Oakland A's prospect, Grant Green
Per Oakland A's GM Billy Beane's tenacity to make trades, the A's farm system is stacked with talent that should see major league time within the next year or two.
Beyond those men, there's another 10-15 quality prospects developing in the minor leagues. Some will inevitably make it, some won't and others will get traded before ever seeing time in Oakland.
Because the A's made it to Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS, the team will likely stay intact for the 2013 season. That being said, it's going to be difficult for many of Oakland's top prospects to find room and gain playing time.
However, 2013 may be a make-or-break season for guys like Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson and Jemile Weeks. Aging veterans like Bartolo Colon and Coco Crisp won't hang around all that much longer either.
Certain minor leaguers deserve a shot, and soon.
Here is a look at the top 10 prospects in Oakland's system, with an estimate of when (if ever) they'll get the big league call-up.
Straily filled in nicely in September, but he should soon do so more permanently.
Young pitcher Dan Straily received a call-up late in the 2012 season, pitching in seven games to a 2-1 record. Over that short time, he earned a respectable 3.89 ERA.
Though his MLB stats aren't dazzling (yet), his minor league career has been stellar.
In 2012 alone, Straily struck out 190 batters against 42 walks, while holding hitters to a .202 batting average. He's shown he can dominate the minors and hold his own on the 25-man roster.
The A's may decide to start him in Triple-A in 2013, but with his proven stuff, it won't be long before he's back in Oakland again.
Note: Straily appears on this list because of his rookie eligibility, therefore, he's still labeled a "prospect."
Prospect Michael Choice
Outfielder Michael Choice is one of the best, if not the best, prospect in the Oakland A's farm system right now.
At 21 years old, Choice hit 30 home runs in Single-A Stockton during the 2011 season. He then spent last season with the Midland Rockhounds (Double-A). There, he hit .287, with 103 hits in 91 games.
Choice has the talent to be a star in Major League Baseball—it just won't happen next season.
He's incredibly young, he has yet to play in Triple-A and there are too many outfielders on the big league roster as it is (Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Chris Young, Seth Smith, Brandon Moss can fill in and Grant Green has experience in the outfield too).
Accompanied in the minors by fellow pitchers Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray, A.J. Cole has the luxury of being just 20 years old.
He finished 2012 with the Stockton Ports (Single-A).
Cole himself likely will want to forget the results though. In eight attempts, he lost seven games on the way to earning a 7.82 ERA.
It might not be an awful idea to start Cole in Single-A ball again in 2013, and move him up mid- to late-season.
According to MLB.com's 2012 Prospect Watch, Cole's estimated time of arrival as of now is 2014. With the way he finished 2012, that doesn't seem highly likely.
Instead, they need to take their time with him.
If in the next two years he solidly blossoms, then 2015 should be perfect timing for a rotation that definitely won't have Bartolo Colon in it and could be without Brett Anderson by then too.
Will Brad Peacock be the next young arm in Oakland?
Pitcher Brad Peacock was acquired in the trade that sent Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals.
Peacock didn't pitch in the majors in 2012, and he only pitched in three games total for Washington in 2011. A player can play in 45 non-September days before losing his rookie status, so Peacock still has his.
Initially, he had a chance to make the big league roster over Tommy Milone and possibly even Jarrod Parker. As soon as spring training ended though, Parker, Milone and Tyson Ross earned the final three spots in Oakland's starting rotation.
Not only does Peacock have too many guys in front of him—all of whom are also young—he didn't pitch super well in Triple-A last season.
He went 12-9 with a 6.01 ERA. His walks-to-strikeouts ratio isn't great either.
In 2013, Peacock will be 25 years old. He's behind Parker, Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Brett Anderson on the depth chart as it is, and then there's Bartolo Colon and the possibility of Brandon McCarthy. In the minors with him are Sonny Gray and A.J. Cole too (both younger).
It's not likely that Peacock will see time in the majors in 2013.
He does make for a great trade prospect, however—in Greg Smith or Josh Outman fashion—where Peacock's addition to a package deal earns the A's a more valuable piece in return. Smith was in the deal that landed Matt Holliday and Outman was packaged in a trade for Seth Smith.
He's ready to try pitching in the majors, there's just no room for him in Oakland. Realistically, he could be traded and his ETA applies to another major league team. Otherwise, he'll only pitch in Oakland in 2013 if there are major injuries again.
Sonny Gray pitching in college.
Sonny Gray is a right-handed pitcher selected in the 2011 MLB Amateur draft.
Gray is only 23 years old, and like Brad Peacock, has a ton of guys in front of him. The one thing that sets Gray apart from Peacock though, is his age.
