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Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Oakland Athletics' Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 18, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Oakland Athletics' Farm System

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    Is there ever a season where the Oakland Athletics’ farm system isn’t absolutely loaded? Headed into the 2012 season, power-hitting outfielder Michael Choice ranked as the team’s top prospect and was beginning to heat up when a hit-by-pitch resulted in a broken hand after the All-Star break.

    The A’s system was also highlighted by the meteoric rise of right-hander Dan Straily from organizational arm to legitimate pitching prospect. The 23-year-old led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts (190 in 151 innings) at the time of his call-up, and he logged nearly 40 innings over the final two months of the season in the major leagues.

    Furthermore, the organization possesses two projectable right-handers in Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray—Peacock was acquired before the season in the Gio Gonzalez trade—who are on pace to contribute at the major league level in 2013. Also included in the aforementioned trade was 20-year-old A.J. Cole, who may have the highest ceiling of all the pitchers in their system.

    The A's also netted three top 10 prospects in the first round of the 2012 draft—Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson and Matt Olson, all high school players—who could comprise a homegrown infield by the 2015 season.

    In general, the A’s have a prospect pool loaded with talent that should pay dividends in the major leagues for years to come. At the same time, their system depth, especially on the mound, could give them the flexibility to execute a trade at some point during the 2013 season.

10. 1B Matt Olson

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 3/29/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 236

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Supp. first round, 2012 (Parkview HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2015


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: 6’4”, 236-pounder has tons of present strength and should add more to his physical frame; batted .282/.345/.520 with 25 extra-base hits and 41 RBI in 46 games in the rookie-level Arizona League; finished the season with a four-game stint with Short-Season Vermont; left-handed hitter may always have some swing and miss to his game, but offers a projectable mix of power and average; showcases a leveraged swing with excellent extension after contact; plenty of raw power to all fields.

    Doesn’t run particularly well, but doesn’t need to as a first baseman; above-average defensive profile at first base thanks to strong instincts and soft hands; moves well around the bag and possesses a knowledge of the position; prototypical bat and power projection for first baseman; arm is more than enough for the position; received draft consideration as a left-handed pitcher.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Beloit

9. 2B Grant Green

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    Position: 2B/UTIL

    DOB: 9/27/1987 (Age: 25)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (USC)

    ETA: 2013


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: 2009 first-rounder has shown plenty in his four-year minor-league career with the A’s; enjoyed best season in 2012 when he batted .296/.338/.458 with 49 extra-base hits (15 home runs), 13 stolen bases and 75/33 K/BB in 125 games; experience has led to improved plate discipline in recent seasons; can hit home runs, but will never do so with consistency; is highly athletic, but not a basestealer.

    Green as emerged as a super utilityman within the A’s organization; capable of playing anywhere on the field—and has—though it seems he’s settled in nicely at second base; has all the defensive tools to handle the position in the major leagues; solid glove and range plays up due to his high baseball IQ; arm suitable for any position and more than enough for second base; could break spring training as the team’s everyday second baseman or as its key utility player.


    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB (or Triple-A Sacramento if he doesn’t win the job)

8. 3B/1B Miles Head

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    Position: 3B/1B

    DOB: 5/2/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 26th round, 2009 [Red Sox] (Whitewater HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2014


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Drafted by the Red Sox in 2009; traded to the A’s prior to the 2012 season in the deal that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston; torched California League pitching by batting .382/.433/.715 with 47 extra-base hits (18 home runs) in 67 games; received well-deserved promotion to Double-A where he batted 272/.338/.404 and had his plate discipline challenged for the first time in his career.

    6’0", 215-pound right-handed hitter sets up with hands cocked forward, which helps him generate bat speed and excellent wrist action at point-of-contact; compact swing with barrel control; demonstrates advanced plate discipline and a feel for the strike zone; plus raw power is ideal for corner infielder; above-average raw power was on full display last season in A’s minor league debut; bat and approach should allow him to hit for both average and power in future seasons.

    Saw plenty of playing time last season at third base and working at first base with the Red Sox; lacks overall speed, but is surprisingly athletic given his thicker frame; has the hands and the arm for the position, but his range is limited; bat has more value as a third baseman; will continue to be developed at the hot corner, but chances are he’ll end up back at first base, especially with the infield talent coming up behind him.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Midland

7. 3B Daniel Robertson

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    Position: 3B/SS

    DOB: 3/22/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Supp. first round, 2012 (Upland HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2016


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: 6’0", 190-pounder possesses present strength with the frame and work ethic to add more as he develops; batted .297/405/.554 with the A’s rookie-level affiliate; one of my favorite hitters from the 2012 draft class; advanced plate discipline and sound swing give him the potential to be at least an above-average hitter; excellent pitch recognition with plate discipline beyond his years; effortless swing with smooth weight transfer and fluid wrist action; has power, but it’s primarily to the gaps at the moment; should steadily improve as he settles in and gains more experience.

    Saw time at shortstop this season, but doesn’t possess the quickness and athleticism to remain there long-term; will likely shift over to third base full-time and play alongside Addison Russell for years to come; like Russell, he has the offensive upside to move through the A’s system quickly.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Beloit

6. RHP Sonny Gray

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/7/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 5’11", 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Vanderbilt)

    ETA: 2013


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Reached Double-A in his professional debut in 2011 and posted a 0.45 ERA through five starts; spent most of the 2012 season back at the level where he struggled with a 4.14 ERA and declining strikeout-to-walk rate; concluded his full-season debut with an uneventful start at Triple-A Sacramento.

