2014 Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Oakland Athletics

Thearon W. Henderson

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Oakland Athletics.

The prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2014. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore

Chicago

Houston

Atlanta
(12/5)

Chicago
(12/23)

Arizona
(1/9)

Boston

Cleveland

Los Angeles

Miami
(12/9)

Cincinnati
(12/26)

Colorado
(1/13)

New York

Detroit

Oakland
(Today)

New York
(12/12)

Milwaukee
(12/30)

Los Angeles
(1/16)

Tampa Bay

Kansas City

Seattle
(11/28)

Philadelphia
(12/16)

Pittsburgh
(1/2)

San Diego
(1/20)

Toronto

Minnesota

Texas
(12/2)

Washington
(12/19)

St. Louis
(1/6)

San Francisco
(1/23)

Organizational Overview
By Jason Hunt(@jasonsbaseball)

The Athletics have seen success the past two seasons, winning the AL West and a total of 190 games in the regular season in that span, but a pair of division series eliminations at the hands of the Tigers have left the fans wanting more. The team at the major league level remains poised to compete for the division title again in 2014, as nearly all players on last year's roster will return for the 2014 campaign.

The Athletics were known for years for the strength of their farm system, but as they have seen success at the major league level, the system has slowly fallen back to the rest of the pack. They are still turning out prospects who are providing value to the major league club like Dan Straily and Sonny Gray, but the depth that they had previously been known for isn't there currently. Prospects like Miles Head (in 2012) and Max Muncy (in 2013) have had solid seasons recently, but there are questions surrounding both in terms of the likelihood that they can continue this success into the upper-minors and the majors down the line.

The system is led by their 2012 top draft pick, Addison Russell, whose ceiling could be that of an All-Star shortstop who provides value on both sides of the game. Beyond Russell you have some interesting prospects that could turn into above-average regulars (Choice, McKinney, Wahl), but many do not have the same ceiling as similarly ranked prospects in other systems.

Unfortunately, the further you get past the top four or five prospects, the thinner the system really turns out to be. In general, the system is lacking in top tier talent outside of Russell, and while there are a number of prospects that can likely fill roles with the major league team down the line, I wouldn't consider a lot of them very likely to turn into above-average regulars or consistent fantasy contributors.

The big black cloud that continues to hover over the organization is their quest for a new stadium. To date, the Athletics do not have an agreement to play in the Coliseum for the 2014 season, and while that is expected to get done, it illustrates just how possible it is that the team could be playing elsewhere soon.

The other key with a new stadium is that it might bring along the possibility that the payroll will increase due to the potential increase in revenues, but as of now the team must rely on developing as many cost-controlled prospects as possible in order to allow them to make other moves and remain financially flexible. Overall, the organization is in pretty good shape in terms of talent, and fans should remain excited for the possibility of another playoff run in 2014.

2013 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time prior to September 1st of this year.

Stephen Vogt (at bats), Nate Freiman (at bats), Dan Straily (innings), Sonny Gray (innings), Sean Doolittle (innings), Dan Otero (service time), Evan Scribner (service time)

Major League Opportunities in 2014
By Jason Hunt(@jasonsbaseball)

The playoff squad from 2013 actually doesn't appear to have a lot of openings on the major league roster at this point in the offseason. The team secured center field for the 2014 season by exercising the team option on Coco Crisp, which was an easy decision given his production in 2013. Second base could be a potential spot to upgrade, as midseason acquisition Alberto Callaspo and Eric Sogard held down the spot last year. They have already signed Nick Punto as a free agent this offseason, but he is expected to be a reserve who primarily spells the other infielders rather than a starter.

The only other free agents on the position player side, Kurt Suzuki and Chris Young, both had their expensive team options declined. Losing Suzuki is unlikely to open up any playing time, as John Jaso and Derek Norris remain in a platoon behind the plate. There is some playing time available with Young out of the picture, and prospect Michael Choice seems most likely to get those at bats across all three outfield spots.

