By Collin Wilson
As every A’s fan knows, it is best to not get too excited about the upcoming season and this year is no different. Ever since 2014 when Oakland led the MLB for most of the season and then proceeded to trade Yoenis Cespedes for a Jon Lester rental and then traded prospects Addison Russell and Billy Mckinney for Jeff Samardzija. The team then continued to lose its lead on the league, barely making the wild card game by beating Texas on the final day of the season and losing in 12 innings to the Kansas City Royals. Following the heartbreaking end to the season, the A’s continued making moves trading away the future American League MVP Josh Donaldson.
This year there is a little bit of hope for the future as the current A’s roster features future ace Sean Manaea along with starters Kendall Graveman and Jharel Cotton. On the field, Marcus Semien showed good progress last year at shortstop fielding .976 which has gone steadily up since an abysmal .947 in 2015. When healthy Semien is a 15-20 homerun a year player and at this point a leader in the clubhouse being there to mentor young starters like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, who hit a combined 38 homeruns in their rookie seasons. Also in the pipeline is SS Franklin Barreto who came over to the Oakland farm system in the Josh Donaldson trade. Barreto will likely start for Oakland by the end of the season as the only other options up the middle are the aging Jed Lowrie, Marcus Semien who despite getting better, is still a defensive liability, and Chad Pinder who found some power last season but couldn’t find a way to get on base. In the outfield, there is a bright future with players such as Mark Canha, who spent last season injured, but when he does play appears to be a good option in the corner, Khris Davis who has tremendous pop and is in his peak years, and the future centerfielder appears to be Boog Powell. The A’s also have Jake Smolinski who is looking to have a breakout season, Matt Joyce who proved to be useful last season but who is on the back end of his career, and Stephen Piscotty who impressed a bit with St. Louis a couple years ago but only hit .235 with a .708 OPS last season.
The A’s also have a couple potential contributors in their farm who are still a few years away from being major contributors at the big league level. At the top of that list if former University of Florida starter A.J. Puk who a big lefty with plenty of “stuff” but begs some questions about his mental game. Other players of note are Jorge Mateo who is a solid middle infielder, Austin Beck, a power hitting outfielder from North Carolina who scouts say may have the best bat speed in any recent draft, and another former Florida pitcher Logan Shore who was the ace on the same staff as Puk and looks to be a very consistent right handed arm but looks be close to his peak performance making him a sooner target for the major league roster.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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