Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Oakland Athletics

Jeff Gross

Craig Goldstein takes a look at some of the top fantasy prospects in the Oakland organization.

Jason and I continue our look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather providing brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.

Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.

Previous Reviews

NL West: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee
NL East: Atlanta, Miami, New York
AL East: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles

System Overview

Oakland's farm system benefits from what seems to be a continual rebuilding process - random 1st place finishes aside. Billy Beane keeps getting older, but prospects stay the same age. Oakland has had some solid drafts of late, and has complemented those drafts by trading young cost-controlled players for younger more cost controlled players. So while there are constant graduations from the farm, Oakland remains pretty well stocked, with legitimate impact talent in the lower minors, lower tier talent ready to contribute immediately and everything in between.

Graduates in 2012

Jarrod Parker (SP), Jordan Norbert (RP), AJ Griffin (SP), Tommy Milone (SP), Ryan Cook (RP), Jim Miller (RP), Derek Norris (C), Yoenis Cespedes (OF), Collin Cowgill (OF), Josh Donaldson (3B), Eric Sogard (2B)

AAA in 2012

These are players who reached the Athletics' Pacific Coast League affiliate in Sacramento in 2012. They will likely see time in the Majors in the 2013 season, and could be a significant contributor there.

Dan Straily (BBRef Statistics, Profile)

The link in the profile above will take you to what I wrote when Straily was promoted. Pretty much everything that needs to be said is in there regarding what he throws and the type of production to expect. The only thing to add here is that he's got a LOT of competition for a rotation spot even if Brandon McCarthy doesn't return. It's entirely possible Straily returns to Triple-A to start the 2013 season, but it's a near certainty that he sees action in the big leagues at some point. The risk in selecting him is not knowing how much he'll be pitching in the big leagues, though I'd guess he gets something like 20-25 starts barring injury.

Grant Green (BBRef Statistics)

Green is a former first round selection who was drafted as a shortstop, but has since played second and third bases, as well as center and left fields. He has hit everywhere he's been with a career .302 average (never below .296), with solid pop, though he's been either on level or old for his league most of the time. The A's have transitioned him back to the middle infield, this time at second base and will have him compete with fellow former first rounder Jemile Weeks. Green can provide a solid average, and he's got some gap power. He could walk into 10-12 home runs over a full season. If he wins the job he might be worth stashing as someone to hold you over at 2B if a starter gets hurt.

Brad Peacock (BBRef Statistics)

A remnant of the draft and follow era, Peacock (41st round) was an arm strength guy when drafted. He's always displayed decent control, never walking too many people, but he started catching people's attention in 2010 when his K/9 jumped to 9.4, when it had previously sat in the mid-sixes. Peacock lacks frontline stuff, throwing in the low-to-mid 90s but without movement. His curveball can miss bats at times but he is inconsistent with it. His change up has shown progress but still has a ways to go. His realistic probability is probably a 4th/5th starter who will garner some strikeouts, with an ultimate ceiling of a #3 starter.

Sonny Gray (BBRef Statistics)

Gray is another first round pick in the A's cadre of prospects. A Friday starter at Vanderbilt, Gray was knocked for his height, but he dominated in a short stint at Double-A in 2011 after being drafted. He encountered his first taste of adversity in 2012, posting middling numbers in Double-A before making 1 start at Triple-A before season's end. Gray has all the stuff to start, throwing a low-to-mid 90s fastball that features plus movement, as well as a hammer curveball that he can manipulate in regards to shape and speed. His change up is inconsistent after being able to dominate with a two pitch attack most of his career. Gray has the ceiling of a #2 and he has a healthy floor. He shouldn't be any worse than a #4 as a starter and could be a lights out reliever if it came to that.

Sean Doolittle (BBRef Statistics)

Not going to add anything you don't already know. He's nasty, strikes a lot of guys out, and the A's closer situation is generally fluid. He might be 3rd or 4th in line, but crazier things have happened.

