A lot of guys promoted this year -- Cahill, Anderson, Mazzaro, Cunningham, Gonzalez & Outman off the top of my head, but there's still some depth and potential to the Oakland farm system
1. Jemile Weeks, 2B, A- Almost an exact throwback of his brother Rickie. He has power, wheels, discipline, and hits for average. He's a swtich hitter and a bit of an injury risk and showed us that after his hip flexor injury. He's a good, explosive player who is probably going to be on the A's for as long as they can afford him. After beginning the year in May, he's hit for a .299/.355/.468 line for the A+ Stockton Ports. He's hit his first speedbump this July. With the A's extremely weak at the 2B position, I see him getting some good MLB time in 2010. At 22 years old, he's young, college-polished, and one of the best prospects in the game.
2. Brett Wallace, 3B, B+/A- He's got one of the funniest faces the game has to offer, and one of the most promising bats. Between A and AA last year, he hit .337 with 8 HR in 202 ABs with a .427 OBP and a .530 SLG. Already he was high on many prospectors' Top 50s, however his defense was dubious. Wallace has been an OK third baseman so far despite his large frame, and with the contest for the A's first baseman a tad clogged I think Wallace is far more suitable for 3B or DH in the bigs. Between AA and AAA this year so far he's hit .285/.362/.442, which certainly isn't bad for a 22 year old, but for him having such low pop between the Texas League and PCL worries me a bit. He may see some MLB time this year. His grade depends on his power.
3. Chris Carter, 1B, B+ Carter is the other true top prospect in the A's system. He's been hitting for some solid average, but his main prowess is walking and hitting homers, and check this out: the 6'4 225 pound Carter has stolen 13 bases! Carter was acquired via the Dan Haren trade, and worries many scouts and fans with his high K rate, which last year was around 1 K per 3.2 ABs, a highly worrying number. Many also doubt Carter's defensive ability, and believe he is a future DH; however, Carter's production seems to silence the faults. In 2008 he hit for a .259/.361/.569 slash line with 39 homers, and this year in the Texas League so far it's been .337/.435/.576 with 24. I am very optimistic about Carter and I believe he is every bit of the ability to be a righty Ryan Howard, but he has to prove he can move past his high K rate (1-per-4 ABs this year) to do it.
4. Michael Ynoa, RHP, B Still an engima with good stuff. Inoa has a consistantly 91-93 MPH fastball that hits 96 and 97, and is 17 years old at the moment. He's got a rather large frame, standing just above Kobe Bryant at 6'7" and yet weighs about as much as Jose Reyes at 205 LBS. So yeah, he still has room to fill out. IYnoa has no pro experience yet, but he IS on the A's' Arizona League roster. He matches his fastball with two very nice pitches in a curve and splitter, and at 17 is more polished than most players half a decade older than he is. Known to scouts as an absolute gem of a player. No pro experience warrants nothing more than a B.
5. Grant Desme, OF, B Desme is a pretty sexy prospect this year to be sure, and mostly because of his gargantuan counting stats. This year, Desme has hit 29 homers and stolen 40 bases. I'm already salivating. There isn't a doubt in my mind or anyone else's for that matter that this guy is the epitome of toolsy. Desme is a righty hitter drafted out of college and will likely see some MLB time possibly as soon as August 2010 knowing the A's. His speed is stellar, as is his baserunning ability (89% SB success rate), and his power is his most standout tool (TBC scouting report ranked it a 95 out of 100). Unfortunately, some worries accompany his seemingly unlimited potential. His plate discipline is in need of some work. He kinda needs to walk more (52 times in 540 PA), and strikeout a hair less (144!!). Make sure to watch this kid.
6. Adrian Cardenas, 2B/SS, B- I'm sure Billy Beane wants Cardenas around for a long time. Cardenas is nothing but OBP. He's a good defender, but he's nothing but OBP. Cardenas in the FSL last year hit for a .296/.364/.399 line with 17 stolen bags, and was caught stealing once. This year in AA he hit .317/.386/.436, and is having some trouble adjusting to AAA. He's certainly a good prospect and reminds me a bit of Luis Castillo with less wheels. I'm sure Cardenas will develop SOME power, but maybe when he's around 25 or 26. He's 21 now.
