For a team that has torn down its Major League roster the way the Oakland Athletics have, you would think this system would be filled with much more premier talent. And while there are plenty of future average major-leaguers and role players, it lacks the elite talent most “rebuilding” teams have. There are probably multiple factors that contribute to why that is, but the two main issues likely stem from their preference for quantity over quality in trades and missing on their upside draft selections and international signees.
There are a few bright spots that could turn into impact players if things break right. That group is headlined by potential All-Star bat Tyler Soderstrom, jack-of-all-trades Zack Gelof, and newly acquired speedster Esteury Ruiz.
The recent Sean Murphy trade brought in three additional pitchers, including Kyle Muller, and Freddy Tarnok who both slot into the Top 15. They will join a collection of young pitchers vying for rotation spots in one of the most open rotations in the game. And that leads me to arguably the best part about the Athletics system and this list. There is so much opportunity on the big league roster that with strong springs or early minor league seasons, we could see a lot of these players contributing to fantasy teams. That means there could be some value for dynasty and redraft managers. But keep in mind, think of higher floors with lower ceilings when it comes to most of the Oakland Athletics prospects.
*For consistency purposes throughout the team prospect articles, new international signees are not being ranked.
Oakland Athletics Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Tyler Soderstrom, C/1B
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 505 AB/.267 AVG/.324 OBP/.501 SLG/29 HR/0 SB/66 R/105 RBI
The former first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Tyler Soderstrom, is the definition of a legit bat-first prospect with growing power. Tooled up with a plus hit tool, Soderstrom has done nothing but hit since joining the pros (.279/.344/.521 41 HR in 727 career AB), and the power is showing up even more now in games (29 HR in 505 AB in 2022). Soderstrom has a great ability to make quality contact and pairs that with a patient approach that should serve him well against better competition. He has the skills to stay at catcher, but the bat may suggest a move to first base. It is that good. Soderstrom projects as a future 25+ HR hitter with a solid batting average and OBP, and that might be his floor. The upside is an All-Star bat with power. I’d check with the team that has him in your league, it will likely cost you something, but the buying window could slam shut for good in a hurry.
2. Zack Gelof, 2B/3B
Age: 23/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 389 AB/.270 AVG/.352 OBP/.463 SLG/18 HR/10 SB/61 R/66 RBI
Jack-of-all-trades Zack Gelof may not be a very flashy prospect as he doesn’t project to be plus in any one category, but what he lacks in one specific carrying tool he makes up for by being solid across the board, and that’s valuable in the game we play. Gelof boasts a balanced profile of strong bat-to-ball skills, bat speed, and plate approach that should help him be average in batting average and potentially slightly plus in OBP. He is likely pretty close to maxed out physically so it’s probably fair to expect around 20 HR-type power. Previously a shortstop, Gelof likely profiles best at 2B where his below-average speed can be slightly hidden. Gelof is a good example of the type of prospects to expect (for the most part) in this system, those with high floors and lower ceilings. However, be careful not to get trapped into thinking the lower ceiling means he isn’t a good player. Look for how Gelof’s power progresses to see if he can reach that ceiling of a major-league regular.
3. Esteury Ruiz, 2B/OF
Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 437 AB/.332 AVG/.447 OBP/.526 SLG/16 HR/85 SB/114 R/65 RBI
MLB: 35 AB/.171 AVG/.194 OBP/.257 SLG/0 HR/1 SB/3 R/2 RBI
Yeah, you read that right. 85 stolen bases for Esteury Ruiz in 2022 will wake you up. Whatever Ruiz did in the off-season leading up to the 2022 season, do more of that, because he enjoyed a monster season that seemed like he was playing in a video game. Now with his third team, the big question is whether he will be able to hit enough at the highest level to impact the game with his electric speed. Ruiz struggled mightily in 35 MLB AB and posted extremely low exit velocities, but his supporters will point to that not being a necessity for his success. Ruiz should get every opportunity in Oakland to be a full-time player and if he can or at least manage to get on base enough to get to his speed, the upside is potentially very significant.
4. Ken Waldichuk, LHP
Age: 25/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 95 IP/2.84 ERA/1.16 WHIP/137 K
MLB: 34.2 IP/4.93 ERA/1.21 WHIP/33 K
Arguably the headliner at the time of the Frankie Montas trade, Ken Waldichuk is another player like Ruiz that dominated minor leaguers in 2022 but struggled against the highest competition (K% dropped). Armed with an above-average fastball thanks to good velocity for a left-handed, sitting around 94 mph, paired with plus spin rates allow it to play up even more. His slider is above average and a weapon against lefties, but likely not an out-pitch to righties. A curveball and changeup complete Waldichuk’s arsenal, but both need to take steps forward to generate whiffs. His home park should help his ratios some, but I wouldn’t project many wins on that A’s team. Projected for a sub-4 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, Waldichuk is another high floor low ceiling player unless he can regain the K% he displayed in the minors. But even if he’s more of a 9 K/9 pitcher, he still will have value as a mid-to-back end-of-the-rotation arm. A decent target if you’re looking for innings in deep drafts.
