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Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Dillon Overton, LHP

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 Dillon Overton. Overton reached the big leagues but found the major leagues to be tough sledding. Can he get back to the bigs, and stay there, in 2017?

Name: Dillon Overton
Position: LHP
Height/Weight: 6’2’’, 175
Bats/Throws: L/L
Age: 25
How Acquired: Selected in the 2nd-round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

After an initial delay, Dillon Overton’s journey to the big leagues came at a furious pace. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing for the lefty upon reaching the major leagues. Can Overton get back into the Oakland rotation and stay there in 2017? Overton was the A’s second-overall pick in the 2013 draft, but he didn’t make his professional debut until more than a year after he was selected out of the University of Oklahoma. A tear in his UCL was detected in a post-draft MRI and Overton underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after signing with the A’s. Twelve months later, he returned to the mound and split the 2014 season between the Rookie League A’s and the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters.

Overton’s first significant opportunity in pro ball came in 2015, when he began his first full season in the hitter-friendly California League. Overton had impressed in short-season in 2014, but his velocity was way down (sitting in the low-to-mid-80s), and the Cal League was a big test to see how he would fare in an offense-friendly environment. He held his own with the Ports, despite little gain in his fastball velocity, posting a 3.82 ERA with 59 strike-outs in 61.1 innings before a mid-season promotion to Double-A. Overton pitched even better with the RockHounds, putting up a 3.06 ERA in 64.2 innings, although his strike-out rate fell (6.54). By the end of the year, Overton’s fastball also had a little more zip on it, although it was still maxing out at 88, and not the 94 MPH he had seen prior to the surgery.

Overton earned a non-roster invitation to spring training and had an impressive stint with the A’s in big league camp in limited opportunities. In three outings, he didn’t allow a run over six innings, scattering five hits and one walk and striking out seven. Overton opened the season on the Triple-A Nashville roster and he would remain with the Sounds for most of the season.

Dillon Overton Stats

2016 Nashville 125.2 3.29 132 31 105 .268 6 0.78
2016 Oakland 24.1 11.47 48 7 17 .407 12 0.38
Career (MiLB) 288.2 3.18 289 62 264 .260 17 0.69

Pitching without an innings- or pitch-count limit for the first time since his surgery, Overton had a strong season with Nashville. In 21 appearances (20 starts), he posted a 3.29 ERA and had a 105:31 K:BB and six homeruns allowed over 125.2 innings. He was consistently effective, allowing more than three earned runs in just four of his appearances. Overton won 13 games and was a big part of the Sounds’ run to the PCL playoffs.

Overton didn’t spend the entire season with the Sounds, however. On three separate occasions, he joined the A’s staff: once in late June, once in late July/early August and then again in mid-September. His time in the major leagues was a learning experience, to say the least. For the first time in his professional career, Overton struggled to keep the ball in the park. He allowed 12 homeruns in 24.1 innings and posted an ugly 11.47 ERA. He struck-out 17, but walked seven and allowed 48 hits. Overton did end his season on a good note, working two scoreless innings in relief against the Angels on September 27.

As it did in 2015, Overton’s fastball velocity inched up a bit in 2016. He sat mostly in the 87-90 MPH range in 2016, occasionally touching 92. His change-up remains his best secondary pitch, although it wasn’t as effective for him in the big leagues as it was in Triple-A. His curveball was a bit loopy for much of the year, but he made some adjustments during the final two months of the season to tighten up the break. There was some talk of Overton developing a cutter at the end of the season to give him a way to bust right-handers inside, and that is something that he may work on this spring.

Overton gets high marks for his competitiveness on the mound and his aggressiveness, but with his fastball in the upper-80s, his margin for error in the big leagues is very small. Even at Triple-A, Overton was hit hard at times when he missed his spots. He was often able to pitch out of tough situations with the Sounds, but found that tougher to do in the major leagues. Oakland A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson believes that sequencing had a lot to do with Overton’s struggles with Oakland.

I think that the sequencing is probably where the improvement will come. We did try to tighten up the curveball a little bit because even in Triple-A, it wasnt as effective. If you dont have a swing-and-miss curveball, you might need to use it behind in the count or at the start of an at-bat and throw it for strikes, Patterson said. Hell definitely need to pitch in to both righties and lefties. His out-pitch is his change-up. I also think the more he pitches in the major leagues, the better feel hell get for it.

At 61’’, 175, Overton is built like former As starter Dallas Braden. The two share some similar characteristics, as lefties with below-average fastballs, plus change-ups and ultra-competitive make-ups. Braden found success in the big leagues after struggling in his first go-around. Overton doesn't strike-out as many as Braden did, but he has a little more velocity on his fastball. In any case, Overton will compete for a spot in the backend of the As rotation this spring but is most likely to begin the year with Nashville. Given the rate the As have gone through starters the past few seasons, Overton should get another opportunity with the As at some point in 2017 if he stays healthy and pitches well.


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