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Oakland A's top-50 prospects mid-season review: 20-11

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 fourth in our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 20-11 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 7/21/16

20) Max Muncy, UT Muncy’s journey through the A’s system has taken some unusual turns. He was the first member of the team’s 2012 draft class to reach full-season ball and the first to play for the A’s at the big league level. Along the way, Muncy made the transition from first baseman to utilityman, improving his odds of staying in the big leagues longterm.

Last year, Muncy appeared in 45 games with the A’s, splitting his time defensively between first base and third base. This year, Muncy has appeared in 14 games for Oakland and has played primarily in right field. In Triple-A, Muncy has moved all over the place, logging time in left, right, first base, second base and third base. With the A’s, Muncy is batting .257 with a .366 OBP in limited at-bats, while he has a .255/.361/.414 line in 220 at-bats with Nashville. 

Muncy spent most of June with the A’s and has struggled some since returning to the Sounds at the end of June. Still, he is showing his typical strong batting eye (34 walks in 220 Triple-A at-bats) and he is hitting for more power than he did last season. Defensively, Muncy has held his own in the infield and has looked surprisingly good in the outfield. He looks to be able to legitimately play several positions at the big league level. With his ability to put together a strong at-bat, Muncy profiles as a solid bench option for the A’s in the near future.

If the A’s move a few players at the deadline, Muncy is a strong candidate to get a call-up back to Oakland. If the A’s roster stays much as it looks now, then he may have to wait until September to return to the big leagues. Either way, he should get another look again this season.

Status: Earning his utilityman stripes

19) Jaycob Brugman, OF Brugman had a solid season with the Double-A Midland RockHounds in 2015, but a roster crunch at the start of the season had Brugman back in Double-A to start the year. He played his way into an early season promotion to Triple-A after batting .261/.335/.439 in 38 games for the RockHounds. Since joining Nashville, Brugman has been even better. In 53 games – many of them played at the top of the Nashville line-up – Brugman is batting .291/.345/.451. Brugman has served as a spark for Nashville, as the Sounds started playing significantly better once he landed at the top of their line-up.

Brugman isn’t known as a power hitter, but he has already reached double-digits in homeruns for the third time in four full professional seasons. He also has 25 doubles, two fewer than his career-high for a season. Brugman isn’t a big base-stealer, but he runs well and is always a threat to take an extra base on a ball hit away from an outfielder. Defensively, Brugman is solid fundamentally and has average range in center and above-average range in the corners. His arm is solid, as well, and he already has five outfield assists this season. In many ways, he is a left-handed version of current A’s outfielder Jake Smolinski and one can envision a scenario where the A’s mix both into a regular rotation in their outfield.

Brugman has ceded centerfield and the lead-off spot to Billy Burns in Nashville for now (moving to right and to the number two slot), but he showed he could handle both roles during his time there earlier in the season. Whether he gets a shot in Oakland in this season depends largely on the moves the A’s make at the deadline. He is one of several top-flight A’s prospects who will have to be protected from this year’s Rule 5 draft. 

Status: Playing well in Triple-A

18) Heath Fillmyer, RHP Fillmyer got off to a slow start last year with Beloit, but he quietly was one of the most effective starters in the Midwest League during the final six weeks of the season. In 2016, Fillmyer has thus far carried over the momentum from his strong 2015 finish and he is positioning himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. Fillmyer earned his first in-season promotion on Thursday, moving up from High-A Stockton to Double-A Midland. He allowed two runs in five innings in his Midland debut, looking sharp in the process. Between the two levels, Fillmyer has a 3.60 ERA and a 93:32 K:BB in 100 innings this season. Fillmyer has been remarkably consistent this season, allowing more than two earned runs in only three of his 19 outings.

Fillmyer is an excellent athlete who moved from shortstop to the mound in junior college. He has plenty of arm strength and can touch 96 with his fastball and sits comfortably in the 92-94 MPH range. However, his best pitch might be his change-up, which acts more like a sinker at 87-89 than a true change-up. The pitch dives at the plate and keeps hitters off-balance. His slider is also a solid swing-and-miss offering, getting tight break across the plate.

At 22, Fillmyer was a bit young for High-A and is now very young for Double-A. He has handled the challenge well thus far and could position himself for a shot at Triple-A at age 23 with a strong finish to this season. 

