Oakland Athletics: Ranking The Top Ten Prospects

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Oct. 14, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Olson plays for the Mesa Solar Sox during an Arizona Fall League game against the Scottsdale Scorpions at Salt River Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7: Matt Olson, 1B/OF

Talent: 51/100
Minor League Performance: 23/30
Major League Need: 14/20
Final Score: 59

Matt Olson looked like a lock of a slugging prospect in 2014, when he hammered a .947 OPS in 138 games at High-A Stockton. When Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson were traded last year, Olson appeared to be the next top prospect in the A’s system.

Olson still has above-average talent, and the A’s never have problems finding a place for somebody who can play both first base and outfield, but he has had trouble adjusting to the tougher competition since being promoted to Class Double-A Midland over the offseason. His 77 walks are impressive, but his OPS is down over 150 points from last year at .789. Also, he averaged one home run every four games in Stockton last year. This has declined to one home run every eight games in 2015.

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The A’s are going to be counting on Olson’s power when they eventually call him up to the majors, so this decline in production is actually alarming. He is a competent first baseman, but he does not play the position so well that he is indispensable in the field. If he does not turn his production struggles around, it may be awhile before he is considered a top prospect again.

The A’s were hoping that he would be ready for the majors in 2016, but they did not anticipate the hold-up at Double-A this year. It looks like his services may need to wait until 2017 so that he can spend adequate time in Nashville.

No. 6: Richie Martin, SS

Talent: 53/100
Minor League Performance: 20/30
Major League Need: 15/20
Final Score: 59

Richie Martin was the A’s first-round draft pick in 2015 (20th overall), and he is a shortstop that is sensational to watch defensively. In addition to having a plus fielding ability, his speed and his arm strength are also rated in the plus category. This is a combination of tools that make him a perfect fit to play shortstop in the majors.

Martin is not expected to hit for power, but he runs fast enough that he is able to turn a lot of balls-in-play into hits. Think of Martin as a slightly slower version of Billy Burns that plays middle infield instead of outfield. His ability to induce hits with his speed would make him a valuable asset near the top of a team’s lineup.

He has only played 22 games at Short-Season Vermont, so it is difficult to read his numbers at the professional level right now. However, he is slashing .244/.333/.389 through 102 plate appearances for the Lake Monsters, which is a respectable beginning to a professional career. His .953 fielding percentage is considerably better than the .909 currently held by his chief rival in the A’s system, Franklin Barreto.

One of the perks of drafting college talent is that they should be Major League ready faster than somebody who is drafted out of high school. Martin should ascend through the A’s system quickly over the next two years. If he continues to develop, he should not have any problems making the big league roster in 2018.

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