Name: Trace Loehr
Height/Weight: 5’10’’, 175
How Acquired: Selected in the 6th round of the 2014 draft
In 2014, the Oakland A’s went over-slot to sign high school draft pick Trace Loehr away from a commitment to play at Oregon State. Loehr’s stats from his first two professional seasons don’t jump off of the page, but the infielder has made significant strides in his development since turning pro.
Loehr was one of the top high school players in Oregon heading into last year’s draft (Perfect Game had Loehr as the top HS draft prospect for the state). He had a standout career at Rex Putnam HS and grew his profile nationally as part of the 18U Team USA squad in 2013. Loehr had a key hit in the game that clinched the 18U World Cup for the USA over Japan.
Trace Loehr Stats
Loehr spent his pro debut season with the A’s Rookie League team in Arizona. He got off to a very slow start offensively, but hit .291 with a .361 OBP during the month of August. Loehr continued to show improvement during the A’s fall Instructional League that year and he headed into the off-season with positive momentum.
With Franklin Barreto, Yairo Munoz and other middle infielders in camp with more than a year of professional baseball under their belts, the A’s chose to be conservative with how they moved Loehr in 2015. He spent the first two months of the season in extended spring training and then was assigned to the Vermont Lake Monsters’ squad at the start of the short-season schedule. He spent the rest of the season with Vermont, playing mostly third base and second base while also seeing a little time at his natural position at shortstop.
Like he did in 2014, Loehr got off to a slow start at the plate with the Lake Monsters. He had only five hits over his first 30 at-bats. After that, Loehr began to hit his stride. He hit .277 over the next 224 at-bats (58 games) and finished the year with a .264 average and a .325 OBP. The league averages for those two categories were .242 and .320, respectively, in 2015.
Trace Loehr at 2015 fall Instructs (Video by Kimberly Contreras)
A shortstop in high school and for much of his pro debut season, Loehr didn’t see much playing time at the six position in 2015. The Lake Monsters’ roster was crowded with shortstops, including 2015 top-two A’s picks Richie Martin and Mikey White, as well as fellow top-50 prospect Jesus Lopez. Loehr had never played third base before this season and he held his own, although he did make seven errors in 26 games. He fared much better at second – where he had some experience coming into the year – making only two errors in 32 games. Many scouts projected Loehr as a second baseman when he was coming out of high school and Vermont manager Aaron Nieckula said Loehr made significant progress at second this season.
“Defensively, we had him primarily at second base, although he did play some short in a pinch,” Nieckula said. “He also played some third base, where he hadn’t played before, and he handled it well. He was athletic enough and had enough arm to get it across the diamond. But second base wise, it was awesome to watch his progress and see his development over the course of the year with his ability to make the routine play, move left and right. He did improve on his double-play pivot but that is probably going to be goal number one moving into spring training.”
Loehr is an excellent athlete who has an innate feel for getting the barrel of the bat on the ball. Early in the year, Loehr was mostly an opposite-field hitter, but he made adjustments midway through the season to start pulling the ball more regularly and with more authority, according to Nieckula. Both of Loehr’s homeruns went out to the pull-side (right field). Loehr’s selectivity at the plate improved as the season went on. He walked 16 times in 36 games in August and September after walking eight times in 31 games in June and July. Despite having good speed, Loehr attempted only eight stolen bases and was successful only four times this season.
Nieckula projects Loehr as a top-of-the-order hitter.
“He can put a bunt down, execute the hit-and-run, move runners over, get on-base, and do those little things that help a team win,” Nieckula said.
Loehr is well positioned to make his full-season debut at the outset of the 2016 campaign. He is likely to start the year with Low-A Beloit, where he should see significant playing time at second base.