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The Athletics have had one of the American League's best young pitching staffs in recent years. But the team wasn't on track to contend before those arms started getting expensive, so Oakland's front office took the long view after the 2011 season and sought to cash in on some of its coveted pitchers. In December, the A's traded homegrown all-star Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the Diamondbacks for prospects Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook. The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Parker signed for $2.1 million. He breezed through the lower minors and reached Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2009. Elbow tightness sidelined him that July, shortly after he pitched in the Futures Game. After rest and rehab didn't solve the problem, Parker had Tommy John surgery in October 2009 and missed the entire 2010 season. He came back strong last year, making 26 starts in Double-A and ranking second in the Southern League in opponent average (.236) and fifth in ERA (3.79). He was excellent in the SL playoffs, allowing two runs in two starts as Mobile won the championship. Called up to Arizona in September, he made his major league debut with 52⁄3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers on Sept. 27. He also earned a spot on the Diamondbacks' postseason roster. Parker has streamlined mechanics that allow him to get excellent velocity out of a smaller frame. The ball jumps out of his hand and he was able to touch the upper 90s before his surgery. These days, he usually works in the mid-90s and peaks at 96 mph with his four-seam fastball. He developed his two-seamer into a real weapon in the second half of last season, operating in low 90s with good sink. Parker gets swings and misses with a slider and a changeup, both of which he throws at 81-86 mph. His slider rated as a well above-average offering with tilt and depth before he got hurt, though it's more of a plus pitch now. He has very good touch with his changeup, a solid offering with a chance to get better. He also can mix in an average curveball that's more of a show-me pitch. Parker is an outstanding athlete who regained his easy delivery after his elbow reconstruction. He works with a quick tempo, and scouts noticed he was more mature on the mound last season. Parker has true front-line starter potential and isn't far from reaching it. The A's aren't afraid to install talented youngsters in their big league rotation, and he'll get the opportunity to earn a starting job in spring training. If Oakland continues to deal more of their established arms, Parker and 2011 first-rounder Sonny Gray may headline their rotation of the future. In an ideal world, Parker and Gray will hit their stride as the A's move into a new ballpark, wherever and whenever that might happen.
Gray could've been a top-two-rounds pick coming out of high school in 2008, but an ankle injury and a Vanderbilt commitment dropped him to the Cubs in the 27th round. He went on to lead Vanderbilt to its first-ever College World Series in 2011 and became the third recent Commodores ace to become a first-rounder. Following in the footsteps of David Price (2007) and Mike Minor (2009), Gray went 18th overall last June and signed for $1.54 million. Gray is undersized but has the arsenal to make up for it. He gets sink and run on his 90-94 mph fastball, can reach back and hit 97 and has a feel for moving it around the strike zone. He has a second plus pitch in his curveball, which rated as the best in the 2011 draft. It has late, sharp 1-to-7 break, and he'll throw it in any count. Gray's changeup lags behind his other offerings, but it has some sink. He tended to spin off a bit in his delivery, but the A's got him to stay more on line to the plate during instructional league. They love his competitiveness and pitching IQ. Gray dominated at Double-A Midland in his brief pro debut, and he'll likely open his first full pro season there. He has a chance to pitch his way to Oakland by season's end, and he eventually could be a No. 2 starter in the big leagues.
Choice set Texas-Arlington's career home run record at 34 and led NCAA Division I with 76 walks in 2010, setting the stage for going 10th overall in the draft that June. Signed for $2 million, he has kept on rolling. In his first full year in pro ball, he led the high Class A California League with 30 homers and then hit .318/.423/.667 with six more longballs in the Arizona Fall League. Choice has leverage in his swing and electrifying bat speed, giving him light-tower power to all fields. He struggles at times with breaking pitches, but his strikeouts rate did drop as the 2011 season went on. The A's have worked to eliminate some moving parts in his swing, particularly in his lower half. He also has gotten better at pitch recognition and selection. Choice was bothered by a hamstring problem during the season, inhibiting his solid speed, but he can take an extra base and has a chance to stick in center field. He has an average arm and has improved his jumps on balls. Choice will be given every opportunity to continue playing center as he advances, with Double-A his next stop. Where he eventually settles in the majors will be dictated by Oakland's needs, and he'll easily have the power to play a corner.
