Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Ryon Healy (3B/1B): Healy entered 2016 as a fairly overlooked prospect within the A’s system and third on the minor league depth chart in terms of hot corner prospects behind Matt Chapman and Renato Nunez. A strong opening few months convinced management to give him a shot and he never looked back. His 139 wRC+ was tops on the Athletics — ahead of even Khris Davis and since-traded Josh Reddick. He has 20+ home run power even with playing half his games in a cavernous home ballpark. On the downside, Healy doesn’t walk much (4.4%) and he saw his batting average aided by a significant BABIP of .351 in the Majors. He’s also not a great fielder and will likely move to first base or designated hitter in deference to Chapman — another power-hitting prospect but with an excellent glove.
The Riser: Jharel Cotton (RHP): Cotton was acquired from the prospect-rich Dodgers earlier this season and has exceeded all expectations. Originally considered more of a future relief prospect, the right-hander has shown above-average control and better-than-expected command of four pitches making him look like a future starter for the A’s. The 24-year-old hurler has allowed a lot of fly balls during his brief MLB debut but his home park will help mute potentially-negative effects. Cotton, 24, isn’t a huge guy so durability might be a bit of an issue as a starter but he has a shot to be a solid mid-rotation starter.
The Tumbler: Richie Martin (SS): A strong college defender, the big question around Martin’s professional potential revolved around his ability to hit. Those concerns seem well founded as the middle infielder has hit just .236 in his career with 33 extra base hits in 535 at-bats. His struggles continued even with playing in the California League in 2016 — a league that notoriously favors hitters. Martin, 21, has taken his offensive struggles into the field with less consistency than expected. The A’s have pretty good middle infield depth in their system but all of the prospects — including Franklin Barreto, Yairo Munoz and Chad Pinder — have either offensive or defensive questions.
The ’16 Draft Pick: A.J. Puk (LHP): Puk, 21, has upper-90s stuff from the left side of the plate and the A’s had to be happy to get a shot at him with the seventh overall pick in the ’16 draft. Inconsistency and command/control issues plagued the hurler in college but he’s been more consistent in pro ball. Puk struck out 40 batters with just 12 walks in 32.2 innings during his debut. The 6-7 southpaw also did not allow a home run. Look for him to potentially jump on the fast track to Oakland and open 2017 in high-A ball.
The Lottery Ticket: Max Schrock (2B): Obtained late in the year from Washington, Schrock is a diminutive hitter with modest pop but he can flat out hit. He hit .331 while playing for four teams in 2016 and produced 177 hits in just 129 games. An aggressive hitter with an uncanny ability to make contact, he walked just 31 times (but also struck out just 42 times). Schrock, 21, stolen 22 bases in 2016 but isn’t a true burner. His profile doesn’t scream “Impact hitter!” but don’t count him out.
For reference sake, here is the 2015 Review.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.