Oakland Athletics: Top 10 Prospects

Oakland Athletics

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

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1. Carlos Gonzalez, of
2. Gio Gonzalez, lhp
3. Brett Anderson, lhp
4. Fautino de los Santos, rhp
5. Daric Barton, 1b
6. Trevor Cahill, rhp
7. James Simmons, rhp
8. Henry Rodriguez, rhp
9. Aaron Cunningham, of
10. Chris Carter, 1b
Best Hitter for Average Daric Barton
Best Power Hitter Carlos Gonzalez
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Daric Barton
Fastest Baserunner Jermaine Mitchell
Best Athlete Corey Brown
Best Fastball Fautino de los Santos
Best Curveball Gio Gonzalez
Best Slider Fautino de los Santos
Best Changeup Brett Anderson
Best Control James Simmons
Best Defensive Catcher Landon Powell
Best Defensive Infielder Gregorio Petit
Best Infield Arm Gregorio Petit
Best Defensive Outfielder Javier Herrera
Best Outfield Arm Carlos Gonzalez
Catcher Kurt Suzuki
First Base Daric Barton
Second Base Mark Ellis
Third Base Eric Chavez
Shortstop Bobby Crosby
Left Field Travis Buck
Center Field Carlos Gonzalez
Right Field Aaron Cunningham
Designated Hitter Chris Carter
No. 1 Starter Gio Gonzalez
No. 2 Starter Brett Anderson
No. 3 Starter Fautino de los Santos
No. 4 Starter Joe Blanton
No. 5 Starter Trevor Cahill
Closer Huston Street
1998 Ben Grieve, of Out of baseball
1999 Eric Chavez, 3b Athletics
2000 Mark Mulder, lhp Cardinals
2001 Jose Ortiz, 2b Saltillo (Mexico)
2002 Carlos Pena, 1b Rays
2003 Rich Harden, rhp Athletics
2004 Bobby Crosby, ss Athletics
2005 Nick Swisher, of Athletics
2006 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
2007 Travis Buck, of Athletics
1998 Mark Mulder, lhp Cardinals
1999 Barry Zito, lhp Giants
2000 Freddie Bynum, ss (2nd) Orioles
2001 Bobby Crosby, ss Athletics
2002 Nick Swisher, of Athletics
2003 Brad Sullivan, rhp Athletics
2004 Landon Powell, c Athletics
2005 Cliff Pennington, ss Athletics
2006 Trevor Cahill, rhp (2nd) Athletics
2007 James Simmons, rhp Athletics
Mark Mulder, 1998 $3,200,000
Nick Swisher, 2002 $1,780,000
Barry Zito, 1999 $1,625,000
Cliff Pennington, 2005 $1,475,000
Joe Blanton, 2002 $1,400,000
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Oakland Athletics

In 2006, the Athletics again showed they could win with different players and different styles, taking the American League West and advancing to the AL Championship Series. It was their eighth straight winning season and fifth playoff trip during the stretch.

So even after losing Barry Zito, Frank Thomas and Jay Payton as free agents last offseason and getting rid of manager Ken Macha, Oakland was banking on a core of players led by Joe Blanton, Eric Chavez, Dan Haren, Huston Street and Nick Swisher to make yet another playoff push in 2007.

That never happened.

Injuries depleted the club in spring training and never stopped. A's players combined to miss 1,259 games. Losing Street was the most significant blow, crippling a bullpen that converted just 59 percent of save opportunities and tied for the AL lead with blown saves. Oakland went 76-86 and finished in third place, 18 games behind the Angels.

The A's were forced to turn to their farm system to fill holes. Nine rookies made their major league debuts. Most notable among them were first baseman Daric Barton, outfielder Travis Buck and catcher Kurt Suzuki, all of whom have futures as starters for Oakland.

When general manager Billy Beane contemplated the future direction of his team during the offseason, he came to two conclusions. First, Oakland would be better off rebuilding than trying to contend. Second, to rebuild he'd have to sacrifice some of his best players to fortify the farm system.

In December, Beane sent Haren and Connor Robertson to the Diamondbacks for six young players, including four who made this Top 10 Prospects list: outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, lefthander Brett Anderson, outfielder Aaron Cunningham and first baseman Chris Carter.

Haren's name had been prominent in trade rumors throughout the offseason, but Swisher's didn't until he went to the White Sox in January for three more prospects, including two more members of this top 10: lefty Gio Gonzalez and righty Fautino de los Santos. They were not done trading, as they swapped Mark Kotsay to the Braves for 2005 first-round pick Joey Devine in mid-January, and they could deal Blanton and Street for more prospect packages.

Devine and the two Gonzalezes could surface in Oakland this year, but the A's may not make a run at the playoffs before their planned opening of a new ballpark, Cisco Field, for the 2011 season in nearby Fremont. One of the main reasons for the rebuilding project is that the farm system wasn't nearly as deep as it once was, with more complementary players than blue-chip prospects. The A's haven't drafted as well as they did under former scouting director Grady Fuson, who oversaw the club's drafts from 1995-2001 before leaving to become an assistant GM with the Rangers. (He is now a vice president with the Padres.)

After emphasizing high school pitchers in the 2005-06 drafts, the A's went back to their previous focus on college players who have a chance to move quickly. Their first 14 picks were collegians and they didn't sign a single high schooler. Righthanders James Simmons (first round), Sam Demel (third) and Andrew Carignan (fifth) all have a chance to join the big league staff within two years.

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