State of the Farm: “He said Rocky you met your match. And Rocky said, doc it's only a scratch. And I'll be better, I'll be better doc as soon as I am able.”
The Top Ten
- SS Addison Russell
- OF Michael Choice
- RHP Dan Straily
- RHP Sonny Gray
- IF/OF Grant Green
- RHP Nolan Sanburn
- 3B Renato Nunez
- 1B Matthew Olson
- 3B Daniel Robertson
- 1B/3B Miles Head
1. Addison Russell
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 195 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Pace High School (Pace, FL)
2012 Stats: .415/.488/.717 at complex level AZL (26 games); .340/.386/.509 at short-season Vermont (13 games); .310/.369/.448 at Low-A Burlington (16 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6 potential power; 6 arm; 7 glove
What Happened in 2012: Russell showed up at the professional level with a better body and a better bat than expected, hitting his way to full-season ball as an 18-year-old.
Strengths: Special hands; super quick with the bat; good present strength; can drive the ball all over the diamond; very good fastball hitter; will already shows game power and should develop at least solid-average power at maturity; plus-plus actions at shortstop; soft hands; arm is left-side strong.
Weaknesses: Lacks plus run and range isn’t crazy; actions are great, but footwork can get clumsy; eager fastball hitter; can shift weight early and end up on front foot on off-speed; new body disbelief.
Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star player
Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; moving fast. with legit skills, but only 19; body projection key to future at shortstop.
Fantasy Future: Russell can rake from a premium position; he could hit .280-plus with high doubles/20 HR.
The Year Ahead: Russell could be special, with a 6/6 potential bat at a premium defensive position. The ultimate role projection is tied to his ability to stick at shortstop, which appears to be the case at this stage of development, but its difficult to project what his body will look like at maturity. The hands/actions are legit, and the arm is plus, so if the lateral range holds steady, Russell can play the position at the highest level. He could jump to the California League to start 2013, and it wouldn’t shock many talent evaluators if the 19-year-old finishes the season at the Double-A level. If you are looking for a player that could be the top prospect in baseball at this time next year, Russell is a good candidate.
Major league ETA: 2014
2. Michael Choice
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 225 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, University of Texas at Arlington
2012 Stats: .287/.356/.423 at Double-A Midland (91 games)
The Tools: 7 raw; 5 run
What Happened in 2012: A slow start and whispers about poor baseball shape quickly gave way to a breakout month of July, but a broken hand ended his season before he could complete the breakout.
Strengths: Plus-plus raw power; serious strength; high-end bat speed; whips the bat through the zone; good fastball hitter; brings a plan to the plate; runs well for thicker build; glove plays in the corner; arm is a 5 and strong enough for right.
Weaknesses: Big swing and miss; struggles to match barrel to pitch plane (breaking stuff); arm is only average; hit tool doesn’t have plus projection; high-maintenance body.
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player
Explanation of Risk: High risk; big swing/miss; how much power plays at highest level?
Fantasy Future: Has the potential to be prototypical corner bat, with 30-plus HR power and some on-base ability; is always going to have high strikeout totals; unlikely to hit for high average.
The Year Ahead: Choice was hitting .435 in the month of July when he hit the shelf, and with a clean bill of health he will look to tap back into that run of success. It remains to be seen which player from 2012 was legit: the lackluster early season version or the beast of July that scared opposing pitchers and slugged over .700 and killed a few fans with his bare hands and…..you get the idea. Choice has a ton of potential and that potential is tied to his big raw power. If he can get that to play at the highest level, the A’s have an impact bat that can hit in the middle of a lineup.
Major league ETA: 2013
3. Dan Straily
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 215 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 24th round, 2009 draft, Marshall University (Huntington, WV)
2012 Stats: 3.38 ERA (85.1 IP, 70 IP, 108 K, 23 BB) at Double-A Midland; 2.03 ERA (66.2 IP, 40 H, 82 K, 19 BB) at Triple-A Sacramento; 3.89 ERA (39.1 IP, 36 H, 16 BB) at major-league level
The Tools: 5+ FB; 6 CH; 5 SL
What Happened in 2012: After a strong 2011 campaign failed to put him on the prospect map, Straily decided to miss 190 bats in 152 minor-league innings and force his way to the major-league level.
