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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.

Arizona Fall League PlayersPhoenix Desert Dogs
Pitchers: #4 Tyson Ross (RHP); TBA; TBA; TBA
Hitters: Ryan Ortiz (C); Dusty Coleman (IF); Michael Choice (OF); Grant Green (SS/OF)

Graduated Prospects
#4 Tyson Ross (RHP); #5 Jemile Weeks (2B); #13 Fautino De Los Santos;

Players of Interest
Hitters
#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.

Pitchers
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.

Honorable Mention
Hitters
#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.

Pitchers
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.

  1. Jeff says:
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    Good work, not to nitpick, but Oakland’s Low A affiliate is not Kane County anymore, but I believe Burlington, IA is. Kane County is now the Royals low A affiliate.

    And Ethan Hollingsworth was recently traded to the Royals for Kila Kaaihue.

  2. Ned Shakeshaft says:
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    Oakland is committing Green to CF, which takes him from intriguing to borderline in most fantasy formats.

    Curious to know more about Sonny Gray.

  3. chata says:
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    any word on michel inoa ?

  4. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Jeff: Thanks for the updates.

    @Ned Shakeshaft: I have heard this. I don’t know if he’ll stay. Could being more of a Ben Zobrist type utility player if that is the case.

    re:Soony Gray: To be honest, I don’t know much about him presently.

    @chata: re:Michel Inoa: My understanding is he’s still recovery from elbow surgery.

  5. OaktownSteve says:
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    A’s not in very good shape. Pretty bad in fact. No other way to say it. Probably in the bottom 1/3 of MLB in terms of minor league talent right now. It’s disappointing when you consider that getting talent in the draft is probably the number one equalizer for a small market team. The A’s success in player develpment have not really matched up to their reputation for some time.

  6. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @OaktownSteve: The A’s have one of the bottom three farm systems in the majors. Their talent has been diluted through trades that haven’t panned out for them. Quiet similar as the Twins farm system.

  7. Chris says:
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    Was really excited for Taylor a few years back and I’m now disappointed that he hasn’t panned out. Given the A’s OF situation and home park, I’m close calling his upside gone.

    It’s amazing how bad the A’s farm has been over these last 6 years or so. They had that top 3 ranking in 2009 (I would presume due to Cargo/Anderson and the other Haren to D’Backs prospects), but otherwise they’ve been flat out terrible.

  8. Stephen says:
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    @Chris: re: Taylor: his hype is gone, but the talent is still there. Kind of like Domonic Brown for 2012. The A’s farm system in 2009 was due to Cargo and Anderson as you stated. They move their prospects so much that eventually the lucky would run out. The Matt Holliday trade hurt. As have injuries and flame-outs. Essentially, exactly what you stated.

  9. YourMomsBoyfriend says:
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    @chata:

    his arm has fallen off.

    to be serious, he hasn’t pitched this year due to TJ surgery. He’s still young and has electric stuff, but he won’t reach the Majors until, at the earliest, 2015. He’ll only be 24 at that time, so it’s not out of the realm of possibilty for him to match his ridiculous ceiling, but it’s doubtful.

  10. re: the taylor writeup, i’m not sure how the A’s outfield is “loaded”. their entire starting OF from last year are free agents. given that (A) the A’s are who they are, budget-wise and (B) none of the veterans are really world-beaters (willingham, dejesus, matsui, crisp), it’s pretty likely that taylor gets a shot at full playing time next year, at least initially.

    what he’s likely to do with the opportunity if he gets it it is really difficult to figure out right now. his numbers last year look fine but for an oldish guy in the PCL are really nothing special. but he could still be on an upswing from the weird 2010 injury/lost year? he put up better numbers in a less friendly environment at a younger age in 09, so he’s physically capable of better. we’ll find out. right now he’s probably in the “worth a shot if you’re getting him cheap” category.

    also i don’t think grant green is going to be a zobrist type utility guy. i think he’s just going to CF and that’s it.

  11. OaktownSteve says:
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    I wonder why the A’s haven’t looked at trying Green at 3rd. I’ve heard he’s a bit of a clank in the infield. Maybe the arm isn’t there, but it seems like a guy drafted at SS could make the transition given the A’s have acceptable young options in the middle infield at the MLB level but no short middle or long term plan at 3rd.

  12. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @wily mo: re:Taylor: A good chunk of the Athletics roster are free agents. I would expect them to resign some players. The Athletics minor league system has an abundance of average outfielders. I worry his situation will turn out much like Domonic Brown’s 2011 season (not assuming injury). His upside is a 20/20 season. His down side is being demoted. Definitely a “worth a shot if you’re getting him cheap” player.

    re: Grant Green: Defensively he’s below average at Short-Stop, with too many throwing errors. He could play 3B too. I think the A’s would be foolish to place him at just CF. They have too much depth for another outfielder.

    @OaktownSteve: see above. I think he’ll be pushed to the outfield and have middling success. He should be tried out at another position too.

  13. green: well, better tell the A’s that. his arm’s apparently fringy, i haven’t seen any talk anywhere about him playing third. SS to 3B is a fairly obvious fallback move and usually if a team’s even considering it they’d try him there first before moving him to the OF. but he already played the entire second half of this year in CF. as far as i’ve seen anywhere there’s no plans for him to play the infield at all going forward.

    they have quite a bit of corner OF depth in the minors but not a lot for CF. re-signing crisp, or jermaine mitchell, or green. green was a high draft pick, they’ll probably play him. but it kind of kills his buzz as any kind of impact fantasy player.

  14. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @wily mo: I have heard this much. It would be very disappointing to see him stay in the outfield, both for fantasy baseball and from a team perspective. It sounds like the move is the A’s way of pushing him to the majors faster. Much of his value was tied playing SS.

  15. ltf says:
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    “I have heard this much,” sounds like something you read off the internet. I’ve seen him since USC, and I never like the high-risk, high-reward college players who enter the draft. You could always land a Troy Tulowitzki, but that’s a different conversation. He’s been playing OF since July.

    Michael Choice is not an honorable mention, and nothing about AJ Griffin… Michael Ynoa is a few years away from fantasy relevance unless you can carry 20+ players in your minor league system.

  16. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @ltf: Hey, what’s your real email? Wanna know if you want to write about prospects for us…

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