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Carter has found a home with the Athletics. The White Sox drafted him in 2005, then traded him to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin in December 2007. He spent 11 days in the Arizona organization before getting shipped to the Athletics in the Dan Haren deal, part of a six-player package that also included Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez. After Carter finished second in the minor leagues with 39 home runs in 2008 but batted just .259, he worked hard to shed his reputation as an all-or-nothing slugger. The results were spectacular, as Carter posted a .329 average last season, leading the minors in hits (179) and ranking second in RBIs (115). His power didn't go away either, as he posted his third straight 25-homer season and managers rated him as his league's best power prospect for the third consecutive year. Named MVP of the Double-A Texas League, he led the league in doubles (41), extra-base hits (67), on-base percentage (.435) and slugging (.576). He capped his year with four homers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League playoffs for Sacramento. Home runs always will be Carter's calling card. However, he dedicated himself to becoming a more complete hitter and stopping from giving at-bats away. He lowered his hands slightly and eliminated a small bat wrap from his swing, giving himself a more compact stroke. With his pure strength and explosive wrists, he still produces light-tower power. Carter can hit balls out of any part of any ballpark, and he's strong enough to do so without having to sell out for power. He's willing to take walks when pitchers won't challenge him, and he did a better job of handling offspeed pitches in 2009. He also made strides defensively at first base, where he should be at least adequate and possibly average, a big step up from years past. He has a strong arm for the position. Though Carter reduced his strikeout rate in 2009, whiffs always will come with the territory with him. He's still learning to control the strike zone and not be overanxious. He needs to stay on breaking balls better, so the A's dispatched him to play in the Mexican Pacific League, well known for being chock full of junkballers. That venture was short-lived, as he returned home with what was believed to be appendicitis but turned out to be the flu. Carter still isn't the most agile first baseman and he has given up playing third base. He played some left field after his promotion to Sacramento, and that might be an option if he can get more experience, improve his instincts and stay in good shape. He has some athleticism for his size, but his first-step quickness and speed are below-average. Carter can add power to an Oakland offense that sorely needs it. He has a great opportunity to make the A's in spring training and should bat in the middle of their lineup for years to come. The final question is where he plays. First base, left field and DH are all possibilities, but his best position is the batter's box.
The A's loved Wallace heading into the 2008 draft but elected to go with Jemile Weeks with the 12th overall pick. Wallace went one pick later to the Cardinals, signed for $1.84 million and had reached Triple-A when St. Louis traded him, Clayton Mortensen and outfield prospect Shane Peterson for Matt Holliday last July. A natural hitter, Wallace has a strong lower half and an inside-out stroke that allows him to drive balls to all fields. He has outstanding bat control and knows to how to get in favorable counts where he can do the most damage, allowing him to project for 20 homers per year despite not having outstanding raw power. His recognizes pitches well and puts together relentless at-bats. He has the hands and arm strength to play third base. Though he has worked hard at third base, Wallace lacks the agility and athleticism for the position. Most scouts think he'll have to move across the diamond to first base. He's a below-average runner. Oakland has a logjam of potential first basemen, while Eric Chavez has played just 32 games the last two seasons. Ideally, Wallace would be ready to play third base in the majors this year, but more than likely he'll compete for playing time with Chris Carter and Daric Barton at first base. He has the talent to win a big league batting title some day.
A top prospect since high school, Green shot up draft boards with an outstanding showing in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008, hitting .340 on his way to being named the league's top prospect. He struggled early last spring but recovered to bat .374/.435/.569 for Southern California. Oakland landed him with the 13th overall pick and signed him at the Aug. 17 deadline for $2.75 million. Green has a short, compact stroke with a natural feel for hitting and an up-the-middle approach. Lean and athletic, he shows smooth actions and strong instincts at shortstop. He has good range and a solid arm, and his hands work well. He's also a plus runner. The A's laud his competitive makeup and how hard he plays the game. Green's bat isn't as explosive as his Cape showing seemed to indicate. He could project for average power once he develops physically, but he doesn't always maintain a good swing plane. His defense could use refinement, and scouts outside the organization weren't sold that he'd be more than an average defender at shortstop. Green has the offensive upside and playmaking ability to be an all-star shortstop, perhaps a lesser version of Troy Tulowitzki. He'll begin his first full pro season at high Class A Stockton, where he made his brief debut, and easily could reach Double-A Midland by the end of the year.