As of now, the team has not re-signed starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, and while they could still attempt to do that, the depth in the rotation would allow them to pass should the cost become prohibitive. With Jarrod Parker and Sonny Gray at the top of the rotation, look for the A's to most likely stick with some mixture of internal options Dan Straily, Brett Anderson, Tommy Milone, and A.J. Griffin for the last three rotation slots. It's still possible that the team could try to trade Anderson, who remains on a relatively team-friendly contract, if he can stay show that he is truly healthy.

The key free agent this offseason for the A's is Grant Balfour, who provided stability to the closer's role over the last two seasons. The team has never really been known for spending big on a "proven closer", and I don't anticipate them doing that this time around either. Rather, it seems more likely that they could plug either Ryan Cook or Sean Doolittle into the role, and work toward finding a reliever for the back end of the bullpen instead while moving others up.

Overall, the team is in pretty good shape to make a run at a third straight division title, but the AL West remains a division with strong competition, and their opponents aren't getting any weaker.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
By Jason Hunt(@jasonsbaseball)

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors prior to September 1st.

20130218_kkt_st3_005.0
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

#1 Addison Russell (SS)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.269

86

17

60

21

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

517

0.369

0.495

11.8%

24.2%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A+,AAA

The top draft pick of the Athletics in 2012, Russell came out of the gate as a professional on fire, hitting a combined .369/.432/.594 between two levels of rookie ball and full season low-A. The team took the unusual step of sending Russell, a high school draftee out of Florida, directly to High-A Stockton for his first full season of pro ball. He struggled at the plate during the first two months of the season, and then went on a tear from June 1st onward.

Despite missing nearly two weeks due to an injury in July, Russell hit .314/.384/.570 with 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts after June 1st. The organization even sent him up to AAA Sacramento for the last series of the year, as that team still had the opportunity to get into the playoffs while his team in Stockton did not. He finished up his year with a stint in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .282/.361/.435 there.

After having seen him in person back in July, it's hard to remember sometimes that he is still just 19-years old. Russell projects as a potential impact bat, hitting for both average and power, while also adding in a bit of speed. The power looked easy when I saw him, and he was able to square up balls to the opposite field as well. In addition, Russell also has excellent plate discipline and has shown a discerning eye at the plate, although there is still some work to be done on breaking pitches specifically. His bat would play almost anywhere on the diamond, as he projects to provide a solid batting average (.280-.290) with solid power (15-20 HR) and solid speed production (15-20 SB), and the potential for more at times.

Coming into his draft year, there were concerns about his ability to stay at shortstop, to the point that it was thought he might fall in the draft as a result. However, his work before the draft and since has lead to many reports that he should be able to stay at shortstop for at least the first few years as a professional. When I saw him back in July, I saw a player who had the ability on the defensive side to stay at the position, but needed to continue to work on some of the finer points of the position. If he does have to move down the line, it would likely be to third base, which would only be a slight downgrade to his value.

For me (and, let's be clear, I am biased about this), Russell is a top-10 fantasy prospect right now, and with the reports on his maturity, he'll likely start the 2014 season at AA and could put himself in line for a call up before the end of the year. If he is available in your dynasty league for some reason, he's absolutely a must-own prospect.

20130218_kkt_st3_014.0
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

#2 Michael Choice (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.301

92

14

89

1

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

619

0.388

0.441

11.3%

19.5%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

24

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Remaining)

AAA, MLB

The Athletics' top draft pick back in 2010, Choice has been slowly working his way up to the Majors a level at a time. He emerged on a number of top prospect lists after his 2011 campaign at High-A Stockton, when he hit .285 with 30 home runs in 118 games. The team promoted him to AA for the 2012 season, and hit .287 with 10 home runs in 91 games before a broken wrist ended his season. Despite concerns about how he would perform following the broken wrist, the team moved Choice to AAA this year, and he hit just over .300 with 14 home runs between AAA and a cup of coffee with the big club.

