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Top 10 Prospects: The Oakland Athletics

Posted By Marc Hulet On December 21, 2010 @ 11:00 am In Minor Leagues | 27 Comments

The Oakland Athletics
2010 MLB Record: 81-81 (2nd in the AL West)
Minor League Power Ranking: 21st (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Grant Green, SS
Acquired: 2009 1st round (University of Southern California)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: Green, 23, made his full-season debut in 2010 after signing with the club in ’09 as its first round draft pick. Playing in a strong offensive league in ’10 at high-A, the shortstop hit .318/.363/.520 in 548 at-bats. He showed good power with an ISO rate of .203. Green’s approach at the plate is still a little raw, as witnessed by his walk rate of 6.3% and strikeout rate of 21.4%. He has all the tools, however, to be an offensive-minded shortstop at the MLB level. He shows a nice, level swing and utilizes the whole field. He clears his hips well and has strong wrists, which helps him hit with authority, although he has more line-drive power right now than home-run strength. Defensively, he has quick feet and hands, but he needs better positioning with his feet. His range is average and his arm is fringe-average for the position. Green may have to move to second base.

2. Chris Carter, 1B
Acquired: 2005 15th round (Las Vegas HS – by White Sox)
Pro Experience: 6 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Carter, 24, made his debut after five seasons in the minors with three organizations. His travels haven’t been due to a lack of talent, though. The slugger was highly-sought-after in two trades (once for Carlos Quentin, and once for Dan Haren). Carter has had success at each level that he’s played at and he’s displayed outstanding power, including a massive ISO rate of .310 in high-A ball in ’08 and .271 in triple-A in ’10. On the downside, he has also posted high strikeout totals, which should lead to modest batting averages in the Majors. He’ll still get on-base at a good clip thanks to solid walk rates (13.2% in triple-A). At the plate, Carter has enough raw power to hit balls out of the park even when he doesn’t square up the ball perfectly. He has a quiet stance at the plate. Defensively, he’ll offer average-at-best work at first base – despite surprising athleticism for his size – and likely won’t push Daric Barton off the bag so he could see a lot of time as the designated hitter in 2011.

3. Michael Choice, OF
Acquired: 2010 1st round (U Texas-Arlington)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: R/SS
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Choice was the club’s first round draft pick in 2010 and he signed quickly enough to appear in 27 games in short-season ball. The outfielder showed some intriguing small-sample numbers, including a .343 ISO rate and 12.4% walk rate – along with a 42.2% strikeout rate. Choice really sold out for power in his debut and his numbers were helped by a .415 BABIP. He’ll have to make some adjustments to succeed at higher levels but all the raw skills are there. He has a quick bat and clears his hips well but his swing looks awkward at times and he gets out on his front foot too quickly. That leaves him unbalanced at the plate at times. In the field, Choice could see time at all three outfield spots in 2011 but he should end up in left field. His arm strength is OK but probably not good enough for right field. He also has a thick lower half and could lose speed and flexibility fairly quickly.

4. Jemile Weeks, 2B
Acquired: 2008 1st round (U of Miami)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Like his brother Rickie in Milwaukee, Jemile is an ultra-athletic, offensive-minded second baseman who just cannot stay healthy. After three pro seasons, he has yet to reach 310 at-bats in a season. The younger Weeks has plus bat speed, which generates good line-drive power – although it currently results in more doubles than homers. He shows good patience at the plate and posted a walk rate of 9.0% in 2010 at double-A and doesn’t strike out much. Lowering his hands at the plate might help level out his swing. Weeks’ injuries – many of which has come from his lower body – have diminished his ability to take advantage of his above-average speed. Defensively, he doesn’t have great actions and struggles with his foot work. Assuming he can avoid major injuries, Weeks should be ready to take over the keystone in 2012 when Mark Ellis‘ contract expires.

5. Max Stassi, C
Acquired: 2009 4th round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: As a talented 2009 prep catcher draftee, Stassi will be linked to Wil Myers and Luke Bailey in terms of development. Myers is clearly the best of the trio at this point, but there is a lot to like about Stassi; he’ll just need more time to develop. He was a little over-matched as a teenager in low-A ball in 2010 and hit just .229/.310/.380 in 411 at-bats. He did show some power potential, though, with an ISO rate of .151 in a league where it’s not that easy to hit home runs. He doesn’t have a huge frame, though, so don’t expect massive power numbers in the Majors. He’s going to have to make more consistent contact (34.3 K%) to succeed in the upper levels of the minors. Stassi has a quick bat with a level swing. He generates good opposite field power when he goes the other way. With experience, he should gain better pitch recognition. Defensively, he’s a better bet to remain behind the dish than Myers with good arm strength and a willingness to take charge.

