Vermont Lake Monsters

Beyond the Oakland A's 2016 top-50 prospects: Outfielders

We recently ranked the top-50 prospects in the Oakland A's system, but those 50 are hardly the only players worth watching in the A's organization. We considered several other players before finalizing the list. In a several-part series, we take a look at those players who just missed the cut. In part one, we look at the outfielders who fell just short of top-50 inclusion.


Please note that players are listed in alphabetical - not rank - order.

Luis Barrera

Vitals: Signed as an international amateur free agent on 7/2/2012; Age: 20; 6'0'', 180; L/L

Barrera signed with the A's to a $450,000 bonus on July 2, 2012. He had two unimpressive years in the Dominican Summer League before coming Stateside in 2015 to suit up for the A's Rookie League team. Barrera showed significant improvement in 2015, hitting .287 with a .344 OBP and 12 walks in 37 games. He lost more than 20 pounds and was in significantly better physical condition than he had been in 2014, according to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman.

Barrera doesn't get a ton of loft on his hits at the moment, but he hits the ball hard and could develop into a power threat as he learns to lift the ball more. He has a good feel for the barrel of the bat and handles both righties and lefties well. Barrera has average foot speed, but his arm is a tick above-average and could improve over time. He can also play first base in addition to the outfield. He is likely to get a shot in the short-season New York-Penn League in his age 20 season. 

Joe Bennie

Vitals: 28th-round pick in 2013 draft; Age: 24; 6'0'', 200; R/R

The light switch went on for Bennie with about six week left in the 2015 season and the progress he made carried over into the fall, where he continued to perform at Instructs. It will be interesting to see what kind of season Bennie can put together in 2016. Bennie's overall numbers for Low-A Beloit were solid but not spectacular (.272/.363/.430), but no hitter in the Midwest League was hotter than Bennie down the stretch. From July 22 to Sept. 7, Bennie raised his season average from .237 to .272. In 32 August and September games, Bennie hit .333 with 21 extra-base hits.

Bennie is on the older side for a prospect who has yet to play above Low-A, but he has some juice in his swing and the speed to be a threat on the bases. Bennie is limited to the corner outfield spots, but he also can play second and third base. He should move up to High-A Stockton at the start of 2016. 

Joe Bennie at 2015 fall Instructs (video by Kimberly Contreras)

Seth Brown

Vitals: 19th-round selection in 2015; Age: 23; 6'3'', 220, L/L

Brown was Mr. 51 of the group this year. The only reason he didn't land on the top-50 list was his age, which isn't really fair, but is something that will hurt him from a prospect-rating perspective because he got a late start in pro ball. Brown will turn 24 midway through this season, but that's the only negative factor about him right now. He proved to be an intriguing all-around player last season in his pro debut, flashing tools on defense and at the plate. Brown hit .289/.356/.431 with 25 extra-base hits and six stolen bases in 62 games for Vermont last year. He earned the Lake Monsters' MVP award and raves from coaches and player development staff.

Brown is a candidate to jump from short-season to High-A this year given his age and the success he had in a pitcher's league last season. He is a versatile defender who can play all three outfield positions and first base. A's minor league field coordinator Aaron Nieckula worked with Brown in Vermont and at fall Instructs last year. Nieckula sees a lot of similarities between Brown and former A's prospect Jake Goebbert, who — like Brown — was an older prospect. Goebbert out-performed expectations throughout his career and reached the big leagues.

"He was one of our better hitters, one of our more consistent hitters throughout the season," Nieckula said. "Showed some signs of power to the pull-side. Showed some knack for putting the bat on the ball. Aggressive on the bases. Probably one of our better – if not our best – base-runners. Not even just on the Vermont team, but in the Instructional League. He’s solid in a lot of areas.

"When we had our individual meetings at the end of the year, I said, ‘you remind me a lot of Jake Goebbert. You play good defense. You’re solid. You understand the game. You play hard. You can play a little bit of first base. Jake played first base. He made it to the big leagues playing first base and right field with the Padres.’ There are a lot of similarities there. I wouldn’t say that there is one plus, plus tool that is going to stand out, but he does everything solid to solid-plus. Everything he does and his blue collar make-up, he’s going to get a shot to play at higher levels."

