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. Chris Carter, of/1b
2. Michael Taylor, of
3. Grant Green, ss
4. Max Stassi, c
5. Pedro Figueroa, lhp
6. Tyson Ross, rhp
7. Jemile Weeks, 2b
8. Grant Desme, of
9. Adrian Cardenas, inf
10. Sean Doolittle, of
Best Hitter for Average Michael Taylor
Best Power Hitter Chris Carter
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Josh Horton
Fastest Baserunner Tyreace House
Best Athlete Rashun Dixon
Best Fastball Henry Rodriguez
Best Curveball Michael Ynoa
Best Slider Tyson Ross
Best Changeup James Simmons
Best Control Mickey Storey
Best Defensive Catcher Max Stassi
Best Defensive Infielder Grant Green
Best Infield Arm Gregorio Pettit
Best Defensive Outfielder Tyreace House
Best Outfield Arm Robin Rosario
Catcher Max Stassi
First Base Sean Doolittle
Second Base Jemile Weeks
Third Base Adrian Cardenas
Shortstop Grant Green
Left Field Michael Taylor
Center Field Rajai Davis
Right Field Grant Desme
Designated Hitter Chris Carter
No. 1 Starter Brett Anderson
No. 2 Starter Trevor Cahill
No. 3 Starter Pedro Figueroa
No. 4 Starter Tyson Ross
No. 5 Starter Vin Mazzaro
Closer Andrew Bailey
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Mark Mulder, lhp Free agent
2001 Jose Ortiz, 2b Saltillo
2002 Carlos Pena, 1b Rays
2003 Rich Harden, rhp Cubs
2004 Bobby Crosby, ss Athletics
2005 Nick Swisher, of Yankees
2006 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
2007 Travis Buck, of Athletics
2008 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
2009 Brett Anderson, lhp Athletics
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Freddie Bynum, ss
(2nd round)
2001 Bobby Crosby, ss Athletics
2002 Nick Swisher, of Yankees
2003 Brad Sullivan, rhp Out of baseball
2004 Landon Powell, c Athletics
2005 Cliff Pennington, ss Athletics
2006 Trevor Cahill, rhp
(2nd round)
2007 James Simmons, rhp Athletics
2008 Jemile Weeks, 2b Athletics
2009 Grant Green, ss Athletics
Michael Ynoa, 2008 $4,250,000
Mark Mulder, 1998 $3,200,000
Grant Green, 2009 $2,750,000
Jemile Weeks, 2008 $1,910,000
Nick Swisher, 2002 $1,780,000
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Oakland Athletics

The Athletics returned to prominence in the 2000s, claiming four division titles and making the playoffs five times in seven seasons from 2000-06. But the decade ended on a down note as they posted their third consecutive losing season in 2009, going 75-87 for their worst record and first last-place finish in 11 years.

Only a few holdovers remain from Oakland's run in the early part of the decade, most notably oft-injured third baseman Eric Chavez. The A's are trying to rebuild around young pitching, and last year's team featured the majors' youngest rotation, with all six of its regular members age 25 or younger.

Foremost among that group were Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, the team's top two prospects entering last year. Both held their own as 21-year-olds making their big league debuts, and they were the only Oakland pitchers to post double-digit win totals. Anderson was especially impressive, going 6-4, 3.48 with 86 strikeouts in 88 innings after the all-star break.

Dallas Braden and rookies Gio Gonzalez, Vin Mazzaro and Josh Outman joined them in the rotation. Outman fared the best, going 4-1, 3.58 in 12 starts, but he went down with elbow problems in June and needed Tommy John surgery.

Another rookie, righthander Andrew Bailey, took over as closer in late May. He went on to win the American League rookie of the year award after converting 26 of 30 save opportunities and leading all major league relievers in opponent average (.167) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.8).

While Oakland's pitching kept the team competitive, ranking fourth in the AL with a 4.29 ERA, the same couldn't be said of the offense (ninth in scoring, last in home runs) and defense (second-most unearned runs allowed). General manager Billy Beane traded for Matt Holliday last offseason, but the slugger couldn't match his production with the Rockies. Beane flipped Holliday to the Cardinals in July for a package of three prospects headlined by corner infielder Brett Wallace, then dealt Wallace to the Blue Jays in the offseason for outfielder Michael Taylor (whom the Jays had just obtained from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay deal).

Taylor adds to a mix of nearly-ready hitters the A's hope will give their offense the punch it has lacked. Others on the verge of helping the big league club include first baseman/outfielder Chris Carter (the system's No. 1 prospect), infielder Adrian Cardenas and outfielder Sean Doolittle. With all the graduations to the majors, the pool of pitching prospects at the top of the system has thinned out.

Oakland has invested heavily in scouting and player development the last two year, spending a record $4.25 million in 2008 on Dominican righthander Michael Ynoa—who didn't pitch last season because of elbow problems—and $13 million on the last two drafts. The A's have aggressively signed several players for more than MLB's slot recommendations, including shortstop Grant Green (first round), catcher Max Stassi (fourth) and lefthander Ian Krol (seventh) for a combined $5.125 million last August.

The A's may have to continue a budget-minded approach in the big leagues, however, after abandoning plans to build a new ballpark in Fremont, Calif. The project met heavy resistance from local groups, and with the ballpark's opening continually delayed, the team decided to look elsewhere. San Jose appears to be the new leading candidate, but territorial issues involving the Giants may hamper that plan.

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