Oakland Athletics: 10 Most Hyped Prospects in Recent Franchise History

Peter Fournier@@P_FournierContributor IIMay 30, 2012

Oakland Athletics: 10 Most Hyped Prospects in Recent Franchise History

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    The Oakland Athletics have been known for years to have one of the most productive farm systems in MLB. The Sacramento Rivercats, Oakland's Triple-A affiliate, have won four Pacific Coast League titles since 2000 and have seen countless players advance to play in the majors either in Oakland or elsewhere.

    Current A's second baseman Jemile Weeks was a Rivercat in 2011 before being called up to replaced an injured Mark Ellis midway through the season, and performed so well that he forced Oakland general manager Billy Beane to trade the veteran Ellis to make a permanent spot for Weeks.

    Here's a look at 10 of the most-hyped prospects in recent A's franchise history.

No. 10 Terrence Long

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    Long made news in 2000 when he was among the candidates for Rookie of the Year but finished second in voting. He played three more full seasons for the A's before being shipped to San Diego. There, he never played to the level he did in Oakland and was out of baseball in less than three years.

No. 9 Santiago Casilla

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    Casilla pitched six shaky seasons with the Oakland A's before joining the San Francisco Giants in 2010. Casilla has been solid with the Giants, recording 13 saves as Brain Wilson's injury replacement in 2012, matching his career total to this point. 

No. 8 Adam Piatt

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    Piatt could never live up to the hype of his 1999 Minor League Player of the Year award. Albeit, he did fall ill to meningitis in 2001 but never managed to reach his "potential" at the major league level. 

No. 7 Mark Mulder

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    Mulder was nothing but outstanding for the A's. He won 21 games in his first full season as a starter for Oakland. He was the second pick of the 1998 MLB Draft, and lived up to the hype for his first few years in the league before injuries took a toll on him during his tenure with the Cardinals.

No. 6 Yoenis Cespedes

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    The book is far from out on Cespedes, who joined the A's prior to training camp this season with a four-year, $36 million contract. He had five home runs and 21 RBI before injuring his left hand during batting practice in early May. It's too early to pass judgment on him, but he is by far one of the quickest prospects to go from "amateur" baseball to the majors. The spotlight will be on him for the next few years.

No. 5 Tim Hudson

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    Hudson was the only right-handed pitcher of the big three starting pitchers of Hudson, Mulder and Barry Zito for Oakland back in the early 2000s. He was a multiple time All-Star and finished second in Cy Young Award voting in his first full season as a starting pitcher. He is one of the most successful prospects to come out of the Oakland A's farm system in team history.

No. 4 Mark McGwire

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    "Big Mac" and his fellow Bash Brother Jose Canseco brought Oakland a World Series in 1989 over the cross-town rival San Francisco Giants, and at the time, McGwire was "it." He had an outstanding Rookie of the Year title under his belt and was a reason to go watch a ball game at the Oakland Coliseum. He was dealt to St. Louis in what was considered the "prime" of his career in 1997. On a side note, it may not hurt the A's to offer him a job as their hitting coach should his services ever become available.

No. 3 Rich Harden

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    Rich Harden was supposed to be make the "big three" the "big four," but his injuries and the departures of Hudson, Mulder and Zito didn't let that happen.

    Harden had a knack for strikeouts but also fell victim to the disabled list. What could have been for Harden and A's fans turned into musical chairs as Harden would often earn a spot in the Oakland rotation but lose it due to injury or lack of performance. Harden was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2008 and spent some time with the Texas Rangers in 2010 before returning to the A's in a free-agent deal in 2011. Oakland didn't re-sign him at the end of last year.

No. 2 Daric Barton

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    He was once named as one of the top prospects in the game by Baseball America, but Daric Barton still struggles to get the ball to the warning track on a warm night in Oakland.

    The A's seem to have this love affair with Barton playing first base despite the fact he doesn't have much of a bat, barely batting over .200 as of May 30. If he walks, it's probably good for the Moneyball formula, right? However, he isn't the biggest prospect Oakland has held onto for years. 

No. 1 Bobby Crosby

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    It's not Bobby Crosby's fault that he was billed as Miguel Tejada's replacement for years and years, but it didn't help when he won an AL Rookie of the Year and was expected to reach for the stars after that. 

    Crosby never matched the hype of his first MLB season and was subsequently seen as one of the poster children of Moneyball futility for years to come with injuries and under-performance dragging down his popularity. Again, it wasn't his fault that he couldn't be Tejada, but the fact he was placed on a pedestal to be his replacement meant that he was the one prospect that HAD to fill them. 

    Unfortunately, Crosby couldn't do it, and with him currently out of baseball, he's easily the most over-hyped Oakland Athletics prospect within the last 10 years.