5. Jordan Díaz, 1B/2B
Age: 22/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 491 AB/.326 AVG/.366 OBP/.515 SLG/19 HR/0 SB/67 R/83 RBI
MLB: 49 AB/.265 AVG/.294 OBP/.327 SLG/0 HR/0 SB/3 R/1 RBI
Jordan Díaz is a hitter. If that didn’t sell you, having the highest contact rate and 90th percentile exit velocity in all of the minor leagues should. Díaz has a quick swing with plus raw power and makes arguably too much contact. He has a hyper-aggressive approach that leads to few strikeouts but also few walks, which is something to monitor as he struggled in his first 49 AB in the majors. How Díaz handles elite breaking balls will also be something to watch, along with his groundball percentage. The defensive position is in question, which may point to DH if there aren’t gains, and he’s not going to contribute to your stolen base category. But the potential of a plus batting average and solid power numbers is absolutely real. He is a target of mine in deep drafts.
6. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP
Age: 23/2022 Stats (ROK/A): 8 IP/0.00 ERA/1.00 WHIP/8 K
Gunnar Hoglund was drafted 19th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021, and the headliner in the Matt Chapman trade. Hoglund has a lot of the ingredients you look for in a starting pitcher, such as a great frame (6’4″ 220), clean mechanics, feel for spin, and pitches that he can throw for strikes and whiffs. The great combination of stuff and command is why he is this high on the list, and if it weren’t for injury issues he’d likely be higher. Hoglund has already had Tommy John surgery and was shut down after throwing 8 innings in 2022 so there could be an additional injury risk. His best offering is a plus slider that generates plenty of whiffs. His fastball velocity was down in those 8 innings, but it’s such a short sample it’s hard to put too much weight into it. It is something to monitor as his stuff would take a hit if the velocity never returns. Despite the injuries, Hoglund is an intriguing pitching prospect that with health could reach at least mid-rotation levels.
7. Kyle Muller, LHP
Age: 25/2022 Stats (AAA): 134.2 IP/3.41 ERA/1.18 WHIP/159 K
MLB: 12.2 IP/8.03 ERA/1.70 WHIP/12 K
Stop me if you’ve heard this too many times already, but Kyle Muller is another product of a trade, this time the most recent one involving Sean Murphy. A former top Atlanta Braves prospect, Muller is a very physically imposing starting pitcher, standing 6’7″ tall. Like other giants on the mound, the control sometimes takes a while to come around, and Muller’s 2022 season hints at improvements in that area. If he can maintain those gains, he should be able to utilize his arsenal to be a mid-rotation, number-three arm.
His velocity is solid at around 94 mph, but he does showcase poor command at times which is a recipe for disaster. That will need to improve if Muller is to reach his ceiling. The changeup is probably his next best pitch, while his slider is likely to average at best, and got hit hard last year. The results haven’t shown up in the big leagues yet, but he should get plenty of opportunity to stick in the Oakland rotation, albeit not without competition given all the pitching options. The home park might help keep some mistakes in the yard, and could assist his ratios. And as weird as it may sound, a trade from powerhouse Atlanta to budget buddy Oakland might be the best thing for Muller’s career.
8. Daniel Susac, C
Age: 21/2022 Stats (ROK/A): 104 AB/.298 AVG/.354 OBP/.404 SLG/1 HR/0 SB/15 R/15 RBI
Daniel Susac was Athletics’ first-round pick (19th overall) in 2022 out of Arizona. The 6’4″ 218 catcher is a power-over-hit profile, with quality bat speed and lift in his swing that should help him get to his power in games. Susac’s hit tool projects to be average, but he does expand the zone and is prone to swing-and-miss tendencies, which could be refined as he matures. With a strong arm and solid receiving ability, he has a chance to stay at catcher. Do the A’s love catching prospects or what? His size and depth at the position could hint at a future position change. Susac has a high floor, 20+ HR potential, and could move fast through the system. I like his chances to make it to the big leagues.
9. Freddy Tarnok, RHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 106.2 IP/4.05 ERA/1.28 WHIP/124 K
MLB: 0.2 IP/0.00 ERA/1.50 WHIP/1 K
Freddy Tarnok was the Braves’ third-round pick in 2017, and it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ever since. Tarnok was once a relatively hyped prospect, but since has seen some prospect shine wear off. But as we know prospect growth isn’t linear, and like with most players on this list, he should have an opportunity to seize a role with good performance. Tarnok’s arsenal includes a fastball that sits around 95 mph, a solid curveball, a newly developed slider, and a changeup that is usually used against left-handers.
Oakland should probably give him a chance to start given he has four average offerings and a starter’s build, but how his command plays will likely tell the tale of starting pitcher or reliever. Tarnok’s upside is a mid-rotation, likely number-four starting pitcher with a floor of a reliever given his command issues. He could be a high-leverage option if his stuff plays up in shorter stints.
