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A prominent amateur player, Russell was one of just two underclassmen to play in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game. Athletics scouts were impressed at how he stood out playing with USA Baseball's 18U team, where he hit a grand slam in the gold-medal win against Canada in the 2011 Pan Am Championship in Colombia. In 2012, Oakland made him its first first-round pick out of high school since Jeremy Bonderman in 2001. The 11th overall pick, Russell signed for $2.625 million. After tearing up three levels in his pro debut in 2012, he earned an invitation to big league spring training in 2013, even though it wasn't stipulated in his contract. The A's gave him an aggressive assignment to high Class A Stockton, where he was the youngest player on a California League Opening Day roster by six months. Russell took some time to catch up with the speed of the league but responded to hit .305/.424/.555 in the second half, followed by a solid .282/.361/.435 showing in the Arizona Fall League. One of the game's premier shortstop prospects, Russell can do everything on the field while showing polish beyond his years. His swing hasn't required much tinkering since he entered pro ball, as he generates explosive bat speed and has the bat-to-ball skills to make consistent contact. During Russell's time in big league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin noted the quality of the shortstop's at-bats. He uses the whole field and stays inside the ball well. He already had a mature approach, but he chased fewer pitches and controlled the strike zone even better as the 2013 season went along. His 61 walks were the second most of any Stockton player, and he drew 34 free passes over 52 games in the second half. Russell has plenty of power for a shortstop, though he'll rate closer to average overall as he projects to continue producing 15-20 homers a season after clubbing 17 in 2013. Russell tried bulking up in high school to become more of a power hitter, but the extra muscle mass did little more than relegate him to third base with Team USA. As a result, he refocused his efforts on ensuring he could stay at shortstop, and few question his defensive future now. Russell has solid fundamentals and takes good angles to balls. His lower half works well, and he has the range and athleticism to make plenty of highlight-quality plays. He doesn't have a cannon for an arm, but it's strong enough for the position and plays up thanks to his quick transfer and accuracy. He runs well and steals bases efficiently. The question isn't if Russell will become the A's everyday shortstop, but when. Jed Lowrie and Nick Punto will hold down the position in 2014, but neither should stand in Russell's way when he's ready. Slated to open 2014 at Double-A Midland, he should debut in Oakland at some point in 2014 and be the regular shortstop in 2015.
The Athletics had not selected a prep hitter in the first round since Eric Chavez in 1996, but they went to that demographic in successive drafts by taking Addison Russell in 2012 and McKinney in 2013, signing the latter for $1.8 million. McKinney played through a dislocated shoulder his junior year while starring on the showcase circuit, then showed his offensive polish by hitting a combined .326/.387/.437 at two levels in his 2013 debut spent mostly in the Rookie-level Arizona League. It didn't take long for observers in pro ball to fall in love with his baseball aptitude and picturesque lefthanded swing. He shows advanced instincts both at the plate and in the field, with his tool set drawing Mark Kotsay comparisons. McKinney gets around on good fastballs but also has the bat control to handle offspeed stuff, and he hits balls hard from line to line. Scouts forecast his power to show up more down the road, projecting him for 15-20 homers. He doesn't have premium speed, but he's a good athlete and average runner. He gets good jumps and takes quality routes in the outfield, giving him a chance to stick in center field, though the pre-draft consensus was he'd have to move to a corner. His average could give him a chance in right if he can't stick in center, though many scouts see him as a left fielder. Though McKinney isn't bursting with elite tools, he doesn't have any real holes, either, and his quality work ethic helps his tools play. He starts the climb to Oakland at low Class A Beloit in 2014.
