Oakland Athletics Top Prospects Invited to Spring Training
After a busy off season, with Spring Training now just days away, the A's have invited some of the organization's top prospects to train with the team in Phoenix and gain some experience with the club they will one day help contend in the American League West.
Increased roster depth makes it unlikely that any of these players will break camp with the A's major league team, but they will give A's fans a glance of the future.
Fautino De Los Santos (RHP)
De Los Santos, acquired by Oakland as part of the Nick Swisher trade, worked his way up to Double-A Midland in 2010.
Due to complications in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and his age, De Los Santos is now working his way through the A's system by way of the bullpen. He was a Starting Pitcher when he was acquired from the White Sox.
He has a plus fastball at 94-96 miles per hour with good movement, and a good slider which actually breaks more like a slurve. His change-up is still considered a below average pitch, which he will work on as he progresses further through the A's minor league system.
He struggled in Double-A Midland in 2010, so expect the A's to start him back in Midland again this season unless he dominates through spring, in which case he may find himself in Sacramento.
Max Stassi (Catcher)
Stassi, the A's fourth round draft pick in the 2009, is the eventual heir to Kurt Suzuki at catcher.
Stassi has a quick bat and a nice level swing that produces good power to all fields. Stassi still needs to develop better pitch recognition as he struggled last year in low-A ball, hitting just .229/.310/.380 in 411 at-bats.
Defensively he has good arm strength and a willingness to take charge.
He will only be 20 years this old this coming season, and will benefit from more development. While this is his first Spring Training with the big club, do not expect him to break camp with the A's. Rather you will be able to watch him play this coming season by taking an hour drive to Stockton and watching him as the every day regular of the Ports.
Jemile Weeks (Second Base)
Weeks, the A's first round pick of the 2008 amateur draft, has had trouble staying on the field since being drafted by Oakland. His health problems appear to be behind him now though, and he will come into Spring Training ready to show that he is ready to step into the Majors and fill the shoes of Mark Ellis, who is in his final year under contract with the A's.
Weeks is a patient hitter with good bat speed that produces line-drive power, currently resulting in more doubles than home runs. Weeks projects to be an offensive catalyst at the Major League level when he finally reaches the show.
Defensively he still needs to work on his footwork. He should benefit from a spring working with Ellis, considered one of the best defensive second basemen in the game.
Weeks spent the end of last season with Double-A Midland, and should find himself starting the season at Triple-A Sacramento this season.
A September call-up, or replacement in the event of injury is likely this season.
Grant Green (Short Stop)
Oakland's first round pick in the 2009 amateur draft, Green currently tops most lists of the A's top prospects for 2011.
Green hit .318/.363/.520 in 548 at-bats for the A's High-A affiliate in his first full professional season last year. Green has all the tools to be an offensive short stop at the MLB level. He has a nice level swing, utilizing the whole field while showing good power.
Defensively Green has fast feet and hands, but he needs to improve his footwork. His range is also average and will need to improve as he progresses through the A's system.
Green will eventually take over for current A's short stop, Cliff Pennington, possibly as early as 2012. Expect him to start the season at Double-A Midland, but possibly work his way up to Triple-A Sacramento by season's end.
Adrian Cardenas (Second Base / Infielder)
Cardenas was the Phillies first round pick in the 2006 amateur draft, he came over to the A's in the Joe Blanton trade.
Cardenas finished last season with Triple-A Sacramento, and could see time in the Majors this season as an injury replacement or late season call-up. He will compete with Jemile Weeks to take over second base from long time Oakland Athletic, Mark Ellis. Ellis' contract expires after this season.
Cardenas has good bat control, and has the ability to pepper line drives all over the field. Many scouts envision him being a consistent .300 hitter at the Major League level.
Defensively it is hard to project Cardenas. His best position is second base, but with Jemile Weeks also on the depth chart at second, the A's will play Cardenas at Short Stop and third base as well.
Cardenas will start the season back in Sacramento, but expect to see him at some point this season in Oakland.
Michael Choice (Center Field)
Choice, the A's first round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, joins his first Spring Training in only his first full professional season.
Choice has a quick bat, and gets out well on his hips. He will need to work on not getting out on his front foot too quickly. All the raw tools are there for him to be an excellent power hitting outfielder in the Major Leagues for many seasons.
Defensively, he has the ability to stick in Center Field, although many scouts see him eventually moving to Left Field if he loses speed. His arm is strength is not considered good enough for him to be moved to Right Field.
His showing in Spring Training should determine whether he starts the season in Single-A Stockton or Double-A Midland.
While he won't break camp with the A's this season, expect to see Choice work his way through the A's minor league system quickly.
Michael Taylor (Outfielder)
Taylor, the Phillies fifth round draft pick in 2007, came to the A's in exchange for Brett Wallace in the three team Roy Halladay trade last season.
Taylor is projected as having plus power, however he struggled in Triple-A Sacramento last season hitting only six home runs. He did hit .272/.348/.392 in 464 at-bats, and may have been pressing to make an impression on his new club. Taylor has an upper cut swing, which is credited with much of his power.
Defensively he has a strong arm, and projects as a solid defensive right fielder.
Due to his struggles last season, Taylor will see another full season in Sacramento to hopefully regain his lost power.
Expect to see him in a September call up, unless the A's fall out of contention and trade either Josh Willingham or David DeJesus mid season.
Chris Carter (Outfielder / 1B / DH)
After struggling in his first stint with Oakland last season, Carter returned to finish the season strong. Unfortunately for Carter, due to the A's off season acquisitions of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui, he will likely find himself back in Sacramento to start the season.
Carter has excellent power and good athleticism. He has excellent raw power, and can hit home runs even without squaring up the ball. He does strike out too much, which will hurt his overall Major League batting averages, but still gets on base plenty due to high walk totals.
Defensively Carter will continue to work on his game in the outfield as well as first base. First base is his best position, but he is unlikely to push Daric Barton out of the position. He could see time in the outfield if any of the A's starters go down to injury, same at designated hitter.
Carter will see time in Oakland this season, although it could be limited to another September call up. Expect him to be a regular in Oakland starting in 2012.