Photo by Greg Bessette

2016 Oakland A's Year in Review: A's Draft Class, part one

How did the Oakland A's 2016 draft class fare during their pro debuts? We take a look at the class, 10 rounds at a time. First up, picks from rounds 1-10.

Click here to read all of our coverage of the A's 2016 draft class

Pick 1: A.J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida: The A's highest draft choice since Barry Zito in 1999 came as advertised. The left-hander showed dominating stuff at times with short-season Vermont, but also struggled occasionally with command. The end result was a 3.03 ERA and a 40:12 K:BB in 32.2 innings with the Lake Monsters. He held opposing batters to a .185 average and posted a 1.07 WHIP. Puks fastball touched 97 with Vermont and he flashed an above-average slider. His main focus from a repertoire perspective will be his change-up, which he didnt use that often in college. Puk has work to do to tighten up his mechanics, which should, in turn, improve his command, but he has the raw tools to be a front-end-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues and he flashed those tools in his debut season.

Pick 2: Daulton Jefferies, RHP, Cal: The As didnt stray far from home with their second selection in the 2016 draft, taking Cal ace Jefferies with their Compensation Round A pick. Jefferies struggled with injuries during his junior year, but when he pitched, he dominated for the Golden Bears. The As werent sure before Jefferies signed if he would pitch during the 2016 regular season, but his shoulder responded well to the As throwing program after he signed and he made five appearances for the AZL As in August. He was kept to a strict pitch count, but he was impressive in his limited action. In 11.1 innings, he posted a 2.38 ERA and a 17:2 K:BB. Jefferies isnt throwing during the As fall Instructs as a precaution, but he is expected to be at full strength next spring. Jefferies is on the small side for a starter, but he has an advanced three-pitch mix that includes a plus change-up and a solid slider. His fastball touched 94 during the AZL season. Assuming he can stay healthy, he could follow a similarly swift path to the big leagues as current As starter Sonny Gray.

Pick 3: Logan Shore, RHP, University of Florida: Shore was Puks teammate at Florida and was the Gators Friday night ace. Although not as physically gifted as Puk, Shore put up eye-popping numbers in the SEC, posting a 2.42 ERA in 313 collegiate innings. Shore signed a bit later than Puk and had to be built back up again before making his pro debut with Vermont. He still managed to throw 21 innings for the Lake Monsters, posting a 2.57 ERA and a 21:7 K:BB. Opposing batters hit just .207 against him and three of the six earned runs he allowed came in his final start of the season. Shore is a workhorse with a nasty change-up and good fastball command. He wont top 92 MPH that often, but he mixes his pitches well and is a fierce competitor. Shore is focusing on improving his breaking ball this fall and he could be a candidate to add a cutter down-the-road. Pitchers with Shores profile have had lots of success in the As system over the past 20 years.

Pick 4: Sean Murphy, C, Wright State: Murphy was the As first position player selection in this years draft. Like Jefferies, Murphy came to the As with a known injury issue. In Murphys case, it was a hamate injury suffered early in his junior season at Wright State. Murphy recovered to finish the season at WSU, but his hitting numbers dipped after he returned. Most projected him to be a top-two round pick before the injury, so the As may have caught a break in grabbing Murphy where they did in the draft. The As sent Murphy to Vermont after a brief stay in Arizona, and he spent the majority of the season with the Lake Monsters. He got off to a fast start and then fell into a slump before being sidelined on July 19 with lingering soreness in his hand. He returned for the final weekend of the season and had four hits and two walks in nine official at-bats. One of the hits was a homerun. He finished his NY-Penn League season with a .237/.318/.329 line. He had a 9:12 BB:K and two homeruns. When fully healthy, Murphy projects as an above-average offensive catcher. He also has the tools to be an above-average defender, with a strong arm and quick feet. 

Pick 5: Skylar Szynski, RHP, Penn HS (Ind.): Szynski was the only high school player the As selected in the top-10 rounds of this years draft. The hard-throwing right-hander from Indiana signed an above-slot deal with the As. He had a rocky pro debut, recording just one out and allowing four runs, but he recovered to pitch well in five of his six other starts. The As shut Szynski down at the end of July to keep his innings low in his pro debut, but he has participated fully in fall Instructs. He should follow a similar development path to Dakota Chalmers, the As third-round pick out of high school in 2015 who spent the first half of 2016 in Extended Spring Training and then pitched for short-season Vermont during the second half.

