Days before the start of the MLB Winter Meetings, the Oakland A's announced their non-roster invitee list to spring training. Included in the list are several new minor league free agent signings, as well as some of the A's top prospects. We take a look at the players invited to camp, organized in two lists (minor league free agents and prospects).
Matt Chapman, 3B: Chapman, the A's top pick in 2014, led all A's minor leaguers in homeruns last season (36) and took home the Texas League's MVP award. He made a strong impression last spring as a non-roster invitee to big league camp, lasting until the spring's final cuts. Chapman will start the 2017 season in Triple-A. His glove and power are big league-ready. If he can cut down on his strike-outs, he could make his major-league debut in 2017, as well.
Trey Cochran-Gill, RHP: Cochran-Gill had a solid first season in the A's organization, helping Midland win a third straight title and earning another title as part of the Mesa Solar Sox this fall. He had a 3.07 ERA in 73 innings for the RockHounds in 2016 and posted a 1.86 ERA during the AFL season. We recently profiled him as one of the A's top-50 prospects. He projects as a future set-up man.
Heath Fillmyer, RHP: Fillmyer has some of the most electric stuff in the A's system and he had a breakout season as a starter for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland in 2016. The 22-year-old had a 3.29 ERA and a 118:39 K:BB in a career-high 134 innings. He features a mid-90s fastball and a power change-up that acts like a diving-bombing sinker.
Daniel Gossett, RHP: After a disappointing pro debut season, Gossett rebounded in a huge way in 2016, moving up three levels and earning our Oakland A's minor league pitcher of the year award. Gossett posted a 2.69 ERA and a 151:41 K:BB in 153.2 innings for Stockton, Midland and Nashville last season. The right-hander has a deep arsenal of pitches that includes a four-seam fastball that can touch 95, a two-seamer with sink, an excellent cutter, a plus change-up and a breaking ball. The 24-year-old could push for a big league rotation spot sometime next season.
Tucker Healy, RHP: Healy may not make it to A's big league camp. The Rule 5 eligible reliever could be a hot commodity in next week's draft. If he isn't picked up in the Rule 5 draft, he will at least get the consolation prize of attending his first big league spring training. Healy has a career 2.89 ERA and 334 strike-outs in 246 innings.
Richie Martin, SS: The A's top pick in 2015 had a rough first full professional season. It began with a knee injury in spring training and included several long slumps in the middle of the summer with High-A Stockton. Martin had a solid final month with the Ports, however, and played well for Double-A Midland in the Texas League playoffs. A strong fielding shortstop with speed and lead-off hitter skills, Martin will be looking for a rebound season in 2017.
Sean Murphy, C: Murphy was the A's first position player draft selection in the 2016 draft (third round). A powerful hitting catcher with one of the strongest throwing arms in the NCAA last season, Murphy slipped from a possible first-round selection to the third round after breaking his hamate bone during his college season. Murphy's stint with the Vermont Lake Monsters was cut short by soreness in the hand, but he was healthy during the final week of the season and finished on a strong note. He also had a good fall Instructional League and is one of the A's top catching prospects heading into 2017.
A.J. Puk, LHP: The A's first pick in 2016 and the sixth-pick overall in the draft had a solid debut with short-season Vermont. The 6'7'' lefty can hit the upper-90s with his fastball and features a devastating breaking ball. He improved his change-up and his mechanics during the A's fall Instructional League. Puk will be fun to watch against big leaguers. He was college teammates with Martin at the University of Florida.
Max Schrock, 2B: Schrock joined the A's late in the 2016 season in a trade with the Washington Nationals. The South Carolina alum hit .331/.373/.449 with nine homers and 22 stolen bases in his first full professional season. He finished the regular season with Double-A Midland and then suited up for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall. He had a solid AFL campaign that was cut short by a minor hamstring strain.
Minor League Free Agents
Michael Brady, RHP: The former Cal Bear infielder (he converted to the mound as a pro) spent his 2016 season pitching in Double-A and Triple-A in the Washington Nationals' organization. He has been in professional baseball since 2009 and has a 3.05 ERA in 466.1 innings. He has mostly been a reliever during his career but did start 12 games last season.
Ryan Brasier, RHP: Brasier re-signed with the A's as a minor league free agent for a second straight year. The hard-throwing reliever had a strong 2016 season for Nashville, posting a 3.56 ERA and striking out 70 in 60.2 innings.
Simon Castro, RHP: Once one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Castro signed with the A's as a minor league free agent this offseason. Originally in the Padres' chain, he has pitched in the big leagues for the White Sox and Rockies briefly. A starter for much of his career, Castro was a closer for Triple-A Albuquerque last season, saving 10 of 13 chances. He had a 3.38 ERA and a 58:12 K:BB in 53.1 innings.
Jermaine Curtis, IF: A UCLA alum, Curtis spent the majority of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, who selected him in the fifth round in 2008. He played in five games for the Cardinals in 2013. Curtis is a career .274 hitter with a .381 OBP in 821 games. He spent the last two seasons in the Cincinnati Reds' organization and hit .291 last season for Triple-A Louisville. He can play third base, second base and corner outfield.
