Oakland Athletics: Chat
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.
JAYPERS (IL): Jim, was it purely a lack of
playing time that pushed Ynoa out of the Top 10? What are scouts
telling you about his mechanics since he was first signed?
Thanks for coming out, everyone. Let's
talk some A's.
Ynoa was the hardest player to rank in the system. I had him pegged as
low as No. 20 at one point, but he ended up just outside the top 10.
The reports I got on him from when he was throwing off the mound in the
Dominican in November were very positive. He repeats well for someone
his age, with a fluid arm action and smooth motion. His stuff was still
there too, with low 90s fastballs and hard, late-breaking curveballs.
Ultimately, we decided to be conservative with his ranking this year,
given the injury and the fact he hasn't pitched in a game yet. But if
he goes out and dominates the AZL or Northwest League this year, he'll
be right back in the top 10 for next year.
Kyle (Miami, FL): Jim Callis had Mike Spina as
one of his sleeper picks out of the 11th round in the draft. What can
you tell us about him and did he make the top 30?
A righthanded hitting third baseman from
Cincinnati, Spina got some consideration for the back of the list but
fell short. He's a strong kid who sprays the ball well and probably has
15-20 home run power. He's a solid defender as well, but just didn't
really have enough standout tools to earn a spot in the top 30.
Ben (Leland Grove): How far off the list was Julio Ramos? Impressions of him?
Ramos ended up ranking in the mid 20s in
the Prospect Handbook. He's not overpowering at 88-91 mph, but could
add some velocity as he develops. He has a good tumbling changeup
that's his go-to pitch, but he lacks an effective breaking ball for
now. The A's scrapped his curveball before last season and switched him
to a slider. The curve was just too easy for batters to pick up since
he raised his arm more when throwing it. The slider is below-average,
but it's in its early stages and has shown some promise.
Adam Merkado (NYC): What can you tell me about
Rashun Dixon and his ultimate ceiling? After watching his season, he
seems to lack the plate discipline, but the athleticism is clearly
there. Did he rank in the top 30?
Dixon fell outside the 30, but was close.
You're right about the athleticism, but he's still learning how to hit.
He was simply overmatched against Northwest League competition. When
they started throwing breaking balls away, he just couldn't recognize
them or take them the other way. He's got tremendous raw power and all
the physical tools though, but it might be another year or two before
he really breaks out.
Ethan (Calgary, Alberta): Ian Krol is an
intriguing guy who got a large bonus as a mid round pick. What is the
scouting report on him that warranted the high bonus?
Oakland's seventh round pick last year,
Krol has command of three average pitches. His fastball velocity was
down last year, but he's shown 89-92 mph before and topped out at 93.
He doesn't project to add much velocity, but both of his secondary
pitches, a curve and change, have a chance to be plus. He has an
advanced feel for pitching for his age as well. He does need to show
that any off the field issues are in his past after he was suspended
from his high school team last year for being found in the presence of
alcohol, his second violation of the school's athletic code of conduct.
Steve (Las Vegas): How close were the top 3?
It was a close call between Carter and
Taylor. Green was a pretty clear No. 3. The Brett Wallace-Taylor trade
hadn't yet been completed when we sent the Handbook to press, so
Wallace is still listed as the A's No. 2 in the book. For the rankings,
Carter's power potential was what won out for him over both Wallace and
Dirk (Oaktown): Could you tell us about the acquisition of Clay Mortensen, and if he made your top 30?
Mortensen's a sinker-slider guy who
ranked in the teens in the Handbook. His sinker can be really good when
he's on, as he can sit 89-91 and top out at 92 and gets plenty of
groundballs. His slider shows flashes of being above-average at 81-85
mph. He also has a changeup that he struggles to throw for strikes.
He's been plagued by mechanical issues. His arm action is long in the
back and he has a hard time staying on top of the ball, making his
pitches flatten out. He also has trouble maintaining a consistent
release point, causing his command of the zone to suffer. He can be a
back of the rotation guy potentially, but it's hard to see him beating
out the other candidates in the organization over the long term.
Josh (Golden Gate): How can Corey Brown be
left off this list? What makes guys like Doolittle and Cardenas rank
above him? Was he close to this top-10? Thanks.
Brown was a close call. He's got
five-tool potential, but what ended up keeping him off was his lack of
a consistent approach, which was reflected in his high strikeout
totals. Sometimes he'll show a willingness to use the whole field,
while at other times he looks like he's trying to jerk balls. That's
the big difference between him and guys like Doolittle and Cardenas,
who look like professional hitters and are safer bets to hit at the
major league level.
JAYPERS (IL): Is Brett Hunter on your Top 30 radar? Is he a SP or RP down the road?
Hunter is still on the radar, but barely.
He still has one of the best arms in the system, capable of throwing
92-94 mph sinking fastballs and topping out at 95-96. But his mechanics
seemed to change with every outing last year and his command was all
over the map. He'll be developed as a reliever going forward, and the
A's have revamped his delivery, giving him a lower arm slot and making
his motion similar to Carlos Marmol's. The lower arm angle means his
slider doesn't get as much tilt as it once did, but it still comes in
hard at 83-85 mph. He still has the potential to move quickly and be a
real weapon, but he's got to show he can throw strikes.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of last years Prospect Handbook top thirty A's players - who dropped down the most and who jumped up the rankings the most?
