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Oakland Athletics 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (3) | 2008 (27) | 2007 (27) | 2006 (26) | 2005 (8) | 2004 (17)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [75 – 87] AL West
AAA: [86 – 57] Pacific Coast League
AA: [78 – 62] Texas League
A+: [61 – 79] California League
A: [76 – 64] Midwest League
A(ss): [36 – 40] Northwest League
R: [22 – 34] Arizona Rookie League

The Run Down
With one of the largest graduating classes in 2009, the A’s would seem to have a depleted system. Not so fast. With Billy Beane as their GM, their team is always one trade away from stockpiling talent. Their top prospect currently, and one of my favorite non-hyped (yet) prospects, is Chris Carter, whom they fleeced along with Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez, when they traded Dan Haren to Arizona. (Arizona received Chris Carter from the White Sox when they traded Carlos Quentin.) They may not have the best farm system (ranked number 12 for 2010 before any trades that happened after December 15, 2009), but you can never rule out their aggressive trading, prospect usage and promoting, and their GM’s ability to find gems among rocks (i.e. the Andrew Bailey’s and Grant Desme’s). Even with the retirement of one of the games younger feel-good stories in Grant Desme, who was the Arizona Fall League MVP and ranked 8th overall in the A’s 2010 farm system, the A’s still hold a lot of talent in their farm system.

As always, the A’s were extremely busy this offseason. After acquiring Brett Wallace in the Holliday trade, they turned around and traded him to the Blue Jays for Michael Taylor (who was acquired in the Halladay trade). Wallace might have been around the block more than Jenna Jameson in the past year, but the A’s received a multi-talented outfielder in Michael Taylor (Grey’s Halladay trade review has a Taylor piece). If I were forced to make a major league comparison for Taylor, I would lean towards a Justin Upton/Grady Sizemore-type of upside. On the foreign side of prospects, the A’s signed the highly touted and highly anticipated Michael Ynoa, who was unable to pitch last year due to elbow tendinitis. It was more a precaution than a necessity, but why play with fire when Ynoa is a highly talented pitcher whom you don’t want to damage before he can be an asset instead of a $4.25 million debacle.

Arizona Fall League Players – Phoenix Desert Dogs
Pitchers – (RHP) Same Demel; (RHP) Justin Friend; (RHP) James Simmons; (RHP) Mickey Storey
Hitters – (2B) Jemile Weeks; (RF) Corey Brown; (RF) Grant Desme

Graduated Prospects
#1 (LHP) Brett Anderson; #2 (RHP) Trevor Cahill; #4 (OF) Aaron Cunningham; #7 (LHP) Gio Gonzalez; #8 (RHP) Vin Mazzaro; #12 (LHP) Josh Outman; #20 (LHP) Jerry Blevins; #23 (RHP) Andrew Bailey

Players of Interest for 2010
* All player prospect rankings are from Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2009. Also of note, per recommendation of commenter, Quintero, draft picks are now included. To minimize confusion, if a prospect is picked in the first round but is taken, let’s say for example, at pick number 31, he would be a supplemental first round pick that was acquired at the loss of a player to free agency or failure to sign a drafted player from the year before. The latter usually has the team pick higher in the draft.

Hitters
#5 Adrian Cardenas | 2B | AA/AAA | 21 | 1st rd pick 37 in 2006 | .299/.365/.419 | 508 AB | 49 XBH | 4 Hr | .120 ISO | 8/6 SB/CS | 73:55 K:BB | .348 BABIP | 53.4 GB% | 18.2 LD% | 28.2 FB%
Remember Joe Blanton on the A’s? Meh, me either, he is boring. Cardenas on the other hand isn’t quite as boring as he was the center piece in the trading of Blanton. However, his shine has been pushed into a corner by the florescent light of Jemile Weeks, whom I’ll mention in a bit. Cardenas has a swing that has been compared to Adrian Gonzalez’s swing – compact with good power. However, don’t expect this second baseman to slug like Dan Uggla. With 41 doubles and only four homers, he seems to project more like Orlando Hudson. John Sickels compared him to Todd Walker with less power and better defense. There is talk about moving him to third and letting Weeks keep his newfound stranglehold at second. He needs another season at Triple-A, but Cardenas could be used as trade bait or a solid, but boring second baseman or utility man for the A’s in the near future. By playing slightly above average defense, displaying solid plate-discipline, and gap power, he could be a valuable asset in deeper leagues.

