The Runner Sports

Who Will The A’s Take At Pick Number Six?

With the month of June coming just around the corner, so does the annual MLB Amateur Draft, where hundreds of young men will finally reach their pro ball dreams. As the top college and high school ballplayers prepare for the next chapter of their lives, here at TRS we will take a look at which of these talents the A’s could take a shot on at pick number 6.

College Bats

There seems to be some sort of misconception that the analytics-driven A’s favor college bats, largely due to the popularity of the book Moneyball. However, in recent years, the A’s have taken prep players just as often as college players in the early rounds. Still, there is plenty of college hitting talent available at 6, with players of varying ceilings and floors.

1B Pavin Smith, Virginia

Smith, a sweet-swinging lefty hitter, is arguably the most polished college bat in this draft class. With more homers than strikeouts (not a typo!!) this season, Smith has demonstrated plus-plus plate discipline. His swing is geared more towards hitting line drives though, and there is some concern about how much power he will develop down the line. Nonetheless, the hit tool and the eye are a plus, making him a candidate to be fast-tracked through the system.

OF Adam Haseley, Virginia

The biggest breakout star in college baseball, Haseley has maintained a near .400 batting average all year. Add in his above-average speed and plus arm (he also pitches), and Haseley is a high-floor player who could contribute at the big league level as soon as late 2018-early 2019. His crouched stance is unorthodox, however, and his track record for hitting before this year is spotty at best. However, it’s hard to argue with the numbers he has put up this year, and Haseley could be a money-saving pick at #6.

OF Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt

The exact opposite of Haseley, Kendall came into this season as the consensus top college hitting prospect. He has tremendous tools, with a rare power-speed combination from the left side that makes him a truly dynamic ballplayer. The catch: his sky-high strikeout rate. His tendencies to whiff have dropped him lower and lower on boards, but his ceiling is as high as anyone else’s. While Haseley might be a safer choice of a college outfielder, Kendall comes with risk but also potentially a huge payout.

2B Keston Hiura, UC Irvine

While Hiura has been limited to DH duties due to his bad elbow, he has demonstrated this season to be one of the best college hitters in the nation. With a blend of pure hitting ability and in-game power, the only question is if his elbow will be healthy enough to play defense in pro ball. Even if he needs surgery, he is at least a well-rounded offensive threat. Taking Hiura at #6 would be a reach, but if they can cut an under slot deal with him, they could pursue higher upside guys later on.

College Arms

The A’s loaded up on college pitching last year, nabbing A.J. Puk, Logan Shore, and Daulton Jefferies. However, a team and especially a minor league system can never have too many quality arms, and the A’s will likely strike again if the opportunity is right.

RHP J.B. Bukauskas, North Carolina

Many mocks have the A’s taking Bukauskas with the sixth overall pick, and it’s not hard to see why. Bukauskas has had the best spring of any college pitcher not named McKay, beating hitters with a fastball that reaches 98 and a plus slider to match. He’s cut down on the walks, and while the command will still waver at times, the elite stuff allows him to pitch through it. The only knock on him is that he stands in at just 5’11, hardly the ideal pitcher’s frame. Oakland, however, has been unafraid to take chances on Sonny Gray and Jefferies, both of whom are under 6 feet tall.

RHP Alex Faedo, Florida

The University of Florida ace has had an up and down season, with his stuff backing into the low 90s rather than his usual 93-97. However, his track record is tough to argue with, and he’s continued to put up good numbers even with diminished stuff. Oakland has shown an affinity for Gators, having drafted Puk, Shore, and Richie Martin early in recent years. Adding Faedo to the mix would make sense, given his prior success and future potential.

RHP Griffin Canning, UCLA

UCLA seems to generate early round pitchers year after year, and Canning is the latest to follow that tradition. With his 90-95 mph fastball and quality off-speed pitches, as well as plus pitchability, Canning checks all the boxes for an advanced, fast-rising college arm. Like Hiura, taking Canning at #6 will be a reach, but if the A’s really are enamored with his game, they could give him an underslot deal that provides the team with more financial flexibility later on.

Prep Bats

The A’s have been tied to several high school hitters this season, and it would not be surprising if they go that route on day one.

OF Royce Lewis, Junipero Serra Catholic HS

With 70-grade speed, plus bat speed, raw power, and a chance to be an elite defender in center field, Lewis epitomizes the A’s search for the center fielder of the future. With the potential for true five-tool talent, Lewis is the rare polished high school bat that is a near-lock to succeed in pro ball. He hasn’t had the greatest of springs, but his track record is undeniable and his talent is game-changing.

OF Austin Beck, North Davidson HS

The position player with the most helium this season, Beck has risen from relative obscurity to becoming a top-10 talent in the draft. A toolsy outfielder with plus speed, plus power, and a plus arm, Beck’s skill set is reminiscent of Clint Frazier. He’s drawn a bit of flak for being overaggressive at times, but that shouldn’t stop him from being nabbed in the top half of the first round. The A’s have been in North Carolina extensively, where Beck’s high school is located.

OF Jordon Adell, Ballard HS

There is no player in this draft class that can match Adell’s pure athleticism. With 70-grade speed and plus raw power and pure arm strength, Adell has been compared to the baseball version of Bo Jackson in his prime. While that might be quite a lofty expectation, he certainly has the tools to unlock that upside under proper coaching. The A’s could certainly use a dynamic talent in their system, and Adell could be the guy that really gets a fanbase excited for the future.

Prep arms

The A’s generally avoid taking high school pitchers on day one, instead, waiting until rounds 3-5 to splurge on a raw high school arm such as Dakota Chalmers or Skylar Szynski. It is unlikely that the A’s will stray from what has always been their M.O., but there definitely is talent worth taking a look at pick #6

LHP Mackenzie Gore, Whiteville HS

Gore has been electric all spring, rising from the pool of projectable prep arms to become the cream of the crop. A projectable lefty who has great pitchability for a high schooler, Gore mixes his low-to-mid 90s fastball with a plus breaking ball that will carve up hitters. His high school is also in North Carolina, where the A’s have concentrated their scouts. Lefties who throw hard and have good command are tough to find, and Gore is certainly talented enough to convince the A’s brass to change their stance.

LHP D.L. Hall, Valdosta HS

Scouts considered Hall to be the best high school lefty in the draft until Gore came along and began to dominated the headlines. He has been clocked up to 95 mph with the fastball and possesses perhaps the best curve in the draft class. Like Gore, Hall has displayed advanced pitchability for his age, but Gore’s dominance all spring has led him to be above Hall on the boards.

RHP Shane Baz, Concordia Lutheran HS

Baz, being a high school right-hander, represents the riskiest demographic within the draft. However, what sets Baz apart from the other arms that simply throw hard are the four pitches that he mixes with regularity one of them being a fastball that hovers around 93. If Baz can convince the A’s that his advanced pitchability could lead him to be something special, look for them to possibly reach for him at #6.

Johnnie Teng

Johnnie Teng

From the Bay Area, Johnnie started sportswriting on his own blog at Baseball MTJAG before writing for TRS. He has a strong passion for the sport and aspires to grow and develop as a writer or work in baseball operations someday. Follow him on Twitter @hard90hustle
Johnnie Teng