As the firesale of the Oakland Athletics is drawing to a close, it is worth taking a look into some of the top pieces that were dealt back to them. It would be easy to write off the A’s and loop them in with the Orioles and Pirates. The two latter teams have been in long streaks of tanking, fully cementing their titles as the worst teams in the league. Many believe that the A’s are headed in that direction, citing the trading of established big-league stars like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt. These stars will, no doubt, contribute to their respective teams. However, this article will be focusing on the prospects involved in these trades. Is the ball club in Oakland headed for a bright future? Or will these trades be remembered as the transactions that sent the A’s into their dark age? Listed below are, in my opinion, the top 5 recently-acquired Oakland prospects and their performances at their respective levels of baseball.
#5: RHP J.T. Ginn (#8 Ranked OAK Prospect)
Coming over in the Chris Bassitt trade, Ginn has an elite ground ball rate, sitting at 61.6%. The 23-year-old righty had Tommy John surgery in 2020, but this does not take away anything from him as a prospect. The Mets took a chance on him, drafting and signing him with a $2.9 million bonus. His minor-league stats are remarkably solid, showing off his incredible ball-in-play style of pitching. Between high and low-A ball, Ginn put up a 3.03 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 81K’s in 92 innings. Ginn’s sinker pairs nicely with a whiff-heavy slider and changeup. Look for Ginn to show off his 5.9% walk percentage and be the A’s next great sinkerballer.
#4: INF Euribiel Angeles (#11 Ranked OAK Prospect)
The most recent prospect addition on this list, Angeles arrived in Oakland via the Sean Manaea trade. Euribiel has almost no power potential, but this does not mean he will not be a very valuable player for the Athletics. The scrappy 19-year-old, 5’11” infielder has dominant numbers against right-handed pitching, posting a .354 batting average. The infielder’s full slash line was an impressive .329/.392/.445 with an .837 OPS over 105 games last year in A/A+ ball. To accompany his reverse splits, Angeles has speed on the bases, stealing 36 bags in his first 149 games. Oakland can expect a better version of Tony Kemp in this kid. His leadoff hitting potential will only grow as he progresses through the minors.
#3: RHP Ryan Cusick (#9 Ranked OAK Prospect)
This fireballer, acquired in the Matt Olson trade, has future closer written all over him. Oakland fans should be pumped up about his arm, as Cusick put up a scary 50.7% strikeout percentage and a 6.0% walk percentage. His fastball ranges from 95-100 mph and generates a ton of swings and misses. Although over a very small sample size and at a low level of baseball (16.1 innings at A ball), this flash of greatness is sure to have Ryan on a fast track to the majors. His ‘per 9’ stats from his first professional season last year look right out of a video game. Cusick went off for 18.73 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, and .55 HR/9. All eyes should be on this kid for the next couple of seasons to see if his elite debut season, although small, can be repeated. The A’s need a wicked closer to draw fans to their small-market games and keep them there until the final out. Ryan Cusick could be that guy.
#2: OF Cristian Pache (#4 Ranked OAK Prospect)
Cristian Pache, a member of the Atlanta Braves 2020 postseason roster, is now a member of the A’s. Thanks to Matt Olson’s monster power year in 2021, the Braves were able to justify dealing Pache to Oakland. To add insult to injury in Pache’s case, the trade happened right after Pache posted a picture of him and Acuna Jr. on Twitter. Pache tweeted about how excited he was to be around one of the game’s best and dominate the 2021 season with the Braves (@cristianpache25). This awkwardness did not keep him down, as Pache has since shown flashes of being a future star of the game. There is no doubt about Pache’s high ceiling. This 23-year-old has the potential to be one of the game’s most elite defensive center fielders. His arm strength and speed are among the best in the game. These tools are especially useful for the Athletics right now, as Ramon Laureano starts the 2022 season serving a suspension. Pache has the tools to hit 25 home runs and steal 20+ bags. It is just a matter of if he can live up to the hype and produce the season that the A’s are wishing for. Don’t be surprised to see a gold glove come Pache’s way in the near future.
#1: C Shea Langeliers (#2 Ranked OAK Prospect)
This former first-rounder is an elite defender, plain and simple. For the 2019 draft class, the top 2 catchers were Adley Rutschman (baseball’s #1 catching prospect and #2 overall prospect) and Shea Langeliers. The Braves gave up a very talented ball player in Langeliers. In 2022, he is off to a very hot start, slashing .316/.350/.789. In his mainly AA level 2021 performance, he slashed .258/.338/.498 with an impressive 128 wRC+. As a catcher, last year’s performance at the plate is all the A’s can ask for. As previously mentioned, his true talent lies in his defense. Langeliers threw out 42% of would-be base stealers last year. 42% is absolutely insane at any level in the game. Expect his defensive wizardry to carry over to The Show. Shea also has experience with the Braves’ taxi squad from the postseason last year, giving him a head start and insight into how big leaguers get things done. This kid is primed for a call-up and will immediately contribute at an above-average level at the catcher position for the A’s.
The future of the Oakland Athletics, honestly, does not look too dim. A lot of their top 30 prospect list now features players that they acquired in this most recent offseason. This is all you can hope for from a team that seems to be in a rebuilding phase. We all know about the A’s tricky ‘Moneyball’ approach to managing and constructing a baseball team. Only time will tell if the moves made by the A’s will be worth it. If these prospects continue to improve and reach their ceilings, the American League West Bay-Area team can expect to be a playoff team yet again down the road.