A's Organizational Ranking Will Fall, but Not All Is Lost

John Hickey

You won’t have to wait long before the A’s minor league personnel rankings take a dive.

In the spring ranking list put out by Baseball America, Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy as the top three men in the Oakland minor league system.

The thing is, none of the three is likely to see a moment in the minors this year. Left-handed starters Luzardo and Puk are destined for the A’s starting rotation and Murphy will be the man catching them most of the time.

The A’s are currently ranked 15. Skim those three players off the top, and that ranking is due to take a tumble. The question is whether there is much left for A’s fans to be excited about.

Bob Melvin, admittedly someone who has to look at the bright side, especially during spring training, is excited. The manager knows that the goal of any organization is not to be among the top-ranked minor league organizations. It’s to be in the playoffs come October.

Still, the first 10 days of spring training have opened Melvin’s eyes to players he probably won’t see much of during the early part of the season, if at all in 2020. And he likes what he sees.

He wants the kids to be sponges and to use their time wisely to soak up knowledge from the veteran guys, and he’s seeing that in camp now.

He’s also seeing some of the system’s top prospects healthy for the first spring, including pitchers James Kaprielian, Daulton Jefferies and Grant Holmes.

“To see Kaprielian, Holmes and Jefferies healthy and full go, you can see why we’ve been excited about these guys, and why they’ve been high picks. I think this is the first spring for all three of these guys to be full go. Now they can show us what we have.”

Melvin, who says, “I usually concentrate on some of the new guys,” is find that concentration most rewarding. He looks at 28-year-old right-hander Zach Lee, 25-year-old right-hander Miguel Romero and 23-year-old Wandisson Charles, all pitchers, as particularly worthy of inspection.

“Zach Lee an interesting guy with a big arm,” Melvin said. “He was a high pick (first round with the Dodgers in 2010). It looks like he has a big fastball. Romero is a guy you can get really excited about, based on what he accomplished last year [4-1, 3.96, 3 saves for Triple-A Las Vegas]. We’re looking forward to him developing his breaking ball more than we saw last year. Charles looks to have a pretty good arm. he’s probably the highest velo guy [98 mph] we have in the system. He’s pretty electric.”

Lee has spent a decade trying to make it. He spent last year in the Mets’ system, starting 12 times for Triple-A Syracuse with a 6.99 ERA and 1.8 WHIP in 74.2 innings.

Romero opened eyes in the Winter League with Mayaguez, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA and four saves in a relatively brief stint.

None of those three is going to make the team out of spring training, but as Melvin told the, “it’s always a progression.”