Signed for $2.75 million as the 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Green has hit .304/.353/.463 as a pro. He won MVP honors at the 2011 Futures Game but the biggest news of his season came a week later, when the A's shifted him from shortstop to center field. Though he had essentially no outfield experience, the move was the quickest way to get his bat to the majors. Green is a natural hitter with a smooth, wristy swing. His power dropped off in 2011, so the A's had him spread out his stance and gave him a firm base when he went to the Arizona Fall League. He responded by hitting five homers and slugging .551 in 26 AFL games. Green had to learn his new position on the fly, though he has the athleticism to handle center field and shows solid range. His average arm was a question mark at shortstop but not an issue in center field. He's working to stretch his arm out to make the longer throws required there. Green got a taste of Triple-A at the end of last season, when he appeared in seven playoff games for Sacramento and hit .296, and he'll be back there to open 2012. While his bat may be his lone plus tool, it will get him to the big leagues. He could crash the Oakland outfield before the end of the season.
Mitchell hit .362 and stole 14 bases in 37 games at short-season Vancouver in his 2006 pro debut, but he rarely played like that again during the next four years. He began figuring things out in 2010 before exploding last year, when he batted .332/.430/.530, ranking fifth in the minors in on-base percentage and earning a spot on Oakland's 40- man roster. He credits Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, now an A's roving instructor, for helping him relax and understand the leadoff man's role. Mitchell has always had electric tools, highlighted by his plus-plus speed. He has a discerning eye at the plate and a short, quick swing. While he won't hit many home runs, he produces line drives to all fields. He has become more confident looking for pitches to drive rather than just trying to make contact. Mitchell still is learning to maximize his speed on the bases. He covers plenty of ground in center field and has an average, accurate arm. After playing through a sore knee all year, Mitchell had offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The six-month rehab may keep him out of spring training, where he would have competed for an outfield job in Oakland. It's only expected to be a short-term setback, however, and he should make his big league debut in 2012.
Taylor came to the A's after the 2009 season in a deal with the Blue Jays for Brett Wallace, an offshoot of the trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies for Taylor, Travis d'Arnaud and Kyle Drabek. Taylor hit 16 homers in Triple-A in 2011 to earn a September callup. Taylor played at Stanford, where hitters are groomed to hit to all fields, even at the expense of power. Five years later, the A's still are trying to get him to be more aggressive about driving pitches. He has the bat speed and strength to hit balls over the fence in any direction. Oakland also has worked on putting him into a better position to hit, in particular getting his front foot down sooner. He controls the strike zone well. Taylor saw action in center field as recently as 2010, but he's an average runner who fits better in right field. His arm is slightly above average. The A's are rebuilding their outfield after Coco Crisp, David DeJesus and Josh Willingham all left as free agents. Taylor, who spent the winter interning at a Bay Area sports radio station, should have an opportunity to seize a big league job in spring training.
Traded by the White Sox for Carlos Quentin and then by the Diamondbacks in a package for Dan Haren in December 2007, Carter has been knocking on the door to the majors since his Double-A Texas League MVP season in 2009. He has yet to break through, batting just .167 with three homers and 41 strikeouts in 114 at-bats with Oakland the last two years. He missed nearly two months last season with a sprained left wrist but recovered to have a productive season in Triple-A. Carter has a short, easy swing with strength to spare. He can hit tape-measure home runs to all fields when he connects, but connecting continues to be a problem. He swings and misses frequently, and while he'll take walks when teams pitch around him, he gets too passive at times. He needs to be more aggressive early in counts when he gets balls he can drive. Carter's athleticism and speed are below average, so he's limited defensively. He played mostly first base in 2011 after seeing action at the outfield corners and third base in the past. He has average arm strength. Carter will be in the mix for the A's first-base and DH jobs. He doesn't have much left to gain from another year in Triple-A, and Oakland desperately needs his power.
Shipman learned the game from his father Robert, who was a 10th-round pick of the Tigers in 1987 and coached him in high school. His stock soared shortly before the 2011 draft, in which he received $500,000 in the second round. Playing against older competition in the short-season New York-Penn League last year, he got off to a slow start but hit .293/.418/.320 in August. Shipman is an outstanding athlete with plus-plus speed. He has quick wrists and the A's believe he'll add some gap power as he gets stronger. Despite his youth, he's one of the most patient hitters in the system, to the point that Oakland would like him to be a little more aggressive. He already has a good idea of how to read pitchers, stealing 17 bases in 20 tries last season. Though Shipman saw more time in left field in 2011, he's a true center fielder who gets good jumps and take proper routes. He has solid arm strength and accuracy. Ticketed for the low Class A Midwest League, Shipman will face another challenging offensive environment in 2012. Even if he doesn't develop much home run power, he has all the tools to be a major league center fielder and leadoff hitter.
