After stockpiling a promising group of young talent through trades during Spring Training, the A’s added to that strong depth with a new batch of promising prospects following Monday’s trade that sent Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino to the Yankees.
Here’s a look at those incoming prospects who are expected to help form that next wave of winning baseball in Oakland:
LHP Ken Waldichuk
Draft: No. 165 overall (fifth round), 2019, Yankees
Scouting report: A down year as a junior at Saint Mary’s College following an outstanding sophomore season led to Waldichuk falling to the fifth round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Looking back, the left-hander might end up one of the biggest steals of that draft class. All he’s done as a pro is dominate at each level of the Minors, bringing an impressive four-pitch mix that includes a mid-90s fastball that generates plenty of swing and miss, as well as plus offspeed pitches in his curveball and changeup. He’s also developed a promising slider with good sweeping action.
2022: Beginning the year at Double-A Somerset, it only took six dominant starts for Waldichuk to earn a promotion to Triple-A, where he continues to overmatch hitters with 70 strikeouts across 47 2/3 innings. Between the two levels this season, Waldichuk holds a 2.71 ERA in 17 starts with 116 strikeouts over 76 1/3 innings.
How he fits: With only three established starters on the current A’s pitching staff, Waldichuk, who was assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas following the trade and is now rated the organization’s top pitching prospect per MLB Pipeline, will likely make his Major League debut this year. He is viewed as a key future member of Oakland’s starting rotation.
What the A’s have to say: “He’s gone out since being drafted and done nothing but perform. He checks every box in terms of the strikeouts, the command, the velocity, and a couple of plus offspeed pitches. Jeff Bittiger, one of our pro scouts, saw him most recently. Jeff has done a great job evaluating pitchers and really feels like this guy has a chance to be a front-of-the-rotation guy. I know Ken’s not from the Bay Area. But having gone to college here, it felt like this was someone who was close to home and we’ve kept track of him in his journey through the Yankees system and really impressed with how he has performed over there.” -- General manager David Forst
RHP Luis Medina
Draft: 2015 international signing, Yankees
Scouting report: Medina’s tantalizing power arm is what immediately stands out, as his fastball has been clocked as high as 103 mph with some cutting action. Command issues have led to evaluators around the league tabbing him as a reliever once he reaches the big leagues. However, his electric arsenal, which also features an above-average curveball and changeup, instills belief for the A’s that he could stick as a starting pitcher with a chance to be truly dominant.
2022: Medina continues to battle his command troubles at Double-A, with 81 strikeouts and 40 walks over 72 innings to go with a 3.38 ERA in 17 starts.
How he fits: Now rated as Oakland’s No. 7 prospect, Medina will report to Double-A Midland and could earn a big league stint as early as this season depending on how he performs over the next two months.
What the A’s have to say: “We definitely see Luis as a starter. He made 21 starts last year between two levels and has started each of his games this year. I know the Yankees managed his workload at times. He had some starts of three and four innings. But we see him as a starter. We know the curveball is a plus-plus pitch. We think his changeup is excellent as well. We think there’s a three-pitch mix there to continue starting. Obviously the velocity is the thing that jumps out at you.” -- Forst
LHP JP Sears
Draft: No. 333 overall (11th round), 2017, Mariners
Scouting report: Sears utilizes a fastball that sits 90-93 mph and maxes out at 95 mph along with a slider that misses bats and decent changeup with fading action. His success stems from his strong ability to locate his pitches, made possible by a smooth and repeatable delivery.
2022: The numbers are impressive across the board for Sears, who holds a 2.05 ERA in seven games (two starts) for the Yankees while also dominating at Triple-A with a 1.67 ERA over 11 games (nine starts) with 55 strikeouts across 43 innings.
How he fits: Listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Sears faces questions about his durability as a starter for the long-term. For now, the A’s plan to keep him in a starting role at Triple-A Las Vegas.
What the A’s have to say: “Sears has been in the big leagues. We saw him up close and personal in New York a couple of months ago. .. Close to being in a Major League rotation.” -- Forst
2B Cooper Bowman
Draft: No. 122 overall (fourth round), 2021, Yankees
Scouting report: Bowman is a plus runner who also has displayed solid defense at both second base and shortstop. He’s worked on adding more launch to his swing, which scouts believe can lead to 15- to 20-home run potential. As a result of that adjustment, his strikeout rate has gone up, though he does maintain a solid ability to draw walks.
2022: In 80 games with High-A Hudson Valley, Bowman slashed .217/.343/.355 with eight homers and 35 stolen bases, also drawing 55 walks. He impressed in his A’s organizational debut with High-A Lansing on Tuesday, going 2-for-5 with a homer while also swiping a bag.
How he fits: Bowman joins a talented roster at High-A that features A’s top prospects such as Max Muncy, Euribiel Angeles and Denzel Clarke. He’ll receive time at both second and short.
What the A’s have to say: “We feel really good about his defensive work. It’s a guy we happened to see a lot of at Louisville. He plays hard. Scouts just love watching this guy. His walks and his contact rate. A lot of things jump out at you offensively. He can really play the game. He’s exciting to add to that Lansing group that’s there now.” -- Forst