2013 Oakland Athletics Top 10 Prospect With Scouting Reports




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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.

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The Athletics were supposed to be an afterthought in 2012. Instead, they won 94 regular-season games, their most in nine years, and authored a memorable season. Oakland surged in the second half, coming out of nowhere to shock the Rangers by winning the American League West on the last day of the regular season, then pushing the eventual AL champion Tigers to five games in the Division Series.

There was little reason to expect these results after the A's traded away their last three all-stars—Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez—for prospects during the offseason. Their Opening Day payroll of $55.4 million ranked 29th among the 30 major league teams. It looked like general manager Billy Beane was hitting the reset button once again, and his team was just 37-42 and 13 games behind the Rangers at the end of June.

Instead of fading away, however, Oakland caught fire. It won 16 of its first 18 games in July and stayed hot, erasing a five-game deficit with nine to play and snatching the division title by sweeping Texas in the final series of the year. Justin Verlander put an end to the fairy tale, beating the A's twice in the ALDS, but that did little to dampen the glow of the season.

There may never have been a contender that relied on rookies as much as Oakland, which carried a record 12 on its ALDS roster. At times down the stretch, the A's went with an all-rookie rotation that included Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone—key pieces obtained in the Cahill and Gonzalez trades—and homegrown products A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily. Derek Norris, another product of the Gonzalez deal with the Nationals, did most of the catching down the stretch.

Yet the best rookie was Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who belted 23 homers and led the team in all three slash categories at .292/.356/.505. Oakland won a spirited competition to sign Cespedes in March with a four-year, $36 million contract.

While the A's were enjoying their first winning season and playoff appearance since 2006, their farm system also took on a much different look. Not only did several players graduate to the majors, but many new faces also came in via trades and the draft. Along with Milone and Norris, Oakland also acquired righthanders Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole from Washington for Gonzalez. They're two of the system's best prospects, as is corner infielder Miles Head, who was part of the Bailey trade with the Red Sox (as was non-rookie Josh Reddick, who slugged 32 homers in his first full season as a big leaguer).

In a departure from its "Moneyball" history of eschewing high school players, Oakland took prepsters with each of its three 2012 draft picks before the second round. The A's hadn't used their top choice on a high schooler since taking Cahill in the second round in 2006, and hadn't expended a first-rounder on one since selecting Jeremy Bonderman 26th overall in 2001.

Shortstop Addison Russell was the 11th overall pick and the highest-drafted A's prepster since Eric Chavez at No. 10 in 1996, and he already ranks as the organization's No. 1 prospect after hitting .369/.432/.594 and reaching low Class A in his pro debut. Shortstop/third baseman Daniel Roberston and first baseman Matt Olson, both supplemental first-rounders in June, are two of the system's most promising hitters.

1. Addison Russell, ss Born: Jan 23, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Pace (Fla.) HS, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Kelcey Mucker
Addison RussellBackground: Before Russell became the Athletics' 2012 first-round pick and top prospect, he had to transform himself. The starting shortstop for Pace (Fla.) High since he was a freshman, he bulked up to add power but scouts started comparing him to Juan Uribe. Getting moved from short to third base while playing for Team USA's 18-and-under team in the summer of 2011 lit a fire under him to shed the extra weight, and he dropped nearly 30 pounds between then and the spring of 2012. Along the way, Russell earned back the shortstop job with Team USA and caught Oakland's attention at the 18-and-under Pan Am Championship in Colombia in November 2011. He belted a grand slam in the gold medal game and hit .364/.481/.614 for the tournament. Despite a solid but somewhat modest high school senior season, Russell went 11th overall in the 2012 draft and gave up an Auburn commitment for a bonus of $2.625 million. He excelled in his pro debut, batting .415 in the Rookie-level Arizona League and getting all the way to low Class A Burlington.

Scouting Report: When scouts describe Russell, the adjectives that come up the most are "aggressive" and "explosive." He combines quick hands with tremendous barrel accuracy, enabling him to make consistent hard contact. He hits line drives all over the field with projectable power. It's more like sneaky power right now, though one club official compares Russell's home run upside to that of Ian Desmond, who went deep 25 times in 2012. Russell goes to the plate looking to attack the ball. He's vulnerable to chasing breaking pitches away from him, like most young hitters, but his hand-eye coordination and swing should allow him to hit for high averages as he learns to lay off those pitches. Once a kid with a softer body, he now has a leaner, stronger frame and above-average speed. From home to first, some scouts have graded him as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. As aggressive on the bases as he is at the plate, he stole 16 bases in 18 tries in his pro debut. Once he learns the nuances of basestealing, he could be a threat to swipe 20-30 bags annually in the major leagues. Russell has eliminated questions about whether he can stay at shortstop. He's a quality athlete with good range, particularly to his left. His actions could stand to be a little cleaner, but he's already a reliable defender who made just 10 errors in his first 48 pro games. He has solid arm strength and a quick release. In addition to all of his physical tools, the A's also love Russell's makeup. He's very focused and driven to succeed.

