Head Makes Quick Impression On Athletics

Best Player: The A's knew they were giving up a star when they traded closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox, but the return has been outstanding. Not only did Oakland acquire power-hitting right fielder Josh Reddick, the A's also gained corner infielder Miles Head. Head, 21, hit .382/.433/.715 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs for high Class A Stockton before being promoted to Double-A Midland on June 21.

A 26th-round pick in 2009 out of a Georgia high school, Head primarily played first base for the Sox, but the A's have been working him at third this season. The A's have been impressed by the results, but he'll need to increase his agility to remain at the hot corner. A's farm director Keith Lieppman says that Head is a very aggressive hitter within the strike zone, yet he has a good feel for laying off bad pitches.

Biggest Leap Forward: There may never have been a bigger leap than the one taken this year by lefty reliever Sean Doolittle. At one point, he was one of the A's top prospects—as a hitter. But a series of injuries convinced Doolittle and the A's to move him to the mound late last year. He began this season at Stockton and was so dominant that after just six games and a 0.87 ERA, the A's moved the 25-year-old up to Midland. Then came a brief stop at Triple-A Sacramento before making his major league debut, where he struck out the first three hitters he faced. Doolittle, a suplemental first-round pick in 2007 out of Virginia, hits 95 mph with his fastball and adds a decent slider to the mix.

Biggest Disappointment: Back in spring training, the A's were stunned by the potential they saw in 20-year-old righthander A.J. Cole, recently acquired from the Nationals. When the season began, Cole struggled mightily, putting up an 0-7, 7.82 record at Stockton. He went down to low Class A Burlington, where he showed improvement with two wins and a 3.29 ERA. Farm director Keith Lieppmann said some problems with mechanics have been smoothed out, so Cole appears to be regaining the form that made him a premier prospect when he was part of the Gio Gonzalez deal.

A's Acorns

• Grant Green will receive some playing time at third base, a position that could enhance his climb to the majors. Green, the A's top pick in 2009, started as a shortstop, then moved to the outfield last year. Green lacks the rifle arm needed for shortstop, but farm director Keith Lieppman says Green could develop a quick release that would allow him to play third.

• Righthander Dan Straily was promoted to Triple-A, and he responded by pitching seven shutout innings against Fresno in his debut on June 21. Straily had a 3-4, 3.38 record with Midland with 108 strikeouts in 85 innings.