If there is one constant in the draft philosophy for the Oakland Athletics, it is the clear preference of college players to high school players. In fact, since 1997 the A’s have only drafted one high school player (Jeremy Bonderman) in the first round.
Billy Beane, the A’s general manager, is famous for drafting the “safer” college talent to the more risk/reward nature that’s generally associated with high school prospects. He bucked that trend in a big way for the 2012 MLB draft. This year’s perceived strength was high school bats, and the A’s didn’t miss out on that crop, taking three high school position players with their first three picks of the draft. Yes, you read that correctly.
The A’s had the 11th overall pick, and had two picks in the compensation round between the first and second rounds (34th and 47th) due to loosing Josh Willingham and David Dejesus to free agency.
Addison Russell SS, 11th overall: Russell is a guy I pegged for this pick about a month ago after researching the 2012 draft prospects. Drafted out of Pace High School (Fla.), he certainly fits a need throughout the system by playing the left side of the infield, but it’s his bat that will get him to the next level.
At 6-1, and 210 lbs, Russell is a very gifted athlete with big time power potential. It’s always tough to project how a high school draftee might hit for average but the raw power is present now. He has very good bat speed and rotates his hips well. The ball jumps off his bat and the power should only increase as his body matures.
Scouts seem to be split on whether or not Russell can stay at shortstop defensively but it shouldn’t matter; his bat will play at third base as well and he profiles to be a plus defender there with a strong arm and good reactions.
Apparently, this minor criticism (if you can even call it that) got back to Russell, who then lost 25 pounds and is now moving much better at SS, so much so that many scouts now think he can stay there. The A’s certainly think so.
I just like hearing that he took the initiative to lose the weight. It shows drive to succeed and maybe a little chip on his shoulder.
A’s went with upside here, a refreshing change of pace. Russell has the potential to be an All-Star but comes with a little more risk than the A’s usual draft picks. But the A’s are desperate for power, and if Russell develops he should supply a lot of it in three to four years.
Daniel Robertson SS, 34th overall: For a high school kid, Daniel Robertson of Upland High School (CA) is a pretty safe bet. He plays shortstop, and the A’s will at least try him there, but it’s more than likely he ends up a third. He has a pretty strong arm and should profile as league average at the hot corner when it’s all said and done. He has good hands but doesn’t have the quickest feet.
Like Russell, Robertson’s success will come with his bat. He profiles as a plus hitter with above average power and draws some comparisons to David Wright. That may be a bit optimistic but it’s certainly nice to hear.
Robertson is also known for his great makeup and attack mentality. The A’s could have just drafted the future left side of their infield.
Matt Olson 1B, 47th overall: The A’s really liked the sweet lefty swing of Matt Olson of Parkview High School (GA). Olson is a big and loaded with power potential but has a bit of a long swing, which takes away form his bat speed and causes some swing and miss issues.
He’s young, of course, and has plenty of time to fix these issues, but the A’s took him a bit before most of the industry expected. Either the A’s think they can sign him to a team friendly contract or they believe in his power more than most. Again, the A’s are looking towards offense with this pick as Olson has middle-of-the-order potential.
That wraps up the action for Oakland today. I’ll be doing a piece on rounds 2-40 as well.
About the Author
Written by Josh Muller
My name is Josh Muller. I was born and raised in Oakland, California and currently live in San Francisco. I watch sports religiously and organize my calender year to coincide with baseball season. I'm a diehard A's and Warriors fan, love talking sports all day and believe that the words "Opening Day" are the two greatest in the English language.