The Future: Russell has the makings of a big-time shortstop who can impact a game with his power, speed and defense. The A's believe he could advance quickly after seeing how well he handled two promotions in his pro debut, though he'll still likely be ticketed for Oakland's new low Class A Beloit affiliate to start the 2013 season. He may only need a couple of years in the minors and could be the franchise's best shortstop since former American League MVP Miguel Tejada.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Athletics (R) 106 29 44 4 5 6 29 14 23 9 1 .415 .488 .717
'12 Vermont (SS) 53 9 18 2 2 1 7 4 13 2 0 .340 .386 .509
'12 Burlington (LoA) 58 8 18 4 2 0 9 5 12 5 1 .310 .369 .448
Minor League Totals 217 46 80 10 9 7 45 23 48 16 2 .369 .432 .594

2. Michael Choice, of Born: Nov 10, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 220
Drafted: Texas-Arlington, 2010 (1st round).  Signed by: Armann Brown
Michael ChoiceBackground: After setting a Texas-Arlington record with 34 career home runs, Choice became the highest-drafted player in school history when he went 10th overall in 2010. Signed for $2 million, he led the high Class A California League with 30 homers in his first full pro season. He started slowly in 2012 while making adjustments to his swing. He was heating up before an errant pitch broke his left hand on July 21, ending his season.

Scouting Report: Choice has plenty of strength, and his quick wrists generate blinding bat speed and towering home runs. He's capable of hitting balls out to any part of the park. He has worked diligently to cut down on excess movement in his swing, shortening his stroke and creating a better bat path. He still has trouble with breaking pitches and may strike out too much to hit for a high average. Choice isn't a burner, but he's a solid runner who gets the job done in center field thanks to his good reads and jumps. If he has to move, he'd slide over to left field because he has fringy arm strength.

The Future: Choice headed down to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball and try to make up for the at-bats he lost due to the injury. He may start 2013 back in Midland but could advance to Triple-A Sacramento quickly if things go well. He could force his way into Oakland's outfield plans for 2014.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Athletics (R) 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 .000 .222 .000
'10 Vancouver (SS) 102 20 29 10 2 7 26 15 43 6 1 .284 .388 .627
'11 Stockton (HiA) 467 79 133 28 1 30 82 61 134 9 5 .285 .376 .542
'12 Midland (AA) 359 59 103 15 2 10 58 33 88 5 1 .287 .356 .423
Minor League Totals 935 159 265 53 5 47 166 111 267 20 7 .283 .369 .502

3. A.J. Cole, rhp Born: Jan 5, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Oviedo (Fla.) HS, 2010 (4th round).  Signed by: Paul Tinnell
A.J. ColeBackground: A potential first-rounder going into 2010, Cole slid but still netted a fourth-round-record $2 million bonus from the Nationals. After coming to Oakland with Tom Milone, Derek Norris and Brad Peacock in the Gio Gonzalez trade last offseason, Cole ranked last in the California League with a 7.82 ERA before he was demoted to low Class A in May. Following a rough first start, he smoothed out his mechanics in Burlington and would have led the Midwest League in ERA (2.07) if he had logged enough innings to qualify.

Scouting Report: Cole's fastball ranges from 92-97 mph with some sinking and cutting action. His slurvy curveball lacks consistency because he keeps tinkering with grips for it, but it shows good bite when it's on and he tightened its rotation in instructional league. He has nice feel for his changeup, which has some fade and improved after his demotion. Cole's Cal League problems came because he opened up too quickly in his delivery, dragged his arm and over-rotated, and left pitches up in the strike zone. The A's like how he comes after hitters.

