Oakland Athletics (96-66, First Place, AL West)
Nate Freiman, 1B: Age 26, drafted by the Padres in the eighth round in 2009 out of Duke University. He was a Rule 5 pick by the Astros last winter then was claimed on waivers by Oakland in spring training. Freiman hit .274/.327/.389 in 190 at-bats this year, but he showed more power in the minors (22 homers in ’11, 24 in ’12) and could have more in his bat than the first-year numbers show.
Stephen Vogt, C: Age 28, a minor league vet originally drafted by the Rays in the 12th round in 2007 out of Azusa Pacific. Vogt had a fine year in Triple-A (.324/.398/.547 in 75 games) and showed some ability in Oakland, hitting .252/.295/.400 with four homers and reasonable defense.
Luke Montz, C: Another minor league vet, age 30, who played briefly for Oakland before being outrighted off the roster in September. He hit .179/.200/.393 in 13 games, after a .246/.352/.541 mark in 33 games in Triple-A. Originally drafted by the Nationals in the 17th round in 2003 from Hill Junior College.
Michael Taylor, OF: Age 27, a fifth round pick by the Phillies in 2007 out of Stanford. Taylor has been an effective Triple-A hitter, including a .281/.360/.474 mark with 18 homers for Sacramento this year, but was unable to translate that into big league production in his initial trials, going 3-for-21 last year and 1-for-23 this season. He should be at his theoretical peak now but has been unable to force his way into a job, and seems like a guy who could use a change of scenery.
Michael Choice, OF: Age 23, drafted in the first round in 2010 from the University of Texas-Arlington. Choice is a right-handed power hitter with a good eye, who hit .302/.390/.445 with 14 homers and 69 walks in Triple-A, then held his own with a 5-for-18 run in nine big league games in September. He’s expected to get a shot at regular playing time in 2014 and has more power in his bat than the 14 homers at Sacramento may imply.
Shane Peterson, 1B-OF: Age 25, Peterson saw action with Oakland in April, going 1-for-7, before being sent back to Sacramento. He hit .251/.358/.387 on the year with 12 homers, 17 steals, and 77 walks. He’s a good fielder at the outfield corners and first base, but will have to show more pop to claim a big league job long-term.
Dan Straily, RHP: Drafted in the 24th round in 2009 from Marshall University, Straily is 24 years old. He went 10-8, 3.96 in 27 starts for Oakland, with a 124/57 K/BB ratio in 152 innings, allowing 132 hits, reasonable performance for a rookie starter. He mixes an 88-93 MPH fastball with a slider and changeup, mixing in an occasional curve. He profiles as an inning-eating mid-rotation starter, which is a fine haul in the 24th round.
Sonny Gray, RHP: A first round pick in 2011 out of Vanderbilt, Gray was very successful in Triple-A (10-7, 3.42 ERA, 118/39 K/BB in 118 innings) and was, if anything, even better in the majors, going 5-3, 2.67 in 10 starts with a 67/20 K/BB. Oakland trusts him enough to name him the Game Two starter. He has a sinker that can get up to 94, along with a curveball, cutter, slider, and changeup. He performed like a top-line starter in August and September and it doesn’t look like a fluke to me.
Dan Otero, RHP: Age 28, Otero was drafted in the 21st round in 2007 by the San Francisco Giants from the University of South Florida. He had a great year in Triple-A (0.99 ERA, 22/1 K/BB in 27 innings, 15 saves) and remained effective in the Athletics bullpen, with a 1.38 ERA and a 27/6 K/BB in 39 innings. He profiles as a middle reliever with good control of a 90 MPH sinker and a slider.
Pedro Figueroa, LHP: Signed from the Dominican Republic in 2003, Figueroa’s trek through the system was slowed by injuries and command troubles, but Oakland didn’t give up and he reached the majors at age 27. He has a mid-90s fastball and a good slider, but still struggles with command. He posted a 4.10 ERA with a 49/33 K/BB in 59 innings in Triple-A, but gave up four runs in three big league innings on six hits and three walks.