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How the A’s Did in the Early Rounds… And Some Bad News
Posted By Josh Muller On Jun 8 2011 @ 5:02 am In Oakland A's | 2 Comments
The MLB Draft is by far the most tedious draft of all the major American sports and is easily the biggest crap shoot the three. It takes three days and consists of over fifty rounds, a lot for even the diehard fan to follow. And the players that are eventually signed (far from all that are drafted) are then sent to the even less predictable minor leagues making it almost impossible to evaluate the draft hours, days, weeks, even months after it happens. Nevertheless:
With their first pick (18th overall) the A’s  selected Sonny Gray, a right-handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt. The skinny on Gray is that he has front of the rotation potential, but scouts are concerned by his small stature and max-effort delivery and worry that they may lead to future injuries. While those are legitimate concerns, the A’s got good value by picking Gray where they did.
Let’s put it this way: had the A’s owned the 10th pick, there would have been plenty of talent matching Gray without his concerns, but at 18, the risk is worth the reward. Or you could put it like this: if Sonny Gray were three to four inches taller, he wouldn’t have made it out of the top ten picks.
I’ve read a lot of scouting reports and they all say that Gray has a bulldog mentality on the mound, going right after hitters with aggression and confidence. He’s a big moment pitcher that wants the ball when it matters, and that is something that I like a lot.
As a starter his fastball sits around 92-95 mph and he can pump it up to 97 when he needs to. He has a decent changeup but it needs a lot of work, according to most reports, but all the reports I’ve read rave about his breaking ball. I’ve heard it called both a slider and a curveball, but everyone agrees it is a true out pitch and will be a plus pitch, at least, in the major leagues.
If Gray can stay healthy and can develop a consistent changeup that would give him a legitimate third pitch and the A’s would have a future number 2 starter on their hands. But at worst, it looks like they have a late inning bullpen option in Gray who has the electric stuff and the competitiveness to be a closer.
I like this kid a lot and he seems to say the right things and has the right work ethic. A’s fans should be praying that he sticks as a starter. After all, Giants’ ace, Tim Lincecum, and former Oakland A, Tim Hudson, aren’t all that tall themselves.
The A’s chose B.A. Vollmuth with their second pick (3rd round), a 3B out of Southern Miss. According to Keith Law of ESPN, Vollmuth can be a plus defender at third and has some power, but he needs to improve his plate discipline to make it as a starter. The A’s need 3B depth so I like this pick here.
Next they chose CF Bobby Crocker out of Cal Poly, whom the A’s chose in the 38th round of the 2008 round but were unable to sign. Crocker is an athletic outfielder who can hit and run a little. He’s going to need to show he can hit in the pros to be considered a real prospect, but the A’s like his athleticism.
These picks all seem signable, which will be important in adding depth to a depleted A’s farm system. The A’s have a lot of solid prospects but few with real star power, and though it’s far to early to really tell, it seems Sonny Gray is the only one of these early picks who has a chance at it.
Some less than exciting news: Brett Anderson and Mark Ellis were put on the DL, the hot rumor being that Brett Anderson will need Tommy John surgery. If that turns out to be true, it not only takes the A’s out of the race for 2011, but it likely takes Brett Anderson (arguably the A’s best pitcher when healthy) out for all of 2012 as well. Oh the horror.
On a lighter note: The A’s recalled Pitcher Bobby Cramer and 2B Jemile Weeks to replace Anderson and Ellis. Weeks, the brother of Brewer second baseman Rickie Weeks, was the A’s 2008 first round and this is his first call to the majors. He was putting up great numbers in AAA so good luck Jemile!
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