The Future: With his power arm, Cole has more upside than any A's pitching prospect and projects as a possible frontline starter. He'll get another crack at Stockton to open 2013.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Vermont (SS) 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 .250
'11 Hagerstown (LoA) 4 7 4.04 20 18 0 89 87 47 40 6 24 108 .246
'12 Stockton (HiA) 0 7 7.82 8 8 0 38 60 40 33 7 10 31 .345
'12 Burlington (LoA) 6 3 2.07 19 19 0 96 78 32 22 7 19 102 .214
Minor League Totals 10 17 3.82 48 45 0 224 226 226 95 20 54 242 .252

4. Brad Peacock, rhp Born: Feb 2, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175
Drafted: Palm Beach Central HS, Wellington, Fla., 2006 (41st round).  Signed by: Tony Arango
Brad PeacockBackground: A high school shortstop drafted as a catcher, Peacock signed for $110,000 as a draft-and-follow pitcher in 2007. He broke out in 2011, when he was the Double-A Eastern League's pitcher of the year and made his big league debut with the Nationals. Part of the package for Gio Gonzalez, Peacock had his worst pro season in 2012, with his 6.01 ERA the second-worst in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Scouting Report: Peacock pitched up in the zone too frequently in 2012. The A's tried to remedy the issue by having him keep his shoulders more level and eliminate a tilt in his delivery, but the changes didn't have the desired effect and he went back to his old mechanics. When he's going well, he still shows three quality pitches. Peacock's fastball works at 91-95 mph but lacks movement, underscoring the need for better command. He also flashes a sharp curveball and a changeup with depth. He has added a slider/cutter hybrid to help induce weak contact, but it remains a work in progress.

The Future: The A's consider 2012 a transition year for Peacock, who may have put too much pressure on himself while a parade of young pitchers made it to Oakland. They still expect big things from him, though he'll likely be back in Triple-A to open 2013.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'07 Nationals (R) 1 1 3.89 13 7 0 39 38 23 17 1 15 34 .244
'08 Hagerstown (LoA) 0 5 9.09 8 8 0 34 38 38 34 8 21 23 .273
'08 Vermont (SS) 4 7 3.12 14 14 0 75 67 38 26 3 27 54 .229
'09 Hagerstown (LoA) 5 8 4.05 19 17 0 100 104 49 45 10 32 77 .257
'09 Potomac (HiA) 3 3 4.34 8 7 0 48 46 26 23 4 10 27 .243
'10 Potomac (HiA) 4 9 4.44 19 18 0 103 109 59 51 11 25 118 .260
'10 Harrisburg (AA) 2 2 4.66 7 7 0 39 33 21 20 5 22 30 .221
'11 Harrisburg (AA) 10 2 2.01 16 14 0 99 62 25 22 4 23 129 .173
'11 Syracuse (AAA) 5 1 3.19 9 9 0 48 36 18 17 5 24 48 .200
'11 Washington (MAJ) 2 0 0.75 3 2 0 12 7 1 1 0 6 4 .163
'12 Sacramento (AAA) 12 9 6.01 28 25 0 135 147 99 90 16 66 139 .267
Major League Totals 2 0 0.75 3 2 0 12 7 7 1 0 6 4 .163
Minor League Totals 46 47 4.31 141 126 0 720 680 680 345 67 265 679 .239

5. Sonny Gray, rhp Born: Nov 7, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Vanderbilt, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Matt Ranson
Sonny GrayBackground: Gray is accustomed to success, having led Smyrna (Tenn.) High to state baseball and football championships and Vanderbilt to its first-ever College World Series in 2011. But after signing for $1.54 million as the 18th overall pick that June, he struggled for most of his first full pro season while trying to make adjustments to his mechanics.

Scouting Report: Gray tends to spin off as he finishes his delivery, so the A's tried to get him more on line to the plate. His command suffered and his pitches flattened out, leading him to return to his old mechanics in the second half. Gray's pure stuff isn't a problem, as he has a 91-95 mph fastball that reaches 97 and features some sink and natural cutting action. He also has a knockout curveball, and he can vary both its velocity (76-84 mph) and shape. His changeup has depth but he still doesn't fully trust it. He needs to do a better job of setting hitters up.

