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Oakland A's Draft Review: Rounds 1-10

We have pick-by-pick analysis of the Oakland A's 2016 draft class. Inside, picks 1 through 11.

Pick #1: A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida

Analysis: Even in a year where the top-10 talent was considered to be down relative to past years, Puk comes to professional baseball with elite stuff. He isn't without warts: Puk has real command issues that he will need to work through and a tall frame that could make his delivery difficult to repeat. The upside is significant, however. His fastball can touch 99 and regularly sits in the mid-90s. He also has a swing-and-miss slider. His build will allow him to handle a significant workload, and he will come into professional baseball with fewer innings thrown than many other SEC starters at a similar stage in their careers. The key to his development will be how he uses his change-up, which he didn't use that often during regular season games in college. If Puk can master that pitch and tighten up the command, he could be a legitimate number one starter for many years. The A's don't have any other pitchers in their system with his level of pure stuff, so he immediately jumps to the top of the A's pitching prospect list once he signs.

Related: Scouting video 

Pick #2: Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California

Analysis: There is nothing scarier for pitchers than a shoulder injury, and Jefferies enters professional baseball dealing with a shoulder injury that cost him half of the Pac-12 season and caused him to slide out of a likely first-round selection. Jefferies was the hottest Division I pitcher at the start of the year, but he made only eight starts thanks to injuries (originally called a calf injury, it was the shoulder that kept him on the shelf). There is no way the A's would have been able to get Jefferies at this spot had he stayed healthy, so if he comes out of this rehab without any issues, this pick could be a steal. Because of his diminutive stature, Jefferies draws some comparisons to current A's number one starter Sonny Gray. Like Gray, Jefferies will enter pro ball with a well-developed starter's repertoire: he throws a two-seam, four-seam, slider and change-up. The change-up is his best secondary offering, but the slider improved considerably this year and gets plenty of late movement. Movement is a key for Jefferies, who gets plenty of it on all of his offerings. He has a smooth, compact delivery that he repeats well and he is a very good athlete. Like Gray, Jefferies rates high for his competitiveness on the mound. The A's will be careful with him this year thanks to the injury, but Jefferies could jump straight to High-A at the beginning of his first full pro season, assuming he is fully healthy.

Related: Daulton Jefferies video scouting report

Pick #3: Logan Shore, RHP, Florida

Analysis: There is an argument to be made that Shore was the best pitcher in the NCAA this season, especially when one factors the conference that he plays in (the SEC). Shore dominated as the Friday night starter for the Florida Gators, pitching ahead in the rotation of Puk. Shore went 11-0 with a 2.44 ERA and an 80:15 K:BB in 92.1 innings. He will continue to add innings in the College World Series, and, depending on how far the Gators go, Shore could be on a short-leash innings-wise during his pro debut this year. It wouldn't be surprising to see Shore begin his pro career this year in Double-A as a reliever, but don't let that fool you: he's a starter all the way. Shore didn't go in the first round because he doesn't have an elite fastball. He generally sits 88-92 with his two-seamer, occasionally tipping 94 with the four-seam. But he locates his two-seamer extremely well in the lower-half of the strike-zone, getting hitters to swing over it or pound it into the ground. Shore's change-up is already a plus pitch and it allows him to pitch backwards in hitter's counts and makes the fastball tick up a bit. His breaking ball has shown promise, as well, and Shore could be a candidate to add a cut-fastball under the tutelage of A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. Shore is average height (listed at 6'2''), but he has a thick lower half and should be able to handle a starter's workload without issue. He draws some comparisons to former A's starter Joe Blanton for his build, his pitchability and the quality of his secondary offerings.

Related: Top 2016 MLB Draft prospects, 1-51

Pick #4: Sean Murphy, C, Wright State

Analysis: Catcher is an area of need for the A's in their minor league system, and Murphy helps address that need. He is one of the better throwing catchers in college baseball and he profiles as an average or better major-league defensive catcher. Murphy is a good athlete who moves well behind the plate and he has a plus throwing arm. There are questions about his bat -- he didn't perform well with wood bats in the Cape Cod League -- but Murphy got off to a good start offensively this season before a hamate injury put him on the shelf. He struggled to hit for power after he returned from the injury, but that isn't unusual for hitters in the same year they suffer a hamate injury. If Murphy can be even a league-average major league hitter, he should be an above-average major-league catcher given the defensive tools. The A's will be patient in developing his bat, but Murphy's glove will allow him to move as quickly as his bat develops.

Related: At the park scouting report and video on Murphy

Pick #5: Skylar Szynski, RHP, Penn HS

Analysis: Szynski is the fourth pitcher, but the first high school player the A's have selected in the 2016 draft. The right-hander from Indiana was one of the most successful pitchers in the state as a prep player. He is a well-built, 6'2'' righty who sits in the low-90s with his fastball and has shown flashes of mid-90s velocity. The curveball is a workable pitch already and he has the start of a solid change-up. Szynski comes to pro ball with experience pitching in pressure situations and with a history of performing well in prospect showcases. He reportedly has a good feel for pitching for a player his age. The A's have been conservative with the development of their prep pitching picks in recent years, but if Szynski shows some polish in his pro debut season, he could start next year in Low-A, not far from his home. The A's will need to sign Szynski away from a commitment to Indiana, but that shouldn't be a significant hurdle.