#6 Chris Carter | 1B | AA/AAA | 22 | 15th rd in 2005 | .329/.422/.570 | 544 AB | 73 XBH | 28 Hr | .241 ISO | 13/6 SB/CS | 133:85 K:BB | remaining stats inaccurate
You’d think that one of the better power hitting first baseman would have all their stats easily accessible. Nah, Minor League Splits at-bat totals seemed off, not to mention his name was changed. Nevertheless, Carter has been a key piece in a couple of trades in his short career (mentioned above in The Run Down). With power like Mike Stanton, a solid swing like Jesus Montero, and defense like Brett Wallace – meaning that it suffices, Carter should be mentioned in all prospect conversations. Speaking of Wallace, Carter is the reason he was expendable. There’s still concerns about his K-rate and if his defense will hold up. However, if he was in Ike Davis’ spot, or Montero’s, or Stanton’s, or even in the Rays’ farm system, ESPN would be all over this young man. The steals are higher than he’s ever had and I wouldn’t expect that speed to continue – maybe five or six a year. If forced to make a comparison, Adam Dunn. He has the power to hit between 30 to 35 homers and the swing to maintain a major league .275 average. He’ll need more seasoning at Triple-A and with Daric Barton playing fairly well so far this season, the A’s don’t need to rush Carter. Want even more breakdown of Carter, check out his Scouting the Unknown article.

Pitchers
#16 (St.L) Clayton Mortenson | LHP | AAA | 24 | 1st rd pick 36 in 2007 | 6.6 K/9 | 3.1 BB/9 | 137 1/3 IP | 4.39 ERA | .9 Hr/9 | 9.4 H/9
Part of the Holliday trade that centered around Brett Wallace, Mortenson pitched, well, pretty apathetically from a fantasy perspective. He doesn’t strikeout many batters and his control should be better if he isn’t striking out players. Several sources mention he may become a Quad-A pitcher. Unless he changes a lot this year, I would avoid him at all cost. The A’s have other pitchers that are better, but not many options that are major league ready in the minors. Mortenson is a grounball pitcher that is able to eat innings – that is valuable for Billy Beane, just not us fantasy baseballer (<–Grey’s mom phrase).

#15 Tyson Ross | RHP | A+/AA | 22 | 2nd rd in 2008 | 7.5 K/9 | 3.5 BB/9 | 136 1/3 IP | 4.09 ERA | 4.15 FIP | 1.25 WHIP | .9 Hr/9 | 7.8 H/9 | .277 BABIP | 56.6 GB% | 10 LD% | 27 FB%
Throwing a 93 to 94 mph sinking fastball that tops out at 97 mph, Ross has able to induce a ton of groundballs (56.6 GB%). He also throws a cutter, a slider and changeup at times. He has all the pitches of a potential top of the line starter, the skills to progress to the top, and the prep pedigree (played with Brett Wallace on a traveling team). Are you waiting for the but? Yeah? Well, his throwing motion puts a lot of stress on his shoulder and his arm motion is short in the back. He was injured in 2008 and the A’s lengthened his pitching stride – this helped some. There will always be a durability risk with Ross. With that said, Ross should will probably move the bullpen and thrive. He reminds me a lot of Phillippe Aumont.

Mickey Storey | RHP | A/A+/AA/AAA | 23 | 31st rd in 2008 | 12.4 K/9 | 1.4 BB/9 | 51 2/3 IP | 1.22 ERA | 2.19 FIP | .68 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 4.7 H/9 | .244 BABIP | 44 GB% | 14.9 LD% | 36.2 FB%
Storey’s fastball sits between 86 and 90 mph and a devastating curveball that is thrown with tremendous accuracy. Although he played at four different levels last year, he only pitched seven innings at Double-A and three innings at Triple-A. Even if his numbers were skewed by an extremely low batting average on balls in play (.244 BABIP), his control (1.4 BB/9) and high strikeout rate (12.4 K/9) make him extremely attractive from the bullpen. If I saw correctly, he’s at Double-A to start the year.

Honorable Mentions for Future Consideration
Hitters
#16 Corey Brown | RF | AA | 23 | 1st rd pick 59 in 2007 | .268/.349/.488 | 250 AB | 33 XBH | 9 Hr | .220 ISO | 69:27 K:BB | .330 BABIP | 39 GB% | 21.4 LD% | 38.8 FB%
Negatives or positives first? Well, I’m a realist, so the negatives first. He lacks a good approach at the plate, he’s more sporadic than your ADHD neighbor, and this makes him extremely hard to predict. The positives, he’s has power to spare, plays aggressively with a laid back attitude, absolutely raked in the Arizona Fall League (if Desme would have retired before winning the AFL MVP, Brown would have been in contention for the MVP award) and has been compared to Jim Edmonds, Jeromy Burnitz, and Kirk Gibson. Last year, he was limited by a knee strain and will need a full year until observers know what to expect.

