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July 8, 2013
The Situation: The first-place Oakland Athletics have received lackluster production out of the second base position in 2013—.264/.339/.343 and just one home run through 89 games—and now look to Triple-A Sacramento for an offensive boost in the form of Grant Green. After a solid but unspectacular year in Sactown last summer, Green has broken out in his second tour through the hitter-friendly PCL, triple-slashing .318/.374/.500 through 81 games whiles launching 11 home runs and 25 doubles.
Background: After entering his junior year at USC as a potential top five draft pick in 2009, Green struggled at the plate and in the field, ultimately dropping to Oakland as the 13th overall selection that June. Since then, he’s slowly climbed through the minor league ranks, showing steady growth in his game, and particularly in his approach at the plate. After shuffling around the diamond through his first three full seasons, Green made the permanent move off of shortstop in 2013 and looks to have found a permanent home at the keystone.
Scouting Report: Green projects to have average tools across the board, with a chance for an above-average hit tool thanks to an improved approach at the plate and a simple swing that helps the barrel to the ball more often than not. While he has shown some over-the-fence pop during his minor league tenure, those power spikes have come in home run-friendly environments, and the odds are that Green will be a much larger doubles threat as a major leaguer—particularly in the spacious Coliseum.
Green has improved his production in the field through reps and instruction, but the strongest catalyst for the positive growth may have been the simple switch off the six-spot. At shortstop, his range was pushed at the margins, often leading to hurried actions and imperfect execution. He is a more deliberate defender at second, but has enough athleticism and body control to make the necessary pivots, and his lower half works well enough to cover the necessary ground without sacrificing his ability to finish.
Green is most likely a second-division starter, long term, but given the current state of second base on Oakland’s 25-man, that would be a nice improvement. He should hit for average with a good number of doubles and low-double-digit home runs, and will show some on-base ability while providing positive value on the bases.
Immediate Big-League Future: Green isn’t being promoted to sit on the bench, so he should see the lion’s share of the action at second base. The lack of production thus far from the Athletics’ second basemen should afford Green some adjustment time, as there is no reason not to let him get his reps and find his stride, even if that means some struggles along the way. If Green proves up to the task of adjusting to top-tier pitching in his first taste of big league ball, the A’s will get a much-needed bump in production and Green will lay claim to the inside track on the everyday second base job in Oakland long term. —Nick J. Faleris
Fantasy Impact: Second base may not be an offensive powerhouse across baseball right now, but it's never good when the season is more than half way over and an entire team has gone homerless from the keystone. That's exactly what the Athletics had done so far in 2013 going into Sunday's game, with Eric Sogard leading the charge. Enter Grant Green, who has been waiting to make his major league debut for what feels like an eternity at this point (though I'm sure it feels longer to him than it does to me).
Unfortunately for the Athletics, Green has shown power only in strong offensive environments during his minor league career. He's certainly not a nothing in the category, like they’ve been getting, but expecting him to be much more than around a 10-homer guy over the course of a full season is probably pushing it. Green's biggest attribute for fantasy purposes in the short term will likely be his ability to hit for a decent average. He owns a career .305 mark in the minor leagues, and a 15 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A over the past two seasons. And with 17 stolen bases in the past season and a half, he's not a zero on the basepaths either.
Green is going to draw interest in both AL-only and deep mixed leagues, but if the expectations are derived from his recent minor league numbers, his future owners will likely end up disappointed. In AL-only formats, he's worth a $10-12 bid given the lack of depth in the middle, especially in the American League. In 16-plus-team mixed leagues, he can be a perfectly reasonable option for a middle infield spot, in the same class as Logan Forsythe. There should not be particularly strong interest in him in anything shallower, even if it is a keeper/dynasty format. After all, he’ll be 26 years old before the regular season ends, which limits his appeal. —Bret Sayre
Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @NickJFaleris