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Green's profile as a prospect has taken a 180-degree turn since he came out of Canyon High in Anaheim in 2006. Scouts at the time praised his defensive ability at shortstop but questioned his bat, and he stayed on the board until the Padres took him in the 14th round. He opted to attend Southern California, where he became known as an offensive-minded player who might not stick at shortstop. He hit .390 as a sophomore and .374 as a junior, sandwiched around a .340 performance in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008. Green ranked as the top prospect on the Cape and drew comparisons to former Long Beach State star Evan Longoria. A slow start and a disappointing home run total (four) in his junior season, combined with his asking price, caused him to slide slightly in the 2009 draft, but the Athletics still made him the 13th overall pick and the first shortstop taken. He signed at the Aug. 17 deadline for $2.75 million. He played five games at high Class A Stockton in August 2009 and returned there last season, ranking second in the California League in hits (174) and fifth in slugging percentage (.520). He delivered an RBI single in the Futures Game in his hometown and joined Double-A Midland for its playoff run. Green's bat has rarely slowed down since he was a college freshman. He has a smooth stroke with outstanding wrist actions. His swing is geared to use the opposite field and he stays inside the ball extremely well, driving balls to right-center field. The A's have worked with him to pull balls with more authority, and he has at least average power that could improve as he learns to incorporate his legs more in his swing. His strikeout totals were a bit high last year, but he still received praise for his feel for hitting and ability to get the barrel through the zone. As he moves up, he'll need to take more pitches and chase fewer out of the strike zone. There are more questions about his defensive future. Tall and lanky, he has average speed but needs to improve his first-step quickness, though his intelligence as a defender and feel for getting in the right positions help compensate. He struggles at times making routine plays and led Cal League shortstops in errors by a fairly wide margin, committing 37 while no one else had more than 27. His range and arm strength are fringy for the position, and even with a quick release he has difficulty getting carry on his throws and making them from deep in the hole. The A's hope his arm can be solid-average with the right footwork. If he has to change positions, he probably has to go to second base because he wouldn't have the arm strength for third base either. Green's bat would have the most value at shortstop, and the A's will certainly give him every chance to stay there. Regardless of where he plays, his bat is what will get him to the major leagues. After getting a taste of Double-A in September, he'll return there to open 2011 and should be on track to get to the majors sometime the following year.
Carter was No. 1 on this list a year ago and the A's hoped he could make an impact by season's end. Unfortunately, his first impression was a 0-for-33 streak to begin his big league career. Before that, Carter had rallied from a slow start at Triple-A Sacramento to bat .319/.421/.637 in the second half. Carter's power always will be his carrying tool. His wrists are exceptionally strong and he has lightning-quick bat speed. He has a short, easy swing capable of hitting balls out of any park in any direction. His power comes with the tradeoff of strikeouts, and his inability to recognize breaking pitches was exploited regularly in 2010. He always has been willing to take his walks, but Oakland tinkered with his approach and emphasized selectivity, which led to him being too passive at times. Carter has below-average speed and range, which limits him to first base and left field. He has enough athleticism and arm strength to play passable defense in left, but first remains his most likely long-term option. With Daric Barton at first base in Oakland, left field and DH are Carter's avenues to making a big league impact in 2011. The A's desperately need his power in their lineup.
After batting .413 as a sophomore, Choice hit .383 as a junior in 2010 to win the Southland Conference batting title. He also led NCAA Division I with 76 walks and set Texas-Arlington's career home run record with 34. He passed Hunter Pence as the highestdrafted player in school history when the A's took him 10th overall, and he signed for a slightly over-slot $2 million in late July. Choice generates plenty of leverage and bat speed, giving him raw power that rates a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Oakland believes he can hit for a solid average as well, but his swing is unorthodox with a lot of moving parts. Scouts worry about his swing plane and believe he could be prone to high strikeout totals. Choice played center field in his pro debut and has enough speed to possibly stick there for the time being. He needs to clean up his routes on fly balls and probably will end up on a corner in the long run, with his arm strength fitting better in left field than right. Choice's swing has worked thus far, so the A's aren't going to touch it yet. He could be in for a big offensive year as he heads to the hitter-friendly California League to start his first full season.
