The Oakland A's have a prospect-heavy group headed to big league spring training this year, with several of the team's top prospects participating in their major league spring training camp either as members of the 40-man roster or as non-roster invitees. At the same time that group will be preparing for the 2017 regular season, another group of A's prospects will be busy at work at the A's minor league complex in Mesa.
The A's have invited 32 minor league prospects to their 2017 spring mini-camp. The players will report on February 18. This group will be a mix of more experienced prospects who will likely get playing time in the late innings of big league spring games early in the spring schedule and less experienced prospects who will be at the spring mini-camp for additional instruction leading into the 2017 season.
Regular minor league spring training opens on March 4 with pitchers and catchers. Position players report on March 10. Below is a look at the A's 2017 spring mini-camp roster.
Oakland A's 2017 spring training mini-camp roster
Brandon Bailey: The A's 2016 sixth-round pick hit the ground running with a strong pro debut season with the A's short-season squads. Bailey struck-out 46 and walked only 10 in 43 innings. He is one of the top starting pitching prospects in an A's draft class heavy on talented starters.
Nolan Blackwood: The hard-throwing sidearmer was one of the first members of the A's 2016 draft class to reach full-season ball. Blackwood can reach 93 MPH with his sidearm delivery and he features a solid breaking ball and an improving change-up. Nearly 63% of all balls hit into play against Blackwood last season were hit on the ground.
Ben Bracewell: One of the unsung heroes on the 2016 Texas League champion Midland RockHounds' roster, Bracewell had a 2.14 ERA in 88.1 innings while serving as a swingman for Midland. Bracewell doesn't strike-out a ton of batters, but he throws a lot of strikes, keeps the ball in the park and can be used in a variety of roles. He is a strong candidate to get a few innings in big league games this spring.
Sam Bragg: Bragg is another mini-camp participant who should be in the big league bullpen a decent amount this spring. The right-handed reliever overcame a rough start to his 2016 to put together a strong season in the Midland bullpen. Bragg began the 2016 season as a tandem starter but posted an ERA of 15.12 in four outings in that role. Once back in a traditional relief role, Bragg had a 2.70 ERA and a 60:13 K:BB in 59 innings. This fall, he allowed only three runs in 13.2 innings in the Arizona Fall League and was a participant in the Rising Stars game.
Kyle Finnegan: After struggling to advance as a starter, Finnegan moved into the bullpen in 2016 and the results were positive. In 63.2 innings between High-A Stockton and Midland, Finnegan posted a 2.54 ERA and a 69:32 K:BB. One of the hardest throwers in the A's system, Finnegan touched triple digits a few times last season. He is also a candidate to get some big league time this spring.
Brett Graves: It hasn't been the easiest first two pro seasons for Graves, who was the A's third-round pick in 2014. He suffered from diminished velocity in 2015 and then had to learn to trust his stuff again early in 2016 when that velocity returned. Graves pitched well for the Stockton Ports during the second half of the 2016 season and is an early candidate for a breakout season in 2017.
Grant Holmes: Holmes was one of three highly regarded prospects the A's received from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill trade last July. Holmes had a 6.91 ERA for Stockton after the trade, but still flashed promising stuff. In 134 innings in the Cal League last season with the A's and Dodgers, Holmes posted a 4.63 ERA and struck-out 124 at age-20. Holmes made some improvements in Instructs with A's coaches and will look to carry that momentum into spring mini-camp.
Daulton Jefferies: The A's didn't get to see much last season from their second overall pick in the 2016 draft. The right-hander from Cal was limited to 50 innings during his junior season at Cal thanks to a calf and a shoulder injury. The A's were cautious with Jefferies after he signed, limiting him to 11.1 innings of Rookie Ball after the draft and keeping him off the mound during Instructs. He will enter spring training looking to prove that he is healthy and ready to pitch for a full-season club at the break of camp. If healthy, Jefferies has the polish and the raw stuff to move fairly quickly through the A's system.