Stassi comes from a baseball family. He's the great-great nephew of former big league outfielder Myril Hoag, and his father Jim played in the minors and was his high school coach. A first-round talent who slipped last June because of his price tag, Stassi landed the largest bonus ever given to a fourth-rounder, $1.5 million. Stassi has good leverage in his swing and plus raw power to all fields. He's an advanced hitter for his age, with a balanced setup and quick hands. Against older competition at short-season Vancouver, he showed he could lay off breaking pitches out of the zone and wasn't afraid to go deep in counts. He's a secure receiver and shows a feel for calling pitches, and he has a strong, accurate arm. The A's consider him a future plus defender behind the plate. A shoulder injury limited Stassi to DH duty for part of the high school season. His arm should play once healthy, but it bears watching. As with most young hitters, his stroke can get long at times. Oakland wants him to use his legs a little better in his swing. His speed is already below-average, but he's not a baseclogger. Stassi is mature enough to open his first full pro season at low Class A Kane County. He's still a few years away from the majors, but he appears to be the closest thing to a sure bet a high school catcher can be.
Figueroa's development had proceeded so slowly that he needed five years in Rookie and short-season ball and went unpicked in the 2008 Rule 5 draft. He broke though in 2009, winning Oakland's minor league pitcher of the year award after going 13-6, 3.38 with 145 strikeouts in 152 innings between two Class A stops. From a low-three-quarters delivery, Figueroa whips lively fastballs that sit at 93-95 mph and touch 97. He can throw his fastball with natural sink or give it cutting action. His breaking ball was big and sloppy in the past, but he has tightened it into a mid-80s slider with depth. His changeup still is developing but shows some promise and he's not afraid to throw it. Command is Figueroa's biggest downfall, a result of sometimes rushing his delivery. That causes him to throw too many hittable pitches and hand out too many walks. He may be a late bloomer, but he's 24 and has yet to pitch above Class A. Figueroa will have the stuff to be a frontline starter if he throws more strikes. If not, he could be a weapon out of the bullpen, with one A's official comparing him to Damaso Marte. Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Figueroa should begin 2010 in Double-A.
A travel-ball teammate of Brett Wallace in northern California, Ross looked like a potential first-round pick entering 2008. An up-and-down junior season at California dropped him to the second round, but he got back on track in his first full season, pitching well down the stretch in Double-A and starring in the Texas League playoffs as Midland won the championship. The A's lengthened Ross' previous short stride by about a foot last year, with spectacular results. His sinking fastball now sits at 93-94 mph and touches 97, helping him induce groundouts. He throws a cutter that usually comes in around 90 mph and a slider with tilt at 82-84, both of which are above-average pitches. He cuts an imposing figure on the mound and is a good athlete for his size. Ross' command needs tightening and his changeup lags behind his other offerings, though he shows a feel for it. He has an upright finish to his delivery and his motion is hard on his shoulder. He missed time in his 2008 pro debut with a shoulder strain as well as a couple of starts last April with biceps tendinitis. Durability may always be a concern with Ross and eventually could dictate a move to the bullpen, but Oakland will continue developing him as a starter. He has middle-of-the-rotation stuff, and possibly more. He may open 2010 back in Double-A, but should reach Sacramento by the end of the year.