One of the biggest surprises of last spring, Ross made Oakland's Opening Day roster despite having made just nine starts above high Class A. He predictably had his struggles but wasn't overwhelmed in his trial by fire before being sent down in July. He was shut down in August with a sprained ligament in his elbow. Ross features two above-average pitches in his fastball and slider. The fastball usually sits in the low to mid-90s and touched 98 mph late in the season in Triple-A. He uses the sink on his heater to get plenty of groundouts. However, major league hitters exposed his inconsistent fastball command. Ross' 83-84 mph slider is the best in the system. He also throws a cutter with promise and a changeup that improved last season even though he didn't use it much as a big league reliever. The short stride and upright finish to his delivery lead to durability concerns, and he missed time with mild shoulder and biceps woes in his first two pro seasons. The A's expect Ross to be ready for spring training, but scouts continue to worry about his health. He can reach his ceiling as a No. 2 starter if he can improve his command. He'll compete for Oakland's fifth-starter job in spring training.
Weeks (the 12th pick in 2008) and his brother Rickie (second in 2003) are the eighth pair of siblings to be drafted in the first round. Jemile has been unable to stay healthy as a pro, with repeated hip and leg injuries preventing him from playing a full season. Hip soreness knocked him out for two months during the 2010 regular season and again during the Texas League playoffs. When healthy, Weeks shows promising tools. He has a quick, explosive swing and can do damage from both sides of the plate. His strength and outstanding bat speed give him the capability to hit for more power than his body type would suggest. He's a good situational hitter who hangs in against tough pitches and rarely gets fooled. Weeks has above-average athleticism and speed, though the injuries have diminished his ability to steal bases. He's not the smoothest second baseman, but he has worked hard to improve his throwing and double-play pivot. Weeks draws some Ray Durham comparisons and has the potential to be a top-of-the-order catalyst. The A's expect him to be ready for spring training and advance to Triple-A in 2011. If he can avoid the disabled list, he could make his big league debut by the end of the year.
Stassi set a fourth-round record (since broken by the Nationals' A.J. Cole) when he signed for $1.5 million in 2009. He has strong baseball bloodlines, as his great-great uncle Myril Hoag played for the Yankees in the 1930s, his father Jim played in the minors and was his high school coach and his older brother Brock is entering his senior season at Nevada. Stassi's swing is compact, and he has the bat speed and strength in his forearms and wrists to hit for at least average power. He shows the ability to work counts and use the middle the field, but also gets pull-happy and has trouble laying off high fastballs at times. Scouts worry about his open stance and how frequently he swings and misses. Nagging shoulder problems hampered his throwing in 2010, though Stassi did erase 34 percent of basestealers. He has soft hands and good agility behind the plate, and the A's praised how he took charge of the low Class A Kane County pitching staff as a teenager. He's a below-average runner. Stassi has the tools to develop into a solid all-around catcher. After Oakland gave him instructional league off so he could recover from the long grind of the season, he'll report to high Class A in 2011 and should put up bigger numbers in the California League.
Shipman didn't get as much exposure as other top Georgia high school prospects because he never played for the Atlanta-based East Cobb juggernaut. He would have been the biggest recruit in Mercer baseball history, but his stock soared as the 2010 draft approached. The A's drafted him in the third round and signed him at the Aug. 16 deadline for $500,000. His father Robert played briefly in the minors and coached him in high school, and his brother Robert is a sophomore outfielder at St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC. Shipman has the potential for four plus tools, with power his lone shortcoming. He has a short, slashing swing that produces consistent hard contact. He still has to learn to stay back better on pitches, but he has shown a nice aptitude for making adjustments. He could develop some power as he matures physically, but it's not going to be a focus of his game. Shipman has plus-plus speed and the chance to be an impact defender in center field, where he has above-average range and arm strength. Shipman projects as a dynamic leadoff man and ballhawking center fielder. He'll need some time to develop though, and he'll likely begin his first full professional season in extended spring training before heading to Oakland's new short-season Vermont affiliate.
