZL Athletics Green (RK)
Age: 18 | B/T: R/R | 5’11”- 155 lbs | ETA: 2024
Brayan Buelvas was an under the radar international signing in 2018, but he showed up in a big way in his debut in the United States, slashing .300/.392/.506 in rookie ball as a 17 year old. Buelvas is actually younger than Tyler Soderstrom, the A’s first round pick in 2020, and has already demonstrated that he has the potential to excel in the A’s minor league system. While 44 games is a small sample size, Buelvas has put himself on the prospect map because of his eye-opening performance.
Buelvas has the potential to be close to a .300 hitter in the big leagues because of an extremely advanced approach for his age and good contact ability. His power production is a question mark mostly because there’s a decent amount of physical projection left for him, but he did hit 3 home runs in 44 games and could eventually hit close to 20 home runs once he’s fully matured. Even if he doesn’t mature the way he’s expected to, he should still retain gap power because of his ability to square the ball up.
He’s a natural center fielder and should be good enough defensively to stick in center, but he can play the other two outfield positions as well and would be above average defensively in left field. His speed is another above average tool, and he may be able to steal over 20 bases a season.
Buelvas still has a long way to go as a prospect, but he has plenty of time to progress, as he’s younger than most of the high school players drafted in 2020, and after an electric debut, he’ll be watched closely once minor league baseball resumes in 2021.
9. Daulton Jefferies RHP – Midland RockHounds (AA)
Age: 25 | B/T: L/R | 6’0″ – 182 lbs | ETA: 2021
Daulton Jefferies has been one of the most frustrating prospects in the A’s minor league system since he was drafted with the 37th overall pick in 2016, mostly because injuries haven’t allowed him to reach his true potential. Jefferies had Tommy John surgery and missed almost two entire seasons while rehabbing, and he’s suffered other injuries, including a strained biceps in late February this year. When he hasn’t been injured (which admittedly has really only been his 2019 season) he’s been impressive, pitching to a 3.17 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in his minor league career.
Jefferies doesn’t have frontline on his pitches, but his command of his entire arsenal is what stands out. He can locate his fastball, changeup, and slider in any quadrant of the zone, and despite only maxing out at 94 mph, his command allows his 90-92 mph fastball to play up. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch, as it gets great fade and once again plays up because of his ability to locate it and sell it with his arm action. His slider isn’t a sweeping, swing-and-miss pitch, but it’s a third solid offering in his repertoire because he can throw it in any count and it has tight movement.
Jefferies has the potential to become a solid 4th or 5th starter because of his great command and a good fastball-changeup combo, but injuries may force him out of the rotation and into a long reliever role in order to limit his workload.
10. Jeff Criswell RHP
Age: 21 | B/T: R/R | 6’4″, 225 lbs | ETA: 2023
NO PROFESSIONAL STATS
Jeff Criswell was Oakland’s 2nd round draft pick in the 2020 draft, being selected with the 58th overall pick, which is where MLB Pipeline ranked him in the 2020 draft. Other outlets ranked him differently, as he barely ranked inside the top 150 for Fangraphs, while Baseball America ranked him 53rd. At the University of Michigan, he started his career as a reliever and posted great numbers, before helping lead Michigan to the College World Series in 2019 with a 2.72 ERA in a hybrid starter/reliever role. The A’s will most likely develop him as a starter, but he could easily move to the bullpen.
Criswell has a solid three pitch mix across the board, starting with his fastball. He sat 93-96 as a starter in college, but his velocity could bump up a few miles per hour if he pitches out of the bullpen. His fastball gets good sink as well, which complements his slider and changeup. His slider clocks in around the low 80s, and he shows the ability to throw it for strikes or run it out of the zone in pitchers’ counts to get ground balls or strikeouts. His changeup gets good depth and fade, and he can throw it in any count. It’s especially effective against lefties. His command is the biggest area he can improve in, as he tends to overthrow sometimes and get out of a rhythm, but he has the athleticism to repeat his delivery and throw strikes. Criswell will be developed as a starter, but he may fit best pitching out of the bullpen. He’s shown the ability to pitch in high-leverage situations, and his stuff will play up in the bullpen as well. He could eventually become an above average reliever or a back of the rotation starter capable of eating innings, depending on how he progresses in the minor leagues.
