Oakland Athletics 2011 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2011)
2011 (28) | 2010 (12) | 2009 (3) | 2008 (27) | 2007 (27) | 2006 (26) | 2005 (8) | 2004 (17)
Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [74-82] AL West
AAA: [88-56] Pacific Coast League – Sacramento
AA: [63-77] Texas League – Midland
A+: [75-65] California League – Stockton
A: [76-62] Midwest League – Burlington, Iowa
A(ss): [39-35] Northwest League – Vermont Lake
R: [27-29] Arizona Rookie League
The Run Down
Once again, the Oakland Athletics farm system is rather top heavy, lacks pitching depth and several of their “future” studs have struggled. Michael Taylor turned things around but is going on 26 years of age. Jemile Weeks provided excellent production from second base, and Fautino de los Santos pitched well in his relief role. Grant Green was solid at Double-A and Michael Choice had a stellar season at Stockton. On the flip side, Max Stassi (C), their sixth overall prospect, slashed .231/.331/.331 in 121 at-bats at High-A Stockton, in the California league no less. At just twenty, he has upside as a free-swinging catcher who can’t play defense or hit. Then you have the oft-traded Chris Carter finally receiving a call-up, only for him to strikeout 20 times in 44 at-bats. He still remains a rookie, and his power is legit. Even his strikeout rates in the minors were only in the mid-20% range. I believe he’ll be a sneaky play in deep leagues. Ian Krol, their top left-handed pitcher injured his elbow and pitched only five innings all year. Beyond him, there isn’t much. I suspect that the A’s will be trading for pitching at some point in the 2011-2012 off-season. All of this is to say: enjoy the Raiders, they are the best team in Oakland. Here are some prospects that may hold fantasy baseball value in 2012.
Players of Interest
#2 Chris Carter | 1B:
He turns 25 in December. Has 35 home run power. He was not on my Top 50 Fantasy Prospect list, but will be added over the offseason. I believe that Brandon Allen will receive the first base job and Carter the DH position. If you need more information you could read his Scouting the Unknown.
#3 Grant Green | SS: From my Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2012 list, “Cliff Pennington is keeping the spot warm for the future A’s shortstop. Better gap power than home run power (projects as average power), strong average, an occasional steal. Defensively, question marks are raise about his efficiency. Think a .300 hitter with 12 to 15 home runs and 10 steals from shortstop over the course of the season. See Scouting the Unknown article for further details. Career ceiling is 20 to 25 home runs, with 10 to 15 steals and a strong average, in the .280 to .300 range.”
15 Adrian Cardenas | 2B/3B: In Oakland’s 2010 Minor League Review, I stated, “Not sure what to think of Cardenas at this point in his career. He’s a boring, average defensively, a gap power, contact hitting MI with strong control of the strike zone. He’s a perfect utility player, even if his defense is only solid at second. Last year I compared him to Orlando Hudson at best.” Much remains the same. He’s still more of a second basemen than third. I’d compare him more to Placido Polanco than Hudson at this point. Won’t acquire a full time position without an injury. Knowing the injury history of Jemile Weeks, there is a high probability of this occurring.
#10 Michael Taylor | RF: Hurt shoulder in 2010, which caused his performance to diminish. However, even in the Pacific Coast League this past year, he slashed .272/.360/.456 with 32 XBH (16 home runs) in 349 at-bats with 14 steals. The numbers are solid but he didn’t play a full year again. The A’s are loaded in the outfield, and he’ll have to battle his way for a starting spot in Spring Training. He has 20/20 potential if given the playing time; this just isn’t guaranteed at this point. His age is starting to work against him, he’ll need to show his worth soon or see himself floating from organization to organization as a fourth outfielder.
#12 Josh Donaldson | C: Defensively, he’s nothing special, but plays with great athleticism. At one point, he played third base. Offensively, he has good raw power, decent feel for the strike zone and is an aggressive hitter. Donaldson slashed .261/.344/.439 at Triple-A in 444 at-bats, with 35 XBH (17 home runs) and a 100:51 K:BB ratio. Kurt Suzuki appears to be regressing each year due a high work load early in his career, which opens the door for Donaldson to show his worth. He turns 26 this offseason and will be in his prime hitting years. He could provide a sneaky 18 to 20 home run hitting catcher if given 450 at-bats.
Travis Banwart | RHP-SP: Throws a 88-90 MPH fastball, a good changeup and inconsistent breaking pitches. He appears to be an innings eater, that could be a sufficient fifth starter on a non-contending team. In 2011, he threw 149 2/3 innings with a 7.2 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9. Long-term projects as a long-relief pitcher. Could receive a few spot starts during the year, or more if significant injuries occur.
#23 Trystan Magnuson | RHP-RP: Throws a heavy 92-94 sinking fastball, an inconsistent slider that is rated as a plus pitch at times and a work-in-progress splitter. He’s a power reliever and right-hand specialist at this point in his career. Could be a nice ratio pitcher to add in hold leagues.
#3 Michael Choice | LF: Baseball America states that Choice, “Swings the bat with great leverage and tremendous speed … [Nature of his swing makes him] susceptible to strikeouts … Raw power rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scale.” I would say his .285/.376/.542 slash line in 467 at-bats with 59 XBH, 30 of those being home runs, nine steals in 14 attempts and 134-to-61 strikeout-to-walk ratio prove BA’s scouting report correct. Double-A will prove how much of his friendly home environment played in his success. The talent and power is legitimate. I’m excited for 2013 when his relevancy will be more pertinent.
#24 Steve Parker | 3B: His power disappeared after leaving the friendly confines of the California League. He hit only 10 home runs with 30 doubles at Double-A in 504 at-bats. Scott Sizemore ended the year at third with Andy LaRoche on the bench. Truthfully, Parker looks more like Danny Valencia than even David Freese. He’ll need to prove himself at Triple-A before the A’s contemplate calling him up to compete for a job.
Robert Gilliam | RHP-SP: Pitched well in an extreme hitting environment – High-A Stockton (California League). In 164 1/3 innings, Gilliam had the following ratios: 8.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.3 Hr/9, 4.30 FIP, .307 BABIP, 1.30 WHIP. Those aren’t fantastic numbers, but they are noteworthy due to the environment. Could receive a late season call-up if he continues to pitch this well.
Graham Godfrey | RHP-SP: He pitches well after gaining experience at each level. Is old at 27. If given a call-up for a spot-start, I’d avoid for now.