Oakland Athletics Offseason: Prospect Michael Choice Tearing Up Fall League

Nathaniel Jue@nathanieljueSenior Writer IIOctober 29, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Michael Choice #71 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during media photo day at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on February 24, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This offseason, Oakland Athletics prospect Michael Choice is making a bid to be a part of the team’s 2012 Opening Day roster.

Choice is off to a hot start, playing for Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League (AFL). He's batting .326 with five home runs, 10 runs scored and a 1.164 OPS in 11 games. More eye-opening are his stats against right-handed pitchers (Choice is a right-handed hitter): a .355 batting average and .806 slugging percentage in 31 at-bats. 

These numbers speak to his continued maturation as a hitter, coming off an impressive season in Class-A Stockton, where he batted .285 with 59 extra-base hits, 82 runs batted in and a .918 OPS in 118 games. Choice tore up the California League, where he ranked first with 30 home runs, despite missing 22 of his team’s games due to injuries. He also assembled a 47-game on-base streak.

The 21-year-old outfielder is acquiring more experience through fall and winter baseball, hopefully providing him an edge heading into spring training next year. Throughout his minor league career so far, Choice is proving that he has that he has the power-hitting ability to go with a respectable batting average.

However, he is young enough to garner some more grooming before reaching the big leagues. As with most power hitters, Choice has an incredibly high strikeout rate—134 in 118 games for the Stockton Ports. If he is able to reduce his strikeouts even just a little bit, Choice could earn a long consideration by A’s management next season. He already has reasonable patience at the plate, demonstrated by his 61 walks in 467 at-bats at the Class-A level. He just needs to get a better grasp of reading pitches, and he’ll improve his mastery of the strike zone.

Regardless, as evidence by his performance in the AFL, Choice is proving to be a solid candidate to make the Oakland roster. The A’s have several outfielders who should not be returning, so Choice could be one prospect who will replace the veteran free agents. And considering how hungry the A’s are for power hitting, he would fill in nicely in the middle of the lineup.

If he continues to light up the desert sky, he could be the A’s choice to be the starting right fielder.