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
#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.
#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.
#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
#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.
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.