U.S. Futures All-Star Grant Green of the Oakland Athletics catches the ball during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game on July 11 2010 (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Oakland Athletics Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Grant Green, SS, Grade B: Borderline B+. I respect his power, but I'm worried enough about the strike zone judgment and questions about his defense to kick his grade down a notch from last year.
2) Chris Carter, 1B-OF, Grade B: Borderline B+. He'll be streaky, but he'll hit for power, and I still think he can be more than just a one-dimensional hitter once he gets his feet wet. Won't have any defensive value though.
3) Michael Choice, OF, Grade B: Borderline B+. Tools were underrated in college, but high strikeout rate in the Northwest League worries me.
4) Tyson Ross, RHP, Grade B-: I'd give him a straight B but I'm worried about his health record.
5) Fautino De Los Santos, RHP, Grade B-: Won't rank this highly on other prospect lists, but he's still got great stuff, and the 6.54 ERA at Midland was flukey. His FIP was 2.09.
6) Steve Parker, 3B, Grade B-: Also doesn't rank this highly on other lists, but after seeing him in Arizona, I think his bat is for real. Not sure if he can play third base though.
7) Max Stassi, C, Grade B-: Grade may seem high considering his struggles in the Midwest League, but he can pull a Mesoraco on us.
8) Ian Krol, LHP, Grade B-: I buy into the idea that his polish will make up for lack of plus velocity. Future fourth starter.
10) Jemile Weeks, 2B, Grade C+: He's never healthy, so it is hard to know exactly what kind of player he really can be.
11) Yordy Cabrera, SS, Grade C+: Love the power potential, but old for a high school pick and no pro data yet.
12) Adrian Cardenas, 2B, Grade C+: All of his offensive value is tied up in his batting average, and if he can't hit higher than .260 in the PCL, it is hard to rank him higher. Still young enough to improve.
13) Josh Donaldson, C, Grade C+: I think he is underrated and could have some very good years in his late 20s.
14) Eric Sogard, 2B, Grade C+: The guy may not have great tools, but he can play. Good utility guy at worst, could get beyond that.
15) Connor Hoehn, RHP, Grade C+: Awesome K/IP ratios.
16) Aaron Shipman, OF, Grade C+: Would rank higher on pure tools, Baseball America had him at #7, but I'm not Baseball America and I have some concerns about the bat.
17) Matt Thomson, RHP, Grade C+: Could be one of the big steals of 2010 draft as a 12th rounder if he holds the improved velocity.
18) Danny Farquhar, RHP, Grade C+: Should be a very good middle reliever.
19) Chad Lewis, 3B, Grade C: Good power potential, another guy who could rank higher on pure tools, but I want more objective data.
20) Rashun Dixon, OF, Grade C: Another tools guy showing gradual improvement.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Travis Banwart, RHP; Jeremy Barfield, OF; Anthony Capra, LHP; Bobby Cramer, LHP; Royce Consigli, OF; Conner Crumbliss, 2B-OF, Pedro Figueroa, LHP; Shawn Haviland, RHP; Jonathan Joseph, RHP; A.J. Kirby-Jones, 1B; Tyler Ladendorf, 2B; Trystan Magnuson, RHP; Clay Mortensen, RHP; Renato Nunez, 3B; Ryan Ortiz, C; Paul Smyth, RHP; Tyler Vail, RHP; Michael Ynoa, RHP.
An interesting system.
Green, Carter, and Choice could all be Grade B+ prospects, but each as a question-mark that holds me back as I write this. Ross and De Los Santos are in the same boat; both could be Grade B guys, but I don't trust Ross to stay healthy, and Fautino's command remains an issue, although his ugly ERA at Midland is misleading. I'm open to arguments about all of them, pro and con, and invite a discussion.
There is a lot of B-/C+ in this system. Some of them are guys that we just need more data about, while others project as role players, albeit good ones in the cases of Donaldson and Sogard. The system could look a lot deeper in impact players next year if '10 draftees such as Lewis, Shipman, and Cabrera live up to their potential.