For Choice, his calling card in the majors is likely to be at the plate. He possesses above average power potential, and could be a 25-30 home run bat despite playing half his games in the pitchers' heaven that is the Coliseum. He's hit for average at every stop in the minors, and his strikeout rate has dropped each year as a professional while maintaining a high walk rate. I saw him on Opening Night here in Sacramento this year, and the thing that stood out to me during his at-bats was that he worked the count very well against a quality pitcher in Zack Wheeler. The results didn't go as he hoped that night, but I was very excited to see the process he was using, specifically being able to get Wheeler to throw more pitches than he wanted to.

Choice split his time between left and center field this season at Sacramento, and while he can play a passable center field as needed, is more likely to end up in left field long term. He is limited more by his arm than his speed, as he should be good for 5-7 stolen bases over a full season.

Overall, he's an interesting prospect who could be a .270/25 HR/75 R/80 RBI/5 SB outfielder if given an everyday job, but it's not clear that will happen at the start of 2014 as of now. He doesn't really have anything left to prove at AAA, but with the team picking up Crisp's option, there's not a clear spot to play Choice everyday. More likely, I think he slots in as the 4th outfielder, getting a few starts a week to help spell Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp primarily, and would be first in line should one of the outfielders get hurt. Unless there's a more clear path to playing time by Opening Day, he's probably an AL-only play for me.

#3 Bobby Wahl (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

0

2

4.25

1.32

28

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

21.2

1.27

0.65

8.5%

29.8%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk, A-

A fifth round pick by the A's out of the University of Mississippi, Bobby Wahl fell in the draft after a junior season where he had some struggles due in part to issues with blisters, and could turn into a steal for the A's there. His numbers as a junior this year were solid (78 K, 69 hits allowed in 97 innings pitched), but not necessarily what teams were hoping for out of a potential first round draft pick. The A's gave him an over-slot bonus of $500K, and early results were good as he posted 28 strikeouts against 8 walks in 21+ innings pitched at short-Season Low-A this year.

Wahl features a fastball which is considered plus, flashing as high as 96-98 in some starts this year, and generally sitting in the mid-90's. The pitch doesn't have a ton of movement, but showed enough at times to keep hitters off balance. His breaking ball, a slider, has excellent bite to it and projects to be an above-average offering that should help him notch strikeouts as he moves forward. His third pitch, a changeup, has the potential to be at least an average offering as well, although it sounds like it could still use some work.

The range on what Wahl could be is pretty wide at this point, as he needs to continue to work on his command and improve his changeup if he is to be a fantasy-viable starting pitcher. If he can get these in line, he could be a mid-rotation starting pitcher down the line. The nice thing is that given his fastball and slider, if he can't make it as a starter he can still have value as a late inning, high strikeout reliever. Reports on his makeup are excellent, and cite a competitiveness that should help him as he moves up the system. It sounds like he could move quickly, and it wouldn't surprise me if he started the season at High-A Stockton. If that happens, look for him to be in the Majors sometime in the 2015 campaign.

#4 Billy McKinney (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.326

36

3

26

8

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

243

0.387

0.437

8.2%

13.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

L/L

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2017 Season)

Rk, A-

A high school outfielder out of Plano, Texas, Billy McKinney was the A's top draft pick in 2013, and signed for a bonus of $1.8 million rather than attend TCU. He signed quickly, and was able to appear in 55 games between the Arizona rookie league and short season NY Penn league, hitting for a high average and showing a solid approach at the plate.

McKinney's calling card is his hit tool, which has the potential to be above-average to plus as a result of excellent bat speed and ability to get the big part of the barrel on the ball. The swing is very easy, and helps to give him a high floor projection. (You can read an in-depth analysis of his swing from EBHI over at Athletics Nation here.)He gets rave reviews about his approach as well, which is considered advanced for a player of his age.

There seems to be some range on what his power potential can be, with some reports pegging him growing into above-average power (25+ home runs), while others wonder if he's going to hit for enough power to hold down a corner outfield position. EBHI mentions in his analysis that there also could be some adjustments which could help with his power down the line, but it's early still and we'll have to see how it translates.

Unfortunately, the rest of McKinney's tool profile doesn't really help his value. He is considered a slightly below-average runner, and is unlikely to provide value for fantasy owners with stolen bases. In addition, he profiles best as a corner outfielder given that speed, and with his arm (also rated as below average), it would likely be a left field profile.