Strengths: Excellent pitchability; deep arsenal; good execution; sharp control; fastball works low-90s; features some sink; changeup is plus offering; good fastball deception and late action; good vs both RH/LH; shows multiple breaking balls; slider is solid-average; can throw pitch for strikes; good at changing speeds and angles; too advanced for minor-league timing.
Weaknesses: Fastball can be pedestrian; needs to hit spots at highest level; sharp control, but command within the zone still needs work; breaking balls are average and effective, but not major-league monsters; has to pitch his way out of situations/can’t overpower.
Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter
Explanation of Risk: Low risk; achieved major-league success; deep arsenal; feel for pitching.
Fantasy Future: Despite minor-league strikeout totals, struggled to miss bats at the highest level; body to log innings; league-average workhorse could play up because of home park.
The Year Ahead: Straily is ready to pitch the entire season in a major-league rotation, where his solid-average stuff, feel for sequence, and strike-throwing ability should allow for success, especially in his home park. He needs to be sharper in the zone. What dominated minor-league hitters can get dominated by major-league hitters, so he will need to hit his spots and keep them off balance. He’s going to be a good one, but he’s highly unlikely to be a great one based on the intensity of the raw stuff.
Major league ETA: 2012
4. Sonny Gray
Height/Weight: 5’11’’ 200 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
2012 Stats: 4.14 ERA (148 IP, 148 H, 97 K, 57 BB) at Double-A Midland; 9.00 ERA (4.0 IP, 10 H, 2 K, 1BB) at Triple-A Sacramento
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ CB
What Happened in 2012: After only a taste of the Texas League in 2011, Gray returned to the level in 2012, making 26 starts but struggling with his command and secondary arsenal.
Strengths: Small size, but big arm strength; physically strong; fastball works 93-97; holds velocity and can get higher range when needed; curveball has very sharp break; can stay on fastball disguise and fall off the table near the zone; can turn over a changeup that has some projection; big competitor.
Weaknesses: Struggles to create angle/steep plane to the flat; tendency to work up in the zone; fastball will flatten out and arrive on single plane for hitters; struggles to command the breaking ball; intense break, but often only a chase pitch; changeup is fringe; command profile is below average.
Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 2/3 starter
Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; 31 Double-A starts under his belt; has stuff to start; needs refinement.
Fantasy Future: High ceiling/high floor; has the stuff to start and miss bats; could end up in the bullpen in a late-inning capacity.
The Year Ahead: Development can scar the stat sheet, and if you look at Gray’s Double-A numbers, the lack of dominance really stands out. He wasn’t able to miss a lot of bats, as he proved to be both hittable and wild, a combination that put a lot of runners on base. To remain a valid rotation prospect, Gray will need to refine his command and work lower in the zone. Because of his limited height, he has a tendency to elevate the ball, losing movement and command, and often putting the ball on a tee for hitters. This weakness was exploited by Double-A hitters, and will be brutalized by hitters at the highest level, so Gray will need to take positive steps forward in 2013 or his home will most likely be in the bullpen, where he has a chance to be a late-innings force thanks to his potent FB/CB combo.
Major league ETA: 2013
5. Grant Green
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 180 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2009 draft, University of Southern California (Los
2012 Stats: .296/.338/.458 at Triple-A Sacramento (125 games)
The Tools: 5+ hit
What Happened in 2012: With defensive versatility as his new calling card, Green logged time in left field, center field, shortstop, second base, and third base during the 2012 season.
Strengths: Good all-around athlete; good size/strength; hit tool is at least solid-average; might be plus; good contact; uses gaps; line-drive ability against stuff; will be doubles hitter; versatile in the field; baseball aptitude; solid-average at second
Weaknesses: Hit tool is only carrying tool; fringe run; fringe actions on left side; arm is better suited for the right side of the infield; lacks projection/ceiling.
Overall Future Potential: 5; second-division player
Explanation of Risk: Low risk; ready for major-league level; good baseball skills.
Fantasy Future: As a starter, Green should be able to hit for some average with doubles power. He can swipe a few bases and take a few over the fence, but he won’t be a power or speed force at the major-league level.
