There's a whole new crop of Oakland Athletics prospects, but are any of them the next Addison Russell, who skipped to the top of the list as soon as he arrived?
Here's the long and short of it: No. At least, not yet.
After the first few rounds, the A's have 14 (as of this writing) young men joining the organization, each with hopes of one day suiting up in the green and gold. Some will get the chance to live that dream, others will get a small glimpse and the rest will regrettably never play in the Coliseum as a professional baseball player.
So which handful of new draftees immediately make the top 15? Keep reading to find out.
(Rankings are dependent on new draftees signing with the A's.)
Addison Russell is still the No. 1 prospect in the Oakland Athletics' organization.
Out of high school, Russell garnered comparisons to Hanley Ramirez. That's pretty impressive on its own.
So far, Russell has spent time on the disabled list and is only hitting .225 in 49 games with the Stockton Ports. Still, he has 15 doubles, four triples and six home runs, showing the propensity to hit for power quite often.
According to Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubHouse.com, Russell remains at the top of the prospects list because he "still has [a] star ceiling at a premium position." Essentially, he's got tons of talent, plenty of room to get even better and he's still very young.
Quote obtained firsthand by writer.
Sonny Gray may be the next young surprise for the rotation.
It seems like year in and year out, the A's churn out pitching prospects who come up and dominate from the start.
Just look at the long line of guys: Barry Zito, Rich Harden, Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Chad Gaudin and Dallas Braden all spent time with the Sacramento River Cats.
All have had, or are having, successful Major League Baseball careers.
Then there's guys like Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily who spent little time in Sacramento in 2012.
The point is, the Oakland A's have an uncanny ability to produce quality pitching, and it looks like Sonny Gray may be next in line.
In 2013, he's shining in Triple-A.
Gray is 6-3 with a 2.43 ERA. In 11 games, he's allowed just 24 runs, only 19 of them earned, and two home runs. He's also walked 25 batters compared to 71 strikeouts.
Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse.com said of Gray: "[He] is having a terrific year and has a solid future."
Quote obtained firsthand by author.
Choice may be in the A's outfield sooner than later.
Michael Choice has a legitimate shot at being called up relatively soon.
Even if you assume Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick stick around long-term, it's plausible Coco Crisp's days might be numbered strictly due to age. He's not ancient, but he's solidly in his 30s and has an expensive option for next season. If the A's choose not to pick up the option, there will be an opening in the outfield.
Seth Smith could do it, but he seems better suited for a DH role. Michael Taylor seems deserving by seniority alone. But, in small glimpses throughout his career, he hasn't done much to impress while in the big leagues.
Choice on the other hand, is an interesting, well, choice.
The 23-year-old is hitting .283 in Triple-A Sacramento. So far, he's driven in 45 runs and, if he keeps the pace, will likely finish with the most RBI of his minor league career thus far. And he certainly has the potential for power; In 2011, he crushed 30 home runs in Double-A.
Furthermore, according to Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com, some compared Choice to Cespedes earlier this year.
It's only a matter of time before we see Choice in Oakland.
Green is waiting for his shot at Major League Baseball.
Once upon a time, many saw Grant Green as the hottest prospect in Oakland's system. After several position changes and nearing half a decade in the minors, Green should still be seen as a hot prospect.
Green has yet to really get an opportunity to show what he can do in the majors.
He's seemingly always in the midst of a transition—learning a new position—or just flat out blocked by someone ahead of him in the show.
In 54 games with Sacramento, he's collected 68 hits and driven in 33 runs. Green has the athleticism to play multiple positions, flashes a bit of pop and can swipe a bag or two as well.
Like Choice, Green will be in the majors someday soon.
Ever since returning from injury, Daniel Robertson has done everything possible to make a name for himself.
Hitting .269 in 33 games in the minors, Robertson has 35 hits, eight extra-base hits, four homes runs and 18 RBI. In the last 10 games, his average is actually .282.
According to Coast2coastprospects.com, Robertson—known more for his hitting than for his fielding—has the potential to be the next David Freese.
I doubt many A's fans would scoff at that.
The 6'4" first baseman may be hitting an unimpressive .232, but 25 of his 51 hits have been for extra bases. Seven home runs and 37 RBI counter the low-end stats easily.
He has struggled in the latest stretch.
However, the power and the batting average with runners on (.286) display potential. The video above shows some fantastic quickness for a big guy as well.
Taylor had a stint in Oakland earlier this year, but it last less than 10 games.
Similar to Grant Green, who has been considered a prospect for a few years now, Michael Taylor is on his last legs as a "prospect."
While many may have lost hope, he stays on this list—for only a little bit longer.
Even though he hits terribly in the majors, he remains for three reasons. First, he's still young enough at 27 years old for things to finally click. If it doesn't by 28, it likely never will. So there's an outside shot he'll finally take advantage of a time to shine.
Second, he hasn't really gotten too many opportunities with the big league club. Taylor has played in a grand total of 26 games for Oakland in three years. There's no consistency, and typically before he can even get his feet under him, he's sent back down.
Lastly, he tears up Triple-A.
For example, Taylor owns a minor league career batting average of .295, skewed by his first year in the organization in which he hit .227. Throw that out, and he has never hit below .272.
In 2013, Taylor has a line of .316/.373/.522/.895.
Taylor literally has this year to show his Triple-A talent can translate into a big league career. If not, he loses his spot on the list. But for now, he's one of the most major league ready players in the farm.
After hitting .325 last year in rookie ball, Renato Nunez made a successful jump to the next level. This year, he's hitting .288 with the Beloit Snappers. His average is the fourth best on the team.