As a freshman, Vollmuth helped Southern Mississippi make its first College World Series appearance in 2009. He went on to hit 32 homers over the next two seasons and became a third-round pick last June, signing for $304,200 shortly before the deadline. Above-average power is easily Vollmuth's biggest selling point. He has a smooth swing, is direct to the ball and generates loft to all fields. Though he's already 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, the A's believe he still has room to add more strength. He's a streaky hitter prone to strikeouts, so he may not hit for a high average. A shortstop in his first two college seasons, Vollmuth moved to third base last spring and will continue there in pro ball. He shows nice hands and an arm strong enough for the left side of the infield. He needs to learn proper positioning, which should come with more experience. He's a below-average runner. Vollmuth fits the mold of a power-hitting third baseman. He's a candidate to skip a level and go straight to high Class A Stockton for his first full pro season.
Crocker showed potential as a pitcher in high school, though his tools as an everyday player stood out more and prompted the A's to take him as an outfielder in the 38th round of the 2008 draft. He turned them down and spent three seasons at Cal Poly before Oakland redrafted him in the fourth round last June. He signed for $198,000. Crocker has a physical frame and intriguing raw power, but his approach doesn't tap into it. He has a flat swing plane and hits line drives with authority to all fields. The A's would like to see him add some loft to his stroke and start pulling more balls. Staying inside the ball exceptionally well, he has good feel for going the other way. He's a disciplined hitter and isn't afraid to hit with two strikes. Though Crocker saw most of his time in right field in his pro debut, his above-average speed may play in center. He has fringy arm strength. Oakland loves his work ethic and energy. If Crocker doesn't stick in center, he'll have to produce more power to fit on a corner. He'll open his first full pro season in Class A.
The A's drafted Cowgill in the 29th round in 2007, when he was coming off a broken hamate bone that kept him out all season at Kentucky. He decided to go back to school as a fourth-year junior and landed with the Diamondbacks, but Oakland finally grabbed him as part of the Trevor Cahill deal in December. Cowgill put together the best season of his pro career in 2011, earning Triple-A Pacific Coast League all-star recognition and a late July callup to Arizona. He filled the fourth outfielder role for the National League West champs and earned a spot on the postseason roster. Cowgill is the prototypical grinder, the kind of player every manager wants on his team. He has a big bat wrap in his approach that leaves him vulnerable to quality fastballs, and his sweepy upper-body swing leads to struggles with breaking balls too. Yet he makes consistent contact, providing line drives to go with some sneaky power and a fair amount of walks. Cowgill is an above-average runner who can steal bases, succeeding on 34 of 39 attempts last year. He's a solid to plus defender at all three outfield positions and has a strong, accurate arm. He's sometimes compared to Cody Ross for his gamer mentality and bats right/throws left profile. Cowgill may never be a big league regular but should carve out a career as a useful fourth outfielder. He'll compete for a job in the A's new-look outfield in spring training.
In 2006, Cardenas was Baseball America's High School Player of the Year and the 37th overall pick in the draft. Signed by the Phillies for $925,000, he came to the A's along with Josh Outman and outfield prospect Matt Spencer in a July 2008 trade for Joe Blanton. Cardenas has hit .303 in the minors, but his power never has developed and he has just 29 homers in six pro seasons. That has become more of a problem now that it has become apparent that he can't stick in the middle infield. Cardenas has a fluid, effortless swing and sprays the ball all over the field. He has an innate understanding of how pitchers are trying to attack him. He makes consistent contact but doesn't drive the ball very often. Cardenas spent most of his first four pro seasons at shortstop and second base, but he lacks true middle-infield actions. His speed, quickness and range are all fringy. He improved his ability to turn the double play in 2011, but he played more in left field than anywhere else. He had no outfield experience at any level before last season. While his routes aren't perfect, he catches what he gets to and has an average arm. At this point, he doesn't profile as a regular at any position and looks more like a line drive-hitting utilityman. He could get a chance to serve that role in Oakland at some point this year.
