The Oakland Athletics fire sale is in full swing, as they have sent Jeff Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox in a six player deal. While Samardzija will steal all the headlines, there were three prospects that exchanged hands as part of the deal along with big leaguers Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley who went to Oakland.
The Athletics also get first baseman Rangel Ravelo and right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt. Ravelo was a 6th round pick out of a Florida high school in 2010 who has done nothing but hit in the minor leagues. Drafted as a third baseman, his defense was not good enough to stick and has moved across the diamond to first base where he has become an above average defender at the position. He has an advanced approach at the plate that allows him to put up a solid OBP to go with an average of .301 as a pro and seemingly hits better every time he moves up a level. He has almost no power for a first baseman, and there is not a whole lot of projection that he ever will. He has a smooth swing and a level bat plane allowing him to spray line drives all over the field. Because of his lack of power, 18 home runs in 421 game but 11 in 133 in 2014, he is not a sexy prospect. Despite not having a great profile, he would fit right in with the old Moneyball philosophy given his approach at the plate and the ability to put up a good average.
Chris Bassitt’s 2014 season was delayed due to a broken hand he suffered away from the ballpark, but once he got back on the mound he looked fantastic. He had an ERA of 1.56 in six starts in Double-A, and then a 0.69 ERA over 13 innings in the Arizona Fall League. He has a good fastball but his lack of a reliably secondary pitch may end up landing him in the bullpen. He is also a typical arm coming up in the White Sox system it seems, as his mechanics are basically a picture perfect example of how not to pitch. His lead arm flies open early, he has a massive back bend to his left, his arm seems to lag behind his body too much, but it works for him. In fact, it worked well enough for him to earn six appearances in the big leagues in 2014 where he put up an ERA under four, but he walked more batter than you want to see from a potential starter.
The prospect heading back to Chicago is a guy that would have moved the needle a couple years ago, but Michael Ynoa has plateaued of late. Other than an excellent 15 start stint in the Midwest League, Ynoa has not put up an ERA better than 5.21 at any level, and that was in the complex ball. The 6’7” Ynoa was easily the biggest (both in stature and talent) international prospect in the 2008 signing period, and was even added to the A’s 40-man roster in 2012 despite him not yet even appearing in full season ball. Ynoa has since been moved from a starter to the bullpen, where the hope is he will reach his potential as a late-inning reliever.