The Year Ahead: Green shows every tool, but most are in the fringe-average range, with the stick being the only carrying tool in the collection. But the hit tool is what keeps players at the major-league level, and Green can swing the bat. It’s not an ideal profile from a first-round pick, but with a utility floor and a second-division ceiling, Green should find a way to contribute to the major-league team in 2013.
Major league ETA: 2013
6. Nolan Sanburn
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 175 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AK)
2012 Stats: 3.86 ERA (18.2 IP, 23 H, 19 K, 6 BB) at short-season Vermont
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential CB
What Happened in 2012: A low-mileage college arm, Sanburn brought an intense arsenal to professional ball, showing two major-league quality offerings in the New York-Penn League.
Strengths: Short, but very strong; ripped; pitches with purpose; arm works very well/very fast; fastball can work 93-96; touches higher in bursts; can spin hard curveball with late two-lane break; flashes easy plus; bat misser; some feel for a changeup; repeats his delivery and can throw strikes.
Weaknesses: Limited height; has to work low to create angle; command is loose; struggles to throw the curveball for strikes; changeup behind the curve.
Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter
Explanation of Risk: High risk; limited experience; changeup and command have to step forward to stick in rotation.
Fantasy Future: High floor player; if secondary stuff plays and command holds up, has the potential to be a bat-missing starter; short-burst potential could make FB/CB a late-inning weapon; setup potential.
The Year Ahead: Sanburn just needs to log innings. He should advance to Low-A, where he can go slow and build up his innings and professional experience. The fastball is legit, and the curveball shows the potential to be very legit, so if he can take a few steps forward with the command and the feel for the changeup, Sanburn could stick around in a rotation. If not, grip it and rip and you might have an impact arm that can eventually pitch at the back of a major-league bullpen. Very promising arm to keep an eye on.
Major league ETA: 2015
7. Renato Nunez
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 185 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Venezuela
2012 Stats: .325/.403/.550 at complex level AZL (42 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 6 potential power; 5 arm
What Happened in 2012: Making his stateside debut, the J2 bonus baby was excellent at the complex level. Hitting for average, with an approach and game power.
Strengths: Good strength; understands the game; highly competitive; shows bat speed from controlled swing; solid-average hit tool potential; plus power is possible; can drive the ball; arm strength is solid; took steps forward on defense.
Weaknesses: Still very raw in the field; arm isn’t plus; glove and footwork are below average; below average run; bat will have to carry the load.
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player
Explanation of Risk: Extreme risk; complex-league resume; bat-first profile.
Fantasy Future: If he can stick at third and he bat develops, he has impact potential in the .270, 25-plus home run range.
The Year Ahead: Nunez is an extremely promising bat, and after another extended look in 2013, we will know more about his projections. It’s difficult to watch an 18-year-old at the complex level and paint his future with any accuracy, but all the reports on the bat are glowing, and even the iffy reports on the defensive profile speak of improvement potential and visible work ethic on display. He’s a competitor with legit offensive tools, and if he takes another step forward in 2013, he has the potential to be a national name.
Major league ETA: 2017
8. Matthew Olson
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 235
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Parkview High School (Lilburn, GA)
2012 Stats: .282/.345/.520 at complex level AZL (46 games); .273/.438/.545 at short-season Vermont (4 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 5 glove; 5+ potential hit; 6 potential power
What Happened in 2012: A supplemental first round pick, Olson turned heads at the complex level by showing mature game power against live pitching.
Strengths: Excellent size/present strength; simple swing; short to the ball and long through it; shows big raw power; more advanced hit tool than expected; took big steps forward on defense; good hands/actions; strong arm.
Weaknesses: Raw; swing-and-miss; good defensive potential, but tough overall profile; power has to play; well below-average run.
Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average regular
Explanation of Risk: High risk; long way off; still raw; has to hit.
Fantasy Future: If he reaches his potential, Olson could be a .270-plus hitter with enough juice in the bat for 25-plus home runs.
