Oakland A’s 2022 MLB Draft preview: Keep an eye out for college outfielders

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Ten years ago, the A’s broke character and put together one of their most successful drafts in franchise history. A decade after the infamous “Moneyball” draft that would have avoided the idea of ​​taking high school players in the first round, the A’s had three draft picks before the second round — and they used all three picks on high school players.

The result was remarkable. All three players made it to the majors, and one – Matt Olson – racked up the third career WAR of all A draft picks since 2010.

(Graphic reproduced with the kind permission of Down in the farm)

All three players (Olson, Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson) were also eventually traded by the A’s. It’s too early to know what value the A’s received when they traded Olson a few months ago, but it’s not it’s no exaggeration to say that Olson wouldn’t have made the playoffs three times with Oakland without the A’s returning the proceeds from the trade of Russell and Robertson. in Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea and Josh Phegley.

Of course, the story of the 2012 Draft A’s doesn’t end with those first three picks. Fifth-round pick Max Muncy has already racked up 15.6 career WARS, though most of it has come with the Dodgers. Ryan Dull, a 32nd-round pick, set a major league record for most legacy runners blocked as a reliever to start a career and he played in 171 MLB games. Bruce Maxwell (second round), Dakota Bacus (ninth round) and Boog Powell (20th round) also made the major leagues in this class.

As the 2022 big league team heads into a 100-game losing streak, the A’s need a 2012-style success story with this year‘s draft. With an extra pick in hand thanks to their return to the revenue-sharing club, how will the A’s approach this year’s draft? We’ll take a look…


Nuts and Bolts Project
Draft dates: From July 17 to 19 in Los Angeles
The selections of the first day of A: #19, #56 and #69 overall
A Draft Bonus Pool: $8,315,800 – 17th largest bonus pool in this draft
AthleticismMLB Draft Coverage


History of recent drafts of A

While success in the 2012 draft laid the foundation for the A’s recent streak of playoff appearances, an inability to regain that success in the mid-2010s cost them the opportunity to extend that window further. As evidenced by this graph of Down in the farm, since 2015, the A’s have benefited very little from their first-round picks, with only Richie Martin (2015) and AJ Puk (2016) making the big leagues to date. Martin struggled to stay healthy with the A’s and was lost in the Rule 5 draft, while Puk also struggled with injuries, although he now appears to be carving out a big role for himself in the A bullpen.

(Graphic reproduced with the kind permission of Down in the farm)

The A’s grew strongly in 2017 and 2018 with a pair of five-tool outfielders in Austin Beck and Kyler Murray, but injuries and strikeout issues have slowed Beck’s progress, while Murray is now earning millions raking in shots to the body rather than in the outfield. . Logan Davidson (2019) had the misfortune of losing his first full season to the pandemic and struggled in 2021, but had a strong rebound season for Double-A Midland in 2022. It’s too early to tell how high school draft picks Tyler Soderstrom (2020) and Max Muncy (2021) will eventually develop, though both have already shown significant power potential in their brief professional careers.

The lack of first-round home runs in the late 2010s wasn’t the only reason the A’s farm system thinned out as the team pushed for playoff spots over the past four years. . The A’s traded many of their 2016-18 first round picks, including 2016 picks Logan Shore (second round), Brandon Bailey (sixth round) and Eli White (11th round), 2017 picks Kevin Merrell ( compensation round), Greg Deichmann (second round) and Will Toffey (fourth round), 2018 picks Jameson Hannah (second round), Alfonso Rivas (fourth round) and Gus Varland (14th round), and 2019 picks Marcus Smith (third round), Seth Shuman (sixth round), Drew Millas (7th round) and Dustin Harris (11th round). The A’s have even traded a 2020 pick (Dane Acker) before.

It would be hard to argue the reasoning behind the A’s making these deals as they pushed for a title (although I bet they would love an overhaul of the Mike Minor deal that fired a Futures 2022 game participant to Harris), but that left the A-system light on high-potential talent. It’s also worth noting that while the A’s haven’t always gotten the on-field production from the players they’ve drafted in recent years, they’ve selected players who have intrigued other organizations enough to ask for them in the trades the A’s made to help the team win, which is definitely one way to use a farm system during a conflict window.

