Oakland Athletics 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Oakland Athletics 2013 Top 15 Prospects
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Al Skorupa: The Oakland organization surprised nearly everyone with a playoff run in 2012. They did so with a lot of help from their younger players and the system saw some graduations. Yet the cupboard isn’t quite bare. The system is worse off than last year but its somewhat buoyed by a strong draft class. Shortstop Addison Russell’s star had fallen over the last calendar year but he was getting some great helium reports prior to the draft and the A’s nabbed him at 11th overall. That pick already looks like a steal. Russell lost weight and improved his body a lot since last Winter and now looks like he’ll be able to stick at short. His bat proved more ready than many assumed as well and he’s quickly being recognized as one of the best shortstop prospects in the game. Another Oakland prospect who saw his stock skyrocket this year was right hander Dan Straily. Straily’s game improved across the board this year and he all of a sudden has the look of a solid mid rotation pitcher. I know a lot of people are projecting a big regression for Straily, but I like him to find continued success if given the chance. Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Sonny Gray are three A’s arms that disappointed in 2012. I would take Peacock of the three right now, but Cole has the best long term profile and appeared to be fixing what ailed him near the end of the season.
I got a couple looks at supplemental 1st round third baseman Daniel Robertson and I like his chances to be a major league regular in time. The tools are quality and he makes some hard contact. Robertson has a natural feel for hitting and plenty of bat speed. At the age of 18, he’s still growing into his tools but there’s plenty to like here. Nolan Sanburn has some very good velocity and raw stuff but for me he’s similar to Peacock and Gray as an arm that is capable of starting but whose flaws will hold him back some. I think all three guys can start effectively (albeit never living up to their raw stuff and radar gun readings) and all three could potentially be late inning relief arms whose game would particularly play up in short bursts out of the pen. I’ve never been a big believer in Grant Green. Not a fan of his swing and I just don’t see anything close to impact about his game. He definitely put himself back on the map for the org. this year, but its a pretty unexciting pro profile at second base to my eyes. I’d much prefer trying to get Jemile Weeks straightened out. Miles Head is another player in this system that doesn’t do much for me. I don’t see the athleticism or actions of a starting big league third baseman in Head. At first base, I don’t think Head has the approach or overall offensive skillset to feature in any team’s long term plans. Ideally, he’d fit as a corners/1b/3B depth guy on a National League team who starts a couple times a week and helps you off the bench. Its always a hard path to regular playing time for a righty/righty first baseman without an overwhelming bat. Overall, Oakland has some breakout prospects I love, some players coming off down years I’m still fond of and a solid draft class filtering in. The major league team’s outlook is still bright and the A’s should be getting some more helpful pieces coming up over the next 2-3 years.
Jeff Reese: Oakland graduated a number of top prospects during their improbable run to capture the AL West crown. Not only did they contribute to the effort, but the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Jarrod Parker, and Tommy Milone evolved into some of the most integral pieces of the puzzle. After years of mediocrity and selling off pieces the Athletics are trending upward. Taking who graduated into account, it’s surprising how solid their farm system still looks. Addison Russell was the easy choice for the top spot. A prep short stop who had been known within the draft scene since he was an underclassman in high school, Russell’s stock dropped a bit during the summer/fall preceding his senior year. The spring saw Russell get into better shape, quiet the future third basemen talk, and reestablish himself as one of the better prep prospects in the draft. He was still perceived to be more of a back of the first round prospect nationally though. Oakland taking him eleventh overall was a mild surprise. A surprise that I liked at the time. Russell’s pro debut may have been the best amongst the 2012 draftees, and he looks like a steal outside of the top ten.
There is a gap between Addison Russell and the rest of the group. Dan Straily seemingly emerged out of the aether and dominated hitters in the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues. He saw major league time near the end of the season and captured himself a rotation spot going into 2013. Brad Peacock had a similar rise from obscurity a year ago (with the Nationals), but he suffered through an ineffective season in Sacramento. He may fit better in the bullpen long-term which is how Straily moved ahead of him on this list. The other pitching prospect in the Gio Gonzalez trade had a similarly rocky season; bombed out of the California League, AJ Cole was demoted back to single A after eight starts and went on to dominate hitters at that level. He will try his hand at the upper levels again next year. Sonny Gray always looked like a reliever to me while he was at Vanderbilt. His delivery has too much effort and the command is much too poor for me to see it otherwise. Gray’s three pitch mix that includes a mid 90s fastball, an underrated change up, and an absolute knockout curve ball would make him a dominant relief ace. Sanburn pitched in relief for Arkansas, but there are enough ingredients for him to get a look as a starting pitcher.
Renato Nunez was a highly touted international free agent in 2010 and successfully made his stateside debut. Daniel Robertson and he will compete for the same third base job as they progress up through the minors. Robertson’s advanced hit tool made him a Bullpen Banter favorite pre-draft; nothing in his pro debut did anything to change that. He may not have more than average power, but the defense and ability to hit gives him a chance to be an above-average regular. Michael Choice has the raw power to be an impact level corner outfielder, but his swing has exploitable length that must be minimized. Before being cut short by injury, his Texas League season saw him improve his strikeout rate but his power output took a hit along with it. 2013 could be the year where everything starts to come together or he could move in the opposite direction. Grant Green has been a disappointment but has a bat that should play at second base. Matt Olson has the tools and swing to hit enough to profile at first base, but he has a long, steep road ahead of him. Infielder Chris Bostick concludes the list. I saw him briefly during the NYPL All-Star Game; he’s a good athlete with bat speed and some offensive upside.
Outside of the top 15, the most notable are catcher Max Stassi who has the defense and offensive upside to become a solid catcher if everything comes together and Michael Ynoa who finally saw extensive playing time in 2012.
Addison Russell, SS
JD Sussman – Deep Impact: Addison Russell @ Fangraphs
Brad Peacock, RHP
Michael Choice, OF
David Robertson, 3B
Sonny Gray, RHP
Miles Head, 3B/1B
Grant Green, 2B/OF
Chris Bostick, 2B
Max Stassi, C
JD Sussman - Mythical Pitcher Michael Ynoa Uncovered