Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for the second year.
The Graduate: Andrew Bailey, RHP
Oakland graduated a ton of rookies in 2009 but Bailey did far more than what was expected of him. Mainly a starter in the minors, Bailey came to the Majors and asserted himself as the club’s go-to guy in the ninth inning. With a handful of games remaining in the season, the right-hander has 26 saves in 30 attempts and has allowed just 49 hits in 81.1 innings of work. He also has a solid walk rate at 2.66 BB/9 and a good strikeout rate at 9.85 K/9. Bailey will certainly be in on the Rookie of the Year discussion.
The Riser: Sam Demel, RHP
Taken out of Texas Christian University as a senior in the third round of the 2007 draft, Demel is on the cusp of pitching in Oakland. He split 2009 between double-A and triple-A. His control is the biggest thing holding him back. Demel posted a 2.76 walk rate in high-A but it jumped to 5.85 BB/9 in triple-A. Overall, he allowed 50 hits in 61.2 innings of work. Demel also has very good ground-ball rates in his career and he has allowed just two home runs all season. His repertoire includes a fastball that can touch the mid-90s, a very good changeup and a slider.
The Tumbler: Brett Hunter, RHP
With a high-90s fastball and a wipe-out slider, Hunter has all the makings to be a dominating closer. He slipped in the 2008 draft because he was dealing with injuries but the A’s got him signed away from his senior year at Pepperdine University after watching him throw well in the summer. Unfortunately after a nice, albeit brief, debut in ’08, his command and his control both deserted him in 2009 in low-A ball. He allowed 38 hits in 47.1 innings of work but posted a walk rate of 11.22 BB/9 (59 walks). The 22-year-old has a big mountain to climb in 2010.
The ’10 Sleeper: Jeremy Barfield, OF
The son of former Blue Jay/Yankee Jesse Barfield, Jeremy has even more raw potential than brother Josh Barfield. Originally selected in the ninth round of the 2006 draft by the Mets, Jeremy went to junior college and eventually signed with Oakland in the eighth round of the 2008 draft. The outfielder has intriguing power potential and he hit well in his debut but slipped a bit in 2009 after playing full-season ball for the first time. Jeremy hit .302/.380/.467 before the All-Star break but just .234/.317/.332 afterward. The right-handed hitter also struggled against southpaws with a batting average of just .228.
Bonus: Andrew Carignan, RHP
Carignan was ranked as the sleeper for Oakland during the 2008 Minor Review series. Unfortunately, the right-handed reliever never had an opportunity to make good on that potential as he was hurt (forearm/elbow) and appeared in just two games all season long. If he can get back on the mound in 2010 with the stuff he showed in 2008, then he still has a chance fulfill his promise as a late-game reliever (likely a set-up man). Carignan biggest need right now is to improve his command/control but the layoff certainly will not help.