Jaff Decker, OF: A compensation round pick of the Padres in 2008, Decker was one of San Diego's top prospects for several years. The outfielder has bounced around since leaving the Padres' organization in 2013 in a trade with Pittsburgh. Decker has appeared in big league games with San Diego, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. He is a career .265/.389/.436 hitter in 801 minor league games. Decker has a "bad body" for an outfielder in terms of build, but he runs well and can play all three outfield positions if needed, although left field is his primary position.
Felix Doubront, LHP: Doubront was slated to be in the A's rotation on Opening Day before an elbow injury felled him just before the start of the season. He had Tommy John surgery last April and may not be 100% at the start of spring training. He should provide insurance for the A's rotation and bullpen as the season progresses, however. Doubront re-signed with the A's as a minor league free agent after being DFA'd at the end of the 2016 regular season.
Aaron Kurcz, RHP: Kurcz re-signed with the A's as a minor league free agent this off-season. He is currently pitching in the Mexican Winter League as a closer. The hard-throwing righty started the 2016 season with Midland but spent most of the year in Triple-A with the Sounds. He had a 3.03 ERA and a 55:17 K:BB in 68.1 innings.
Andrew Lambo, OF: Lambo began last season on the A's roster but was optioned to Nashville during the first week of the season. His season was cut short when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After spending most of the season on the A's 60-day DL while he recovered from the illness, Lambo was designated for assignment at the end of the regular season. He re-signed as a minor league free agent. Lambo had a strong big league camp last spring and was a top prospect for the Dodgers and Pirates a few years back.
Ryan Lavarnway, C: With Beau Taylor set to miss the first 50 games of the season due to a suspension, the A's needed Triple-A catching depth and found it in Lavarnway. The veteran backstop has 134 major league games to his credit. He is a career .280/.372/.466 hitter with 100 homers in 674 minor league games. A Yale alum, Lavarnway has seven career big league homers. He split his 2016 season between the Toronto and Atlanta systems.
Matt McBride, C/OF: After splitting the 2016 season between Oakland and Nashville, McBride was DFA'd by the A's but re-signed as a non-roster player. The versatile McBride can catch and play the corner outfield, as well as first base. He hit .267 in 70 games with the Sounds last year and appeared in 20 games for the A's.
Chris Parmelee, 1B/OF: A first-round pick of the Twins way back in 2006, Parmelee played three seasons for the A's current (and then Twins') Midwest League affiliate, the Beloit Snappers. Parmelee logged regular playing time with the Twins from 2011 through 2014. He spent the 2015 season in the Orioles' chain and the 2016 season in the Yankees' chain. He is a career .248/.313/.405 hitter with 30 homers in 311 big league games. As a minor leaguer, he has hit .273 with 118 homers in 919 games. Parmelee can play first base and the corner outfield spots.
Josh Rodriguez, UT: For a second straight year, Rodriguez signed with the A's as a minor league free agent. He was a non-roster invitee to A's big league camp last year, as well. The versatile Rodriguez spent much of the 2016 season with Midland, but finished the year with Nashville, where he hit .264 with a .402 OBP. He can play all over the field.
Chris Smith, RHP: The veteran Smith spent most of the 2016 season in Nashville's rotation after signing with the A's as a minor league free agent last off-season. He joined the A's bullpen late in the year and pitched well, striking out 29 and posting a 2.92 ERA in 24.2 innings. Smith has more than a decade of professional experience and can start or relieve.
Josh Smith, RHP: Smith was a waiver claim by the A's from the Reds in early November. He was designated for assignment a few weeks later and outrighted to Triple-A. Smith appeared in 32 games for the Reds last season and also made eight starts and a relief appearance in Triple-A. He has a career 3.60 ERA in 830.1 minor league innings. Smith has experience both starting and relieving.
Tyler Sturdevant, RHP: Sturdevant made his major-league debut last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, appearing in 16 games and posting a 3.93 ERA in 18.1 innings. He spent seven seasons in the Indians organization. The righty has had arm problems in the past. He is exclusively a reliever.
Cesar Valdez, RHP: The veteran Valdez signed as a minor league free agent after starring for the Astros in Triple-A Fresno last season. He went 12-1 with a 3.12 ERA and a 114:13 K:BB in 138.1 innings. Valdez has a decade of experience in pro baseball and has appeared in nine games in the major leagues. He has more than 1100 minor league innings to his credit.
Kenny Wilson, OF: Wilson is one of the top defensive centerfielders in the minor leagues. He spent half of the 2014 season in the A's organization after he was claimed by Oakland from the Toronto Blue Jays. Wilson hit .347 in Double-A last season with the Marlins, but batted only .219 in Triple-A. He has plus speed and a plus glove, but hasn't shown he can hit at the Triple-A level yet. Wilson will turn 27 just before the start of spring training.null