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Oakland Athletics: Top 10 Prospects

Posted By Marc Hulet On February 16, 2010 @ 2:00 pm In Minor Leagues | 36 Comments

General Manager: Billy Beane
Farm Director: Billy Owens
Scouting Director: Eric Kubota

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

1. Chris Carter, 1B, Triple-A
DOB: December 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 15th round – Nevada HS (Chicago AL)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

If you want to dream on a power prospect, Carter is your man. He has Ryan Howard-like power potential, although there are concerns over his lack of contact and high strikeout numbers. Carter is likely a .250-.270 hitter in the Majors (His .337 average in double-A was aided by a .406 BABIP). His strikeout rate in double-A was 24.3% in ’09. On the plus side, he also had an ISO rate of .238, an OPS of 1.1011 and a walk rate of 13.8%. Although the 6’4” 210 lbs first baseman is not swift-of-foot, he is a smart base runner who nabbed 13 bags in 18 tries. Daric Barton is Carter’s biggest “roadblock” to the first base job in Oakland; although he’s far from a five-tool player, the prospect is a better all-around player than Jake Fox or Jack Cust.

2. Michael Taylor, OF, Triple-A
DOB: December 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 5th round – Stanford University (Philadelphia)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Obtained from the Phillies, via the Blue Jays during the Roy Halladay musical chairs, the organization gave up a more promising bat (Brett Wallace) for the better all-around player in Taylor. Oakland has a lot of outfield depth with the likes of Travis Buck, Eric Patterson, Rajai Davis, and Ryan Sweeney, but none of those players can match Taylor’s potential. He’s also MLB ready, so he could step into a full-time or platoon gig in April. Taylor, 24, had a solid ’09 season in double-A where he hit .333/.408/.569 in 318 at-bats. He displayed a reasonable walk rate at 9.6% and kept his strikeout rate below 20% (16.0%) while maintaining excellent power (.236 ISO). Taylor also added 18 steals in 22 tries. Promoted to triple-A, he hit .282/.359/.491 with a .209 ISO in 110 at-bats. Taylor possesses a strong arm and can play both outfield corners, although he sees most of his time in left field.

3. Jemile Weeks, 2B, Double-A
DOB: January 1987 Bats: B Throws: R
Signed: 2008 1st round – University of Miami
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Weeks battled through injuries in ’09 and appeared in just 80 games. The second baseman opened his season with a power burst that was unsustainable and probably a fluke. He posted a .169 ISO in his first 50 games with high-A (all seven of his homers came in his first 97 at-bats) before moving up to double-A where he posted an ISO rate of .105, which was more in line with his debut (.108 ISO in ’08). A switch-hitter, Weeks performed much better against right-handed pitchers in ’09 with an OPS of .899 vs .615 against southpaws. Defensively, the 23 year old is athletic with a strong arm, but he makes some careless errors.

4. Adrian Cardenas, 2B, Triple-A
DOB: October 1987 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2006 supplemental 1st round – Florida HS (Philadelphia)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

It was an up-and-down season for the 22-year-old Cardenas. He received a quick promotions to triple-A in ’09 but struggled by hitting .175 in May and was sent back to double-A, where he set the world on fire by hitting .326/.392/.446 in 325 at-bats. Moved back up to triple-A in August, he posted a line of .287/.354/.396 in August and .340/.392/.532 in September. In the lower minors, the prospect showed the ability to steal 15-20 bases but he hasn’t topped eight steals in the past two seasons. Cardenas’ bat will have to carry him as he is an average fielder at best at the keystone. A permanent spot at third base could be in the cards, but his power output is below average for the position. The former Phillies draft pick should be ready for the Majors right about the time Mark Ellis‘ contract expires.