The Athletics took Choice 10th overall in 2010 on the strength of his power bat and signed him for $2 million. Since hitting 30 home runs in the high Class A California League in 2011, he hit just 24 the next two seasons combined. Choice hit a career-best .302 at Triple-A Sacramento in 2013 and made his big league debut in September. He has worked diligently to simplify his swing in pro ball, toning down the moving parts, a la Gary Sheffield, to give him a more direct path to the ball. The drop off in his homer production notwithstanding, Choice has plus raw power, with the bat speed and strength to hit balls out of any part of the park. He does take big hacks and will accumulate strikeouts, but he has good plate coverage and has sliced his strikeout rate from 25 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2013. Choice can play passable defense in center field but most likely ends up on a corner. His solid-average speed and arm strength make right field a good fit. He has the upside to be an impact bat at the major league level, even if he lands in a corner. Though he performed well in Sacramento in 2013, he has no obvious place in Oakland's outfield with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick from left to right. He faces a return to Triple-A in 2014.
The lowest-profile component of the three-player package the Athletics received from the Red Sox for Andrew Bailey in December 2011, joining the organization along with Josh Reddick and Miles Head, Alcantara now stands as Oakland's best pitching prospect after a big 2013. Hit hard in 2012, he dominated at low Class A Beloit in a followup. The A's attribute much of Alcantara's improvement to staying more on line to the plate and finishing his pitches better. He now throws with a smooth, repeatable delivery and commands the zone with fastballs that sit 92-93 mph and top out at 95. He sells his plus changeup with fading action well. He was able to turn his slider and curveball into distinct offerings last season, with the slider the more promising of the two, flashing plus at times. Scouts also noted a difference in Alcantara's mound presence, another issue in 2012. The A's added Alcantara to the 40-man roster after 2013, and he'll probably begin 2014 back at high Class A Stockton but could reach Double-A Midland at some point. He has the makings of a possible mid-rotation starter and could be ready for Oakland by mid-2015.
Injuries knocked Ynoa's career off the rails for the better part of three years, but he's finally regained most of his prospect luster. The star of the 2008 international class, he signed with the Athletics for a then-Latin American amateur record $4.25 million, but he lost all of the 2009 and 2011 seasons to injury, most notably Tommy John surgery. He didn't make his full-season debut until 2013 at low Class A Beloit. The A's monitored Ynoa's workload closely, limiting him to 55 pitches early in the season and maxing him out at 90 late, yet he managed to more than double his single-season total for innings. Scouts worry about some uprightness to his delivery, but he gets good downhill plane from his 6-foot-7 frame, throwing fastballs at 93-95 mph and peaking at 97. His changeup and inconsistent curveball both rate as solid-average and show the makings of being plus in the future. Ynoa's curve drops straight down with hard velocity in the low 80s when it's on, while the changeup shows some sink to the arm side. After losing so much development time, he still must enhance his feel and mound presence. With a healthy season and a trip to the Futures Game, Ynoa's stock rebounded in 2013, but his injury history is long. The A's will try to add another 30-40 innings to his workload 2014, which he'll open back at high Class A Stockton.
Nunez got onto scouts' radars in August 2009 when he hit .333/.385/.583 for Venezuela at the World Youth Championship. The Athletics were already onto him, however, and signed him the following July for $2.2 million. Nunez made his full-season debut as a 19-year-old in 2013, part of a youthful, talented low Class A Beloit infield, and he hit .278/.327/.496 with 13 homers in the first half before tailing off. His power potential started turning into game power in 2013, when his 19 homers more than doubled his career total (nine) from two years in Rookie ball. Nunez has as pure a swing as any hitter in the organization. He can cover all parts of the plate and hit balls hard to all fields. He has the ingredients to hit for high averages, but right now he's overly aggressive and too often gets himself in bad counts. Scouts have doubted Nunez's glove going back to his amateur days, and it remains an issue after he made 39 errors in 2013, the most among Midwest League third basemen. He does have a strong enough arm, but his hands and footwork are rough and his throwing accuracy erratic. A below-average runner, he's not a great athlete either, so Nunez's bat will have to carry him. He'll step up to high Class A Stockton in 2014.
