Oakland A's 2014 Draft In Review: Rounds 1-10

Nearly five months ago, the Oakland A's welcomed a whole new class of players into their organization. So how did the A's 2014 draft class fare in their professional debut seasons? Over the next week, we will take a look at how all of the A's draft picks did this year. In part one, we look at picks 1-10.

1. Matt Chapman, 3B, CSU-Fullerton
The A’s first-round pick spent a week in the Arizona Rookie League before shipping out to the Low-A Midwest League. Chapman’s numbers with Beloit weren’t particularly impressive (.237/.282/.389 with five homers and a 46:7 K:BB) but he flashed that all-fields power that the A’s saw during his pre-draft workout and he stood out defensively at third. Chapman struggled with plate discipline in Low-A, but when he moved up to Double-A for the playoffs, Chapman’s plate discipline improved as he began to face pitchers who had a better sense of where they were throwing the baseball and he could guess better what was coming. He hit .310/.375/.586 with two homers in eight Texas League post-season games, helping the RockHounds win a Texas League title. Chapman had a solid Fall Instructional League, where he continued to show better strike-zone judgment and above-average defense.

Chapman should start next season at High-A Stockton and he could jump to Double-A Midland by mid-season. He has some refinement left in his game, especially offensively, but the fact that he is so accomplished defensively means that he will be able to move up a level as soon as his bat warrants a promotion.

2. Daniel Gossett, RHP, Clemson
The A’s second overall pick came into professional baseball with 107.1 innings pitched during the collegiate season, so the Oakland player development staff kept Gossett on a short-leash – from an innings perspective – during his pro debut. Despite being limited to short-inning outings with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters, Gossett threw enough to confirm why the A’s thought so highly of him in the draft. In 24 innings, he allowed just 16 hits and one walk and he struck-out 25. Gossett then continued to impress during the A’s fall Instructional League.

Gossett is a polished collegiate pitcher with three average to above-average offerings already. He will continue to focus on improving his change-up next season, but his command of his fastball and breaking ball is already advanced. Gossett could start the season in Stockton, but at the very least will have an opportunity to finish the year at the High-A level even if he begins 2015 with Low-A Beloit.

3. Brett Graves, RHP, Missouri
Graves came into pro ball with a similar profile to that of Gossett – a polished collegiate right-hander with a starter’s pitch mix. Graves’ numbers weren’t as pretty as Gossett’s, but Graves got a little unlucky during his time with the Vermont Lake Monsters. In eight outings with the Lake Monsters, Graves posted a 6.86 ERA. However, his FIP was 3.10 and he had an unlucky .343 BABIP. Graves is a groundball pitcher who should benefit from better infield defenders as he advances through the A’s system. Graves’ command was also a little bit shaky at times. He walked six in 21 innings.

Graves continued to make progress during the fall camp and he, like Gossett, will be a candidate for a jump to High-A at the start of 2014. At the very least, he will be in a starting rotation for Low-A Beloit.

4. Jordan Schwartz, RHP, Niagara
Although Schwartz was another four-year collegiate draft pick, he came to pro ball with significantly less pitching experience than Gossett and Graves. A former position player, Schwartz made the switch to pitching full-time late in his career at Niagara. He is still raw, but the A’s were drawn to him thanks to his fastball that can reach the high 90s and a promising breaking ball.

The A’s moved Schwartz into a relief role when he turned pro. He made 11 relief appearances for Vermont, posting a 4.82 ERA in 18.2 innings. Schwartz’s fastball showed a lot of life, but he didn’t also command it well in his pro debut. He walked 13 and struck-out 14 with the Lake Monsters. On the plus side, Schwartz posted a better than 60% groundball rate and he didn’t allow a homer. He is the kind of prospect who could move quickly if things come together for him. Schwartz will continue to work on his fastball command and on his secondary pitches next season, likely in a relief role with Low-A Beloit.

5. Heath Fillmyer, RHP, Mercer JC (NJ)
Like Schwartz, Fillmyer came to pro ball as a pitcher recently converted from being a position player. Fillmyer has a promising fastball-breaking ball combination, but he is still learning the finer points of pitching. The A’s took it slow with Fillmyer, starting him off in the Rookie League and limiting him to six appearances and 9.2 innings in the AZL. Fillmyer showed the explosive fastball during his AZL stint, but still battled his command at times, striking out 10 and walking five. He then continued his learning in the Fall Instructional League.

