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Oakland Athletics

Prospects Overview

Top 30 Prospects

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Player Reports

  1. 1. Rich Harden | RHP
    Rich Harden
    Born: Nov 30, 1981
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 11-4 | 2.74 ERA | 108 SO | 35 BB | 101.7 IP

    The hard-throwing Harden emerged as a top prospect in 2002, making the leap from high Class A Visalia to Double-A Midland with hardly a struggle. He dominated after the promotion, and it was all the more impressive because he was 20 and in his first full season as a pro. Harden grew up in Victoria, B.C., and played mostly outfield in summer-league competition. He did pitch enough to catch the attention of the Mariners, who drafted him in the 38th round in 1999. He opted instead for Central Arizona JC because he didn't believe he was ready for pro ball. Athletics scout John Kuehl kept his eye on Harden and persuaded Oakland to call his name in the 17th round in 2000 as a draft-and-follow. Harden returned to Central Arizona and led all juco pitchers in strikeouts as a sophomore before signing in May. He tied for the short-season Northwest League lead in strikeouts in his pro debut, but he had a problem--his curveball was below pro standards. So Harden and the A's agreed to scrap it in favor of a slider. The results came almost instantly. With a fastball that hits 95 mph and a deceptive changeup, Harden has two outstanding pitches as the foundation of his arsenal. He also throws the slider and a splitter, which can be above-average at times. While the slider isn't an exceptional pitch, it provides an effective balance to the fastball and changeup, keeping hitters off-balance. He has added a two-seam fastball, a mid-80s sinker that gives hitters something else to worry about. Harden has a calm demeanor on the mound and is rarely flustered with runners on base. He has shown the ability to work out of jams. Harden's pitch counts are too high. He has yet to learn to retire batters early in the count to allow him to go deeper into games. He sometimes reaches his pitch limit in the fifth or sixth inning. While his slider has shown dramatic improvement, it still needs more consistency. Harden's combination of power and deception is intriguing. He has the potential to become a legitimate No. 1 starter. Harden is ticketed to begin 2003 at Triple-A Sacramento and could contribute in the majors by season's end

  2. 2. John Rheinecker | LHP
    John Rheinecker
    Born: May 29, 1979
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 11-6 | 4.54 ERA | 115 SO | 44 BB | 180.3 IP

    Rheinecker spent his first two college seasons at Belleville Area (Ill.) CC, throwing in the high 80s and playing in the outfield. When he moved to Southwest Missouri State, he developed a quality slider and added velocity as he matured. Projected as an early pick in the 2000 draft, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in an outfield collision. He made a full recovery as a senior. As a lefthander with a fastball that touches 91 mph and plus breaking stuff (he throws a curveball to go with his slider), Rheinecker excites the A's. He's refining a cutter that has been effective against righthanders and is an exceptional competitor on the mound. Rheinecker has a tendency to leave the ball up in the strike zone, making him too hittable at times. He must improve his changeup. He's still learning pitch sequences to set up batters. Reducing his pitch counts is another point of emphasis. The A's believe Rheinecker has the potential to emerge as a frontline big league starter, perhaps as early as 2004. He'll pitch in Triple-A in 2003, working on keeping his fastballs at the knees.

  3. 3. Bobby Crosby | SS
    Bobby Crosby
    Born: Jan 12, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 210
    Minors: .308/.395/.544 | 22 HR | 24 SB | 465 AB

    Crosby is the son of former A's scout and big leaguer Ed Crosby, who signed Jason Giambi and is now with the Diamondbacks. Bobby was the Big West Conference player of the year in 2001 and made an immediate impression by hitting .395 in his 11-game pro debut. He followed with a hot start at high Class A Modesto before moving on to Double-A to complete a solid first full season. Thanks to his background, Crosby has exceptional baseball instincts. He's consistent on defense, has a strong arm, reads balls well and makes all the plays. He should become a solid offensive performer, hitting for average with decent power. Crosby missed most of instructional league in 2001 with a hip flexor, and badly sprained his ankle at the start of the Arizona Fall League season in 2002. At 6-foot-3, he raises questions about whether he'll have the range to remain at shortstop. Crosby is Oakland's fallback if it loses Miguel Tejada, a free agent after the 2003 season. Crosby's spring-training performance will decide whether he returns to Double-A or heads to Triple-A.

