Oakland Athletics Could See A Glimpse of Their Future in 2016


The Oakland Athletics were the worst team in the American League in 2015 at 68-94, and while the front office has been addressing areas of need this offseason (namely their bullpen), they haven’t made any “wow” moves just yet. In the AL West, they could optimistically be slotted fourth in the division but should expect to be battling the Seattle Mariners to stay out of the cellar for a second straight season instead of the Angels, Astros and Rangers atop the division.

If you haven’t heard, the A’s have been in the business of selling some of their big-name players for minor league prospects over the past year or so (or for as long as baseball has been around, depending upon your perspective) in an effort to both compete now and build for the future. Outside of their ace, Sonny Gray, the team lacks marquee names at the moment. Down on the farm however, there are some players that could be reaching the big leagues and making a splash by September of next season.

According to MLB Pipeline, six of the team’s top-10 prospects should be in Oakland by the end of the 2017. Of those six, four have ETAs of 2016. Now lets not get too excited. Franklin Barreto (the gem from the Donaldson deal), Matt Olson, Chad Pinder and Renato Nunez are all names that fans have been keeping an eye on for some time, but their arrival in Oakland will likely be when rosters expand in September of 2016.

Barreto is ranked as baseball’s #18 prospect overall, so the talent is certainly there. A 2016 arrival date may be pushing it however, as the 19-year-old has yet to play above Hi-A, and even then played in just 90 games due to injury. After a slow start to his season, Barreto ended up hitting .302 with a .333 on-base percentage, 13 homers and 47 RBIs. He has average power according to his scouting report and is a slightly below average fielder. Some question whether he will stick at shortstop, which is fair because that is also the position that Chad Pinder mans. One of the two will likely slide over to second, or Barreto could find himself in the outfield with his arm.

Pinder, 23, played for the Texas League champion Midland RockHounds last season along with the next two players on this list, where he hit .317 with 15 homers and 86 RBIs. Pinder played some second base when he and Daniel Robertson shared the diamond, but after Robertson was traded to Tampa Bay, Pinder resumed his duties at short. In the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game Pinder made some great acrobatic plays ranging to his left and right, but also struggled defensively on a couple of balls. His fielding is rated better than Barreto’s, but not by much.

Olson led the California League in homers back in 2014 with 37, and it is that power that makes him special. While his home run total dropped in Double-A to 17 last season, his batting average was just a tick below his career average of .250 (.249), while his OBP was an astonishing .388 due to a second-straight season of 100+ walks. Olson has shown that he can hit doubles, hit ’em far, and draw plenty of walks in the minor leagues. His approach may be the most polished of the quartet. Where he’ll fit in remains a mystery as Olson split time fairly evenly between his regular first base and right field. Rangel Ravelo is another first baseman that is just about ready for his debut, but has also been spending time in the outfield. Add in Mark Canha who performed well in Oakland last year at the same positions, and there is a real logjam at the moment.

Nunez is ranked as the sixth overall prospect in the Oakland Athletics system, just ahead of Pinder, but when he catches fire seemingly nobody can get him out. In seven postseason games, Nunez hit .385 with two homers and 12 RBIs, almost singlehandedly bringing his team to victory. Overall Pipeline rates him at a 50 on the 20-80 scale, which is average, but he may be the most exciting offensive player that Oakland has in their farm system when he gets going.

Next: Projecting the Phillies Newest Prospects

These four should all receive plenty of playing time in the final month of the 2016 season, assuming that the A’s have nothing to play for. Their rebuild won’t take quite as long as those made popular by Houston and Chicago, but it may also not be as glamorous. Before these players get to the big leagues however, they’ll have to continue to perform and develop in Triple-A Nashville, or in Barreto’s case both Nashville and Midland.