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, 2009.

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1. Brett Anderson, lhp
2. Trevor Cahill, rhp
3. Michael Inoa, rhp
4. Aaron Cunningham, of
5. Adrian Cardenas, 2b/ss
6. Chris Carter, 1b/3b/of
7. Gio Gonzalez, lhp
8. Vin Mazzaro, rhp
9. Jemile Weeks, 2b
10. James Simmons, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Adrian Cardenas
Best Power Hitter Chris Carter
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Cliff Pennington
Fastest Baserunner Tyreace House
Best Athlete Rashun Dixon
Best Fastball Henry Rodriguez
Best Curveball Trevor Cahill
Best Slider Brett Anderson
Best Changeup James Simmons
Best Control Brett Anderson
Best Defensive Catcher Landon Powell
Best Defensive Infielder Cliff Pennington
Best Infield Arm Cliff Pennington
Best Defensive Outfielder Javier Herrera
Best Outfield Arm Javier Herrera
Catcher Kurt Suzuki
First Base Sean Doolittle
Second Base Jemile Weeks
Third Base Adrian Cardenas
Shortstop Cliff Pennington
Left Field Matt Holliday
Center Field Aaron Cunningham
Right Field Travis Buck
Designated Hitter Chris Carter
No. 1 Starter Brett Anderson
No. 2 Starter Trevor Cahill
No. 3 Starter Michael Inoa
No. 4 Starter Sean Gallagher
No. 5 Starter Gio Gonzalez
Closer Brad Ziegler
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Eric Chavez, 3b Athletics
2000 Mark Mulder, lhp Cardinals
2001 Jose Ortiz, 2b Chiba Lotte (Japan)
2002 Carlos Pena, 1b Rays
2003 Rich Harden, rhp Cubs
2004 Bobby Crosby, ss Athletics
2005 Nick Swisher, of White Sox
2006 Daric Barton, 1b Cardinals
2007 Travis Buck, of Athletics
2008 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Barry Zito, lhp Giants
2000 Freddie Bynum, ss (2nd round) Orioles
2001 Bobby Crosby, ss Athletics
2002 Nick Swisher, of White Sox
2003 Brad Sullivan, rhp Out of baseball
2004 Landon Powell, c Athletics
2005 Cliff Pennington, ss Athletics
2006 Trevor Cahill, rhp (2nd round) Athletics
2007 James Simmons, rhp Athletics
2008 Jemile Weeks, 2b Athletics
Michael Inoa, 2008 $4,250,000
Mark Mulder, 1998 $3,200,000
Jemile Weeks, 2008 $1,910,000
Nick Swisher, 2002 $1,780,000
Barry Zito, 1999 $1,625,000
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Oakland Athletics

After a run of eight consecutive seasons with at least 87 wins, the Athletics have endured back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1997-98. But with an influx of talent into the organization from a variety of avenues, another prolonged run of success might not be far away.

With the farm system in disrepair by the end of the 2007 season, Oakland general manager Billy Beane went on a mission to acquire blue-chip prospects. Since then, he has traded veterans Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Dan Haren and Nick Swisher and acquired building blocks such as lefthanders Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez, outfielder Aaron Cunningham, infielder Adrian Cardenas and slugger Chris Carter.

The rebuilding process also afforded the A's the opportunity to give big league playing time to several youngsters. Those deals also netted several players who plugged right into the Oakland roster, including Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher, Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith and Ryan Sweeney.

Brad Ziegler, signed out of an independent league in 2004, was a revelation, setting a major league record with 39 straight scoreless innings to begin his career and supplanting Huston Street as the A's closer. Daric Barton (acquired with Haren in a 2004 trade for Mark Mulder) and Travis Buck (a supplemental first-rounder in 2005) weren't as successful but still showed the potential to be mainstays in Oakland's lineup.

The A's may not wait as long to try to contend as originally thought. Beane appeared to shift course with a November blockbuster that shipped Gonzalez, Smith and Street to the Rockies for Matt Holliday, who can become a free agent after the 2009 season. Holliday also could be dealt for more prospects at midseason, or Oakland could recoup two premium draft picks as compensation if he departs.

Besides all of Beane's wheeling and dealing, the A's also were aggressive in the draft and on the international market. They took one of college baseball's best up-the-middle athletes in second baseman Jemile Weeks with the 12th overall pick—their highest since 1999—and also paid dearly for players who slid because of signability, such as righthander Brett Hunter ($1.1 million in the seventh round), outfielder Rashun Dixon ($600,000 in the 10th) and shortstop Dusty Coleman ($675,000 in the 28th). Oakland spent $6.5 million on its draft, up from $4.2 million in 2007 and an industry-low $2.0 million in 2006.

The A's also set a new franchise record for an international signing bonus in February by signing Domincan outfielder Robin Rosario for $350,000. Rosario held that title for a mere five months before Oakland signed Dominican righthander Michael Inoa for $4.25 million, the largest bonus ever given to a international amateur free agent and the highest bonus of any kind in club history.

Moving into a planned new ballpark in Fremont, Calif., would increase the team's revenue, allowing it to start retaining some of its key free agents while continuing to pay top dollar for amateur talent. The A's hope Cisco Field will be ready for 2011, though the turbulent economy could impede building plans. When they do unveil their new home, they're banking that investing heavily in their farm system will end up paying dividends.

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