Griffin was a closer for his first two seasons at San Diego, amassing 28 saves, before moving into the rotation as a junior in 2009. The A's returned Griffin to the bullpen in his 2010 pro debut to limit his innings. He got back to starting in his first full pro season and saw action at all four full-season levels, tying for the most strikeouts (156) in the system and striking out eight over six innings in a spot start for Sacramento on June 12. Griffin isn't overpowering, pitching at 89-92 mph with his fastball, but he makes up for it with feel and quality secondary stuff. He has outstanding fastball command, knows when he should add and subtract velocity and has strong pitching acumen. His above-average changeup rates as his best pitch, featuring sinking action and quality arm speed, and he'll throw it in any count. He can also spin a solid downer curveball. Griffin repeats his high three-quarters delivery well. He has a real competitive streak, sometimes to a fault, as Oakland would like him to control his emotions on the mound better. Coming off his whirlwind 2011 season, Griffin is expected to open 2012 in Double-A, where he'll try to continue on his track to be a mid-rotation starter.
Stassi had pedigree and promise when the A's signed him for $1.5 million in 2009, a record for the fourth round at the time. His great-great uncle Myril Hoag played 13 years in the majors; his father Jim played in the minors; and older brother Brock was a 33rd-round pick by the Phillies in 2011. Stassi rarely has been at full strength over his two full seasons in the minors, bothered by right shoulder problems. He was playing through pain and limited to DH duty last season before being shut down in May for surgery. When he's healthy, Stassi has a compact swing with solid power, along with a feel for hitting and using the middle of the field. He was able to DH again during instructional league and showed the same bat speed he had in the past, but he hadn't resumed catching. He hasn't caught in a game since the end of the 2010 season, and the A's are hopeful his arm strength bounces back after the operation. He had a solid arm in the past and was a quality receiver, showing agility and soft hands. He has below-average speed. Stassi was on a throwing program in the fall and continued rehabbing over the winter. The A's hope to get Stassi a fresh start in high Class A this year. He could be an impact bat at catcher and still has time to catch up as he'll play all of 2012 as a 21-year-old.
Cabrera spent his early years in the Dominican Republic, but he moved to the U.S. at age 14 to join his father Basilio, who played seven seasons in the Tigers organization and manages Detroit's Rookie-level Gulf Coast League squad. He signed with the A's for $1.25 million as the 60th overall pick in 2010, and he was the oldest high school player in his draft class at nearly 20. Cabrera battled inconsistency throughout his first full pro season. He tinkered with how far to spread out his feet in his stance and how much of a leg kick to use, and he tended to come off balance in his swing. He also pressed and tried to do too much, leading him to chase bad pitches. He found a better comfort level in instructional league after the season. His home run totals from last season don't show it, but he does have above-average power potential. Scouts outside the organization look at his big frame and think Cabrera will have to move to third base, but Oakland remains committed to developing him as a shortstop. He was too inconsistent in 2011, making great plays and then booting routine ones, and his 38 errors were the second-most among Midwest League shortstops. He has plenty of arm strength and threw in the low to mid-90s as a pitcher in high school, so third base might be his best fit. Cabrera will try to keep his momentum from instructional league going as he moves up to high Class A in 2012.
Parker was the Mountain West Conference co-freshman of the year in 2007, sharing the award with Stephen Strasburg. He hasn't had to face Strasburg since turning pro, and the pitchers he has seen haven't slowed him down. Parker ranked fifth in the Texas League in both hits (144) and walks (69) last season, earning a promotion to Triple-A at the tail end of just his second full year in the minors. Parker has a simple swing that's direct to the ball when he's going well, though it can get long and loopy at times. He has a capable feel for hitting and should keep putting up solid averages as he moves up, but his power might only be barely acceptable for a corner player. He'll probably settle in around 15-20 homers per year, but to get there, the A's want him to be more aggressive and swing with intent more consistently. He doesn't make much hard contact whenever he goes the other way. Parker cut down on his errors at the hot corner, going from 33 in 2010 to 20 last season, but he still tied for the most among TL third basemen. Despite the miscues, Oakland was encouraged by how hard he worked on his defense, and they believe he can become an average third baseman. The A's put him on a throwing program and he ironed out the unorthodox throwing motion he had in college, giving him a quality arm for the left side of the infield. Even if Parker has only fringy power for a third baseman, his bat should earn him a shot at the majors, possibly as soon as 2012, which he'll begin in Triple-A.