Pick 6: JaVon Shelby, 3B, University of Kentucky: Shelby had an odd 2016 season, both before the draft and after. He got off to a fast start for the Wildcats, but struggled for much of the SEC season and finished with a .212 batting average and 67 strike-outs in 54 games. Shelby still managed to hit 12 homeruns and walk 29 times, resulting in a respectable 805 OPS. Shelby signed with the As soon after the draft and joined Vermont after one game in the AZL. He had four hits over his first two games with the Lake Monsters, but he struggled for much of the NY-Penn League season before finishing the year with a solid final 10 games. In 56 games, Shelby finished with a .186/.279/.309 line. He homered five times and walked 25 times but also struck-out 51 times. Shelby sees a lot of pitches but showed some pull-happy tendencies with Vermont. He logged all of his defensive innings at third base in his pro debut, but Shelby has seen some time in the outfield during Instructs.

Pick 7: Brandon Bailey, RHP, Gonzaga: Bailey struck-out 125 in 100.1 innings for Gonzaga this season before landing with the As as a sixth-round pick. The right-hander gets dinged for his size (listed at 510’’), but he was able to carry a heavy workload with the Zags. He made two starts in the AZL before joining the Lake Monsters, logging 38 innings in the NY-Penn League. Bailey allowed five runs in one start and seven runs over his other nine outings to finish with a 3.08 ERA and a 42:9 K:BB. Bailey held NY-Penn League batters to a .193 average and he posted an 0.92 WHIP. He flashed a good slider and change-up and a fastball that touched 93 this season. He is spending the fall working on his degree at Gonzaga, but he is a strong candidate to land on a full-season roster next spring.

Pick 8: Tyler Ramirez, OF, University of North Carolina: The As took Ramirez – a do-a-bit-of-everything outfielder from UNC – with their seventh-round selection. He spent two weeks in Arizona before joining the Lake Monsters. Ramirez got off to a decent start for Vermont and was batting .247/.374/.346 at the midway point in the NY-Penn League season (for some context, the average line for the NY-Penn League this season was .243/.318/.337). He struggled down-the-stretch, however, and finished with a .220/.324/.327 line. Ramirez has an excellent approach at the plate and he posted a solid 10.5% walk rate. He hit a lot of balls into the ground, which hurt his overall batting average. If he can up his line-drive rate next season, he should see a big jump in batting average given his solid approach. Defensively, he played all three outfield positions for Vermont and was solid at all three spots. He also showed some skills on the bases, successfully swiping five bags in five chances. Ramirez should have an opportunity in full-season ball next spring to build on his solid first-half with Vermont.

Pick 9: Will Gilbert, LHP, NC State: The As wasted no time sending the lefty Gilbert to Vermont, as he made his pro debut in the NY-Penn League. A reliever in college, Gilbert continued in that role with the Lake Monsters. He found plenty of success, striking out 31 in 25.1 innings and posting a 2.81 ERA. He held opposing batters to a .194 average, although he did walk 12. Gilbert didnt allow a homerun during his debut. He is currently pitching at the As fall Instructs.

Pick 10: Dalton Sawyer, LHP, University of Minnesota: After coming out of the bullpen during his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Sawyer moved into the starting rotation partway through his junior season and remained there for his senior season. Sawyer had his best season as a senior, throwing a career-high 94 innings. He returned to the bullpen after turning pro, although he could go back into the starting rotation in the future. With the Lake Monsters, Sawyer posted a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 innings. He struck-out 26, but walked 10 and allowed 15 hits. His GO/AO was an impressive 2.44. He was particularly tough on southpaws, who hit only .190 against him. Sawyer is currently in Instructs.

Pick 11: Mitchell Jordan, RHP, Stetson: Jordan signed with the As after a strong three-year career at Stetson (the school that recently produced Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber) and an impressive stint in the Cape Cod League last summer. He spent most of his pro debut season as a starter in the Arizona Rookie League, although he did make two late-season appearances for the High-A Stockton Ports. With the AZL As, Jordan posted a 3.08 ERA and a 33:8 K:BB. He struggled some in July but was impressive down-the-stretch, posting a 0.61 ERA in four August starts. Jordan made two appearances for the Ports during the final week of the season, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks in seven innings. Jordan isnt a hard-thrower, but he has a four-pitch mix and a willingness to challenge hitters. He is similar to As 2015 draft pick Kyle Friedrichs.

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