The A’s have added some of that talent back with several trades over the past six months, but they still have some way to go to get their farming system back to where it was when they started their contention window in 2018.

How the A’s will approach this year’s draft

The A’s first pick on Sunday is in a familiar place – the back half of the round. They haven’t had a top-15 pick since 2018, a streak that will almost certainly come to an end next season as A general manager David Forst. acknowledged in a recent interview.

With so many teams ahead of them, it’s hard to predict who the A’s will take at pick 19, although it would be a huge upset if that player were a pitcher. Since 2010, the A’s have used their first pick on a pitcher exactly twice — in 2011 when they took Sonny Gray and in 2016 when they selected Puk. Gray and Puk are great leaguers, but, as Forst explained in this interview, the A’s generally think that star players are harder to find outside of the first round than star pitchers, which has influenced their process of selection in the first round.

“I think there’s been a long-standing thought internally, and it goes back to the Moneyball drafts, that All-Star position players come from the first round and pitchers have a better chance of coming from everywhere,” Forst said. “It goes back to Tim Hudson getting drafted in the sixth round (in 1997), that was before I was here. I think pitchers have the ability to change who they are more than positioning players. You’re changing terrain or adding velocity or whatever, especially in today’s game. I think we always thought that was the case.

Either way, the A’s have struggled to develop out of the draft in recent years. Among their opening day rotation, only Daulton Jefferies was drafted by the team, and he is currently recovering from surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, the latest in what has been an unfortunate injury streak for the former Cal ace. The A’s have excelled at identifying and acquiring young starters in other systems that have had major league success (Bassitt, Manaea, Frankie Montas, Paul Blackburn, Cole Irvin and James Kaprielian are a few examples). , so maybe the draft’s lack of local pitchers isn’t a significant issue.

But it remains true that the A’s minor league pitching depth is very thin – even after targeting throwing in the trades this spring – so even if the A’s can’t use the No. 19 pick on a pitcher, it won’t Wouldn’t be shocking to see them take a second-round pitcher (like they did in 2020) or with their B-round compensation pick at No. 69.

First-round talent in this year’s draft leans heavily toward positional players. At the top of the round, these position players are mostly high school talent, though the more high-profile names are likely to be off the board long before the A’s make their first selection. Having taken high school players each of the last two years in the first round, the A’s are more likely to go the college player route this year.

No organization is drafting for need, and the A’s will take the best available player off their roster every round, but all things being equal, they could use a good outfield prospect or two from their day one picks. . The A’s have gambled on infielders at the start of the past three years and their outfield depth is woefully thin – so much so that on many nights this season they’ve had minor league outfields filled with former saves- courts and second basemen.

This draft runs deep in college outfield talent, with two local names being tied to the California pre-draft A’s, outfielder Dylan Beavers and Stanford outfielder Brock Jones. James Madison outfielder Chase Delauter, Tennessee outfielders Drew Gilbert and Jordan Beck, Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton and Florida outfielder Sterlin Thompson are also names to watch. If Vanderbilt outfielder Spencer Jones is still on the No. 56 pick board, it would be interesting to see if the A’s bite into the 6-foot-7 athletic marvel. After all, they were the first organization to draft Judge Aaron of similar build. Look for A’s to hunt early, so a player with power potential but warts in his game is more likely than a polished prospect who doesn’t have much room to improve on what he already is.

The A’s have a little wiggle room with their bonus pool allocation thanks to their return to revenue sharing rounds. In recent years, the A’s have gone over the slot at the start of the second day to catch a player who escaped the first two rounds. They succeeded with this strategy, catching Nick Allen in round 3 in 2017 and giving him money in the first round and taking Denzel Clarke, entering the Futures Game 2022, in the fourth round last season and giving almost double his value slot machine. Sean Murphy was a third-round pick in 2016 after being projected as a possible pick late in the first round or early in the second round before the draft. Look for the A’s to take a player who slips in early in Day 2 and also slot in with them this year as well.

(A Director of Scouting Eric Kubota file photo: Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

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