There's still a lot to like here in McKinney, as he should hit enough to get to the Majors and provide value, even if it doesn't end up fitting with the standard left field profile. My main concern stems from the possibility that he gets there, but provides a high batting average and little else. If that happens, he's probably a deep league play or AL-only play, unless the batting average trends out above .300 consistently.

I would expect him to be sent to full season Low-A Beloit to start the 2014 season, and we could see McKinney in the majors sometime after the 2016 season. His bat is going to have to carry him there, and we should get a better idea of what his ultimate ceiling is after a full season of performance.

#5 Raul Alcantara (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

12

0

3.11

1.16

124

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

156.1

0.63

1.05

3.7%

19.1%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Remaining)

A, A+

Acquired by the A's as the third player in the Andrew Bailey trade, Alcantara returned to Low-A to start the 2013 season after pitching there all year in 2012. This time around though, the results were much improved, with specific improvements in walk and strikeout rates. He earned a midseason promotion to High-A Stockton, and was able to keep up that performance across another 79 innings pitched there.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Red Sox in 2009, the A's added the righty to the 40-man roster last week to keep him from being available in the rule 5 draft. He features a fastball, changeup and slider, with his fastball and changeup anticipated to be above-average and the slider at least average. He's considered an extremely mature prospect, and very advanced in his approach to pitching. His delivery appears very easy and repeatable, a key for a starting pitching prospect.

The concerns about Alcantara stem from whether he can make the improvements to his slider needed to make it an average offering that will provide strikeouts down the line. If he can, he could be a mid-rotation starting pitcher as soon as 2015. If not, he will likely end up in the bullpen. He seems likely to start the season at AA this year after a solid performance in the Cal League, and by virtue of being on the 40 man roster could see time in the Majors either this year or next.

I personally want to see an improvement to the strikeout rate, as he has fluctuated around seven strikeouts per nine innings so far, and a lower strikeout potential could hurt his value for fantasy owners. He seems likely to have value to fantasy owners if he ends up as a starting pitcher, but it could limit the value to streaming or AL-only leagues if the strikeouts end up below the 6-7 per 9 range in the bigs.

#6 Renato Nunez (3B)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.258

69

19

85

2

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

546

0.301

0.423

5.1%

24.9%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2014 Season)

A

Nunez was a July 2 signee back in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic, receiving a $2.2 million bonus from the A's. After a stateside debut in 2012 in the Arizona rookie league, the A's sent Nunez to Low-A Beloit this year. He got off to a hot start, hitting .295 with 10 home runs in April and May, but cooled off over the rest of the season, including hitting just .184 in the month of August. Overall, the numbers were very solid for a 19 year old in Low-A, but there are some concerns.

Nunez' calling card is his power, which projects to be above-average at its' ceiling. However, there are some legitimate concerns about how much he'll be able to utilize that power, as he struggles to make consistent contact as well as draw walks with regularity. He is considered a below-average runner as well, which also means you're not likely to get any stolen bases from him.

In addition, there are reports that he may not be able to stay at third base, and would more likely end up as a first baseman down the line. The pressure that this will put on his bat to produce value could be too much, unfortunately, as the bar for fantasy relevance from first base is substantially higher than at third.

If everything comes together for Nunez, you could be getting a .260-.270 hitter with 20-25 home run potential despite playing at the cavernous Coliseum for half the year. The likelihood of that is low at this point, and more likely he ends up as a fringy corner infielder that provides value in deeper formats.

20130714_jla_ae5_035.0
Photo Credit: Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

#7 Michael Ynoa (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

3

1

3.71

1.37

68

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

75.2

0.6

0.99

10.5%

20.4%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

22

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (2 Options Left)

A, A+

The A's made what has been their biggest splash in the international market back in 2008, signing one of the top available talents out of the Dominican Republic that year in right handed pitcher Michael Ynoa. The team gave him a $4.25 million dollar bonus that year, which remains a record to this day for an international amateur signing.