The Year Ahead: Olson looks like a good candidate to start at the full-season level, where the conditions of the league and the quality of the talent could make it a difficult assignment for such a young player. He has a live bat and a good all-around approach to the game, but he’s still a raw product and likely to stumble if pushed too fast. You have to like the potential though, even if the position puts most of the pressure on the bat to carry the weight. If it comes together down the line, this is legit power bat that isn’t a lost cause wearing a first base mitt. He’s a player.
Major league ETA: 2016
9. Daniel Robertson
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 190 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Upland High School (Upland, CA)
2012 Stats: .297/.405/.554 at complex level AZL (29 games); .181/.238/.234 at short-season Vermont (26 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 5 run; 5 arm; 5 glove
What Happened in 2012: A tale of two seasons, as his impressive AZL debut was countered by a shaky showing in college-heavy short-season ball.
Strengths: Really good feel for the game; shows baseball skills; quick hands at the plate; can generate quality bat speed; can drive the ball; body is strong; has some power potential; defensive chops for left side of infield; good actions; good arm; runs well.
Weaknesses: Most likely a third baseman; lateral range might be underwhelming for shortstop at highest level; questions about power potential at third; swing is more line-drive/hard contact than over-the-fence power; lacks loud tools.
Overall Future Potential: 5; second-division player
Explanation of Risk: High risk; short-season resume; shows good polish for age; game skills.
Fantasy Future: Could develop into .280 hitter with 10-15 HR; good defensive profile at third; solid but not specular future.
The Year Ahead: Robertson is likely to move up to the full-season level, where he will continue to be developed up the middle. His long term home will most likely be at third, but from a developmental standpoint, you keep a player up the middle for as long as possible. Unless Addison Russell is still in town, Robertson should see reps at shortstop in the Midwest League. The bat has a chance to play, and the overall approach to the game is mature for his age. It’s not flashy, but this is another gamer type in the lower levels of the A’s system.
Major league ETA: 2015
10. Miles Head
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 215 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 26th round, 2009 draft, Whitewater High School (Fayetteville, GA)
2012 Stats: .382/.433/.715 at High-A Stockton (67 games); .272/.338/.404 at Double-A Midland (57 games)
The Tools: 6 raw; 5 potential hit; 5 arm
What Happened in 2012: After Head produced an OPS of 1.149 to start the season, the prospect world became crazy for him, but the reports after his Texas League promotion weren’t as glowing.
Strengths: Very strong; plus raw power; has an approach; can work into his pitch; can smash mistakes; looks to get extended and drive the ball; makes loud contact; arm is solid.
Weaknesses: Below average athlete; well below average run; actions/range not ideal at third; most likely a first baseman; limited height/target at 1B; can get beat by good breaking stuff; can wait out bad pitching, but struggles against quality arms.
Overall Future Potential: 5; second-division player
Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; achieved Double-A level; big questions about bat against plus pitching; poor defensive profile.
Fantasy Future: In a perfect world, Head can hit .270, with some on-base skills and 20-plus HR (game power).
The Year Ahead: If you focus on the production you might see a different player than the scouting reports suggest; the numbers point to a future impact talent and the vast majority of the scouting reports suggest a second-division ceiling with a platoon floor. The raw power is legit, and his hard contact isn’t just a product of lucky swings against bad pitching. But quality stuff tripped him up, and its not going to get any easier going forward. The reality is that Head is a short, righty-righty first baseman with limited athleticism and plus power potential that will struggle to reach that power ceiling against major-league quality pitching.
Major league ETA: 2014
Prospects on the Rise:
1. RHP Michael Ynoa: The stuff is still there, so anything is possible for the 21-year-old arm. He will likely start in the Low-A rotation, where the raw stuff that once made him the highest paid amateur in the J2 market could propel him to the top of the list or return him to the shadows of disappointment. It could go either way. Nobody knows what is going to happen.
2. OF BJ Boyd: A big-time athlete with tons of tools and tons of question marks, Boyd can jump into top 10 territory with another strong showing in 2013. The bat has promise, as does the glove, but the wheels are what make him such a catalytic player, as he’s an easy plus-plus runner.
