The A's made a splash on the international front in July 2016 when they signed Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, MLB Pipeline's No. 4 international prospect at that time, for $3 million. And while the results have been rather modest for "Lazarito" in his first two seasons, there's also plenty of
The A's made a splash on the international front in July 2016 when they signed Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, MLB Pipeline's No. 4 international prospect at that time, for $3 million. And while the results have been rather modest for "Lazarito" in his first two seasons, there's also plenty of talent and ability left to unlock.
In his first taste of full-season ball this year in the Midwest League, Oakland's No. 6 prospect produced a .277/.374/.401 line with eight homers, 18 extra-base hits and a 10.6 percent walk rate in 79 games with Class A Beloit. He also, however, struck out in nearly 34 percent of his plate appearances and showed increased swing-and-miss tendencies late in the season.
Instructional league rosters
"He performed well, we were pleased overall," said A's coordinator of instruction Ed Sprague about the 19-year-old's campaign. "Obviously he struck out a higher rate than we would have liked, but he did start to show a little bit of his power and also some patience. Any time this guy makes contact it has a chance to leave the yard, and he overall hit the ball very hard this season when he put it in play."
Now participating in Oakland's fall instructional league for a second straight year, Lazarito is on a more individualized program compared to some of the other players in camp as he works to address issues that were exposed during his time in the Midwest League.
"I think breaking-ball recognition and hitting the breaking ball are the biggest things he's working on here," noted Sprague. "He's working on a few head positions in his setup at the plate that we think will help him with that and also get him to backspin the ball more consistently. But what it really comes down to is having him hone in on his strike zone, attack those pitches and lay off the other ones."
• A's instructional league roster and schedule
A's No. 11 prospect Jeremy Eierman, whom Oakland selected with the No. 70 overall pick in this year's Draft, is another player the club is hoping to get on track this fall as he participates in his first instructional league.
Eierman was one of just two NCAA Division I players to total 20 homers and 15 steals as a sophomore in 2017, but he produced only 10 homers as a junior while batting .287, causing his Draft stock to slip. After signing with the A's, the 22-year-old slashed .235/.283/.381 with eight home runs and a 26.2 strikeout rate in 62 games with Vermont in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League.
For Sprague, Eierman's 2018 struggles between the college and professional ranks stem more from an incomplete approach rather than anything physical or mechanical.
"I think he got into a pull mode during his junior year, and he'd admit to that, so getting him to open up the field again is probably the primary goal right now in camp," Sprague said.
"When you have the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark to all parts of the field like he does, you don't really need to cheat on the inner-half. I think he got into that mode a little bit his junior year and then tried to do too much after we signed him."
Jameson Hannah is getting close to returning from the left ankle injury that prematurely ended his pro debut with Vermont on Aug. 1, after just 23 games. The club expects the second-rounder to join its instructional league program in roughly two weeks following the completion of his rehab program.
"He's on a running progression right now and looks good," said Sprague about Oakland's No. 8 prospect's progress.
"He probably has one of the prettiest swings in our farm system. He brings a lot to the table and does a lot of things well. Given some help and provided he stays healthy, he's a guy who could move through the system fairly quickly given his ability."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.