2012 Oakland Athletics Top 10 Prospects

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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, 2011.

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1. Jarrod Parker, rhp
2. Brad Peacock, rhp
3. Sonny Gray, rhp
4. A.J. Cole, rhp
5. Michael Choice, of
6. Grant Green, of
7. Derek Norris, c
8. Jermaine Mitchell, of
9. Michael Taylor, of
10. Tom Milone, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Grant Green
Best Power Hitter Michael Choice
Best Strike Zone Discipline Conner Crumbliss
Fastest Baserunner Jermaine Mitchell
Best Athlete Aaron Shipman
Best Fastball A.J. Cole
Best Curveball Sonny Gray
Best Slider Jarrod Parker
Best Changeup A.J. Griffin
Best Control Tom Milone
Best Defensive Catcher Max Stassi
Best Defensive Infielder Tyler Ladendorf
Best Infield Arm Yordy Cabrera
Best Defensive OF Jermaine Mitchell
Best Outfield Arm Collin Cowgill
Catcher Derek Norris
First Base Chris Carter
Second Base Jemile Weeks
Third Base Grant Green
Shortstop Cliff Pennington
Left Field Michael Choice
Center Field Jermaine Mitchell
Right Field Josh Reddick
Designated Hitter Seth Smith
No. 1 Starter Jarrod Parker
No. 2 Starter Brad Peacock
No. 3 Starter Brett Anderson
No. 4 Starter Sonny Gray
No. 5 Starter A.J. Cole
Closer Fautino de los Santos
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Carlos Pena, 1b Rays
2003 Rich Harden, rhp Athletics
2004 Bobby Crosby, ss Diamondbacks
2005 Nick Swisher, of Yankees
2006 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
2007 Travis Buck, of Astros
2008 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
2009 Brett Anderson, lhp Athletics
2010 Chris Carter, of/1b Athletics
2011 Grant Green, ss Athletics
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Nick Swisher, 1B/OF Yankees
2003 Brad Sullivan, RHP Athletics
2004 Landon Powell, C Athletics
2005 Cliff Pennington, SS Athletics
2006 Trevor Cahill, RHP Diamondbacks
2007 James Simmons, RHP Athletics
2008 Jemile Weeks, 2B Athletics
2009 Grant Green, SS Athletics
2010 Michael Choice, OF Athletics
2011 Sonny Gray, RHP Athletics
Michael Ynoa, 2008 $4,250,000
Mark Mulder, 1998 $3,200,000
Grant Green, 2009 $2,750,000
Renato Nunez, 2010 $2,200,000
Michael Choice, 2010 $2,000,000
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Oakland Athletics

This time, the window didn't close on the Athletics. It never opened.

Oakland's success in the early 2000s, which gave rise to the best-seller "Moneyball," was led by a homegrown trio of aces in Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. With those three on board, the A's made the playoffs every season from 2000-03. The window started to close when Hudson and Mulder were traded after the 2004 season, and Oakland has made the postseason only once since, in 2006, which was also its last winning season.

Following the free-agent departure of Zito after 2006 and then Dan Haren (acquired in the Mulder deal) after 2007, the A's tried to retool their pitching staff and stockpile talent for another run at contention. But by the time "Moneyball" became a movie in 2011, Oakland had become an afterthought.

With a young staff led by Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, the A's led the AL in ERA in 2010. They finished third in 2011 despite losing Anderson and Dallas Braden for most of the season with injuries. Gio Gonzalez blossomed into an all-star and won 16 games, yet Oakland finished 74-88 and 22 games behind the Rangers. Manager Bob Geren lost his job in June and was replaced by Bob Melvin.

Continuing a familiar theme, the team was done in by a woeful offense. Trade acquisitions Chris Carter (No. 1 on this list two years ago) and Michael Taylor were expected to form the heart of the lineup by 2011, but neither has been able to break through. The A's did have 2008 first-round pick Jemile Weeks reach the majors in June and lead the team in hitting (.303), but the club ranked 12th in the AL in both scoring and homers and was unable to capitalize on its pitching.

Continued uncertainty about the team's future home further complicates its outlook. The A's still hope to move to a new ballpark in San Jose in 2014 or 2015, but they must negotiate an agreement with the Giants, who control the San Jose territory.

Such a move would boost the A's resources, but in the short term GM Billy Beane saw the cost of his pitching staff beginning to rise while his offense remained unable to fuel a contender. It was time to start over—again.

So in December, Beane traded Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey, his club's only all-stars in the last three seasons. Those deals brought back big league-ready outfielder Josh Reddick and nine prospects, including five members of this Top 10 list: righthanders Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, catcher Derek Norris and lefty Tom Milone. Parker, Peacock, Milone, outfielder Collin Cowgill and reliever Ryan Cook all should join Reddick on the 2012 big league roster.

Oakland will have to do a better job of signing and developing talent. The A's landed a potential frontline arm by taking Sonny Gray with the 18th overall pick in June, yet spent just $3.1 million overall on their 2011 draft class, the third-lowest figure in baseball. They also haven't been as active in Latin America after getting burned by Dominican righthander Michael Ynoa, who signed for a club-record $4.25 million in 2008 but rarely has been healthy since.

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