Weeks and his brother Rickie, the No. 2 choice in the 2003 draft, are the eighth pair of siblings to become first-round picks. Jemile signed for $1.91 million as the 12th overall selection in 2008. A hip-flexor injury cut short his pro debut and lingered into the spring, delaying his arrival at Stockton until late May. He struggled after an August promotion to Double-A but recovered to hit .290 with two homers in the Texas League playoffs. Weeks has good pitch recognition and a line-drive swing that produces surprising power for a player his size. He has the speed to steal bases, though leg injuries cut into his ability to run last year. He's athletic enough for the middle of the diamond and has a strong arm. Injuries have been Weeks' biggest obstacle going back to his college career, when hamstring and groin woes derailed his sophomore season. In addition to his hip, he had hamstring and Achilles problems in 2009. His hands aren't always smooth at second base and he sometimes rushes himself turning double plays, though that should improve with experience. He can fall in love with his power and try to hit home runs, lengthening his swing. Staying healthy will be Weeks' top priority in 2010. The A's are grooming him to be their leadoff hitter of the future, so it will be important for him to maintain a disciplined approach. He'll return to Midland to open the season.
Desme broke a bone in his wrist late in the 2007 college season, then separated his shoulder in minor league camp in 2008 and wasn't fully healthy again until last spring. He showed off his all-around talents at two Class A stops, becoming the only 30-30 player in the minors last year. He continued his torrid play in the Arizona Fall League, hitting a league-leading 11 home runs and winning MVP honors. Desme has average to plus tools across the board. He has a quick bat and good leverage, providing power to all fields. A good athlete with average speed, his instincts allowed him to steal 40 bases and play mostly center field in 2009. He also has the arm strength for right field. He also earns praise for his leadership. Desme has trouble with pitch recognition and breaking balls, leading to 148 strikeouts last season and questions as to how much he'll hit for average. He'll lapse into trying to do too much at the plate and overswing. He needs to improve his routes on balls in the outfield, and he'll probably wind up on a corner in the long run. If Desme can make more consistent contact, he could bat in the heart of Oakland's lineup in a couple of years. For now, he'll advance to Double-A and try to keep his momentum going from 2009.
Baseball America's High School Player of the Year in 2006, Cardenas went 37th overall in that draft to the Phillies and signed for $925,000. The As acquired him along with Josh Outman and outfield prospect Matt Spencer in exchange for Joe Blanton in July 2008. In his first full year in the Oakland system, Cardenas reached Triple-A at age 21 while playing second base, third base and shortstop. A natural hitter with a compact swing, Cardenas has a keen sense for putting the barrel on the ball. He has gap power and controls the strike zone well for a player his age. He has an all-fields approach and always looks like he has a plan at the plate. He has the hands and arm to play anywhere in the infield, as well as average speed. A high school shortstop, Cardenas lacks range and quickness there. He can handle the defensive responsibilities at third base, but doesn't have the home run power for the position. He profiles best at second base. With Jemile Weeks looking like Oakland's second baseman of the future, Cardenas' long-term future with the organization may hinge on his ability to fit at third base, especially if Brett Wallace can't stay there. Most of Cardenas' value stems from his bat though, so the A's will find a place for him as long as he keeps hitting. He'll likely return to Sacramento to open 2010.
A two-way standout as a first baseman and lefthander at Virginia, Doolittle signed for $742,500 as a sandwich pick in 2007. After a strong first full pro season, he hit .329/.441/.724 with 11 RBIs in big league camp last spring, setting the stage for a big league callup later in the year. But tendinitis in both knees ruined his season, which ended in early May. His left knee eventually required surgery. Doolittle has bulked up and become more power-oriented since turning pro. He has a disciplined, all-fields approach and hangs in well against lefthanders. His swing is short to the ball and sound mechanically. A first baseman until last year, he moved to right field to take advantage of his above-average arm strength. The A's think he's athletic enough to handle the position, and always can move back to first, where he was an above-average defender with smooth actions. Though Doolittle has gotten stronger as a pro, scouts still don't project him to have more than fringe to average power. He's a below-average runner who isn't a threat on the bases. If he loses a step after knee problems, he won't be able to stay in right field. Following his surgery, Doolittle may not be ready for the start of spring training. Nevertheless, he looks like a safe bet to be a solid big league hitter, and he could develop more power. He'll return to Triple-A once he's healthy.
