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Oakland Athletics 2015 Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Oakland Athletics.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Just like last year, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2015. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(3/11)

Chicago
(2/11)

Houston
(Correa)

Atlanta
(Sims)

Chicago
(Bryant)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(3/14)

Cleveland
(2/14)

Los Angeles
(Heaney)

Miami
(Kolek)

Cincinnati
(Stephenson)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(2/18)

Oakland
(Today)

New York
(Syndergaard)

Milwaukee
(Taylor)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(2/21)

Seattle
(Jackson)

Philadelphia
(Crawford)

Pittsburgh
(Glasnow)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(2/25)

Texas
(Gallo)

Washington
(Giolito)

St. Louis
(Piscotty)

San Francisco
(Crick)

Organizational Overview
by Jason Hunt

After being eliminated from the playoffs for a second straight season by the Tigers, the team spent the offseason looking to make incremental upgrades to the roster. They brought in Nick Punto, Jim Johnson, Craig Gentry, Luke Gregerson and Drew Pomeranz in via a series of trades and free agent signings.

Their biggest splash of the offseason was the signing of free agent starter Scott Kazmir to a 2 year, $23 million contract. With the addition of Kazmir and Pomeranz, the starting rotation looked solid. Sonny Gray would spend the full season in the majors for the first time, and be joined by Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, as well as fill-in candidates Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily, and Tommy Milone. That depth would be tested immediately though, as they lost both Parker and Griffin in the same week to season-ending surgery.

Despite this setback, the team got off to a great start. There were struggles from newly acquired closer Jim Johnson, but in spite of this, had the best record in baseball on the Fourth of July, led he league in runs scored and was second in runs allowed. The pitching held up on the strength of unexpectedly good performances from Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz at times. And then the trade candidate that everyone had been talking about ended up in one of the more unlikely places.

Billy Beane went out and made his "F***ing A" trade, acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs for top prospects Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and pitcher Dan Straily. While the price was high, it gave the team a true top-of-the-rotation type, slotted Gray and Kazmir in as stronger #2 and #3 starters, and plugged in Hammel as their #4. The team plugged away reasonably well through July, finishing 15-10 on the month and keeping the Angels still 2.5 games back in the division. And then he did it again.

The news broke early in the morning at the trade deadline (at least early here on the west coast), that the A's were making another trade. Having sent out their top two prospects in the trade with the Cubs, it wasn't clear who was still left to give if it was a big piece. It was a huge piece, one of the bigger ones out there in the Red Sox' lefty Jon Lester. The price was shocking to A's fans, as fan favorite Yoenis Cespedes was heading back to Boston (along with a comp draft pick). The rotation, led by Lester, Samardzija, and Gray, appeared among the most formidable in the majors, and well-built for a deep playoff run. The loss of Cespedes on offense would be felt, but at the time was anticipated that the improvement in the pitching would be enough to offset that should it occur.

It's too easy to say that the trade of Cespedes caused the wheels to fall off, but the timing is definitely not a vote against that. The A's struggled down the stretch, going 12-17 in August and losing 6 games (and the division lead) in the standings as their offense dried up. September was no better, finishing 10-16, ending up 10 games out of the division title at the end, and forced into the Wild Card game against the Royals.

The wild-card game appeared to be a microcosm for the whole season, as they got out to an early lead with Jon Lester on the mound, gave it back for a little bit, exploded out to a four run lead with three innings to go, and watched as the bullpen imploded in the 8th and 9th to let the Royals tie the game up again. Two scoreless innings led to the A's taking the lead in the 12th, only to allow the tying and winning runs to score and end their season.

The expectations for the season had been high, and made even higher following the two win-now trades, and the season clearly did not end up the way it was hoped. What came next from the team was even more surprising, as we've never seen this kind of movement.

The team's first big move this offseason was to go out and sign free agent 1B/DH Billy Butler to a three year, $30 million contract. They acquired Ike Davis to play first base as well, giving the team at least four options there. And then Billy went in an entirely different direction, shipping MVP candidate Josh Donaldson to Toronto for Brett Lawrie and three prospects. He followed with what appeared to be additional rebuilding moves, sending 1B/OF Brandon Moss to the Indians for a prospect, as well as Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa to the White Sox for Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley, and prospects Rangel Ravelo and Chris Bassitt.

The rebuild appeared to continue with catcher Derek Norris headed to San Diego for pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez, but then he switched directions again. Earlier in the month the team acquired 2B/SS/OF Ben Zobrist and SS Yunel Escobar from the Rays for John Jaso and prospects Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell, then shipped Escobar to Washington for reliever Tyler Clippard. Both moves brought back players in the final year of their contracts, another definite win-now move.

