- Full name Clifton Randolph Pennington
- Born 06/15/1984 in Corpus Christi, TX
- Profile Ht.: 5'10" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- School Texas A&M
- Debut 08/12/2008
Drafted in the 1st round (21st overall) by the Oakland Athletics in 2005 (signed for $1,475,000).
View Draft ReportPennington's best attribute is his makeup, which could elevate his draft stock above his pure talent and get him picked in the upper half of the first round. Scouts have loved Pennington's grit and energy since he was in high school, and he won the Cape Cod League's 10th player award for his spirited play last summer. There's no doubt he'll squeeze every last drop out of his ability. Pennington is more than just a gamer, however, offering tools across the board. He can bat at the top of a lineup, making consistent contact and providing gap power from both sides of the plate. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he runs well and his instincts make him a threat on the bases. He led the Cape with 21 steals in 2004. Pennington's savvy also enhances his range at shortstop, where he can make both the routine and acrobatic plays. He has an above-average arm, a quick release and the ability to make throws from any angle. Pennington has gotten better and stronger each season at Texas A&M and has learned to play under control. One scout compares him to Brian Roberts (minus the 2005 power explosion), with a leaner and taller frame, more speed and a better arm. Rumors persist that if the Royals decide to save money with the No. 2 overall pick, he could be their man.
Organization Prospect Rankings
A first-round pick in 2005, Pennington finally reached the big leagues with a mid-August promotion to Oakland. Nagging hamstring injuries have bothered him in the past, but he put together a healthy season in 2008 after batting a combined .249/.342/.357 in the previous two years. His savvy in all aspects of the game enables him to play above his tools. Pennington always has had a good feel for the strike zone, drawing nearly as many walks as strikeouts throughout his pro career. He worked to maintain a more level swing plane last season, trying to keep the barrel up and online throughout the swing. He still has a tendency to get under the ball too much at times--particularly to the opposite field--rather than driving the ball on a line. His weakest tool is his power, which is well below average, and he has yet to slug better than .368 over a full pro season. Pennington has above-average speed and good baserunning instincts. He excels at taking the extra base and has swiped bags at an 82 percent clip in pro ball. Defensively, he offers plus range, an excellent arm and a quick release at shortstop. Pennington could be a solid big league utility infielder, but additional power could help him earn a starting role.
Scouts loved Pennington in college, when he was a third-team All-American in 2005, but his overall tools have yet to translate in pro ball. He seemed ready to break out in 2006 after spending half a year in the Midwest League and earning an invite to big league spring training, but he struggled defensively, slightly injured his right knee and lost confidence that apparently has yet to return. A torn hamstring cost him a good chunk of 2006, but a completely healthy Pennington struggled again in 2007. Like Justin Sellers, Pennington tries to hit for power too much, and the result is a lot of fly ball outs. He drops his back shoulder and was constantly in pull-mode last year. He was atrocious from the right side, hitting .174 in 149 at-bats counting the Arizona Fall League. While several front-office executives still think he can play shortstop, others are not happy with his defense, questioning his overall effort to get better. One positive is Pennington's plus arm and the advanced strike-zone discipline he showed in the AFL, but he's got a lot to prove and is in danger of falling off the map. He'll likely be in Double-A for all of 2008.
A third-team All-American and scouts' darling in college, Pennington seemed poised to break out in 2006. Instead, he had a lost season. After impressing the organization enough in his debut and first instructional league to earn an invitation to big league spring training, he struggled defensively in front of the big league staff. A's officials say the combination of a tweaked knee, lost confidence and jump to high Class A combined to bury Pennington, who got off to an 8-for-78 start in April. He battled leg problems and had hit safely in 14 of 15 games when he tore his left hamstring, effectively sidelining him for the rest of the season. He swung the bat well in instructional league in 2006 but wasn't moving as well as he had previously. A move to second base is possible for Pennington, who has soft hands, a quick transfer and strong arm. He could move to second in 2007 in a return trip to high Class A, teaming with Sellers in the middle infield, but the A's are waiting to see how Pennington looks in spring training before settling on his assignment.
After starring in the Cape Cod League in 2004 and leading Texas A&M in nearly every offensive category in 2005, Pennington became the first Aggie to be taken in the first round since 1999. Signed for $1.475 million, he was thrust into the leadoff spot at low Class A Kane County, where he scored 49 runs in 69 games. Pennington is a solid hitter who makes contact, occasionally drives the ball and shows a good understanding of the strike zone. He's an above-average runner and a dangerous basestealer with excellent instincts. He's a plus defender with good range to both sides and a strong, accurate arm. Like most top A's draft picks of late, he has outstanding makeup and an infectious enthusiasm for the game. Pennington has a small frame and probably never will hit for much home run power, but he still needs to work harder on driving balls instead of just serving them back up the middle. He can get a little out of control in the field, occasionally rushing his throws. With Bobby Crosby in Oakland, there's no need to rush Pennington, who will begin the year in high Class A. But he should move quickly regardless and likely will move over to second base and play alongside Crosby when he's ready for the majors.
Minor League Top Prospects
Describing Pennington as a gamer doesn't do him justice. "He's a gamer with tools," the second NL scout said. "He's as good a shortstop as I've seen for a while." Pennington isn't flashy but he gets the job done. He handles the bat well and makes adjustments from both sides of the plate, and he can bunt just as easily as he can sting balls into the gaps. He has the speed, jumps and instincts to steal bases. Scouts said he could play shortstop in the big leagues right now. His arm rates a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale and plays better than that because of his quick release. He has range to both sides and soft hands, and he always seems to put himself in position to get good hops.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Oakland Athletics in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Oakland Athletics in 2009
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Oakland Athletics in 2009
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Oakland Athletics in 2007
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the California League in 2006
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Oakland Athletics in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Oakland Athletics in 2006