Ynoa was the crown jewel of the 2008 international free agent class, and the A's landed him for $4.25 million, the largest bonus in franchise history and the biggest any team has given a Latin American amateur. He still has yet to make his pro debut, however, because elbow tendinitis derailed his first year in pro ball. The A's didn't want to take any chances and kept him on the shelf all season. He was back throwing on flat ground during instructional league and returned to the mound at the A's Dominican camp in November. Ynoa looked like he hadn't missed a beat, effortlessly unleashing lively fastballs in the low 90s. He also showed a hammer curveball with late break that came in as hard as 79 mph, as well as an average changeup. Ynoa is plenty athletic with a fluid arm action and cohesive delivery that he repeats well for someone his size and age. He still has to tighten up other aspects of his craft, such as holding runners and fielding his position, but Ynoa's potential remains considerable. Losing a year of development time didn't help him but he's still just 18. His health will bear watching in 2010, when he should make his pro debut with Vancouver or the Rookie-level Arizona League club.
Brown could have played college football as a wide receiver but chose baseball at Oklahoma State, where he starred for three years with the Cowboys, slugging 48 home runs. A supplemental first-round pick in 2007, he signed for $554,500. After hitting another 30 home runs between two Class A stops in his first full pro season, Brown missed much of 2009 with a knee strain. He rallied with a terrific showing in the Arizona Fall League, leading the league in RBIs (28) while batting .333. Brown shows five-tool potential, with his upside drawing comparisons to Jim Edmonds'. He has gap-to-gap power, with the bat speed and leverage in his swing to drive balls out of the park. He runs well, has a strong arm and may be able to stick in center field, though some scouts think he's destined for right. Brown started putting together better at-bats and improved his contact rate last year, but strikeouts remain an issue. Though he's willing to use the whole field, he lacks a consistent approach. Sometimes he'll look willing to drive the ball to the opposite field, while at other times he looks like he's trying to cheat on fastballs and pull pitches down the line. He plays the game with a laid-back attitude that frustrates some observers as well. He'll try to apply some polish to his game this year in Triple-A.
Last season marked Rodriguez' first year as a full-time reliever, but the control problems that hampered his career as a starter were as bad as ever. It's hard not to be awestruck by his lightning arm, as he routinely fires fastballs in the upper 90s and can hit 100 mph, as he did in the 2008 Futures Game. His slider is overpowering as well, and he shows flashes of an effective changeup. He's nearly unhittable when he throws strikes, as his three-pitch mix is good enough that batters can't sit on his fastball. He just doesn't throw strikes nearly enough. Rodriguez still is trying to figure out his mechanics, working on staying closed and separating his hands before he comes to the plate. He tends to overthrow and has trouble repeating his delivery. Rodriguez did have success during a brief callup to Oakland late last season. He sometimes looked like he had trouble staying motivated in the minors and would pitch to the level of his competition. Based on his performance last year, Rodriguez should repeat Triple-A in 2010. However, he could pitch his way into the big league bullpen in the spring, especially if he responds to the challenge of facing big league hitters. Rodriguez has the potential to be a major league closer, but he has to rein in his command if he's going to earn that role.