The Indians tried drafting Muncy as a catcher out of high school in 2009, but he opted to attend Baylor instead, where he was a two-time all-Big 12 Conference selection as a first baseman. Signed for $240,000 in the fifth round in 2012, he had a banner first full season in 2013, leading the Athletics system in homers (25) and RBIs (100) while reaching Double-A Midland. A lack of power always has been the knock on Muncy, and while he hit 21 home runs at high Class A Stockton, he connected for 15 of those in home games in a park that favors lefthanders. Scouts view his hit tool more favorably, because his pitch-recognition skills are second-to-none in the system and his short swing allows him to stay inside the ball. Muncy struggled at Double-A Midland initially after his July promotion but improved steadily, hitting .296/.386/.490 in August. A playable defender at first base, he's a below-average runner who's fairly nimble around the bag and has enough arm strength that some scouts can envision left field as an option. The A's have shown no inclination to move him. After he finished the 2013 season in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .224/.350/.265, Muncy will return to Double-A in 2014.
The Brewers drafted Covey with the 14th pick in the 2010 draft but failed to sign him when he decided to attend San Diego after an August physical revealed he had Type 1 Diabetes. He had an inconsistent three-year run with the Toreros, posting a 5.05 ERA as a junior before landing with the Athletics in the 2013 draft and signing for $370,000. The A's believe they got a first-round caliber arm in the fourth round. Covey throws four quality pitches, led by a 90-95 mph fastball he throws with nice downhill angle. He has a power curveball with hard top-to-bottom break, and he can use it either as a put-away pitch or take a little off if he needs to get one over. His low- to mid-80s slider can be another strikeout pitch, and his changeup shows promise with the arm speed and fading action he generates. Covey throws with a smooth, easy motion and pounds the strike zone, though he does need to throw more quality strikes. Scouts felt he didn't always trust his stuff in college, but he pitched with more confidence against wood bats. Covey didn't execute as consistently with low Class A Beloit after signing and could head back there in 2014. The A's believe they got a big league starter and one of the 2013 draft's steals.
The Indians pushed hard to sign Wahl as a 39th-round pick out of high school but couldn't keep him from going to Mississippi. Entering spring 2013 as a potential first-round pick, he dealt with persistent blister issues on his right middle finger and pitched with diminished stuff. He still dominated nonetheless, going 10-0, 2.03 for the Rebels, though he lasted until the fifth round and signed with Oakland for $500,000. The Athletics limited Wahl to shorter stints after signing him and worked on shortening his delivery, and his stuff seemed to rebound. He demonstrated the arm strength to hit 97 mph in college, but he often worked at 89-92 for Ole Miss in 2013. He reverted back to the mid-90s over the summer, though, while his slider, the main culprit behind his blister problems, showed hard, late break. He also has a quality changeup with depth. Wahl uses both sides of the plate and generally keeps the ball down. Scouts see some effort in his delivery, though it does give him deception. Wahl has the three-pitch repertoire to be a starter, not to mention a successful track record as an ace in the Southeastern Conference. However, he shined as a closer for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team in 2012 with just his fastball and slider, and he could reach the majors fairly quickly as a reliever. He'll probably open 2014 at low Class A Beloit.
After taking Addison Russell in the first round in 2012, the Athletics continued their splurge on high school players by taking Robertson and first baseman Matt Olson in the sandwich round. Signed for $1.5 million, Robertson went to low Class A Beloit in 2013 and steadily picked up his production as the season went along, batting .314/.381/.495 with five homers in August. Robertson brings an advanced plate approach for his age. He takes short swings and is willing to hit balls to all fields. Projections on his power have varied going back to his high school days, but he has the physicality, bat speed and swing path to suggest he'll hit for quality power down the road. Robertson's skeptics don't believe he can stick at shortstop, though the A's believe he has a chance. He's a below-average runner but not a bad athlete. He has good hands and can make the throws on balls he gets to. Range is a question, but he compensates with his anticipation skills, instincts and internal clock. The A's laud Robertson's work ethic. A move to third base may be inevitable with Addison Russell ahead of him in the organization, and whether he will profile at third base depends on his power development. He moves to high Class A Stockton for 2014.