Andrew Bailey was Carignan's set-up man at Double-A Midland in 2008. While Bailey has gone on to become an all-star closer in Oakland, Carignan's career got stuck in neutral. He missed most of 2009 due to soreness in his forearm, followed by surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He returned to the mound in 2010 but wasn't the same, then had to fight through a pulled oblique muscle early in 2011. After all of his time on the sidelines, he emerged last season as a more polished pitcher, and he rocketed from high Class A to the majors. Carignan has a 94-96 mph with late life at 94-96 mph. More of a thrower in the past, he now shows a much better understanding of using a gameplan and executing pitches. He also does a better job of staying on line in his delivery, maintaining a consistent release point and moving the ball around the zone. He complements his heater with a knockout slider at 84-86 mph and a decent changeup that he isn't afraid to mix in. After breaking through last season, Carignan will enter 2012 with a chance to make Oakland's bullpen.
Cook never posted a sub-5.00 ERA in three seasons at Southern California, but he showed enough promise for the Diamondbacks to give him an $80,000 bonus after they took him in the 27th round of the 2008 draft. He had middling success as a starter in the lower minors before moving to the bullpen and zooming from Double-A to the majors last season, and the A's got him in the December deal that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona. Cook showed better stuff in shorter stints, though no one expected it to jump as much as it did. He worked with an 89-93 mph fastball as a starter and suddenly had a consistent 95-97 mph heater as a reliever, topping out at 101. His fastball has riding four-seam life. Cook can miss bats with a hard splitter that he throws at 88-91 mph. He also has an 85-88 mph slider with more lateral movement than depth. He can throw the slider for strikes, but he doesn't always command it in the strike zone. Improved overall command is Cook's biggest need. After a taste of the big leagues, he'll contend for a role in Oakland's bullpen.
Treinen took a circuitous route to pro ball. He began his college career in 2007 on the junior varsity at Baker (Kan.), an NAIA program, before attending Arkansas without playing baseball in 2008. Then he was off to South Dakota State, where he sat out 2009 because of NCAA transfer rules. Treinen showed impressive arm strength in 2010 and was a 23rd-round pick of the Marlins, but they backed off after a physical raised concerns about his shoulder. Treinen went 7-3, 3.00 as a senior in 2011 and went in the seventh round, making him South Dakota State's highest-drafted player since 1985. Signed for $52,5000, Treinen has a physical frame and hard stuff to go with it. He throws a heavy, sinking fastball at 92-97 mph. He complements the heater with an 82-86 mph slider with late, sharp break. He also throws a changeup, but it's definitely his third option and he doesn't fully trust it at this point. Treinen didn't need his changeup much while working as a reliever in his pro debut, but he'll go back to starting in 2012 and Oakland will make sure to emphasize it. He could be a No. 3 starter if his changeup comes around. Treinen has solid mechanics, using a standard three-quarters arm slot. He'll turn 24 next season, so Oakland may look to move him quickly and send him to high Class A.
Donaldson is the last player remaining in the A's organization from the four-prospect package received in the July 2008 trade that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs. Donaldson repeated Triple-A in 2011, improving on his batting average from 2010 and having another solid year in terms of power. Overly aggressive in the past, he cut down on his swing and started managing at-bats rather than just trying to crank home runs. He has a feel for taking balls the other way and at least average raw power, which stands out behind the plate. Donaldson was an infielder until his sophomore year at Auburn, when he moved to catching, and he saw intermittent action at third base last season. The A's liked what they saw from him at the hot corner and consider him an option there, but he's still primarily a catcher. He has a strong arm that's viable at either spot. He moves well blocking balls behind the plate, though his 14 errors were the most among Pacific Coast League catchers. He's a below-average runner but not bad for a catcher. In spring training, Donaldson will compete for the job as Kurt Suzuki's backup in Oakland. A third season in Triple-A wouldn't do much for his development.