Brandon Mann: A minor league free agent signing last year, Mann began the 2016 campaign on the suspended list. After serving his 50-game suspension, the left-hander spent most of the year with Double-A Midland, where he had a 4.48 ERA and 63 strike-outs in 62.1 innings. Mann is 32 and a veteran of both the independent leagues and the Japanese Professional League. He has strike-out stuff and the A's system is light on lefties in the upper-levels, so Mann could get a long look this spring.
Casey Meisner: The 2016 season was mostly one to forget for Meisner, who didn't win his first game until August. He finished the year with a 4.85 ERA in 117 innings, but Meisner pitched considerably better in July and the first part of August before wearing down the last two weeks of the season. A's coaches felt Meisner made some strides with his delivery last season and he learned how better to prepare for each start. He will be looking to continue that development path with A's coaches this spring.
James Naile: Naile had the distinction of pitching for all four of the A's full-season affiliates in 2016, which was his first full professional season. The right-hander held his own at all four levels and will be a strong candidate to start the 2017 season in Double-A. Naile has two above-average offerings in his sinker and his slider and saw improvement with his change-up and cut-fastball in 2016. He's a candidate to pitch in big league games this spring.
Carlos Navas: After six seasons in the A's organization, Navas had an opportunity to move onto another organization this off-season, but he chose to remain with his original club. The right-hander had a 3.92 ERA and 72 strike-outs in 59.2 innings for High-A Stockton and Triple-A Nashville last season. This winter, Navas struck-out 30 and posted a 2.28 ERA in 27.2 innings in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Joel Seddon: Seddon, like Bragg, struggled at the start of the 2016 season in a tandem starter's role. Seddon eventually found his way as a starter and finished the year with a 4.40 ERA in 143.1 innings for Midland. He had a 1.84 ERA in 13 starts during the second half of the 2016 season and allowed three runs in 11 post-season innings. Seddon was a closer in college and can fill a variety of roles. He isn't a hard thrower but has a deep arsenal of pitches and bares some similarities to former A's swingman Jesse Chavez.
Logan Shore: Shore was the A's third overall pick in the 2016 draft. One of the best starters in college baseball last season, Shore had a 2.57 ERA and 21 strike-outs in 21 innings for short-season Vermont last year. Shore doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but he locates it well and he has an above-average change-up. He worked on improving his breaking ball during Instructs and saw some progress with the pitch at the end of camp. If that pitch is working for him early this spring, Shore could start the year in High-A.
Cody Stull: Stull went almost half of last summer without allowing a run out of the Stockton Ports' bullpen. The left-hander finished with a 1.46 ERA and a 63:11 K:BB in 55.2 innings for the Ports. He got a taste of Double-A at the end of the season and could push his way to Triple-A midway through this season. Stull is a candidate to get some big league innings this spring.
Corey Walter: Walter continued to defy expectations last season with another outstanding year. After posting a 1.42 ERA in 57 innings as a reliever for Stockton in 2015, Walter moved to the rotation in 2016 and had a 2.15 ERA in 100.1 innings for Midland. The A's kept him on a tight innings limit last year, but he should see the reigns loosened this season, which will allow him to pitch deeper into games. Walter doesn't strike-out a lot of batters as a starter, but he walks very few (15 all of last year) and keeps everything on the ground. He will be a pitcher to watch this spring and this season.
Lana Akau: Akau played in a career-high 64 games last season for High-A Stockton. The 21-year-old backstop is still learning the nuances of the pro game, but he has a strong throwing arm and intriguing athleticism.
Jose Chavez: Chavez played 80 games for Low-A Beloit last season. He hit only .207 but flashed promise behind the plate. If Chavez can improve with the bat, he will become an intriguing prospect thanks to his defensive skills.
Argenis Raga: Raga was the Ports' regular catcher in 2016, appearing in a career-best 84 games. He hit for average (.263) but is still learning behind the plate. The former third baseman has plenty of arm strength and an intriguing bat. The 2017 season will be a big one for his overall development.