11. Sheldon Neuse INF – Oakland Athletics (MLB)
Age: 25 | B/T: R/R | 6’0″ – 232 lbs | ETA: 2020
Probably the least known player that was acquired in the 2017 trade the A’s made with the Nationals, Sheldon Neuse has nevertheless proven that he deserves some type of role in the majors for the A’s. Neuse was a college shortstop at Oklahoma, but moved to third base as a pro. After joining the A’s minor league system, he started to move around the diamond and even play outfield at times, showing proficiency defensively at multiple positions. With the exception of his 2018 season, Neuse has been a standout at the plate at almost every level, culminating in a dominant season in Las Vegas in 2019, slugging .550 while hitting .317 and earning a promotion to the majors in the fall.
Neuse’s best qualities are his arm and his raw power. His arm strength is plus, even for a third baseman, and if he does move to a position like second, it’ll be elite compared to his peers. His raw power is a product of his thick frame, and he has the ability to both drive the ball in the gaps and over the fence. His glove is adequate and will allow him to play around the infield, and his speed is serviceable as well. His plate approach and contact ability were exposed in his debut, but his strong minor league track record suggests he’ll make the necessary adjustments to adapt to major league pitching in order to tap into his power.
Neuse is blocked at his most comfortable position (third base) but his skill set will make him an extremely valuable utility player who can play 4 or 5 positions while holding his own at the plate and potentially contribute 1-2 WAR off the bench.
12. Jonah Heim C – Las Vegas Aviators (AAA)
Age: 25 | B/T: S/R | 6’4″ – 220 lbs | ETA: 2021
Jonah Heim has bounced around a few organizations in his pro career, but he’s impressed since joining the A’s minor league system, and he’s poised to make his pro debut either this year during the shortened season or next year. Heim was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by Baltimore, and has played in three different minor league systems in his career. He was mostly an average hitter in the minor leagues as he slowly climbed through the ranks, but he broke out offensively in AA and AAA in 2019, hitting .310 with an .862 OPS, in addition to throwing out 52% of runners attempting to steal on him.
Heim’s best tools are behind the plate, as he couples a strong throwing arm with above-average receiving ability and good blocking as well. There were concerns about his ability to stay behind the plate because of his size, but he’s put those to rest and he should be a good defensive catcher once he reaches the majors. At the plate, he shows good contact ability from both sides of the plate, despite below average power. He’s yet to eclipse 10 home runs in a minor league season, so while he may not show consistent home run power, he does show the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap.
Overall, he probably won’t hit well enough to warrant a comparison to Matt Weiters, another tall switch-hitting catcher, but Heim does have the defensive ability and contact-oriented approach of a solid backup catcher or a fringe starter.
13. James Kaprielian RHP – Las Vegas Aviators (AAA)
Age: 26 | B/T: R/R | 6’3″ – 225 lbs | ETA: 2020
James Kaprielian was one of the headliners in the trade that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees in 2017, but injuries have dropped his prospect stock considerably since being drafted in the first round by the Yankees in 2015. After getting Tommy John surgery in 2017, he missed two seasons because of his rehab and then continued soreness, and he’s only thrown 68 innings since joining the A’s, all in 2019. However, he was very effective once he returned from injury, pitching his way to AAA and posting a season ERA of 3.18. Already 26, he needs to show he can stay healthy in order to have a shot at moving further up the ladder.
Kaprielian initially had frontline velocity and movement upon being drafted out of UCLA, but injuries have sapped him of his plus velocity and plus movement. Instead, he’s now more of a finesse pitcher with the ability to pound the strike zone. He sat 91-93 in 2019 with his fastball, showing the ability to locate it well. His slider and curveball are both average to above average secondary pitches and he can locate them, but neither one will be an elite strikeout pitch. His changeup shows good fade, but again it’s an average secondary offering that was inconsistent at times in 2019.
With his injury issues and average stuff across the board, Kaprielian now profiles as a 5th starter or a long reliever, instead of the potential ace teams saw in the 2015 draft. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be able to reach the big leagues and potentially carve out a role next year.
