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2003 Wrapups: Oakland Athletics

With the 2003 season coming to a close, we will be providing a brief wrapup of the season for all 30 minor league teams. In each report, we will take a look at how the team's Top 10 Prospects performed, identify some emerging prospects and organizational leaders, and report on the performance of their top draft pick.
Complete index of Team Wrapups               2003 League Wrapups

By Kevin Goldstein
November 3, 2003

Season Results

Level Team League W L PCT
AAA Sacramento* Pacific Coast 92 52 .639
AA Midland Texas 69 70 .496
A+ Modesto California 74 66 .529
A Kane County Midwest 80 59 .576
SS Vancouver Northwest 35 41 .461
R AZL Athletics Arizona 19 36 .345
TOTAL 369 324 .532
   * won league championship


Performance of Top 10 Prospects

Here's how our top 10 prospects entering this season performed in 2003.

1. Rich Harden, rhp      Age: 21
Harden gained national exposure by beginning the season with 13 perfect innings in his first two games at Midland, which prompted an immediate promotion to the Pacific Coast League. Limited PCL batters to a .226 average and received a callup to the big leagues just days after starting for the World Team (representing Canada) in the Futures Game. Allowed just two runs over 21 innings in his first three starts for the A's, but clearly was out of gas by the end of the season (5.87 ERA) in his final 10 starts, and ended the season on a sour note by surrendering the game-winning home run to Trot Nixon in Game Three of the AL Division Series.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Midland (Double-A) 2-0 0 0.00 2 13.0 0 0 0 0 17
Sacramento (Triple-A) 9-4 0 3.15 16 88.2 72 34 31 35 91
Athletics (MLB) 5-4 0 4.46 15 74.2 72 38 37 40 67

2. John Rheinecker, lhp      Age: 24
Pitched 6.2 no-hit innings in his second start, but gave up far too many hits (.313 opponent's average), surviving in part because of impeccable control (just 8 BB in his final 10 starts). More of the same at Sacramento, where he surrendered 10 hits in three of six starts.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Midland (Double-A) 9-6 0 4.74 23 142.1 186 90 75 32 89
Sacramento (Triple-A) 2-0 0 3.79 6 38.0 47 19 16 12 26

3. Bobby Crosby, ss      Age: 23
Crosby eased the pain of the impending loss of Miguel Tejada by winning the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year award while more than doubling the previous season's home run total. Hit .373-6-28 is his final 20 games for Sacramento, but went hitless in 12 at-bats with Oakland.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Sacramento (Triple-A) 127 465 86 143 32 6 22 90 63 110 24 .308 .395 .544
Oakland (MLB) 11 12 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 .000 .143 .000

4. Jeremy Brown, c      Age: 24
One of the most followed prospects in the game, due to his prominence in the best-selling "Moneyball", Brown's season was cut short in late June. He still showed a flair for getting on-base, despite failing to match the power from his 2002 debut and throwing out just 14 of 67 (21%) attempting basestealers.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Midland (Double-A) 66 233 37 64 10 1 5 37 41 38 3 .275 .388 .391

5. Mike Wood, rhp      Age: 23
Groundball specialist missed two months early in the season with a strained elbow, but was very effective upon his return, earning a callup to the majors during the final month of the season, where hit got lit up, including a two-inning, seven-run hammering by Seattle in his only start of the year.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Sacramento (Triple-A) 9-3 0 3.05 16 91.1 87 34 31 23 59
Athletics (MLB) 2-1 0 10.54 7 13.2 24 17 16 7 15

6. Joe Valentine, rhp      Age: 23
Acquired prior to the season from the White Sox in the Billy Koch/Keith Foulke deal, Valentine struggled with his control and simply never found a groove at Sacramento. He was shipped to Cincinnati in the Jose Guillen trade. Pitched his best baseball of the year for Louisville, and made his major league debut with the Reds.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Sacramento (Triple-A) 1-3 4 4.82 40 52.1 44 33 28 37 53
Louisville (Triple-A) 1-0 1 0.79 9 11.1 5 1 1 3 8
Reds (MLB) 0-0 0 18.00 2 2.0 5 4 4 1 1

7. Marcus McBeth, of      Age: 23
The best defensive outfielder in the system, McBeth got off to a miserable start at Modesto, and quickly found himself demoted to Kane County. Showed marked improvement for the Cougars, batting .424 in his final 10 games, but missed the final month of the season after breaking a finger.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Modesto (High Class A) 15 54 7 7 0 0 0 5 5 20 2 .130 .210 .130
Kane County (Low Class A) 68 234 30 60 9 3 4 26 28 57 8 .256 .349 .372

8. Freddie Bynum, 2b/ss      Age: 23
Bynum failed to build on his solid 2002 campaign, when he hit .306 at Modesto with a .390 on-base percentage. Hit just .200 in the final 20 games of the season, and saw his stolen bases decrease from 41 to 22.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Midland (Double-A) 132 510 84 134 18 9 5 58 56 135 22 .263 .344 .363

9. Joe Blanton, rhp      Age: 22
The first pitcher taken with last year's "Moneyball" picks, Blanton overmatched Midwest League hitters with a power arsenal and dramatically improved command, striking out 48 over 35 innings in his final five starts for Kane County. Seemingly unfazed by a two-level jump, Blanton continued his dominance at Midland, limiting Texas League batters to a .174 average in seven starts.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Kane County (Low Class A) 8-7 0 2.57 21 133.0 110 47 38 19 144
Midland (Double-A) 3-1 1 1.26 7 35.2 21 6 5 7 30

10. Ben Fritz, rhp      Age: 22
Another first-round selection from 2002, Fritz struggled early but rebounded with back-to-back scoreless outings, striking out 19 in 12 innings. He then returned to his ineffective ways, getting shut down in early July with tendinitis. Now healthy and pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Modesto (High Class A) 4-7 0 4.91 15 77.0 83 49 42 34 77


Top Draft Pick:

Brad Sullivan, rhp    U. of Houston   Bonus: $1.36M
Sullivan tired after a tremendous workload at Houston (which included playing second base for the first time in his career), and slipped out of the first half of the first round because of a late-season fade. He signed late, and was given some perfunctory innings at Kane County.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Kane County (Low Class A) 1-0 0 3.18 6 11.1 9 4 4 7 9


Emerging Prospects:

Dan Johnson, 1b: Former Nebraska slugger built on his breakout campaign in 2002, hitting .290-27-114 and leading the Texas League in home runs and RBIs. Big and slow, he'll need to continue this type of production, as he's limited to a 1b/dh role.
Graham Koonce, 1b: A 28-year-old 60th round pick (1993) who spent two years playing indy ball in the Western League, Koonce hit .277-34-115 at Sacramento, leading the minors in home runs and drawing 98 walks. Deserves Scott Hatteberg's job.
Bill Murphy, lhp: A third-round pick in 2002, Murphy tossed a no-hitter for Kane County and earned a two-level promotion to Midland, allowing just 105 hits over 147 innings between the two teams.


Statistical Leaders

Batting Average Bobby Crosby .308
Home Runs Graham Koonce 34
Runs Batted In Graham Koonce 115
Stolen Bases Esteban German 32
Earned Run Average Joe Blanton 2.29
Wins Brad Weis 15
Strikeouts Joe Blanton 174
Saves Chad Harville 18

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