A's area scout Neil Avent was once an assistant coach at UNC Greensboro, and Oakland has drafted five of its players since 2006. One of them was Gilliam, who worked mostly as a reliever in college and posted a 5.76 ERA as a junior. Scouts still liked his arm, though, and he received $105,000 from Oakland as a ninth-rounder in 2009. The A's believe Gilliam's rough 2011 season was another case of him showing better stuff than his numbers indicate, though he did tie A.J. Griffin for the most strikeouts in the system with 156. Gilliam has a 92-96 mph fastball, though it lacks movement. He found a new grip for his slider last season and it made a real difference for him, creating sharp, late break. His changeup is a work in progress, but he does show some feel for it and it has fading action. Gilliam still is learning the mental side of being a starter, especially when it comes to damage control and continuing to battle after giving up runs. Oakland lowered his arm slot slightly in instructional league, and he has good balance and direction in his delivery. Gilliam will move up to Double-A in 2012, and he could develop into a mid-rotation starter or power reliever.
Sogard, whose younger brother Alex pitches in the Astros system, was a .371 career hitter in three seasons at Arizona State. He netted $400,000 from the Padres as the 81st overall pick in 2007, and he has hit at every level of the minors. He and Kevin Kouzmanoff came to Oakland in a January 2010 trade that sent Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston to San Diego. Sogard's tools don't blow people away, but he has hitting ability. He has a quick swing, rarely gets fooled and sprays line drives all over the field. He has some gap power and showed an improved ability to turn on pitches when he got the chance last season. He controls the strike zone and puts together quality at-bats more consistently than any hitter in the system. He has walked more than he has struck out throughout his minor league career. The A's shifted Sogard to shortstop late in 2010, and he was Sacramento's full-time shortstop last season until he was called up to the majors last July. Sogard's average speed and fringy arm strength make him a better fit at second base, where he played for most of his first four pro seasons. He has put in a lot of work with A's infield coach Mike Gallego, and his ability to handle second, short and third base enhances his utility profile. Sogard will get a chance to fill that role for Oakland in 2012.
Souza looked to be on the verge of a breakout season after coming over from the Mariners in a trade for Jack Hannahan in 2009, but he was shut down late in 2010 with an elbow injury that required surgery. He also had to face the adversity of his younger brother dying of cystic fibrosis in January 2011. Once Souza joined Midland's bullpen last May, he looked like the pitcher the A's had gotten excited about in the fall of 2009. He pitches at 92-95 mph with his fastball and can dial it up to 97, though it's fairly straight. His slider and changeup can be major league quality when they're on, but he needs them to be more consistent. He can get the slider up to 86 mph, while the changeup has some depth to it at 83-85 mph. Souza was aggressive and controlled the strike zone when he was going well last year, though his command could still be tightened. Teams have toyed with using him as a starter in the past, but those days are over, given that his medical history also includes shoulder issues. Souza will return to Triple-A to open 2011 and could be an option in the big league bullpen in the near future, though he'll have to regain a place on the 40-man roster after losing it at the end of 2010.
Oakland signed only one high school player from last year's draft, and they may have made it count by landing Bostick. After getting picked in the 44th round, he spent last summer hitting .413/.503/.652 against older competition in the New York Collegiate League. The A's signed him in late July for $125,000. More advanced than a typical Northeast prep product, Bostick wowed the organization with his approach and how quickly he adjusted to the pro game. He consistently barrels balls and hits line drives from gap to gap, with a chance to develop some home run power as he gets older. Bostick has the potential to stick at shortstop and shows good instincts for the position, though he may wind up at second base. His arm action is a little long, but he's accurate and can make the throws from shortstop. Though his infield actions can be a little rough, he's a good athlete with above-average speed. Bostick might be advanced enough to handle an assignment to low Class A Burlington for his first full season. He's a few years away but shows promise as a well-rounded player.
Pan has done nothing but hit since coming to the United States in 2010. He was shortseason Vermont's leading hitter at .336 last season before he had to leave in late August to return to Taiwan to try out for the national team. Otherwise he would've risked losing his exemption from military service. Pan uses the kind of running, floating swing typical of Asian hitters, and he has an innate ability to square balls up and hit them from foul line to foul line. With the way he swings with his feet moving and front side leaking, he'll look bad at times, but he has solid bat speed and consistently hits line drives. He fits as a top-of-the-order hitter, as he runs well and has limited home run power. Pan was signed as a shortstop but spent most of his time at second base last year. His range and arm strength were questionable at shortstop, but he can be a plus defender at second. He has a short, quick release on his throws and is impressive turning double plays. Pan will at least move up to low Class A to open 2012, with an outside chance at playing his way to high Class A during spring training.
