Oakland Athletics’ Prospect Update: Catcher Jacob Nottingham

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The 2015 season for the Oakland Athletics was a year of disappointment, second guessing and trades for the future. In one of those trades for the future, the A’s acquired right handed catcher Jacob Nottingham along with Daniel Mengden for left-handed ace Scott Kazmir. Both left the Houston Astros’ High-A ball team, the Lancaster Jethawks, and walked right across the field to the Stockton Ports dugout since these two teams were playing each other that night. They were able to contributed to the Ports’ playoff run down the stretch later that season as well. Both jumped right into MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 prospects list, but Nottingham notably moved right into the top 10 and is currently listed as the Athletics’ No. 8 prospect.

Nottingham made three stops during the 2015 season starting at the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits club, and then playing High-A for two different organizations. He played in 59 games with the River Bandits, 17 games with the Jethawks and 43 with the Ports. Even with all of the change, Nottingham was able to remain stable with his offense and hit for average, driving in and scoring runs. Over the course of the season, he hit for a .316 average, drove in 88 runs and scored 73. It was a solid season all around.

While he had an all around great season, the A’s might want to see more of Nottingham in Stockton because, once he changed uniforms, his numbers dipped quite a bit.

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While in the Astros organization, Nottingham hit .324 and .326 on his two stops with the organization. But, that went down to .299 during his time with the Ports. He also had a large drop in home runs from 14 long balls over 76 games in the Houston system to only four in 43 games with the Ports. This is notable because the California League is known to be home run friendly.

Both the dip in power and average could be in large part the adjustment to a new organization, but this could likely lead to Nottingham spending another year in Stockton and pushing back his movement up and through the system.

Nottingham could be an important piece for the A’s organization should they chose to keep him. Since the 2012 midseason trade of Kurt Suzuki, the big club has had a handful of different catchers start behind the dish including John Jaso, Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt, and Josh Phegley because of injuries and trades. Prior to the 2012 trade, Suzuki was a lock behind the plate, starting over 130 games in each of the previous four seasons.

It may not seem like an issue because of how well the pitching has performed while enduring all of the change, but having a catcher who can sit behind the plate and form relationships with the pitching staff is an important part of the game. If Nottingham can continue through the organization like Suzuki did, he could possibly bring back some of that stability behind the plate and maintain it for a long time to come.

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