Athletics Final Report





Best Player: The Athletics have struggled in recent years to draft and develop a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter. That may be about to change if center fielder Michael Choice keeps thriving. Oakland's first-round pick in 2010 batted .285/.376/.542 with 30 homers for high Class A Stockton in his first full professional season.

The Athletics are hopeful this is the beginning of a fast rise for the former Texas-Arlington star. To the delight of the organization, Choice has shown indications that he will be able to remain in center because his defense has improved through the season.

Best Pitcher: When Graham Godfrey reported to spring training, Triple-A Sacramento pitching coach Scott Emerson noticed that the righthander had dropped his arm angle to sidearm. So he worked on bringing Godfrey more over the top. The new slot helped the 26-year-old pick up velocity—up to 93 mph on occasion.

The unheralded Godfrey proceeded to go 14-3, 2.68 with a 1.14 WHIP over 107 innings for Sacramento. He received four spot starts in the majors and even outdueled the Giants' Tim Lincecum in one effort. A pitcher who had never cracked a prospect list suddenly emerged in the Athletics' plans for the future.

Keep An Eye On: When he signed with the A's last year, 13th-round righthander A.J. Griffin moved comfortably into the bullpen at short-season Vancouver and led the Northwest League with 15 saves. The 23-year-old moved into the rotation this season and wound up pitching for all four of Oakland's full-season affiliates, going 11-7, 3.47 while striking out 156 and walking 32 in 161 innings. He finished the year with Stockton.

While in college at San Diego, Griffin had worked as both closer and starter at different times. His fastball hits the low 90s, and he also has a curve, change and hard slider. Griffin can change speeds on different pitches to keep hitters off balance.

A's ACORNS

• Oakland converted 24-year-old first baseman Sean Doolittle to the mound after a series of injuries essentially wiped out the past two years of development. The lefty starred as a two-way player at Virginia prior to being drafted in 2007.

• The A's granted a September callup to catcher Anthony Recker, who batted .287/.388/.501 in 345 at-bats for Sacramento. He would have been eligible for minor league free agency had he not been added to the 40-man roster.