The A’s have been on a bit of a roller coaster the past week. After losing two out of three in an incredibly dramatic (and at times depressing) series with the cross town Giants , Oakland then took two out of three themselves in a decidedly less dramatic series with the Mariners. And they’ve now lost the first two of four in Arlington and sit (shocker) four games back of .500. They just can’t seem to get over the hump.
Here’s to prolonged success and making a run at it in the very near future.
Today’s post, however is of a different nature. We’re nearing the halfway point of the season and with new faces seemingly joining the A’s daily, it felt like as good a time as any to do another TOP PROSPECTS UPDATE.
If you missed my preseason top 15 prospects piece you can read it here.  This isn’t a re-ranking of that list (yet). I just want to update all the prospects mentioned, and a few more. So without further delay:
- Jarrod Parker SP (OAK)- Parker was called up at the end of April and has been fantastic since the moment he got here. Displaying great poise on the mound, Parker’s stuff is legit. He sports a heavy mid-nineties fastball, a decent slider and his changeup is a weapon. He’s held his opponents to two runs or fewer in all but two of his starts. He needs to limit the walks though. Looks like he could be a number 2 starter soon.
- Michael Choice OF (AA)- Where has the power gone? Choice hasn’t responded to AA pitching the way the A’s wanted. His numbers aren’t terrible, but considering lasts year’s monstrous performance, it’s a disappointment. He’s only slugging .367. I’ll be patient because he’s working on some mechanical issues to cut down his strikeouts, but if he doesn’t remedy the situation quickly, I won’t consider him as Oakland’s second best prospect for long.
- A.J Cole SP (A)- Cole has been another disappointment. He got off to a terribly rough start but has been getting back on track lately and has brought his ERA down to 5.63. Scouts say his stuff is still good but his arm angle has lowered a bit. I hope he isn’t hurt. He has plenty of time to work things out as he’s still a teenager but I expected more. He’s still getting those strikeouts, though.
- Sonny Gray SP (AA)- Gray hasn’t quite lived up to expectations either, but not to the same extent as Choice and Cole and I expected this more. This is Gray’s first full season as a professional and he’s doing it at AA. That’s tough no matter how good you are. So while Gray’s numbers aren’t what they could be, he’s going through a necessary learning phase.
- Grant Green- OF (AAA) I think this is the real Grant Green. He’s hitting .286/.332/.446. I thought his numbers in 2010 were a bit inflated by playing in the California League, and that his numbers last year didn’t reflect his talent. This year’s middle ground (hopefully) proves I’m right. He’s a good hitter with good athleticism that should be a league average outfielder. Interesting note: he’s been getting more starts at 3B and SS recently, meaning the A’s could possibly be grooming him for a super utility role.
- Brad Peacock SP (AAA)- It’s been a mixed bag for Peacock at Sacramento this year. He has struck out 9.6 batters every nine innings but his ERA is up to 6.63. He’s clearly not ready for the big leagues.
- Derek Norris C (OAK)- Norris has been better than advertised. His numbers got better while jumping from AA to AAA and has since earned a promotion to the big club. Kurt Suzuki is not long for Oakland as Derek Norris is the A’s catcher of the future.
- Chris Carter 1B/DH (OAK)- Carter just got the call today. Crazy power is still there but so are all the other issues. He’s a one trick pony. This isn’t his last shot for the A’s but it isn’t far off.
- Raul Alcantara SP (A)- The numbers aren’t good, but he’s a live arm and is young for his level. I’m willing to wait.
- Tommy Milone SP (OAK)- Milone broke camp with the big club and has proven worthy of that roster spot. Milone is a smart pitcher who has been practically unhittable when pitching at the Coliseum. He’s a solid but unspectacular lefty.
- Colin Cowgil OF (OAK)- If Cowgil hasn’t won over Oakland fans yet, I can’t imagine it will be much longer. He made the A’s club on grit and effort and it’s what will keep him in the league a long time. He’s the perfect fourth outfielder.
- B. A. Vallmuth 3B (A)- Not as much power as I was hoping to see but solid numbers. Plays a mean 3B.
- Bobby Crocker OF (A)- The athleticism is legit and after a slow start he’s been killing the ball lately. But he should. He’s 22 at low A. It will be a while before he shows if he’s a legit prospect or not.
- Max Stassi C (A)- Finally healthy and finally putting up good numbers. I feel bad for the guy with all the injuries he had to start his career, but he is still very young and has plenty of time to turn it around. Could be a Russell Martin type catcher.
- Michael Taylor OF (OF)- UGGGHHHH. He’s having a much better year at AAA this year with an OBP of .409 and lots of doubles. But the home run power is almost non-existent. However good he becomes, (which will likely be not good at all) I will never understand how a physical specimen like Taylor doesn’t hit more home runs.
Other names to watch:
- Miles Head 3B/1B (AA)- After doing his best Babe Ruth impression in the California League, Head was promoted to AA a week ago. A short, stocky, slow, right-handed, first baseman, Head doesn’t have a whole lot going for him in the baseball world. But he can hit. And if he can hit in the upper levels, the A’s will find a place for him.
- A.J. Griffin SP (OAK)- Griffin just missed my original list at the beginning of the year (sarcastic good call, Josh) and has pitched well enough in the minors to deserve a look at a starting spot, especially with the recent injuries.
- Dan Straily SP (AAA)- Straily had 108 strikeouts in 85 innings at AA this year while maintaining a 3.38 ERA. The scouting reports match as he could have three pitches that project to plus in the majors. This came almost out of nowhere, but the A’s are rolling with it and Straily hasn’t slowed down at all with a promotion to AAA. Watch out for this guy; he could be a number 3 starter. Not bad for a 24th round draft pick.
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