17) Daniel Mengden, RHP Although he has hit a bit of a bump in the road over his last three big league outings, Mengden has otherwise breezed through his 2016 season. The right-hander began the year having never pitched above A-ball. He has since raced through the upper-levels of the minor leagues to reach the big leagues before his 24th birthday.

In 68.1 minor league innings this season, Mengden posted a 1.19 ERA and a 67:22 K:BB. Opposing batters hit just .179 against him and he allowed only three homeruns. Big league hitters have had more success off Mengden, although much of the damage has come in his last three starts. Through eight big league outings, Mengden has a 5.52 ERA in 44 innings. He is allowing a hit an inning (45), but he is also striking out a batter an inning (44) and has allowed just four homeruns. Walks have hurt Mengden – especially lately – and that is an area of his game that he will need to shore up to have more success in the major leagues. However, his stuff has been big league quality. His velocity has ranged from 95 MPH to 72 MPH and he has mixed in a two-seam and a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a change-up and a slider.

Mengden showed big league competitiveness in his last start when he fought command problems the entire start and still managed to get through five innings with three runs allowed against a tough Houston Astros line-up. He will need to continue to make adjustments as the league’s scouting reports catch-up to him, but he should get plenty of opportunities to continue to develop with the A’s the rest of this season and beyond.

Status: Pitching for a permanent spot in the A’s rotation

16) Raul Alcantara, RHP Alcantara was the A’s top pitching prospect heading into the 2014 season, but an elbow injury the first month of the year resulted in Tommy John surgery. He returned during the second half of the 2015 season, but was on a strict per-start inning limit. This year, Alcantara has been on a normal schedule and, this week, he earned his first promotion to Triple-A. He is scheduled to debut for the Nashville Sounds tonight.

Before his promotion, Alcantara had a 4.80 ERA and a 73:27 K:BB in 90 innings for the Midland RockHounds. Those numbers don’t jump off of the page, but Alcantara has had good stuff this season. His location has been off, at times, but that is to be expected in his first full season back from the elbow surgery. Alcantara’s velocity has returned to his pre-surgery levels and he still has an excellent breaking ball and a solid change-up. He’s also used his cutter effectively this season. Alcantara’s ultimate big league home may end up in the bullpen, where he can max out his velocity and get more swings-and-misses.

The 23-year-old is in his third option year. The A’s may ask for a fourth option year given the season he missed after the surgery, but, either way, they are running out of time to decide whether he fits into their long-term plans. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him join the A’s in September and pitch a few innings in relief.

Status: Making the jump to Triple-A

15) Ryon Healy, IF Healy has been the position player equivalent to Mengden: dominating the upper levels of the minor league to earn a mid-season call-up to the major leagues. Healy has only been in the big leagues for a week, but, like Mengden, he figures to get plenty of opportunities to prove himself with the A’s the rest of this season.

Healy began the year back in Double-A despite hitting .302 at that level in 2015. He dominated the Texas League, hitting .338 with eight homers in 36 games before earning a promotion to Nashville in mid-May. Healy continued to perform at a high level with the Sounds, hitting .318/.362/.505 with six homers in 49 games before joining the A’s last Friday. Healy also represented Oakland in the Futures Game, and he opened eyes with a 2-for-3 performance. Since his call-up, Healy is batting .250/.280/.458 with a homer and two doubles. 

As the A’s move towards youth for the final stretch of the 2016 season, Healy should get a long look at third base with Oakland. If he performs, he should be the front-runner for the starting job with the A’s in 2017.

Status: Big leaguer

14) Rangel Ravelo, 1B One of the reasons that Healy began the season in Double-A was to make room for Ravelo at first base in Nashville. Acquired from the Chicago White Sox before last season, Ravelo missed half of the 2015 season with a wrist injury, so he never got a full opportunity to show what he could do in his first season with the A’s. He had a huge winter in Venezuela – hitting for power and average – and came into this season looking like he was on the verge of a breakout campaign. It has yet to materialize for Ravelo, who has struggled to hit for power for the entire season. Through 69 games with the Sounds, Ravelo is batting .258/.313/.385 with five homers.

Things have looked better for Ravelo recently. He is batting .306 with five extra-base hits in 10 games in July. He will need to continue that hot run through the end of August to maintain his spot on the A’s 40-man roster this off-season, however. The A’s will need to add several of their top prospects to the 40-man roster this off-season to protect them from the Rule 5 draft and Ravelo’s roster spot is one that could be used on another prospect if he doesn’t show a late-season resurgence.