  4. 4. Jeremy Brown | C
    Jeremy Brown
    Born: Oct 25, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 220
    Minors: .275/.388/.391 | 5 HR | 3 SB | 233 AB

    Brown spent his first two years at Alabama as a corner infielder before moving behind the plate, where he had played occasionally in youth leagues. After turning down the Red Sox as a 19th-round pick in 2001, he won the 2002 Johnny Bench award as college baseball's best catcher. While his $350,000 bonus was easily the lowest in the top 66 picks, he proved himself offensively and defensively in high Class A after signing. Brown combines catch-and-throw abilities with a talent for hitting. His arm is slightly above-average. He hits for both power and average, with the plate discipline the A's covet. He set the Alabama career record for walks. Brown's short, squat body turned off many scouts and doesn't fit the mold of the more athletic modern big league catcher. But as A's general manager Billy Beane said, "We're not selling jeans here." Brown needs to improve his footwork and blocking skills, and he devoted instructional league to making the changes. Brown has a chance to jump to Double-A in 2003. If he continues to perform well, he'll be on a fast track to the majors.

  5. 5. Mike Wood | RHP
    Mike Wood
    Born: Apr 26, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 9-3 | 3.05 ERA | 59 SO | 23 BB | 91.3 IP

    Undrafted out of high school, Wood attended NCAA Division II North Florida as a walk-on. He was a backup infielder as a freshman, moved into the rotation as a sophomore and became the team's closer as a junior. He has made a huge impression since joining the A's, using his dominant sinker to get outs at every level. Oakland calls Wood's out pitch a "super sinker" and compares it favorably to Tim Hudson's. Hitters repeatedly beat Wood's sinker into the ground or swing over the top of it. He pitches off his sinker with a slider, splitter and changeup. Velocity remains a concern. Wood reached 91 mph in college but has pitched in the mid-80s as a pro. There are some questions whether his sinker, which is slower than Hudson's, will be effective against major league hitters. His slider also needs work. Should Wood improve his velocity and slider, he could become a front-of-the-rotation starter. Because Oakland has plenty of starters and Wood has bullpen experience, his long-term role could be relief. He'll go to spring training with a chance to win a Triple-A job.

  6. 6. Joe Valentine | RHP
    Joe Valentine
    Born: Dec 24, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 210
    Minors: 2-3 | 4.10 ERA | 61 SO | 40 BB | 63.7 IP

    The White Sox lost Valentine to the Tigers in the 2001 Rule 5 draft, then got him back when he showed little command in spring training with Detroit. He led the minors with 36 saves in 2002, then came to Oakland in the Keith Foulke/Billy Koch trade. Valentine held opponents to a .173 average and has allowed just 89 hits in 160 innings over the last three seasons. There's no subtlety with Valentine. He's a fastball/slider pitcher who can hit 96 mph, and he keeps hitters off balance by busting heat inside when they appear too comfortable. There are nights when his slider is filthy, and his pitches complement each other well. Valentine can be wild and has averaged nearly a walk per two innings as a pro. Because he is so tough to hit, the walks rarely come back to haunt him. Few minor league closers turn into major league closers, but Valentine could be an exception. Foulke becomes a free agent after the 2003 season, so Oakland could look to Valentine as soon as 2004. He should make his big league debut at some point in 2003.

  7. 7. Marcus McBeth | RHP
    Marcus McBeth
    Born: Aug 23, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 185
    Minors: .233/.323/.326 | 4 HR | 10 SB | 288 AB

    McBeth returned kicks for the football team and played center field for the baseball team at South Carolina. He signed late in 2001 and when he arrived in instructional league, the A's discovered a separation in his left shoulder. The injury affected his swing, and he has worked to strengthen his shoulder during the past year. McBeth has four standout tools. He's an outstanding center fielder who could handle defensive responsibilities in the majors today. His arm grades out as a legitimate 8 on the 2-to-8 scouting scale, and he has exceptional speed. He has shown impressive raw power in college and the pros, but McBeth has never put up impressive numbers. The shoulder separation may have been part of the problem, but he also had a lackluster 2002. He was the A's most improved hitter during instructional league, showing better pitch recognition and plate discipline. The A's hope McBeth will develop into a leadoff hitter, learning to reach base so he can use his speed. He'll start 2003 in high Class A and could advance to Double-A later in the season.

