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Before Russell became the Athletics' 2012 first-round pick and top prospect, he had to transform himself. The starting shortstop for Pace (Fla.) High since he was a freshman, he bulked up to add power but scouts started comparing him to Juan Uribe. Getting moved from short to third base while playing for Team USA's 18-and-under team in the summer of 2011 lit a fire under him to shed the extra weight, and he dropped nearly 30 pounds between then and the spring of 2012. Along the way, Russell earned back the shortstop job with Team USA and caught Oakland's attention at the 18-and-under Pan Am Championship in Colombia in November 2011. He belted a grand slam in the gold medal game and hit .364/.481/.614 for the tournament. Despite a solid but somewhat modest high school senior season, Russell went 11th overall in the 2012 draft and gave up an Auburn commitment for a bonus of $2.625 million. He excelled in his pro debut, batting .415 in the Rookie-level Arizona League and getting all the way to low Class A Burlington by the end of the summer. When scouts describe Russell, the adjectives that come up the most are "aggressive" and "explosive." He combines quick hands with tremendous barrel accuracy, enabling him to make consistent hard contact. He hits line drives all over the field with projectable power. It's more like sneaky power right now, though one club official compares Russell's home run upside to that of Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who went deep 25 times in 2012. Russell goes to the plate looking to attack the ball. He's vulnerable to chasing breaking pitches away from him, like most young hitters, but his hand-eye coordination and swing should allow him to hit for high averages as he learns to lay off those pitches. Once a kid with a softer body, he now has a leaner, stronger frame and above-average speed. From home to first base, some scouts have graded him as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. As aggressive on the bases as he is at the plate, he stole 16 bases in 18 tries in his pro debut. Once he learns the nuances of basestealing, he could develop into a threat to swipe 20-30 bags annually in the major leagues. Russell has eliminated questions about whether he can stay at shortstop. He's a quality athlete with good range, particularly to his left. His actions could stand to be a little cleaner, but he's already a reliable defender who made just 10 errors in his first 48 pro games last summer. He has solid arm strength and a quick release. In addition to all of his physical tools, the A's also love Russell's makeup. He's focused and driven to succeed. Russell has the makings of a big-time shortstop who can affect a game in multiple ways with his power, speed and defense. The A's believe he could advance through the system quickly after seeing how well he handled two promotions in his pro debut, though he'll still likely be ticketed for Oakland's new low Class A Beloit affiliate to start the 2013 season, where he should be joined by fellow premium high school picks Daniel Robertson and Matt Olson. He may only need a couple of years in the minors and could be the franchise's best shortstop since former American League MVP Miguel Tejada.
After setting a Texas-Arlington record with 34 career home runs, Choice became the highest-drafted player in school history when he went 10th overall in 2010. Signed for $2 million, he led the high Class A California League with 30 homers in his first full pro season. He started slowly in 2012 while making adjustments to his swing. He was heating up before an errant pitch broke his left hand on July 21, ending his season. Choice has plenty of strength, and his quick wrists generate blinding bat speed and towering home runs. He's capable of hitting balls out to any part of the park. He has worked diligently to cut down on excess movement in his swing, shortening his stroke and creating a better bat path. He still has trouble with breaking pitches and may strike out too much to hit for a high average. Choice isn't a burner, but he's a solid runner who gets the job done in center field thanks to his good reads and jumps. If he has to move, he'd slide over to left field because he has fringy arm strength. Choice may start 2013 back in Double-A Midland but could advance to Triple-A Sacramento quickly if things go well. He could force his way into Oakland's outfield plans for 2014.
A potential first-rounder going into 2010, Cole slid but still netted a fourth-round-record $2 million bonus from the Nationals. After coming to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez trade last offseason, Cole ranked last in the California League with a 7.82 ERA before he was demoted to low Class A in May. Following a rough first start, he smoothed out his mechanics in Burlington and would have led the Midwest League in ERA (2.07) if he had logged enough innings to qualify. Cole's fastball ranges from 92-97 mph with some sinking and cutting action. His slurvy curveball lacks consistency because he keeps tinkering with grips for it, but it shows good bite when it's on and he tightened its rotation in instructional league. He has nice feel for his changeup, which has some fade and improved after his demotion. Cole's Cal League problems came because he opened up too quickly in his delivery, dragged his arm and over-rotated, and left pitches up in the strike zone. The A's like how he comes after hitters. With his power arm, Cole has more upside than any A's pitching prospect and projects as a possible frontline starter. He'll get another crack at Stockton to open 2013.
