11. Joel Seddon, RHP, South Carolina
The A’s used their first pick on the final day of the draft to select the South Carolina closer. Seddon saved 14 games for the Gamecocks in 2014 and posted a 1.66 ERA. As a pro, Seddon remained in a bullpen role during his pro debut season, and he was given an aggressive assignment by the A’s. After a tune-up appearance in the AZL, Seddon was assigned to Low-A Beloit. He fared well in 19 appearances in the Midwest League, posting a 2.84 ERA and a 20:8 K:BB in 25.1 innings. Seddon held opposing batters to a .227 average and he allowed just one homerun.
Seddon is only 6’1’’, 165, so he has been pigeon-holed as a reliever since going to college. Although he began his pro career in the bullpen, Seddon may very well be headed to the starting rotation next season. The Michigan native has a four-pitch mix and he throws strikes, and the A’s are interested to see how he’d do in a starter’s role. If he finishes spring training on a starter’s path, Seddon will probably head to Low-A Beloit once again. However, if the A’s put him back in the bullpen, he could make the jump to High-A at the start of the season.
12. Tyler Willman, RHP, Western Illinois
Although Willman played at a four-year program, he was considered a projection pick. The 6’6’’, 190-pound right-hander still has plenty of filling out to do, and there is the belief that Willman could add significant velocity as he matures physically. He came into his own on the mound as a junior at WIU, although command was still an issue for Willman during his collegiate season.
Command issues continued for Willman during his pro debut in Arizona, as he walked 11 in just 20 innings. He showed quality stuff at times, however, striking out 24. His fastball sits mostly in the 88-92 MPH range currently, but with growth and mechanical adjustments, that number should jump. Willman has a promising curveball and change-up, but both can be inconsistent at times. Willman will continue to work on mechanical adjustments this spring. Depending on how those go, he will either head out to Beloit or stay in Arizona for extended spring training.
13. Max Kuhn, 3B, Kentucky
Three years after electing to go to college rather than sign with the A’s, Kuhn joined the organization as a 13th-round pick. Kuhn had a productive career at Kentucky, punctuated by a .324/.437/.494 line during his junior year for the Wildcats. As a pro, Kuhn debuted in Arizona, but moved up to short-season Vermont after a handful of games. Kuhn started off slowly with the Lake Monsters, but finished strong, hitting .333/.400/.456 in August. Overall, he had a 767 OPS in 184 at-bats in the pitcher-friendly New York-Penn League.
Kuhn’s bat profiles similarly to former A’s prospect Jeff Baisley. The A’s are still trying to find a home for Kuhn defensively. He got a lot of work at catcher during the fall Instructional League, and that experiment will continue into spring training. Depending on how far Kuhn gets with his catching in the spring will determine how much catching he does during the regular season. His bat should be advanced enough for him to start next year in full-season ball regardless.
14. Casey Schroeder, C, Polk State – DID NOT SIGN
15. Trent Gilbert, 2B, Arizona
After a solid collegiate career at Arizona, Gilbert split his pro debut season between the AZL and short-season Vermont. In 11 games with the AZL A’s, Gilbert hit .327/.377/.449 with five extra-base hits. Gilbert didn’t find as much success in the short-season New York-Penn League. He hit .255 in July but managed just a .190 average in August. He finished his stint with the Lake Monsters with a .212/.273/.270 line.
Gilbert is an offense-minded second baseman who should perform much better at the plate next season than he did during his time with Vermont. He got a bit unlucky, posting a .282 BABIP. Gilbert also struck-out more with Vermont than he has historically in college. Given Gilbert’s collegiate track record, he is likely to start 2015 with Low-A Beloit.
16. Jose Brizuela, 3B, FSU
Brizuela was the second collegiate third baseman selected by the A’s in the draft, the first being number one pick Matt Chapman. Brizuela was a standout for the Florida State Seminoles for the past two seasons before making the jump to pro baseball. He got 14 at-bats in the Arizona Rookie League and then moved up to short-season Vermont for the rest of the season. He got off to a fast start with the Lake Monsters, hitting .274 with three homers and a 10:7 K:BB in July. Like many hitters in the Vermont line-up, Brizuela struggled in August, hitting only .233/.307/.333 with one homer. He finished his stint with Vermont with a .241/.310/.380 line with five homers and a 42:15 K:BB.
It isn’t uncommon for players in their pro debut seasons to fade a bit during the final month of a season that often includes a full high school or college season, pre-draft training and a pro debut. The A’s like Brizuela’s swing and they think he can hit for average as he climbs the ranks. He was a little undisciplined in August, but he has a track-record of controlling the strike-zone well. The big question for Brizuela offensively will be whether he can hit for enough power to be a prototypical corner infielder. He is likely to start next season in Low-A Beloit and should see time both at third and at first, as the A’s look to increase his versatility.
18. Michael Nolan, LHP, OK City U
Nolan reported to Arizona after signing with the A’s, but he never made his official professional debut. He decided to return home and pursue a career in a different area. For now, he will remain on the A’s restricted list and could return to the organization should he decide to resume his career.
19. Tom Gavitt, C, Bryant – DID NOT SIGN
20. Koby Gauna, RHP, CSU-Fullerton
Gauna may not have had the same profile as his Fullerton teammate Chapman, but the right-hander opened a lot of eyes during his pro debut. Gauna pitched his way into a closer’s role with the Vermont Lake Monsters, racking up 12 saves in 12 chances in just 15 overall appearances. Gauna allowed just four runs, 15 hits and two walks in 17.1 innings for Vermont. He struck-out 14 and allowed less than a base-runner an inning.
Gauna doesn’t overpower hitters, but he has above-average fastball command on his 88-91 MPH two-seamer. He also has an effective split-finger, a good slider in the 79-81 MPH range and a developing change-up. Gauna may start the season with Low-A Beloit, depending on how other assignments are set, but he is a strong bet to spend a good portion of 2015 with High-A Stockton.