Donaldson didn't take up catching until his sophomore season at Auburn and quickly boosted his draft stock by showing some feel for working behind the plate and hitting .348 as a junior. The Cubs took him with the 48th overall pick in the 2007 draft and signed him for $652,500, but his career in their organization was short lived. Donaldson got off to a slow start at low Class A and was included with Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson in the July 2008 deal that sent Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to Chicago. After rediscovering his stroke in the A's system in 2008, Donaldson advanced to Double-A and held his own last year, backstopping the RockHounds to the Texas League title. He has toned down the aggressive stride he had in college to give himself a more compact swing, and he has an outstanding feel for the strike zone. The A's are confident Donaldson's power will continue developing, and he has the strength to hit balls out to all fields. His power is primarily geared to his pull side now, though, as all but one of his nine homers last year went to left field. Donaldson is athletic and shows soft hands, a strong arm and a quick release behind the plate. He threw out 40 percent of basestealers last year, but he's by no means a finished product. His receiving needs some tightening up after he allowed a TL-high 17 passed balls and committed 16 errors. He's a below-average runner but moves better than most catchers, and he saw some action at third base last year. Donaldson doesn't have Max Stassi's potential, but he's the best catching option in the upper levels of the system. He'll be the everyday catcher at Sacramento in 2010.
The Cardinals signed Mortensen for $650,000 as a sandwich pick in 2007, then promoted him aggressively, as he reached Triple-A in his first full pro season. He made his big league debut for St. Louis last June, then was shipped to the A's as part of the Matt Holliday deal just before the trade deadline. Mortensen induces plenty of groundballs thanks to his sinker, which sits at 89-91 mph and peaks at 92. His slider gives him a second weapon, rating as a plus pitch at times. He has a changeup as well, but he struggles to throw it for strikes and needs to refine his command with all his pitches. His biggest hurdle to clear is repeating his delivery. His arm action is long in the back and he has trouble staying on top of the ball and finding a consistent release point, causing his pitches to flatten out. He has had maturity issues in the past and that cropped up again in October, when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Though Mortensen has been used almost exclusively as a starter in pro ball, he might fit better as a set-up man who could focus on using his sinker and slider. After earning his first two big league wins last September, he'll get another chance to make the A's in spring training.
Krol was the first high school pitcher to sign with Oakland since 2006, though his journey to the A's system wasn't without tumult. He was suspended from his high school team for the entire season last spring after being found in the presence of alcohol, his second violation of the school's athletic code of conduct. Krol pitched in a scout league in Wisconsin on the weekends, and the A's saw enough to nab him in the seventh round and sign him for $925,000. Krol shows command of three average pitches. His fastball dipped to 86-88 mph last spring, but he previously pitched at 89-92 mph and still features good sink. He doesn't project to add much more velocity, but if he can regain what he had, he'll be in good shape because his secondary pitches already grade as average and have a chance to become plus His curveball has good spin and two-plane break, and his changeup is effective. Krol is a feisty competitor and has an advanced feel for pitching for his age. He has a chance to be a solid big league starter, though he'll have to prove his off-the-field issues are a thing of the past. He could spend his first full pro season at Kane County, about 15 minutes from his hometown of Naperville, Ill.
De los Santos burst onto the scene in 2007, going a combined 10-5, 2.65 between two Class A stops in the White Sox system, overpowering hitters with a mid-90s fastball and earning a trip to the Futures Game. After the season, Chicago dealt him, Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney to the A's in exchange for Nick Swisher. While Gonzalez and Sweeney have logged big league time, Oakland barely has been able to evaluate de los Santos since the trade. He has pitched just 35 innings over the last two seasons, having been shut down early in the 2008 season because he needed Tommy John surgery and not getting back on the mound until late in 2009. Still, the A's remain excited about his potential. De los Santos was throwing in the mid-90s and touching 98 mph in the team's Dominican instructional league in November. His changeup showed encouraging signs as well, coming out with great hand speed around 84 mph with some depth. His slider was a plus pitch before the surgery, and he featured a curveball as well, and working those two pitches back into his arsenal will be the next step in his progression back from the surgery. The A's added de los Santos to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He should be fully healthy for 2010, when he'll resume his career in high Class A.
