Photo by Kimberly Contreras

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

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. Third up, picks from rounds 21-30.

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

Pick 22: Kyle Nowlin, OF, Eastern Kentucky: The As grabbed Nowlin after he crushed 40 homers over his final two seasons at Eastern Kentucky. Nowlin also posted a .435 OBP and walked 50 times in 55 games as a senior. He spent his pro debut season with the AZL As and he continued to get on base at a prolific pace. Nowlin walked 36 times and posted a .389 OBP in 44 games. The power he showed in college didnt show consistently in his pro debut (.383 SLG and 14 extra-base hits), but he has shown big power in flashes and that could emerge more next season. Nowlin is limited to left field defensively, but he did a solid job in the field this summer. Hell compete for a full-season spot next spring.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/1716670-2016-year-in-review-a-s... Pick 23: Roger Gonzalez, C, Winthrop: Gonzalez moved around a lot during his college career, beginning his career at Miami, spending a year at Santa Fe Community College and then finishing with two seasons at Winthrop. The switch-hitter hit .336 in two seasons for Winthrop before joining the As. His pro debut was limited to 11 games thanks to a hamate injury he suffered during the first few days of his pro career. He stung the ball once he was healthy, collecting 10 hits in 28 at-bats with a homer and three doubles. That earned Gonzalez a late-season promotion to Beloit, and he appeared in two games for the Snappers. His bat is ahead of his glove, but Gonzalez has intriguing offensive potential. 

Pick 24: Christian Lindsay-Young, RHP, Niagara County CC: Did not sign

Pick 25: Robert Bennie, OF, East Stroudsburg: The younger brother of As prospect Joe Bennie, Robert transferred to East Stroudsburg from Virginia and hit .397 with a .461 OBP and 10 homers during his junior season. The As started Bennie in the Arizona Rookie League, but he hit his way out of the league midway through his pro debut. In 29 games, he hit .336/.388/.500 before moving up to Vermont. Bennie struggled in 22 games in the NY-Penn League, posting a .169/.224/.221 line. He is an excellent athlete with a smooth swing and a solid approach. Bennie should be a strong contender for a spot in a full-season league in the spring.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/1718610-2016-year-in-review-a-s... Pick 26: Jeramiah McCray, OF, Martin Luther King HS (Calif.): McCray was the third high school selection for the As. As they often do with high school picks, the As kept McCray in the Arizona Rookie League for his pro debut. McCray had a strong July, hitting .273/.333/.473 with five triples in 17 games. He faded in August, hitting only .146, and he finished with a .202/.260/.316 line in 32 games. McCray is an excellent athlete who is one of the fastest players in the As system. He has a thin frame that may never develop a lot of power, but he has a chance to be a top of the order threat as he matures.  

Pick 27: Charley Gould, 1B, William & Mary: Gould spent four years at William & Mary, putting together a .336/.427/.542 career line. The lanky first baseman spent his pro debut season in the Arizona Rookie League. He appeared in 49 games and hit .273 with a .340 OBP. Gould had a solid finish to his season, hitting .283 during the second half of the year. He made the post-season Arizona Rookie League All-Star team. Despite the solid season, however, Gould elected to make his pro debut season his only pro season. The soon-to-be-24-year-old retired in September.

Pick 28: Cole Gruber, OF, Nebraska-Omaha: Gruber stole 43 bases in 56 games during his senior season and he maintained that impressive pace during his pro debut season. He swiped a league-leading 28 bases in 30 chances during his 35 games in the Arizona Rookie League. Gruber hit just .214, but he walked 24 times for a .346 OBP. He finished the season on an up note, collecting five hits and two walks over the final three games of the year.

Pick 29: Josh Vidales, 2B, Houston: Vidales had a down senior season at Houston at the plate, but he quickly made that a distant memory with a very strong pro debut season. Vidales earned post-season Arizona Rookie League All-Star honors and he made a strong case for the leagues MVP award, as he led the league in batting (.346), OBP (.437) and OPS (944). Vidales walked more than he struck-out (20:16 BB:K), collected 15 doubles and three triples and stole five bases in six chances. He also played a solid second base. The switch-hitter opened a lot of eyes with his Arizona performance and has put himself in a strong position going into spring training.

Pick 30: Matthew Milburn, RHP, Wofford: After throwing 98.2 innings during his senior season at Wofford, Milburn was kept on a relatively short leash during his pro debut. He began the year in Arizona and posted a 3.42 ERA with 30 strike-outs and just two walks in 23.2 innings. That earned him a promotion to Vermont. Milburn had a rough debut, allowing five runs in two innings. After that, he allowed five more runs over his last 11 innings. Milburn struck-out 14 and didnt walk a batter with Vermont. Milburn doesnt have over-powering stuff, but it is harder for him to throw a ball than it is for him to throw a strike. He also induces a lot of groundballs. With a 44:2 K:BB in 36.2 innings, Milburn will get a long look next spring.

Pick 31: Nick Highberger, RHP, Creighton: Highberger had a stellar four-year career at Creighton as a reliever, posting a 2.84 ERA in 146 innings over four seasons. He struck-out only 66 but he allowed his defense to work for him as an extreme groundball pitcher. Highberger followed much the same pattern in his pro debut. In 26.2 innings in the Arizona Rookie League, he struck-out just 18, but he posted a 3.38 ERA and had a 3.00 GO/AO. He joined the High-A Stockton Ports late in the year and made two scoreless appearances, not allowing a run in four innings. For the season, he had an incredible 71% groundball rate. Highbergers sinker is of the hard variety, topping out at 94, and it gets a lot of movement. He doesnt always know exactly where it is going, but, more often than out, he gets a groundball out of the at-bat. The As have done well with groundball relievers in the past. It will be interesting to see how Highberger develops in future seasons.


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