A high school shortstop drafted as a catcher, Peacock signed for $110,000 as a draft-and-follow pitcher in 2007. He broke out in 2011, when he was the Double-A Eastern League's pitcher of the year and made his big league debut with the Nationals. Part of the package for Gio Gonzalez, Peacock had his worst pro season in 2012. Peacock pitched up in the zone too frequently in 2012. The A's tried to remedy the issue by having him keep his shoulders more level and eliminate a tilt in his delivery, but the changes didn't have the desired effect and he went back to his old mechanics. When he's going well, he still shows three quality pitches. Peacock's fastball works at 91-95 mph but lacks movement, underscoring the need for better command. He also flashes a sharp curveball and a changeup with depth. He has added a slider/cutter hybrid to help induce weak contact, but it remains a work in progress. The A's consider 2012 a transition year for Peacock, who may have put too much pressure on himself while a parade of other young pitchers made it to Oakland. They still expect big things from him, though he'll likely be back in Triple-A to open 2013.
Gray is accustomed to success, having led Smyrna (Tenn.) High to state baseball and football championships and Vanderbilt to its first-ever College World Series in 2011. But after signing for $1.54 million as the 18th overall pick that June, he struggled for most of his first full pro season. Gray tends to spin off as he finishes his delivery, so the A's tried to get him more on line to the plate. His command suffered and his pitches flattened out, leading him to return to his old mechanics in the second half. His pure stuff isn't a problem, as he has a 91-95 mph fastball that reaches 97 and features some sink and natural cutting action. He also has a knockout curveball, and he can vary both its velocity (76-84 mph) and shape. His changeup has depth but he still doesn't fully trust it. He needs to do a better job of setting hitters up. Gray did finish last season on a solid note, pitching well in a Triple-A playoff game. He'll go back to Sacramento to open 2013 and still can reach his ceiling of a No. 2 starter as long as he irons out his command.
Straily was once cut from his high school team and received only one offer to play Division I baseball, from Marshall. Signed for $12,500 as a 24th-rounder in 2009, he didn't emerge on the prospect radar until 2012, when he took the minors by storm. He led all minor leaguers with 190 strikeouts in 152 innings and reached the majors in August, making seven solid starts. Straily's greatest strength is his command of four pitches. He mixes them well and can locate them to every part of the strike zone. His fastball doesn't overpower hitters, but he maintains his 91-92 mph velocity deep into games and touches 95. Straily's slider and changeup are his two best offerings and account for the bulk of his strikeouts. His slider has good depth, while his changeup is a weapon against lefthanders with its armside run and his deceptive arm speed. His curveball is below-average, though it's still useful as an early-count offering. Since turning pro, he has gotten better at staying on line to the plate and maintaining his conditioning. Though Straily's stuff may not be loud enough for a frontline starter, he can be a dependable mid-rotation presence. He has the inside track on a big league job in 2013.
The best pure hitter in the 2009 Georgia high school class, Head signed for an above-slot $335,000 as Boston's 26th-round pick. The Red Sox sent him, Josh Reddick and righthander Raul Alcantara to the A's for Andrew Bailey in December 2011. Head led Oakland farmhands in hitting (.333) and RBIs (84) while finishing second in homers (23) in his first season in the system. Head's swing isn't graceful, but it's quick and compact. He has outstanding bat control and the ability to barrel pitches in all parts of the strike zone. He has strong wrists and great bat speed, giving him the power to profile on a corner. Head played first base for the Red Sox but the A's shifted him to third base, his high school position. He has enough arm and can make routine plays at the hot corner, but his lack of range and athleticism leave his ability to stick there in question. He's a well below-average runner. The A's will soldier on with Head at third base after having him work on speed and quickness during the offseason. He planned on playing in the Arizona Fall League but left after one game when he strained his left shoulder taking a swing. He was too aggressive and less productive after his promotion to Double-A, so he'll return there to begin 2013.
