While cellar-dwelling teams are warming their prospects up for future big league opportunities, the A's called up four players who will contribute in the playoff run.
Outfielder Michael Choice, infielder Andy Parrino, utility man Jemile Weeks and relief pitcher Pedro Figueroa were all promoted from the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats with specific roles in mind.
Sonny Gray has reached the majors. Addison Russell is playing for the River Cats at the age of 19. And Choice, the organization's third phenom, is on his way to breaking into the crowded Athletics outfield.
Choice rose through the minors after being taken with the A's first pick in the 2010 draft. The outfield mashed 30 home runs at High-A Stockton in 2011, impressing baseball insiders like Peter Gammons.
from a great scout:"Michael Choice is going to be a monster. Special batspeed, strength,athleticism..."— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 8, 2011
After emerging as a middle-of-the-order threat for the River Cats, Choice was rumored to be the headliner in a deadline deal for Jake Peavy, per the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser.
The A's refused to part with Choice, and he rewarded them with a .303/.390/.445 line before being called up. He started two key games against the Rangers last week, collecting his first major league hit off of Martin Perez.
Though Choice came up as a center fielder, he switched off with Shane Peterson between all outfield positions in Sacramento and has played in right field and designated hitter since coming to Oakland.
Minor league scouts, who judge players on a scale from 2-8, gave Choice's speed a 5, his glove a 5 and his arm a 4. With good-not-great defensive tools, he seems destined for a corner outfield spot.
Parrino became Oakland's backup second baseman after Scott Sizemore tore his ACL early in the year but was demoted after recording three hits in 10 games.
The A's will use Parrino largely as a defensive replacement, since he has played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field. He made no errors in 140.2 major league innings with San Diego in 2011.
His versatility is an asset, but Parrino's .210/.300/.302 line in Sacramento suggests that the switch-hitter will be the last bat off the bench.
Flash back to 2011 when Weeks tore up the basepaths as a rookie. He hit .303 with eight triples and 22 steals in 97 games.
Weeks struggled defensively in Oakland and moved to center field after his demotion to capitalize on his wheels. With Chris Young, Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes all capable of playing center, Weeks probably won't get many innings in the A's outfield.
He is also unlikely to crack second base, since the A's brought in Alberto Callaspo and have Eric Sogard on the bench. Weeks also played 23 games at shortstop for Sacramento, but Sogard and Jed Lowrie are blocking his path.
The "Jemile High Club" will likely see their man as a pinch runner in late innings, where he can motor around the bases in a throwback uniform.
Who will make the biggest impact down the stretch?
P-Figs is armed with a nasty 95-mph sinker, as well as a low-90s four-seamer and a high-80s slider. All 12 pitches he threw in his first game on September 3 were sinkers.
In 19 games as a reliever for the A's last season, Figueroa compiled a 3.32 ERA and held hitters a .216 batting average.
To stick in the majors, Figueroa needs to improve his control. He allowed 6.23 BB/9 last season and had a 1.43 WHIP despite his low BAA.
The A's already have Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins for late innings, and Brett Anderson has been a long reliever since returning from a broken foot. Figueroa should be nothing more than the last mop-up man out of the 'pen.