The A's scouted Nunez for three years before signing him for $2.2 million once he became eligible on July 2, 2010. In his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, he didn't post dominant numbers and was plagued by injuries, the most notable a concussion after being hit in the head with a pitch. Nunez has a balanced swing with tremendous bat control and a good swing path. Oakland believes he'll have power to all fields and he shows leverage in his swing, but it hasn't translated into results yet outside of batting practice. Nunez didn't focus much on his defense before signing and has some catching up to do on that side of the ball. He spent a lot of time working on his foot speed and agility last year, and they're getting closer to average. He has solid hands and average arm strength. The A's brought Nunez to the United States in the fall for instructional league. He didn't have much success on the field there, but they didn't expect him to and the purpose was more to get his feet wet than anything else. He'll return to the States in 2012 for spring training and then an assignment to the Rookie-level Arizona League.
The A's ponied up $4.25 million to sign Ynoa in 2008, a bonus that remains the largest in franchise history and was the largest ever for a Latin American amateur at the time. Arm injuries have limited him to all of nine innings in the three full years since. He missed the 2011 regular season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but he did get back on the mound in the fall at the team's Dominican complex. Ynoa's talent is apparent whenever he does pitch, but those times have been too few and far between. In the fall, he pitched at 92-94 mph with downhill angle on his fastball. He wasn't going all out when he threw his curveball, but it did show tight rotation. In the past, he had a curve that dropped off the table with late break. He also has a changeup with good arm speed and late sink. His mechanics are smooth and balanced. If healthy, Ynoa will pitch in the Arizona League or at Vermont in 2012. He still has frontline potential, but it's time he gets on the mound and shows it.
Ortiz' first full pro season in 2010 was interrupted by surgery on his throwing shoulder that August, and he didn't get back into games until late last May. When he did, he made quick work of the California League and made his Double-A debut in July. He already had an advanced feel for hitting and the ability to go to the opposite field. He used to be more of an upright swinger, and last season he started using his legs more. He was able to get down to the ball and drive it, and he has enough raw power to be a 20-homer threat. Ortiz's bat is ahead of his defense, which needs plenty of polish. He'll have to do a better job of getting down and blocking balls, and scouts aren't impressed with his receiving. He allowed 17 passed balls in just 68 games behind the plate in 2011. Ortiz showed an average arm before his surgery, but it hadn't come back last season, when he threw out just 17 percent of basestealers. He does receive high marks for his ability to handle a pitching staff. Ortiz's bat will give him a chance as long as he stays at catcher. He's a below-average runner, and his value will plummet if he ever has to move to another position. He'll return to Double-A to start 2012.
Signed for $925,000 as a seventh-round pick in 2009, Krol led the Midwest League in ERA (2.65) in his first full pro season. Injuries and off-field problems prevented him from building on that in 2011. Elbow soreness kept him on the shelf until midseason, when he began rehabbing in the Arizona League. His comeback was short-lived, however, as the A's was suspended Krol for making derogatory comments on Twitter, including a homophobic slur. It wasn't the first time he has had issues. He was suspended from his high school team his senior year for being found in the presence of alcohol. When he gets back on the mound in 2012, the A's expect Krol to be the same pitcher he was in 2010. He doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but his curveball and changeup can both be plus pitches. His heater works at 88-89 mph and peaks at 91, playing up because it has good life and he commands it to both sides of the plate. He can get swings and misses with his 11-to-5 curveball, and his changeup features sinking and tailing movement. Krol has quality mound presence, though his lack of projection leads scouts to believe his best-case scenario is as a mid-rotation starter.
Taylor batted .337 as a three-year starter at Central Florida and backstopped the Knights to their first NCAA regional appearance in seven years as a junior in 2011. He earned a $147,600 bonus as a fifth-rounder and handled himself well as he was pushed to low Class A in his pro debut. Taylor came to pro ball with a bit of an unorthodox approach and a wide open batting stance. That style had worked for him, but the A's got him to be more conventional in instructional league. That allowed him to see pitches better and get in better position to handle them. He uses all fields with a line-drive stroke but won't hit for a ton of power, and he hit just 16 homers over his college career. Taylor still has to learn the finer points of calling pitches, but the A's have liked what they've seen of his catching from a technical standpoint. He's agile and a solid receiver. His arm strength is solid and plays up thanks to great footwork, helping him throw out 39 percent of basestealers in his first summer in pro ball. He's a below-average runner. With Max Stassi ticketed for high Class A, Taylor likely will head back to Burlington to start his first full pro season.
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