Everidge was one of the revelations in Oakland's farm system last season, beginning the year with his third stint in Double-A before earning his way to the big leagues by late July. His power and on-base skills make him a bit of a throwback to the kind of hitters the A's were known for early in the decade. A fairly complete hitter when drafted in the 10th round out of NCAA Division II power Sonoma State, Everidge started selling out for power as time went on, believing that was the way for him to advance. He never had hit better than .279 over a full season before last year, but he dialed back his approach, shortened his swing and focused on putting together better at-bats. The adjustments paid off in the form of a .335 average between two minor league stops, and he still hit 20 homers for the fourth consecutive season. Everidge has legitimate all-fields power and knows the strike zone. He's not especially agile and is an average defender at best, so he'll be anchored to first base as a big leaguer. He has some arm strength and played some third base in the minors, but that's not a realistic option. He's a well-below-average runner. Everidge enjoyed some success with Oakland--both of his homers came against all-stars, C.C. Sabathia and Joakim Soria--though big league pitchers eventually began exploiting him with breaking balls and changeups. He'll compete for Oakland's first base and DH jobs in spring training, but could find himself back in Triple-A.
Athletics roving infield instructor Juan Navarrete discovered Leon while he was pitching for Saltillo of the Mexican League. The A's signed Leon after the 2007 season but he didn't spend a full year in their system until 2009. Part of Oakland's agreement with Saltillo stipulated that Leon would be loaned back for the second half of the 2008 season. He spent most of last season in Midland's bullpen in order to keep his innings down after he had pitched almost non-stop for two years between the A's, Saltillo and winter ball. He did make seven starts toward the end of the year and posted a 1-2, 1.76 record. Leon comes after hitters with a low-90s fastball that tops out at 93 mph and has cutting action. He throws both a hard slider and a slow 12-to-6 curveball, though both breaking balls lack consistency. His best secondary offering is his changeup, which has depth and is effective against lefthanders. Leon has a drop-and-drive delivery and sometimes has trouble staying on top of the ball. When he does, he gets a lot of movement down in the zone. Leon was a reliever throughout his career in Mexico and again in winter ball there, but the A's will attempt to develop him as a starter. They could choose to ease him into the role by returning him to Double-A.
Souza arrived from the Mariners in a trade for Jack Hannahan last July and was one of the stars of Oakland's instructional league. His four-seam fastball sits at 93-95 mph with natural cutting action, and the A's helped him develop a true cutter at 88-89 that was electric in the fall. He has a two-seamer with sink as well, and three varieties of offspeed pitches to complement the fastballs. The best of the bunch is his hard slider, which has tilt and looks like a fastball coming out of his hand. He shows a feel for his changeup, and the A's are working with him on slowing down his curveball to give it more differentiation from his slider. There's some effort in Souza's delivery and he has had shoulder problems in the past. He both started and relieved in the Seattle system, and Oakland hasn't committed to a long-term path for him. The A's thought highly enough of Souza to add him to their 40-man roster after the season. He'll have a chance to prove himself against big league hitters in spring training but figures to open 2010 in Triple-A. He still could start but looks more likely to contribute as a power reliever.
Ortiz was a little-used freshman on Oregon State's 2007 national championship squad, then took over as the Beavers' everyday catcher and shined for two seasons. After leading Oregon State in hitting for two years with a .351 average in 2008 and .352 last spring, Ortiz found the going tougher in pro ball after signing for $125,000 as a sixth-round pick. He made adjustments to his stance in instructional league, trying to eliminate a head tilt that caused him to pull off balls. The A's also want him to use his legs more and believe the changes should help him unlock at least average raw power. He hit just 10 home runs during his collegiate career. One scout compared Ortiz's swing to Jayson Werth's, and he has already shown good pitch recognition and a willingness to work the count. His defense is a work in progress. He's athletic and has an average arm, and he threw out 35 percent of basestealers last summer. But his footwork and receiving need improvement after he led the short-season Northwest League with 13 passed balls. Oakland believes Ortiz has enough athleticism to play other positions should the need arise, but in the short term he's expected to share Kane County's catching duties with Max Stassi.
