Oakland A's: Minor League Surprises and Disappointments Thus Far

Erik Reitmeyer@@reity9690Contributor IIIApril 29, 2012

Oakland A's: Minor League Surprises and Disappointments Thus Far

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    Winding down on the first month of the season, most of the A's top prospects are living up to or exceeding expectations.  From Sacramento to Burlington, there are players at all levels who are excelling right now, and others that have gotten off to a slow start.

    For some players, like A.J. Cole, a slow start was expected because they're still extremely young and will be given a longer time in the minors to develop properly.  

    Others, like Miles Head, were expected to be only solid to above-average players but have shown to be a lot more than that, overshadowing more highly touted prospects.

    This isn't unheard of, though—every year, prospects you think are going to perform at a high level don't, especially in the Athletics' system.  Last year, it was Ian Krol and Chris Carter among others who underperformed with their respective minor league clubs. 

    Though the season is still very much young, the first few months can be a good indication of a player's development thus far and how he's going to fare the rest of the year. 

Surprise: Sean Doolittle

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    It was only a few years ago when Doolittle was playing in Sacramento, on the verge of playing in Oakland's outfield.  

    Two knee surgeries later, Doolittle finds himself on the mound in Midland, the A's AA club.

    Reportedly touching 97 mph on his fastball, Doolittle has undergone a renaissance since converting back to the position in which he excelled at the University of Virginia.  

    Doolittle dominated in Stockton, the A's Single A club, where he had a K/BB ratio of 21-2 with an ERA under 1.00, prompting Oakland to promote him a level surprisingly early in the year.

    It's been awhile since Doolittle has pitched on a regular basis, so don't expect to see him in the green and gold anytime soon.  

    However, because he's working out of the bullpen and seems to have regained his old form, it's not out of the question to think he could see some time with the big club next year.

Disappointment: Michael Choice

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    Arguably the A's top hitting prospect heading into the year, Choice has been very slow thus far, having only one HR after belting 30 last year.  

    His strikeouts are also a concern, currently averaging more than a strikeout a game.

    His average is OK, batting .260, but his lack of power thus far has to be concerning.  

    At this pace, he's unlikely to reach 20 HRs.

    Hopefully for the A's, his numbers won't resemble Grant Green's when he played in the Texas League last season after tearing it up in Single A Stockton the year before.  Green hit 20 HRs with Stockton, but after being promoted to Midland he saw that number drop to nine.

    Choice's greatest asset is his power—he doesn't offer much else as a prospect. 

Surprise: Derek Norris

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    When Derek Norris came over from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade, the A's knew they were getting a player with great potential, but that potential wasn't realized until this year.

    Currently batting .346 with three HRs and six RBI, Norris has been a pleasant surprise for Sacramento—so much so that he may not be there for much longer if he keeps putting up those kind of numbers.

    Don't be surprised if the A's move Kurt Suzuki at the deadline, making room for Norris to man the position every day in Oakland.  His power has always been there, hitting 20 HRs or more twice in his career, but it's his average that was concerning, not having hit over .235 since 2009.

    It appears as though Norris has straightened out his prior inconsistencies at the plate. Barring any regressions in performance, A's fans may get to know him better sooner rather than later.

Disappointment: Rashun Dixon

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    Rashun Dixon came into the A's organization with a high ceiling and high expectations, and he has lived up to neither of those thus far in his career.  

    Dixon showed some flashes in 2010, but ever since then his production has slowly slid all the way down to .212 this season.

    Consistent contact has always eluded Dixon, and this year is no different, striking out in almost half his at-bats.  

    With Dixon, it's always the same story—the potential is there, and sooner or later he'll live up to it.  Well, this is his fifth year in the organization, and he still hasn't played above Single A ball.

    His drop in ABs this season may suggest that the A's are losing patience with Dixon.  If he doesn't turn it around soon, the A's may be looking at another Javier Herrera—a player who appeared destined for greatness yet never made it to Oakland.  

Surprise: Michael Taylor

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    Finally looking like the prospect the A's thought they were getting in the Brett Wallace trade with Toronto, Taylor is absolutely killing it in Sacramento right now.

    Batting .366, Taylor may very well be in Oakland right now if they didn't add so many new faces to their outfield during the offseason.

    Even though he's 26—old for a top prospect—Taylor is performing like he was when he was in the Phillies organization.  

    It'll be interesting to see what happens at the trade deadline.  If either Coco Crisp or Seth Smith is traded, then Taylor would likely get the call to take their place in Oakland.

    He still has the potential to make an impact at the big league level, and Oakland would eventually like to give him the opportunity to do so.