1999 Top 10
Oakland Athletics Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Casey Tefertiller
1. Mark Mulder, LHP
Background: When the Athletics called Mulders name with the No. 2 pick of the 1998 draft, they wanted a big-time pitcher with the ability to come through in pressure games. After extended contract negotiations, he did not sign until the minor league season had ended. Instead of starting in the low minors, Mulder jumped right into the Arizona Fall League at the end of 98, then started at Triple-A Vancouver in 99. In his first year as a professional, Mulder showed the As exactly what they hoped to see. There were difficult timesdead arm, lost velocity and the likebut Mulder remained competitive. Despite losing both his 92-mph fastball and the wicked bite on his curve, he gave two fine performances for Team USA in the Pan American Games. He finished 1-0, 1.42 and showed the ability to pitch effectively without his best stuff. By the end of the year, he overcame the dead arm and pitched two complete-game victories in the postseason, including a 16-2 win over Charlotte to clinch the Triple-A World Series. "He was unbelievable toward the end," scouting director Grady Fuson said. "Now hes a year wiser, and he has an understanding of his durability." Mulder came from the Midwest, where long winters and short seasons had prevented him from building the inning totals of Sun Belt or West Coast college pitchers.
Strengths: What the As saw in the Pan Am Games is almost impossible to teach. Mulder found a way to compete, even when his stuff deserted him. When everything works fine, he has a plus fastball and a devastating curve that makes hitters knees buckle. The combination of talent, competitiveness and resourcefulness makes Mulder a prospective front-of-the-rotation starter.
Weaknesses: Mulder still needs to develop his changeup into a pitch that will keep hitters off-balance. His curve is inconsistent and he doesnt throw enough strikes with it.
The Future: A year of minor league experience helped Mulder learn the rigors of a long season, but the As believe he could benefit from more seasoning. He will come to big league camp with an outside shot at winning the fifth-starter spot, but more likely he will return to Triple-A to prepare for the future.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Vancouver (AAA) 6 7 4.06 22 22 1 0 129 152 31 81
2. Barry Zito, LHP
Age: 21 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200
Drafted: Southern California, 1999 (1st round) Signed by: Rick Magnante
Background: Even the As were stunned by Zitos rapid rise. He started his college career at UC Santa Barbara and transferred to Los Angeles Pierce Junior College for 1998 so he could be eligible for the draft. The Rangers picked him in the third round, but Zito didnt sign and went to USC instead, where he had three 16-strikeout starts.
Strengths: Zito is a student of pitching, which helped him rise quickly through the system last year. He displayed his polish with a win in the Triple-A World Series. Zito throws a devastating curveball. His fastball, 89-91 mph with movement, is enough to complement his curve.
Weaknesses: Much work remains to develop a satisfactory changeup. Zito still slows his body too much and telegraphs the pitch.
The Future: Zito will start the season at Triple-A Sacramento. The As believe he is close to the majors and could develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Visalia (A) 3 0 2.45 8 8 0 0 40 21 22 62 Midland (AA) 2 1 4.91 4 4 0 0 22 22 11 29 Vancouver (AAA) 1 0 1.50 1 1 0 0 6 5 2 6
3. Jesus Colome, RHP
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 185
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996 Signed by: Angel Eusebio
Background: A native of San Pedro de Macoris, Colome has grown nearly four inches since he signed. His fastball, 83-86 mph when he joined the organization, hit 100 mph last summer with Class A Modesto. In his first full season in the U.S., he more than held his own in the California League.
Strengths: A fastball that hits three digits on the radar gun catches attention. Colome also owns a hard, 87-92 mph slider with good late action. He has an unusual herky-jerky delivery, and slings the ball from a three-quarters angle that righthanded hitters find intimidating.
Weaknesses: As is the case with many teenagers with a limited baseball background, Colome is raw. He must learn to compete, which comes with experience. He also must develop a changeup, and spent instructional league working on one.
The Future: The As plan to send Colome to Double-A Midland as a starter. They may consider moving him to the bullpen in the future, perhaps into a closer role.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Modesto (A) 8 4 3.36 34 18 0 6 129 125 60 127
4. Mario Encarnacion, OF
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 187
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1994 Signed by: Santiago Villalona
Background: Encarnacion has shown a pattern of needing two shots at every level, struggling in his first year and dominating in his second. After starting 1999 by dominating at Double-A Midland, he showed continual improvement at Vancouver.
Strengths: As he matures, Encarnacion will hit for both average and power, perhaps significant power. He has improved so much defensively that he is above average at both corners and a capable center fielder, though he projects as a right fielder. He has an excellent throwing arm and good but not blazing speed. He has shown an excellent attitude and great desire.
Weaknesses: Encarnacion tends to rush his throws and still misses too many cutoff men. Offensively, he misses too many hittable pitches and needs more experience against higher-level pitching.
The Future: Encarnacion will spend the year at Sacramento as one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League. He could play his way into a September callup.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Midland (AA) .309 353 69 109 21 4 18 71 47 86 9 Vancouver (AAA) .241 145 18 35 5 0 3 17 6 44 5
5. Adam Piatt, 3B
Age: 24 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 195
Drafted: Mississippi State, 1997 (8th round) Signed by: Steve Bowden
Background: It seems that no matter what Piatt accomplishes, he is destined to have doubters. He helped lead Mississippi State to the College World Series in 1997, but had to keep convincing scouts when he came to the As. All he did in 1999 was win the Texas Leagues first triple crown since Del Pratt did it in 1927.
Strengths: Piatts diligence and approach to the game impress the As more than his numbers. He has developed as a hitter, learning to hit late in counts and developing great selectivity. His power numbers speak for themselves.
Weaknesses: Piatt needs more at-bats against better pitching. While he has shown great improvement on defense, he must further develop to become a big league third baseman.