Sanburn has the potential to be one of the Athletics' most exciting pitching prospects, but he hasn't had many chances to show it. Used as a reliever at Arkansas, he threw just 73 innings in two seasons before he signed for $710,000 as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2012. A shoulder strain in 2013 prevented him from joining low Class A Beloit until mid-July. The A's kept him on a regular schedule of working two innings every four days, then built him up to three-inning outings in instructional league. Sanburn remains inexperienced on the mound but has the four-pitch mix to be a starter with two plusses. His fastball is electric at 93-94 mph and touches 96 with riding life, and his curveball shows impressive depth while coming in hard in the high 70s. He'll also flash a quality sinking changeup at times and has some feel for using it. Even his fourth pitch, a slider, features promising tight spin. Sanburn has the athleticism and delivery to hold up as a starter, but after years as a reliever, he's still learning to pace himself and develop a starter's routine. His upside is immense if everything comes together. The A's will keep building up Sanburn's innings in 2014 at high Class A Stockton.
Olson put together a lengthy, impressive r?sum? in high school. He hit a home run off Max Fried, the No. 7 pick in the 2012 draft, and starred both at the plate and on the mound as his Parkview High squad finished the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in the country. The third of the Athletics' trio of premium high-school picks in 2012, along with Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson, Olson went 47th overall and signed for $1,079,700. Playing alongside fellow teenagers Robertson and Renato Nunez at low Class A Beloit in 2013, Olson's first full season was a mixed bag. He finished second in the Midwest League in homers (23) and fifth in walks (72) but also second in strikeouts (148). With his big frame, Olson has evident raw power. He generates good leverage and hits balls hard to all parts of the park. Singled out for his natural feel for hitting in high school, he tended to get too pull-conscious in 2013, working plenty of deep counts and causing his strikeouts to spike. Olson doesn't have much foot speed, but he's a solid defender at first base and has a strong arm for the position. He has the upside to be a middle-of-the-order presence, but he'll have to address his contact issues as he moves up. He'll team with Nunez and Robertson again at high Class A Stockton in 2014.
Healy's seven-figure asking price caused him to go undrafted out of high school in 2010, though he got considerable buzz by tearing up the California Collegiate League the summer before his freshman season at Oregon. He also drew interest as a pitching prospect in high school, though he focused on hitting with the Ducks. After hitting just eight homers over his first two seasons, Healy belted 11 as a junior while batting .333/.408/.566, and the Athletics signed him for $500,000 out of the third round of the 2013 draft. He struggled in his pro debut at short-season Vermont in 2013, but he has a quick bat and the loft in his swing to be a power threat, potentially settling in with 20-plus homers. He's got a big, physical frame that still has some room to add more muscle. There are promising signs in his feel for hitting and willingness to use the whole field, though he got out of sync over the summer. Oregon used Healy primarily at first base, but the A's are going to try him at third. He's a below-average runner, and his range is a question at third, as is his arm. Wherever he winds up defensively, Healy's bat will be what carries him through the system. With Renato Nunez and Matt Olson slated to man the infield corners at high Class A Stockton, Healy likely will begin 2014 at low Class A Beloit.
Overton and No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Gray formed a dominant one-two punch atop the Oklahoma rotation in 2013, though it was Overton who ranked higher on draft boards entering the season. While Gray surged, Overton had a solid junior year, going 9-3, 3.02, but he had to deal with a forearm strain in the middle of the season. That strain turned out to be the tip of the iceberg and Overton needed Tommy John surgery after signing for $400,000, the smallest bonus of any second-round pick in 2013. Overton showed first-round-caliber stuff at points during his college career. Though he has a skinny frame, he was able to run his fastball up to 95 mph at times. He pitched more often at 88-90 mph in 2013. His 78-80 mph changeup is a legitimate plus pitch with fading movement. He also broke out a much-improved curveball in 2013, featuring late, tight break in the mid-70s. Overton pitches with some crossfire to his delivery, though scouts like his loose arm action and he has no trouble pounding the zone. His motion does give him some deception, which along with his advanced feel for pitching allowed him to succeed despite diminished velocity. If Overton's velocity comes all the way back and he has no further health problems, he has the components to be a frontline starter. He won't make his professional debut until June 2014 at the earliest and the Athletics will be careful with him.
