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Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Tucker Healy, 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 Tucker Healy. Healy was surprisingly left off of the A's 40-man roster this off-season. Can he still force his way onto the A's 25-man roster at some point this season?

Name: Tucker Healy
Position: RHP
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Age: 26
How Acquired: Selected in the 23rd-round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

Rodney Dangerfield has nothing on Tucker Healy, who has yet to secure a shot at the big leagues or even a 40-man roster spot despite a career K/9 of 12.22 and a career ERA of 2.89. Healy will be participating in his first big league spring training this season. Will his time in camp finally open the door to a major league career? Since 2012, there have been three constants: death, taxes and Tucker Healy striking out a busload of hitters for an Oakland A’s minor league affiliate. Since joining the organization as a 23rd-round pick in 2012, Healy has averaged more than 12.5 strike-outs per nine innings in every season except 2015, when he posted a 1.95 ERA in Double-A but struck-out “just” 53 in 55.1 innings. Healy was back to his strike-out ways in 2016 with Triple-A Nashville, whiffing 76 PCL batters in 52.1 innings. The numbers were impressive, but Healy still failed to earn a September call-up or a spot on the A’s 40-man roster later in the off-season.

Healy’s case for a major-league opportunity is a compelling one. The right-hander has not only posted stellar strike-out and ERA numbers throughout his career, but he has also proven very difficult to hit. In 246 career innings, Healy has allowed just 187 hits (.208 BAA) and 13 homeruns (0.48 HR/9).

Healy’s career arc has been fairly steady. He split his first full professional season between Low-A and High-A, although his season ended a few weeks early with a trapezoid strain. Healy began the 2014 season back with High-A Stockton, but it didn’t take him long to jump up to Double-A. He reached Triple-A by the end of the 2014 season, although his first taste of that level didn’t treat him kindly. He posted an uncharacteristic 8.14 ERA and allowed four homeruns in 24.1 innings for the Sacramento River Cats.

Tucker Healy Stats

2016 Nashville 52.1 3.61 38 3 26 76 0.55 .202
Career 246 2.89 187 13 98 334 0.63 .208

Healy returned to Double-A Midland in 2015 and remained with the RockHounds the entire season. He had an interesting season with Midland, going months between allowing a run but also seeing his strike-out rate drop below 10 for the first time in his career. Healy didn’t allow a homerun all season and Texas League batters managed just 33 hits in 55.1 innings versus Healy.

In 2016, Healy got another opportunity in Triple-A, joining the Nashville staff out of spring training. He spent most of the year in the back-end of the Sounds’ bullpen, alternating between closer and set-up man. His second chance at Triple-A went much better than the first. Healy’s ERA was 3.61 – high for his standards – but a deeper dive into his other numbers suggests that his ERA was a bit unlucky. He held opposing batters to a .202 average, struck-out 34% of all batters he faced and allowed only three homeruns. Healy was vulnerable to the occasional “blow-up” inning, however, although his two worst outings came at Colorado Springs, which is notoriously tough on flyball pitchers such as himself.

Healy’s biggest issue in 2016 is the one that has kept him out of the big leagues thus far: his command. Healy’s fastball movement is a big reason why he gets as many strike-outs as he does, but it can also be a detriment to him if that movement takes the ball too far out of the strike-zone for advanced hitters to chase it. He walked 26 in 52.1 innings (4.47 BB/9), a number that will need to come down for him to be effective in the major leagues (it should be noted, however, that four of the walks were intentional).

His fastball touches 94 and sits 91-93, but it gets on hitters quickly thanks to a deceptive, three-quarters release point. The fastball rarely stays in the same plane from the hand to the catcher’s mitt. Healy’s slider has been very effective, especially against right-handers, and the change-up – while inconsistent at times – is a good change-of-pace offering when he is locating it well. For the first time in his career, Healy struggled against lefties (.297 BAA), but he held righties to a .140 average against. A more consistent change-up should get Healy better results versus southpaws.

It was a surprise to see the A’s leave Healy unprotected for this year’s Rule 5 draft, but the A’s 40-man roster is crowded with pitchers and younger position players at the moment, so the A’s had to take that risk. They were pleased he remained in the organization at the conclusion of the draft and invited him to be a non-roster invitee to spring training for the first time in his career. It is never easy to make the major leagues as a non-roster player, but the A’s coaching staff knows Healy well and will get to know him even better this spring. If he pitches for Nashville like he did in 2016, he should get an opportunity at some point in 2017 once the A’s start losing relievers to injuries or trades.

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