5. Tyson Ross, RHP, Double-A
DOB: April 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 2nd round – University of California
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-94 mph fastball, slider, cutter, change-up

If you love ground-ballers like we do at Fangraphs, then you’ll want to meet Ross. The right-hander posted a 56.6% ground-ball rate on the season, including a 61.9 GB% in 66.3 double-A innings. Just 22, Ross is a promising pitcher despite a modest strikeout rate in double-A (8.55 in high-A, 5.58 K/9 in double-A). His fastball can touch the mid-90s so the strikeouts should come once he improves his secondary pitches. He also needs to improve his command and control a bit after posting a walk rate of 3.48 on the seasons. Ross allowed 10 homers in high-A (1.04 HR/9) despite his impress ground-ball numbers. If his secondary pitches don’t improve, he could become a dominating late-game reliever with his sinking fastball.

6. Pedro Figueroa, LHP, High-A
DOB: November 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2003 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 91-96 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Figueroa was not on the watch list when the season began but quickly jumped onto it. A little older than most prospects in low-A at 23, the southpaw posted a solid strikeout rate of 8.13 K/9 at the junior level while showing OK control with a walk rate of 3.23 BB/9. Moved up to high-A for 11 starts, Figueroa’s walk rate jumped to 4.80 BB/9 but his strikeouts also increased to 9.18 K/9. Overall, he allowed 151 hits in 152.0 innings of work, while producing a respectable ground-ball rate of 46.2%. Because he’s now 24, Oakland could be aggressive with Figueroa and move him up to double-A despite his control issues.

7. Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Injured
DOB: February 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, slider, curveball, change-up

One of the key players in the Nick Swisher trade with the White Sox, De Los Santos made just five starts with Oakland’s system in ’08 before going down with a major injury. He returned in ’09 to make seven rehab starts in rookie ball and he showed his fastball of old, but his secondary pitches are still being worked back in. The right-hander has the potential of a No. 2 starter if he can harness his breaking ball and change-up but he could also develop into a dominating reliever. We’ll know a lot more about De Los Santos’ potential as the season progresses. If healthy, he should opened the season in high-A ball.

8. Sean Doolittle, 1B, Triple-A
DOB: September 1986 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 supplemental 1st round – University of Virginia
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Doolittle was yet another prospect bitten by the injury bug in ’09. He started the year in triple-A and was just a quick phone call away from making the Majors before knee problems (and surgery) ended his season. When everything is clicking for Doolittle, he is a .280-.300 hitter with 15-20 homer potential. He has always displayed good walk rates (12.4% in ’09) but he strikes out a bit too much for his power output (21.9%). An above-average defender at first base, Doolittle was moved to right field (Thanks to the presence of Chris Carter) where he is average.

9. Shane Peterson, OF, Double-A
DOB: February 1988 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2008 2nd round – Long Beach State University (St. Louis)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Acquired in last season’s Matt Holliday trade with St. Louis, Peterson projects to be an average MLB player mainly due to the fact that he possesses below-average power for his best positions (corner outfield, first base). The prospect is actually similar to fellow left-handed hitting Sean Doolittle in the sense that he projects to hit 10-15 homers with a batting average between .270 and .300. After struggling against southpaws in ’08, Peterson rebounded to post a line of .302/.348/.430 against them in ’09. The 22-year-old hitter has more speed than Doolittle and he nabbed 16 bags in 17 tries in ’09.

10. Josh Donaldson, C, Double-A
DOB: December 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 supplemental 1st round pick – Auburn University (Chicago NL)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Part of the loot for Rich Harden during an ’08 trade with the Chicago Cubs, Donaldson has seen his value improve significantly since joining his new organization. At the time of the trade, Donaldson was hitting .217/.276/.349 in low-A ball. He was immediately promoted to high-A with Oakland and finished the year with a line of .330/.391/.564 in 188 at-bats. He continued to hit well in ’09 despite being moved up to double-A and he produced a triple-slash line of .270/.379/.415 in 455 at-bats. Although he posted a 20.2% strikeout rate, Donaldson also walked at a rate of 14.8%, good for a BB/K rate of 0.87. He’s shown flashes of solid power, but he’s more of a line-drive hitter and he had an ISO rate of .145 in ’09. Donaldson has the tools to be an average big league backstop, although he’s still working on his receiving. He threw out 40% of base stealers last season.

Up Next: The San Diego Padres

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