Mar 7, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Renato Nunez (57) celebrates with teammates after a walk-off single against the Los Angeles Angels during the ninth inning of a spring training baseball game at HoHoKam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
No. 5: Chad Pinder, SS
Minor League Performance: 25/30
Major League Need: 15/20
Final Score: 61
Chad Pinder’s surge in the prospect rankings is due to consistency and improvement at each minor league level. He was drafted 71st overall in 2013, and it looks like the time he spent developing while playing college ball has helped him progress through the minors.
Pinder batted a mediocre .200/.286/.293 in Vermont after being drafted, but that has steadily risen to a solid .314/.363/.470 during this year’s campaign with Double-A Midland. He also has not fared badly on defense for somebody who has been moved to different positions on the infield several times (he is a natural shortstop, but was moved to second base so that Daniel Robertson could play shortstop). This season, he has his bat figured out, and he’s back at shortstop where he is most comfortable.
Pinder’s best characteristic is his arm, which is likely the reason he prefers to play on the left half of the infield. His hitting, fielding, and speed all indicate that he will be average Major League talent when he is ready to make his debut, but he is certainly outperforming those expectations in the minors.
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Pinder may be a case where even his most recent scouting reports underestimate his ability. If he maintains the improvement that he has demonstrated over the last two years, he may actually be a plus hitter with a great arm. This would constitute a solid piece of the A’s middle infield.
The A’s should put him in Triple-A Nashville in 2016, if not sooner. He could even be a late-season callup next year if he is successful against Triple-A pitching. There is of course an emphasis on the word “if”.
No. 4: Casey Meisner, RHP
Minor League Performance: 27/30
Major League Need: 20/20
Final Score: 65
Casey Meisner came over in the deal that sent Tyler Clippard to the Mets, which prompted Keith Law to comment:
Law was referring to the Mets’ willingness to give up a legitimate prospect for maybe 20 innings of Tyler Clippard. At 20 years old, Meisner does not look like a pitcher that can jump into the majors right now, but the A’s system can develop him into something that could be a real threat.
Right now, Meisner is all potential. He showed progress over the last year by increasing his fastball velocity from the upper-80s to now being able to top out at 94. The next step for Meisner will be to work on making his secondary pitches legitimate offerings at a higher level. All of his pitches are helped by his 6’7” frame, which gives him an intimidating presence on the mound, as well as a tough angle for batters to hit.
What is incredible about Meisner is that he is far away from throwing his best stuff (maybe even by a couple years), and he is still performing at an incredibly high level in the minors. Through three seasons, he has a 2.89 ERA, 3.02 SO/W, 7.9 SO/9, and a 1.212 WHIP. These are phenomenal numbers for somebody who essentially only has a fastball to work with right now.
Meisner will probably make his organizational debut with Stockton, and the A’s will likely be looking for his services in the majors in 2018.
Next: Prospect Countdown: Three and Two