Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Oakland Athletics
Here is a look at rookies and prospects who played for the Oakland Athletics in 2012
Travis Blackley, LHP: Age 29, journeyman type who got a chance and made the most of it, 4.10 ERA with 71/32 K/BB in 108 innings in Oakland, 98 hits. Mixes four pitches, classic southpaw style. Originally signed by the Mariners out of Australia in 2000.
Andrew Carignan, RHP: Age 26, posted a 4.66 ERA in 9.2 major league innings before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Good fastball/slider combination, at this point we just need to see how he recovers. Drafted in the fifth round in 2007 from the University of North Carolina.
Chris Carter, 1B: Age 25, hit .279/.367/.486 with 12 homers in 276 at-bats for Triple-A Sacramento, then .239/.350/.514 with 16 homers, 39 walks, and 83 strikeouts in 218 at-bats for Oakland. What you see is what you get: big-time homerun power, some walks, but a high strikeout rate and not much of a batting average. Drafted by the White Sox in 2005 as a 15th ro under from high school in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF: Age 26 (27 later this month), Cuban defector hit .292/.356/.505 with 23 homers, 16-for-20 in steals, 43 walks, and 102 strikeouts in 487 at-bats for the major league team. Can't argue with the power/speed combination, and he showed the ability to make adjustments. Could be even better next year.
Ryan Cook, RHP: Age 25, excellent rookie season in bullpen, 2.09 ERA with 80/27 K/BB in 73 innings, just 42 hits allowed, garnered 14 saves. Throws hard (up to 98), command has improved, should have a long career as a reliever and plausible closer. Acquired in Cahill trade, was drafted by Arizona in 27th round in 2008 from Southern Cal.
Collin Cowgill, OF: Age 26, part of the Cahill trade, hit .254/.312/.373 in 260 at-bats in Triple-A, .269/.336/.317 with 11 walks and 27 strikeouts in 104 at-bats in the majors. Fourth outfield profile, but I think there could be more in the bat than he showed this year. Drafted by Arizona in the fifth round in 2008 from the University of Kentucky.
Josh Donaldson, 3B: Age 26, got off to an ultracold start, went back to the minors and hit .335/.402/.598 in Triple-A, returned to the Show and finished at .241/.289/.398 overall with nine homers, 14 walks, 61 strikeouts in 274 games. Adapted reasonably well to third base. Drafted by the Cubs in the supplemental first round in 2007 from Auburn University.
Sean Doolittle, LHP: Age 26, converted to pitching after starting pro career as a first baseman/outfielder, posted a 3.04 ERA with a 60/11 K/BB in 47 major league innings this season, 40 hits. Low-to-mid-90s, actually had a reverse platoon split. Looks like a fine relief asset. Drafted in the supplemental first round in 2007 from the University of Virginia.
Pedro Figueroa, LHP: Age 26, posted 2.62 ERA with 40/18 K/BB in 45 innings in Triple-A, then 3.32 ERA with 14/15 K/BB in 22 innings in the majors. Tommy John survivor, tough on lefties but needs better control, mid-90s heat. Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2003.
Graham Godfrey, RHP: Age 27, started four games in May and didn't perform well (0-4, 6.43, 10/10 K/BB in 21 innings). Spent most of year in Triple-A, with 3.29 ERA, 60/26 K/BB in 104 innings, 98 hits. Average stuff, probably a Quadruple-A pitcher. Drafted in the 34th round by the Blue Jays in 2006 from College of Charleston.
A.J. Griffin, RHP: Age 24, thrived in Double-A/Triple-A (2.82 ERA, 91/18 K/BB in 102 innings) and continued to thrive after moving up to majors, 7-1 in 15 starts with a 3.06 ERA, 64/19 K/BB in 82 innings, 74 hits. Doesn't burn radar but mixes heater with three strong secondary pitches and throws strikes. Nasty curveball. Drafted in the 13th round in 2010 from University of San Diego.