Related: Top 2016 MLB Draft prospects, 51-102

Pick #6: JaVon Shelby, 3B, Kentucky

Analysis: Shelby, the son of longtime former big leaguer John Shelby, is the second position player taken by the A's in this draft. Announced as a third baseman, Shelby has moved around the infield, playing a lot of second base for the Wildcats. He has above-average power, especially to the pull side, and good bat speed, but he struggled to hit for average as a junior, batting only .212. He did connect for a career-high 12 homers and had a career-best .258 ISO. Shelby can work a walk, but he was content to swing for the fences a lot this year and that led to a lot of swings-and-misses (67 strike-outs in 198 at-bats). Shelby is a boom-or-bust kind of hitter. If the A's can get him to improve his plate coverage, he has the power and bat speed to develop into a major league middle-of-the-order hitter. However, he could also struggle to make enough contact to move above the lower-levels. Shelby will have a very good idea of what it takes to succeed in professional baseball with his dad and his cousin, Josh Harrison, giving him plenty of advice. Shelby is a good athlete but he didn't run much in college. He could be the kind of player who reaches the low double-digits in stolen bases as a pro, however. The A's will try him out in the infield, but he could move to a corner outfield spot if third base doesn't work out.

Related: Early season scouting report on Shelby

Pick #7: Brandon Bailey, RHP, Gonzaga

Analysis: The A's went back to the mound with their seventh pick, selecting Gonzaga right-hander Bailey. Like Jefferies, Bailey is a diminutive right-hander (in fact, he makes Jefferies look tall). Bailey struck-out 125 in 100.1 innings for the Zags this season and walked only 2.78 per nine innings. Bailey recently struck-out 17 against BYU in the WCC conference tournament, pitching at the Stockton Ports' Banner Island Ballpark in that game. He should find his way back to Banner Island in the near-term. Bailey had Tommy John surgery in high school and his size is a concern when projecting him as a big league starter. He has a solid sinking fastball that sits 89-91 and can touch 93. The pitch gets good late run and generates groundballs and swings and misses. His breaking ball is a sharp breaker with a little hump and he has an excellent change-up that sits 78-81 MPH. Bailey is similar to 2015 A's draft pick Bubba Derby, who pitched his way onto the A's top prospect list in his pro debut and found himself as a coveted trade chip during the off-season. 

Pick #8: Tyler Ramirez, OF, North Carolina

Analysis: After selecting UNC centerfielder Skye Bolt in the fourth round last season, the A's go back to UNC in 2016 to take the Tar Heels' current centerfielder, Ramirez. Ramirez isn't a big guy (5'9, 190), but he can really hit and has excellent on-base skills. Ramirez hit .333/.482/.540 with eight homers and a 50:54 BB:K in 2016. Despite his size, Ramirez is more of a power hitter than a speed guy, although he has the on-base skills to be a top-of-the-order hitter. He struggled on the Cape last summer, but has been a consistent collegiate performer. Ramirez has played all over the outfield and can handle center but is probably more of a corner outfielder down-the-road. 

Related: Ramirez breaks out of a power slump for UNC

Pick #9: Will Gilbert, LHP, North Carolina State

Analysis: At this stage in the draft, the A's take a senior sign, which will allow them to save money on this pick to use to sign any over-slot picks they take at different spots in the draft. A 5'11' left-hander, Gilbert is a reliever who has worked in the back-end of the bullpen for the Wolfpack. He used location and an array of off-speed pitches to strike out 62 in 52.2 innings this season while posting a 2.22 ERA. Gilbert is the definition of "crafty lefty"; his fastball doesn't get past 90. Gilbert worked a career-high eight innings in relief for NC State in the recent NCAA Regional game that his manager Elliot Avent was ejected from. Elliot is the brother of longtime A's scout Neil Avent. Gilbert isn't going to wow with his stuff, but his numbers have jumped off the page. Hitters have a tough time squaring him up despite his lack of size and velocity. He has plenty of experience in high leverage situations from his days with the Wolfpack. He could move up the ladder fairly quickly.

Related: Gilbert saves the day for NCState

Pick #10: Dalton Sawyer, LHP, Minnesota

Analysis: The A's make it back-to-back senior-sign lefties with Gilbert and then Sawyer. Physically, Sawyer is the opposite of Gilbert, in that he has a big frame (6'5'') and can run his fastball up to 94. Sawyer was announced as a reliever, but he was a starter for the Golden Gophers in 2016, posting a 3.33 ERA in 94.2 innings. He struck-out 112 but did walk 42. There is some effort to his delivery and command issues that may limit him to a relief role, but it will be interesting to see if the A's at least try him as a starter to begin his pro career. Sawyer was mostly a reliever his first three years at UM, splitting his junior season between the rotation and the bullpen after pitching almost exclusively out of the bullpen his first two years. His best secondary pitching is his breaking ball. Sawyer's command will determine whether he has a legitimate chance of reaching the big leagues, but if he can harness his stuff, he has a shot.

Pick #11: Mitchell Jordan, RHP, Stetson

Analysis: Jordan drew a lot of notice this summer when he was the Cape Code Pitcher of the Year. He posted an 0.20 ERA in the prospect-laden summer league. As a junior at Stetson, Jordan posted a 3.94 ERA and a 75:32 K:BB in 80 innings. Jordan is a throws in the 88-93 MPH range and has a solid curveball and a change-up. Jordan's command on the Cape was above-average, but he struggled to locate at times with Stetson this season. His second half was better than his first half for the Hatters. Jordan offers some deception with his delivery. If he can re-capture the command he showed on the Cape, he could be a sleeper pick at this point for the A's.

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