10. Denzel Clarke, OF
Age: 22/2022 Stats (A/A+): 343 AB/.248 AVG/.365 OBP/.469 SLG/15 HR/30 SB/67 R/47 RBI
If you like tools, Denzel Clarke is your type of player. Very physical at 6’5″ 220, but don’t let his size fool you as he is still extremely athletic and quick. Clarke projects to have plus power, and already has plus speed (30 SB in 2022), which makes him an intriguing prospect for fantasy leagues that count steals as a category. He has the skills to stick in center field with good range and a plus arm. How the hit tool progresses will likely tell us how close he can get to his ceiling. A 39.3% strikeout rate in 2022 (and it being low levels) screams that major adjustments will be needed. Clarke did walk 16% so maybe he can make an approach change in hunting his pitches earlier in the count. Without adjustments, I’d be worried to see how he handles better stuff. Clarke has the tools of a regular if he can make enough contact to let his power play and the rest of his tools shine. The floor is a fourth outfielder, with regular upside.
11. Maxwell Muncy, SS
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A/A+): 472 AB/.229 AVG/.336 OBP/.422 SLG/19 HR/19 SB/69 R/70 RBI
The former 25th overall pick by Oakland in 2021, Maxwell Muncy is very much unlike the Max Muncy you’re probably thinking of. This Maxwell Muncy is an athletic, very well-rounded 20 year old that is growing into his power (plus exit velocities, 19 HR in 2022). Muncy has shown good bat-to-ball skills, but also struck out 30% in 2022, so there are still some inconsistencies present. Keep in mind he’s 20 years old so there’s plenty of time for refinement, but it is certainly something to watch. The approach can get too passive and lead to bad hitter counts resulting in higher strikeout risk. The upside is a power speed threat from the middle infield position, and while he could probably play a solid SS, the overall profile might play better at 2B.
12. Mason Miller, RHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats (RK/A+/AAA): 14 IP/3.86 ERA/0.79 WHIP/25 K
Mason Miller was a third-round pick by Oakland in 2021 and is one of my favorites on this list. Miller has an elite fastball-slider combination that is almost unfair to hitters (25 K in 14 IP) and a changeup that is developing. His fastball has elite velocity that he can elevate, and a low-to-mid 80s slider with two plane-breaking action. Like other rocket arms, health is the key question and will likely determine his future role, whether that’s a front-of-the-rotation arm or a high-leverage reliever. A shoulder injury plagued most of his 2022 season but we saw 14 innings (3 walks) and some AFL innings that we can dream about. Miller has the frame to be a starting pitcher and certainly the arsenal so he should get a chance to start before consideration of a change to the bullpen. A target in dynasty and deep drafts.
13. Henry Bolte, OF
Age: 19/2022 Stats (ROK): 33 AB/.212 AVG/.333 OBP/.212 SLG/0 HR/0 SB/5 R/2 RBI
Henry Bolte is the latest upside play by the Athletics, as he is dripping with athleticism and tools. Plus raw power, plus bat speed, plus speed, and a plus arm that can play in any of the outfield positions. So why didn’t this guy go in the first round? That would be because of a below-average hit tool that has serious present concerns. There is a lot of time for Bolte to refine his hit tool, but currently, his swing is pretty long, has holes, and has the propensity to chase. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially once we hit elite-breaking stuff. The upside is a plus five-tool contributor that would give the A’s that flash they desperately need, but the risk is almost just as high given a bad hit tool has capped many extremely toolsy players’ careers.
14. Ryan Noda, 1B/OF
Age: 27/2022 Stats (AAA): 464 AB/.259 AVG/.395 OBP/.474 SLG/25 HR/20 SB/86 R/90 RBI
The former Dodger, Ryan Noda was selected by the Athletics in the most recent Rule V Draft. Noda enjoyed a great 2022 season and is projected to slot right into the Athletics’ lineup, likely at first base. Noda’s power (106 90th percentile exit velocity, 44.5% Hard Hit in 2022) plus patience (16% BB in 2022) profile fits well at the first base position, and he can also play some corner outfield. He projects as a below-average runner, but 20 SB in 2022 suggests maybe he could contribute at least a few to the category. The Athletics’ talked about how they have been trying to acquire Noda for the past two years, so I’d imagine he’ll get plenty of opportunity to succeed. A good late-game draft play, especially if it’s an OBP league.
15. Luis Medina, RHP
Age: 23/2022 Stats (AA): 92.2 IP/5.24 ERA/1.54 WHIP/107 K
A headline from the Frankie Montas trade, Luis Medina is a power pitcher that often struggles to find the plate resulting in way too many walks (62 BB in 92.2 IP in 2022) and too many runs (5.24 ERA across two levels). The positives are a low-effort delivery that he repeats well, which would help him stay a starting pitcher if he could refine his control, not to mention his below-average command. And the electric stuff he has, which features a plus fastball-slider combination and an average changeup that helps him strike out more than a batter an inning (457 Ks in 382 career innings), and keep the ball in the park (31 HR career HR allowed). If Medina can improve his strike-throwing ability, there is number two or three starter upside here, but there is a lot of work to be done so it is more likely he becomes a high-leverage reliever with closer stuff.
Feature imagine by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Cliff Welch / Icon Sportswire & Marshall Dunlap / WikiCommons