Top prospect SS Addison Russell is already on the fast track to the major leagues.
Is there ever a season when 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 before a hit-by-pitch resulted in a broken hand after the All-Star break. Although he remains one of the team's top prospects headed into the 2013 season, the injury has caused him to drop a few spots on this list.
The A’s system was 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 majors.
At the same time, the organization also dealt two projectable right-handers this offseason in Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, both of whom were acquired before the 2012 season in the Gio Gonzalez trade.
The A's also netted five top 10 prospects in the first round of the 2012 draft, Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson and Chris Bostick, all high school players who could comprise a homegrown infield by 2016.
The A’s have a prospect pool loaded with talent that should pay dividends in the majors for years to come. Along those same lines, their system depth, especially on the mound, could give them the flexibility to execute a trade at some point during the 2013 season.
Here's a look at the Oakland Athletics' top 10 prospects headed into spring training,
DOB: 3/24/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 185
Drafted/Signed: 44th round, 2011 (Rochester HS, N.Y.)
Scouting Notes: Selected in the 44th round in 2011, Bostick is a flat-out ballplayer with decent tools and legitimate secondary skills. After posting a 1.136 OPS during his 14-game professional debut in the Arizona League in 2011, the 5’11”, 185-pound infielder was clearly challenged last season at short-season Vermont.
With a line-drive oriented swing, the right-handed hitter can barrel the ball with consistency and should always collect plenty of doubles. He has the athleticism and arm strength for shortstop, but his speed and defensive actions are a cleaner fit at second base.
Spring Training Forecast: Bostick will use the spring to prepare for a probable full-season assignment to open 2013.
2013 Outlook: A candidate to open the year in extended spring training, Bostick figures to spend most of the upcoming season at full-season Low-A.
DOB: 07/21/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 175
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012 (Arkansas)
Scouting Notes: Reliever at Arkansas who was moved into starting rotation upon turning pro; registered a 3.86 ERA with 19/6 K/BB in 18.2 innings for short-season Vermont (New York-Penn League); consistent, repeatable delivery; power arm with four-pitch mix caters to projection as a starter; little mileage on his arm; was a draft-eligible sophomore.
Fastball sits 92-97 mph and he flirted with triple-digits as a reliever at Arkansas; power curveball with tight rotation and sharp break; downer action; sometimes overthrows; changeup is still a work in progress; has some present fading action to arm side; flashes potential to be an above-average pitch; slider is thrown with velocity in mid 80s; needs to become more efficient with entire arsenal; will have to learn to keep something in order to work deep into starts.
Spring Training Forecast: Sanburn will head to minor league camp as he continues to make the transition from reliever to starter.
2013 Outlook: The right-hander will be eased into the new role at Low-A, but could make the jump to either High-A or Double-A depending on how quickly everything comes together.
DOB: 3/29/1994 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 236
Drafted/Signed: Supp. first round, 2012 (Parkview HS, Ga.)
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.
Spring Training Forecast: Olson will head to minor league camp as he prepares for his first full season in the A’s system.
2013 Outlook: Along with the team’s other top 2012 draft picks, Olson will likely open the 2013 season at Low-A.
DOB: 9/27/1987 (Age: 25)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (USC)
Scouting Notes: 2009 first-rounder has shown plenty in his four-year career in the A’s system; 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 base stealer.
Green has emerged as a super utility man 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.
Spring Training Forecast: Added to the team’s 40-man roster after the 2012 season, Green will likely compete with Jemile Weeks to break camp as the team’s starting second baseman.
2013 Outlook: Whether or not he opens the year on the A’s 25-man roster, Green stands to see significant time in the majors this season due to his defensive versatility.
DOB: 5/2/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’0", 215
Drafted/Signed: 26th round, 2009 by Red Sox (Whitewater HS, Ga.)
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.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in major league spring training, Head will likely receive playing time at both corner infield positions.
2013 Outlook: After struggling at Double-A last season, Head will likely return to that level to begin 2013. He could finish the year at Triple-A with another big performance at the plate.
DOB: 3/22/1994 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’0", 190
Drafted/Signed: Supp. first round, 2012 (Upland HS, Calif.)
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.
Spring Training Forecast: Robertson will continue to fine tune his all-around game in minor league spring training.
2013 Outlook: Roberston could open the year with the A’s short-season affiliate, though he’s also a candidate to start the season in extended spring training before making his full-season debut.
DOB: 11/7/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 5’11", 200
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Vanderbilt)
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/walk ratio; 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.
Spring Training Forecast: Gray will participate in major league camp as he looks to bounce back from an uninspiring season in 2012.
2013 Outlook: Gray will likely open the 2013 season at Triple-A, with his clearest path to the majors looking to be as a reliever.
DOB: 11/10/1989 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’0", 220
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Texas-Arlington)
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 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 at 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 needed for the Coliseum.
Spring Training Forecast: After missing the second half of the 2013 season, Choice will have a chance to reassert his standing as a top prospect this spring.
2013 Outlook: Given his absence during the second half of the season, Choice may catch some people off guard with his quick ascent to the major leagues.
DOB: 12/1/1988 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215
Drafted/Signed: 24th round, 2009 (Marshall)
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-hander 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 and 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 to average pitch, but still effective when thrown at the right time; projects to be a durable mid-rotation starter.
Spring Training Forecast: Straily enters the spring with the chance to break camp as the team’s fifth starter.
2013 Outlook: Whether he opens the 2013 season at Triple-A or as a member of the A’s talented starting rotation, Straily will likely spend a majority of the year in the majors.
DOB: 1/23/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’0", 195
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Pace HS, Fla.)
Scouting Notes: After shedding some bulk prior to his senior season, Russell proved that he could stick at shortstop and was ultimately selected with the 11th-overall pick last June. He certainly didn’t disappoint in his busy professional debut, batting .415/.488/.717 with 15 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases in the Arizona League, .340/.386/.509 with short-season Vermont, and .310/.369/.448 with Low-A Burlington.
Russell posted a 1.027 OPS with 26 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases in 55 games across three levels.
Dynamic right-handed hitter; explosive wrists; strong hands; ropes line drives to all fields; demonstrates a knack for barreling the ball; present strength projects for above-average power; should always tally a high number of doubles and triples; over-the-fence power 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; smart base stealer who picks his spots and gets good jumps.
Plus runner; plenty of range; athleticism for any position on the field; slick glove was especially impressive during debut; plays through the ball and gets rid of it quickly; gathers momentum toward target; active and agile defender; above-average arm strength; throws pills across the infield with a fast arm and smooth transfer.
Spring Training Forecast: After his outstanding professional debut last summer, Russell will participate in major league spring training this spring.
2013 Outlook: He obviously doesn’t stand a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but Russell could hop on an even faster track to the majors with an impressive spring.