Head, Straily Give A's Breakout Seasons





Best Player: For the first half of the season, Miles Head was one of the most dominant bats in baseball.

Head, 21, hit .382/.433/.715 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 67 games for high Class A Stockton before being promoted to Double-A Midland. The advanced pitching proved more challenging, but Head still hit .272/.338/.504 with five homers in 56 games. He has emerged as a big-time hitting prospect, with a good all-fields approach and solid power potential.

The big question will be whether he can remain at third base or move to first. The Red Sox selected the big Georgian in the 26th round of the 2009 draft, and he spent much of his time playing first the next two seasons before the A's moved him back to third, his high school position, after acquiring him as part of the Andrew Bailey trade. The A's plan to have him spend the winter working on agility drills to improve his footwork.

Best Pitcher: The strikeouts just kept coming as Dan Straily moved from Double-A to Triple-A and into the majors. The 23-year-old righthander struck out 108 in 85 innings for Midland before being promoted to Sacramento, where he struck out 82 in 66, along with a 2.03 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP, on his way to claiming the overall minor league strikeout title with 190 between the two levels. Straily relies on excellent control, along with solid sliders and changeups to keep hitters off-balance and uncertain where the ball will be diving. The A's have made clear he is a big part of their future.

Keep An Eye On: After struggling through his early starts at Stockton, righthander Josh Bowman added a slider to his repertoire and suddenly began to dominate. He finished the Cal League season 6-10, 3.62 with 127 strikeouts and 33 walks in 147 innings, then moved to Midland for a start. The 23-year-old pitches at 89-93 mph with his sinking fastball, and throws the cutter at 87. He also has a good, late-breaking curve.

A's Acorns

Grant Green was among the A's contingent going to the Arizona Fall League, where he will play second base. This creates an unusual situation for the A's, who could have three first-round picks—Green, Jemile Weeks, and Cliff Pennington—competing for the second-base job in big league camp next spring.

• Instructional league was set to run Sept. 19-Oct. 17 at Papago Park in Phoenix. The A's planned to bring 45 players to camp, including their top picks from the June draft.