Photo by Kimberly Contreras

Oakland A's top-50 prospects mid-season review: 40-31

During the off-season, we named our top-50 prospects in the Oakland A's system. Now that we have passed the midway point of the season, we thought it would be a good time to check the progress of those players. In the second of our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 40-31 from our off-season list.

Note: this is not a re-ranking of current prospects. A new top-50 prospects list will be released this off-season. To view our preseason top-50 Oakland A's prospects list, click here.

Stats as of 7/14/16

40) Boomer Biegalski, RHP After inking his contract during the latter half of the draft signing period, Biegalski barely got his feet wet in the Arizona Rookie League, tossing 11 innings in 2015. This year, Biegalski has been a full-time starter with the Beloit Snappers and has been effective in his first full professional season. A Midwest League midseason All-Star, Biegalski currently sports a 3.00 ERA in 99 innings for the Snappers. He has struck-out 70, walked 21 and he has allowed four homeruns.

Biegalski slumped a bit right before the All-Star break, but he has been remarkably consistent this year. He has allowed more than three earned runs in just two outings and has worked at least six innings in each of his last five starts. Biegalski has one of the best change-ups in the A’s system and has used it to his advantage against lower level hitters. His cutter is an effective pitch, as well, and he has worked on adding a two-seam fastball to his regular repertoire this season to add more sink. He has an advanced understanding of how to mix his pitches. Biegalski’s fastball sits mostly in the high-80s, so the real challenge will come when he faces hitters that are less susceptible to off-speed pitches. Biegalski just turned 22 this week, however, so his age is right inline with his level.

The A’s don’t currently have an opening in the High-A Stockton rotation, but he is a candidate to move up a level if there is an opportunity. If not, Biegalski is likely to join the Ports next season.

Status: Carving up the Midwest League

39) Lana Akau, C Injuries have limited Akau during his brief professional career and this season is no different. He missed the first three weeks of the year dealing with the effects of a concussion. He has been healthy since then, and has played in Stockton since being activated from Extended Spring Training. Akau has shared time with Argenis Raga, appearing in 43 games for the Ports. He has struggled at the plate, hitting .220/.300/.291, and has had an uncharacteristically difficult time behind the plate. Akau has been charged with 12 passed balls and six errors. He has thrown out 28% of would-be basestealers.

Akau won’t turn 21 until late August, so he is young for the Cal League. His glove has always been ahead of his bat, so the struggles at the plate were to be expected. Akau is too talented a defender to continue to struggle with the glove as he has this season. He is an excellent athlete with a plus throwing arm and good hands. However, he is adjusting to the speed of High-A, which is a big step up from short-season and Low-A ball. 

Akau will likely remain with Stockton the rest of this season and could return to the Ports next year, as well.

Status: Adjusting to High-A

38) J.P. Sportman, OF Sportman missed much of last season with a hand injury that ended up being a broken hamate bone. Despite the missed time, Sportman jumped to Double-A at the start of the 2016 season and has spent the entire year manning the Midland outfield. The 2014 draft pick got off to a slow start, but he has posted a 756 OPS over the past six weeks. His overall line is .271/.316/.384 with 23 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases in 73 games.

All in all, Sportman has held his own in his first taste of Double-A, especially when one considers that he had all of 408 at-bats at lower levels coming into this season. He has done a solid job defensively, splitting his time between center and left field. He appeared in one game at second base and that is a position he likely would see more time at on a roster that wasn't so full of middle infielders. Sportman has good bat control and he uses the opposite field well. His power hasn’t shown up much this season, but he has flashed pop in the past. Sportman runs well and is an asset on the bases. 

Sportman is likely to remain in Midland for the remainder of the season. Whether he gets an opportunity in Triple-A at the start of next year has a lot to do with who the A’s sign to minor league deals in the off-season.

Status: Holding his own in Double-A

37) B.J. Boyd, OF Boyd looked poised to move up to Double-A in 2016 after a solid 2015 campaign with Stockton. A backlog of outfielders in the upper levels has kept Boyd with Stockton all season, however. Boyd has taken advantage of his second tour through the Cal League, improving his numbers and approach at the plate. Boyd’s average is up nearly 30 points over last year, and he is among the league leaders in batting average with a .306 mark. His overall line is .306/.371/.399 in 69 games.

Boyd missed some time early in the season with a sprained ankle and hasn’t run nearly as much this year as he did last season. He is still one of the fastest runners in the A’s organization and base-stealing should be a bigger part of his game. Boyd has covered a lot of ground in center and left for Stockton this season and his defense has come a long way since his first two years in professional baseball. Boyd’s approach at the plate has improved. He has always been a selective hitter, but he has learned this year to spoil off pitches and go the other way with two-strikes. He is a tough out for a pitcher at the top of the Stockton line-up.

Boyd is definitely deserving of a promotion to Midland, but there will need to be an opening at that level. Until then, he will chase the Cal League batting title (he is currently sixth in the league in hitting). 

Status: Playing well in Stockton  

36) Trace Loehr, IF This season has been a struggle for Loehr, who has been with Low-A Beloit the entire year. The 2014 sixth-round pick out of a Portland-area high school has struggled with the bat pretty much all season, except for the month of June, when he hit .291. Right-handed pitchers have particularly given the left-handed hitter trouble. In 70 games, the 20-year-old is batting .207/.251/.270.