The son of Tigers minor league manager Basilio Cabrera, Yordy moved to United States from the Dominican Republic when he was 14. The oldest high school player drafted in the 2010 draft class at nearly 20, he signed at the deadline for $1.25 million as the 60th overall pick. Though he was a well regarded pitching prospect who could fire mid-90s fastballs, he and the A's view him as an everyday player. Cabrera has a physical frame and produces excellent raw power. He has some lift in his swing, so he'll have to adjust to get down to the ball and hit it more on a line if he's going to succeed against good pitching. He's an average runner. He'll get a chance to start his career at shortstop, and though he has good hands and is athletic for his size, he may be too big to stay there. Wherever he plays on the diamond, he'll have plenty of arm strength. Oakland loves his attitude and work ethic. If Cabrera's bat comes along, he'll have no trouble profiling as a third baseman if he can't stick at shortstop. His bat could be put to the test right away, as he's the most likely of the A's premium 2010 high school picks to start his first full pro season at their new low Class A Burlington affiliate.
Krol slipped to the seventh round in 2009 after being suspended from his high school team for being found in the presence of alcohol, violating the school's athletic code of conduct for the second time. The A's signed him for $925,000 and he excelled in a return to his home turf in 2010. While at Kane County, he lived at his home 30 minutes away and led the Midwest League in ERA (2.65) and baserunners per nine innings (9.4). Krol's fastball sits at 88-89 mph and tops out at 91, but he locates it well and complements it with two potential plus pitches. He spins a quality 11-to-5 curveball that's a swing-andmiss pitch when it's on. He has learned to trust his changeup, which he didn't need much in high school. He throws it with good arm speed and it comes in at 78-81 mph with some sinking and tailing action. Krol repeats his delivery well and has an advanced feel for pitching, helping his stuff play up. Despite his big 2010, Krol's ceiling doesn't look any higher than that of a No. 3 or 4 starter as he lacks projection in his frame. He could move quickly through the minors for a high school pick, however, and will return to high Class A after finishing last season there at age 19.
Taylor hit .312/.383/.515 in three years in the Phillies system, but Domonic Brown's emergence made him expendable and Philadelphia included him in its trade for Roy Halladay in December 2009. The Blue Jays promptly flipped Taylor to the A's for Brett Wallace. Shoulder problems cut short his winter season in Mexico and may have contributed to a slow start in Triple-A, and he never really got going. A physical specimen, Taylor still hit balls out to all fields during batting practice but rarely carried that power over into games in 2010. Scouts wondered where his bat speed had gone, and he had issues with a dead start in his swing. Oakland worked to shorten his stroke and improve his angle to the ball. He did get praise for his ability to control the strike zone and handle breaking pitches, but his production was still disappointing. Taylor has average speed and takes good routes, so he can play center field in a pinch. His strong, accurate arm works well in right field. Taylor's physical tools are still readily apparent, and the A's hope last season was simply an aberration. Their November trade for David DeJesus will make it harder for Taylor to break into the big league outfield in 2011. He's been added to Oakland's 40-man roster, but he still has to prove himself in Triple-A anyway.