  8. 8. Freddie Bynum | 2B
    Freddie Bynum
    Born: Mar 15, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 185
    Minors: .263/.344/.363 | 5 HR | 22 SB | 510 AB

    Bynum made the transition from a hopeful with tools to a skilled prospect with a breakthrough season in 2002. He made major strides in developing into a leadoff hitter and competent second baseman, then handled shortstop effectively in the Arizona Fall League. It was a nice comeback from a 2001 season ruined by ankle injuries. Bynum has the tools necessary to bat at the top of a lineup. He has excellent speed, hits well to the opposite field and, most important, has improved at getting on base. He owns a fine throwing arm and has proven he can handle second base. His performance at shortstop enhances his versatility. Because he came from a small junior college program, Bynum is still raw. He needs more at-bats and experience at higher levels of the minors. If he learned to bunt for hits, he could take greater advantage of his speed. His hands aren't the softest, though that's less of a problem at second base than it was at shortstop. If everything continues to come together, Bynum can become a quality leadoff hitter and middle infielder in the big leagues. He'll continue his development in Double-A in 2003.

  9. 9. Joe Blanton | RHP
    Joe Blanton
    Born: Dec 11, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 225
    Minors: 11-8 | 2.29 ERA | 174 SO | 26 BB | 168.7 IP

    Blanton made his case as a top draft prospect when he led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts after his sophomore season. He outdueled No. 1 overall pick Bryan Bullington and struck out 16 in a 3-2 win over Ball State last spring. Oakland took him with a pick it received from the Yankees for losing Jason Giambi. Blanton has two power pitches in his fastball, which sits at 94 mph and tops out at 97, and his curveball. His slider and changeup are decent pitches, though they still need work. If he can refine his changeup, he could be a dynamic starter. He has a maximum-effort delivery, so the A's are trying to smooth out Blanton's mechanics. That will give him a better chance to repeat his delivery, which in turn will improve his command. He's still raw around the edges and developing a feel for pitching. Because of the changes he needs to make, Blanton isn't expected to move as quickly as some of Oakland's other college first-rounders. He'll probably start 2003 in high Class A, where he finished his first pro summer.

  10. 10. Ben Fritz | RHP
    Ben Fritz
    Born: Mar 29, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 238
    Minors: 4-7 | 4.91 ERA | 77 SO | 34 BB | 77.0 IP

    A do-everything player, Fritz started all 59 games for Fresno State in 2002, seeing time at pitcher, catcher, first base and DH. His usual routine was to pitch on Friday, play first base on Saturday and catch on Sunday. The 2002 Western Athletic Conference pitcher of the year, he'd play every day if the decision were up to him. He has the arm, agility and power to make it as a catcher, but the A's decided that once he limits his workload to pitching, he has the potential to become a star. He has a great feel for the mound, with a true understanding of how to pitch. His stuff isn't bad, either. Fritz has a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 96, and his slider and changeup should become at least average pitches. He has good command and is a tenacious competitor. Some scouts have compared him to catcher-turned-pitcher Troy Percival and think Fritz' future may be in the bullpen. He excelled in that role during the summer of 2001, closing games for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots as they won the National Baseball Congress World Series championship. Along with Joe Blanton, Fritz is the most advanced of the pitchers Oakland drafted last year. He'll probably open this year in high Class A but could reach Double-A by season's end.

  11. 11. Nick Swisher | OF
    Nick Swisher
    Born: Nov 25, 1980
    Bats: B Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 195
    Minors: .256/.363/.447 | 15 HR | 0 SB | 476 AB

    The A's coveted Swisher from the beginning of his junior season in 2002. He has the quality strike-zone knowledge they prize so highly, and they believe he'll hit for power and average while playing outstanding defense. He's the son of Steve Swisher, a former big league allstar who also was a first-round pick 29 years before Oakland took Nick 16th overall. A's scouting director Eric Kubota describes Swisher's defensive skills at first base as magical, but the organization wants to keep him in the outfield. He appears a step or two slow to be a center fielder, but he has ample speed and arm strength to be a plus defender on one of the corners. Some scouts question whether he has the true power to play there or at first base. But Swisher set the West Virginia high school record for single-season homers with 17, and he tied for the Big 10 Conference lead with 15 as a sophomore before hitting 10 last spring. He's a hard worker who's driven to become a major league star. The A's actually may have to convince Swisher to diminish his workload, as his extensive pregame workouts sometimes left him worn out by gametime.