One issue—at least this year—is his walk to strikeout ratio. He doesn't walk often (14 times), but he strikes out at a rate much higher than nearly everyone else on the team.
Still, he leads the Snappers in home runs and is tied for the most RBI, so he's a producer.
Scour the internet and you'll see plenty of chatter about his offensive potential. According to Scoutingbook.com, any defensive issues he may have could be overlooked—completely due to the offensive numbers.
Looking at Miles Head's stats, two trends are noticeable.
The first is that, as he progresses through the minors, his stats are dropping slightly, or rather, coming back down to earth.
In Single-A, he hit .338 but then followed that up by dropping down to .254 in high-A ball. The next year in Stockton, he hit a whopping .382. But once again, he moved up to Double-A and dropped down to .272. Now in his second year in Midland, Head has begun the season hitting .197.
Listed at 6', 215 lbs., Head is a shorter and stockier version of Kevin Millar, profiling as an average-at-best defender with a dangerous bat. Opinions on his glove work are mixed, with some scouts saying he has a chance to become an adequate first baseman, while others feel he lacks the agility and will be limited to the DH position.
If that dangerous bat comes back around and stays, Head can move up the prospects list. If he loses it, though, he loses the one major asset he has keeping him on the list all together.
If he continues down the path he's started, 20-year-old pitcher Raul Alcantara will have a bright future ahead of him.
Pitching for the Beloit Snappers this season, Alcantara is 7-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Even more impressive—if that's even possible—is the fact that in 71.1 innings, he's allowed only three home runs and seven walks.
Alcantara is still incredibly young, so he has plenty of time to progress. But what he's shown so far is worth keeping a very close eye on.
Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com's draft and prospect expert, had this to say about Sanburn:
Sanburn can crank it up into the upper-90s in shorter stints, sitting around 95 mph. He couples that with a hard, biting slurvy curve that can be nasty at times. While he's generally around the strike zone and goes right after hitters, his overall command needs to be refined.
So far in the Oakland organization, there's not a lot of stats to continue scouting his development.
In seven games last season, Sanburn went 0-1 with a 3.86 in 18.2 innings. The rest of his stats aren't flattering; He allowed 23 hits, eight earned runs and an opposing batting average of .299.
Sanburn has not pitched in 2013.
It may be a bit optimistic to put Billy McKinney of Plano West High School in the top 15 already, but then again, Addison Russell jumped to No. 1 out of high school.
That's not to say McKinney is already the next Russell—he isn't.
But he certainly can be in the conversation this high because of the talent he already owns at his age and the high ceiling he has to add to it.
Bleacher Report's Adam Wells compared McKinney to major league outfielder David Murphy and had this to say:
McKinney has also been lauded for his passion and drive on the field—two elements of the game that tend to get overlooked. For a young man to come into the game with the ability to hit, desire and the work ethic to keep getting better, it is hard to root against him.
Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com (via Oaklandclubhouse.com) added:
McKinney is more of a skills over tools guy. Not a perfect swing mechanically but has above-average bat speed. Can square-up on everything. Not a burner but I think he's fast enough to stay in centerfield. He profiles as an everyday guy.
He's obviously willing to work hard. If he utilizes that ethic and works with minor league coaches on mechanics, McKinney will be a fun prospect to watch rise through the ranks.
Bruce Maxwell has plenty going for him already. Here's what Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com pointed out:
Maxwell is now the de facto top catching prospect in the system since Max Stassi was shipped off to Houston. Left-handed hitting catchers are always a premium and Maxwell has the chance to hit for average and power as he progresses, thanks to a solid approach at the plate. He has the arm for the position, throwing out 33 percent of would-be basestealers...
The 22-year-old is hitting .299 with the Beloit Snappers. He has an impressive .368 on-base percentage, too, and nearly walks as much as he strikes out.
It's worth noting, at 22 years old, he's a bit "old" when it comes to prospects in Single-A.
While many considered Jonathan Gray to be the No. 1 prospect in the 2013 draft class, fellow Oklahoma pitcher Dillon Overton received plenty of looks as well.
According to Kiley McKinney of Scout.com (h/t: Oaklandclubhouse.com), Overton actually came into the season as a better prospect than Gray but fell behind his teammate after an injury sidelined him.
Melissa Lockard, author of the Oaklandclubhouse.com report above had this to say:
In past years, Overton's fastball has touched 95 while mostly sitting in the low-90s, but this year he was more 89-91. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Overton also throws a breaking ball and a change-up. He gets high marks for his pitchability and his toughness on the mound.
Back-end rotation guys generally aren't recognized often as game-changers, but for playoff-caliber teams they're paramount.
Consider Oakland, whose own A.J. Griffin pitches in the back of the rotation to the tune of a 5-4 record and a 3.67 ERA. He isn't talked about as heavily as Bartolo Colon or Jarrod Parker, but he's pitching on their level. Guys like that are necessary components even if they don't get the recognition.
For now, Overton's future seems dependent on a rebound and mechanics adjustments.
If Adam Wells' comparison of Chad Pinder to Placido Polanco yields true, then Pinder's progression is worth keeping an eye on.
Wells notes translatable (to the majors) hitting with quick hands, bat speed and control. His draft profile continues on to spotlight Pinder's above-average defense, specifically due to plus arm strength. The one knock on Pinder may be his speed.
Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com (via Oaklandclubhouse.com) adds "Pinder brings a loose swing with some bat speed, fringy current power and solid defense with a projectable frame at third base that could work at second base in the short term."
Polanco is a career .297 hitter with decent pop. He's no superstar, but he's a fantastic complementary piece to any team. Every team needs their Polancos, so if Pinder becomes that kind of contributor, it's nothing to scoff at.