Brown attracted interest from college football programs as a wide receiver coming out of high school, but he chose to play baseball full-time at Oklahoma State and signed for $544,500 as the 59th overall pick in 2007. He struggled out of the gate in Triple-A last season but recovered after a demotion to have his most productive stretch yet in Double-A. A .267 career hitter entering 2010, Brown finished third in the Texas League batting race (.320) and ranked second in on-base percentage (.415). Brown has always tantalized the A's with his physical tools, and he began to show a more mature approach last season. He shortened his stroke last year, began using the opposite field more consistently and developed a better two-strike gameplan. He has a smooth swing with leverage that generates power to all fields, and he hit three homers in seven games in his brief return to Sacramento at the end of the season. Strikeouts remain an issue, and he has a tendency to pull off balls against lefthanders. Brown has solid speed that serves him well on the bases, and he's an intelligent runner. His good reads and routes give him a chance to stick in center field, and his strong arm would play in right. Added to the 40-man roster after the season, he'll try to keep up his momentum when he returns for another go-around with Sacramento in 2011. He could force his way into Oakland's crowded outfield picture by the end of the season if he handles Triple-A pitching.
Donaldson steadily climbed through the A's system since arriving with Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson in a July 2008 trade that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs. He made his big league debut last April and homered in his second big league game, though the rest of his time in Oakland wasn't as productive. The 48th overall pick in 2007 and recipient of a $652,500 bonus, Donaldson moved from third base to catcher in his sophomore season at Auburn, so his bat has always been ahead of his defense. He has fine raw power for a catcher and his 19 homers last year were a career high. He has good feel for the strike zone but needs to have a better approach and tone down his aggressiveness if he's going to hit for average. He tends to press and gets himself out in front on pitches. When he's going well, he lets the ball travel deep and hits to all fields. Donaldson is an agile defender behind the dish and has also dabbled at both corner infield spots as a pro. He needs to clean up his receiving and his transfer on his throws, but he has a strong arm and erased 39 percent of basestealers in 2010. He's a below-average runner but quicker than most backstops. Donaldson's power is tantalizing, but his hitting and defense need further polish at Sacramento before he can push for an regular role in Oakland.
De los Santos electrified a national audience at the 2007 Futures Game, hitting 97 mph on the radar gun in San Francisco. It was one of many highlights during a breakout seson in which he went 10-5, 2.65 at two Class A stops in the White Sox system, but he scarcely has been heard from since. Chicago shipped him to Oakland after the 2007 season, along with Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney, to obtain Nick Swisher. De los Santos made just five appearances with his new organization before breaking down and needing Tommy John surgery. An unusually long recovery period meant he didn't get back to the mound full-time until 2010, and the A's moved him to the bullpen in light of his health problems. De los Santos had used four pitches as a starter but reinvented himself as a two-pitch reliever, relying on his fastball and slider. His lively heater sits in the mid-90s and can top out at 99 mph. His slider looks major league-caliber at times, but it's inconsistent and needs to be tightened up. He has trouble staying on line to the plate during his delivery, hurting his command and making his slider flatten out. De los Santos has the potential to be an impact reliever if he can refine his command. He'll likely return to Double-A to open 2011.
A supplemental first-round pick who signed for $650,000 in 2007, Mortensen came to the A's along with Brett Wallace and outfield prospect Shane Peterson in the Matt Holliday trade with the Cardinals in mid-2009. Mortensen started out 10-2, 3.57 before the Pacific Coast League all-star break in 2010 before tiring down the stretch, and his .258 opponent average was fourth-lowest among PCL starters. He doesn't blow batters away, but Mortensen can mix four pitches and gets plenty of groundballs. His primary weapon is an 89-90 mph fastball with sink and run, and he can locate it to both sides of the plate. His changeup is the best of his secondary pitches, as he gets great arm action on it and it breaks down and away from lefthanders. He has a solid 83-84 mph slider and started using a high-70s curveball last year as well, though its main function is to just give hitters a different look. Mortensen has a little deception in his delivery, but he also tends to rush, causing his pitches to flatten out. When he's on, he's aggressive and pounds the strike zone. Mortsesen has the ingredients to become a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter and little left to prove in Triple-A. But Oakland's rotation already is crowded with young arms, so he'll have to force his way into the mix this spring.
