Including 5 members of our Top 30 prospect list
The minor leagues are almost back! Most levels of the farm open their season on Tuesday, marking their first games since 2019.
That includes the Stockton Ports, who moved down from High-A to Low-A this year but remain an Oakland A’s affiliate. The Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators and High-A Lansing Lugnuts already announced their projected 2021 rosters last week, and the Ports followed suit on Saturday.
There are 30 players on the Ports roster, and they’ll be led by new manager Rico Brogna, with former Athletics hurler Chris Smith as pitching coach. This is the lowest full-season level of the system, with only the Arizona Rookie League below it. As such, there aren’t as many high-profile names, except for some particularly young ones who are easing their way into their pro careers.
Garrett Acton (R)
David Leal (L)
Jose Rivas (R)
Lawrence Butler (L)
Lazaro Armenteros (R)
The five players in bold are members of our Community Prospect List Top 30, with Soderstrom and Puason in particular ranking in the top four in the A’s farm system.
The best way to look at this group is to split them up by draft year, including three players who went unselected in last year’s short five-round draft but then signed afterward as free agents.
- 2020: Soderstrom (1st round), Acton (undrafted), Judkins (undrafted), Uhl (undrafted)
- 2019: Dicochea (8th), Schofield-Sam (12th), Valenzuela (13th), Coletti (17th), Cushing (22nd), Jones (27th), Baram (30th), Nambiar (34th), Walkinshaw (36th), Leal (38th), Whittlesey (undrafted)
- 2018: Butler (6th), Cota (10th), Martinez (21st)
- 2017: Berrios (20th)
- Int’l (with ages): Granado (24), Mora (23), Armenteros (22), Rivas (22), Richards (21), Santos (21), Bautista (20), Wright (20), Buelvas (19), Perez (19, acquired in trade), Puason (18)
The biggest name on the roster is Soderstrom, who was selected No. 26 overall in last summer’s draft but could have gone higher if not for signability questions out of high school. The A’s successfully signed the product of nearby Turlock, which is just a few dozen miles away from his new home park in Stockton. The bat-first catcher began the season as the No. 92 prospect in the sport according to Baseball America, and he’s since joined the MLB Pipeline version of the list at No. 93.
Not far behind is shortstop Puason, whose raw talent earned him an enormous bonus on the international market and a noteworthy invite to the A’s alternate training camp last summer. Joining him in that experience were Soderstrom and also Buelvas, who ranks 12th on our CPL. As for Perez, he was acquired last year for fellow prospect Jorge Mateo and will finally get to take the field for his new organization, at 19th on our CPL.
Another notable here is Armenteros, who moves down a level from High-A in 2019, despite the fact that he’ll technically play for the same team in Stockton since the Ports shifted down with him. He still has enormous raw tools, but his stock has plummeted recently due to critical strikeout concerns, dropping him to 23rd on our CPL — and even that was a generous ranking compared with some other sources.
Outside of our CPL, 21-year-old Berrios was a high school draft pick out of Puerto Rico in 2017 who hasn’t yet gotten the chance to play full-season ball. Butler was also a high school pick, and the 1B/OF won’t turn 21 until July. Dicochea and Schofield-Sam came out of high school in 2019 and will play at age 20 this year.
Among international signings, Rivas has been in the organization the longest, since 2014, with Mora next in 2015.
While Soderstrom and Puason are the most heralded individuals on the roster, the outfield might be the most exciting position group overall. Buelvas and Perez are highly touted within the mid-tier of prospects, and we’ll finally get some new answers on Lazarito, while Richards has 70-grade speed and Bautista is the son of the 12-year MLB veteran of the same name.
The pitching staff has some deep sleepers to follow led by Mora, who posted huge strikeout numbers in short-season ball. Acton was an All-American college closer with high marks for both stuff and makeup.
Opening Day for the Ports is Tuesday, May 4, against the Modesto Nuts of the Seattle Mariners system.