Overall, the farm system for the Athletics may be at one of its' weakest points in recent memory. The organization appears to be building for now, and with their depth is well suited to compete in the AL West again in 2015. If it doesn't work out, they also have a number of players (Zobrist, Clippard, Kazmir) who could all be traded at the deadline to restock the farm system. It's never dull being an A's fan, but just don't let yourself get too comfortable with who is slotted into the lineup, as they may be gone before you know it.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Amazingly, none.

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Jason Hunt


The best opportunities still available for the A's remain in the starting rotation. The team should get Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin back at some point in 2015, although it's not clear what role they will fill when that happens. In the meantime, Gray and Kazmir are the only guarantees in a rotation that could see Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, Drew Pomeranz, and Jesse Chavez get a shot for those other three spots. I like Hahn and Graveman the best from that group for fantasy owners, although they may all be deeper league plays.

The more interesting opportunities could come at midseason if the team is struggling and not in contention, as second base (Zobrist), and starting pitching (Kazmir) could both be spots where new players get opportunities. The best prospects in the system that are near the majors are starters Graveman and Nolin, as well as first base prospects Rangel Ravelo and Matt Olson.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors.

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1. Matt Olson (1B)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.262 111 37 97 2
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
634 0.404 0.543 18.45% 21.61%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 L R A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016
A supplemental first round pick in 2012, Olson has gone out and pounded home runs at one of the highest rates in the minor leagues. He hit 23 with Low-A Beloit in 2013, and at High-A Stockton in 2014 finished third in the minors with 37. The power numbers haven't been empty, either, as he has shown an excellent ability to draw walks so far, with a minors-leading 117 this past season.

The key with Olson will remain his home run power, as he can potentially provide 30+ home runs a season on a regular basis. The high walk rate should help in OBP leagues, although it tends to come with a lower batting average than is ideal. The name that keeps coming up as a comp is Adam Dunn, based on Olson's "three-true outcomes" tendencies so far, but that seems a bit unfair to comp him to a player that hit 462 home runs in his career. The bar for fantasy relevance at first base is fairly high, but the organization has also been trying him out in the outfield in the hope that he can play out there at least some of the time.

Olson will head to AA Midland to start the 2015 season, with newly acquired Rangel Ravelo headed to Nashville blocking him. If he can continue to crush home runs at a similar rate at AA, the A's could have a .240/.350/.500 hitting first baseman who can provide them with 30 home runs a season on their hands.

2. Franklin Barreto (SS)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.311 65 6 61 29
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
328 0.384 0.481 7.93% 19.51%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R A-
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018
The main prospect acquired in this offseason's Josh Donaldson trade, Barreto signed out of Venezuela in 2012 for a bonus of $1.45 million. The Blue Jays sent him to the Gulf Coast League to start his professional career in 2013, hitting .299/.368/.529 with four home runs and 10 stolen bases in just 44 games. He finished that yera with a promotion to the Appy League, and in 2014 was moved up to the Northwest League for 2014.  His performance in 2014 was even stronger, hitting for a high average and stealing 29 bases to go with 33 extra base hits in 73 games. The numbers were good on their own, but remembering that he was just 18 years old for the majority of the season makes it look that much better.

Barreto currently plays shortstop, but it sounds like there's a pretty good chance that he will end up moving over to second base before he reaches the majors. With that in mind, he can be an above-average fantasy asset at that position. His best tool is his speed, which is considered above-average and capable of providing 20-30 stolen bases on a regular basis. He also gets good reviews about his ability to hit for average, expected to provide a solid batting average on the strength of good bat speed and quick hands. The power potential is limited somewhat, in part by his size (5'9", 175 lbs) and in part by his swing which is considered better suited for line drives than home runs.

Barreto has yet to play in a full season league, but that will probably change in 2015 with a trip to Beloit. He currently is the answer to the "Who is the long-term answer at shortstop" question for the A's, but we're not likely to see him in Oakland until at least 2018, and probably at another position.

3. Matt Chapman (3B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.246 23 5 20 2
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
220 0.291 0.401 3.64% 21.36%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R A-Rk-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017
The top draft pick of the organization in 2014, Chapman was a three-year starter at Cal State Fullerton, where he hit .295 with a .391 on-base percentage and an excellent strikeout to walk rate (84:73). He was drafted with the 25th overall pick, and signed for a bonus of $1.75 million a week after the draft. The team sent him to full-season Low-A after a quick three game stint in Arizona, where he hit .237/.282/.389 with five home runs in 50 games. He finished his season at AA Midland, appearing in one regular season game and helped the team to a runner-up finish in the Texas League playoffs.

Chapman is an interesting hitter who could potentially provide above-average value in both batting average and home runs. Reports on him point to solid raw power, but that hasn't necessarily shown up in game at the same level. His approach at the plate is considered very good as well, although it seems like that will more likely help out in OBP leagues. His defense is considered well above-average at third base, which could lead him to be the long-term answer there for the A's over our #4 prospect, Renato Nunez.

