MLB: Oakland A's Prospect Michael Choice Probably the Right One

Jose AlvarezContributor IMarch 8, 2011

Michael Choice warming up for the A's.
Michael Choice warming up for the A's.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For me, watching the Oakland A's in the late 2000s was particularly painful.

Although Billy Beane is one of the best general managers in the game and makes do with what he has to work with, the A's have struggled.

They have struggled so much that their Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, won four Pacific Coast League (PCL) titles in the 2000s, becoming champions in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008. They were runner ups in 2009.

Since baseball rosters like the A's are an ever-revolving door where new faces are shuffled in and out, the A's have had very few mainstays throughout the last decade. With third baseman Eric Chavez now with the New York Yankees, the longest tenured Athletic is Mark Ellis, who has been with the team since 2002.

Enter Michael Choice, the A's first round draft pick in 2010.

Choice's selection at 10th overall out of the University of Texas-Arlington wasn't unwarranted; he had won numerous awards in college and was compared to power hitters like Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn.

With much-hyped prospects such as Chris Carter and Michael Taylor struggling in the minors, Choice can possibly reach the majors before them because of his combination of average, power and speed. In addition, Choice has an even more imposing weapon in his arsenal: nine-time Gold Glover and current Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who serves as his mentor and lives near Choice's hometown of Arlington, Texas.

"A lot of it was just talking about professionalism, how you handle your business," Choice said.

"When we'd hit, it'd be strictly focused on hitting. He saw my swing, just kind of helped me out from there."

Hunter had some nice things to say about the prospect. "It was cool to bring him over," Hunter said.

"The guy has some power. He's an athlete and he worked pretty hard this offseason."

According to Baseball America, Choice is the No. 3 prospect behind Carter and shortstop Grant Green. In 30 games last year split between the rookie league AZL Athletics and A- league Vancouver Canadians, Choice hit .266 with seven home runs and six stolen bases.

The numbers may not look eye-popping, but Choice also had an on-base percentage of .377, which is a sign of things to come.

On the flip side of things, Choice needs to work on his patience at the plate. Baseball Prospectus pundit Kevin Goldstein said: "Strikeouts are a HUGE concern with him. That's the one thing that could hold him back."

However, with Choice working with Hunter, he could hurdle some of his hitting problems and develop into a great corner outfielder.

If he does make the majors, it may be in time for the 2012 season at the earliest. Expect him to come up to Double-A Midland by the middle or second-half of this summer if he proves himself.