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Athletics Sign Four Post-Draft Amateurs

After finishing up their draft on June 11th, the A’s had no time to relax. Due to the unique circumstances for this draft, they now have the chance to sign undrafted amateurs for up to $20,000. Their first signing was former Wake Forest catcher and third baseman William Simoneit. The 6’4″, 235-pound righty was off to a hot start in 2020 before the season was shortened, slashing .377/.462/.542 with three home runs in the 53 at bats he got. In his longer junior season at Cornell, he hit .299/.357/.493 with six home runs in 144 ABs. He showed stellar plate control skills, only striking out a combined 27 times between his junior and senior seasons. He showed a good arm behind the plate, throwing out 10 of 28 potential base stealers in his junior season at Cornell for a 35% caught stealing percentage. He also spent time at third base, starting 16 games at the hot corner for the Demon Deacons and 27 in his junior year for the Big Red. The A’s might decide to move him there full time if his big body isn’t agile enough behind the plate. A player who likely would’ve risen up draft boards had the season continued, it was a good start to the A’s post-draft signing period.

The A’s continued to target backstops after the draft, with their second signing being Cooper Uhl, a catcher from Loyola Marymount. Standing at a short 5’10”, 185 pounds, the former Lion uses a quick, tight, and flat swing that doesn’t generate much loft. In his full junior year at Loyola Marymount he slashed .241/.338/.355 with 2 home runs in 203 at bats. He’s agile behind the plate and receives the ball well. When throwing runners out, he’s quick out of the crouch but doesn’t have a quick release on the ball. Nevertheless, he was able to gun down 17 of 37 of those who attempted to swipe a base on him for a 45% caught stealing rate. If he gets better at releasing the ball, he could see that number improve even more.

The A’s followed up the signing of two catchers with the signings of two pitchers. The first was Garrett Acton, a six-foot, 215-pound reliever from the University of Illinois. The right hander throws a fastball in the mid-90s and compliments it with a devastating knuckle-curveball with 12-6 tumbling action and good control. He also throws a slider, but that is a mere formality, as the fastball-curve combo is his bread and butter. It was a combo that helped him become the Fighting Illini’s all time leader in saves. In his junior season at Illinois Acton, he threw 33 innings. In those 33 innings on the mound he had a 2.18 ERA, struck out 34, walked 18, and gave up just 13 hits. He was also off to a hot start in his shortened 2020 season, striking out 8 in 6.2 innings on the mound and allowing just 6 baserunners total, none of which came around to score. A potential draft board riser had the 2020 season not been shortened, Acton shows great potential coming out of the pen.

The second pitcher the A’s signed came from another school starting with an I, this time Iowa. Grant Judkins is a 6’3″, 220-pound starter for the Hawkeyes. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, with his fastball sitting 87-91, but his arm angle gives it life. It also plays well with his changeup and curveball, which aren’t anything special on their own. His deceptive delivery helped earn him a 2.12 ERA in 82.2 innings on the mound his junior year, in which he struck out 65 while walking 31 and giving up 70 hits. Should starting not work out for him, a move to the bullpen could give him the ability to put some extra force behind his pitches and hopefully find some extra success.

With the A’s furloughing their amateur scouts, it’s hard to tell if there will be any more signings after these four. If they already have players they like and have their eyes on, it’s possible. But with how the A’s treat their minor leaguers, it’s unlikely many will choose to sign with them if given similar offers by other teams.

Elizabeth Tsai

A lifelong baseball fan, I've supported the Oakland A's through good times and bad. A numbers geek, I love diving into the stats to find any fascinating stories not obvious to the basic eye test. Proud transgender woman

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