It seems like Chapman can be a .275 hitter with 20-25 home runs if it all works, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays in a full season. If hitting doesn't work out for him for some reason down the line, his arm is strong enough that it's been mentioned that he could pitch as a fallback, although he did not do that at the collegiate level. With Renato Nunez likely headed to AA to start the year, I could see Chapman head to Stockton and let him destroy pitchers there for a bit before another move.

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4. Renato Nunez (3B)

Photo Credit: David Kohl - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.279 75 29 96 2
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
562 0.336 0.517 6.05% 20.11%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A+
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2016
One of the big signings by the A's from Latin America, Nunez signed out of Venezuela in 2010 for a bonus of $2.2 million. It's been a level-per-year development so far for Nunez, as he played a full season at both Low and High-A in each of the last two seasons. He hit 29 home runs for Stockton last year, and showed improvement in a number of categories including his walk rate (up to 6%) and a decrease in his strikeout rate (down to 20%).

Nunez will be carried to the majors on the strength of his power potential, which could lead to 25+ home runs a season despite playing in a heavy pitchers' park in Oakland. The questions that surround him at this point stem from what his batting average might look like, as he's only likely to be an average contributor in the category at best. That said, with power down across the majors, he could be a .240-.250 hitter with 25 home runs and still provide positive value to fantasy owners. What really keeps him behind Chapman for me right now is the potential for a move across the diamond, as Nunez isn't considered a great defender at third base. It sounds like he has improved on defense as he has moved up toward the majors, but would likely still give way if a better defender were available.

He'll likely head to AA Midland in 2015, and having been added to the 40-man roster this offseason, could see a September callup to Oakland. With Brett Lawrie expected to play everyday at the hot corner, they can take a little more time with Nunez to really let him develop to his fullest potential, and see if they can get an above-average third baseman out of him. If the improvements that led to a higher batting average in 2014 can be carried out of Stockton, we could potentially see another .260-.270 hitter with that power potential.

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5. Dillon Overton (LHP)

Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
0 0 1.95 0.92 53
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
37 0.00 0.81 2.74% 36.30%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 L L Rk-A-
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017
A second round pick by the Athletics in 2013, Overton did not debut professionally until appearing in the Arizona League last summer. He was dominant there, and earned a promotion to short-season Vermont for his final five starts. The dominance wasn't a huge surprise at either level, as he was considered a high-end college pitching prospect while at the University of Oklahoma, to the point that he was the key starter in a rotation that included Rockies' top prospect Jonathan Gray. Unfortunately, Overton needed Tommy John surgery, something the A's were aware of prior to drafting him.

If Overton can return to the form he showed prior to the surgery, this pick could be a steal for the team. His repertoire consists of a fastball, breaking ball (some reports note it as a curve, some as a slider) and a changeup, with both the breaking ball and changeup potentially being above-average pitches down the line. His velocity did not return as fast as hoped coming out of rehab, but if it does to start 2015, we could be looking at a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher. He may not rank this high in a number of systems, but right now he may have the highest upside of any pitcher in the system.

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6. Sean Nolin (LHP)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
4 0 3.52 1.22 88
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
97.2 0.65 0.95 9.42% 21.26%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
24 L L A+,AAA,MLB
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (2 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015
Acquired from the Blue Jays in the Donaldson trade, Nolin spent most of his season at AAA Buffalo. He made 17 starts there over the span of the season, with interruptions due to a groin injury at two different points in the year, and was called up at the end of the season. He threw just one inning in the majors this year, and has managed to throw a total of 2 1/3 innings in the majors so far.

Nolin features a four-pitch repertoire with a curveball, slider and changeup as his offspeed offerings. Reports on his repertoire point to a pitcher that doesn't necessarily have a strong strikeout pitch, but rather a number of average or better offerings. The raw stuff plays up a little bit as he gets some deception from his delivery, which appears fairly fluid and easily repeated.

He'll likely get a shot at a spot in the starting rotation in Spring Training, and has the potential to be a back-end starting pitcher for fantasy purposes. He should provide good ratios to along with a reasonably good amount of strikeouts (seems like 7-7.5 per 9 innings). He seems to me like a pitcher that you'll never get kudos for drafting or owning, but still provides you with good production at the bottom of your fantasy rotation.

7. Chad Pinder (2B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.288 61 13 55 12
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
436 0.336 0.489 5.05% 22.71%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017
Drafted by the A's in the second round of the 2013 draft, Pinder was given an aggressive assignment to High-A Stockton in 2014 after spending his professional debut at Vermont. He rewarded the team with a solid performance, hitting .288 with 13 home runs and 12 stolen bases while playing second base alongside former A's prospect Daniel Robertson.