Cardenas was Baseball America's High School Player of the Year in 2006, en route to being taken 37th overall by the Phillies and signing for $925,000. Philadelphia packaged him with Josh Outman and outfield prospect Matt Spencer to acquire Joe Blanton from the A's in July 2008. Cardenas carried a .299 average as pro into 2010, but a thumb injury during spring training cost him most of April and he hit just .228/.285/.281 in Triple-A before being demoted in early June. He righted himself in his third stint with Midland, got back to Sacramento in August and finished strong. Cardenas has a disciplined, all-fields approach and a fluid, effortless swing. He's an intelligent hitter who can pick up on how pitchers are attacking him and make adjustments quickly. While he has a knack for getting the barrel on the ball, Cardenas shows little more than gap power, making him a poor offensive fit for third base. His bat profiles better at second base, but he's a below-average runner whose quickness, range and footwork around the bag are all subpar. He saw time at both positions in 2010, and his arm is playable in either spot. The A's added him to the 40-man roster after the season and will give him another chance to prove himself in Triple-A. He's starting to look more like a utilityman than an everyday player.
The A's have been aggressive on the international amateur market in recent years, with Nunez their latest prize after signing for $2.2 million last July 2. He attracted attention for his performance with the Venezuelan squad at the World Youth Championship in Taiwan in August 2009, when he hit .333/.385/.583 in seven games, but Oakland had scouted him for three years. The A's are buying into Nunez's bat, which shows plenty of promise. He has a balanced, fluid swing, giving him outstanding bat control and the ability to get the barrel on the ball consistently. His swing has leverage and he has plus raw power for his age. That power should come into play in games as he matures physically. International scouts doubted Nunez's ability to stick at third base long term, but Oakland will allow him to play his way off the position. He has the arm for the hot corner, but his hands, agility and footwork all need improvement if he's going to remain there. He has a long ways to go, but Nunez could become one of Oakland's best hitting prospects. He'll probably make his pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2011, with his U.S. debut planned for the following year.
A 2007 sandwich pick who signed for $742,500, Doolittle quickly hit his way to Triple-A but hasn't played since May 2009. He fought tendinitis in both knees that year, with his left knee eventually requiring surgery. That operation and subsequent physical therapy didn't get him back to full strength, and after a setback in his rehab, he had a second operation in August 2010. When healthy, Doolittle was one of the organization's top hitting prospects. He has a quick, easy swing with an all-fields approach. He added strength and weight after coming out of college, though he has just average power. He was a two-way player at Virginia and the A's moved him to right field to utilize his arm strength, but his knee problems may preclude him playing the outfield. He was already a below-average runner before the surgeries. The good news is that he's a plus defender at first base. The A's showed their belief in Doolittle's bat by adding him to the 40-man roster after the season. Barring another setback, he'll resume his career at Sacramento this year.
Lewis attended the same high school, Marina High in Huntington Beach, Calif., as Oakland first baseman Daric Barton. Lewis played basketball at Marina for two years before giving up the sport as a junior to focus on baseball. He was a standout on the showcase circuit, and the A's signed him away from a San Diego State commitment for an above-slot $300,000 bonus as their fourth-round pick in 2010. Big and strong, Lewis is a physical specimen and certainly looks the part of a power-hitting third baseman. He has a quick bat and his swing generates the leverage to hit for power. He'll need to get better at recognizing breaking pitches, and his stroke needs smoothing out. Lewis has good hands and a strong arm, though his defense is a work in progress and he'll have to get better at making plays to his backhand side. While he's not a bad athlete, he's a below-average runner with limited range. Oakland lauds Lewis' makeup and expect him to put in the work to improve offensively and defensively. He has all the raw elements to be a prototypical third baseman, though he'll require a good bit of polish. He should open his first season in extended spring training before joining Vermont in June.
