Name: Trace Loehr
Height/Weight: 5’10’’, 175
How Acquired: Drafted in the 6th round in 2014
In 2014, the Oakland A’s selected college players with most of their top-30 round picks. One exception was their sixth round selection, which was used on Oregon high school infielder Trace Loehr. The A’s had to go over-slot to sign Loehr away from a commitment to play at Oregon State. The early returns indicate that the reported $600,000 the A’s spent to sign Loehr was a wise investment.
Loehr had a decorated high school career at Rex Putnam HS in Milwaukie, Oregon. He hit .562 during his senior season. Loehr was also a standout performer on the Team USA under-18 squad. He helped lead that team to the 18U World Cup title in 2013. During that tournament, Loehr led the Stars and Stripes in walks and stolen bases. Loehr played mostly shortstop at Rex Putnam, but shifted to second base for much of his time with Team USA.
The A’s were, not surprisingly, high on Loehr coming out of the draft.
“We like the way he swings the bat. He can run. We have guys in our camp who really think he can play defense,” A’s Scouting Director Eric Kubota said shortly after the draft. “We also got feedback from coaches who coached him with the USA junior team last year about the make-up and the quality of the kid. There were a whole lot of checkboxes checked with Trace.”
After signing with Oakland, Loehr reported to the A’s Arizona complex, and he would spend the rest of his pro debut in Phoenix. Known more for his bat than his glove in high school, Loehr got off to a slow start at the plate with the AZL A’s. During his first five weeks of pro ball, Loehr hit .193/.264/.193 in 21 games (83 at-bats). However, he began to show what he is capable of at the plate during the final four weeks of the season, when he hit .299/.365/.390 while maintaining a 12:7 K:BB in 20 games (77 at-bats). All told, Loehr finished his pro debut with the AZL A’s with a .244/.313/.288 line. He walked 15 times, struck-out 31 times and stole six bases in eight chances.
"Trace is a player development’s dream." - Rich Sparks, A’s scout and instructor
During the A’s fall Instructional League, Loehr continued to show improvement with both the bat and the glove. A’s player development staff raved about Loehr’s work ethic and his baseball acumen.
“Trace is a player development’s dream,” longtime A’s scout and instructor Rich Sparks said. “Just a guy who flat-out goes out there and plays the game the right way. He works his tail off and is always listening. Listening more than he talks. He’s really out there digesting everything. He wants to get better. If you had 25 of those guys on your roster, you’d be doing a good thing.”
Loehr is one of the fastest players in the A’s system. He has a solid understanding of the strike-zone and should be a player who gets on-base regularly as a pro. With his strike-zone judgment and his speed, Loehr should be a solid hitter at the top of a batting order. He is an excellent athlete who makes adjustments well and is coachable. Loehr doesn’t project to hit for a lot of power, but he should be able to take advantage of his speed and his baseball instincts to wrack up a decent number of doubles and triples.
Defensively, Loehr may not have the range to stick at short long-term, but he did fine at the position during his pro debut and should continue to see time there in the coming years. He may ultimately be a second baseman in the upper levels.
Although a high school pick, Loehr will turn 20 early next season. Depending on how he fares during spring training, he could be moved aggressively with an assignment to Low-A Beloit. If he stays back at extended spring training for the first half of the year, Loehr will likely spend his 2015 regular season with the Vermont Lake Monsters.