Pinder doesn't have any one tool that jumps out, but rather tends to be at least average across the board. He's not going to provide any one category at an elite or even an above-average level, but should provide solid value in batting average and power. Defensively, he was a shortstop before being drafted, and while it is possible he could return to the position, the consensus seems to be that he will be a better fit defensively at second base.

The bar for fantasy relevance at second base isn't drastically high, especially in AL-only leagues, so Pinder is a name that is worth keeping an eye on in those formats. He's going to AA Midland to start the 2015 season, and if he has a strong year there could potentially be in the mix (with Joe Wendle) to replace Ben Zobrist at second base in 2016. With a full season in the majors, I can see a .270/10 HR/6 SB line with solid run and RBI totals.

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8. Raul Alcantara (RHP)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
2 0 2.33 1.14 10
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
19.1 0.00 1.10 6.49% 12.99%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R AA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (1 Option Left)
ETA to Majors: 2016
Acquired by the Athletics in the Andrew Bailey trade back in 2011, Alcantara made just three starts in 2014 before being sidelined with an elbow injury. He ended up having Tommy John surgery in mid-May, and will hopefully return by midseason 2015. He remains on the top 10 list in part because of the weakness of the system, and if he can return to full health, still has a mid-rotation ceiling. He could be back in the top five next year if that happens. The only other thing to really watch for at this point is that Alcantara has already used two options, and will need to show enough in 2015 to earn a shot at a rotation spot in 2016.

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9. Kendall Graveman (RHP)

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
14 0 1.89 1.03 119
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
171.3 0.11 1.95 4.59% 17.60%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 R R A,A+,AA,AAA,MLB
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015
The third and final prospect acquired from the Blue Jays, Graveman moved extremely fast through Toronto's system after signing as an 8th round pick from the 2013 draft. He started the season at Low-A, spent the majority of the year at High-A, and then made a start at AA before moving to AAA and even finished the year in the Majors. He features a four-pitch mix consisting of a fastball, cutter, slider and changeup, with his fastball and cutter being his best pitches. He actually added the cutter during the season in 2014, which has given him another pitch to help generate weak contact. He has excellent control, which helps his repertoire play up slightly beyond the raw product.

Graveman will likely be in the mix for a rotation spot out of Spring Training, and seems like one of those pitchers who you're never happy that you drafted or owned, but that provides decent production and won't kill you out there. He's not likely to be a high strikeout pitcher, but should provide good ratios between his high groundball potential and excellent control. He seems like a streaming option should he make the team this year, with back-end starting potential in deeper formats.

10. Rangel Ravelo (1B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.309 72 11 66 10
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
551 0.386 0.473 10.16% 13.97%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R AA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: Late 2015
Acquired from the White Sox as a part of the Jeff Samardzija trade, Ravelo is a prospect that doesn't really fit with the profile you'd expect from him. A solidly built first baseman at 6'2, 210 lbs, Ravelo played a full season's worth of games for the first time in 2014, hitting .309 with 11 home runs and 10 stolen bases across 133 games. The profile for Ravelo screams for deeper leagues only at this point, as he's likely to provide a high batting average with minimal power (around 10 home runs a season). The system is fairly shallow at this point, so a player that can provide good production in at least one category (and potentially arrive soon) does have some value. He'll likely head to AAA Nashville this year and was added to the 40-man roster this offseason, but first base is a bit of a mess in Oakland with Ike Davis and Nate Freiman likely to share the starting job this year.



Other Interesting Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Yairo Munoz - The shortstop at Oakland's short-season affiliate in Vermont in 2014, Munoz is an interesting prospect based on the potential for his tools to develop into an above-average contributor at shortstop. He's a long way from the majors right now, but the potential for high stolen base totals is there, and could potentially provide solid production in batting average and runs as well. At this point he's a name to keep an eye on except in the deepest of leagues.

Max Muncy - Muncy is an interesting name if you play in a league with OBP instead of AVG, as he has consistently posted excellent walk rates and matching strikeout rates. The question with Muncy at this point is whether the power he showed in Stockton is still there somewhere, or if he was another Cal League mirage in that facet of his game. He'll likely head to AAA Nashville in 2015.

Bobby Wahl - The top prospect left in the system from last year's top 10 fantasy prospect list at #3, Wahl was moved to the bullpen after spending the first two months as a starting pitcher, and it looks like this may be his long-term role. It's possible that he ends up as a high-leverage reliever down the line or given another shot to start, but unless he ends up as a closer, it's not likely to translate to a ton of fantasy upside.

Daniel Gossett - The team's second round pick in 2014, Gossett can potentially either a low-end mid-rotation starter or a higher back-end type. He's an interesting prospect as a starter, but there are enough questions about whether he can stick in the rotation to keep him outside the top 10 at this point.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter