The Oakland Athletics are in second place in the American League Western Division, two games behind the Texas Rangers who have moved ahead into first place. If Oakland decides an offensive reinforcement is needed, outfielder Michael Choice stands ready. He's had a fine campaign for Triple-A Sacramento, and is our subject as Thursday's Prospect of the Day.
Choice was drafted by Oakland in the first round in 2010, 10th overall, from the University of Texas-Arlington. He was an outstanding hitter with power and patience in college (he hit .383 with 16 homers and 76 walks as a junior) and earned a $2,000,000 bonus. He continued to show power in his pro debut, hitting .284/.388/.627 in 27 games for Vancouver in the Northwest League. He followed up with 30 more homers in the California League in 2011, batting .285/.376/.542 overall.
Choice slumped in the home run department for Double-A Midland in 2012, hitting 10 in 91 games, although his overall line at .287/.356/.423 was still good with a wOBA of .351, wRC+ of 117. In 2013 he's hit .300/.389/.451 with 14 homers, 61 walks, and 110 strikeouts in 115 games for Triple-A Sacramento, wOBA of .359 and wRC+ of 124. Although the home run totals have varied, his relative rate of production has remained very good at each level.
A right-handed hitter and thrower, Choice is listed at 6-0, 215 pounds, born November 10, 1989. His best physical tool is power, but he's a solid overall athlete with average speed and arm strength. He runs well enough that he's played center field primarily in the minors without embarrassing himself, although in the long run he may fit better in left.
On offense, his swing used to be rather long with a lot of moving parts, but he's shortened it up. He still strikes out a lot and likely always will, but he works the count effectively and has maintained solid walk rates, boosting his OBP. Choice's 2012 season ended early with a broken hand, but he's shown no ill effects this year, at least once he got some rust worked off. He is not just a pull-oriented slugger; he shows pure hitting skills and can take the ball deep to all fields.
Choice has been particularly hot lately, hitting .330/.413/.532 in his last 24 games and may not have much left to prove in Triple-A. Choice has been a steady producer in the minors, not extremely dominant but persistently, consistently above average. He may need some adjustment time once he reaches the Show, but I suspect he will hold true to form in the long run.