If Ravelo does continue this recent hot streak through the rest of the season, he could get a call-up in September, as the A’s try to evaluate what they have in the 24-year-old first baseman.

Status: In need of a strong finish 

13) Mikey White, IF The first three months of the 2016 season were nightmarish for White, the A’s second overall pick in 2015. However, the middle infielder has been red-hot in July and could be turning a corner in his first full professional season. During the first three months of the season, White didn’t post a batting average higher than .222 or an OPS higher than 612. However, in 18 games in July, he is batting .338/.434/.585 with nine extra-base hits.

White looked over-matched at the plate at the start of the year. He struck-out in nearly a third of his at-bats and didn’t hit for much authority when he did make contact. In June, White made some mechanical adjustments to improve his timing and rhythm at the plate. Those adjustments took some time to produce results, but White has looked like a different player over the past month with the adjustments. He is using the whole field better and has increased his line-drive rate considerably. In some ways, his pro debut season has mirrored that of the A’s 2014 second-round pick Daniel Gossett’s pro debut. Like White, Gossett had a horrible start to his first full season, but he made mid-season adjustments that allowed him to perform better down-the-stretch. While his season-end numbers were still poor, Gossett parlayed his mid-season 2015 improvements into a strong 2016 season. White will be looking to repeat that storyline.

Through all of the struggles at the plate, White has still played well defensively at both second base and shortstop. He has also held his own in a few appearances at third base. White’s bat was thought to be ahead of his glove when he was drafted last year, but he has surprised people with his athleticism around the bag and his arm strength since turning pro. 

White has plenty of ground to make up from his slow start this season, but if he can continue to hit as he has over the past month, he could still be in a position to jump to Double-A next year.

Status: Improving after slow start

12) Joey Wendle, 2B It hasn’t been an easy season for Wendle, who hasn’t been able to find his way onto the A’s roster despite the many injuries the A’s have had to their infielders. Wendle, who was the Sounds’ most consistent offensive player last season, had a 701 OPS for the first half of the 2016 season. However, that number masks the fact that he has been swinging the bat much better since the start of June. He has raised his season slashline to .262/.310/.437 and he has already matched his 2015 homer total with 10. Wendle has also been improving his plate discipline of late, working deeper into counts and even drawing a few walks, something he hasn’t done much of since joining the A’s before last season. He has 20 walks going into Friday night’s game, one short of last year’s season total. 

Wendle is limited by the fact that he only plays one position (second base), but he plays that position well. In fact, he has improved his glove so much since he joined the A’s that his glove may very well be ahead of his bat. Considering that his bat can be dangerous when he is being more selective at the plate, that is a very attractive profile. The A’s have Jed Lowrie under contract for next season and a team option in 2018, but it isn’t hard to imagine the A’s moving Lowrie or making him a utilityman in lieu of a younger everyday player at second. If Wendle can sustain the progress he has shown the past two months, he could get the chance to be that younger everyday second baseman for the A’s.

Wendle didn’t get a call-up last September, but he was added to the A’s 40-man roster during the off-season. If he continues to produce at a high level the rest of the minor league season, he is a strong candidate for a September call-up this year.

Status: Picking up the pace 

11) Dakota Chalmers, RHP With the exception of A’s 2016 first-round pick A.J. Puk, there isn’t a starter currently in the A’s minor league system who has as high a ceiling as Chalmers. There is also plenty of risk involved with the 6’3’’, slender right-hander, but Chalmers has been flashing his potential this season with the Vermont Lake Monsters. In 31.1 innings, Chalmers has a 2.87 ERA and a 33:14 K:BB. New York-Penn League batters are hitting only .197 against him.

Chalmers can hit 98 with his fastball, but he often had to overthrow to get to that reading. The A’s have had Chalmers focus on taking a bit off the fastball in exchange for better command and a more consistent delivery. The results have been positive, as he has been effective working in the 93-95 MPH range. His location still isn’t perfect, but he has a much better idea of where the ball is going. His delivery is much more consistent, which has improved his breaking ball and change-up, as well.

Chalmers will remain with Vermont the rest of this season and is on track to make his full-season debut in 2017. He will enter the season as one of the A’s top pitching prospects once again.

Status: Pitching well in short-season ball

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