Mostly a second or third baseman coming into the season, Loehr has spent the majority of his season at shortstop. He has shown some promise at the position, although he is still clearly learning the ins and outs of playing short as a pro. He is a good athlete with a decent arm, although his range likely profiles best at third longterm. Loehr is a good runner and he has seven stolen bases in nine chances.

Loehr is still very young and is the same age or younger than most college players taken in this year’s draft. He will likely have to repeat at Low-A next year, but a strong start at that level could jump him up to High-A at some point in 2017.

Status: Trying to find his rhythm in Beloit

35) Kris Hall, RHP It has been a difficult season for the hard-throwing Hall, who has been battling back issues caused by sciatica all year. He hasn’t pitched since June 25 and has just 26 innings thrown all season. Hall was clearly impacted by the back discomfort when he was on the active roster. In those 26 innings, he walked 26, struck out just 16 and allowed four homeruns.

Hall has control issues even when he is healthy, but when he is throwing well, his fastball-slider combination is one of the best in the A’s system. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been healthy enough to show it this season. Back injuries are tricky for pitchers, especially hard throwers. The A’s will be cautious with Hall’s recovery.

Status: On the disabled list

34) J.B. Wendelken, RHP Wendelken was one of two pitchers the A’s acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Brett Lawrie before the 2016 season. The hard-throwing reliever missed most of spring training with an injury, but he returned before the start of the regular season and has been healthy ever since. Save two appearances with the A’s, Wendelken has been with the Nashville Sounds all season. In 31.2 innings, he has a 4.55 ERA and a 47:18 K:BB. 

Wendelken has a fastball that can touch 95 and generally sits 91-93. His change-up is his best secondary pitch and he is comfortable throwing it in nearly any count. Wendelken also features a cutter and a curveball. Command has been an issue for him throughout his career, and it has plagued him at times this season. His stuff is good enough to pitch in the big leagues, but – as he showed in his first two major league outings with the A’s in May – if he isn’t locating, he is hittable.

Wendelken is on the A’s 40-man roster and figures to get a look with Oakland again in September, especially if the A’s move one or more of their right-handed relievers before the deadline.

Status: Working on command in Triple-A

33) Bobby Wahl, RHP Wahl missed half of last season after undergoing surgery on his right forearm. The A’s eased him back into regular work early this season, having him spend the first two weeks pitching in High-A Stockton. He joined the Midland RockHounds in mid April and has been a key to their bullpen ever since. In 31.1 innings, Wahl has a 2.59 ERA and a 35:12 K:BB. Opposing Texas League batters are hitting just .210 against him and he’s allowed just two homeruns. Wahl has been especially good over the past six weeks. He last allowed a run on May 29. During that stretch (12.2 innings), Wahl has walked four and struck-out 16. 

Wahl has always had swing-and-miss stuff, but he often looked to over-power hitters, which compromised his command. He has pitched much more under control over the past two months and the results have been very encouraging. His fastball still tickles the upper-90s, but he is locating better down in the strike-zone and he is able to throw his breaking ball for strikes.

Wahl has major-league back-end of the bullpen stuff. Even though he is in Double-A, it isn’t inconceivable to think that he could be in the big leagues by September. The A’s will have to protect Wahl from the Rule 5 draft this off-season, so they may want to see what they have in the Ole Miss alum at the big league level at the end of the year. 

Status: Slicing through the Texas League

32) Skye Bolt, OF Bolt was one of the most toolsy players the A’s selected in the 2015 draft. The centerfielder out of North Carolina never fully put it all together with the Tar Heels but the A’s believed the talent was well worth a fourth-round selection. Bolt has shown flashes of his full potential in his first full professional season with Low-A Beloit, but his overall numbers are mediocre at this point of the season. He missed three weeks in June with an injury that cost him a chance to play in the Midwest League All-Star game. In 55 games overall for Beloit, Bolt is batting .247/.335/.353.

Bolt has actually played better than those numbers would indicate for most of the season. In every month but May, Bolt has hit .286 or higher. He is batting .298/.380/.421 with seven doubles in 17 games since the All-Star break. A switch-hitter, Bolt has hit for more power from the right-side of the plate, but he has shown a solid approach from both sides, walking at a 10% clip. Bolt has also played well defensively in centerfield, showing good range and an accurate throwing arm.  

If the A’s are able to promote an outfielder from Stockton to Midland, Bolt is a strong candidate to move up to High-A before the end of the year. 

Status: Warming up in the Midwest League

31) Dylan Covey, RHP Covey was a workhorse the last two seasons, racking up at least 140 innings in each of those campaigns. Unfortunately, his 2016 campaign has been lost almost entirely to an oblique injury. Covey injured the oblique during his sixth start of the season and has been on the DL ever since. He recently suffered a set-back in his recovery from the injury and may not make it back to Midland before the end of the year.

Before Covey got hurt, he was on a good roll. He had three straight starts of at least six innings, including the start before the injury when he threw 7.2 innings. In 29.1 innings for the RockHounds, Covey had a 1.84 ERA. He had walked 17 but he had struck-out 26.

This is a lost season for Covey, who will be 25 in August. If he can get back on the mound at all before the end of the season, it will be a victory. He could be a candidate to make up for some of the lost innings this fall in the Arizona Fall League, if he is healthy.

Status: On the disabled list

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