Pinder, the 71st overall pick in 2013, became the highest-drafted Virginia Tech position player since Franklin Stubbs went 19th overall in 1982. A .321 career hitter in college, Pinder was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference pick in 2013 after hitting .321/.404/.483 with eight homers, and he signed for $750,000 out of the supplemental second round. His father Chris was a pitcher for four seasons in the Orioles and Indians systems from 1987-90. Pinder played the bulk of his college career at third base, but he did make 17 starts at shortstop as a junior, and the Athletics are giving him a chance to play the position as a pro. He has a chance to stick there due to solid hands, a good transfer and a strong, accurate arm. His fringy range could push him to second base if shortstop doesn't work out. Pinder's bat profiles better as a middle infielder because he lacks profile corner power to fit at third base. He does generate good bat speed and has a nice path to the ball, but the A's would like to see him use a little better load in his swing. He's shown a feel for hitting in the past, but he struggled to adjust to the speed of pro ball at short-season Vermont in 2013. Shoulder and oblique injuries that cost him a month didn't help. The A's hope to see Pinder's offense show up more frequently in 2014, probably at low Class A Beloit.
Finnegan's arm strength made him a prominent attraction for scouts heading into 2013, but he struggled to find consistent success and even lost his place in Texas State's weekend rotation, finishing the college season 5-3, 4.66. Getting Finnegan into pro ball after signing him for $200,000 in the sixth round, the Athletics turned him around quickly, and he posted a strong summer at short-season Vermont. He took too long a stride in his delivery, which made it hard for him to finish and hurt his command, so Oakland shortened him up and he started throwing more strikes. His fastball remains his best pitch, showing late run to go with 92-93 mph velocity, and he can top out at 97. The A's continued the overhaul by turning his slurvy breaking ball into more of a true curveball with downward movement. It's a solid-average breaking ball now and shows plus at times. Finnegan hardly threw his changeup in college, but the A's had him focus on it as well and it's become a useable weapon. His athleticism and body type draw comparisons with Tim Hudson. The A's were excited about how he embraced the concepts they were teaching him, and he'll open 2014 at low Class A Beloit but could move up quickly if he performs.
The Athletics haven't shied away from spending big money on Latin American amateurs, dropping millions on players like Renato Nunez and Michael Ynoa, but they might have found a bargain in Herrera. The righthander cost just $20,000 to sign out of Venezuela in December 2011 and has become one of Oakland's more intriguing young arms after showing advanced stuff in his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2013. Herrera's not particularly physical, standing only 5-foot-10, but he's athletic and has some room to add strength. His fastball already sits at 90-91 mph and can hit 94. The velocity he has plays up because of his ability to sink the ball and command it to both sides of the plate. He showed exceptional control for his age and experience level. Herrera's secondary pitches, a curveball and changeup, both rate as solid-average for now. The changeup flashes plus potential at times, and the A's believe his curve can become a putaway weapon in the future. Herrera has solid, repeatable mechanics and draws praise for his composure on the mound. He has the makings of a solid big league starter and should have a chance to open 2014 at low Class A Beloit, with a return to short-season Vermont a fallback option.
Signed for $125,000 in the 44th round in 2011, Bostick was the old man of the low Class A Beloit infield in 2013, playing beside teenagers Renato Nunez, Matt Olson and Daniel Robertson. The Athletics love the energy he brings to the park, and his hitting garners comparisons with former big leaguer Junior Spivey. Bostick has a simple, sound swing with good plate coverage and the ability to hit line drives all over the field. He has legitimate bat speed and enough sneaky pop to keep pitchers honest. Beloit plays in one of the Midwest League's more homer-friendly parks, and 12 of his 14 long balls came at home. He's a good athlete with solid-average speed and basestealing instincts who led the A's system with 25 stolen bases. Drafted as a shortstop, Bostick moved to second base as a pro and has the raw tools, including adequate arm strength, to play the middle infield, but his defense is rough. He tied for the most errors among Midwest League second basemen in 2013 with 22. He may not have the consistency to play shortstop well enough even in a utility role. He'll move up to high Class A in 2014.