AA in 2012

These are players who reached the Athletics' Texas League affiliate in Midland in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.

Michael Choice (BBRef Statistics, Profile)

As indicated in the profile linked to above, Choice has some monster raw power but is working on cutting down on his strikeouts while still being able to access said power.He spent his whole year at Double-A, but missed much of the second half after a pitch broke his hand. I would expect depressed power production early on in 2013 because of the broken hand. There's a good chance he begins 2013 in Double-A, but he should see some time in Triple-A before the season is out.

Miles Head (BBRef Statistics)

Head was one of the pieces (along with Josh Reddick) that Oakland received in return for the offseason trade of Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox. Head played third base for the A's in 2012, but he's seen time at first as well during his minor league career. He's got plus bat speed and strong hands. He launched plenty of home runs in 2012, though he can thank the Cal league for much of them. Head struggled (relatively) upon his promotion to Double-A, but I would expect a small rebound in 2012. He should start 2013 back in Double-A, and the A's will let his progress dictate how quickly they move him up.

High-A in 2012

These players reached the Athletics' California League affiliate in Stockton, and are at least 2 full seasons away from contributing in the Major Leagues.

AJ Cole (BBRef Statistics)

Cole has been a favorite of mine, well, since he was selected in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. 4th rounders don't always catch one's eye, but Cole was handed a $2 million signing bonus to forgo his college experience, and that kind of money definitely will draw some attention. What I like about Cole is that he tends to get stronger as the game and season goes on, throwing with more velocity in the later innings. He struggled to begin 2012, and little of it can be blamed on the Cal League, despite it's reputation. Cole was a mess mechanically, but he ironed out his issues in Lo-A and should get another chance in Stockton in 2013. He has a starters arsenal with his lively fastball (up to 97 MPH), a solid change, and a curveball that can flash plus. He is by no means a finished product, but is still someone I'm high on to make the necessary adjustments and fulfill his potential as a front of the rotation pitcher.

Low-A in 2012

These players reached the Athletics' Midwest League affiliate in Burlington, and are at least 3 full seasons away from contributing in the Major Leagues.

Addison Russell (BBRef Statistics, Profile)

I wrote an extensive profile on Russell in this afternoon's prospect showdown. The profile above links to it. Long story short - my heart flutters when I read his name.

Others of Note

Daniel Robertson (BBRef Statistics)

A shortstop in high school, Robertson projects as a major league third baseman. The supplemental first rounder showed off his hitting chops in rookie ball with a .297/.405/.554 slash line before struggling upon a promotion to short season Vermont. He owns a pretty swing and should hit for average. How much power he will have is in question - it might be just a hair below average now, but some scouts see above-average power down the road as he fills out his projectable frame.

Matt Olson (BBRef Statistics)

Another supplemental first rounder from 2012, Olson excites the A's with his ability to hit for power and average. The downside? He's relegated to first base, so will have to truly mash to become an elite player. He has the tools to make good on those expectations, using a short swing to hit for average and his physicality to get the ball over the fence. He won't have much range, but he's got good hands and shouldn't be a liability around the bag. He spent most of his season in rookie ball, but saw a few late season at-bats in short season Vermont, so he could start 2013 there or with the Athletics' new Beloit affiliate in Lo-A.

Michael Ynoa (BBRef Statistics)

You know the deal as well as I do here. The immensely talented Ynoa has to stay healthy to do anyone any good. Added to the 40 man roster in the offseason, Ynoa is protected from the rule 5 draft, indicating the A's still value him a decent amount. Ynoa has yet to post an ERA under 5 in his time as a professional but he's also never pitched more than the 30.2 innings he posted in 2012. He still features a lively fastball and a change up that features good sink. He can flash a curve as well, but 2013 will be about staying healthy more than it will be about producing good results. He will only be 21 to begin 2013, so while it seems like he has been around forever, he still has plenty of time to make good.

Statistics from Baseball Reference and Fangraphs

You can follow me on Twitter @cdgoldstein

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