James Simmons took the biggest plunge,
dropping all the way out of the rankings from being No. 10 last year.
Simmons had a tough year at Sacramento, where his lack of a third pitch
really caught up to him. He still has back of the rotation potential
since he has command and a good changeup, but his curveball just didn't
have enough break to be effective. The A's are trying to give him a
cutter instead, but it's a work in progress. Pedro Figueroa had the
biggest jump, from out of the rankings to No. 5. Of guys who were in
last year's top 30, the honor for biggest jump goes to Grant Desme, who
was No. 30 last year.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): You
fellows have Adrian Cardenas as a 3rd baseman in the future. Is his arm
strong enough for this position change? I always thought he was a 2nd
Putting Cardenas at third there was more
a product of necessity than anything else. Projecting Jemile Weeks at
second doesn't really leave anywhere else to put Cardenas. He does have
the arm for third, but the problem is his bat doesn't really profile
there. As always with those projected lineups, take them with a grain
of salt, but it was interesting to be in what could be the same
scenario that the A's may find themselves in with the real Cardenas,
where you figure he's going to hit, you've just got to find room for
him somewhere in the field. Third base was the best place for that,
given the A's lack of other top prospects at the position.
Dave Stewart fan (Pitching mound, Oakland Coliseum):
I still don't understand WHY the A's moved Sean Doolittle to the
Outfield to accomodate Chris Carter at First Base. In my mind Doolittle
is a better defender at First Base and infield defense is preferred
over outfield defense. I viewed Carter as a Jermaine Dye-type Right
Fielder. What was the team's thinking on this?
I wouldn't say it was just to accommodate
Carter. The A's had a real logjam of potential first basemen at the big
league and Triple-A levels, and they felt Doolittle had the athleticism
to play the outfield, which would also allow them to take advantage of
his arm strength. He can always move back to first, which what we have
him doing in the projected lineup.
Ben (Leland Grove): In what capacity is Henry Rodriguez best suited for, and when will he reach Oakland for good?
The sense I got from talking to A's
people about him is that it might just be time to see whether he's
going to sink or swim in the majors. He seemed unmotivated at times in
Triple-A last year but responded well to the challenge of facing big
leaguers in September. The A's haven't ruled out returning him to
starting, but he looks like he's still best suited for the back of
bullpen if he can throw enough strikes.
Henry Thompson (Sauce Town USA): Where did Arnold Leon And Fautino De Los Santos rank? And what are the reports on Santos as he comes back from Tommy John?
Both of those guys ranked in the high
teens. De los Santos was back throwing the mid 90s in November and his
changeup was showing progress as well, with great depth and hand speed.
He still hadn't started working his slider and curveball back into his
repertoire yet and those will be the last to come back. He should be
healthy for this season and, like Michael Ynoa, should move up the
rankings easily if he shows his stuff is all the way back against live
Don (Rosemont, IL): Obviously, Paul Smyth had
a nice start to his career. Is he a guy that can project somewhere in
the bullpen or is he just a guy that can carve up inexperienced hitters?
Signs point towards the latter. The A's
35th round pick from Kansas last year, Smyth's got advanced
pitchability and comes right after hitters, but it's hard to project
him to be more than a 6th or 7th inning guy at best. A sidearming
righthander, his fastball sits around 87-89 and his slider was more
sweeping rather than being a true biting slider. He's one of those guys
who'll have to prove himself at every level.
Jim (Denver): Did a local product from our
area Anthony Capra make your top 30 list if so why and if not why not?
He had a pretty good year 2009
Capra didn't make the top 30 but was one
of the last cuts. He's a finesse lefty who isn't overpowering at 88-92,
but he hides the ball well and gets some deception. He's a competitor
who has a great feel for pitching and will throw any pitch in any
count. His changeup is his only real plus pitch though. He also throws
an average slider and get-it-over curveball, and he gets in trouble
when he leaves balls up. He's the type of guy you'd expect to success
at the Single-A level and he did. If he proves himself in Double-A this
year, he should get a nice bump in the rankings.
Michael (Salt Lake): Ken Smalley Put up some pretty good numbers in Kane County. Was that becasue he faced weak Competiton or is he a legit proesct?
He didn't make the Handbook, but he is a
prospect. His fastball has some jump and sits at 91-92 and can touch
94. His change is his best secondary pitch, featuring some
splitter-like action at 80-81 mph. His success last year was thanks to
fastball command and that changeup. What holds him back was his lack of
an effective breaking ball. The A's have tried both a curve and a
slider with him, but they're not much more than show-me pitches.
Grant (Chicago, IL): At what level do you see
Justin Marks starting out this year? I know he is not overpowering, but
with 4 solid offerings is he a mid rotation possibility down the road?
