A few StU posts back I was asked to belabor the highly touted A’s farm system. With all fairness to the commenter, I was under the impression that the A’s had all their top arms up, and hitters too – let’s be honest they cannot hit water if it was raining out. After much deliberation, James Simmons was the most interesting starting pitcher (they have a guy named Michael Inoa, who I couldn’t find much about, but he is a Cuban signing. Also, Henry Rodriguez is a high velocity arm in the bullpen, but is further away); and Chris Carter was an intriguing prospect. Sure I could have written about Aaron Cunningham or Adrian Cardenas, but that would be cheating and you know it. Enjoy!

A quick reminder how the Cube Ratings work.

James Simmons | SP | Oakland Athletics | DOB: 9/29/86 | 6-3 | 205 lbs | Bats/Throws: Right | A’s #10 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
The Cube: Control (100) | K-Rating (78) | Efficiency (97)

There is tremendous pitching depth in the A’s farm system, but much of it has reached the majors already this year (Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Josh Outman, and Andrew Bailey) so Simmons is reaching a bit deep for difference makers this year or possibly even next year. However, he is ranked higher than Bailey (#23) or Outman (#12), meaning he has some talent.

Simmons was considered one of the most advanced pitchers in the 2007 draft when he was drafted out of college, but by advanced they meant great control of his fastball and change-up. His breaking pitches are, um, to put it nicely – JUNK! On the bright side, his change-up was voted the best in the system by team management. His fastball sits between 88 to 92 mph, topping out at 94 with a bit of movement and excellent control. Obviously, the change-up is his go-to pitch and he has stellar feel for it too. The breaking pitch of choice (since he hasn’t really developed either curve/slider) is still lacking any consistency. So what kind of numbers has he posted so far:

07 (AA): 6.9 K/9 | 2.43 BB/9 | 29 2/3 IP | .61 HR/9 | .359 BABIP | 3.94/3.44 ERA/FIP | 1.48 WHIP
08 (AA): 7.94 K/9 | 2.12 BB/9 | 136 IP | .73HR/9 | .345 BABIP | 3.51/3.26 ERA/FIP | 1.34 WHIP
09 (AAA): 5.75 K/9 | 3.45 BB/9 | 101 2/3 IP | .71 HR/9 | .326 BABIP | 5.75/4.21 ERA/FIP | 1.51 WHIP

Nothing spectacular. Out of college, the A’s sent him straight to AA, and he only had a brief stint before the season was over. In 2008, he proved that he deserved a promotion to AAA. Not a high strikeout pitcher, he must rely on that nice control he is touted for. However, 2009 has been awful for him. He lost over 2 k/9 and added a walk per nine innings. I am venturing to say that his is a bit over his head. Unless he can pick his K-rate back up and remove a walk from that BB/9 stat, he has little going for him as a major league starter. At best, he looks like a back of the rotation starter who can eat some innings for the A’s.

The A’s rely heavily on their farm, and Simmons is expected to contribute to their future plans. He was drafted earlier (first round) than his talent level by about two rounds. Needless to say, there is still plenty of time for him to rebound back to his AA numbers by the end of this year, or next. He is still only 22 (soon 23!).  Keep an eye on him though, the A’s always are able to find useful innings out of their young prospects.

Chris Carter | 1B/DH | Oakland Athletics | DOB: 12/18/86 | 6-4 | 210 lbs | Bats/Throws: Right | A’s #6 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
The Cube: Power (98) | Speed (15) | Contact (14) | Patience (78)

Other than having an extremely deceitful name (footballer; I am a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan) and the same name as another Red Sox player, this Carter has something that those do not – a jaw dropping power swing! Remember last week when I brought up Mike Stanton, well we have found the second bash brother. He was part of two relatively large trades two years ago – the Carlos Quentin from Arizona to Chicago White Sox, and the Dan Haren from the A’s to the D-Backs (both in the same winter too). Needless to say, he is mighty talented. Just look at what he has accomplished so far:

07 CHW (A): .288/.382/.512 | .224 ISO | .332 BABIP | 459 AB | 24 HR | 24 K% | 12.7 BB%
08 A’s (A+): .259/.361/.569 | .310 ISO | .296 BABIP | 506 AB | 39 HR | 30.8 K% | 13.2 BB%
09 (AA): .305/.407/.515 | .210 ISO | .374 BABIP | 377 AB | 16 HR | 25.5 K% | 14.3 BB%

(He played in 2006, but his stats aren’t quite relevant enough for consideration, and truly just clog up the screen to make it look more complicated.)

