A’s Go to High School for Third Pick
Considered one of best players left on the board at the start of Day Two of the draft, RHP Dakota Chalmers didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called. Following a recent trend, the A’s used their third-round pick on a high school pitcher with plenty of upside. In 2012, the A’s used their third-rounder on lefty Kyle Twomey, who didn’t sign. Then in 2013, the A’s selected high school lefty Chris Kohler, who is among the A’s current top-50 prospects. After selecting a college pitcher with their third-round pick in 2014 (Brett Graves), the A’s went back to the high school route for 2015 with Chalmers.
Going into the draft, Chalmers had some first-round helium, so he will likely require an above-slot bonus to sign. Chalmers, a native of Gainsville, Georgia, has a commitment to play for the University of Georgia, but the A’s should be able to save enough money on other picks to make him a competitive offer. SCOUT MLB Draft Analyst Jeff Ellis is high on Chalmers' potential, although Ellis notes there are some concerns about Chalmers’ delivery.
“Dakota Chalmers is a guy who faded a bit down the stretch which is why he lasted as long as he did,” Ellis said via e-mail. “He also fell a bit because the right-handed prep class is so incredibly deep. His best tool is his easy velocity he touched 98 at points this spring. The fastball looks like a future plus tool. When he first busted on the scene, I got some reports that said his curve could be a plus pitch, as well. There is the potential for three above-average pitches. The main concern is that he has a lot of effort to his delivery which is why some thought he might end up in the bullpen. But he is also a plus athlete which is why I think he projects as a starter. He was one of my top players left [for Day Two].”
Skye’s the Limit for A’s Fourth-Rounder Bolt
Likely the most physically gifted position player selected by the Oakland A’s on Day Two of the draft, OF Syke Bolt is a player that scouts can dream on. The University of North Carolina centerfielder hit .321/.418/.491 as a freshman and that season had some pegging him as a future first-round pick. Bolt broke his foot midway through that season and hasn’t put up the same kind of numbers since then. As a sophomore, Bolt hit .257/.373/.353. After struggling during the Cape Cod League, Bolt did show some improvement during his junior season, hitting .259/.383/.449 with a career-high 10 homeruns. Still, his numbers left scouts wanting more given his pure talent.
InsideCarolina’s lead baseball writer Matt Clements followed Bolt’s career with the Tar Heels closely. He had this to say about Bolt:
“Skye Bolt started off his career with a bang as a freshman showing that he possessed all 5 tools - throwing, running, fielding, hitting for power and average. However, he injured his foot about halfway through his freshman season and never really seemed to get back to the same level of play after that. His sophomore campaign he was great in the field but did not stand out with the bat. There were hot streaks and he flashed some nice power as a junior - but I don't know if he had regained his 'swagger' or confidence totally.
Coach [Mike] Fox has been quoted that he has not had a better defensive outfielder than Skye Bolt and I would only consider that perhaps Brian Goodwin may have played center field as well in my tenure covering the team.
He is a very well spoken student-athlete who could either put it all together and make it to the big leagues or burn out in the minors - he's definitely a great lottery ticket for the Athletics as he has all of the instincts and tools that you would want in an outfielder. The one thing that I always expected out of Bolt that he never really got going was his jump off of first base and stealing second - he always had a green light but after getting picked off early in the season didn't really take advantage of his speed.
Also UNC has a very risk-averse strategy for striking out so Bolt could easily show more power in the minors if he has the green light to swing away as he has great hands and command of the strike zone. The mental toughness and confidence will be the X factor with Bolt in my opinion and handling the grind of professional baseball.”
A’s Fifth-Round Pick Kevin Duchene Very Polished
Drew Dickinson was a member of the Oakland A’s 2002 draft class. Dickinson, a 28th-round pick that year, came to the A’s after a distinguished career at Illinois. He pitched in the A’s system from 2002-2005, reaching as high as Double-A Midland. In 2012, Dickinson took over as the pitching coach for his alma mater and he has built one of the top pitching programs in the Big 10. Illinois’ staff was one of the top in the country this season. On Day One, Illini lefty Tyler Jay went sixth overall to the Minnesota Twins. On Day Two, the A’s tapped the Illinois program with the selection of left-hander Kevin Duchene.
Duchene missed time in 2014 with a forearm injury, but that was the only thing that slowed him down during his three years at Illinois. In 238 innings, Duchene has a career ERA of 2.12 with 191 strike-outs and 63 walks. Duchene’s command has improved each year and he walked only 1.58 per nine innings this season. A left-hander with excellent command, Duchene isn’t over-powering, but he was a leader on the Illinois staff according to Dickinson.
“Kevin has been our Friday night ace since halfway during his freshman season,” Dickinson said via email. “Ironically enough, he stepped into that role when [current A’s prospect] Kevin Johnson went down with injury. Kevin [Duchene] is a great competitor and one who does not like to lose. He was a winner for Illinois baseball and helped lead our team and program to new heights this season.”
Dickinson sees a big league future for Duchene.
“In the pro game I see Kevin doing very well,” Dickinson said. “I see him being a good big league starter in the next couple years. He knows how to pitch and can throw four pitches for strikes. I played with and against a lot of guys who were big leaguers and Kevin, in my mind, is better than them. The A’s got a good one.”