The Brewers took Hoehn in the 21st round out of high school in 2007, but he opted to head to Alabama instead. He made five appearances for the Crimson Tide as a freshman in 2008, then transferred to St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC for his sophomore season. The A's paid him $75,000 as a 12th-round pick last June, and he turned in a dominant stint with Vancouver in his pro debut. After allowing two runs in his first game with the Canadians, he gave up only one the rest of the season and went 7-for-7 in save opportunities. Hoehn has a sturdy, physical frame and attacks hitters with a hard, sinking fastball that sits at 92-94 mph and tops out at 96. His secondary offerings both show promise as well. He has a hard slurve with late, darting movement and he can throw it for strikes. He gets nice fade on his changeup. Hoehn features deception in his delivery and it's hard to pick up his pitches, but he has trouble repeating his mechanics at times and there's some effort there as well. The A's employed him out of the bullpen mostly to limit his innings, and they plan to develop him as a starter going forward. Hoehn should advance to Kane County, where he'll be part of a prospect-laden rotation.
The A's had been developing Joseph as a reliever, but they had him transition to the Vancouver rotation midway through 2009. He didn't put up spectacular numbers, but his stuff is much better than his stats indicate. Joseph features two above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball. The fastball sits at 92-94 mph and can touch 96. It's straight, but he generates good downhill plane from his high three-quarters delivery. Joseph complements his heater with a power curveball at 75-79 mph with 12-to-6 break. His changeup rates behind his other pitches, but he does get good differential between its velocity and his fastball's. Joseph's biggest shortcoming is his command, which he needs to improve on all of his pitches. He does a good job of repeating his delivery and maintaining a consistent arm slot, so he should be able to throw strikes more consistently. He was outstanding in instructional league and was praised for his work ethic, though the language barrier is something he's still overcoming. Joseph will have a chance to earn a spot in the Kane County rotation this spring.
Ramos posted a 1.41 ERA in his U.S. debut in 2008, then carried that success over into last season. He allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his 13 starts for Vancouver, finished second in the Northwest League with a 2.38 ERA and won his last six outings after beginning the season 0-5. Ramos' fastball isn't overpowering at 88-91 mph, but it has some armside sink and he pounds the bottom half of the strike zone with it. He throws with an easy, fluid delivery that could allow him to add velocity as he develops. Ramos' changeup is his go-to pitch. He actually throws two varieties, a tumbling knuckle-change and a circle change with sink and fade. The A's scrapped his curveball before the season and switched him to a slider. He used to raise his arm more when throwing the curve, making it easy for batters to pick up, but he uses the same release point with his slider as his fastball. The slider is a below-average pitch for now, but it has shown promising tilt and depth. Ramos should advance to low Class A in 2010.
The closer for the North Carolina squads that made it to the College World Series in 2006 and 2007, Carignan looked like he was on the fast track to the big leagues when he reaching Double-A in his first full pro season. That fast track took a detour last season, when he came down with a sore forearm in spring training and never saw regular action, though he avoided surgery. He was back on the mound in the fall and should be fine going forward. Carignan's main pitch is a fastball that sits at 92-93 mph and peaks at 94. The A's switched him from a slider to a curveball, which comes in hard with 12-to-6 break. He also has a straight changeup. Oakland gives Carignan high marks for his toughness and swagger on the mound. He has a little deception in his delivery, though at 5-foot-11, he doesn't generate much downhill plane. Provided he stays healthy, Carignan should advance to Triple-A in 2010 and could get a big league look before the end of the season.
Coming off a season in which he was one of the Texas League's best relievers, the Angels expected they might lose Cassevah when they left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft last December. Sure enough, the A's popped him. Now they have to keep him on their big league roster throughout 2010, and if they can't then they'll have to place him on waivers and offer him back to Los Angeles for half his $50,000 draft price. Cassevah's primary weapon is a heavy 92-94 mph sinker. He can pepper the bottom of the zone with the sinker, as evidenced by his 4.0 groundout/airout ratio in Double-A last year. He also features a splitter and a slider, both of which are average offerings. The splitter gives him a strikeout pitch, but he has a tendency to fall too much in love with his slider. He struggles somewhat against lefthanders, who hit .295 against him last year compared to .199 for righties. His biggest obstacle to finding a niche in Oakland is his control, as he gets himself in trouble with walks. He could be a serviceable middle reliever as a rookie if he throws enough strikes.
