2016 Oakland Athletics Farm System Report

In recent history the Oakland A's offseason is quite predictable; trade minor league prospects for MLB guys. This process allows the A's to stock pile prospects and while many teams would develop these guys the A's really focus on undervalued big league guys or (in 2013 try to make a huge push for the postseason). Case in point, trading catcher Jacob Nottingham (.316 average with 17HR) and Bubba Derby (A's 5th round selection in the 2015 draft) for Khris Davis in early February.  

Even with the acquisition of some talented players their farm system is not as deep as one would think. The 2016 Oakland Athletics farm system is lead by shortstop Franklin Barreto . Barreto was acquired from the Blue Jays a few years ago in the Josh Donaldson trade. The 19 year-old had a bit of a slow start at High-A Stockton posting just a .171 batting average in April. He would eventually heat up in May and carry it through the rest of the year hitting .302 with 13 homers, 22 doubles and 47RBI while playing stellar defense. For some odd reason Top Prospects start off very cold in Stockton but turn things on as the season progresses. Just look up what Addison Russell did when he was with the Ports the first month, it was terrible but then he turned it on and finished with one of the most impressive seasons in the history of the franchise. 

There are only two maybe three real power bats in the A's farm system that are relatively close to being called up during this season. Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Olson walloped 37 homers in 2014 but only 17 in 2015 (and 37 doubles). Eleven of Olson's 17 homers were hit at home last year which truly shows his power potential. The Midland Rockhounds are in the Texas League which has been known as a pitchers league but more importantly the Rockhounds ballpark has a strong breeze that comes from right-field every game. Making it very difficult to blast a homer to right. So his 11 homers at that ballpark was truly a feat. Matt Chapman fared well in his first full season of pro ball in 2015 despite only playing in the 80 games with the Ports. He smacked 23 homers in 21 doubles in just 304 at-bats (essentially a homer or a double every other game) with a .250 clip. Both Olson (2012) and Chapman (2014) are first round draft picks of the A's.

Speaking of the draft, the 2015 draft the A's selected shortstop Richie Martin out of Florida with their first pick (#20) and then followed that with another shortstop Mikey White (#63) of Alabama. These guys had limited pro action last year but if their reputation follows them, they should be rising prospects. Both guys have the potential to be quality bats as the played in the very competitive SEC. White finished his junior year as the Tide's overall leader in average (.339), triples (6) runs (48), walks (31) and on-base percentage (.444) while Martin lead the Gators in runs (69), and stolen bases (20) while posting a .291 average with a .972 fielding percentage.

The trades that Beane orchestrated netted a few top 15 prospects for the A's including left-hander Sean Manaea. Manaea was the Royals first round pick (CBA 34th overall) in 2013 but didn't start his pro debut until 2014 as he was recovering from hip surgery. The A's were able to acquire him and Aaron Brooks as part of the Zobrist deal. Manaea profiles as a 3-4 guy in the rotation but the biggest question mark is if he can stay healthy. He only had 14 outings in 2015 as he battled a few nagging injuries. He is a strike throwing machine as he has piled up 236K in 196IP and a career 2.94ERA. 2016 will be a test for Manaea as we suspect he will start in the PCL with Nashville. The PCL (Pacific Coast League) is a hitters league as the ball tends to fly out of the park more frequently that most leagues. It will be a big test for the lefty but he is truly the A's top pitching prospect. Just ask Aaron Brooks about the PCL as he gave up 9 homers last year. Brooks was a late season call-up for the A's after the trade and started 10 games in the Bigs.

2016 Oakland Athletics Farm System Report Prospects:

Prospect on the Rise

Brandon McCurry : We like McCurry a lot. All he does is throw strikes and pileup K's. McCurry was an A's 22nd round selection in 2014 and has dominated every level of pro ball. He pitched at High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland last year and served as the closer for both squads posting a 1.86ERA with 27 saves in 28 chances with 82K in 63IP while allowing the opposition to hit just .175 against him. The Athletics have a few guys very similar to him sprinkled in their system who absolutely throw darts (Ryan Dull, Tucker Healy). He's going to be a fun guy to watch this season. 

Prospect on the Fall

Bruce Maxwell: Bruce Maxwell was the A's second round (#62 overall) of the 2012 draft class out of Birmingham Southern. Maxwell had an illustrious final season in college posting a .471 average with 15 homers, 25 doubles and a .619 on-base percentage. What has he done since becoming a pro? A career .258 hitter with a total of 15 homers in 1335 at-bats and a .339 on-base percentage. Not exactly what the Athletics were hoping to get. Maxwell played 96 games at Double-A last year and hit just .243. He did improve his defense allowing just five passed balls in 2015 versus the 19 he let go by in 2014. Such a promising prospect when drafted with high hopes, Maxwell has since proved that he might be a pick that the A's completely missed on. Looking back guys like pitcher Alex Wood or Pete O'Brien were available during that spot in the draft but of course hind sight is 20-20.

One more worth mentioning

Right-hander Tanner Peters will more than likely make his MLB debut at some point during the 2016 season. Tanner was the A's 16th round pick out of UNLV in the 2011 draft. Tanner has always had a major-league ready changeup, he just needs to stay healthy and continue to refine his other pitches. Tanner grabbed the attention of a lot of A's fans when he almost tossed a perfect game while with the Ports. He went 8.2 innings and would give up a double that broke things up. It was the same night that Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda made an appearance at the park. Presuming he stays healthy, he would be a nice back-end starter for the A's or at worst an addition to an already loaded bullpen.