On the Cusp: Oakland Athletics
Nolin, Graveman among top prospects who could impact big league club in 2015
In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.
The Oakland Athletics have had a very busy offseason. Trading veterans, they added young prospects under club control for years to come.
Looking ahead, several prospects may be included on the 25-man roster at some point during the season.
Here are the A's prospects I think have a chance to make an impact in Oakland in 2015, listed by their rankings in the A's Top 20 Prospects list.
Sean Nolin | LHP | 6-foot-4, 230 pounds | No. 9
Obtained from Toronto in November, Nolin had a taste of the big leagues, starting a game in 2013 and pitching in relief last year. Using an average low-90's fastball and good secondary pitches, Nolin repeats his delivery well, keeps the ball down in the zone and has the ability to pitch from the rotation or the bullpen. Not overpowering, Nolin offers a balanced repertoire of fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.
Kendall Graveman | RHP | 6-foot-2, 195 pounds | No. 10
Obtained in the same November trade with Nolin from Toronto, Graveman had experience last season pitching in five games from the Blue Jays bullpen. Using a solid sinking fastball, he gets hitters to pound the ball into the ground. He also throws a wicked cutter and has a changeup and a slider in his pitch mix. He can pitch from the rotation or out of the bullpen with good command and control.
Max Muncy | 1B/3B | 6-feet, 205 pounds | No.12
A left-handed hitter, Muncy plays bigger than his frame. The disciplined Muncy has found some recent power that could help him advance to the big leagues. Playing most of his games at first base, he could add depth to the roster with an ability to play third or even in the outfield.
Joe Wendle | 2B | 5-foot-11, 190 pounds | No. 13
A left-handed, consistent contact hitter, Wendle was traded to Oakland from Cleveland at the beginning of the Winter Meetings. He has had hitting success in the Indians organization, compiling a career .292 batting average. With a bit of pop in his bat, he may be able to hit some home runs. He has a bit of speed and can play average defense. A 2016 debut is more likely.
R.J. Alvarez | RHP | 6-foot-1, 200 pounds | No. 18
Alvarez came to the Athletics in a December trade with the Padres. He has a power arm and can bring his fastball to the high 90s. Basically a late-inning reliever, Alvarez has an average slider and a changeup that remains in development. In parts of three seasons, he has never struck out fewer than 12 batters per nine innings pitched. His quick arm and heavy fastball can dominate in short, late inning spurts.
Chris Bassitt | RHP | 6-foot-5, 210 pounds | No. 19
Big and steady, Bassitt came to the Athletics from the White Sox. He started five of the six games in which he appeared for Chicago. He pitched well, catching the eyes of scouts with a fastball range of 90-95 mph. He also throws a sweeping slider and changeup. He had a broken hand part of last season. I saw him work out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League. He gets sink on the fastball and induces lots of ground balls.
Billy Burns | OF | 5-foot-9, 180 pounds | No. 20
A switch-hitter, Burns was traded to the A's from the Nationals in late 2013. With blazing speed as his primary tool, Burns can impact a game in the manner Terrance Gore did this past year with Kansas City. In his four Minor League seasons, Burns has stolen 179 bases in 202 attempts. He makes contact and can bunt. The type of player that can come off the bench and change the game, Burns has to get on base to be successful.
Mark Canha | 1B/3B/OF | 6-foot-1, 200 pounds | Unranked
The right-handed-hitting Canha was selected by Colorado off of the Miami roster in the Rule 5 Draft at the recent Winter Meetings. The Athletics traded with the Rockies for the contract of Canha. He must remain on the A's 25-man roster all year or be offered back to the Marlins. A solid hitter, Canha has a .285 career batting average in parts of five Minor League seasons. He recognizes pitches well and can get on base.