14. Luis Barrera OF – Midland RockHounds (AA)
Age: 24 | B/T: L/L | 6’0″ – 195 lbs | ETA: 2021
Luis Barrera was signed from the Dominican Republic in 2012, and he’s steadily worked his way through the minor leagues after spending his first three years in rookie ball. Barrera put up strong offensive numbers in 2016, and after a mediocre year in 2017, hit well in both 2018 and in an injury-shortened 2019 campaign. At 24 years old, he’s old for a prospect, but he should start 2021 in AAA with the potential to make a debut in the majors by the end of the year.
Barrera has loud physical tools and is a great athlete, which makes him a plus defender at the corner outfield spots and a good one in center field. He has plus-plus speed, and a strong, accurate arm as well. His glove is also above average, and he plays hard on defense, diving and sliding for any ball he can reach. At the plate, Barrera has shown that he has the ability to drive the ball into the gaps, but he hasn’t hit more than 10 home runs in a season yet, and he may never reach that mark. His plate approach leaves something to be desired, as he gets over-aggressive at times and doesn’t draw many walks. However, he does have good contact ability, which showed in his .321 batting average in 2019 before he got hurt.
Barrera doesn’t have the power or hit tool to be an everyday player in the majors, but his defensive ability, speed, and experience at all three outfield spots make him a good candidate for a fourth outfielder role in the majors.
15. Austin Beck OF – Stockton Ports (A Adv)
Age: 21 | B/T: R/R | 6’1″ – 200 lbs | ETA: 2022
Austin Beck was the A’s first round selection in 2017 with the 6th overall pick, but so far he’s struggled in the minor leagues. Across three minor league seasons so far, he’s only managed to post a cumulative .705 OPS with a massive 294 strikeouts. He’s only 21 so he still has time to develop, but it is disconcerting given his draft pedigree that he hasn’t performed better, especially after two seasons to adjust to pro pitching.
Beck had legitimate 5 tool potential when he was drafted by the A’s, and his athleticism is still off the charts as he’s grown and matured. His best tools are his speed, raw power, and arm, all grading out as above average or plus right now. He has the potential to be an average fielder as well, and he should be able to stick in center field for the long haul, or move to right field and thrive because of his plus arm. His hit tool has lagged behind the rest of his skills though, and it’s affected his power production as well. Beck’s swing hasn’t allowed him to utilize his raw power, and he hasn’t made consistent enough contact to hit for power either. He hit .296 in 2018, but it was mostly an empty average as he only slugged .383.
Beck had the potential to be an impact player on both sides of the ball when he was drafted with the 6th overall pick, and he still has time to show growth in the minors. However, if he continues on the path he’s currently on, he’ll profile as a glove-first, bench outfielder.
16. Marcus Smith OF – AZL Athletics Gold (Rookie)
Age: 19 | B/T: L/L | 5’11” – 190 lbs | ETA: 2024
Marcus Smith was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft, and the A’s were able to sign him away from his commitment to the University of Michigan with a $400,000 bonus. He immediately impressed in rookie ball, hitting .361 with an OPS over .900 as an 18 year old. There’s a lot of projection involved as he’s still only 19, but after a solid debut he’ll be looking to follow it up with another good campaign once minor league baseball returns in 2021.
Smith’s best tool is his plus-plus speed, which allows him to track down balls in center field and wreak havoc on the bases. He also has a good glove that has the potential to be above average, and an above average arm as well, which should allow him to stick in center field and play good defense there as well. Smith showed an advanced plate approach in his debut, and his contact skills were also evident in his .361 batting average. He probably won’t grow into much power, but if he can make solid contact and drive the ball into the gaps he won’t need home run power. Smith still has a long way to go, but it’s not hard to envision him as a starting centerfielder with the floor of a fourth outfielder if everything clicks.
17. Tyler Baum RHP – Vermont Lake Monsters (A Short)
Age: 22 | B/T: R/R | 6’2″ – 195 lbs | ETA: 2022
Tyler Baum was the A’s second round draft pick in 2019 out of UNC, where he was a three year contributor. His debut for Vermont wasn’t great, as he pitched to a 4.70 ERA over 11 starts, though he did have a 1.17 WHIP. Already 22, Baum should move quickly through the minors based on his experience and draft pedigree, and he may make an impact for the A’s as soon as 2022.