6. Ian Krol, LHP
Acquired: 2009 7th round (Illinois HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-/A+
Opening Day Age: 19
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: The 19-year-old southpaw is the first pitcher on the Top 10 list, which says a lot about the pitching depth in the system. Krol has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter. He possesses an average fastball, as well as a plus curveball and plus changeup. Playing in low-A ball in 2010, Krol posted a 2.87 FIP while showing excellent control (1.44 BB/9). He struggled to miss bats, though (6.90 K/9). His ground-ball rates have been average in pro ball and he would benefit from learning a sinker. He received four late-season starts in high-A and should spend 2011 at that level. On the mound, Krol shows some deception and has a lot of moving parts. He throws with a low three-quarter arm slot with a little effort. Despite that, Krol repeats his delivery well and maintains his arm slot. He doesn’t have the best pitcher’s frame and has pretty much maxed out in terms of projection.

7. Yordy Cabrera, SS
Acquired: 2010 2nd round (Florida HS)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: One of the top prep hitters in the 2010 draft, Cabrera lasted until the second round and was scooped up by Oakland. He signed late and appeared in just five Rookie games but he should open the season in low-A ball. Cabrera currently plays shortstop but at 6’4” 200 lbs, he’s expected to move to another position – possibly third base – down the road. He has a strong arm (He threw in the mid-90s as a prep pitcher) and good hands. At the plate, Cabrera has plus power potential that comes from solid bat speed, strong wrists, and good hip rotation. His swing has a slight upper cut to it and could inhibit his ability to hit for a solid average at higher levels unless he makes some adjustments.

8. Michael Taylor, OF
Acquired: 2007 5th round (Stanford by Phillies)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA
Opening Day Age: 25
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Originally drafted out of Stanford University, Taylor had a busy year moving from Philadelphia to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade, and then shifting to Oakland in a one-for-one prospect swap from Brett Wallace (who was later flipped to Houston for another prospect). Perhaps pressing a bit in 2010, Taylor struggled at triple-A by hitting .272/.348/.392 in 464 at-bats. Taylor has plus raw power but he hit just six homers last year as the club adjusted his swing. Already 25, he’s expected to open 2011 back in triple-A but could find his way to the Majors if Oakland falls out of the playoff hunt and trades off Josh Willingham or David DeJesus. Taylor has a noticeable upper cut to his swing and he occasionally looks like he’s golfing. He has his hands in a good position to hit and also has a simple load. He uses his hips and wrists well, and also historically possesses good bat speed (although it wasn’t consistent at all in ’10). He has a strong arm and looks good in right field.

9. Rashun Dixon, OF
Acquired: 2008 10th round (Mississippi HS)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: I’m going out on the limb a bit with Dixon, who is probably ranked higher here than on other lists. He was swayed away from a football scholarship at Mississippi State University by a $600,000 paycheck in 2008 and has advanced slowly through the system, playing at low-A ball in ’10. The athletic outfielder has impressive, raw baseball skills but pitch recognition and contact remains an issue for him (30.4 K%). But he shows patience at the plate (11.3 BB%) and he’s learning to drive the ball more consistently. Dixon has good speed but he hasn’t stolen more than nine bases in a season. He also has good power potential that has yet to materialize (.108 ISO). At the plate, Dixon could stand to open up his stance a bit to have a better view of the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand. He keeps his left shoulder tucked in. Defensively, he has the potential to be a solid corner outfielder.

10. Chad Lewis, 3B
Acquired: 2010 4th round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie
Opening Day Age: 19
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Lewis was one of my favorite prep hitters available in 2010 draft and I was more than a little surprised to see him fall to the A’s in the fourth round. The third baseman signed late and played in just four pro games during the 2010 season. With a good spring, he should open 2011 in low-A ball but the teenager could also end up in extended spring training to work on his overall game. Lewis has a quick bat and a nice swing but it definitely has some upper cut to it. He has good raw power, thanks to his quick bat and strong wrists. Lewis has a quiet stance, a simple load and a short stride. His approach appears to be pull conscious and he needs to improve his pitch recognition. Defensively, he’s got a large build which results in modest range. He does have nice hands, a strong throw, and OK foot work.


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