Green has had no issues at the plate since Oakland signed him for $2.75 million as the 13th overall pick in 2009, batting .302/.348/.461 in the minors. But he has journeyed all over the diamond in a quest to find a defensive home. He started as a shortstop and played five different positions in 2012 before settling on second base. Green is a pure hitter who can recognize and square up a variety of pitches. He has an easy, line-drive stroke and makes hard contact to all fields. The A's looked to get him to drive more balls by widening his stance after the 2011 season, and while that helped, his power still won't be better than average. Green looked more comfortable than he had through his series of position changes. His arm was a question mark at shortstop but is fine at second base, and he has good hands, enough range and solid instincts for turning the double play. He's an average runner. With Cliff Pennington departing in a trade for Chris Young, Green will compete with Jemile Weeks for the A's second-base job in spring training. Oakland added Green to its 40-man roster in November. While he may not have an impact bat, he'll provide enough offense to be a solid regular.
The second of the three high schoolers Oakland took at the top of its 2012 draft, Robertson signed for $1.5 million as the 34th overall pick. In his debut, he hit well in the Arizona League and earned a promotion to short-season Vermont, but he ran out of gas in August and tailed off markedly. Robertson stands out as an instinctive hitter who's advanced for his age. He has a fluid swing with natural timing and rhythm. He mostly has gap power for now, but he shows flashes of something more. Some scouts believe he could have above-average power in time. He projects as a third baseman, though the A's gave him some time at shortstop when he wasn't playing alongside 2012 first-rounder Addison Russell. Robertson has reliable hands and solid arm strength, but his lack of speed makes him a better fit at the hot corner. Robertson is comfortable at third and should spend most of his time there when he teams with Russell in low Class A in 2013.
Olson hit 17 homers as a junior at Parkview High (Lilburn, Ga.) and 11 more as a senior in 2012, including one off Max Fried, the seventh overall pick in the draft. After leading Parkview to the No. 1 national ranking--he won the first game of the Georgia 5-A state finals as a pitcher and the second with a homer--Olson went 40 picks after Fried and signed for $1,079,700. Olson offers a premium blend of power and natural hitting ability. He has a short, easy lefthanded swing and has shown he can get around on quality inside fastballs. With a big, physical frame, he should have above-average usable power. In high school, his stroke was flatter and most of his homers were line drives. Since signing, he has added more leverage to his swing and looked to loft more balls. Olson is a below-average runner but shows good reactions and hands on defense, leading the A's to believe he can be a plus defender at first base. He also pitched in high school and would have been a two-way player at Vanderbilt, so his arm is solid. The A's see Olson as a future middle-of-the-order hitter. He'll form part of talented Beloit infield with Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson in 2013.
Mainly a position player in high school, Sanburn was a fringy prospect as a hitter but started showing the makings of a big fastball at the East Coast Pro Showcase in 2009. He turned down the Tigers as a 34th-round pick out of high school and went to Arkansas, where he pitched out of the bullpen before the A's made him a second-round pick and signed him for $710,000 as an eligible sophomore in 2012. Though he was a reliever in college, Oakland looks at his four-pitch mix and efficient delivery and sees a starter. Sanburn works his fastball at 93-97 mph and can touch 99. He backs up his heater with a hard 12-to-6 curveball that's another plus pitch. He has shown feel for a changeup with downward action. The A's are working to turn his slider into more of a cutter, and the pitch shows promise operating in the mid-80s. Sanburn still has much to learn about being a starter, though. He pitches with a closer's intensity, sometimes getting too amped up. His fastball command has to get better, as he's not efficient enough with his pitches to work deep into games. While Sanburn lacks experience pitching in a rotation, the bright side is that he has low mileage on his arm. Oakland believes he has the upside of a frontline starter. He'll go to low Class A for his first full pro season, with a target of 100-120 innings.
The A's kept a watchful eye on Nunez since he was 13 and signed him for $2.2 million as soon as he was eligible as a 16-year-old on July 2, 2010. After an underwhelming pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2011, he had a big summer in the Arizona League in his 2012 U.S. debut, tying for second in the league in RBIs (42) and ranking fifth in slugging (.550). Nunez has a chance to have an impact bat, displaying above-average bat speed with the torque and leverage in his swing for power potential. He doesn't get cheated either, taking aggressive hacks. He did make progress last year with shortening his swing and not flying open, and he shows feel for hitting. Nunez is a below-average runner and defender. He works hard on his third base play and has shown improvement. His arm is strong and accurate enough to keep him at the hot corner, but he makes too many careless errors and has to focus better. Nunez should step up to Vermont in 2013.