Baum doesn’t have one particular pitch that stands out, instead relying on a balanced arsenal of average pitches. His fastball sits around 93-95 with good run to his arm side, making it an average pitch with the potential to be above average with better command. His curveball is better than his slider and has the potential to be above average because of its good vertical movement. He also throws a slider that’s harder than his curveball, but it doesn’t have the potential to be a true out pitch like his curveball. His changeup mirrors his fastball well and shows good fade, with the potential to be a third average pitch and a weapon against lefties. Baum’s command needs work right now, but he should be able to improve to the point where he has average command over all four of his pitches.
Overall, he profiles as a back of the rotation arm or a long reliever, but he could outperform that expectation.
18. Lazaro Armenteros OF – Stockton Ports (A Adv)
Age: 21 | B/T: R/R | 6’0″ – 182 lbs | ETA: 2022
Lazaro Armenteros was a high profile international signing for the A’s in 2016 as a 17 year old with a great combination of raw power and speed. Throughout his minor league career he’s had strikeout issues, and in 2019 he struck out a whopping 222 times in 459 ABs, which is an unsustainable rate. Despite his strikeout woes, he’s still shown the power and speed that led the A’s to sign him, as he hit 17 home runs and stole 22 bases in 2019. Armenteros is still just 21 years old, and with an adjustment to his swing and approach, he can tap into his natural power even more.
Armenteros has plus raw power right now, but his swing has major holes that need to be addressed, specifically a glaring uppercut that is the cause of his swing and miss issues. He’ll most likely never be above a .250 hitter at the upper levels of the minors and the big leagues, but even hitting .230 and limiting his strikeouts would allow him to potentially hit 30 home runs. In the field, he has plus speed which gives him good range, but his reads and glove leave a bit to be desired, though he is improving in that area. His glove, coupled with a below average arm, will probably limit him to left field but he should be an average defender there.
Armenteros probably won’t make enough contact to become a regular player, but, like a few other players on this list, he has the tools to be a good fourth outfielder and he’s still young enough to make adjustments that could allow him to reach his full potential.
19. Austin Allen C – Oakland Athletics (MLB)
Age: 26 | B/T: L/R | 6’2″ – 220 lbs | ETA: 2020
Austin Allen was acquired by the A’s for Jurickson Profar in the offseason, and he’s looking to secure the backup catcher job in Oakland for the foreseeable future. As a Padres farmhand, he demonstrated great offensive ability for a catcher, hitting over 20 home runs in 2017, 2018, and 2019, while also posting an OPS over .800 in those years as well. At age 26, he’s pretty much leveled off as a player but he still has the ability to carve out a role with the A’s.
Allen’s biggest strength is his bat, specifically his power. His swing allows him to tap into his power in games, giving him the potential to hit over 20 home runs a year if he carves out a big enough role. He hit for a decent average in the minors, but with a mediocre walk rate and a swing geared more towards power, he may not be more than a .250 hitter in the majors. His defense leaves much to be desired, as he’s a below average receiver, and he doesn’t posses the arm strength to consistently throw out baserunners. Allen may never get to catch on a regular basis because of his below average defense, but his bat will allow him to stick around as a backup catcher who can also pinch hit late in games, or hold his own at DH as a backup as well.
20. Grant Holmes RHP – Las Vegas Aviators (AAA)
Age: 24 | B/T: L/R | 6’0″ – 226 lbs | ETA: 2021
Grant Holmes joined the A’s as part of the Rich Hill and Josh Reddick trade with the Dodgers, who drafted him out of high school in the first round in 2014. Holmes has been somewhat injury prone in his time with the A’s, missing almost all of 2018 because of an injury, and he’s also suffered from bouts of ineffectiveness as well. However, he pitched to a 3.23 ERA across AA and AAA in 2019, and with good health and continued effectiveness on the mound he could be called up as soon as next year.
Holmes has always had good stuff, but his command has held him back slightly. His fastball sits between 92 and 94, but its sink is what makes it an effective pitch, and it tunnels well with a new cutter he introduced in 2019. The cutter is a work in progress, but it has the potential to complement his sinker well. His slider is his main out pitch, with great movement and the ability to miss bats. Holmes’ changeup adds another pitch for hitters to worry about, but it will most likely be a slightly below average major league offering.
With his command issues and problems staying healthy, Holmes may never be a mainstay in a major league rotation, but his stuff will play up out of the bullpen and he could adopt a long or middle reliever role in the major leagues.
Links to all other Team Top 20 Rankings: CLICK HERE!