A's have deal with No. 2 int'l prospect Puason

July 3rd, 2019

OAKLAND -- This year’s pool of international prospects is considered to be one of the most loaded in recent history, and the A’s believe they just landed the best player of the group.

The A’s reached an agreement on Tuesday with shortstop Robert Puason of the Dominican Republic, No. 2 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list. The deal could exceed $5 million, an industry source told MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

A’s assistant general manager Dan Feinstein and his scouting team spent the past few years scouting Puason and getting to know him while he trained at the club’s academy in Villa Mella, Dominican Republic.

“This is one of the deepest classes in recent memory,” Feinstein said. “We had targeted Robert early on as the top player in this class. We’re beyond thrilled that he’s going to be an Athletic.”

Overall, Puason is a fast-twitch athlete who makes solid contact from both sides of the plate. He has shown a polished approach with fluid swings and the ability to spray line drives to all fields. He has good barrel control and extension for his age (16). Like most prospects his age, he continues to work on his hitting mechanics, and it’s the development of the hit tool that could make him an everyday player in the Major Leagues one day.

On defense, he shows fluid actions and good footwork. He has an above-average throwing arm with solid carry, and it’s expected to get better as he develops. Add good hands along with great instincts, and it makes for an above-average package that could keep him at shortstop for the rest of his career.

“He’s fun to watch play shortstop,” Feinstein said, noting Puason’s strong arm. “He plays with such energy and emotion and it’s fun to watch him pick up a ball. He’s got advanced defensive capabilities right now and we anticipate him to be an above-average Major League shortstop.”

According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft receive a pool of $6,481,200 for spending on international prospects, while clubs -- like the A's -- that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft get $5,939,800 for spending on international prospects.

Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 60 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.

Under the previous system, teams were penalized for exceeding their bonus pools with consequences that ranged from taxes on their spending to the maximum penalty, which was being prohibited from signing any prospect for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. That’s no longer the case and there are no longer penalties. Teams can only spend their allotted bonus pools and the monies acquired via trade.

The A’s signed 10 other international prospects in addition to Puason, including Jasmed Diaz, a 16-year-old Colombian outfielder whom Feinstein described as a “physical, strong, mature left-handed hitter” who possesses the athleticism to play any of the three outfield spots.

Piscotty’s MRI shows no tear

The A’s were relieved to hear ’s MRI on his right knee revealed no tear. A’s manager Bob Melvin said a recovery time of around a month is possible, but the club will get a better idea in the coming weeks.

“We caught a serious break, I think,” Melvin said. “Seeing the slide and seeing his face on the field, it crossed my mind that he might be out for the season. It still will be a fairly significant period. Certain guys respond differently. But we know there is no tear and now it’s about getting him through the process of strengthening and rehabbing.”

Piscotty was placed on the 10-day injured list after spraining his right knee on an awkward slide into second base to avoid a tag from Luis Rengifo in the sixth inning of Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Angels in Anaheim.

Barreto takes over at second

Looking to keep his hot bat going in the Majors, Melvin said will get the majority of playing time at second base, while moves into a utility role. Barreto was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday and arrived batting .296 with 12 home runs, 24 doubles, five triples and 48 RBIs in 73 games.

“We talked with the front office when we brought him up that we need to give him some consistent at-bats and he’s never really had that at the big league level,” Melvin said. “That doesn’t mean Jurickson won’t play at all. You may see him take ground balls at different positions and play some outfield to create versatility for him, but Franklin is going to get the majority of time at second. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Herrmann makes A’s debut

After knee surgery in Spring Training kept him out of the Opening Day roster, was activated off the injured list and inserted into Tuesday’s starting lineup. The catcher hit .333 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 13 games on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas.

“He was swinging the bat pretty good down there and we wanted to get him in there right away,” Melvin said. “Josh Phegley will play tomorrow night. We’re not going to run Phegley out of here, he’s been doing a great job. It’s going to be a bit of a balance between both, but I do think it’s important to get Chris in there while he’s hitting well.”

Beau Taylor was optioned down to Triple-A to make room on the active roster and Marco Estrada was transferred to the 60-day IL.