Figueroa was rated Oakland's best pitching prospect entering the 2010 season, but his slow development ground to a halt when he needed Tommy John surgery that June. He missed the second half of 2010 and almost all of 2011. When he resurfaced last season, the A's made him a reliever to keep him healthy. He found his old form, excelling in Triple-A and reaching the majors. He made Oakland's postseason roster but didn't pitch in the Division Series. Figueroa throws harder than most lefthanders, with a fastball that sits at 96-97 mph and touches 99 when he comes out of the bullpen. He has a second quality pitch in his hard, late-breaking slider, and he throws a changeup with some armside run. Figueroa whips the ball with a slingshot arm action. He has average control and fringy command, getting into trouble when he pitches up in the strike zone and falls behind in the count. The A's still are considering giving him another chance at starting, though his health and their needs will dictate his role. He could open 2013 in Oakland's bullpen or Sacramento's rotation.
Stassi's baseball bloodlines go back to his great-great uncle Myril Hoag, who played 13 seasons in the majors in the 1930s and '40s. His father Jim reached Triple-A with the Giants and his brother Brock is a first baseman in the Phillies system. Max netted a $1.5 million bonus in 2009, but injuries have slowed his pro career. He put two years of right shoulder problems behind him with surgery in May 2011, then missed time last year with ankle and oblique maladies. Stassi has a simple swing with few moving parts and a short load and stride. His pitch recognition and the quality of his at-bats have improved, but he still tends to press and is susceptible to chasing pitches up in the strike zone or down and away. Oakland believes there's enough power in his bat to hit 15-20 home runs a season. Stassi's defense always has been advanced for his age, and he continues to receive high marks for his receiving and ability to handle pitchers. He has an accurate arm and its strength has continued getting better since his injuries, rating close to average. He threw out 24 percent of basestealers in 2012. After a stint in the Arizona Fall League, Stassi has positioned himself to move up to Double-A in 2013.
Taylor has racked up 1,372 Triple-A at-bats in the last four seasons as he has been unable to break through to the majors for any significant time. The Phillies sent him, Travis d'Arnaud and Kyle Drabek to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay in December 2009, and Toronto immediately spun Taylor to the Athletics for Brett Wallace. Taylor did establish personal Triple-A bests for batting average (.287) and on-base percentage (.405) while leading the Pacific Coast League in walks (86) in 2012. He still cuts an imposing figure and can put on a show in batting practice, but those displays are a tease. After trying to hit for more power the previous two seasons, he reverted to more of a line-drive approach last year. He got himself in a better position to hit and started his swing earlier. His pitch recognition got better and he generally put together quality at-bats. Though Taylor's not a fast runner, he gets outstanding reads and jumps on balls and is a quality outfielder. He could play center field in a pinch, and his arm is strong enough to keep him in right. He's still in the conversation for an outfield job with the A's, but he's buried on the depth chart and destined for another trip to Sacramento.
Muncy passed on signing with the Indians as a 41st-round pick out of high school in 2009 to attend Baylor, emerging as a fifth-round pick three years later. Signed for $240,000, he held his own after going straight to low Class A. There's little question about Muncy's pure hitting ability. His pitch-recognition skills already rank among the system's best, and his short swing helps him find the barrel consistently. He's regarded as a heady player who should have high on-base percentages, though how much power he'll produce remains in question. The A's felt he did a better job of staying through the ball in instructional league, though scouts who watched him in college didn't project more than average pop. Muncy has good hands at first base and enough athleticism to perhaps play on an outfield corner or third base, though Oakland has no plans to move him. He's a below-average runner but not a baseclogger. How much power Muncy develops will determine how high his ceiling ultimately is, but he should advance quickly. He'll get a chance to open his first full season in high Class A.
