5.) Matt Chapman – 3B
Date of Birth: 4/28/93
Height/Weight: 6’2/205 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted 1st round in 2014 out of college
Chapman has the strong arm, raw power and strong hands that scream third baseman. And he finally began to do in 2015 is put those skills to work on the field.He remains a little inconsistent at the corner considering the scouting reports, but with his offense slowing his advancement down, he should have plenty of time to find consistency.
As for that offense, Chapman did finally breakthrough in 2015 by swatting 23 HR in just 80 games. He matched that with a respectable .250 AVG and a 29/79 BB/K ratio. At 22 years old, Chapman was about par for the course in high-A, so he’ll need to take another jump this season and find his way to AA if Oakland doesn’t just begin him at Midland outright.
Another step forward after his 2015 campaign could find him near or at the top of this list a year from now.
4.) Jacob Nottingham – C/1B
Date of Birth: 4/3/95
Height/Weight: 6’3/230 Pounds
Acquired: Trade with Houston Astros in 2015
The prized return in the trade that sent Scott Kazmir to Houston, Nottingham didn’t get the recognition he probably deserved until the trade brought his name to the forefront. And it hasn’t gone away. At 6-foot-3 230 pounds, Nottingham looks the part of a power-hitter and in 2015 he finally started to become one. Also focusing on the rigors and intricacies of catching, Nottingham’s raw power broke through in a big way in 2015 when he hit 17 HR with 82 RBI. What was even more impressive was his slash line as he hit .316/.372/.505 helped by a decent 33/99 BB/K ratio.
The concern is that Nottingham’s power was nearly nonexistent in his first two seasons as his average sat around .240. So the question is, is Nottingham’s 2015 an aberration or did he finally turn a corner in his development and he’s on his way to prospect stardom. Well 2016 should tell us.
3.) Sean Manaea – LHP
Date of Birth: 2/1/92
Height/Weight: 6’5/235 Pounds
Acquired: Trade with Kansas City Royals in 2015
Thought of as a top-of-the-rotation starter when the Royals drafted with their supplemental first round pick in 2013, Manaea’s stuff never took the final step. But that’s nothing to look down upon. He still profiles as a mid-rotation starter who could find his way to Oakland at some point in 2016.
Manaea has a mid-90’s FB that he can blow by hitters at times looking nearly unhittable, but inconsistencies with his command and delivery dumb down his offerings. At 6-foot-5 235 pounds, Manaea isn’t an uber-athletic figure on the mound evident by his inconsistencies and much like his two off speed pitches (SL and CH) Manaea can show flashes of dominance, but will follow it up with spurts of mediocrity. He should settle into the No. 3 spot for Oakland assuming his health remains in good standing after battling an abdomen injury in 2015.
2.) Matt Olson – 1B/RF
Date of Birth: 3/29/94
Height/Weight: 6’5/230 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted 1st round in 2012 out of HS
Pardon the lofty comparison, but Olson has a lot of Justin Morneau to him. Am I saying Oakland should prepare for its all-star stalwart at first base for the next decade? Eh, it’s debatable, but Olson gives you every reason to be excited.
Olson has hit 77 HR over the past three seasons including a 37-HR season in 2014. He regressed slightly in 2015, seeing his average dip from .262 to .249 and his HR total falling from 37 to 17 but he still hit 37 doubles while driving in 75 runs. Will he be a 35+ HR hitter at the highest level? Doubtful. But he should fare better than the 17 he hit last season. Think 20-25 HR. Olson is also dubbed as one of the increasingly popular three-outcomes hitter. Not only does Olson have the power, he sports a 222/278 BB/K ratio across the past two seasons.
Increasing his value is his ability to play more than first base. Olson nearly split his time in half last between 1B and RF last season and has the athleticism to play the latter should Oakland go that route. Ultimately, it’ll be Olson’s offense that carries him, so his value will depend on his ability to ht .260-.270 with 25 HR, or .230-.240 with 15-20 HR.
My gut tells me he’ll reach the former with the chance to be better, but don’t be disappointed if he plateau’s at the second option.
1.) Franklin Barreto – SS
Date of Birth: 2/27/96
Height/Weight: 5’9/175 Pounds
Acquired: Trade with Toronto Blue Jays in 2014
A 19-year-old shortstop who hit .302 with 13 HR and 22 doubles in 90 high-A games a year ago should have anybody excited. However, thanks to being the cornerstone of the oft-criticized Josh Donaldson trade, Barreto has potentially unattainable expectations in Oakland. But he’s doing his best to meet them.
As a rough comparison, think former Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal. They have a near identical stature, profile similar defensively, but Barreto carries more raw power with less raw speed.
In 2014 Barreto hit just 6 HR but stole 29/34 bases, while in 2015, Barreto flipped the script and hit 13 HR while stealing just 8/11 bases. He has a short, compact swing that allows him to consistently put bat to ball, but has the raw power to turn the contact into extra-base hits as opposed to singles and groundouts.
His defense gets mixed reviews and seems to be the aspect of his game still lacking behind. But Barreto will begin 2016 as a 20-year-old with a chance to see AA playing time, so there’s no need to be worrying just yet.
Although I think Barreto can stick at short, his offense plays well enough to profile at 2B, too. In 2016, look for Barreto to take another step at the late, while harnessing his erratic defensive habits.
Probably won’t make A’s fans forget about Donaldson, but certainly has the ability to make the pain hurt considerably less.