One of the most fun things about being a hardcore baseball fan is taking the time to dive into the depths of the minor leagues to find relatively unknown players, look at their scouting reports and stats and dream about what it will be like when they come up to the Major Leagues and deliver your team a championship.
I spent many joyful hours perusing scouting reports from all around the internet (Baseball America, John Sickels at Minor League Ball, Keith Law at ESPN, Jonathan Mayo at MLB, Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus and Mark Hulet at Fangraphs) and did my best to condense the information from each source and relay the information here.
Today I present Nos. 6 through 10 of my A’s Top 10 prospects:
10. Matt Olson, 1B
Birth date: 3/29/1994 (Age 19)
Rank among A’s prospects: Baseball America (10); John Sickels (9); Keith Law (9); Jonathan Mayo (5); Baseball Prospectus (8); Fangraphs (10)
Olson was the third of three high school players taken in the first round (#47 overall) by the A’s last season.
He is a big guy with big power potential, his swing is short to the ball with easy power. For a young player he shows an advanced approach at the plate, using the whole field which should help to produce a solid batting average despite the swing and miss tendency that comes with his power.
In high school he was a two-way player who played third base. He has been moved from third to first where his lack of range will be less of a problem. Even with his below average speed he shows good instincts, has good footwork and a strong arm which could make him an above average defender.
Overall, Olson is another interesting prospect that projects to be a solid regular. He is still very raw but has obvious tools. At first base his power will be what either sinks him or propels him up through the system.
9. Renato Nunez, 3B
Birth date: 4/4/1994 (Age 19)
Rank: Baseball America (UR); John Sickels (10); Keith Law (10); Jonathan Mayo (8); Baseball Prospectus (7); Fangraphs (5)
Nunez was the A’s big international splash in 2010 when they gave him a $2.2 million bonus. He made his U.S. debut in the Arizona Rookie League last season and didn’t disappoint, showing off his ability to knock the cover off the ball.
He is a bat-first prospect with questions about where he will be able to play long term, but with plus potential for both average and power a Major League team will find a spot for him somewhere if the bat develops.
Nunez has a compact and quick swing that shows easy power. He is an aggressive hitter but was patient enough to still manage a walk rate over 9 percent. He has a strong work ethic which showed in his improved defense, but there are still questions about his below average glove, footwork and arm.
Overall, it is hard to pin down exactly what the A’s have in Nunez, who is still quite a way from the big leagues. He has strong tools that suggest at an above average hitter but his defense is below average. How he does in A-Ball will help to shed some light on his future.
8. Nolan Sanburn, RHP
Birth date: 7/21/1991 (Age 21)
Rank: Baseball America (UR); John Sickels (7); Keith Law (7); Jonathan Mayo (10); Baseball Prospectus (6); Fangraphs (9)
Sanburn was a relief pitcher in college but the A’s saw three potential above average pitches and decided to give him a shot at being a starter.
His bread and butter is his 93-96 mph fastball mixed with his hard curveball Both pitches show plus potential right now and make up for his relative lack of size. His third pitch is a changeup that could be an average pitch but is behind the fastball and curveball in development. He is an aggressive pitcher coming right at hitters, but needs to refine his control to stay away from the middle of the plate.
Sanburn doesn’t have a ton of innings logged as a starter so it will probably take him a bit of time to develop the feel and stamina to be effective at the Major League level. If he is unable to make the switch to starting it should be an easy transition back to relief where he can crank up his fastball into the upper 90’s.
Overall, Sanburn has a premium fastball and flashes of three average or better pitches. He has the potential to be number three starter and, if that doesn’t work out, a high leverage fastball/curveball relief pitcher.
7. Miles Head, 3B/1B
Birthdate: 5/2/1991 (Age 22)
Rank: Baseball America (7); John Sickels (6); Keith Law (6); Jonathan Mayo (9); Baseball Prospectus (10); Fangraphs (7)
Head was one of the prospects that the A’s received in the Andrew Bailey trade. At the time he was an unheralded prospect, but since coming to the A’s he has put up impressive numbers that have opened eyes.
The A’s moved Head back to third base from first base; ultimately he may end up back at first but right now he can play a passable third base. He doesn’t have the required range but shows a strong enough arm to make the required throws from the hot corner.
On offense he has big raw power that translates into game action, and a quick bat that should lead to respectable batting averages. He has a good approach at the plate, waiting for a pitch he can do damage with. Against quality opponents he swings and misses a lot more, which he will need to adjust to as he moves up the system.
With Head there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the stats he puts up and what the scouting reports show for him. The scouting reports suggest a fringe average player or possibly a platoon player, however his stats hint at something better than that. He will likely be a guy that has to prove himself at every level if he wants a shot at a full time gig in the major leagues.
Overall, Head has a pretty high ceiling and could be a very useful Major Leaguer. Where he lands between these two is still very much in question.
6. Daniel Robertson, SS/3B
Birth date: 3/22/1994 (Age 19)
Rank: Baseball America (9); John Sickels (8); Keith Law (5); Jonathan Mayo (7); Baseball Prospectus (9); Fangraphs (8)
Robertson was the A’s second first-round pick (#34 overall) along with Addison Russell last June. He excelled in the Arizona Rookie League, but was over-matched in short-season A-Ball. He was drafted as a shortstop out of high school and will stay there as long as he is physically able, but most think that his ultimate destination is third base.
Robertson was considered one of the more advanced hitting high school shortstops, and the bat remains his best tool. He shows good bat speed but right now his power is more along the line of doubles than home runs. This could change as he learns to add more backspin to balls.
On defense he has good natural instincts plus the arm strength and quickness to remain on the left side of the infield long term. The only question is if he will be able to have the range to play shortstop at the higher levels.
Overall, Robertson projects to be a potential everyday player who could hit in the .280 range with 15 home run power.