Probably Stockton. He can be a guy who
moves quickly and is a reliable back-of-the-rotation type. As you said,
he's got four solid offerings, but none of them are plus, which makes
it hard to project him for anything more than a No. 4 starter at most.
He's a strikethrower though and has a physical frame, though there's
some effort in his delivery.
Brian (South Dakota): Did Dusty Coleman make the top 30? What is your opinion of him?
Coleman's intriguing, but didn't make the
top 30. He's not the most rangy shortstop, but he's got good hands and
a strong enough arm. He's got some power potential and his swing is
similar to Grant Desme's, though Coleman's pitch recognition lags
behind, leading to a lot of swings and misses. He's not projected as an
everyday shortstop at the big league level though. He could move to
second base down the road, and one scout compared him to Tony
Neil (Phoenix, AZ): Is Ben Hornbeck a power lefty, or more of a finesse type? Does he stick as a starter, or will he end up in the pen?
Finesse. Hornbeck's a guy that relies on
his changeup. His fastball tops out at 88-91, but his change can be
devastating. He gets a 10-12 mph differential between it and his
fastball and the bottom drops out of it at the end. He opened last year
as a starter but moved to the bullpen in July and it looks like he'll
stay there. The A's are working on giving him a curveball and a cutter
as well, though those are a ways away.
Christian (Ft Hood, TX): What can you tell me
about 12th RD pick Connor Hoehn and did he crack the Top 30 with his
impressive debut in short season ball?
I really like Hoehn and he did make the
top 30. He's got a sturdy, physical frame and attacks hitters with
sinking 92-94 mph fastballs. His breaking ball is called a slider but
is somewhat hybridish and has late, darting movement. He's shown a feel
for his changeup as well and it has some fade to it. His delivery gets
some deception, but he has trouble repeating and there's some effort
there as well. After working out of the bullpen at Vancouver last year,
he should be a starter this year, and he's a guy I'd look for to have a
Rod (Seattle): I know the projected line-ups
don't mean much, but ONE position player from 2009 and 3 pitchers has
to say something, doesn't it? What does it say the most about, their
prospects or their current roster?
I think it speaks both to the quality of
hitters they have in the system and, yes, to how the A's have been a
bit offensively challenged over the last few years. Like we always say
though, those lineups should be taken with a grain of salt.
Greg (Danville): Who do you prefer, Michael Taylor or Brett Wallace?
Taylor. The two profile similarly as hitters, but Taylor has much more defensive value.
Matt (Manhattan): Jim's sleeper pick for 2010 is __________?
I've mentioned Connor Hoehn, so the guy
I'll nominate here is a 21-year-old righthander named Jonathan Joseph.
His numbers at Vancouver last year were less than inspiring, to put it
kindly, but he's got a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 96 and a hammer
curveball. His command needs to get better, but he repeats his motion
well and maintains his arm slot, so there's reason to believe he should
develop into a more consistent strikethrower. With those tools, he
could tear up Midwest League hitters when he arrives at Kane County.
birdwell (costa mesa CA): Can I get a scouting
report on Tyreace House? Is he a top 30 guy? Does he look to be in the
outfield mix for the A's in the future? The kid can fly!
House just snuck into the back of the top
30. He's not going to set the world on fire with his bat, but he's got
plus-plus speed and can be a highlight reel defender in center field.
He does have a short, slashing swing and doesn't try to do too much at
the plate, though he still needs to work on his ability to play small
ball, bunting and such. He could develop into a leadoff type hitter
down the road. Worst case, he could be defensive replacement/pinch
Nate (Still in the snow...): Is it fair to say
that 2010 is a make-or-break year for Desme and Figueroa to show
they're legit options for starting gigs in Oakland?
More so for Figueroa due to his age, but
I wouldn't toss either on the scrap heap if they struggle. They'll both
be advancing to Double-A this year, which is the hardest transition
young players have to make from one level to the next, so it'll be
important for both to show they weren't just products of facing lesser
Chip (Reno, NV): Where would Aaron Cunningham have been listed and where would Sogard fall in the list?
Cunningham was no longer eligible as he
just barely surpassed the 130 big league at-bat limit for prospect
eligibility. Sogard would probably fall somewhere in the teens. It's
hard to see where he fits long term with both Weeks and Cardenas
already in the organization. He doesn't have Weeks' loud tools or
jim (huntsville, al): Where was Josh Donaldson
in your rankings? He had a terrific year at Double A and seems to be
underrated when it comes to prospect status? What do you think his big
league ceiling is?
I'll wind it up with this one. Donaldson
is in the teens. He toned down the aggressive stride in his swing last
year, giving himself a more compact stroke. He's got a good feel for
the zone and the strength to hit home runs to all fields, though his
in-game power is mostly geared to his pull side. He does show soft
hands and some athleticism behind the plate, but he's got work to do
back there after he led Texas League catchers in both passed balls (17)
and errors (16) last year. He doesn't have Stassi's upside, but he is
the best catching option the A's have in the upper levels of the system.
Thanks for all the questions, everyone.
There are just two more organizations left in our roundup of Top 10s.
Come back on Friday as Matt Eddy rejoins you to talk Mariners. Have a
great rest of the week!