Great ISO (that power he displays goes to all fields), nice slash lines, stellar patience, and continuing refinement of his game. The K-rate is a bit scary, but he still reaches base at a nice clip thanks to impressive plate discipline. According to team player development personnel, because of his power swing he is extremely susceptible to breaking pitches, and there is a few large holes in his swing. The “high” batting averages should fall off into the .250 to .260 level as he progresses through he minors (one does not strikeout that often and still hit for a high average, sans a high BABIP). What is nice to see is that he has increased his walk rate with each passing year. Lets hope that continues.

He is more athletic than his body may seem, but he doesn’t have great defense. Let’s just say he is like Ryan Braun or Mat Gamel – he could make a nice soccer player for all the balls he boots. This may be a concern if he was in the National League, but alas, for once a defensively-challenged masher is in the American League. Like I said, he is athletic, but not fast, or known to be a base stealer. However, this year he has 11, which is near his career total. Not sure where this came from, but if he keeps this up it would be a pleasant addition to his already star laden future. He may not be Ryan Howard, but a Carlos Pena may be in the line (a Pena that actually gets a chance before bouncing around for a few years).

Look for Carter to get a call up this year and play an intriguing role in spring training next year. He could do something like Pablo Sandoval did/is doing this year. I would follow Carter as much as Stanton or other big boppers like Justin Smoak (even a Chris “K” Davis).

  1. Inertiatic says:

    Thanks, Stephen! Let’s hope the youth movement can make the A’s relevant again soon.

  2. kevin says:

    chris carter!! my favorite minor league player

  3. Stephen says:

    @Inertiatic: They are going to need them start sooner rather than later though. It’s going to be a rough few seasons before they all reach their primes. Until then, lets just hope Billy Beanes trades will work out for him.

    @kevin: Glad I could tickle your fancy (wow, that sounded more gay than I thought it would, oops).

  4. Josh says:

    fwiw, this year’s Baseball Prospectus seemed to think Inoa was the Second Coming. and apparently the original spelling is “Ynoa” but according to Wikipedia, “somewhere along the line there was a mixup in the spelling.”

  5. Moonlight's Grahams says:

    As you tote the A’s minor league system my hometown Rivercats got no-hit (one walk away from a perfect game) last night but a guy coming into the game with a 5.72 ERA. But as always the A’s have interesting prospects that make them fun to watch.

  6. Stephen says:

    @Josh: That is how most highly tout prospecting works, a la Matt Wieters, Braun, Longoria, etc. Lets wait and see how Yona/Iona pans out in America

    @Moonlight’s Grahams: And the Rays had a perfect game pitched against them too (granted by a better pitcher). It will interesting to see if they try to deal them for more major league ready help. Otherwise they are going to have to wait a few more years for a blockbuster trade because their player’s potential needs to play out before that can happen.

  7. Hardcore Midget says:

    Closer question- is Lindstrom going to get the job back soon?
    I own Nunez.

    Would it make sense to pick up Lindstrom now (dumping Wuertz and his awesome K rates)? Or wait on it a few days and hope no one else in my league does…

  8. pole says:

    Long-term keeper league: Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta or Aroldis Chapman?

  9. JR says:

    Wow. Freddy Sanchez for TIM ALDERSON.

  10. SF Dwarves says:

    I’m glade I’m not a Giants fan right now – Sanchez’ empty average, large salary, and parade of chronic injuries (I say all that with love, being a Sanchez owner in two leagues) for their #4 prospect???

  11. bobbo says:

    @JR: Seriously… didn’t think they’d get that much for him! Dare I say it looks like a good day for the Pirates???

  12. Grey

    Grey says:

    @JR: Insane

  13. JR says:

    @bobbo: Hey, they need one every once and a while…

  14. bobbo says:

    @JR: Hahaha yeah, unfortunately they will probably let this crop of prospects grow for 2-3 years and then trade them all off for me AA players.

  15. Ham says:

    Rios for Shields? Thanks

  16. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Ham: Rios

  17. Steve says:

    Ah Harang.

    How quickly hope dies.

  18. paulzone says:

    now for shortstop. who would you want out of:

    erick aybar, izturis, beckham and barmes (terrible obp)

    categories: r, hr, rbi, avg, obp, gidp, steals, errors


  19. Lava says:

    Inoa was a Dominican prospect, and the deal the A’s gave him was the richest that any non-Cuban international prospect has received.

    Back when it was a big deal whether the A’s would sign him, he was considered one of the best arms a number of scouts had ever seen.