As a freshman in 2009, Vollmuth homered six times in NCAA tournament play to lead Southern Mississippi to its first College World Series appearance. He went on to lead the Golden Eagles in homers in each of the next two seasons before landing $304,200 as a 2011 third-round pick. He hit .261/.336/.405 while reaching high Class A in his first full pro season, though his performance was a bit underwhelming. Vollmuth has always had issues with streakiness and handling breaking pitches. When he's in rhythm, he has a short bat path that can produce above-average power to all fields. He has a willingness to use the middle of the field and patience as well. A shortstop in college, Vollmuth has a strong arm and good hands at third base, but he tends to lose focus and make careless errors. He's still learning the position in terms of reading balls and playing the proper angles. Vollmuth can profile as a corner player, but he'll have to prove he can produce against quality pitching. The A's would like to get him to Double-A in 2013, though a return to Stockton is a possibility.
Ynoa stood 6-foot-4 when he 13 years old, and some international scouts labeled him a once-in-a-generation talent leading up to his signing in 2008. At the time, his $4.25 million bonus was the largest ever given to a Latin American amateur. Injuries have stymied his pro career, knocking him out for all of 2009 (elbow tendinitis) and 2011 (recovering from Tommy John surgery). Ynoa pitched meaningful innings for the first time in 2012, and the fact that he stayed healthy mattered more to the A's than his unimpressive statistics. By the end of instructional league, he finally felt comfortable enough to completely let loose on the mound. Ynoa's talent is still apparent. He has a smooth delivery and his fastball jumps out of his hand at 93-95 mph. He has a sharp 12-to-6 curveball with good rotation. He needs to hone his fastball command and refine a changeup that features promising depth. Oakland still believes in his potential and protected him on its 40-man roster in November. He'll head to full-season ball for the first time in 2013, with a goal of working 120 innings at Beloit.
Taylor has advanced quickly since signing for $147,600 as a fifth-round pick in 2011. He spent most of his pro debut in low Class A and finished his first full season in Double-A. He didn't take up catching full-time until he got to Central Florida, and his bat remains ahead of his defense. Taylor utilizes a contact-oriented, line-drive approach. He has a simple swing and a knack for barreling balls, though his power is limited beyond hitting balls to the gaps. His swing can get long at times but he usually puts together quality at-bats. Taylor has a strong throwing arm and the footwork to help it play up, though he threw out just 23 percent of basestealers in 2012. His defense is rough around the edges and he struggles with his receiving at times. He's still learning about calling games, though the A's were encouraged by how he ran the Double-A staff as a first-year pro. He doesn't have much speed, but his baserunning instincts are good. Taylor's ability to improve his power and defense will determine whether he'll be a regular or backup at the major league level. He'll head back to Midland to start 2013.
The Athletics took high schoolers with their first three picks in the 2012 draft, a radical departure from the year before, when Bostick was the lone prep player they signed. Oakland spent $125,000 to buy him out of a St. John's commitment. Bostick's swing is direct to the ball and he has a feel for the barrel of the bat. The A's would like to see him hit more line drives and fewer balls in the air, though the strength in his wrists and forearms gives him sneaky power. He already shows a willingness to use the whole field. Drafted as a shortstop, Bostick has shifted to second base already, though the move was partly in deference to Addison Russell's arrival at Vermont last summer. Bostick is a good athlete with plenty of arm for second base, and Oakland thinks he has the tools to play anywhere in the infield. He needs to clean up his infield actions, though, as his 13 errors were the second-most among New York-Penn League second basemen last year. While Bostick's versatility is an asset, his bat looks to have enough potential for him to be more than a utilityman. He held his own against older competition with Vermont, and he'll be in for a similar challenge as he moves up to low Class A in 2013.
Streich was a two-way player for Ohio, pitching in the weekend rotation and doubling as a first baseman and DH. Hampered by hamstring and oblique injuries in 2012, he went just 4-7, 4.42, but the A's had seen enough to give him $183,500 in the sixth round. They also once drafted Streich's older brother Tobias in the 26th round in 2007, though they didn't sign him. The younger Streich uses a simple delivery that looks like he's just playing catch, and he pounds the zone with a low-90s fastball that reaches 95 mph. He also possesses a promising changeup with splitter-like action. Oakland felt Streich's slider tended to get too flat, so he went to work on tweaking his grips and finding more angle in instructional league. By the end of the fall, he had developed both a solid 76-77 mph curveball with tight rotation and a cutter. The A's believe both pitches can become weapons. After pitching well in his debut and building on that momentum in instructional league, Streich will open his first full pro season in low Class A. He has the mix to be a mid-rotation starter.
