As we approach the halfway point of the year and with the calendar page about to be flipped to July, most media outlets covering baseball are updating their prospects lists these days.
MLB Pipeline did it earlier this week ranking two Oakland Athletics' players inside their top 100, and Fangraphs released their own update on June 26 giving three A's youngsters an above-average Future Value grade.
According to MLB Pipeline, Tyler Soderstrom (no. 37) and Mason Miller (no. 83) merited an inclusion among the top 100 prospects in baseball. Soderstrom has yet to debut at the MLB level while Miller started the season with the A's but an injury forced him out of the rotation after starting just four games.
Tess Taruskin of Fangraphs gave three Oakland A's prospects Future Value grades of 50+ in his latest update, released on Monday, June 26. Those three prospects are 1B Tyler Soderstrom (55 FV), SP Ken Waldichuk (50), and SP Mason Miller (50).
Just for context, Fangraphs simply defines their Future Value metric as "a grade on the 20-80 scale that maps to anticipated annual WAR production during the player’s first six years of service." A 50-grade represents the major-league average.
As a rule of thumb, a 50 FV would yield an average everyday player, a 40 a bench warmer, a 55 an above-average player, and a 60+ an All-Star player and beyond.
Tyler Soderstrom, Ken Waldichuk, and Mason Miller, given 50+ FV grades on Fangraphs
Taruskin thinks Soderstrom is going to end up as an everyday-1B after playing catcher in the past "due both to [his] below-average defense as a backstop and as a way of protecting his offensive performance." That said, Taruskin added that there is no problem with the transition, as Soderstrom "should hit for enough power to be an impact first baseman."
Regarding Mason Miller, who already logged four started games at the start of the season with the A's before getting injured, Taruskin highlighted "Miller pairs the heater with a sharp, mid-80s slider and locates both with consistency. His changeup flashed plus in the Fall League, where he posted a 10.8 K/9 and blew scouts away in live looks."
The problem with Miller, according to the Fangraphs analyst, is that "his delivery is quite violent, so much so that after just 21.1 big league innings across four starts, he landed back on the IL with a mild UCL sprain." That, Taruskin wrote, "reinforces the suggestion that he may only have so many bullets, so we expect that Oakland might eventually consider a bullpen role for the flamethrower." We'll see where that ends.
Finally, Taruskin also touched on Ken Waldichuk. The starting pitcher, who is boasting a horrid 7.07 ERA through 18 games and 11 starts this season with the A's, was moved to the bullpen entering June.
Taruskin wrote that "Waldichuk [was] evaluated as a big-league ready, mid-rotation starter, but his command hasn’t been very good," adding that "the area that will be the most important for Waldichuk to develop is his fastball command."