James Harris

Vitals: minor league free agent signing; Age: 22; 6'1'', 180; R/R

Harris, a 2011 Compensation Round A pick by the Tampa Bay Rays, joined the A's early in 2015 after being released by Tampa at the end of spring training. The Oakland Tech alum never found his way with the Rays, playing only 70 games above the short-season level. Harris spent most of the 2015 season in Low-A with the Beloit Snappers and he put together his best pro season to date. In 302 at-bats, Harris hit .255/.359/.377 with 48 walks. He also covered a lot of ground in centerfield.

Despite Harris' struggles with Tampa, he was still only 21 for nearly all of the 2015 season. He is still learning to use his speed on the bases (as evidenced by his 13 caught-stealings in 24 chances), but he has the speed to be a threat and a solid approach for the top of the order. 

Tyler Marincov

Vitals: 8th-round pick in 2013 draft; Age: 24; 6'2'', 2015; R/R

Marincov never got hot for any extended period with High-A Stockton last season. He was a steady contributor, hitting 14 homers, driving in 75 and swiping 14 bases, but his overall statline was disappointing (.257/.320/.409) considering how he had performed in 2014 (.268/.347/.486 between Beloit and Stockton).

Marincov is a talented player. He has power and runs the bases well. He also has a solid arm in right. Right now, strike-outs are holding Marincov back from reaching his full potential. He struck-out 140 times last season and walked just 44 times. If he can improve that aspect of his game, his prospect status should increase significantly in 2016.

Donn Parris Photography

James Terrell

Vitals: 11th-round selection in 2015 draft; Age: 19; 6'0'', 165, R/R

A hamstring injury limited Terrell's pro debut to just 21 games and never allowed him to get into a groove during his pro debut season. The East Bay native just turned 19 in January and has plenty of time to develop. Terrell was a two-sport star at St. Patrick-St. Vincent HS in Vallejo. He is an excellent athlete with the tools to play centerfield. His bat is still developing, but Terrell already has a solid understanding the strike-zone and an excellent work ethic.

The A's aren't likely to rush Terrell. With a big spring, he could jump to full-season ball on Opening Day, but it also wouldn't be surprising to see him held back in extended spring training and sent to Vermont in June.

Brett Vertigan

Vitals: 10th-round pick in 2012 draft; Age: 25; 5'9'', 175; L/L

The 2015 season was a big one for Vertigan, who lost most of 2014 to a pair of injuries. He began the year in Low-A, but quickly proved he was too good for that level by hitting .293 with a .421 OBP in 26 games. Vertigan took over as the Stockton Ports' everyday centerfielder and lead-off man after his promotion and was an igniter for the Ports. He hit .286/.352/.394 with 24 stolen bases and 34 extra-base hits in 111 games. He also played outstanding defense in center.

Vertigan is a prototypical lead-off man: he works the count, handles the bat well and has just enough pop in his bat to keep the defense honest. Vertigan is also arguably the best bunter in the A's system and one of the system's top outfield defenders. His age hurts his prospect status, but he still has a shot to make the big leagues as a fourth outfielder type. He should get his first taste of Double-A in 2016.

Josh Whitaker

Vitals: 25th-round selection in 2010 draft; Age: 27; 6'3'', 225, R/R

Whitaker is one of those players that you would like to see just catch a break. The talented corner outfielder has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and one wonders where he would be right now had he been luckier in the health department. Whitaker has played more than 100 games in just one season (his first as a pro). Last year, he appeared in 89 games for Double-A Midland, hitting .256/.312/.437 with 12 homers. Those numbers were down from Whitaker's run with the RockHounds in 2014, when he hit .320/.367/.523 in 51 games.

Whitaker will be a minor league free agent at the end of this season if he isn't on the A's 40-man roster. He may finally get an extended look in Triple-A this year, as the A's don't have a lot of upper-level outfield prospects in their system at the moment. Whitaker is a bit of a free swinger, but he has power to all fields and the ability to hit for average (his career slashline is .277/.342/.472). He is also surprisingly nimble for a player of his size and he has a strong throwing arm. 

Chris Lockard /

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