Kohler spent most of his time growing up as a position player. By his own admission, he didn't start thinking of himself as more of a pitcher than hitter until his junior year of high school. His future is most certainly on the mound, though. The Athletics used the compensation pick they received for not signing 2012 third-rounder Kyle Twomey to take Kohler 106th overall in 2013, then signed him away from an Oklahoma commitment for $486,600. He pitches with a 90-92 mph fastball, touching 93, and has room to add strength to his frame and velocity. What he lacks in power he makes up for with aptitude and his secondary stuff. His 1-to-7 curveball has the potential to be a plus pitch down the road, and he has good feel for his changeup. Kohler has a polished delivery and a level of pitchability well beyond his years. He has confidence in all his pitches and will use them in any count. He already shows he can fill the zone and could develop true plus command. If Kohler does add some velocity, he could have a very high ceiling. The A's won't rush him, but he looks advanced enough to handle an assignment to low Class A Beloit in 2014.
Boyd was more raw than the Athletics' other high-profile 2012 high school draft picks, having also been a football recruit as a running back/wide receiver at Palo Alto High. Baseball was his first choice, however, and he signed with Oakland as a fourth-rounder for $300,000. Given his relative inexperience, Boyd stayed behind in extended spring training in 2013 before joining short-season Vermont. The youngest regular in the Lake Monsters' lineup, he hit .331/.399/.531 through the end of July before tailing off. Boyd struggled to maintain his swing mechanics at times at Vermont, but when he was going well he showed a balanced swing with nice wrist action. He has some feel for hitting and is willing to use the whole field, though he'll lapse into getting pull happy like most young hitters. Boyd does have some physicality and sneaky power. With above-average speed, he profiles as a table-setting center fielder, though he primarily played left field in 2013. His routes in center need refinement and his arm grades below-average. Boyd should move to center and up to low Class A Beloit in 2014.
Leon began 2013 by touching off a veritable international incident. Pitching for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, his plunking of Canada's Rene Tosoni in the late innings of a blowout loss for the Mexicans led to a nasty benches-clearing brawl. Despite that ignominious beginning, Leon had a strong season, converting to starting three years removed from Tommy John surgery and throwing a lot of quality strikes. Leon has the weapons to pitch in a rotation with three usable pitches. His 92-93 mph fastball, which hit 96 out of the bullpen, could use more movement, but he can command it to both sides of the plate. He gets good arm speed and fading action on his changeup, his best secondary pitch. He uses a cutter-type slider as his primary breaking ball. He can also mix in the occasional slow, loopy curveball that he throws for strikes. The Athletics like Leon's smooth delivery, and he works with a good tempo on the mound. He'll sometimes open up too early in his motion, costing him deception especially against lefthanders, who torched him for a .348 average in 2013. A member of the Oakland 40-man roster, Leon's strong finish at Triple-A Sacramento in 2013 (3-1, 2.95 in August) has him positioned to make his big league debut in 2014.
The Athletics have unquestionably come out ahead on the December 2011 deal that sent Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox for Head, Josh Reddick and Raul Alcantara, but Head had a lost season in 2013. Signed by Boston for an above-slot $335,000 in 2009, Head was a smashing success in his first full season with the A's in 2012, winning the organization's minor league player of the year award after hitting .333/.391/.577 across two levels. Not the most athletic player to begin with, he came into camp in 2013 out of shape, and shoulder problems limited him to 40 games for Double-A Midland. Despite the setback, Head has undeniable natural hitting ability. He has a calm presence at the plate and takes short, compact swings. He can barrel up balls in all parts of the strike zone with the strength to be a 20-homer hitter. His contact skills worked against him at times last year, as he needs to show more patience and learn what pitches he can drive. The Red Sox played Head at first base, where his subpar athleticism is less of a factor, but the A's are trying to have him make a go of it at third thanks to his plus arm. Head will return to Midland in 2014.
