Ranking A's Top Five Pleasant Surprises From Farm System This Season

On Monday, we attempted to re-rank the A's top five prospects following the conclusion of the 2019 minor league season.

Now we want to highlight the most pleasant surprises within Oakland's farm system. Here are the top five from this year:

1. Seth Brown

Brown is not even listed among the A's top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, but the 27-year-old has put together a magnificent season, both in Triple-A and the majors. Since joining the A's, Brown is slashing .385/.429/.564 with three doubles, two triples and nine RBI in 11 games.

He was even more productive in Triple-A, hitting .297/.352/.634 with 37 homers and 104 RBI in 112 games. A 19th-round draft pick in 2015, Brown has steadily risen through the A's minor league system, becoming one of the more unlikely contributors in Oakland this season.

2. Mark Payton

Payton put up equally terrific numbers in Triple-A this season, slashing .334/.400/.653 with 30 homers and 97 RBI in 118 games. The 27-year-old had never hit more than 10 homers in any previous season, at any level, and is also not listed among the A's top 30 prospects.

Oakland picked up Payton from the Yankees last offseason in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. It's safe to say they weren't expecting the former seventh-round draft pick to produce anywhere near the level he did.

3. Kyle Finnegan  

Finnegan was extremely effective out of the bullpen in both Double-A and Triple-A this season. The right-hander combined to go 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 42 appearances. He notched 14 saves, along with 72 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings.

Finnegan, 28, is not ranked among the A's top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, likely because of his advanced age. Oakland selected him in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He could be a legitimate bullpen option next season.

4. Jonah Heim

Heim is the only player on this list actually ranked among the A's top 30 prospects -- MLB Pipeline lists him 21st. The 24-year-old has always been a strong defensive catcher, but this year he enjoyed a breakout offensive season in both Double-A and Triple-A.

Heim slashed .310/.385/.477 with nine home runs, 21 doubles, and 53 RBI in 85 games between Midland and Las Vegas. The former Orioles fourth-round draft pick came to the A's in 2017 from the Rays in exchange for infielder Joey Wendle.

[RELATED: Why A's should hope to face Yankees, not Astros, in playoffs]

5. Jesus Zambrano

Zambrano probably wasn't on anyone's radar coming into the season, but the right-hander was fantastic between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. The 23-year-old went 5-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, with nine saves.

A native of Venezuela, Zambrano signed with the A's in 2012 at the young age of 16. Now seven years later, he enjoyed by far the best year of his professional career.

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