The Future: Piatt will go to Sacramento to see if he can provide the same performances he did at lower levels. The As want to give him playing time in the outfield because third base in Oakland belongs to Eric Chavez.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Midland (AA) .345 476 128 164 48 3 39 135 93 101 7 Vancouver (AAA) .222 18 1 4 1 0 0 3 6 2 0
6. Chad Harville, RHP
Age: 23 B-T: R-R Ht: 5-10 Wt: 180
Drafted: Memphis, 1997 (2nd round) Signed by: John Poloni
Background: Harville rocketed through the As system before getting a brief and difficult taste of the majors last season. He moved to the bullpen early in the 98 season, then dominated at both Class A and Double-A.
Strengths: Harville throws gas. With a 98-mph fastball and an above-average slider, he has the tools to be a premium closer. He has also shown the makeup and confidence needed for the role.
Weaknesses: While Triple-A hitters rarely touch a mid-thigh, 98-mph fastball, big league hitters can drive it. Harville needs to improve his command in the strike zone. He has been working on a two-seam fastball so he can add a few sinkers to his repertoire.
The Future: Spring training will be a test for Harville. He will try to win a job as a set-up man in the big league bullpen. If he can master a sinker to go with the high heat and a plus slider, he could be an imposing weapon.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Midland (AA) 2 0 2.01 17 0 0 7 22 13 9 35 Vancouver (AAA) 1 0 1.75 22 0 0 11 26 24 11 36 Oakland 0 2 6.91 15 0 0 0 14 18 10 15
7. Miguel Olivo, C
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 180
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996 Signed by: Santiago Villalona
Background: Olivo spent a year in his homeland honing his skills. Then he came to the U.S. in 98 and had a dazzling debut, hitting .311 in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He moved to the California League last year as a spot starter for Modesto.
Strengths: One As scout said Olivo has the best catching arm in baseball. Olivos arm, an 8 on a scouts 2-to-8 scale, compares only to that of Ivan Rodriguez, and Olivo has made major improvements as a receiver. He hits consistently for average and should hit for power as he matures. Olivo, a devotee of the weight room, is already exceedingly strong.
Weaknesses: Partly because he has yet to master English, Olivo has had difficulty working with pitchers. He needs to deal with adversity more maturely and avoid emotional slumps.
The Future: The As would prefer to send Olivo back to the Cal League for a season of experience as an everyday catcher. He could play his way up to Midland, though.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Modesto (A) .305 243 46 74 13 6 9 42 21 60 4
8. Ryan Ludwick, OF
Age: 21 B-T: R-L Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205
Drafted: UNLV, 1999 (2nd round) Signed by: Rick Magnante
Background: Ludwick projected as a first-round pick before the 99 draft, after leading Team USA with nine home runs in the summer of 1998. But he hit just 13 home runs last spring for UNLV, dropping his stock. His brother Eric is a righthander who came to the As in the Mark McGwire trade and spent the last two years with the Marlins organization.
Strengths: Ludwick hit for average throughout his college career, and still has excellent power potential. With a strong arm and decent speed, Ludwick is a solid defensive outfielder. The As plan to use him in both center and right to see where he best fits. He has impressed them with his makeup and work ethic.
Weaknesses: Ludwick will have much to learn in his first full year. He will spend time refining his swing and learning situational hitting. The As want him to develop more patience at the plate, a trademark of the organization.
The Future: A summer in the California League is the plan, and then Ludwick will advance at his own pace.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Modesto (A) .275 171 28 47 11 3 4 34 19 45 2
9. Eric DuBose, LHP
Age: 23 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-3 Wt: 215
Drafted: Mississippi State, 1997 (1st round) Signed by: Steve Bowden
Background: DuBose had a lost season in 1999, missing much of the year with tendinitis. But his first full season in 98 was enough to show the As that their second first-round pick of 97 had the potential to become a high-impact major league starter.
Strengths: An outstanding curveball is the basis of DuBoses repertoire. He complements it with a darting fastball in the low 90s. During the 98 season he made major improvements with his change, and he finished the year with a combined 13-7 record between Class A and Double-A.
Weaknesses: DuBose throws his curve, fastball and changeup from different arm slots, which allows hitters to read him too easily. He must refine his curve and work out flaws in his mechanics. Improvement will come faster with better work habits.
The Future: DuBoses comeback will begin in Midland. After two full seasons, he remains something of an enigma. The As believe he has top-of-the-rotation potential if he can bring his game together.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Midland (AA) 4 2 5.49 21 14 0 1 77 89 44 68
10. Chris Enochs, RHP
Age: 24 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 225
Drafted: West Virginia, 1997 (1st round) Signed by: Ron Elam
Background: Enochs got off to a big start in the pros, winning his first six professional decisions. A run of injuries and frustration have slowed his progress since. After he battled arm problems in 98, a bout with tendinitis virtually wiped out his 99 season. After offseason rest and workouts, Enochs believes he is ready to return to form.
Strengths: When he is healthy, Enochs complements a 93-mph fastball with a plus curveball. He shows excellent mound presence and competitiveness, and his size and strength indicate he has the potential to become a workhorse.
Weaknesses: Enochs must rebuild his confidence after nearly two years of setbacks. Much of last year was spent straightening out mechanical problems. He had difficulty maintaining a consistent, quality curve; a revised delivery could resolve the problem.
The Future: The As hope a little Texas heat in Midland will help Enochs bring his game together. With renewed confidence and revised mechanics, he could be back on track.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Midland (AA) 3 5 10.00 13 11 0 0 45 69 34 33 Visalia (A) 0 0 4.91 4 4 0 0 18 24 10 19
Rest of the Best:
11. Terrence Long, of
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