Photo by Kimberly Contreras

Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Rangel Ravelo, 1B

Our Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospects list is out. Now find out more about the players on that list. In this piece, a close look at top-50 prospect Rangel Ravelo. Ravelo's slow start led to a down 2016 season. Can he recover in 2017?

Name: Rangel Ravelo
Position: 1B
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 225
Bats/Throws: R/R
Age: 24
How Acquired: Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a trade on Dec. 9, 2014.

Since joining the Oakland A’s before the 2015 season, March and April have been the cruelest months for first baseman Rangel Ravelo. Now in his third season with the A’s and his first as a non-roster player, Ravelo is in need of a springtime reversal of fortunes to maintain his place on the A’s depth chart. Going into the 2016 season, Ravelo was a strong candidate to have a breakthrough to the big leagues. The native of Cuba missed half of the 2015 regular season with a wrist injury, but he was coming off of a huge Venezuelan Winter League campaign that saw him win the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He looked like a solid bet to carry the momentum from his winter performance into his age-24 season. Instead, a frustrating start to the year left Ravelo on the outside looking in at the A’s big league depth chart.

Ravelo came to the A’s before the 2015 as part of the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa to the Chicago White Sox. Ravelo was the youngest prospect the A’s received and was somewhat under-the-radar. A sixth-round pick in 2010 out of a Hialeh, Florida, high school, Ravelo advanced steadily through the White Sox’s system in his four seasons with the club. He reached Double-A in 2014 and posted a .309/.386/.473 line in 133 games for Birmingham. Ravelo always hit for average and was a low strike-out hitter with the White Sox and it appeared he was starting to tap into his power when the A’s acquired him.

The 2015 season wasn’t kind to Ravelo, however. He injured his wrist early in spring training and had just one at-bat before being shut-down for good. He had surgery on the wrist and missed the first half of the regular season. When he returned, Ravelo didn’t have a place on the A’s Triple-A roster and spent a month in Double-A before finally reaching Triple-A Nashville in early August. Ravelo underwhelmed in Nashville, hitting .277, but managing just a .324 OBP and a .376 SLG.

Rangel Ravelo Stats

2016 Nashville 367 .262 .334 .395 8 34 63
Career 2108 .295 .363 .421 29 207 333

To make up for the at-bats lost to the wrist injury, Ravelo headed to Venezuela for the 2015 off-season, where he suited up for the Cardenales de Lara. He was a star from the get-go with Lara and dominated the league to the tune of a .354/.480/.562 line in 55 games. His performance came despite being beaned midway through the season and missing a week due to the injury and to a suspension for the ensuing brawl.

Ravelo came to spring training on the heels of that winter performance, but the momentum didn’t carry over. He failed to impress in the early spring and was one of the first cuts, heading back to minor league camp on March 13. Ravelo finished big league spring training with one hit and one walk in eight at-bats.

When camp broke, he joined the Nashville roster and was the team’s regular first baseman despite sharing a roster with Matt Olson, who moved out to right field. Ravelo got off to a slow start with the Sounds, hitting just .215 with a 539 OPS in April. He had a strong May but struggled again in June and was hitting an uninspiring .251/.311/.374 at the All-Star break. 

Quietly, things turned around for Ravelo after the break. Although his playing time dipped some in July, he began to get his stroke back. He had a strong final stretch of the season and hit .279/.370/.429 in 41 games after the break. He also had three hits and two walks in four post-season games for Nashville.

After the season concluded, Ravelo headed back to Venezuela to re-join the Lara roster. His winter wasn’t quite as spectacular as it was in 2015, but he still hit very well for the Cardenales. In 53 games, he batted .300/.414/.444 with six homers and a 32:20 BB:K. Not all of the news was good for Ravelo this off-season, however. He was removed from the A’s roster at the end of November and outrighted to Triple-A. He will attend as big league spring training as a non-roster player this February.

There is a lot to like about Ravelo’s basic skill-set. He has a smooth swing that moves through the strike-zone quickly and doesn’t involve a lot of moving parts, allowing him to wait on pitches and be choosy about what he swings at. For a player of his size, he has plus contact skills. In 2,108 career at-bats, he has struck-out just 333 times. Ravelo doesn’t put up huge walk numbers, but he earns enough free passes that he generally posts strong OBP to go along with good batting averages. Ravelo uses the whole field well, although his power is all to the pull-side. All eight of his homers went to left field last year. Offensively, his profile is very similar to current A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso, but from the right-side.

Defensively, Ravelo is solid at first base, but he isn’t in Alonso’s league with the glove. He appeared in 13 games in the corner outfield last season and handled all 20 chances he had in 117 innings. If Ravelo can continue to grow as an outfielder, he will increase his chances of reaching the big leagues significantly. He has average speed for a first baseman but isn’t a threat on the bases.

Ravelo’s place on the A’s depth chart isn’t entirely clear. His path to the first base job in the big leagues is blocked currently by Alonso, and both Olson and Ryon Healy figure to be ahead of Ravelo on the A’s first base depth chart. Mark Canha is also ahead of Ravelo on that list. For Ravelo to move past any of the four players ahead of him, he will need to get off to a strong start this spring and carry that into the first month of the season. Ravelo could be a candidate to be traded this spring if there is a clearer path to the big leagues with another organization. He will be 25 in April and is entering his final season before he is eligible for minor league free agency. 

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