Fillmyer was considered a bit of a project when the A’s drafted him, and the Oakland player development department won’t rush him up the ladder. Depending on the progress he shows during spring training, Fillmyer will either start the year in Low-A or extended spring training.

6. Trace Loehr, SS, Rex Putnam HS (OR)
Loehr was the first high school player selected by the A’s in this year’s draft. The Oregon native was a standout for Team USA as an amateur and came to pro ball with the reputation for having a solid glove and a good approach at the plate. Loehr spent his pro debut season in the Arizona Rookie League. He got off to a slow start, but he slashed .291/.361/.382 in August. Loehr also impressed on both sides of the ball during fall Instructs.

The A’s love Loehr’s work ethic, as well as his physical tools. He profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter who has a strong chance of staying at shortstop. In some ways, Loehr is similar to former A’s prospect Justin Sellers. Like Sellers, Loehr could skip short-season and head to Low-A at the start of his first full pro season, depending on how he fares next spring.

7. Branden Cogswell, SS/2B, Virginia
Cogswell joined the A’s after helping to lead the Cavaliers to the College World Series. He was bumped up directly to Low-A Beloit after signing. Cogswell struggled during his time with the Snappers, hitting just .203 in 128 at-bats. Despite his struggles, Cogswell still showed good plate discipline. He walked 17 times and posted an OBP more than 100 points higher than his BA (.309).

Cogswell’s swing was out of whack with the Snappers, but he started to find his way towards the end of the season and that continued in the Fall League. Assuming he can carry those adjustments over into spring training, Cogswell has a chance to start next season in Stockton, much the same way Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy did this year. Cogswell should see most of his playing time at short next season, but he will also get looks at second and third to increase his versatility.

8. Branden Kelliher, RHP, Lake Stevens HS (WA)
The A’s were able to sign Kelliher away from a commitment to play at Oregon thanks to an above-slot deal. The 5’11’’ right-hander got his feet wet in professional baseball with the AZL A’s. He showed impressive arm strength during his pro debut, sitting in the 92-95 MPH range in his outings. He also flashed a promising 12-6 curveball.

Kelliher is still learning to “pitch” rather than throw. He walked 29 in 28 innings during the AZL, but his 37 strike-outs were a good indication of the quality of his stuff. Kelliher won’t turn 19 until December. The A’s won’t rush him. He is likely to start next season in extended spring training and he will either join the Low-A Beloit staff partway through their season or pitch for short-season Vermont during the New York-Penn League campaign.

9. Michael Fagan, LHP, Princeton
After three non-descript years pitching for Princeton, Fagan took a big leap forward during his senior season, landing back on the draft radar. The southpaw always had a promising fastball, but he struggled badly with his command until his senior season. After signing with the A’s, Fagan made a couple of appearances with the AZL A’s before spending the rest of his pro debut pitching out of the Vermont Lake Monsters’ bullpen. Fagan struck-out 29 in his first 22.2 innings as a pro and he held opposing batters to a .207 BAA, but he did walk 18. Most of those walks came in June and July, however, and his command improved considerably over the final month of the season.

Fagan will continue in a relief role next season, likely with Low-A Beloit. His low-90s fastball and above-average breaking ball should allow him to continue to miss a lot of bats at the lower levels. If his improved command continues into next year, he could move up the ladder fairly quickly.

10. Corey Miller, RHP, Pepperdine
The A’s went with Pepperdine starter Miller with their final pick on Day 2 of the draft. The tall right-hander was a four-year pitcher for the Waves and a three-year member of their starting rotation. As a senior, he had a 1.90 ERA and three complete games in 16 starts. Once turning pro, Miller had one outing in the AZL before he moved up to short-season Vermont. He made nine starts and three relief appearances for the Lake Monsters. In 40.2 innings for Vermont, Miller had a 4.65 ERA, but that number was a bit unlucky. His FIP was 3.81 and his groundball rate was nearly 55%.

Miller isn’t a strike-out pitcher, but he attacks the bottom of the strike-zone to keep batters pounding the ball into the ground. As he moves to higher levels, he is another pitcher who should benefit from more advanced defensive infielders. Miller will likely be a member of the Beloit starting rotation next April.

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