Oakland Athletics Have a Wealth of Shortstops in the Minors


This may come as a surprise, given the team’s trades in the last year and a half, but the Oakland Athletics have a number of highly rated shortstop prospects on the farm.

Yes, the A’s. After trading away Addison Russell to the Chicago Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal in July of 2014, and dealing Daniel Robertson to Tampa Bay to acquire Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, the A’s still have at least four prospects that man the position and have high ceilings.

Their Major League shortstop, Marcus Semien, acquired in the deal that sent Samardzija to the south side of Chicago last offseason, had his ups and downs in 2015. The main question surrounding the 25-year-old is his defense. In his first full season at the position, Semien led the Majors in errors with 35, although his defense was noticeably better once Ron Washington joined the coaching staff. Just seven of those thirty-five errors were committed after the All-Star break.

As Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area reports, Semien received glowing reports for his work ethic in an attempt to improve his defense throughout the season. Even with 35 errors, Semien still accumulated a dWAR of 1.4 according to Baseball Reference. He also smashed 15 bombs over the course of the year, so if his defense improves, Semien could become a nice hidden talent out in Oakland.

Of course, if Semien isn’t able to get out of the gate strong, the A’s could look within to fill the role. Tyler Ladendorf could receive a look at the position, but would only be a stop-gap solution.

Chad Pinder could be a mid-season solution if need be. In 2015 he won Texas League Player of the Year honors as a member of the Texas League champion Midland Rockhounds. He slashed .317/.361/.549 with 15 homers and 86 driven in. His 15 dingers are two more than he totaled in the hitter-friendly California League the previous season. Defensively, he can also play second and third if need be, giving him plenty of versatility which could lead to a call-up sooner rather than later.

Behind Pinder in the system, but ahead of everyone on the Oakland Athletics prospect list, is Franklin Barreto, whom the A’s acquired in the Josh Donaldson deal last winter. Barreto was considered the gem of the trade, and at just 19 (20 when the 2016 season begins), he should be starting the season at Double-A Midland. For now, Barreto is an offense-first player, and with the A’s wealth of options at the position he could be on the move to another station around the diamond to start 2016. He has played some outfield in the Venezuelan Winter League, and should see that trend continue with Midland. Barreto is the #18 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com.

Both Richie Martin (Oakland’s #4 prospect) and Yairo Munoz (#13) are expected to be a little further behind, with 2018 being their target date. Martin was Oakland’s first round selection this past June and is more of a defensive shortstop at the moment. MLB.com says in their analysis of Martin that he “can make all the plays needed from a shortstop.”

Munoz, 20, has the arm strength and athleticism to remain at short, while he also projects to hit for some power as he matures. He totaled 13 homers and 74 RBI between Class A ball and High A Stockton last season. Of the four, Pinder may have the best chance at sticking as an all-around player, but Oakland may move him from the position, possibly to second, in the future. Barreto could also see a change in scenery, specifically to center. This leaves Munoz and Martin to duke it out at shortstop over the coming years.