After four years in short-season leagues, Joseph stumbled out of the gate in his first look at low Class A last season. He had a 4.67 ERA for Kane County before he was demoted to short-season Vancouver in June. He righted the ship in his second tour there, and continued to pitch well when he returned to Kane County in August. Joseph has a sleek, athletic frame and can unleash fastballs in the low 90s, touching 95 mph. His curveball is a tight 12-to-6 downer that's a plus pitch when it's on. His changeup shows promise, as he throws it with good arm speed and it has some depth. When Joseph gets in trouble, it's usually the result of command. He has a strike-thrower's mentality and tries to attack the zone, but he spins off in his delivery and has trouble repeating it, affecting his ability to locate his pitches. He's still getting a feel for pitching and learning the best ways to utilize his arsenal. Joseph has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter, but he's 22 and hasn't proven much in a full-season league. He'll get that chance when he moves up to high Class A in 2011.
Figueroa was the A's minor league pitcher of the year and ranked as their best pitching prospect following his breakout 2009 season, which amazingly was his first in full-season ball after five years as a pro. His 2010 got off to a good start, but he struggled in May and was shut down in June. Doctors diagnosed a ligament tear in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery. Figueroa's development already had been slow, but Oakland was encouraged by the progress he was making. His plus fastball was sitting at 92-95 mph and touching 96. He complemented the heater with a mid-80s slider with tilt, plus a solid changeup that he was throwing regularly. Some scouts worried that he tipped off his changeup by slowing his arm down when he threw it. Figueroa's biggest problem has been fastball command, as he tends to miss up in the zone too often. The A's still believe he can be a frontline starter. They hope he can get back on the mound by midseason, so that he can get in some innings and head into instructional league with an eye toward hitting the ground running in 2012--when he'll be 26.
Jed Hoyer's first trade as Padres general manager sent Sogard and Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland for Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston in January 2010. A's scouts liked Sogard when they saw him in Double-A the year before, considering him the toughest out in the Texas League. He doesn't have flashy tools, but he's a baseball rat who has always hit. Sogard has a short swing and a quick bat, allowing him to let the ball travel deep and to foul off tough pitches. He sprays line drives all over the field, though he hits too many balls in the air considering he has no more than gap power. He consistently walks as much as he strikes out, and he ranked fourth in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 65 free passes last year. He's an average runner who had been considered a defensive liability, but Oakland was pleasantly surprised by his work in the field last year. His .979 fielding percentage as a second baseman was the best of his career, and he also improved his ability to turn double plays. His arm strength is fringy but good enough for second base. The A's gave him his first extended action at shortstop and third base as a pro, improving his profile as a utilityman with a useful bat. After making his big league debut last September, Sogard will head to spring training with a chance to earn a roster spot in Oakland.
After the A's acquired David DeJesus from the Royals in November, they decided Rajai Davis was expendable and sent him to the Blue Jays for Trystan Magnuson and Farquhar, teammates in the Double-A New Hampshire bullpen last season. Farquhar had a difficult junior year as a starter for Louisiana-Lafayette in 2008, so Toronto immediately moved him to the bullpen when he entered pro ball. He has taken to the role, limiting pro hitters to a .186 average while striking out 184 in 172 innings. Farquhar's defining characteristic is his use of two different arm angles. He gets more velocity on his fastball when he uses a high three-quarters arm slot, working at 92-94 mph and touching 96. He gets more sink on his 88-92 mph two-seamer, which he throws with more of a sidearm motion. The slider he throws from the lower arm slot can be a bit sweepy but is his best secondary offering. He also will use an early-count curveball from the higher angle. Farquhar's movement, velocity and ability to give hitters different looks make him difficult to square up, especially for righthanders, who hit .156 against him in 2010. He has trouble throwing consistent strikes, though, a problem he'll have to iron out to earn a role in the majors. He'll open his first season in the A's organization in Triple-A.