The Future: Gray did finish last season on a solid note, pitching well in a Triple-A playoff game. He'll go back to Sacramento to open 2013 and still can reach his ceiling of a No. 2 starter as long as he irons out his command and makes his changeup a more consistent part of his arsenal.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Athletics (R) 0 1 4.50 1 1 0 2 4 1 1 0 0 2 .400
'11 Midland (AA) 1 0 0.45 5 5 0 20 15 1 1 0 6 18 .200
'12 Midland (AA) 6 9 4.14 26 26 0 148 148 73 68 8 57 97 .250
'12 Sacramento (AAA) 0 0 9.00 1 1 0 4 10 4 4 0 1 2 .455
Minor League Totals 7 10 3.83 33 33 0 174 177 177 74 8 64 119 .253

6. Dan Straily, rhp Born: Dec 1, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Marshall, 2009 (24th round).  Signed by: Matt Ranson
Dan StrailyBackground: Straily was once cut from his high school team and received only one offer to play Division I baseball, from Marshall. Signed for $12,500 as a 24th-rounder in 2009, he didn't emerge on the prospect radar until 2012, when he took the minors by storm. He led all minor leaguers with 190 strikeouts in 152 innings and reached the majors in August, making seven solid starts.

Scouting Report: Straily's greatest strength is his command of four pitches. He mixes them well and can locate them to every part of the strike zone. His fastball doesn't overpower hitters, but he maintains his 91-92 mph velocity deep into games and touches 95. Straily's slider and changeup are his two best offerings and account for the bulk of his strikeouts. His slider has good depth, while his changeup is a weapon against lefthanders with its armside run and his deceptive arm speed. His curveball is below-average, though it's still useful as an early-count offering. Since turning pro, he has gotten better at staying on line to the plate and maintaining his conditioning.

The Future: Though Straily's stuff may not be loud enough to be a frontline starter, he can be a dependable mid-rotation presence. He has the inside track on a big league job to open 2013.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Vancouver (SS) 5 3 4.12 16 11 0 59 66 27 27 5 18 66 .272
'10 Kane County (LoA) 10 7 4.32 28 28 0 148 138 75 71 13 61 149 .237
'11 Stockton (HiA) 11 9 3.87 28 26 0 161 160 78 69 10 40 154 .249
'12 Midland (AA) 3 4 3.38 14 14 0 85 70 36 32 6 23 108 .215
'12 Sacramento (AAA) 6 3 2.03 11 11 0 67 40 15 15 3 19 82 .167
'12 Oakland (MAJ) 2 1 3.89 7 7 0 39 36 19 17 11 16 32 .234
Major League Totals 2 1 3.92 7 7 0 39 36 36 17 11 16 32 .235
Minor League Totals 35 26 3.70 97 90 0 520 474 474 214 37 161 559 .233

7. Miles Head, 3b/1b Born: May 2, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Whitewater HS, Fayetteville, Ga., 2009 (26th round).  Signed by: Tim Hyers
Miles HeadBackground: The best pure hitter in the 2009 Georgia high school class, Head signed for an above-slot $335,000 as Boston's 26th-round pick. The Red Sox sent him, Josh Reddick and righthander Raul Alcantara to the A's for Andrew Bailey in December 2011. Head led Oakland farmhands in hitting (.333) and RBIs (84) while finishing second in homers (23) in his first season in the system.

Scouting Report: Head's swing isn't graceful, but it's quick and compact. He has outstanding bat control and the ability to barrel pitches in all parts of the strike zone. He has strong wrists and great bat speed, giving him the power to profile on a corner. Head played first base for the Red Sox but the A's shifted him to third base, his high school position. He has enough arm and can make the routine plays at the hot corner, but his lack of range and athleticism leave his ability to stick there in question. He's a well below-average runner.

The Future: The A's will soldier on with Head at third base after having him work on speed and quickness during the offseason. He planned on playing in the Arizona Fall League but left after one game when he strained his left shoulder taking a swing. He was too aggressive and less productive after his promotion to Double-A, so he'll return there to begin 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Red Sox (R) 29 1 3 0 0 0 0 3 8 0 0 .103 .188 .103
'10 Lowell (SS) 229 21 55 16 2 1 35 30 36 1 1 .240 .328 .341
'11 Greenville (LoA) 263 61 89 25 1 15 53 30 53 4 2 .338 .409 .612
'11 Salem (HiA) 232 27 59 12 1 7 29 20 56 0 2 .254 .328 .405
'12 Stockton (HiA) 267 57 102 23 6 18 56 23 55 3 0 .382 .433 .715
'12 Midland (AA) 213 25 58 9 2 5 28 16 75 0 1 .272 .338 .404
Minor League Totals 1233 192 366 85 12 46 201 122 283 8 6 .297 .366 .497

8. Grant Green, 2b/of Born: Sep 27, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Southern California, 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: J.T. Stotts
Grant GreenBackground: Green has had no issues at the plate since Oakland signed him for $2.75 million as the 13th overall pick in 2009, batting .302/.348/.461 in the minors. But he has journeyed all over the diamond in a quest to find a defensive home. He started as a shortstop, moved to center field in mid-2011 and played five different positions in 2012 before settling on second base.