The youngster spent most of 2012 in Double-A Midland. There he went 6-9 with a 4.14 ERA, striking out 97 and walking 57 batters. He then moved up to Triple-A Sacramento, where he only pitched four innings.
His Double-A stats aren't overly impressive, and his one Triple-A outing was awful (four innings, four runs allowed). Gray is definitely spending 2013 in Sacramento.
He'll have to show eyebrow-raising stuff to make a quicker jump, but with his age, there is no point in rushing him.
Miles Head was acquired in the same deal that sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for (primarily) Josh Reddick.
After hitting .299 in Low-A in 2011, Head hit a combined .333 last year between Single- and Double-A.
Head can play third and first, but has a slick .991 fielding average at first base.
If he can continue to prove his worth in the batter's box and make his way to Sacramento in 2013, he may find himself in the right spot at the right time. By the end of 2013, Brandon Moss is arbitration eligible, but will be 30. If Chris Carter hasn't "found it" by then, the A's may give up all together.
Insert Miles Head.
The A's have used nine or so guys in the last 12 seasons and have been searching for a long-term solution at first base since Jason Giambi left after 2001. So, it wouldn't be a total shock to see Head get an opportunity sooner than later.
ETA: 2015 (at the very latest)
Along with Josh Reddick and Miles Head, the Oakland Athletics received pitcher Raul Alcantara in a deal with the Boston Red Sox.
The 19-year-old Domincan Republic native has been pitching in a Major League Baseball organization since he was just 17.
Last year in Single-A, Alcantara saw struggles.
Overall, he pitched in 27 games, earning a 5.08 ERA and a 6-11 record. Thought it's worth noting that while he started in every game he pitched in 2010 and 2011, he only started 17 games in 2012.
As a starter, Alcantara may not find room in Oakland's rotation for a long time, if ever. But if he switches to relief duty, which is plausible, he might find himself with the A's a year ahead of schedule.
He'll need solid time in Stockton, Midland and Sacramento first though.
That being said, the earliest he could arrive is still a few years out.
ETA: 2015 (at the earliest)
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft, Addison Russell is an 18-year-old shortstop who may ultimately end up at third base.
If he continues to hit the way he did in 2012, fans should be seeing him at either position sooner than later. That's not to crown the kid as a franchise savior already, but to his credit, he has torn up the lower-level minor leagues.
After hitting .415 in 26 rookie ball games, Russell moved up.
In 29 games in Low-A, Russell continued with his hot bat by acquiring 36 hits, six doubles, four triples and 16 RBI. He finished 2012 with a combined .369 batting average.
He'll definitely start next season in Single-A.
Best-case scenario, he shreds minor league pitching and plays in all three levels in two years. He would then be "major league ready" in 2015. But, even if he plays a full year at every level, he'll still be just 22 years old before the start of the 2016 season.
With questions over his long-term position, it might be best to allow him the time.
Daniel Robertson is an 18-year-old, left-side infielder. He did well for himself in rookie ball, averaging just about a hit and one RBI per game. There, he hit .297.
But he finished 2012 on a sour note.
Moving up to the New York-Pennsylvania League, Robertson hit .181, striking out 31 times in 26 games.
He should easily spend a full year in A-ball and progress through the farm system on a year-by-year basis. That puts him on pace for being ready for the majors in 2016, still at just 22 years old.
Robertson's problem is that by then, Grant Green and Addison Russell may already be locked in as the future at shortstop and third baseman. If things pan out, Jemile Weeks is the long-term second baseman too. That would make Robertson a trade candidate or bench player.
Unfortunately for him, he will be 2016's version of Eric Sogard or Adam Rosales.
Minors, Futures Games, position switches... been there, done that.
Grant Green is, hands down, one of the highest rated prospects in the Oakland A's organization. In four minor league seasons, he has a .302 average.
He's also successfully gained over 150 hits in Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A.
Green hits for power (101 doubles, 44 home runs in his minor league career) and occasionally swipes a bag (13 in 2012). So why isn't he in Oakland already?
The A's have been trying to figure out his position.
He was originally drafted as a shortstop, but midway through 2011, he switched to center field. Apparently 2012 was an experimental year altogether. He played 49 games in left field, 30 in center, 19 at shortstop, 19 at second and 11 at third.
As it stands, the A's are stocked with options in the outfield and infield.
Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Chris Young will split time in the outfield. Josh Donaldson is the likeliest third baseman, while Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks battle for second. Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales were last year's utility infielders and could play the same role in 2013.
That leaves Green out to dry.
But he's running out of time. He's 25 already and he's as ready offensively as he might ever be. If not now, the A's may miss the boat on Green.
If he doesn't flat out make the big league roster in spring training, you have to figure he's a September call-up for sure.