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Oakland Athletics Top 20 2014 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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The Oakland Athletics farm system provided firepower for trades this summer and should have an intriguing Double-A lineup core in 2015, but more arms are needed.

Renato Nunez
Renato Nunez
USA TODAY Sports

We continue our organization reviews today with the Oakland Athletics. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season rankings and grades. This is a general review of 2014, not a detailed preview for 2015.

This list was originally published April 7, 2014

1) Addison Russell, SS, Grade A: Traded to Chicago Cubs in Jeff Samardzija deal. At age 20, hit .295/.350/.508 with 13 homers, 19 walks, 49 strikeouts in 258 at-bats between High-A Stockton, Double-A Midland, and Double-A Tennessee, in between injuries. One of the top prospects in baseball.

2) Billy McKinney, OF, Grade B: Borderline B+: Age 20, hit .264/.354/.412 with 11 homers, 61 walks, 100 strikeouts between Stockton and High-A Daytona. Young for the A-ball level but held his own.

3) Raul Alcantara, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline B. Pitched 20 innings for Midland then went down with Tommy John surgery. Age 21.

4) Daniel Robertson, SS, Grade B-: Age 20, overshadowed by Russell pre-season but that won’t be true after the trade and after Robertson’s impressive ’14 campaign for Stockton: .310/.402/.471 with 15 homers, 37 doubles, 72 walks, 94 strikeouts in 548 at-bats. May not have the range to stick at shortstop but he is very reliable.

5) Renato Nunez, 3B, Grade B-: Age 20, hit .279/.336/.517 with 29 homers, 34 walks, 113 strikeouts in 509 at-bats for Stockton. Power developing nicely, still have to wonder about batting average/OBP against better pitching.

6) B.J. Boyd, OF, Grade B-: Age 21, hit .226/.300/.319 with six homers, 15 steals, 48 walks, 94 strikeouts in 464 at-bats for Low-A Beloit. Very disappointing season after better campaigns in short-season ball in ’12 and ’13.

7) Nolan Sanburn, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, posted 3.28 ERA with 73/25 K/BB in 71 innings for Stockton, nine saves. Throws four major league quality pitches but doesn’t have the durability to start. Traded to White Sox for Adam Dunn.

8) Bobby Wahl, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, posted 5.06 ERA with 43/19 K/BB in 43 innings for Beloit, 4.22 ERA with 19/6 K/BB in 11 innings for Stockton. Disappointing from a college guy but he did post a good strikeout rate.

9) Michael Ynoa, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Age 23, posted 5.52 ERA with 64/21 K/BB in 46 innings for Stockton, 42 hits. Another disappointment, command an issue but he still picks up a lot of strikeouts.

10) Billy Burns, OF, Grade C+: Age 25, hit .250/.333/.330 with 51 steals in 364 at-bats for Midland, .193/.254/.211 with three steals in 109 at-bats for Sacramento, has stolen three bases in 11 major league games over six at-bats. Very fast, lack of power will preclude regular use but could have some value as a reserve.

11) Dylan Covey, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, 4.81 ERA with 70/26 K/BB in 101 innings for Beloit, 7.15 ERA with 22/15 K/BB in 39 innings for Stockton. Stuff doesn’t match results, which was often true in college too.

12) Max Muncy, 1B, Grade C+: Age 24, hit .264/.385/.379 with seven homers, 87 walks, 92 strikeouts in 435 at-bats for Midland. Looks like ’13 power surge was Cal League illusion, but he does have some OBP skills.

13) Matt Olson, 1B, Grade C+: Age 20, hit .262/.405/.543 with 37 homers, 117 walks, 137 strikeouts in 512 at-bats for Stockton. Fairly young for Cal League and power/patience ability stands out, could be Nick Swisher type.

14) Chris Kohler, LHP, Grade C+: Age 19, missed entire season with shoulder problems.

15) Miles Head, 3B, Grade C+: Borderline C. Age 23, hit .219/.264/.362 with 11 walks, 52 strikeouts in 210 at-bats for Midland. He hasn’t hit well since 2012 and can’t stay healthy.

16) Dillon Overton, LHP, Grade C: Age 23, recovering from Tommy John surgery and it went well: 1.95 ERA with 53/4 K/BB in 37 innings between AZL Athletics and Vermont in the New York-Penn League. Pitching skills intact, now needs to build up stamina.

17) Kent Matthes, OF, Grade C: Age 27, drifting into journeyman status instead of being a prospect with uninspiring .232/.291/.424 season between Double-A and Triple-A, hit 16 homers but with weak 29/115 BB/K.

18) Ryan Dull, RHP, Grade C:
Age 24, posted 2.88 ERA with 61/15 K/BB in 56 innings for Midland, 52 hits. Should be in the middle relief mix soon.

19) Arnold Leon, RHP, Grade C: Age 26, posted 4.97 ERA with 128/51 K/BB in 145 innings for Triple-A Sacramento, 170 hits. I think he has more potential than the ERA and the hits imply and could sneak into a useful season or two in bullpen or as fifth starter.

20) Ryon Healy, 1B-3B, Grade C: Age 22, hit .285/.318/.428 with 16 homers, 28 walks, 79 strikeouts in 561 at-bats for Stockton. I want to see him outside the Cal League

Oakland ranked 27th on the preseason organization rankings list and will still rank towards the bottom entering 2015, although the system is not fully depleted.

Summer trades took the top edge off this system, with Top 10 prospects Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Nolan Sanburn all changing hands. The 2015 list is going to look considerably different.

There is still an intriguing offensive core with Nunez, Robertson, Olson, Healy, catcher Bruce Maxwell, outfielders Jaycob Brugman and Aaron Shipman, and infielder Chad Pinder all heading to Double-A to open next year. That could be a very solid lineup. 2014 draftee Matt Chapman hit a disappointing .237/.282/.389 for Beloit coming out of Cal State Fullerton but he could be more effective in the Cal League. Outfielder Boog Powell hit .335 in the Midwest League and could thrive in the Cal League environment.

Pitching isn’t as impressive. Alcantara’s injury was badly-timed, Ynoa isn’t living up to his potential, and Wahl was disturbingly mediocre. On the other hand, Dillon Overton looks fully recovered from Tommy John, showing the same outstanding pitchability he demonstrated at the University of Oklahoma.

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Dillon Overton, photo by Stacy Revere, Getty Images

Seth Streich had a good year for Stockton (3.16 ERA, 116/22 K/BB) but went down with a shoulder injury in late July. 2014 pitching drafts Daniel Gossett and Brett Graves could advance quickly. Tucker Healey and Seth Frankoff could help in the bullpen soon.

There's some depth in hitting but more impact arms are needed.