Scouting Report: Green is a pure hitter who can recognize and square up a variety of pitches. He has an easy, line-drive stroke and makes hard contact to all fields. The A's looked to get him to drive more balls by widening his stance after the 2011 season, and while that helped, his power still won't be better than average. Moving back to the middle of the infield, Green looked more comfortable than he had through his series of position changes. His arm was a question mark at shortstop but is fine at second base, and he has good hands, enough range and solid instincts for turning the double play. He's an average runner.

The Future: With Cliff Pennington departing in a trade for Chris Young, Green will compete with Jemile Weeks for the A's second-base job in spring training. Oakland added Green to its 40-man roster in November. While he may not have an impact bat, he'll provide enough offense to be a solid regular.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Stockton (HiA) 19 2 6 1 0 0 3 1 5 1 0 .316 .350 .368
'10 Stockton (HiA) 548 107 174 39 6 20 87 38 117 9 5 .318 .363 .520
'11 Midland (AA) 530 76 154 33 1 9 62 39 119 6 8 .291 .343 .408
'12 Sacramento (AAA) 524 73 155 28 6 15 75 33 75 13 9 .296 .338 .458
Minor League Totals 1621 258 489 101 13 44 227 111 316 29 22 .302 .348 .461

9. Daniel Robertson, ss/3b Born: Mar 22, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Upland (Calif.) HS, 2012 (1st round supplemental round).  Signed by: Eric Martins
Daniel RobertsonBackground: The second of the three high schoolers Oakland took at the top of its 2012 draft, Robertson signed for $1.5 million as the 34th overall pick. In his debut, he hit well in the Arizona League and earned a promotion to short-season Vermont, but he ran out of gas in August and tailed off markedly.

Scouting Report: Robertson stands out as an instinctive hitter who's advanced for his age. He has a fluid swing with natural timing and rhythm. He mostly has gap power for now, but he shows flashes of something more. His projectable frame leads some scouts to believe he could have above-average power in time. He projects as a third baseman, though the A's gave him some time at shortstop when he wasn't playing alongside 2012 first-rounder Addison Russell. Robertson has reliable hands and solid arm strength, but his lack of speed—not to mention Russell's presence—make him a better fit at the hot corner.

The Future: He has more than enough bat to profile as a regular at third base, reminding some club officials of David Wright. Robertson is comfortable at third base and should spend most of his time there when he teams with Russell once again in low Class A during their first full pro seasons.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Athletics (R) 101 25 30 10 2 4 22 16 15 2 0 .297 .405 .554
'12 Vermont (SS) 94 9 17 2 0 1 8 7 31 1 1 .181 .238 .234
Minor League Totals 195 34 47 12 2 5 30 23 46 3 1 .241 .330 .400

10. Matt Olson, 1b Born: Mar 29, 1994 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 236
Drafted: Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga., 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Matt Ranson
Matt OlsonBackground: Olson hit 17 homers as a junior at Parkview High (Lilburn, Ga.) and 11 more as a senior in 2012, including one off Max Fried, the seventh overall pick in the draft. After leading Parkview to the No. 1 national ranking—he won the first game of the Georgia 5-A state finals as a pitcher and the second with a homer—Olson went 40 picks after Fried and signed for $1,079,700.

Scouting Report: Olson offers a premium blend of power and natural hitting ability. He has a short, easy lefthanded swing and has shown he can get around on quality inside fastballs. With a big, physical frame, he should have above-average usable power. In high school, his stroke was flatter and most of his homers were line drives. Since signing, he has added more leverage to his swing and looked to loft more balls. Olson is a below-average runner but shows good reactions and hands on defense, leading the A's to believe he can be a plus defender at first base. He also pitched in high school and would have been a two-way player at Vanderbilt had he gone to college, so his arm is solid.

The Future: The A's see Olson as a future middle-of-the-order hitter. He'll form part of talented Beloit infield with Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson at low Class A Beloit in 2013.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Athletics (R) 177 29 50 16 1 8 41 16 46 0 0 .282 .345 .520
'12 Vermont (SS) 11 3 3 0 0 1 4 3 4 0 0 .273 .438 .545
Minor League Totals 188 32 53 16 1 9 45 19 50 0 0 .282 .352 .521