Magnuson, whose late uncle Keith was an NHL defenseman for 11 seasons, went to Louisville on an academic scholarship for mechanical engineering and walked on to the baseball team. He became the Cardinals' closer as a redshirt senior and helped them reach the 2007 College World Series. The Blue Jays signed him for $462,500 as a sandwich pick in that year's draft, then dealt him to the A's along with Danny Farquhar in November for Rajai Davis. Toronto tried Magnuson out as a starter in his pro debut, but that experiment flopped and he has been much more comfortable since moving back to the bullpen in 2009. He challenges hitters with his 92-94 mph sinker, with his 6-foot-7 frame giving him deception and excellent downhill plane. He also throws a slider that's a plus pitch at times, as well as a splitter that he uses as an offspeed pitch. The latter has some sink but still needs work. Magnuson led Double-A Eastern League relievers by walking just 1.2 batters per nine innings in 2010, and and his fastball and strike-throwing ability alone should get him to the big leagues. To be more than a middle reliever, however, he'll need one of his secondary pitches to take a step forward. Added to Oakland's 40-man roster after the trade, Magnuson will join Farquhar, his teammate in the New Hampshire bullpen last year, in Sacramento this season.
Parker shared Mountain West Conference freshman of the year honors in 2007 with Stephen Strasburg. While he didn't go on to be the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 like Strasburg did, Parker had a productive career with Brigham Young and went in the fifth round of the draft. In his first full pro season last year, he led the system with 98 RBIs and ranked second in the California League with 84 walks. Parker has a swing that's efficient and short to the ball, and he has shown more power than scouts projected when he came out of college. He hit 25 homers in three years at BYU, then went deep 21 times for Stockton, and the A's think he can continue to hit 20 homers a season as he advances. He doesn't sell out for power, either, using an easy swing and showing a good feel for hitting. His defense is another story, as his 33 errors were the most of any Cal League third baseman. He has a funky arm action and his arm strength is just adequate. He's not agile and could have to move to left field, but he's also a below-average runner. Parker will move up to Double-A in 2011, and he'll go as far as his bat takes him.
Ynoa was the top prospect on the 2008 international free agent market, and the A's paid a club-record $4.25 million bonus to sign him, the largest ever given to a Latin American amateur free agent. The club has seen no return on its investment so far. Elbow tendinitis prevented Ynoa from making his pro debut in 2009. He finally got on the mound last year in the Rookie-level Arizona League but pitched just nine innings before getting shut down again. He went through several rest and rehab cycles before eventually having Tommy John surgery in August. During his brief time on the mound, Ynoa had shown what all the excitement was about. His fastball had life and sat at 92-95 mph, and he complemented it with a sharp, late-breaking curveball and a changeup with depth. He has a smooth, effortless delivery that wouldn't seem to create arm problems. Because his surgery was performed so late in the year, Ynoa isn't expected to pitch at all during the 2011 regular season, though he could be back in the fall. He's nearly fluent in English now, so that should help lessen his learning curve once he does get back to pitching in games in 2012.
The A's would have preferred for Ortiz to open his first full season in low Class A last year, but Max Stassi's presence in Kane County necessitated bumping Ortiz up a level. Oakland kept the pressure off him by not having him play every day for Stockton, and the plan seemed to work well as he hit .302 through the end of June. He batted just .202 in July, though, and was bothered by nagging right shoulder soreness, which led to him getting shut down and having surgery in August. Ortiz has an outstanding feel for hitting and a natural swing. He stays behind the ball using an up-the-middle approach, and he has learned to drive balls to the opposite field. He won't hit for a lot of power, but he had shown improvement in that regard before getting hurt. Ortiz moves well behind the plate and is an above-average receiver. He has an average arm and threw out 32 percent of basestealers in 2010, thanks largely to improved footwork. The question now is how well his arm will bounce back from the surgery. He's a below-average runner. The A's would like Ortiz to get to Double-A in 2011, but that will depend on how quickly he returns to health. They won't force the issue, and he could begin the year in extended spring training.
