Photo by Greg Bessette

Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Brandon Bailey, RHP

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 Brandon Bailey. Bailey was one of the top performers from the A's 2016 draft class. What's in store for Bailey in 2017?

Name: Brandon Bailey
Position: RHP
Height/Weight: 5’10’’, 175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Age: 22
How Acquired: Selected in the 6th-round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

The Oakland A’s have never been an organization that has been afraid to take risks on pitchers with unusual body types or deliveries. With that history, it wasn’t surprising that it was the A’s that called the name of Brandon Bailey in the sixth round of this year’s draft. Bailey may be slight of stature, but his numbers have always stood tall. How will he fare in a full-season league in 2017? There aren’t too many hurdles in baseball harder to overcome than being under six-feet and making it to the major leagues as a right-handed starting pitcher. Most teams shy away from short right-handers, but the A’s haven’t been one of those teams. From Tim Hudson to Rich Harden to Sonny Gray to Jharel Cotton, the A’s have featured several under-six-foot righties in their rotation over the past 15 years. So if Bailey makes it to the big leagues, he won’t look out of place in the green-and-gold.

Bailey is listed on as 5’10’’, but he likely stands in a touch under that number. While his height will always be part of his story as a pitcher, it is his success on the mound that has defined him since joining the Gonzaga staff as a freshman in 2014. In three years with the Zags, Bailey posted a 3.28 ERA and a 278:86 K:BB. As a junior, he took his game to another level, going 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA and a 125:31 K:BB in 100 innings. During the WCC Tournament, Bailey wowed scouts with a 17-strike-out performance versus the BYU Cougars. That game took place at Banner Island Ballpark, where Bailey soon may be pitching his home games.

Once Bailey signed with the A’s, he picked up where he left off in college. After two tune-up outings in the Arizona Rookie League, Bailey joined the Vermont staff and was part of the Lake Monsters’ tandem starting rotation for the rest of the season (i.e., he was paired with another starter on the staff and it was scheduled for them to ‘split’ the games). In 10 outings, Bailey posted a 3.08 ERA and a 42:9 K:BB in 38 innings. Five of the 13 earned runs Bailey allowed with Vermont came in one outing. Over his last three appearances (14 innings), Bailey struck-out 19 and walked just one.

Brandon Bailey Stats

2016 AZL A's 5 1.80 7 0 1 4 2.33
2016 Vermont 38 3.08 26 1 9 42 0.73

One of the first things evaluators mention when talking about Bailey is his mound presence. He utilizes an aggressive approach, filling up the strike-zone and challenging hitters to beat him. His fastball can touch 95 and sits in the low-90s. His fastball has some late movement to it and he hides the ball well out of his hand. His change-up is an above-average offering and his slider and curveball both show promise. He can throw all four pitches for strikes in any count and is working on creating more of a differential between the velocity on his slider and his curveball.

Longtime A’s scout and former minor league pitching coach Jimmy Coffman was Bailey’s signing scout. Coffman says Bailey already possesses an advanced feel for pitching.

“He throws four pitches for strikes – and not just strikes, but with good intent and purpose. He can really put pitches together, Coffman said. "He’s the kind of guy that if you give him a plan to go after a hitter’s weaknesses, he’ll definitely follow that plan because he can throw a fastball on the inner-half and outer-half. He can elevate it when he needs to set-up the next pitch and he is a very efficient pitcher. He seems like he is always ahead in counts. He’s got a plus change-up and his breaking ball is solid-average.”

As minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson liked what he saw from Bailey during his pro debut season.

If he was in the big league in three years or so, I would not be surprised,” Patterson said. “He is aggressive. A strike-thrower with some life in his fastball. Good change-up. Two pretty good breaking balls. I like him a lot.”

Bailey will always need to prove himself at every level, but he has managed to overcome diminished expectations throughout his career. With four usable pitches, Bailey will remain a starter despite his size. If he does have to move into the bullpen, his command and fastball-change-up combination offer promise for that role, as well.

The A’s are going to have to work to fit all of the starting pitchers they drafted the past two seasons into their full-season rotations. Bailey will be a candidate to skip Low-A and start his first full season with High-A Stockton, but given the glut of starting pitching in the lower levels of the A’s system, he is more likely to start the year in the Beloit rotation. However, if he gets off to a fast start in the Midwest League, he will be a candidate to move up to Stockton mid-season given his polish.

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