Unfortunately, Ynoa is the cautionary tale about spending large amounts of money on players internationally, as well as investing in one in a dynasty league. He threw just three innings in his stateside debut back in 2010 before needing Tommy John surgery in August of 2010. The organization did not have Ynoa return until midseason 2012, when he returned to the Arizona League for 10 innings. They moved him up to their rookie league affiliate in the New York-Penn League where he threw 20 more innings.

There were questions going into the offseason that year, as the A's would need to protect Ynoa on the 40 man roster despite having not pitched in a full season league. They opted to do this, and gave him that full season assignment in Low-A Beloit. Making 15 starts, Ynoa threw just 54 innings, but struck out 48 against 18 walks before a promotion to High-A Stockton. He finished up with another seven appearances, but struggled a bit more with his command (20 K, 17 BB in 21 IP).

Ynoa remains a dream at this point, but the dream has a huge ceiling despite the low probability of getting there. He dials his fastball into the mid 90s on a regular basis, and reports point to him being able to get even more at times. His breaking ball, a curveball, is considered an above-average offering which is his main strikeout pitch. He also has a changeup, which is more of a work-in-progress at this point.

If everything develops, Ynoa will have three average to above-average offerings to go along with an extremely projectable frame (6'7", 210). However, it's not clear whether his long-term future will be as a mid rotation starting pitcher (the dream), or if he ends up in the bullpen down the line. The fact that he has already used one option and has not reached AA could force the Athletics' hand in the matter, and it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up being moved to the bullpen at some point in the future.

#8 Chris Bostick (2B)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.282

75

14

89

25

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

555

0.354

0.452

9.2%

22.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A

Taken in the 44th round by the Athletics back in 2011, the team was able to get Chris Bostick to forgo a commitment to St. John's with a $125,000 bonus, and so far has performed well. He made his full season debut this year at Low-A Beloit, filling up all five fantasy categories while playing solid defense at second base.

Bostick doesn't flash any above-average tools, but is considered to be more of a well-rounded player where none of the tools are completely useless. His best tool is expected to be his hit tool, which should translate into seasons of .275-.285 batting average down the line. He hit 14 home runs to go with 22 doubles and 8 triples this year, but his power is anticipated to be more in the 7-10 home run per year range rather than the 15-20 range. He did show solid speed this year, going 25 for 33 on stolen base attempts, but is expected to be closer to 10-15 range as he moves up the system.

Bostick came into the professional ranks already at second base, and it sounds like he's a reasonably good bet to be able to play there long term. He does get downgraded somewhat at times for his small frame (5'11", 185 lbs), but it doesn't appear that it has had an impact on his ability to play to date. He also gets rave reviews about his makeup and work ethic, which could help his tools to play above expectations some.

Overall, Bostick remains a very interesting prospect for deeper formats right now, and if he can repeat his performance at High-A this year, could start pushing his way into the picture for shallower formats as well. The hard part with Bostick is that his floor is likely a fringe major leaguer, which would have little value to fantasy owners. He'll likely slot in as the starting second baseman in High-A Stockton this year, and could be on a path to the Majors by around 2016.

#9 Daniel Robertson (SS)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.277

59

9

46

1

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

451

0.353

0.401

9.1%

17.5%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A

Drafted out of a California high school in the 1st round of the 2012 draft, Robertson hit 5 home runs in 55 games across two short season leagues in his debut, and was sent to full season Low-A for the 2013 campaign. He missed the first few weeks of the season due to a knee injury, but posted solid numbers when he returned.

None of Robertson's tools really stand out, although his hit tool is considered to be at least average already. He tends to fit into the "better in real life than fantasy" grouping, as none of the fantasy relevant tools project to be above average. He's likely to hit for some power, but it doesn't sound like it is expected to be home run power. He has average speed as well, but was atrocious on the basepaths this year as he went 1 for 8 in stolen base attempts.

A shortstop in high school, there had been reports after his 2012 season that he would likely need to move from the position due to concerns about his defense. However, it sounds like he has at least a reasonable chance to stick at the position, although with Addison Russell in the system he may still end up elsewhere on the diamond.