Brandon Hicks, SS: Age 27, hit .244/.350/.506 with 18 homers, 47 walks, 115 strikeouts in 328 at-bats in Triple-A. Hit .172/.243/.391 with three homers, six walks, 31 strikeouts in 64 at-bats in the majors. Has good power, but strikeout rate is extremely high and keeps him from major league success. Drafted in the third round in 2007 from Texas A&M by the Atlanta Braves.
Tom Milone, LHP: Age 25, silenced the doubters by going 13-10, 3.74 in 31 starts with a 137/36 K/BB in 190 innings, allowed 207 hits. He'll give up some hits and some homers, but he controls the damage by never walking anybody. Outstanding changeup. Drafted by the Nationals in the 10th round in 2008 from Southern Cal, came over to Oakland in Gio Gonzalez trade.
Jordan Norberto, LHP: Age 25, good bullpen work with 2.77 ERA, 46/22 K/BB in 52 innings, 37 hits before going down with shoulder problem. Hits mid-90s, should be useful reliever as long as health holds up. Signed by the Diamondbacks in 2004 from the Dominican Republic.
Derek Norris, C: Age 23, hit .271/.329/.477 with 21 walks, 41 strikeouts in 218 at-bats in Triple-A. In majors, hit .201/.276/.349 with 21 walks, 66 strikeouts in 209 at-bats. Needs to make adjustments but I think he can and will. Just don't expect a high batting average. Drafted by the Nationals in fourth round in 2007 from high school in Goddard, Kansas. Came over in Gonzalez trade.
Jarrod Parker, RHP: Age 23, went 13-8, 3.47 ERA with 140/63 K/BB in 181 innings, 166 hits, anchoring the major league rotation. There's really nothing to complain about here, Parker was everything the Athletics could have hoped for in a Trevor Cahill replacement. He's already had Tommy John, and if he stays healthy he can improve even beyond where he currently is. Drafted by Arizona in the first round in 2007 from high school in Norwell, Indiana.
Evan Scribner, RHP: Age 27, another good reliever, 2.55 ERA with 30/12 K/BB in 35 innings in the majors, 30 hits allowed. Very tough on right-handed hitters (.183/.221/.280) and could fill the ROOGY role for awhile. Drafted by Arizona in the 28th round in 2007 from Central Connecticut State University.
Eric Sogard, 2B: Age 26, hit .331/.417/.484 in 157 at-bats for Sacramento, .167/.206/.275 with five walks, 17 strikeouts in 102 at-bats for Oakland. Hampered by ankle injury. Utility infield type, probably won't hit enough to be a regular. Drafted by the Padres in the second round in 2007 from Arizona State University.
Dan Straily, RHP: Age 23, blew through upper minors (2.78 ERA, 190/42 K/BB in 152 innings, 110 hits between Double-A and Triple-A) and held his own in major league action, 3.89 ERA with 32/16 K/BB in 39 innings, 36 hits. Has some gopher issues to work on, but has the stuff with a 90-94 fastball, good slider, change, and curve. Impressive development of a 24th round pick (2009, Marshall University).
Michael Taylor, OF: Age 26, hit .287/.405/.441 with 31 doubles, 12 homers, 86 walks, 105 strikeouts, 18-for-21 in steals in 449 at-bats for Sacramento. Went 3-for-21 in the majors with 10 strikeouts. Drew more walks this year, but we are now three seasons removed from his big "breakout" in the Phillies system and time is running out. Drafted in the fifth round in 2007 out of Stanford.
The most productive rookie hitter was Yoenis Cespedes with a 3.1 WAR, but Josh Donaldson, Chris Carter, and Derek Norris all chipped in. The big news, of course, was a pitching staff dominated by rookies, with Jarrod Parker (3.7) and Tommy Milone (2.7) leading the way, with support from Ryan Cook (1.6), Sean Doolittle (1.6), A.J. Griffin (1.3), Travis Blackley (1.2), and Dan Straily. Overall it was an amazing season to be a rookie/prospect watcher in Oakland.