Aliotti comes from a football family. His father Joe is an assistant coach at California prep power De La Salle High, and his uncle Nick is the University of Oregon's defensive coordinator. Anthony stuck to baseball, and he's slowly built up his prospect status. He hit a combined .318/.432/.403 in three years at St. Mary's, but the lack of sock in his bat--he hit just seven homers in his entire college career--caused him to last until the 15th round of the 2009 draft. He's made strides toward addressing that deficiency, and the results showed in his combined 14 homers at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento in 2013. Aliotti always has possessed the ability to control the strike zone and a feel to hit, but he's added some loft to his stroke and now takes authoritative swings more often, rather than settling for singles. Though he's a below-average runner, he's an outstanding fielder and has been voted his league's best defensive first baseman by managers each of the last three years. Though he was left off the 40-man roster, Aliotti might one day fit into Oakland's platoon-friendly approach to the lineup. He hit .360/.444/.540 against righthanders at Double-A and Triple-A in 2013.
Shipman was viewed as too physically immature to garner much attention for most of his high school career, but he took off as a senior and landed a $500,000 bonus. Shipman entered the system offering a promising array of tools, but he's battled injuries the last couple years and has yet to really take off. He missed much of the first half of 2013 with low Class A Beloit due to a shoulder problem but did come back to hit .314/.417/.361 after returning in late June. Shipman has a sweet lefthanded swing with an up-the-middle approach. He's always been able to control the strike zone, posting consistently strong walk-to-strikeout rates, but it's been a constant battle for the A's as they try to turn up his aggressiveness. He hasn't homered as a pro and has succeeded on just 61 percent of stolen base attempts the last two seasons. He played left field primarily in 2013 but is capable of playing all three spots with above-average speed and arm strength. The A's hope the offensive environment at high Class A Stockton encourages Shipman to start unlocking his top-of-the-order potential.
A two-way player at Ohio, Streich was more successful as a college hitter but a better prospect on the mound. The Athletics signed him for $183,500 as a 2012 sixth-rounder, and he struggled in the first half of 2013 before finishing strong until he was shut down to control his innings. He throws a solid three-pitch mix, beginning with a low-90s sinking fastball he throws with good plane and easy effort. He has an average changeup that flashes plus at times with cutting action, but most of his improvement in 2013 came from the strides he made with his curveball. As the season went on, Streich did a better job of staying on line and getting over his front side in his delivery, helping him drive the ball down, all of which added up to a better curve. The improved breaking ball should help boost his modest strikeout totals. He doesn't have any problems throwing strikes, particularly with the fastball and changeup. The A's will look for Streich to maintain the consistency of his delivery and pitches as he moves up to high Class A Stockton in 2014.
Driver gave up football to focus solely on pitching after his sophomore year at Wenatchee High, and he looked poised to be one of the elite high school arms in the 2013 draft class after a strong showing at the 2012 Area Code Games. His stock dropped in the spring leading up to the draft, though, and he wasn't taken until the seventh round by the Athletics. Oakland still had to spend $500,000 to keep Driver from going to UCLA, his bonus matching Ryon Healy's and Bobby Wahl's as the third-largest in the A's draft class. Driver has physicality and a short arm action that helps his plus fastball jump on hitters. His heater sits in the low 90s and touches 96-97. His secondary stuff involves plenty of projection. He has focused on a curveball as a pro, shelving his slider, and both his curve and changeup are inconsistent, flashing average. The A's worked on straightening out his delivery after signing him, treating his stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League as a sort of spring training after he'd had a seven-week layoff before signing. Driver has solid upside, but he needs a lot of innings. He'll stay in extended spring training to start 2014, followed by an assignment to short-season Vermont.