If everything breaks right for Robertson, he profiles to me as a starter in deeper mixed leagues and AL-only leagues at a middle infielder slot, providing a solid batting average along with 5-10 home runs and a token stolen base or two each year. He'll likely move to High-A Stockton for the 2014 campaign.

#10 B.J. Boyd (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.285

39

8

32

8

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

300

0.375

0.442

11.7%

22.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

L/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A-

At the bottom of the list I usually like to take a player that could have a high end ceiling, even if it is extremely unlikely. For fantasy purposes, that player to me is B.J. Boyd. Taken in the 4th round by the A's in 2012, Boyd hit .301 with 16 stolen bases in the Arizona rookie league that year, and was sent to short season Vermont for the 2013 campaign.

Boyd focused primarily on football while in high school, and as a result is considered extremely raw as a baseball prospect. His carrying tool is his speed, which is considered to be above-average to potentially plus down the line, and should translate into solid stolen base totals in the future. He's also shown excellent bat speed as well as solid plate discipline already, and the 8 home runs this year were a nice bonus. He spent most of his season playing left field, which does put pressure on the bat to provide additional value.

Boyd will likely head to Low-A Beloit to start the 2014 season, and if he can repeat this level of production over a full season will likely be much higher on this list in a year's time. If everything breaks right, he has the potential to solid fantasy contributor, providing batting average and stolen bases for owners in most fantasy leagues, along with a little bit of power.

Other Interesting Prospects
By Jason Hunt (@jasonsbaseball)

Dylan Covey - Covey was a first round draft pick back in 2010 by the Brewers, but the diagnosis of diabetes as a part of the post-draft physical that year led Dylan to attend the University of San Diego rather than sign on the dotted line. The A's drafted him in the 4th round this year, and while he isn't viewed with the same ceiling as he was back in 2010, he could still turn into a useful starting pitcher for the A's, and a potential streaming option down the line for deep league fantasy owners.

Max Muncy - Muncy posted excellent numbers at High-A in the first half (.285/.400/.507, 21 HR in 93 games), but concerns about whether his skills will translate into a useful player at first base keep him out of the top 10. He could be an interesting prospect in deep OBP leagues, as he posted a walk rate approaching 15% on the season. Look for him to return to AA to start the 2013 campaign, and it wouldn't surprise me if he were promoted to AAA during the year.

Miles Head - Head had a great season in 2012, hitting .333 with 23 home runs between High-A and AA, but the wheels came off in 2013 as he appeared in just 40 games due to injuries, and was ineffective when he did play. He'll look to reclaim his spot on the top prospects list at AA again in 2014, but with a first base home most likely, he'll need to hit a ton to keep moving forward.

Dillon Overton - The A's second round draft pick in 2013, Overton was expected to go in the first round until an injury ended his season on April 20th, and he ended up needing Tommy John surgery. He won't pitch during the 2014 season, but is definitely a name to watch this time next year, as he could move through the system quickly despite the missed time.

Matt Olson - A first base prospect, Olson hit 23 home runs at Low-A Beloit, but coupled that with a .223 batting average. The power is a legitimate tool for Olson, but if he can't hit for even a little bit of batting average, it's hard to see him providing value at the position for fantasy owners except in the deepest of leagues.

Ryon Healy - Healy was a 3rd round draft pick for the A's this year, and while he has the potential to be an above-average hitter down the line, there is a lot of pressure on his bat given his defensive weakness. The A's ran him out at third base this year, and hope to convert him to the position, but reports are that he's more likely to end up as a first baseman, and will need to hit a ton to provide value if that's the case. He did hit 6 home runs in just 47 games with Vermont this year, so he's worth keeping in the back of your mind in super deep leagues.

For more on the Athletics, be sure to check out SBNation's Athletics Nation. For more on the minor leagues and prospects in general, check out SBNation's Minor League Ball.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects.
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Andrew Ball is a contributing writer for Beyond the Box Score and Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Matt Mattingly is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
Bullpen Banter
Fangraphs
Athletics Nation
Oakland Clubhouse
Vimeo
Youtube

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