  12. 12. Jason Grabowski | OF
    Jason Grabowski
    Born: May 24, 1976
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .293/.369/.469 | 9 HR | 7 SB | 256 AB

    The path to the major leagues has taken many twists for Grabowski, but he'll come to spring training with an excellent chance to win a bench job. After playing catcher and shortstop at Connecticut, he signed with the Rangers as a catcher. Bouts with tendinitis in both knees led Grabowski to move to third base, and he primarily played the outfield in 2002. The Athletics got him in the 2001 major league Rule 5 draft but weren't able to keep him on their 25-man roster. They outrighted him to the minors, and because he had been outrighted previously that made him a free agent--and he immediately re-signed with Oakland. By mutual decision, Grabowski received some duty behind the plate last season. He needs better foot-work at catcher, but he has enough arm strength for the position. He's also versatile enough to be a viable backup at the corner infield and outfield spots. As a hitter, Grabowski offers solid power and the ability to draw walks. He had the best offensive season of his career in 2002, though it was shortened when he broke the hamate bone in his wrist.

  13. 13. Chad Harville | RHP
    Chad Harville
    Born: Sep 16, 1976
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'9" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 3-5 | 2.05 ERA | 57 SO | 21 BB | 57.0 IP

    Almost from the day he signed, the A's looked upon Harville as their closer of the future. But a series of injuries keeps pushing the future further away. He burst into the majors in 1999, but he couldn't stick in Oakland when his 98 mph fastball stayed too high in the strike zone. He went to spring training in 2001 expecting to land a bullpen job, then wound up on the 60-day disabled list with tendinitis in his rotator cuff. He could have made the A's bullpen last year, but Oakland's depth forced him back to Triple-A, where he went down with a sore arm at midseason. If Harville can manage to remain healthy, he still owns the talent to become a dominant big league reliever, but he's no longer a young phenom. He still hits 95 mph regularly, though he's relying more on his sinking two-seamer than on his four-seamer. He has added a slow curveball so hitters have more trouble reading the speed on his fastball. He'll try once again to make the Oakland bullpen this spring, with his health and command the keys to his success.

  14. 14. Matt Allegra | OF
    Matt Allegra
    Born: Jul 10, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 214
    Minors: .239/.296/.389 | 14 HR | 5 SB | 452 AB

    Allegra remains a raw player, but the improvements he has made excite the A's. He made considerable progress in instructional league following the 2000 season, then bombed in high Class A in 2001. When he returned there last year, he hit a career-high .281 and unleashed his considerable power. Allegra is still far from a finished product, as evidenced by his 160 strikeouts last year and his 369 whiffs in 289 career games. Yet he has legitimate five-tool potential, with above-average skills across the board. He has enough speed to play center field in a pinch but is probably best suited for a corner job, with the arm and instincts to become an above-average defender. Allegra will work on making more consistent contact when he moves up to Double-A this season.

  15. 15. Mark Teahen | OF
    Mark Teahen
    Born: Sep 6, 1981
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 230
    Minors: .283/.377/.380 | 3 HR | 4 SB | 453 AB

    One of Oakland's seven-first round picks in the 2002 draft, Teahen hit .404 at short-season Vancouver before finding high Class A more challenging. Pitchers learned to jam him inside, but he worked hard on making adjustments during instructional league and showed distinct improvement. He's a polished hitter who uses the opposite field well. He has always hit for average and shown outstanding hand-eye coordination, and the A's expect that will continue. The rap against him in college was his failure to consistently hit for power, but Oakland believes he'll show more pop as he learns to turn on pitches. He has average speed and good baseball instincts. An outstanding defender at third base, he has good hands and a strong arm. He reminds a lot of scouts of Bill Mueller, though the A's hope he'll have more home run power. Teahen should be better prepared for the California League in 2003.

  16. 16. Esteban German | 3B
    Esteban German
    Born: Jan 26, 1978
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'9" Wt.: 195
    Minors: .306/.379/.403 | 3 HR | 32 SB | 467 AB

    German's 2002 didn't begin auspiciously and it never got better. He didn't arrive in spring training until mid-March because of visa problems related to his falsified age. It turned out that German was 11 months older than previously believed. The A's gave him a look as their regular second baseman at the end of May, but he didn't do much in a brief stint before returning to Triple-A. He wasn't nearly as electric at Sacramento as he had been in 2001, when he was the organization's minor league player of the year. German's defense, never a strong suit, was shoddy in the major leagues. He's limited to playing second base, where Mark Ellis emphatically claimed the starting job last year. During his breakthrough season in 2001, German used the entire field and collected many of his hits by going the other way. He became pull-conscious again last year and wasn't as selective. German has little power, so he must get on base and use his speed to be of value. He'll start 2003 in Triple-A, trying to get back on track for another shot at the majors.