    Mechanics involve too much effort; peels off the mound upon finishing pitches; fastball was flat and breaking pitches less effective; didn’t induce as many swing-and-misses as anticipated; fastball is still a plus pitch that will reach the mid-90s; curveball is a hammer with impressive pace and shape, and he knows how to add and subtract; changeup gives him a third pitch, though it’s a less advanced offering; development of the offering will determine whether he sticks as a starter or assumes a relief role.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Sacramento

5. RHP Brad Peacock

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/2/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 41st round, 2006 [Nationals] (Palm Beach Central HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2013


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Reached the major leagues last season with the Nationals and registered a 0.75 ERA and .163 BAA in 12 innings; regressed across the board in first season with the A’s in 2012; spent entire season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he posted an ugly 6.01 ERA and lack overall consistency.

    Was touched up with regularity in the Pacific Coast League; allowed 16 home runs and struggled to locate his fastball down in the zone with consistency; fastball sits 91-95 mph, though it’s relatively flat and was hit hard; curveball is best secondary offering with sharp break and downer action; changeup gives him a third average pitch, but it’s still a raw pitch that will need to be refined next season; has begun to manipulate his fastball with the hope of achieving heavier, downward action; overall command needs refinement, but he should get back on track.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Sacramento

2. OF Michael Choice

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 11/10/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 220

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Texas-Arlington)

    ETA: 2013


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Launched 30 home runs in the California League (High-A) in his full-season debut; struggled in 2012 at Double-A, but picked up the production around the All-Star break; suffered a season-ending injury in late July when a hit-by-pitch resulted in a broken hand.

    Physically strong with arguably plus-plus raw power; ridiculous bat speed results in max-effort swings and tape-measure home runs; efficient weight transfer in swing, but still involves too many moving parts; will have to continue to simplify his swing and approach; timing is easily thrown off against quality breaking pitches; shortening swing may impede some of his power potential but allow him to hit for a higher average.

    Average speed has allowed him to play center field in the minor leagues; adept to getting consistent reads and takes aggressive routes; arm strength is average at best and limits him to either center or left field; will likely end at the latter due to lack of speed and range need for the Coliseum.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Midland

3. RHP A.J. Cole

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/5/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 180

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010 (Oviedo HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Acquired by the A’s from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade prior to the 2012 season; struggled mightily at High-A Stockton with an 0-7 record and 7.82 ERA; was demoted to Low-A Burlington, where he righted the ship and registered a 2.07 ERA with 102/19 K/BB in 96 innings.

    6’4” right-hander has a highly projectable frame with the ability to add strength, especially to his lower half and core; fastball sits low-to-mid-90s with natural sink; curveball flashes plus break when thrown with consistency; changeup noticeably improved last season; has a better feel for the pitch than his breaking ball; cleaned up mechanical issues that plagued him in at High-A Stockton following demotion; his exceptional upside and pure stuff profiles as a potential Nos. 1 or 2 pitcher in the major leagues; it may take him some time to get there, but it should be worth the wait.


    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Stockton

2. RHP Dan Straily

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/1/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 24th round, 2009 (Marshall)

    ETA: 2013


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Arguably the pop-up prospect of the year; went from organizational arm to team’s top pitching prospect over the course of the 2012 season; registered a 3.38 ERA, 11.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 85.1 innings at Double-A; 2.02, 11.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 at Triple-A; led all minor leagues with 190 strikeouts when he was called up by the A’s in August; registered 3.89 ERA in 39.1 big-league innings.

    6’2”, 215-pound right-handed boasts an impressive four-pitch mix that he commands well throughout the strike zone; fastball works in the low-90s with some late life to the arm side; slider and changeup both grade as above-average secondary offerings help him pile up strikeouts; both pitches are used to neutralize right- and left-handed hitters; will mix in a curveball that’s a fringe-average pitch, but still effective when throw at the right time; projects to be a durable mid-rotation starter.


    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

1. SS Addison Russell

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 1/23/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Pace HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2014


    2012 Stats


    Scouting Notes: Russell bulked up to add power during his junior year, but it cost him mobility and range at shortstop; ultimately dropped 30 pounds before and during his senior season and regained projection as an everyday shortstop; batted .415/.488/.717 with 15 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases at rookie level; .340/.386/.509 with Short-Season Vermont; .310/.369/.448 with Low-A Burlington; excellent athlete with the baseball skills be a star in the major leagues.

    Dynamic, well-rounded player with explosive actions in all realms of the game; a right-handed hitter, Russell ropes line drives to all fields and demonstrates a knack for barreling the ball; has the present strength to project for above-average power, which should begin to show itself in coming years; takes aggressive hacks; swings to strike the baseball rather than feel for contact; advanced bat control yields loud contact to all fields.

    Plus runner; smart basestealer who picks his spots and gets good jumps; power-speed combo gives him legitimate 20-20 upside at a premium position; plenty of range with a slick glove that will keep him at shortstop; plays through the ball and gets rid of it quickly; above-average arm strength is more than enough to remain at the position.


    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Beloit

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