#9 Jemile Weeks | 2B | A+/AA | 22 | 1st rd pick 12 in 2008 | .278/.357/.425 | 306 AB | 25 XBH | 9 Hr | .147 ISO | 9/1 SB/CS | 56:36 K:BB | .321 BABIP | 48.4 GB% | 17.3 LD% | 33.2 FB%
Mr. Weeks, please don’t shatter like your brother Rickie. Jemile had a hip flexor, a hamstring and a groin injury at college, and last year he had a hamstring and Achilles injury. Whelp, that sounds oddly familiar. Weeks is what scouts thought Cardenas would become, a good fielder, slightly-above average power hitter (think 20 homers) and good plate discipline. That was what Baseball America said about Cardenas in their 2009 handbook and what they said about Weeks in their 2010 handbook. Weeks defense is above-average and his hitting needs some more work (as does every prospect’s swing). He has similar upside to his brother, but like his brother, it will be like catching a genie in a bottle.

Pitchers
Pedro Figueroa | LHP | A/A+ | 23 | Signed from the Dominican | 8.6 K/9 | 3.9 BB/9 | 152 IP | 3.38 ERA | 3.89 FIP | 1.43 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 8.9 H/9 | .331 BABIP | 46.2 GB% | 14.8 LD% | 32 FB%
Personally, his numbers aren’t what you would call worth a prospect ranking of five. Figueroa is just that for the A’s, their fifth ranked prospect. He has a fastball that hits 97 mph and works between 93 and 95 mph with an inconsistent slider and a developing changeup. I guess if you can throw hard, scouts, baseball general managers and Baseball America will give you high praise even if you struggle to actually pitch. Being compared to Damaso Marte isn’t high praise, but that is about what to expect for Figueroa as he will pitch at Double-A this year.

Ben Hornbeck | LHP | A/A+/AA | 21 | 32nd rd in 2008 | 12.3 K/9 | 3.6 BB/9 | 116 1/3 IP | 3.17 ERA | 2.63 FIP | 1.15 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 6.8 H/9 | .329 BABIP | 48.4 GB% | 9.8 LD% | 34.4 FB%
Gotta like the name, and wonder how he is able to get guys out throwing a 85 to 87 mph fastball, a newly thrown cutter, a sharp curveball, and an amazing changeup. It helps that he’s a lefty and striking out batters at a high rate (12.3 K/9). His control needs to be improved, and it would be nice to see him induce a few more groundballs (48.4 GB%) as he doesn’t have overpowering stuff. There are tons of pitchers that thrive in the low minors only to get rocked when they get to Double-A. Speaking of which, he only threw 3 1/3 IP Double-A last year and looks to start there this year.

  1. bobbo says:
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    Slowey with 5BB on the season in 8IP? He only had 24 in 160IP in 2008. Where’s the control, Grey’s Sleeper Cy Young?

  2. Denys says:
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    And I was thinking of sitting BJ Upton for G. Jones today! Oh ye who have no faith! Let’s hope this is a hot streak.

  3. Denys says:
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    @bobbo: I’m worried too. And Nolasco looks like he took whatever CC Sabathia/Verlander are eating and will be a solid 2nd half pitcher.

  4. bobbo says:
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    @Denys: Tampa Bay teeing off on young Orioles pitching. Nothing new there, haha. I own BJ as well and hope he finally puts things together (although getting gunned down by Weiters last night by a good 5 feet was disheartening).

  5. I am the Liquor says:
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    No Michael Taylor?

  6. I am the Liquor says:
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    Nm, see him in the rundown part

  7. Panti Jose says:
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    CoJack or Dexter Fowler? (Assuming no particular needs.)

  8. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    what are estimated arrival times for carter and taylor? seems pretty pointless for them to not get some significant big league time this season, as they have both done pretty much all they could in the minors and the A’s are desperate for a spark.

  9. Denys says:
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    Cueto got dropped… Of the following, which are expendable for him, in which order, or do I hold on to what I’ve got (it doesn’t make a difference if I make it or not, we’ve got each other… nevermind)

    Marcum, Romero, E Santana.

  10. Lava says:
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    Taylor and Carter are definitely two beacons of light to the troubled ship out in a perfect storm that is Oakland’s current lineup.

    Thanks for this!

  11. MarkM says:
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    @Denys: I’d say Santana, but that seems like a lateral move. Santana looked bad his last start, but so do most pitchers @NYY.

  12. Eric says:
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    Who do you like more to pick up? Dallas Braden, Duchscherer, Greg Smith, or Aaron Harang

  13. Eric says:
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    or Barry Zito is also available?

  14. MarkM says:
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    @Eric: Duchs looked really good in his last outing. You have to throw away his first bad appearance – it was his first in like 2 years. Zito looked good too, but I think he’s just fucking with us.