  17. 17. Steve Obenchain | RHP
    Steve Obenchain
    Born: Jul 29, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 220

    Obenchain wasn't drafted out of Evansville's Memorial High, the same school that produced Don Mattingly. He stayed home to attend college at Evansville, where he was used primarily as a reliever and led the Missouri Valley Conference with a 1.38 ERA and 12 saves in 2002. The A's immediately made him a starter because of his variety of pitches. His plus changeup is his top pitch, though he's still learning to use it more often in his new role. Obenchain also throws an average fastball and a decent curveball. He's also working on a modified sinker that's still under construction. With four pitches, the A's want to see him start for a full season, possibly at their new low Class A Kane County affiliate, before determining his long-term role. If he returns to relieving, his resilient arm and ability to enter games and immediately throw strikes are huge assets.

  18. 18. Adam Morrissey | 3B
    Adam Morrissey
    Born: Jun 8, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 170
    Minors: .267/.335/.365 | 5 HR | 9 SB | 469 AB

    The November 2001 trade that sent Mark Bellhorn to the Cubs hasn't provided any immediate return for the A's, while Bellhorn set a Chicago club record for homers by a switch-hitter with 27 in 2002. Nevertheless, Oakland still thinks the deal could pay off, as some team officials view Morrissey as one of the system's highest-ceiling players. At 21, he already hit breaking balls quite well and displays considerable offensive potential. His power is still developing and he struggled in Double-A, but he reasserted himself with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. More questions surround his defense. He played second base, shortstop and the outfield during the regular season, and spent most of his time in the AFL at third base. He's not proficient at any of those positions, a major reason the Cubs decided to trade him and a stumbling block in Morrissey's quest to become a big league regular. He's expected to start the season at third base in Double-A, and he'll get more time at second base as well.

  19. 19. Dan Johnson | RHP
    Dan Johnson
    Born: Aug 10, 1979
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 210
    Minors: .290/.364/.504 | 27 HR | 7 SB | 542 AB

    Johnson was big and strong to begin with, and he devoted himself to the A's offseason conditioning program after he was drafted in 2001. He reported to spring training in great shape last year, setting the stage for an eye-opening season. He was tremendous down the stretch, hitting .374-12-38 in his final 33 games. Johnson continued to make adjustments during instructional league, closing a hole in his swing. He doesn't move well on defense and is a below-average first baseman. He's limited to first base or DH, and he'll have to generate plenty of power in order to advance. He did that during his two seasons at Nebraska, where he set school records for homers in a game (three) and season (25) while narrowly missing the career mark (two shy at 46). Johnson has a tendency to put extreme pressure on himself, and he must learn to deal with the rigors of the long season. He's ticketed for Double-A this year.

  20. 20. John McCurdy | SS
    John McCurdy
    Born: Apr 17, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200

    McCurdy put together one of the great offensive seasons for a shortstop in college baseball history, batting .443-19-77 at Maryland in 2002 before the A's drafted him 26th overall. Oakland had coveted another Atlantic Coast Conference shortstop, Clemson's Khalil Greene, but he went 13th to the Padres--three spots before the A's picked. While some scouts said McCurdy's breakout junior year was an aberration, the A's believe he has the potential to become a mighty offensive threat. After signing, he got off to a hot start with Vancouver, then saw his numbers fall as he attempted to adjust to the wood bat. He has to tighten his strike zone to take advantage of his strength and swing. There's some doubt whether he can remain a middle infielder after he made 20 errors in 51 games at shortstop. He has arm strength, but his hands and feet are ordinary and he's inconsistent. McCurdy often is compared to Jeff Kent as both an infielder and hitter--capable defensively and outstanding offensively. The A's will leave him at shortstop in 2003 as he advances to Class A.