Marks helped pitch Louisville to the 2007 College World Series as a freshman, going 9-2, 2.67, and he went on to become the program's all-time leader in wins (29), ERA (2.96) and strikeouts (305) in three seasons. He also set a school single-season record with 11 wins in 2009 before signing with Oakland for $375,300 as a thirdround pick. Marks is a polished lefthander with command of four average pitches, though none looks like a plus offering. He comes after hitters with a 90-92 mph fastball, a three-quarters curveball, a slider and a changeup. He shows moxie on the mound and has a physical frame, though there's some effort in his delivery. A groin injury cost him a chance to see much action in his pro debut and he eventually needed a hernia operation, though he should be ready to go in the spring. Marks' upside isn't as high as some of the other pitchers in the system, but he has the potential to move quickly and be a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter. He should open his first full pro season at one of Oakland's Class A affiliates.
The Braves drafted House twice--in the 40th round out of high school in 2006 and in the 49th round after his freshman season at JC of the Canyons (Calif.) in 2007--before the A's took him in the sixth round in 2008 and signed him for $130,000. House hit .371 and stole 40 bases over his two-year junior-college career, and he has the tools to be an effective top-of-the-order hitter. He has a short, slashing swing, doesn't try to do too much and isn't afraid to go deep in counts. He has plus-plus speed on the bases and in center field, where he can be a highlight-reel defender. However, his game is still plenty raw. He's sometimes patient to a fault, still is learning to control the zone and isn't immune to chasing balls outside it. He also needs to improve his bunting ability, as well as his reads and breaks when stealing bases. He offers little power, though the A's are trying to get him to incorporate his lower half more and stay through the ball better, which could help. His arm strength is fringy but enough to get by in center field. House should advance to low Class A to open the year.
Leyland batted .506 with 11 home runs to lead San Dimas High to a southern California sectional championship as a senior. The A's thought he had some of the best raw power in the 2009 draft, so they were thrilled he only cost them a 16th-round pick and a $75,000 bonus. A physical specimen, Leyland is balanced and generates leverage in his swing. He has excellent timing to go with his strength, though he's still refining his approach at the plate. Leyland's defense has a long ways to go He needs plenty of work behind the plate, where he lacks quickness and athleticism. He does have arm strength, but he'll have to clean up his receiving and throwing mechanics. First base is the lone option if catching doesn't work out, because he doesn't run well enough to play anywhere else in the field. The A's can give Leyland time to develop because they have catching prospects at higher levels of the system. He'll probably begin 2010 in extended spring training before heading to Vancouver in June.
Hunter was one of the best college pitching prospects in the nation entering 2008, but elbow pain limited him to just five appearances for Pepperdine. The A's still believed enough in him to give him a $1.1 million bonus, a record for a seventh-round pick, but his first full pro season couldn't have gone much worse. He struggled mightily to find the strike zone with Kane County, earning a demotion in July. Hunter still has one of the best arms in the system, but his delivery seemingly changed every outing last year. Oakland revamped his delivery in the fall, lowering his arm slot and making his motion similar to Carlos Marmol's. Hunter throws hard sinkers that sit at 92-94 mph and touch 96. His slider doesn't have as much tilt as it once did because of the lower arm angle, but it still comes in at 83-85 mph. He flashes a good changeup at times and it has some sink, but it's not as good as his slider. The A's will develop him as a reliever going forward, and Hunter has the potential to move quickly if his new delivery helps him throw more strikes. If he shows improved command in the spring, he could open 2010 in high Class A.
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