Collin Theroux: Theroux, a Bay Area native, joined the A's in last year's draft. He was one of the top defensive catchers in college baseball last season and brings a strong glove and leadership abilities to the pros.
Joe Bennie (2B/OF): Bennie had one of the top hard-hit rates in the A's system last season. In 111 games for High-A Stockton, Bennie hit .302/.376/.449 with 11 homers. He struggled in a late-season call-up to Double-A, but he should get another crack with the RockHounds this season. Bennie can play second base and the outfield, but the A's would love to see him make a permanent home at second.
Chris Iriart (1B): Only a fastball to the cheek could prevent Iriart from cracking the 25-homer plateau in his first full professional season. He missed more than a month with a broken orbital bone, but still hit 22 homers for Low-A Beloit and High-A Stockton. His final month cameo with Stockton was memorable, as he hit six homers in 16 games. Iriart needs to improve his selectivity at the plate, but his power is legitimate.
Viosergy Rosa (1B): Rosa hit arguably the most important homerun in Midland franchise history -- a walk-off grandslam in the Texas League semi-finals to give Midland an incredible come-from-behind victory in game three of the series. That win would propel the RockHounds to a third-straight title. Rosa was a minor league free agent this off-season but re-signed with Oakland. He had a mediocre second half with the RockHounds in 2016, but showed promise in the first half. He has a good eye at the plate and some untapped power.
J.P. Sportman (2B/OF): A hamate injury cost Sportman much of the 2015 season, but he was healthy and in the line-up regularly in 2016 for Double-A Midland. He hit .267 in 120 games in his first taste of Double-A. Sportman has some speed and sneaky power and is very versatile with the glove. He made a splash in a few big league spring cameos in 2015 and could get that opportunity again in 2017.
Eli White (SS): White had a strong professional debut after going to the A's in the 11th round last season. The Clemson alum hit .279 with a .348 OBP and 12 stolen bases in 64 games for the Vermont Lake Monsters. He won the team's MVP award. White has a good approach at the plate and some speed when on the bases. The A's think he will add some power as he matures into his 6'2'' frame.
Mikey White (SS/2B): White had a rough first full pro season in 2016. The A's 2015 second-round pick hit only .247 and struck-out 130 times in 124 games for the Stockton Ports. White made some mechanical changes with his swing late in the season and saw some improvement towards the end of the year. He also showed he could play both second and short.
Skye Bolt: Bolt missed significant time last season due to injury and had an up-and-down first full professional season with Beloit. He is one of the most naturally gifted players in the A's system and he will get plenty of opportunity to develop this spring.
Tyler Marincov: Marincov had a strong stint with Double-A Midland after beginning the year with Stockton. He hit .267 with 10 homers in 101 games for the RockHounds and finished the year with 19 homers between Midland and Stockton. Marincov also starred at the plate during the post-season. He still needs to improve his plate discipline, but Marincov has power to all fields and is one of the best outfield prospects in the A's system. He should receive some at-bats in big league games this spring.
Tyler Ramirez: Bolt's teammate at UNC, Ramirez joined the A's this season in the draft. A solid all-around player with a good grasp of the strike-zone, Ramirez walked 20 times in 56 games for short-season Vermont and the AZL A's last year. He also stole six bases in six opportunities.
JaVon Shelby: Drafted as a third baseman, Shelby was moved to centerfield during fall Instructs and he played well at that position during the fall. Shelby struggled to make contact for most of his pro debut season with Vermont last year, but the son of former big leaguer John Shelby had a solid final week of the year and a good fall Instructional League. If he can cut down on his swing-and-miss, Shelby has the raw talent to hit for power and get on-base with a fair share of walks.
Brett Siddall: Siddall, the son of former big leaguer Joe Siddall, had a strong start with Low-A Beloit last season and an up-and-down finish with the Snappers. He has a solid line-drive swing and power to the pull-side. Siddall should get a crack at the more hitter-friendly California League this season and could get some at-bats in big league camp this spring.