Oakland A's: Five Players to Watch in 2012

Erik ReitmeyerContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2012

Oakland A's: Five Players to Watch in 2012

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    In a season most A's fans would like to forget, Jemile Weeks was one of the few bright spots for a club that fired its manager mid-season for the first time in a quarter century, and finished 14 games under .500. 

    The upcoming season isn't looking too promising either, as Billy Beane has once again opted to chase the future, opposed to the present.

    During an eventful offseason for the A's, key veterans such as Josh Willingham, Gio Gonzalez, and Trevor Cahill now find themselves wearing different uniforms.  

    So with plenty of holes in the lineup and rotation, it's safe to assume that younger players will be given a legitimate shot to see major playing time in the 2012 season.

    Here are five players that can get A's fans excited during the 2012 season.

Brad Peacock

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    The centerpiece of the Gio Gonzalez trade with the Nationals, Peacock has only minimal major league experience, starting two games last year for the Nats.  

    However, in those starts Peacock has an ERA of 0.00, including a game in which he held the Phillies to only one hit in 5.2 innings.

    If Peacock lives up to his potential, he could become a top of the rotation starter.

Jarrod Parker

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    Recently named Oakland's top prospect by Baseball America, Parker has arguably the highest upside of any A's pitcher in the organization.  

    Originally drafted ninth overall by the Diamondbacks, Parker has had his fair share of growing pains while developing in the minors. Quite literally in fact, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009 which resulted in him missing the entire 2010 season.

    Parker came back strong last season however, jumping right from AA to the majors in time to aid the Diamondbacks in their playoff run.  

    Armed with a fastball that has hit 97 MPH in the past, and above average command, Parker could potentially have success like that of ROY winner Jeremy Hellickson in 2012, as long as his health doesn't become an issue.

Chris Carter

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    I know I'm probably going to be criticized for this one, but it's now or never for the much hyped Carter.   

    With the acquisitions of Seth Smith, Josh Reddick and Johnny Gomes, it appears as though the A's have given up on Chris Carter as an outfielder, and maybe that's just what the smooth swinging first baseman needs. 

    If Carter can focus solely on the best part of his game, hitting, perhaps he will finally produce, and give the A's the legitimate power hitter that's eluded their lineup in recent years.

Fautino De Los Santos

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    Following the departure of Andrew Bailey, the Oakland's closer job is up for grabs, and it appears as though it's De Los Santos' job to lose despite competition from fellow relievers Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes.

    Like Parker, De Los Santos has already undergone Tommy John surgery in his career, but that hasn't seemed to affect his fastball, which sat in the high 90's during the 2011 season.

    Considering that the A's are prepping for the future, they're likely to stick with De Los Santos through his learning curves, which could mean a high number of saves for the young righty.

Sonny Gray

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    Oakland's first round pick in 2011, he is the epitome of what the A's look for in the draft.

    Coming out of Vanderbilt, the short right hander reminds many of former A's pitcher Tim Hudson, and it may not be long before A's fans see him pitching in the Coliseum.  

    With minimal development left, it's not a stretch to think Gray could be donning the green and gold in September when the A's will surely be out of contention.