Thomson went back and forth between starting and relieving in his first two years at San Diego before working as a reliever last spring and putting up a 3.38 ERA in 43 innings. After signing him for a bargain $7,500 as a 12th-round pick, the A's moved him back to the rotation during his pro debut, and he responded nicely. His fastball, which sat in the high 80s in the spring, began operating in the low 90s and touching 95 mph. His heater jumps on hitters, and he's able to command it to both sides of the strike zone. Thomson complements his fastball with a pair of solid pitches in his slurvy slider and changeup. He has limited experience with the changeup and is still developing a feel for it. Thomson has a simple delivery that he repeats well, enhancing his command. He's not afraid of contact and comes right after hitters. Thomson acquitted himself well in a spot start in high Class A at the end of the summer, striking out 10 over five shutout innings, and he could return there to open his first full pro season. More likely, he'll begin 2011 in low Class A.
Dixon passed up the chance to play college football with his older brother Anthony at Mississippi State to sign with the A's for $600,000 as a 10th-round pick out of high school. Anthony has gone on to become a running back with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, and Rashun will try to join him across the bay. Like many former football players who turn to baseball as pros, Dixon had a big learning curve in order get a feel for the game, simply because he hadn't played much baseball. His physical tools are impressive. He has loose wrists and a nice, easy stroke at the plate, though he swings and misses much too much. When he reached full-season ball in 2010, his third year as a pro, he showed an improved sense of the strike zone and did a better job of fighting off tough pitches. His bat speed gives him considerable power potential, but he hasn't fully harnessed it and tends to get overaggressive. His football background shows through on defense, as Dixon is a natural athlete who goes and gets balls in the outfield. A catcher in high school, he played all three outfield positions last year, with his fringy speed and arm fitting best in left field. Dixon is still a project but his tools are hard to ignore. Oakland hopes he'll continue making strides as he moves up to high Class A in 2011.
Thompson became the Big 12 Conference's first-ever triple crown winner in 2009, batting .389 with 21 homers and 82 RBIs as a sophomore. He wasn't able to duplicate that success as a junior after he fouled a ball off his left kneecap in a February practice, resulting in a hairline fracture and knocking him out of Kansas' first 19 games. After a tough start, he recovered to hit .338 for the Jayhawks, though he had just six homers. Oakland grabbed him in the sixth round and signed him for $125,000. While he managed just three homers in his pro debut, Thompson's power remains his carrying tool. He has leverage in his swing and though he utilizes a gapto- gap approach, most of his power is geared to his pull side. His swing will need adjustments if he's going to hit for average, particularly at higher levels, because it tends to get long and he needs to stay through the ball better. Thompson has a strong arm that's suited for third base, but his speed, range and agility are all below average. He led short-season Northwest League third baseman with 21 errors last summer, and most scouts think he'll eventually have to move to first base. The best-case scenario is that Thompson fits the profile of a power-hitting third baseman, but he'll have to answer significant questions about whether he can hit for average and stay at the hot corner when he begin his first full pro season in high Class A.
Crumbliss led Emporia State to the 2009 NCAA Division II national title game, hitting .397 as a senior and leaving as the program's all-time leader in hits, doubles and runs. Signed for $1,500 as a 28th-round pick, he led the minors with 126 walks and the low Class A Midwest League with 95 runs in his first full pro season. Crumbliss is a grinder who consistently puts together good at-bats. He has a tremendous batting eye and a short swing that allows him to let balls travel deep in the zone. He can wait until the last instant and still get around and foul tough pitches off. He's also a capable bunter. He's not going to contribute much offensively beyond his on-base ability, however. He's undersized and offers little power, and while he's an instinctive runner, he has average speed and won't be a basestealing threat. An outfielder in college, Crumbliss has moved to second base as a pro, and that's where he profiles best. He's a steady defender with fringy range and an average arm, and he does a solid job of turning double plays. While Crumbliss doesn't have the flashiest tools, he could help as a utilityman and has the work ethic to get to the big leagues. He'll move up to high Class A in 2011.
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