Oakland Athletics Top 20 Prospects for 2010

Oakland Athletics Top 20 Prospects for 2010

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!

1) Chris Carter, 1B-OF, Grade A-: I just absolutely love this bat, enough to override the questions about defense and give him an A-. He added pure hitting skills to go with the power.

2) Michael Taylor, OF, Grade B+: Borderline A-. This was a great pickup: he fits into Oakland's needs more easily than Brett Wallace. More defensive value than Carter, but a year older and doesn't have quite as much power.

3) Grant Green, SS, Grade B+: Glove is very fine at shortstop, and I'm optimistic about his bat. At worst a steady regular, and could develop into a star.

4) Grant Desme, OF, Grade B: Strikeout rate precludes a higher grade, but he's always had good tools and put them to use last year.

5) Adrian Cardenas, 2B, Grade B-: I'm not sure why, but there's just something here holding me back from giving him a straight B. Todd Walker type with better glove?

6) Jemile Weeks, 2B, Grade B-: I don ‘t think we've seen him at his best. Between Cardenas and Weeks they have two good options for future second basemen.

7) Tyson Ross, RHP, Grade B-: Reminds me of a young Scott Erickson with hard sinker, let's see if he can keep his command in gear.

8) Max Stassi, C, Grade B-: Glowing scouting reports from high school are nice, need to see some performance before ranking higher. Baseball people rave about his intangibles.

9) Josh Donaldson, C, Grade B-: Great plate discipline, nails baserunners, still polishing other defensive aspects and power remains largely untapped.

10) Sean Doolittle, OF-1B, Grade B-: Knee injury was badly timed. Needs a fast start to separate himself from the 1B/OF pack in this organization.

11) Henry Rodriguez, RHP, Grade B-: 5.77 ERA at Sacramento was deceptive; FIP was 4.20 and he still has the amazing K/IP ratio. I'm going to cut him some slack for one more year, but obviously he needs to get the walks down.

12) Corey Brown, OF, Grade C+: On a good day he looks like a cross between a young Kurt Gibson and Jeromy Burnitz. On a bad day he looks completely helpless. No way to know what we'll get here.

13) Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Grade C+: Could move quickly back up the prospect charts now that Tommy John is further behind him. Will stuff and command both return?

14) Michael Ynoa, RHP, Grade C+: Impossible to rank or grade accurately at this point. Still has all-world potential, but we need to see him take the mound against real hitters.

15) Arnold Leon, RHP, Grade C+: Gets a lot of attention from A's fans for some reason. I think he's a good prospect as a fourth starter or strong reliever but I don't see ace potential in him.

16) Pedro Figueroa, LHP, Grade C+: Live-armed lefty needs better control as he moves up.

17) Ben Hornbeck, LHP, Grade C+: Amazing K/IP ratio in the California League stands out. Upper-80s fastball with strong changeup and decent breaking ball. Will have to prove himself in Double-A but I lean towards optimism.

18) Sam Demel, RHP, Grade C+: Funky delivery with above average stuff, could help in pen soon if command sharpens up.

19) Anthony Capra, LHP, Grade C+: Decent stuff with strong K/IP ratios, walk rate a bit higher than it should be, Double-A transition should be interesting.

20) Connor Hoehn, RHP, Grade C+: Unhittable as a closer in the Northwest League, could move fast in that role but more slowly if he starts.

21) Justin Marks, LHP, Grade C+: I liked him a lot coming out of college at Louisville, advanced feel for pitching with decent stuff, but we need to see some innings.

22) Mickey Storey, RHP, Grade C+: Amazing statistical performance at four levels last year, finishing strong in Triple-A pen. Could help in middle relief due to pinpoint command of curveball.

OTHERS: (Grade C): Jeremy Barfield, OF; Bobby Cassevah, RHP; Jason Christian, 3B; Dusty Coleman, SS; Conner Crumbliss, 2b-OF; Rashun Dixon, OF; Brad Kilby, LHP; Ian Krol, LHP; Tyler Ladendorf, SS; Josh Leyland, C; Clayton Mortensen, RHP; Ryan Ortiz, C; Shane Peterson, OF-1B; James Simmons, RHP; Paul Smyth, RHP; Wilfredo Solano, SS-3B; Justin Souza, RHP; Matt Sulentic, OF.

I like this system a lot, and it's not because Billy Beane gave me an interview.

Chris Carter and Michael Taylor are two of my very favorite prospects. The more I study Carter, the more I think he can be a special hitter, enough to override concerns about his glove. Taylor is a tools guy who made good; blocked in Philadelphia, he'll get a chance much sooner here and I trust Oakland to be patient with him if he has any growing pains. Grant Green could end up being one of the steals of the 2009 draft. Desme still has some questions, but I've liked him since he was in college and I'm not going to stop after this season. So right at the top, this system ranks well.

There is a huge mass of B-/C+ types. Cardenas, Weeks, Stassi, Donaldson, and Doolittle all have the potential to develop into regular major league players. Stassi has the highest ceiling of the group, but is also the furthest away. All of the others could contribute as soon as 2010 under the right circumstances, although more probably 2011. I don't think any of them except maybe Stassi will become stars, but they should all have long careers, at worst as productive role players. Corey Brown could turn into something very interesting too. Shane Peterson and Matt Sulentic could also prove valuable, although they are more likely to get lost in the shuffle than the other guys.

Hitting at the lower levels thins out. Rashun Dixon has amazing tools but is so raw that I can't give him anything higher than a Grade C right now. 2009 international signee Wilfredo Solano has great scouting reports for his power potential, but it is really easy to get burned by these Latin free agents until we actually see them play against real competition. He gets a "Grade C with higher potential" for now. Jason Christian and Dusty Coleman both have some tools and flash skills, but both have uncertain bats. I put Ladendorf in the book because Oakland was going to draft him in '08 before the Twins beat them to it, then they asked for him in the Cabrera trade. His numbers aren't much at this point, but he's got tools too.

Last year's graduations thinned out the pitching at the upper levels, but there is still some talent here. I don't like Tyson Ross' mechanics, but I didn't like Scott Erickson's either. Their stuff is similar and if Ross can improve his command a bit he could take off quickly. Rodriguez has amazing stuff and I'm going to give him an aggressive Grade B-. There are a variety of interesting arms behind them, with potential relief options and possible four/five starters being predominant. Ynoa is the big wild card, but as with Solano we need to see some game action.

Overall, I think there is a lot to like here: impact bats, several potential role players, interesting arms, skill guys, some tools guys. They could use some additional arms and it will be interesting to see what direction they take in the 2010 draft.

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