Oakland Athletics: 5 Prospects to Be Excited About

Richard Scheuermann@@RJSureCorrespondent IJune 18, 2012

Oakland Athletics: 5 Prospects to Be Excited About

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    When it comes to Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff and spending money on his organization, he's essentially the polar opposite of what George Steinbrenner was. According to USAToday.com, the Oakland A's currently have the second-lowest payroll in the MLB at about $55 million for the 2012 season. The New York Yankees are nearly quadrupling that total with $197 million spent on this season alone.

    This is exactly why it becomes so vital for the Oakland A's to cultivate homegrown talent within their organization.

    Right now, Oakland has five standout prospects that may be able to make an impact as soon as they get the call-up.

    Here they are.

1. CF Michael Choice

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    Choice, the No.10 overall selection in the 2010 MLB draft, displayed great power and hitting ability during his first full minor league season in 2011.

    Choice batted .285 with 30 homers and 83 RBI with the Class-A Advanced Stockton Ports. The 22-year-old center fielder does tend to strike out frequently, but his power also allows him to draw regular walks.

    Through 66 games with the Double-A Midland Rock Hounds in 2012, Choice has a .266 batting average to go with five homers and 38 RBI.

    Choice may need some more time in the minors to properly develop, but expect to see the young power hitter get the call-up by 2013 and begin making an offensive impact for the A's.

2. RHP Brad Peacock

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    Brad Peacock was one of a multitude of prospects shipped from Washington to Oakland in exchange for Gio Gonzalez, and he appears to be the most promising as of now.

    Peacock was drafted in 2006 and didn't make an MLB appearance until late last season while with the Washington Nationals, but he was able to make an instant impact.

    In three starts with Washington, Peacock was 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA.

    Peacock is a 24-year-old righty with a fastball in the mid- to upper-90s, an above-average curveball and a quality changeup.

    His 5.67 ERA through 14 Triple-A starts in 2012 has hindered him from making the jump to the next level, but his talent should get him there sooner rather than later. 

3. CF Grant Green

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    Green, a 24-year-old converted outfielder, has shown why he was such a highly touted prospect coming out of USC in 2009.

    One of the top offensive prospects for Oakland at the moment, Green is batting an impressive .294 with eight home runs and 38 RBI through 61 games at Triple-A Sacramento this season.

    Green has also displayed great discipline at the plate with just 45 strikeouts in 252 at-bats at Sacramento.

    Once Green hones in on his defensive game and becomes a more natural outfielder, he'll be on the fast track to Oakland.

4. C Derek Norris

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    Derek Norris is another player who was acquired in the Gio Gonzalez trade, and he's ranked the eighth-best catching prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

    He's an above-average catcher with a great arm, and he even has decent running ability with five stolen bases at Triple-A Sacramento this season.

    Norris has been playing in the minors since 2007, and he's surpassed 20 home runs on two occasions. His power is undeniable, and it has allowed him to draw a large number of walks, giving him a high on-base percentage.

    Norris must improve on his all-around hitting ability at the dish, and he should also look to cut back on the K's before he gets his call-up.

5. RHP Sonny Gray

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    Gray was the 18th overall selection in last year's MLB draft, and he seemed to be exceeding expectations in his first minor league experience.

    Through his first 22 innings pitched, Gray had a 0.82 ERA and 20 strikeouts against just six walks.

    This season, Gray has regressed somewhat and has struggled with some command issues at Double-A Midland.

    The 22-year-old right-hander displays a great fastball, a slider/curve combo and an OK changeup.

    Once he is able to overcome his control issues, Gray may soon become a viable starting pitcher option for Oakland.