2009 Impact Rookie: Trevor Cahill

The Oakland Athletics organization is loaded with pitching talent in the upper two levels of the minor league system. Trevor Cahill may be further away than the likes of Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez, but he arguably has a higher ceiling. The right-hander was originally selected out of high school by the Athletics in the second round of the 2006 draft and he has moved quickly for a prep pitcher, especially in an organization that is thought to favor college players.

In three seasons, the soon-to-be-20-year-old hurler has missed a lot of bats, having allowed just 163 hits in 238.2 cumulative innings. Last season, he allowed 52 hits in 87.1 High-A innings before moving up to Double-A for seven appearances. In those games, Cahill allowed 24 hits in 37 innings and posted rates of 4.62 BB/9 and 8.03 K/9 (which was the first time his strikeout rate was below 10.00 K/9). He obviously still has work to do on his control. Cahill possesses an 88-93 mph fastball, as well as a plus curveball and improving change-up.

There should be plenty of opportunities for young starting pitchers to appear in Oakland this season. Top pitcher Justin Duchscherer is just one year removed from pitching out of the bullpen and he is injury prone. Other starters who should have an inside track on a job include the inconsistent Dana Eveland, the unproven Sean Gallagher, and the aforementioned Gonzalez. Josh Outman, acquired from Philly in the Joe Blanton deal last season, could figure into the rotation or bullpen. Interestingly, Cahill is the only homegrown talent, which is odd for a club that has a reputation build on its draft history.

After being quiet on the 2008-09 free agent market, the club will have to find a replacement for Greg Smith’s 190.1 innings. The left-hander was used to help acquire star outfielder Matt Holliday from the Rockies earlier in the off-season. Blanton and Rich Harden also combined to provide 204 innings before their trades out of town. It will likely take at least three young pitchers to help make up for those almost 400 innings and Cahill should certainly be in line for a good portion of those if he gets off to a good start in the minors this season.

Even if he does appear for 100 innings or so in the Majors this season, Cahill will probably not be a huge factor in fantasy baseball. He is someone to consider for keeper leagues, however, with the ceiling of a No. 2 starter.

Leading up to the beginning of the 2009 season, Rotographs will look at the top 30 prospects (in no particular order) who enter the season having the best chances to make an impact at the Major League level this year.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Paul SIngman

Marc, don’t forget about Dallas Braden. I would include him in the pitchers “with an inside track” category. He impressed in his short stint in August.