    I’ll try to go back and find some links. There was a lot written about him on A’s Nation when it was big news.

  20. Stephen says:

    @JR: Definitely not worth it. This is going to be one of those, “What the HELL were you thinking?” moments in baseball history. I am truly dumbfounded. BLAH!!! A good move for the Pirates though… that is true GM fleecing if I ever saw it before.

  21. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Grey: anyone able to watch tillman pitch?let me know how he looks,i know jaba looking good at tb early

  22. Grey

    Grey says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Waiting for Greinke to finally get the O’s out.

  23. black love says:

    i have scutaro, peralta, and kendrick.
    i need to drop one of them, which should go?

  24. AL KOHOLIC says:

    jaba just buzzed 1 over and behind the head of longoria,this could get interesting

  25. bobbo says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Waiting to see Tillman here too…. Greinke is almost up to 30 pitches in the 1st.

  26. bobbo says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Yikes I just switched over and saw the replay… who thinks Tex or ARod gets buzzed by Garza?

  27. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @bobbo: someone will

  28. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @bobbo: tex just got hit by garza,up and in

  29. bobbo says:

    Big Tex goes down… called that one.

  30. bobbo says:

    LOL at the whole Rays team at the rail waiting for a brawl…

  31. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @bobbo: yeah,im watching it,

  32. bobbo says:

    Tillman just gave up a bomb to Callaspo… oops

  33. bobbo says:

    @bobbo: … and another to Olivo.

  34. bobbo says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Tillman has looked so so through 3ip to me… his fastball looks good at 92-95, his change has made a few (including Butler) look silly, but he can’t get the breaking ball over for the life of him. Not getting in very good pitcher’s counts and making some location mistakes (some long fly balls)

  35. AL KOHOLIC says:

    YITES, Para 9 base runners in 1.2 innings,hope you let go of that one grey

  36. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @bobbo: im not watching the san diego game either ,but latos has a good game going

  37. paulzone says:

    @Grey: beckham’s errors are scary for me…one of few categories I can make up some ground in…who would be your second choice, aybar?

  38. paulzone says:

    who is next in line for saves if there is an issue with fuentes?

  39. paulzone says:

    anyone picking up kuo for holds in the sp slot? he pitched on monday and reports say he clocked 95 mph in a 1-2-3 inning…

  40. bobbo says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Nice… I picked up Latos for the start today… might have to hold on to him for a while (even though I can’t get too excited about him dominating the anemic Reds offense).

  41. bobbo says:

    @paulzone: I would 100% pick up Kuo for holds… but alas he’s taken in both of my holds leagues.

  42. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @bobbo: yeah my reds suck like paullies mets but the kid looks good,i switched over to catch him pitching

  43. paulzone says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: hope that elbow can hold up down the stretch…i have troncoso too..dont like that much…at least LA wins a lot of games.

  44. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @paulzone: i like kuo,actually drafted him in a non holds league,i figured 100 k`s from a rp is pretty nice but that didnt happen

  45. bobbo says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Tillman is living way too high in the zone today… hope its just the jitters. If this were anyone but the Royals he’d have been knocked out already.

  46. AL KOHOLIC says:

    please dont let jaba go out there for the 8th inning,,7 ip 2 hits 2 walks,put latos numbers in there 7-1-1 and i had a damn good night,picked up tillman but he isnt pitching for me,and im hoping fuentes and downs dont get in there to ruin a great night by my staff

  47. paulzone says:

    anyone notice that jered weaver and billingsley have been awful over the last month?? both have era’s north of 6.00 and whip’s north of 1.40. ugh. any luck they finish strong?

  48. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Grey: i was hoping so,,i bet a few bit on him tonight though

  49. AL KOHOLIC says:

    i dont own him but C.Q goes deep,im waiting to say that about the former crack-head,josh,tinkered with his swing in the offseason,da,hello josh,stamina not hitting was your only problem last year

  50. Schatzi says:

    Grey, my team is low in Runs/SB and avg. who should I target?
    I am in 2nd place in HR/RBI

    Maybe I should post my team in forums, but for now, any players you like that fit that RUN/SB/AVG. mold?

    I remember you saying buy Figgins, but not for avg/runs

  51. Steve says:

    @Grey: On a brighter note, every time I feel like I might be starting to lose a little faith in J-Up, he restores it.

  52. AL KOHOLIC says:

    tell you what,im about done waiting on huff-n-puff,he`s killin me,might have to drop a pitcher and add a bat while i bench his azz

  53. BigFatHippo says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Yet you still keep trying to trade me Huff and Hamilcrack for Utley…………


  54. BigFatHippo says:

    @Steve: yup

    He’s a Chronic Mastertrader, look it up in the glossary. It’s in Al’s honor.