3. RHP Raul Alcantara: With an easy, loose arm capable of low-90s heat and a promising slider, the 20-year-old Dominican could be ready to take a big step forward in 2013. If he can refine the secondary arsenal and continue to improve on the command, this is a top 10 prospect in the system next season.
Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013
1. OF Michael Taylor: I first saw Taylor back in 2007, which seems like a lifetime ago. Still eligible for prospect lists, Taylor has yet to maximize his potential, but can offer a contribution to the major-league team in the form of a decent bat and secondary skills (on-base, pop, run).
2. RHP Arnold Leon: You can make a case that Leon belongs on the top 10 list, as his ultimate profile could make him a quality set-up option out of the bullpen. With a lively plus fastball and complementary slider, Leon has the arsenal to miss bats at the highest level.
3. C David Freitas: Acquired from the Nationals in exchange for Kurt Suzuki, Freitas doesn’t have a high-impact profile, but he’s a solid all-around backstop, with a decent bat and a solid-average glove. It’s a very good profile for a backup catcher to posses, and if a hole opens up, Freitas has the type of maturity and intangibles to step up to the highest level without folding his hand.
Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/87 or later)
- Brett Anderson, LHP
- Jarrod Parker, RHP
- Addison Russell, SS
- Derek Norris, C
- Ryan Cook, RHP
- Michael Choice, OF
- Dan Straily, RHP
- Sonny Gray, RHP
- A.J. Griffin, RHP
- Grant Green, IF/OF
At first glance, Oakland’s farm system enters this year lacking upper-level depth. But that’s for good reason: the A’s graduated four prospects on this under-25 list last season. All four––RHP Jarrod Parker, RHP A.J. Griffin, RHP Ryan Cook, and C Derek Norris––played key roles down the stretch, helping the club capture its first AL West title in six years. That’s not including established southpaw Brett Anderson, who tops this list, and prospect-eligible righty Dan Straily.
Remarkably still eligible for this list, Anderson will play the entire season––his fifth in the major leagues––at age 25. Staying on the field has been his biggest challenge thus far; he’s logged more than 113 innings just once through four big league seasons. When healthy, Anderson has pitched well and flashed excellent stuff. He throws strikes and attacks hitters with a lively plus fastball and a 70-grade slider that plays extremely well off his heater. Anderson enters camp healthy, and the A’s young rotation could seriously benefit from a 30-plus start campaign.
With Anderson making only six regular-season starts in 2012, Oakland turned to rookie righty Jarrod Parker to carry the torch. The 24-year-old stepped up in a big way, posting a 3.47 ERA and consistently pitching deep into games over 29 starts. Another high-ceiling hurler with no. 2 potential, Parker is a fantastic athlete who should improve his command as he matures. His low-80s changeup emerged as a wipeout pitch last season––on top of his fastball that sits comfortably in the low-90s and potential plus slider. Parker’s slider was a definite plus prior to his Tommy John surgery in 2010, and he showed signs of getting it back last summer.
While many scouts are skeptical that A.J. Griffin will match his 2012 big-league production (3.06 ERA in 15 starts) going forward, he should still settle in as a solid back-end starter. A 25-year-old University of San Diego product, Griffin isn’t overpowering or particularly nasty, but he’s an extreme strike thrower who mixes and locates his four-pitch repertoire well. Fireballing righty Ryan Cook has a better chance to repeat––if not improve upon––his rookie success going forward. Oakland’s part-time closer as a rookie last season, Cook surrendered just 42 hits in 73 innings while flashing mid-90s heat and a quality slider. Also 25, Cook could be poised to emerge as the A’s full-time stopper in the future.
Despite a disappointing .201/.276/.349 slash line in 60 major-league games last season, catcher Derek Norris has the talent to become one of the game’s better-hitting backstops. The 24-year-old lacks a plus hit tool projection, and he’ll likely always have some whiff in his game. But he makes up for it with 25-plus home run potential and a consistently strong walk rate. Behind the plate, Norris is an average receiver who works well with pitchers and has fringe-average arm strength. –Jason Cole
A Parting Thought: Thanks to prospect trades and promotion, the A’s system has taken a hit, but the 2012 draft provided a much needed youth infusion and could push the farm into top 10 territory by this time next season.
Thank you for reading
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