With their 31st-round pick, the A's traveled on the I-80 corridor to select Sacramento-area product Tyler Schimpf. Schimpf, a 6'5'' right-hander, was a two-way player at Capital Christian HS, but he was drafted as a pitcher. Schimpf has a strong commitment to the University of Texas, and he, like most of the A's high school picks in the later rounds, is likely to go to college.
Schimpf was closely watched on the national showcase circuit, and Scout.com's National Baseball Analyst Kiley McDaniel saw Schimpf pitch at the 2013 WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Florida, last October. At the time, McDaniel had this to say about Schimpf: "Schimpf worked 87-90 mph with a breaking ball that flashed above average potential, some feel to pitch with a smoother delivery than I've seen from him and a super projectable 6'5'' frame."
Schimpf had a standout senior season for Capitol Christian, posting a 1.12 ERA in 11 starts. He threw six complete games, including three shutouts. Schimpf struck-out 100, walked 21 and allowed just three extra-base hits. He also hit .371 with four homers and 16 doubles in 89 at-bats. Schimpf has plenty of projection and it isn't hard to imagine that he will be throwing four to five miles per hour harder in a few years.
Like Schimpf, A's 32nd-round pick Denz'l Chapman is likely college-bound. The Southern California native is one of the fastest players in the MLB draft, according to MLB.com. At 5'9'', 185, Chapman isn't big, but he has a little pop in his bat and offers the potential to be a top-of-the-order threat and a plus defender in center field. The San Diego State commit is a switch-hitter and a right-handed thrower.
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Playing for Junipero Serra HS, Chapman hit .358 with a .442 OBP in 26 games. He stole 23 bases in 25 attempts and had 10 extra-base hits (including four homers). Chapman also made three appearances on the mound, a testament to his arm strength.
Catcher Michael Rivera is the third A's high school pick in a row, and, like Schimpf and Chapman, Rivera is a long-shot to sign. The 33rd-rounder has a strong commitment to Florida. The Venice HS (FL) product is a solid defensive catcher with some offensive tools that could make him a two-way threat behind and at the plate as a pro.
Rivera, a right-handed hitter, batted .429 as a senior. He has a strong throwing arm and is a good athlete who moves well behind the plate. Rivera also has experience at third base.
The A's 34th-round pick is junior first-baseman John Nogowski from Florida State. Nogowski joins fellow Seminole Jose Brizuela as part of the A's 2014 draft class. Nogowski had a strong junior season at the plate for the Seminoles, finishing behind D.J. Stewart and Brizuela in batting with a .307 mark. He posted a .431 OBP and was second on the team with five homeruns.
Nogowski's season ended somewhat controversially, as he was pulled for a pinch-runner after singling in the top of the ninth with the Seminoles losing 6-0 in an elimination game. The ‘Noles would score five but the final out was made in Nogowski's spot, leaving Florida State fans wondering what might have been if he had still been in the game. Whether the end of his season impacts his decision to turn pro or stay for his senior year is unknown.
Nogowski isn't a prototypical first baseman in terms of height (6'1'', 210), but he is a grinder at the plate who walked almost twice as much as he struck-out (43 to 27) this season. He has some pop in his bat, although there are questions as to whether he will hit for enough power to be a major-league first baseman. Nogowski will have to decide whether he thinks he can raise his draft stock by going back to Florida State for one more year or if he is ready to jump into pro ball.
In round 35, the A's selected Canadian HS outfielder Austen Swift. Swift is a switch-hitting outfielder with decent speed, a solid stroke from both sides of the plate and a strong throwing arm. He has a commitment to play collegiately at Blinn College. Swift drew some positive notoriety on the web thanks to video posted of a 470 foot homerun he hit at the 2014 Power Showcase. Swift has indicated in the past that he intends to go to college, so he is probably another long-shot to sign.
Arkansas outfielder Tyler Spoon landed with the A's in round 36. Spoon, a red-shirt sophomore, will also have a decision to make about whether he wants to turn pro or go back to school with two more years of eligibility. Spoon hit .256 with a .350 OBP and 17 extra-base hits in 234 at-bats for the Razorbacks this season.
Spoon has good plate discipline and gap power. He is a solid defender in centerfield who takes good routes to the ball. Spoon has a solid throwing arm, as well. In this Scout.com article, Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn put Spoon's defense in a similar class to several former Razorback centerfielders, including the A's Craig Gentry, although Van Horn pointed out that Spoon doesn't run as well as Gentry.
The A's took Fountain Valley HS outfielder Brock Lundquist with their 37th-round pick. Lundquist hit .259 with six homers and a .418 OBP during his senior season in high school. He is a Long Beach State commit.
Lundquist projects as a corner outfielder or first baseman. He has a lot of power already and could add more as he matures. Lundquist also did a good job laying off pitches out of the strike-zone this season when opposing pitchers pitched around him. He isn't particularly fast and his arm is average, so defensively he might be limited to left or first.
The A's stayed in the outfield for their next pick, Sam Houston State centerfielder Colt Atwood. Atwood, a junior, hit .306/.339/.358 with six stolen bases in six chances in 62 games this season. He is a classic number one or two hitter who has excellent bat control and sees a lot of pitches. Atwood is a good defensive centerfielder and he plays with almost a reckless abandon. He is a very good athlete who was an excellent defensive back in high school. Sam Houston State has a very good baseball program, and Atwood could decide to return for his senior season and another shot at reaching Omaha.
Oakland's 39th-round pick is Phoenix-area high school prospect Payton Squier. The infielder has a UNLV commitment. He was ranked as the 19th-best prospect heading into the draft from the Southwest/Rockies region by McDaniel. Squier hit .315 with a .403 OBP during his senior season and he finished his high school career with a .409/.473/.568 line.
The 6'1'', 190-pound left-handed hitter has a good feel for the barrel and is a tough out. He has an athletic build and he plays aggressively on both sides of the ball. Squier has experience at shortstop, second and third base, but he profiles best as a pro as a second baseman. He is likely to take his scholarship to UNLV.
The A's finished their draft with a local product, San Jose's Valley Christian HS infielder Bryson Brigman. Brigman hit .340 with a .391 OBP during his senior season. He also had an 8:10 BB:K in 31 games. Brigman is a speedster who swiped 17 bases in 20 attempts over his last two high school seasons.
Brigman is an excellent athlete who has the range and arm to stick at short. He was a member of the A's scout team during the New Balance Area Code Baseball Games in 2013. He has a strong commitment to University of San Diego and is very likely to go to college.
We conclude our close look at the Oakland A's 2014 draft class with picks 31-40. Among this group are high school and college players with attractive options to play at the collegiate level in 2015 should they not sign with the A's.
All of the players picked by the A's in rounds 31-40 can elect school next year.
Tyler Spoon is a sparkplug for Arkansas.