The 2020 season marked the third straight year the A’s made it to the playoffs, no small feat even if the postseason runs didn’t last as long as anyone would have liked. While the club continues to be largely built via trade, some of those trades brought in prospects who were coached up by the player development system.
Exhibit A, of course, would be lefty Jesús Luzardo, who came to the A’s while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and had barely gotten his pro career started, so he should really almost count as a homegrown player. Both he and Sean Murphy, who was an original A’s draftee, graduated off of prospect lists this year to help bring Oakland to the postseason again.
Those graduations, along with an injury to top prospect A.J. Puk, leaves things a little thin at the top, but there is confidence that efforts on the international market (led by young shortstop Robert Puason) and the Draft (topped by 2020 first-rounder Tyler Soderstrom) will help anchor the system moving forward.
FARM SYSTEM RANKINGS
2020 Midseason: 17 | Preseason: 14
2019 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2018 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2017 Midseason: NR | Preseason: 7
2016 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2015 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
Only the top 10 systems were ranked from 2015 to the 2019 preseason; the top 15 systems were ranked 2019 midseason.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
Trade: Junior Perez, OF (No. 11)
Soderstrom was thought to be closer to a mid-first rounder, and the A’s were thrilled his left-handed bat got to them at No. 26, where they had to go over slot to sign the high school backstop. Criswell both relieved and started at the University of Michigan, but the A’s think he has a good chance to start and he performed well at instructs, the first in-person work the right-hander had gotten with his organization. Perez is a toolsy outfielder with serious raw power who the A’s got from the Padres as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Jorge Mateo to San Diego.
2021 IMPACT PROSPECT
A.J. Puk, LHP: A shoulder issue kept Puk from joining fellow lefty Luzardo, as was expected, in helping the A’s reach the postseason. Puk had surgery to hopefully clean out his shoulder, and he’s expected be ready to go by Spring Training.
2022 TOP PROSPECT
Robert Puason, SS: While he’s yet to play an official game since signing for just north of $5 million in July 2019, the A’s aren’t any less excited about the 18-year-old infielder. Puason handled himself well during his time at the alternate site and the hope is the lessons learned about routine and preparation will allow him to hit the ground running in 2021.
Hit: Tyler Soderstrom
Power: Kyle McCann
Run: Luis Barrera
Arm: Sheldon Neuse
Field: Nick Allen
Best athlete: Buddy Reed
Fastball: Wandisson Charles
Curveball: Grant Holmes
Slider: A.J. Puk
Changeup: Daulton Jefferies
Control: Daulton Jefferies
How the Top 30 Was Built
The A’s have three former first-round picks in their top 10: A.J. Puk (No. 6, 2016), Tyler Soderstrom (No. 26, 2020) and Logan Davidson (No. 29, 2019), with three other draftees joining them (Nick Allen, Daulton Jefferies, Jeff Criswell). Robert Puason is obviously the top international signee on the list, but Luis Barrera (No. 8), Jordan Diaz (No. 13) and Brayan Buelvas (No. 15) join him in the top half of the Top 30. Oakland’s playoff roster this year was built largely by trades, but they’ve also added prospects that way over the years, with Sheldon Neuse (No. 5) and Jonah Heim (No. 9) leading that group.
Top 30 by Position
Even with Murphy’s graduation, the A’s still have some catching depth, with a pair of backstops in their top 10 (Soderstrom and Heim). Injuries have kept the pitching crop from reaching its full potential, but right-handers Daulton Jefferies (No. 7) and James Kaprielian (No. 12) did work their way up to the big leagues in 2020.