After getting an extended look at some top prospects during spring training, it’s easy to lose track of them once the regular season starts and they scatter to various minor league affiliates.
Here’s an early update on some of the A’s most highly touted prospects. The stats don’t reveal a whole lot yet, since most of the affiliates have only played around 10 games or so.
So here’s an effort to just set the landscape for you, and try to give some context to where some of these players sit in the A’s plans right now:
LHP Sean Manaea -- The lefty’s strong start in his first sample of Triple-A competition reinforces the A’s belief that he’s not far from being Major League-ready. Manaea struck out 11 against Oklahoma City on Saturday. And after mentioning just one paragraph above how early stats don’t mean much, we’ll hit you with some anyway. Through two starts with Triple-A Nashville, Manaea has surrendered just two runs. He’s struck out 17 and walked just two in 12 innings. The more experienced Jesse Hahn would probably get the call before him if the A’s need a starter, and the return of Henderson Alvarez looms on the horizon, but Manaea, 24, could force his way into the big league picture soon if he keeps mowing down Pacific Coast League hitters.
3B Matt Chapman -- After leading the A’s in homers and RBI during his first Major League spring training, Chapman is starting the season with Double-A Midland. It will be interesting to watch how aggressively the A’s move him up the ladder. He’s hitting just .219 with 12 strikeouts in 10 games for the Rockhounds, but he’s homered three times. A’s infield coach Ron Washington told me last week that he thinks Chapman’s defense is big league-ready right now. You’ll be able to hear more of Washington’s thoughts on Chapman in my next A’s Insider Podcast that will be posted this week. Chapman turns 23 later this month.
SS Franklin Barreto -- Barreto is playing alongside Chapman to give Midland a mighty impressive left side of the infield. He’s another prospect who really impressed in spring training, showing athleticism at short and good power. Playing in the Double-A Texas League is a great measuring stick for top-shelf prospects, and A’s officials have long believed that a player who really thrives in Double-A proves that he’s close to being ready for the majors. Barreto, 20, is hitting just .182 coming out of the gate.
SS Richie Martin -- His smooth actions on defense impressed A’s manager Bob Melvin in the spring, but the 21-year-old Martin suffered a knee injury late in spring training that is expected to sideline him about six weeks. Once healthy, his likely landing spot will be Single-A Stockton, unless the A’s send him to low Single-A Beloit to start out as he works his way back into shape.
LHP Dillon Overton -- The 24-year-old left-hander also impressed Melvin this spring with a well-rounded repertoire of pitches and his ability to show hitters different arm angles. He’s still trying to fully regain his velocity after coming back from Tommy John surgery, but he’s got some polish to him, and it’s certainly not out of the question the A’s could call on him sometime later this season.
3B Renato Nunez -- So far, Nunez is getting the lion’s share of innings at third base for Triple-A Nashville, though Max Muncy figures to get some time there as well. Nunez, whose raw power is his best tool, could also see some time at first base. He’s homered in each of his past two games and is batting .303 in the early going.
1B/OF Matt Olson -- Olson has played exclusively right field so far for Triple-A Nashville. That’s not so surprising consider the Sounds are stacked at the corner infield spots with players such as Nunez, Muncy and Rangel Ravelo. The A’s believe Olson, 22, has the athleticism and skill set for right field, though he’s spent most of his professional career at first base. His progress in right will be worth monitoring, particularly if the A’s aren’t able to reach a contract extension with Josh Reddick and entertain the thought of dealing the veteran at the trade deadline. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, and obviously where the A’s are in the standings would factor greatly into that.
SS Chad Pinder -- He’s serving as Nashville’s primary shortstop right now and he’s another infielder who got valuable experience in big league camp. Pinder, 24, can also play second and Melvin mentioned how his versatility could eventually be his ticket to the bigs.
RHP Daniel Mengden -- We include him as a dark horse, because Mengden didn’t even crack Baseball America’s top 20 list of A’s prospects to start this season. He was the second player obtained from Houston last season in exchange for Scott Kazmir, and catcher Jacob Nottingham (who since has been traded himself) got most of the publicity after that trade. But Mengden, 23, has yet to give up a run through two starts with Double-A Midland and is tied for the early Texas League lead with 16 strikeouts.