Oakland Athletics linked to top international outfield prospect

Oakland Athletics (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Oakland Athletics (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Due to the COVID-19 hiatus, the rumor mill for the Oakland Athletics has been quiet, but details are coming out linking them to a top international outfield prospect.

According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Oakland Athletics are the favorites to reel in Pedro Pineda out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, when the July 2nd international signing period begins.

The specifics regarding the July 2nd international signing period have been sparse. In March, MLB and the MLB Player’s Association agreed to push back the start of the signing period to as late as January 15, 2021. Though, the signing period could begin on time as well.

In addition to this, the MLB has not yet released the bonus pool space allocated to each team. Teams are expected to have similar spending limits as they had in the 2019-2020 signing period.

If this holds true, the Athletics should have in the neighborhood of $5.9 million to spend on bonuses. This sounds like a lot of money to deepen a strong farm system, especially considering that some prospects sign for as low as $15,000 (hello, Jose Altuve).

Though, the A’s have proven in recent history that they can spend nearly the entire allotted amount on one prospect. Just last summer, the Athletics signed top shortstop prospect Robert Puason out of the Dominican Republic for $5.1 million.

The 16-year-old was the second-rated prospect in last year’s international class, so his bonus reflects that ranking.

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Evaluating and projecting prospects at such a young age is a difficult task and the A’s have had their fair share of misses on the international market. Back in 2008, Oakland signed top pitching prospect Michael Ynoa, who received a substantial $4.25 million bonus.

After toiling in the minors for years, Ynoa was eventually sent away in a package that brought Marcus Semien to the Athletics. He never lived up to the hype that comes with a $4.25 million signing bonus, but that can often be the case on the international market.

With all this being said, the Athletics are in the market again to bring in a top prospect. This time, they are targeting outfield prospect, Pedro Pineda. According to Sanchez, Pineda’s skill set is understandably raw.

"“Pineda is raw, but has the potential to have plus tools. Specifically, he’s been praised for his hands and excellent bat speed. Like many prospects his age, there is some swing and miss to his game and his overall swing is a work in progress, but that’s not uncommon. For now, there’s some loft to his swing and his mechanics continue to improve. He also consistently hits the ball hard to all fields and can drive the ball out of the ballpark. He has the potential to be a base-stealer and an above average baserunner.On defense, he has the ability to shine at the corner outfield spots, but is also comfortable in center field. He is learning how to contain his arm strength for improved accuracy and is expected to improve in that area once he signs and receives daily instruction in a team’s academy”"

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The 16-year-old is rated as the 12th best prospect in this year’s class, so he will likely not command a signing bonus as lucrative as the $5.1 million bonus Puason cashed in on last year, but it will still be a significant amount.

The Athletics should have plenty of financial flexibility left over to bring in other prospects on lucrative bonuses as well.

Until the signing period officially begins, the connection between team and player is speculative. Teams often establish handshake agreements with prospects well in advance of the signing period, and oftentimes, rumored connections turn out to be true.

However, Pineda already looks pretty comfortable in the A’s colors.

News regarding player movement has been few and far between since baseball went on hiatus. Bits of information are beginning to emerge to the surface, and this could be a sign that things will return to normalcy soon enough.

Until then, these details are just enough to chew on as the Athletics look to continue building a stout farm system.

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At just 16 years of age, it will be a few years before the Athletics know if Pineda becomes a solid contributor, but the tools are enough to be excited about his potential upside.