Now healthy, Holmes eyes impact spring

Oakland's No. 14 prospect looks to make mark after injury-riddled 2018

February 14th, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- 2019 marks a critical year for several A's prospects attempting to restore their stock.
Along with the likes of , and , is seeking a change of fortune this year.
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The right-hander was limited to just two starts for Class A Advanced Stockton in 2018 because of a nagging shoulder injury that dated back to Spring Training. Now back in big league camp, Holmes is healthy this go-around.
"Thankfully," Holmes said, smiling.
The A's will be watching closely. A year ago, he appeared poised to make the jump to Triple-A following a productive stint with Double-A Midland in 2017, and there was thought that he could be a rotation candidate for the big league team right about now. Then his shoulder started acting up, wreaking havoc on that plan.
Holmes is still young, though -- he'll turn 23 in March -- and could very well be among consideration for the A's 2020 rotation if he's able to stay healthy.
"That's the main thing," he said, "and just being more consistent. If I can do those two things, I think it'll take me a long way."
After going down in Spring Training last year, Holmes finally returned to action in late August, making a pair of three-inning starts for Stockton before the Ports' season ended. He was looking forward to returning to the mound in the Arizona Fall League, but he was shut down yet again before it even began.
The South Carolina native believes the time off that he was forced to take as the result of Hurricane Florence's arrival led him to speed up his throwing routine ahead of the AFL, which subsequently hurt him in his first bullpen session.
"It just kind of bit me, so we decided it was going to be best if I took a couple weeks off," he said.
It's been smooth sailing ever since for Holmes, who was added to the 40-man roster this winter so that the A's could protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. MLB Pipeline ranks the right-hander as Oakland's 14th-best prospect -- and fifth-best among pitchers.
"He's gone through a tough string with the injuries and so forth, and you look at his mechanics, it's a little different," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He wasn't really using his lower half much, and now I think he's realized that that's going to take some pressure off the arm. He looks to be a guy that has a chance to get to the big leagues, for sure."
Holmes, a former first-round Draft pick of the Dodgers, came to the A's with right-handers and in the 2016 mid-season deal that sent and to Los Angeles. Injury has stalled each at some point since, and the same can be said of many of Oakland's other trade products, including Kaprielian.
Kaprielian is currently shut down for a couple of weeks with a right lat strain, but he hopes to soon be on the same page as Holmes.
"It was very monotonous doing the rehab stuff," Holmes said, "but it's made me appreciate all of this a lot more, so hopefully I can stay healthy and perform for these guys."
Bullpen depth bolstered
The A's added yet another left-handed relief arm Thursday, agreeing to a Minor League deal with Tyler Alexander. The 27-year-old is a former Brewers prospect who topped out at the Class A level before journeying into independent baseball for four years. Alexander was on the move again in 2018, pitching in the Mexican League.
He also appeared in 11 games, including 10 starts, for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, posting a 2.68 ERA and 0.87 WHIP.
"This is someone they've had their eye on for a couple years," Melvin said. "He had some good winter ball numbers this year, too. We went from a position where the last couple years we really haven't had too many left-handed relievers, and now we have quite a few to choose from and have the depth from that position as well."
Chapman progressing well
Video: Chapman plans to be ready for regular season
's rehab from left shoulder surgery continues to go smoothly. The A's third baseman has graduated to batting practice for the first time; he was scheduled for 10 swings against live pitching following rounds of tee work and soft toss in the cages.