Boyd attracted football recruiters as a running back/wide receiver, racking up 1,108 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior at Palo Alto (Calif.) High. He preferred baseball, though, and signed for $300,000 as a fourth-round pick last June. Like many multisport athletes, Boyd is raw because he hasn't focused on baseball, but he does have some instincts to go with his explosive tools. He shows a good eye at the plate and a quick bat, though the A's worked on refining his swing during instructional league. They believe he has the raw power for 10-15 homers annually, but he had a flat stroke and tended to let pitches travel almost too deep. Oakland wants him to start his swing earlier and add loft to it. He often just shoots balls the other way and the A's would like to see him turn on more pitches. Boyd has plus speed and knows how to use it, stealing 16 bases in 39 pro games. His reads and angles in center field aren't ideal, but his quickness helps him make up for most of his mistakes. His arm is below-average. Boyd has the components to be a future leadoff hitter. He could get a shot to open his first full year in low Class A with the rest of Oakland's premium 2012 high school picks, though it's more likely he'll stay in extended spring training to keep honing his swing before heading to Vermont.
Maxwell topped NCAA Division III in both home runs (15) and slugging percentage (.918) last spring en route to being the highest drafted D-III player, at 62nd overall, since Jason Hirsh went 59th overall in 2003. He signed for $700,000. If he can stick behind the plate, he makes for an intriguing package as a lefthanded-hitting catcher with power. Maxwell has a physical frame and hits home runs without selling out. He uses a level, efficient swing with an up-the-middle approach. The A's worked with him in instructional league to utilize his legs more, and they hope to see him pull more balls with authority. He didn't go deep in his pro debut but they know the power is there. Maxwell played both first base and catcher in college, and he has a long way to go behind the plate. He committed 18 passed balls in 41 pro games, a testament to how raw he is as a receiver. The A's have revamped his set-up and the positioning of his mitt. He does have a solid arm and threw out 33 percent of basestealers. His lack of agility and speed make first base his only other defensive option. Maxwell could spend his first full pro season in low Class A, giving him a chance to improve his defense and get his bat going.
Shipman flew under the radar for most of his high school career, playing for a small school in south Georgia, before zooming up draft boards leading up to the 2010 draft. Shipman's father Robert was a Tigers 10th-round pick in 1987, and the A's made Aaron their 2010 third-rounder and signed him for $500,000. He has some of the most enticing tools in the system, but his performance hasn't shown it yet. Shipman has a short swing, good bat control and a discerning eye, though his selectivity can work to his detriment. While it's laudable that he works deep in counts, he gets overly passive. The A's have pushed him to attack hittable pitches earlier in at-bats, and he has struggled to find a happy medium. There was hope he could develop average power when he came out of high school, but those projections have dropped as he has yet to homer as a pro. Shipman can be an elite defender in center field, with above-average speed and an arm that was capable of throwing 90-91 mph fastballs in high school. He's fast enough to be a basestealing threat, though he succeeded in just 11 of 22 attempts last season. Shipman's potential as a leadoff hitter remains. He could repeat low Class A in 2013, though a promotion to the more hitter-friendly California League might help him get going.
The Athletics couldn't sign Crocker on their first pass, when they took him in the 38th round out of high school in 2008, but they landed him for $198,000 as a fourth-rounder three years later. He's one of the system's better athletes and has a physical build, but his power production never has lived up to its solid potential. He hit just 13 homers in three years at Cal Poly and six in his first full pro season. That led the A's to retool his swing, which lacked fluidity and was too geared for the opposite field. During instructional league, he made adjustments to develop a looser stroke that should free up his wrists and his hands. He also started turning on more pitches. He needs to refine his approach, as he'll chase pitches out of the strike zone and not offer at ones he should mash. Crocker has the potential for solid tools across the board, outside of his below-average arm, so his upside is intriguing if the swing adjustments have the desired results. He's an energetic player who runs well enough to perhaps stay in center field. His arm would dictate a move to left field if he can't remain in center. He'll go to high Class A in 2013, hoping to turn a corner in the California League.