  21. 21. Mike Rouse | SS
    Mike Rouse
    Born: Apr 25, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 190
    Minors: .302/.393/.405 | 3 HR | 7 SB | 464 AB

    The A's acquired Rouse in the offseason from the Blue Jays, as GM Billy Beane and former assistant J.P. Ricciardi, now Toronto's GM, got together for another deal. In doing so, the A's completed their set of Big West Conference shortstops, as Rouse (Cal State Fullerton), Bobby Crosby (Long Beach State) and J.T. Stotts (Cal State Northridge) all played in the league in 2001. Crosby was the league's player of the year and is the best prospect of the trio. Rouse has had a quick trajectory, though, already having some Double-A success as a Blue Jay. He had a strong pro debut in 2001 and his bat has been his best tool. Rouse has good power, especially pull power, for a shortstop from the left side. He's fairly disciplined by other organizations' standards but could use more patience to fit in with the A's. His swing can get long at times, though when he shortens up and is more consistent, he's an above-average offensive player. He hit well after missing time in 2002 with to a broken hamate bone in his right wrist. His range at shortstop is the question defensively. He has a solid arm but doesn't cover enough ground to play short on turf. The presence of former rivals Crosby and Stotts should push Rouse to second base.

  22. 22. J.T. Stotts | SS
    J.T. Stotts
    Throws: R

    Stotts was something of a Southern California prep legend at Newhall's William Hart High, winning league MVP honors in both baseball and basketball as a senior. When he and fellow A's shortstop prospects Bobby Crosby and Mike Rouse were all in the Big West Conference in 2001, Stotts topped the trio with a .409 batting average and tied Rouse for the lead with 12 homers. However, Stotts rarely has shown the ability to hit for power as a pro and best profiles as a singles-hitting, defensive-oriented shortstop. He does help himself by drawing walks and knowing how to use his plus speed on the bases. A gifted and graceful defender, Stotts has shown the hands, range and arm to play shortstop at the major league level. He still makes too many mistakes, with 56 errors in 195 pro games, though the A's expect his inconsistency to be resolved by experience. If Crosby returns to Double-A and/or Rouse remains at shortstop, Stotts will head back to high Class A to start 2003.

  23. 23. Shane Bazzell | RHP
    Shane Bazzell
    Throws: R

    Bazzell needed three tries at high Class A before finding success in 2001. He hit the wall again in Double-A last year, surrendering 17 runs in his first two starts and posting a 6.02 ERA before the A's moved him into the bullpen in mid-June. Suddenly, he was a changed man. In relief, Bazzell could challenge hitters without having to worry about pacing himself or maintaining concentration for several innings. He hit 95 mph with his fastball, which he complements with a slider and splitter. As a starter, he tried to use seven different pitches, but from the bullpen he limits himself to his three best weapons. His fastball and slider are both plus pitches. He may just be starting to find himself as a pitcher. He could move rapidly, though he'll return to Double-A at the start of 2003 to work on his command.

  24. 24. Andy Dickinson | LHP
    Andy Dickinson
    Throws: L

    Dickinson had exceptional success at Illinois, winning Big 10 Conference pitcher of the year honors in 2001 and tying the Illini career record for victories with 30. He carried that over into his first taste of pro ball, overmatching the Northwest League and holding his own in the California League. The problem is that Dickinson doesn't throw hard. He rarely boosts his fastball to 85 mph, and he sometimes pitches in the high 70s. He does know how to turn the ball over, cut it and use every imaginable trick to retire hitters. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup, and he'll vary the speeds on all of those pitches. Hitters get bad swings against him and often look worse than they do when they face 95 mph fastballs. Because of his utter lack of velocity, Dickinson is difficult to project. Some in the organization say he could emerge as the next Jamie Moyer, others think he might be best suited to a lefty specialist role, while still others consider his chances of success exceedingly slim. What is certain is that Dickinson possesses outstanding command and gets the most out of his abilities. The A's wanted him to work on his conditioning during the offseason and plan on sending him back to high Class A this year.

  25. 25. Ed Yarnall | LHP
    Ed Yarnall
    Born: Dec 4, 1975
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 235

    The well-traveled Yarnall returned to the United States when he signed with Oakland in January. After agreeing to a one-year deal worth $600,000 plus a possible $335,000 in incentives, he'll compete for a big league job in spring training. A Mets third-round pick in 1996, he was used in three trades for all-stars. He went to the Marlins for Mike Piazza, the Yankees for Mike Lowell and the Reds for Denny Neagle. Yarnall was all but handed a spot in the Yankees' 2000 rotation after being named Triple-A International League pitcher of the year in 1999, but handed it back with a wretched performance in spring training. He didn't impress Cincinnati the following spring and was sold to Japan's Orix Blue Wave for $300,000. In Japan, he ranked 10th in the Pacific League in ERA last season. Yarnall has solid stuff but is more deceptive than overpowering. His fastball reaches the low 90s, and he also throws a slider, curveball and changeup. His command never has been better than average, and he can't afford to fall behind in the count. Yarnall could factor into the back of the rotation or the middle of the bullpen.