Taylor has been a fixture of Athletics prospects lists ever since coming to the organization in December 2009, when the Phillies sent him to the Blue Jays with Kyle Drabek and Travis d'Arnaud for Roy Halladay, with Toronto then flipping him to Oakland for Brett Wallace. In 2013, Taylor put up another solid season with Triple-A Sacramento, with his 18 homers his best total since 2009, but he was only given a couple brief callups in April and May, and Oakland opted not to bring him up in September during the playoff race. Taylor remains much the same hitter he's always been, with tantalizing raw power but a line-drive approach that doesn't maximize it. He has a physical, imposing 6-foot-5 frame and gets good bat speed and leverage in his stroke. Yet he continues to frustrate scouts, as he always has, by taking passive swings and not looking to drive more balls. His defense is good enough to be an asset in right field, where he has a strong arm and gets good enough jumps on balls to make up for a lack of above-average speed. Taylor still possesses the potential to be a serviceable major league outfielder, but it looks increasingly doubtful that opportunity will come in Oakland. He remains on the club's 40-man roster but is out of minor league options as he heads into 2014 spring training.
Maxwell dominated NCAA Division III competition, and the Athletics made him the highest-drafted D-III player since Jason Hirsh in 2003 when they chose him 62nd overall in 2012. Primarily a first baseman in college, Maxwell was drafted as a catcher, but his receiving isn't pretty. His 17 passed balls in 83 games in 2013 were a vast improvement on 18 in just 38 games in 2012. His hands and agility have improved, and he's embraced the work it takes to get better. Opponents ran on him because a hitch in his throwing motion mitigates his average arm strength, and he caught just 16 percent of the 103 basestealers who tested him last year at low Class A Beloit and high Class A Stockton. Maxwell's swing takes a good plane through the zone, and he has the physicality and bat speed to produce solid power numbers. He controls the plate well, and the A's believe all his work on his defense detracted a bit from his offense. If his catching works out, Maxwell offers outstanding value as a capable lefty-hitting catcher. He may start 2014 back at Stockton but could move quicker considering the organization's lack of catching depth.
Peters broke out as a junior for Nevada-Las Vegas in 2011, going 9-4, 1.50 as the Mountain West Conference pitcher of the year. Spending all of 2013 in the high Class A Stockton rotation, he was a workhorse, logging the most innings of any California League pitcher (166) and ranking second in strikeouts (159). While he's undersized and doesn't have huge upside, Peters gives himself a chance with four solid-average pitches and feel for his craft. His fastball sits at 88-91 mph, sometimes touching 92, and he gets good sink on it to pound the bottom half of the zone. When he misses up, he's homer-prone. His changeup is the closest thing he has to a plus pitch, and with its deception and good fading action it does garner a few plus grades from scouts. He throws his curveball for strikes but realized he needed a quicker breaking ball and added a slider during the season. The Athletics laud Peters for being a quick learner and good self-evaluator. He repeats his delivery and added some deception in 2013 when the team moved him to the third-base side of the rubber. He will move up to Double-A Midland in 2014 and projects as a back-end starter or middle reliever.
Akau already has excelled in the face of big-time pressure. He helped lead his team from Waipio, Hawaii, to the 2008 Little League World Series title, homering in the championship game against Mexico. He went on to play his prep baseball at St. Louis High in Honolulu, the same school that produced Dodgers righthander Brandon League, and was committed to the University of Hawaii before the Athletics signed him for an above-slot $375,000 in the 20th round of the 2013 draft. The A's see in Akau shades of another Hawaiian catcher who came through their system, Kurt Suzuki. He's best known for his defense, while his offensive upside looks fairly limited. He's highly agile behind the plate and an advanced receiver, and the A's like how he takes charge of games. His arm strength and transfer on his throws are solid as well. Offensively, he has a sound fundamental swing with limited power potential. The A's would like him to get stronger, but even then he'll likely always have below-average power. Akau profiles as a catch-and-throw backup, and will compete for a spot at low Class A Beloit in 2014.
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