  15. Stephen says:
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    @ThePoonTycoon: They both need more time in the minors. Before this season, Taylor had 128 plate appearances at Triple-A and Carter only had 58 plate appearances at the same level. Taylor is an excellent athlete, but he still has to prove that his game is legit. Carter is much the same but is a year younger than Taylor. I could envision a call-up in the middle of July if they (Taylor and Carter) are performing well. However, the A’s aggressively promote and any injury may force them up sooner rather than later. To save money in the long term (which actually helps their long term success too considering the penny-pinching ways out in Oakland), I wouldn’t expect them any sooner than late July and am leaning towards September. If the A’s have nothing to play for by the middle of the season, they’ll be up. Until then, we’ll just have to wait.

    @Lava: I wouldn’t say their ship is troubled. They have a lot of young and affordable talent. Their fielders aren’t great, but their pitching nucleus is strong.

    @Denys: Marcum should be owned. Period. Then Cueto, E. Santana/Romero (they’re a push).

    @Panti Jose: Fowler, helps in more categories.

    @Eric: Duchscherer, Harang, Zito, Braden, Smith.

  16. Calogero says:
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    Two men enter, one man leaves (my roster):

    Justin Masterson/Homer Bailey

    Opinions?

  17. MarkM says:
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    @Calogero: Disclaimer: I’m a big Masterson fan from when he was on the Sox.

    Keep Masterson.

  18. artie says:
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    @Calogero:
    I’m a fan of neither and I would keep Bailey

  19. mrbaseball says:
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    Calogero – so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings I think you should drop them both

  20. mrbaseball says:
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    B. Morrow – can’t start – can’t close – can’t do the set up role – how about long relief

  21. mrbaseball says:
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    Jason Bay is on the road at Colorado – no excuses now

  22. mrbaseball says:
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    Nate Robertson – I see some of you have taken a ride on the

    Hot Tub Time Machine and went back to 2004 the last and only winning season for Nate Robertson – American League or National League – its tough to win when MLB is hitting 300 against you

  23. Denys says:
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    @Calogero: masterson has a bit more to show i think

  24. MargaritaMama says:
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    RazzMaster – would you do this trade: I have been proposed Lackey/Ludwick for Markakis?

  25. Mark says:
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    COLBY LEWIS: He had 10k’s in 5-innings but again 5-innings, 114 pitches and 4bb and facing a poor lineup. Hard to figure this guy. Is he special? What did playing in japan do to him and can anyone tell me if he is a power pitcher, seeing that he is a fastball, slider guy I gather yes.

  26. MargaritaMama says:
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    @grey: I love you.

  27. Quintero says:
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    Love the Chris Carter ETA. Making tons of sense for me.

    Felt hard not seeing my boy Yung Chi Chen on this, and then I found out it’s already 2010, the days when he was a top prospect in Mariners were long gone. Couldn’t help it but think of our other country man, Chin-Feng Chen. Damn the Dodgers only gave him 25PA over four years and cut him. If they’d only play him or trade him away early, we can stop playing fake/cheat/black sox style professional baseball.

  28. Quintero says:
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    Sorry for the blurb. Hard knock life to be a Taiwaness baseball fan.

  29. Stephen says:
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    @Quintero: Even if I was vague? I would imagine being a Taiwaness baseball fan would be like being an American soccer fan, or worse an American Cricket fan.

  30. Quintero says:
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    @Stephen: Actually it is the biggest sport in Taiwan. But they just kept on cheating/gambling within teams/players for more than twenty years. Because the league is always working under the table and the govern body doesn’t really care due to they only wish to do the minimal part of their job. Their boss, the elected government never took the responsibility of this. Every time when there is case got reveal, they just put some so-called “national baseball saving” policy/budget into legislate process and hope those would be enough for the next campaign, and miraculously, it is sufficient every single time.

    The system is so f’d up and people are so easy to forgot/hypnotize, this shizz goes around every season. The only difference is that they improved their cheating skills annually. One team was brought by a bookie so he can control the outcomes of the game last year, what a genius!

    Speaking of Chris Carter, I think there ain’t significant difference between him and Justin Smoek, in terms of Fantasy production. Both are not really proving at triple-A level and somewhere blocked. Like what you pointed out, if he was in another organization, people would already jump on his smoky fire truck.

    I always appreciate you, Grey and Rudy for this wonderful site. Man, you can write the article anyway u like it, dont feel obligated doing the comparison or projection. It’s already awesome.

  31. Ben says:
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    Drop Latos for Juan Gut or too soon?

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