  26. 26. Bill Murphy | LHP
    Bill Murphy
    Born: May 9, 1981
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 195
    Minors: 10-7 | 2.94 ERA | 121 SO | 58 BB | 147.0 IP

    A high school teammate of Brewers fireballer Nick Neugebauer, Murphy went to Cal State Northridge as a two-way player before focusing on pitching as a sophomore. He has an 88-92 mph fastball that touches 94 and features electric movement, and his curveball buckles hitters' knees. He began to add a changeup last spring, though it still needs work. Murphy's arm was tired when he signed, so he wasn't at his best in the Northwest League. His command, concentration and confidence all require improvement. He nibbles around the plate rather than going right after hitters. Murphy spent instructional league shortening his stride and slowing his delivery in order to achieve better control of his pitches. The results won't be known until he starts pitching in Class A this season.

  27. 27. Eduardo Sierra | RHP
    Eduardo Sierra
    Born: Apr 15, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 185
    Minors: 3-5 | 2.09 ERA | 52 SO | 24 BB | 60.3 IP

    Sierra has yet to reach full-season ball after four years in the system, but he signed at 16 and his dazzling stuff still intrigues the A's. His fastball already hits 95 mph, and he's still growing and filling out his lanky frame. He also throws a slider, which isn't overly effective, and is working on adding a splitter to his repertoire. He lacks a true offspeed pitch, and Oakland expects to eventually move him to the bullpen, where he can just focus on throwing heat. He still must improve his command and learn to keep his hot fastball down in the strike zone. How Sierra performs in spring training will determine if he'll move up to Class A for the first time.

  28. 28. Steve Stanley | OF

    A's officials invoke the name of David Eckstein whenever Stanley is discussed. He plays well beyond his size and skill level because of his intensity, instincts and intangibles. Speed is probably Stanley's only legitimate tool, and he uses it to make himself a solid center fielder, chasing down virtually every fly ball hit his way. He also employs it on offense, bunting for hits and beating out infield rollers, and he shows excellent discipline at the plate. Oakland has no doubts that he'll get everything from his ability. His strong pro debut was no surprise considering his previous success with wood bats, as he won the Cape Cod League batting title in 2000 and was the Great Lakes League MVP the following summer. The only repeat winner of the Big East Conference player-of-the-year award, Stanley was one of two outfielders drafted by the A's off Notre Dame's 2002 College World Series team. Left fielder Brian Stavisky is a line-drive machine who may prove to be a steal as a sixth-rounder.

  29. 29. Bert Snow | RHP
    Bert Snow
    Throws: R

    Snow led minor league relievers by averaging 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 2000 but missed all of 2001 following Tommy John surgery. He got back on the mound last year, though his focus was on recovery not results. He continued to miss bats but wasn't nearly as dominant in Double-A as he had been before. Snow hasn't regained the devastating slider that allowed him to blow hitters away. Snow sets up his slider with a sinker that keeps hitters off balance, and he has toyed with a splitter in the past. His command can be spotty at times. If his slider bounces all the way back, Snow could move quickly toward Oakland.

  30. 30. Brian Stavisky | 1B
    Brian Stavisky
    Born: Jul 6, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 230
    Minors: .266/.396/.393 | 6 HR | 4 SB | 331 AB

    The A's drafted not one but two outfielders off Notre Dame's 2002 College World Series team. Stavisky, who hit a dramatic walkoff homer to beat Rice in the second round of the CWS, finished second to Fighting Irish teammate Steve Stanley (Oakland's second-round pick) in the 2000 Cape Cod League batting race. Stavisky has seen his stock drop since that summer. He didn't sign with the Cubs as a 33rd-round draft-eligible sophomore in 2001, and may prove to be a steal as a sixth-round pick last June. Stavisky is a pure hitter with a quick bat and power potential that he'll start to realize once he adds some loft to his swing. He also has a good sense of plate discipline, which endears him to Oakland. His defense is a huge drawback, however, as he has a terrible arm that may make playing even left field a stretch. Stavisky played half of his first pro summer at DH and was scheduled to get some time at first base during instructional league. But he chose not to attend instructional league, which precluded further progress. He's expected to spend this year with one of the A's Class A affiliates.

View Players 11-30

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