7. Henry Rodriguez, RHP, B- An unhittable reliever. He throws a high-90s heat and mixes it with a very nice changeup. He has a breaking ball, but he'll probably drop it soon if he hasn't recently. Should make for a spectacular closer. Last year, mainly as a starter in the CALi league, he pitched 75 innings, walked 40, and struck out 104. He allowed 57 hits, and 5 HRs to achieve a 3.96 ERA. He got absolutely rocked in 40 or so innings in the Texas League, walking and striking out about 1 per inning pitched, bringing his ERA to 7.46. Since being moved to relief duty full time, he's had a 4.94 ERA and 22 walks in 27 innings, but he's shown that he can dominate hitters very well. He's struck out 45, and allowed 18 hits. Rodriguez has time to gain command. He's a 22 year old relief prospect in AAA, so he's fine.
8. Sam Demel, RHP, B- I can't say I know too much about Demel in terms of his repertoire. I know that he's destined for the bullpen and his numbers suggest that he could be a setup man or closer. He gets Ks, has solid command for a reliever, and has great makeup. Demel has a deceptive motion with a good release point that's hard for batters to pick up. He's not a hard tosser, but has great bite to his fastball. At 23 years old, he's almost ready for the bigs, and is seeing some time in AAA. He's not too big a guy but not small, standing 6'0" 200 LBs with a pretty muscular frame. In AA, he was phenominal to say the least. In 27 appearances he pitched 29.1 innings, striking out 26, walking 9, and finishing the league with a 0.61 ERA. In AAA, he's seeing his first real command struggle. In 11 appearances he's pitched 14 innings and walked 9, striking out 14 for a 1.93 ERA.
9. Shane Peterson, OF, B- Acquired from Cardinals, Peterson is an athletic young outfielder who will soon join Scott Hairston, Aaron Cunningham, Grant Desme, and Corey Brown in the running for the A's outfield of the future. Peterson will be a ripe 22-year old next year, and will likely start the year in AAA. Peterson is a refined hitter with a mature approach at the plate and works counts well, and also has a solid level swing with good bat speed. The numbers that most stick out are his batting average numbers, which between A+ and AA ball has remained rock solid in the .280 department. As he matures, Peterson should become a good everyday player.
10. Jason Christian, 3B, B- Christian was a steal from the 2008 draft. He's a base stealer who knows how to take a pitch. He's been between third and shortstop in the A's organization. In short-season ball in 2008, Christian hit .291/.404/.432 in 214 ABs, going 13 for 14 in stolen base attempts. He also saw a small glimpse of A ball. Christian, now 22, has been in A ball for all of this year, and is still showing quite good discipline at the plate (41 walks, 69 Ks, 330 ABs), and Beltran-like efficiency on the paths (28-for-31 this year). The negatives for Christian have been his troubles at the plate, evident by a .261/.341/.385 slash line, and small encounters with injury. If I were to make a crystal ball on Christian, I'd say that he's see's some big league time at 24, struggles at ages 25 and 26, and comes to be a very good leadoff hitter between 27 and 31, the average of those years being a .280/.360/.420 line with a crapload of stolen bases.
11. Mickey Storey, RHP, B- Storey is the third relief pitcher I've included in the A's Top 10, and it's an incredible testament to the Athletics' pitching depth. In addition to a full 2010 rotation (Braden, Cahill, Anderson, Outman, Mazzaro), the organization is filled with young starting pitching (Gonzalez, Simmons, Eveland, Ynoa, Ross) as well as a wonderful closer (Bailey) and 3 candidates to replace him (Rodriguez, Demel, Storey). But anyways, on to Storey himself. Storey was a brilliant relief pitcher his junior year in 2007, but opted to go for a senior year. In the end, he finished with a 7 ERA. Because of this, Storey dropped to the 31st round, when the A's picked him up. Storey, sporting a High-80s fastball and a beautiful mid-70s curve, as well as a serviceable change, is a command artist in addition to his plus stuff, which helped him to a 23-to-1 K/BB rate in his duration at A-ball. In the beginning of this year, Storey didn't even make a full season squad, and made it to A ball as a replacement. Now he's in AAA. Between A/A+/AAA ball, Storey has pitched 44.0 innings, striking out 62 and walking just 7. A phenomenal young pitcher.
12. Sean Doolittle, 1B/OF, C+ Battling a knee injury, Doolittle is a solid player who should have a good career as a platoon hitter. He has some potential with the bat, mostly in the power department, he has pretty average contact ability and above average discipline. Due to health and the fact that he probably won't show that he can be a good full time hitter, he should see plenty of 350 at-bat seasons.