Alcantara was named the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League pitcher of the year in 2011 before the Red Sox packaged him with Josh Reddick and Miles Head to acquire Andrew Bailey that December. Pitching at age 19 in low Class A last year, Alcantara was hit hard in his first exposure to full-season hitters and didn't show much mound presence. Neverthless, the A's thought he made progress. He sharpened the command of his 90-95 mph fastball, though the pitch needs more movement. He has a quality changeup with depth and armside run. His hard slider shows promise but gets slurvy at times, and he needs to locate it better. He'll even mix in a mid-70s curveball early in the count. Alcantara throws with a balanced, easy motion, and the ball jumps out of his hand. He already throws strikes but must improve his command. After limiting him to 100 innings last year, Oakland will look to build him up further in high Class A.
Parker breezed through his first three pro seasons before having an up-and-down 2012 campaign at Sacramento. He hit 21 homers in high Class A in 2010 but has gone deep just 17 times over the last two seasons, including just once in the second half of 2012. His questionable power diminishes his prospect status. Parker has tried to generate more pop, but he's a contact-first hitter with a natural, easy approach. He has a good eye at the plate and one of the purer swings in the system, a short stroke that allows him to spray balls all over the field. Scouts can see him hitting for average power if he learns to drive more pitches. Parker has developed into an adequate third baseman, though his defense doesn't stand out either. He has solid hands and can make the routine plays, showing improved reactions and using better angles last season. He still made 14 errors in 88 games at the hot corner, however. He had an unusual throwing motion in college but has smoothed that out and now shows an average arm. He has below-average speed with decent baserunning instincts. If Parker is going to make a bid for Oakland's third-base job, he'll need to do it quickly with Miles Head coming up behind him. The A's opted not to protect Parker on their 40-man roster this offseason and likely will send him back to Sacramento to open 2013.
Carignan looked like he was on his way to establishing himself in the major league bullpen after he made four straight scoreless appearances following a May callup. But injuries have dogged him throughout his pro career, and his latest setback was his most serious as he tore an elbow ligament and needed Tommy John surgery. He previously had missed most of the 2009 season with forearm problems, followed by surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. When healthy, Carignan features a lively 93-97 mph fastball and a hard, sharp slider. The A's have toyed with having him throw a curveball, but he prefers the slider. He also has a usable changeup but employs it sparingly. Carignan had made progress with calming the violence in his delivery, which improved the command of his pitches but didn't keep him healthy. He has the upside of a late-inning reliever, but the A's will have to see how well his stuff comes back. They outrighted him off the 40-man roster in November. Carignan should get back on the mound by mid-2013 if his rehab stays on schedule.
The A's signed Leon out of the Mexican League in 2007, and he looked to be on the rise after a solid 2009 season in Double-A. His career went off the rails when he went down after just three appearances in 2010, needed Tommy John surgery and essentially missed two full years. Oakland had harbored hopes of making him a starter, but he had been a reliever throughout his career in Mexico and returned to the bullpen once he finally pitched meaningful innings again last season. Leon put himself back on the team's radar with strong showings in the upper minors, earning a spot on the A's 40-man roster. His low 90s fastball has returned and he touches 95 mph from an easy, effortless delivery. His heater is fairly straight, but he does a good job of keeping it down in the strike zone. Leon's fading changeup is his go-to secondary pitch, and he mixes in a slow curveball. Oakland hasn't completely abandoned the idea of turning Leon into a starter, but with its glut of young pitchers, his path the big leagues looks to be as a reliever. He's a longshot to earn a job in big league camp, and if that doesn't happen he'll head back to Triple-A to begin the season.
Like Bobby Crocker, Bowman turned down the A's out of high school before signing with them three years later. A 49th-round pick in 2007, he pitched three seasons at NCAA Division II Tampa before turning pro for $75,000 as a 10th-rounder. After an unspectacular first full pro season and a 5.56 ERA in the first two months last year, he turned a corner. Bowman posted the California League's lowest ERA (2.75) in the final three months of the season, earning a cameo in Double-A. Former A's pitching coordinator Gil Patterson (who left after last season to become director of pitching for the Yankees) is a major proponent of the cutter, and that's the pitch that made the difference for Bowman. His high-80s cutter has sharp, late movement, giving him a weapon to play off his sinker, which tops out at 92 mph. He has good balance and direction in his delivery, helping him maintain solid command of both pitches. He also can mix in a 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup that has depth. Bowman doesn't profile to be more than a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he could be the next under-the-radar Oakland pitching prospect to take off, a la A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily. Bowman will return to Midland in 2013.
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