  55. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @BigFatHippo: hey he`s on greys buy list,so buy him,besides i threw in gallardo

  56. Grey

    Grey says:

    @paulzone: Yeah, bit of a speed bump.

    @Schatzi: Figgy’s good for average and Runs. Ichiro obviously too.

    @Steve: Yeah, you know who I’m losing faith in? FraGu.

  57. AL KOHOLIC says:

    ha,you gotta love those cardinals,tied it up off of broxton

  58. Steve says:

    @Grey: Hmm. He’s 7 for his last 21 – are you seeing something I’m unable to?

  59. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Think he’s 2 for his last 11 vs. righties. He could always hit lefties, but he’s not always going to face them.

  60. jim johnson with the save, two innings… precursor?

  61. Steve says:

    @Grey: Try a bit of Fred Lewis maybe?

  62. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Tony Y: Might mean he’s next in line, but not a precursor necessarily.

    @Steve: Hold for another day.

  63. Tom_Emanski says:

    Matt Cain you dirty ticker tease!

  64. Stephen says:

    I will give a recap at the end of the night about some of these questions and comments.

  65. Ham says:

    With news that Mujica is moving to the starting rotation, and while I thought it was a long shot, it seems rumor mill is heating up on Heath Bell getting traded, who is next in line in SD?

  66. jbatkins says:

    If Ervin Santana’s sittin on the free agent list and I’ve got guys like Brett Anderson and Mat Latos on my squad, should I take a stab at Erv, or just let him rot?

  67. AL KOHOLIC says:

    anyone here how bedards throwing session went today?

  68. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Grey: you throwing stauffer at the reds tomorrow?

  69. black love says:

    kendrick or lopez??

  70. black love says:

    for 2nd base

  71. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Grey: thanks,with peavy on my d.l should i drop him or bedard for a gregerson or frasor

  72. Nick0rz says:

    Halladay and Justin Upton for Wright and Bay.

    Which side wins?

  73. jbatkins says:

    @Nick0rz: At this point in the season, it depends on if you need the pitching or help at 3B. I would take Upton over Bay, but barely, and Halladay for Wright is probably a fair swap. If you need the hitting, take the Wright side. And if you need the pitching… well, you can fill in the rest.

  74. Nick0rz says:

    @jbatkins: A-Rod has been holding down the 3B position for me, and Bay’s also riding pine while I ride the Garret Jones wave.

    I think I should take the Upton side, just trying to get a second opinion if Im hating too much on Bay and Wright for their slumping.

  75. Grey

    Grey says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: Drop Peavy for Gregerson for just tomorrow then pickup Frasor if Bell isn’t traded.

    @Nick0rz: It’s fair on either side, depends on needs. I’d take the Halladay side.

  76. john says:

    @Grey: Would you prefer Gaudin vs Mil or Niese vs Col?…

    I know they’re both not good but I’m goin for IP and Ks but trying to avoid Losses as well.

  77. Grey

    Grey says:

    @john: Sorry, meant Gaudin.

  78. john says:

    @Grey: haha, alright. thanks.

  79. man i wanna drop cecil for gregerson, but i already dropped de la rosa for cecil last sunday, and would hate to lose both since de la rosa got snapped back up, but i could really use the saves in my league and my staff is sick…

    thoughts… drop cecil still?

  80. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Tony Y: Eh, if you need saves, go for it. But it’s liable to a pointless drop.

  81. Steve says:

    @Grey: I have Frasor on a couple of teams. Better to have Gregorson?

  82. man if i was smart i woulda just dumped BELTRAN a month ago, what a POS…. i’m still thinking about it other than he’s “trying” to push thru….. sucks. what a waste….

  83. Stephen says:

    @Lava: Oops. Must have remembered that wrong. Scouts and agents tout who they represent all the time. Just because that is what they “think” to get the money, doesn’t necessarily mean that is how Iona is going to play out. It will be years before he is even on most person’s radar. I have seen comparisons to Felix Hernandez, but its not really a reputable source. Needless to say, Inoa/Ynoa is too long away to speculate on talent alone.

    @paulzone: I am really hesitant to pick up Kuo, and I drafted him in a 20 team league with holds.

    — I am a bit late about Latos and Tillman as Grey already mentioned those. I would own Latos before Tillman, only because Tillman gets the shaft by playing in the AL East. Look for matchup starts for Tillman and Home starts for Latos.

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