13. Tyson Ross, RHP, C+ Selected in the 2008 draft, Ross was a pick that received minor controversy. On paper, Ross is a very attractive player -- he is the owner of a mid-90s fastball and a mid-70s change that makes for a nice velocity change. In addition he's developing a curveball and slider. He's a strikeout pitcher with good command, and it doesn't hurt that he's 6'5 and 215 pounds. There's no doubt that Ross's scouting report and built dark frame is a plus, but what's the downside to Tyson Ross? It isn't his 4.41 ERA for the year, but rather his awkward delivery which may inhibit his durability and may make him prone to injury. Despite his delivery and also because of it, Tyson Ross is a prospect to watch.
14. James Simmons, RHP, C+ Just last year Simmons was a legitimate Top 10 Prospect for the A's. His numbers were wonderful and he was on the fast track to the bigs, with great command and a good changeup. Of course, when a pitcher who was known for his command loses it, bad things happen. Simmons was in Double-A in 2008, pitch for Midland in the Texas League. His ERA came out to a neat and tidy 3.51, and his walk rate a fabulous 2.1 per 9. Simmons looked like he was near ready to be the Athletics' number 4 behind Cahill, Anderson and Mazzaro. However, Simmons has seen a setback in AAA this year, as his walk rate has zoomed up to 3.5 per 9 and his K rate dropped from 7.9 to 6.5 per 9. Simmons doesn't have premier stuff -- his fastball tops out at 92 and is steady at 88, and his changeup only works when is fastball does. He projects to be a back end starter if he continues to walk as much as he has been.
15. Corey Brown, OF, C+ A toolsy young outfielder who should be used to success by now. Injuries holding him back.
16. Dusty Coleman, SS, C+ Despite being a young shortstop, there is nothing too exciting about him. He's a 22 year old right with overall above average tools with potential to be an everyday regular. Coleman is only held back by his ridiculous K rate, which has never dipped below 33.2% and has gotten as high as 39%. Coleman's walk rate has improve significantly from 5% to 10%, so as long as the Ks drop he should prove to be a valuable player. His 20-for-29 in stolen bases, and his ISO is good for a shortstop at .144. If I were to predict Coleman's future, I'd say he sees another 2 or 3 years of minor league time before being promoted and proving himself to be a useful role player, perhaps a regular.
17. Cliff Pennington, SS, C+ You may have seen Pennington in a Miami Dolphins uniform, but in his spare time he's a speed demon with a good, disciplined approach at the plate. Last year Pennington also saw some time in the Futures Game for God know's why. Cliff plays a very good shortstop and is pretty average in every category but discipline (above average) and speed. Time is running out for Pennington to be successful, but I believe he could be useful to some team, getting a .340 OBP and stealing his fair share of bases. To get a good idea of how good a base-stealer he is, one needs to look no further than his career SB numbers, where he is 107-for-128 in stolen base attempts. His career numbers and 2009 season numbers also give you an idea of what kind of hitter he is (.263/.362/.358 and .264/.345/.367 respectively). He'll be 26 next year.
18. Josh Donaldson, C, C+ A pretty underrated prospect, Donaldson overall is a good hitter in every respect. He's disciplined at the plate, he can hit for power, and he can get a solid average as well (think .265-.275). His K rates are pretty normal also (20.1% this year, accompanied with a 15.9% walk rate). In terms of standout ability I don't think Donaldson really has any, but I think he'd be a more than capable hitting catcher for just about any team out there, and that's pretty rare. This year, Donaldson's line in AA ball looked very promising, as he hit for a .272/.387/.413 clip. His power was down a bit as demonstrated by a .036 drop in ISO, but I don't find that number worrisome as the Texas League often robs power hitters of their homers. Donaldson only has one concern and it's whether he can stick at catcher, which I guess is pretty major, but worst-case scenario he'd be a solid corner infielder.
19. Nino Leyja, SS/2B, C A young, raw second baseman with plus defense and speed. Only 18 years old this year, he naturally struggled throughout the year.
20. Jeremy Barfield, OF, C Also a young, raw hitter. Good discipline, need to see more.
** I do not know nearly enough about Top draft picks Stassi and Green to include them on this list