The Athletics announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of five players, including shortstop prospect Nick Allen. Also added to the 40-man roster were infielders Jonah Bride and Jordan Diaz, righty Jorge Juan, and outfielder Cody Thomas.
Allen, 23, was a third-round pick in 2017 and is regarded as an elite defensive prospect — ranking third among A’s farmhands at Baseball America andMLB.com, as well as fifth at FanGraphs. Listed at 5’8″ and 166 pounds, Allen’s slight frame has led to concerns about his eventual upside at the plate, though he looked just fine in 50 Double-A games this season, hitting .319/.374/.471 through 229 plate appearances.
Allen, who also won an Olympic Silver Medal with Team USA, did struggle in his first taste of Triple-A ball this past season, hitting .243/.302/.301. That was a sample of just 151 plate appearances, though, and Allen’s glove and speed alone would likely have led him to be selected in this year’s Rule 5 had he gone unprotected. With the A’s embarking on what looks to be a considerable step back, Allen ought to get a chance in the big leagues before too long — particularly if he produces more offense in his second run through Triple-A.
Diaz, a 21-year-old corner infielder, split his 2021 season between first base and third base while hitting .288/.337/.483 with 13 homers, 24 doubles and a triple in Class-A Advanced. He’s 11th among A’s prospects at MLB.com and 13th at Baseball America, drawing praise for his plate discipline and hit tool.
Listed at a towering 6’8″ and 250 pounds, the 22-year-old Juan has a fastball that can reach the upper 90s (and likely feels even faster given the extension he gets on that huge frame). He punched out 34.5% of his opponents between Class-A and Class-A Advanced this season, albeit in a small sample of 26 2/3 innings. As you’d expect for a young pitcher of this size, Juan has missed bats in droves but also struggled to command the ball (career 14.8% walk rate). He’s regarded among Oakland’s 25 or so best prospects, but there’s a good bit of risk with him as well.
Bride, 26 next month, is a 23rd-rounder from the 2018 draft who walked in more than 17% of his Double-A plate appearances this season. Splitting his time between third base, first base and second base, Bride slashed a combined .265/.407/.424 with as many walks as strikeouts (57).
Thomas, 27, came to the A’s alongside Adam Kolarek in the trade that sent Sheldon Neuse and Gus Varland to the Dodgers. While the Kolarek portion of Oakland’s return certainly didn’t go as hoped, Thomas utterly destroyed Triple-A pitching with a .289/.363/.665 batting line. In just 245 plate appearances, Thomas ripped 18 home runs, 20 doubles and four triples. Impressive as his lefty pop was, Thomas also fanned in 31.8% of his plate appearances, so there’s some obvious swing-and-miss concern with him. His 2021 season was cut short by an Achilles injury that kept him out of action beyond July 25.