Oakland A's Draft Review: 21-30

We review the Oakland A's 2016 MLB Draft class, rounds 21-30.

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Pick 22: Kyle Nowlin, OF, Eastern Kentucky


Analysis: If you like power, Nowlin is the player for you. The Eastern Kentucky outfielder hit 19 homeruns as a junior and followed that up with 21 longballs this season. He also walked 50 times in 55 games this season and posted a .300/.435/.657 line, which was actually a drop from his junior season line of .326/.438/.690. Nowlin was a 30th-round pick of the Phillies last season, but he was able to move up nine rounds this year in landing with Oakland. The native of Ohio is built similarly to former A's first baseman and current Stockton hitting coach Tommy Everidge. In high school, Nowlin had some speed and was a centerfielder, but the upper-body heft he has added has made him more of a corner outfield-type. He knows the strike-zone and could be a three-true-outcomes player as a pro. Nowlin is already 22, so he'll be old for his level at the start of his career.

Related: MLB Draft hot sheet, 5/23

Pick 23: Roger Gonzalez, C, Winthrop


Analysis: Gonzalez began his collegiate career at Miami, but transferred to Santa Fe Community College after one season. He spent one year in the JUCO ranks before joining Winthrop, where he would catch for two seasons. He hit very well at Winthrop, batting .335 as a junior and .338 this season. He hit a career-high seven homeruns as a senior and walked (31) more than he struck-out (28). Gonzalez is a solid defensive player who controls the game well behind the plate and has some athleticism. Gonzalez is known for his work ethic and his intelligence both on and off the field. He will be on the older side as he starts his pro career, but could be pushed aggressively.

Pick 24: Christian Lindsay-Young, RHP, Niagara County Community College


Analysis: Lindsay-Young had a record-breaking year for NCCC as a freshman this season, striking out a school-record 79 in 53 innings. He walked only 12 and posted a 1.20 ERA. Lindsay-Young's fastball can hit 95 and there may be potential for more growth. He was able to get his fastball up from 85 in high school to 95 two years later (he took a year off between high school and junior college) thanks to using a strength, conditioning and throwing program for the first time in his career. He has the frame to handle starting and is a wild card in this draft class. Lindsay-Young has several scholarship offers from four-year colleges, but he was an indifferent student in high school and may be ready to start his professional career. 

Pick 25: Robert Bennie, OF, East Stroudsburg 


Analysis: Bennie is the younger brother of A's prospect, Joe Bennie, who has an 807 OPS for the High-A Stockton Ports. Like his brother, Robert was drafted out of East Stroudsburg, a Division II program. Robert began his collegiate career at Virginia, but transferred to East Stroudsburg. Since he had to sit out a year after his transfer, Bennie's first full collegiate season was this year. Bennie hit .397/.461/.643 with 10 homers and 22 walks in 56 games. Like his brother, Robert is a good athlete who has some pop and the ability to hit for average. He has some foot speed, as well. While he isn't likely an everyday centerfielder, he can probably fill in there in a pinch and should be a solid corner outfielder. Bennie has already agreed to terms with the A's and is in Arizona to participate in the mini-camp.

Pick 26: Jeramiah McCray, OF, Martin Luther King HS (Calif.)


Analysis: McCray hit .410 with seven extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases as a senior at King HS. McCray's plus speed and athleticism make it likely that he can stay in center. McCray may not hit for a lot of power, but he has feel for making consistent contact. He profiles as a classic leadoff hitter, centerfield type. He has a JUCO commitment but has already tweeted that he is excited to play in the Oakland A's organization, so it appears that there is a strong chance the A's will sign him.

Pick 27: Charley Gould, 1B, William and Mary


Analysis: Gould didn't hear his name called last season even after he posted an 1179 OPS with 13 homers in 45 games. The Illinois native was a catcher and DH before last season, when he moved to first base. He doesn't offer a ton of defensive value, but he is a natural hitter who has power, uses the whole field well and could get his glove good enough to find a home as a traditional power-hitting first baseman. 

Pick 28: Cole Gruber, OF, Nebraska-Omaha


Analysis: Gruber was the Summit League's version of Billy Burns. The switch-hitting centerfielder hit .352 with a .445 OBP and 105 stolen bases in 122 chances over his four-year career at University Nebraska, Omaha. He hit only four homeruns, but he had a 105:130 BB:K and 252 hits in 199 games for Omaha. Gruber is an Academic All-American who graduated with close to a 4.0 GPA. He has plus speed and handles the angles well in centerfield. 

Pick 29: Josh Vidales, 2B, Houston


Analysis: Vidales is the Houston Cougars all-time walks leader. It is the second straight year that the A's took a player from Houston (Chris Iriart last season). Vidales compiled 133 walks in 226 career games for the Cougars, but the rest of his offensive profile was mediocre. A broken hamate bone this season didn't help his cause, and he finished the year hitting .229. He had a .354 OBP in two seasons in the Cape Code League. Vidales is an excellent defensive second baseman. He's not very big (5'8'', 165), but he is a good athlete with a strong arm and a nose for the baseball. He's a scrappy player who gets the most out of his abilities. 

Pick 30: Matthew Milburn, RHP, Wofford


Analysis: Milburn is the cousin of former MLB right-hander Chris Schroder and an alum of Highland Park HS in Dallas, Texas, which has produced Clayton KershawChris Young (the pitcher) and Bo Schultz, among others. Milburn pitched four years at Wofford, posting a 4.34 ERA in 338 career innings. He pitched very well on the Cape last summer, posting a 3.37 ERA in 32 innings. He struck-out 24 and walked only four. Milburn has always had good command and this year his saw his K-rate jump to 9.40 per nine. He throws a fastball, change-up and curveball. He isn't overpowering, but he mixes his pitches well and is able to locate down in the strike-zone.

Pick 31: Nick Highberger, RHP, Creighton


Analysis: Highberger was a reliever for all four years at Creighton. He allowed just two homeruns in 146 career innings, and both of those homers came during his sophomore season. Highberger is on the shorter side for a right-hander (5'11''), but he can touch 94 with the fastball and gets plenty of sink on his pitches. He opened a lot of eyes last summer on the Cape, when he allowed just a run in 24 innings. Highberger can get a bit wild at times because of the movement he gets on his pitches, but he has the tools to be an effective sinkerball reliever in the pros.

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