By trading some of their top prospects including Michael Choice, Chris Bostick and Grant Green (who is no longer rookie eligible) and with the graduations of Sonny Gray and Dan Straily, the top of the Oakland Athletics’ top prospect list has been severely depleted over last year’s. There really aren’t too many elite guys in this organization anymore but the presence of Addison Russell is a big boost. There’s an exciting young class of players who were drafted in 2012 and 2013 who should be moving up and making people notice them in 2014.
Triple-A: Sacramento River Cats (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Midland Rock Hounds (Texas League)
High-A: Stockton Ports (California League)
Class-A: Beloit Snappers (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Vermont Lake Monsters (New York-Penn League)
Complex-Rookie: AZL Athletics (Arizona League)
Dillon Overton – LHP
Date of Birth: August 17, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’2″/172 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2013 draft
2013 Stats: Did not play
Analysis: Overton is a bit of a wild card right now, having missed the entire 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. Pitching in college as the number two starter to Jonathan Gray (2013 #3 overall pick) at Oklahoma, Overton was throwing in the low 90s with a curveball and a changeup that, while he can throw them for strikes, are inconsistent at times. Overton profiles somewhat like a Justin Nicolino but without any innings of pro ball under his belt, it’s tough to figure out how good he’s going to be.
2014 Prognosis: 2014 will likely be almost a wash. If he pitches in game action at all, it will likely be towards the end of the season and the A’s will probably be much more cautious than otherwise with a college hurler.
Bruce Maxwell – C
Date of Birth: December 20, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/230 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A+||OAK||104||425||374||44||103||22||0||7||49||0||0||43||63||.275||.348||.390||.739|
Analysis: Maxwell makes the list for me for a couple of reasons. One, this system isn’t all that strong overall, and two, he’s the best catcher they’ve got. While his throwing has regressed as he’s moved up levels, his bat has proved fairly potent. In two years of pro ball, the left-handed hitting catcher has shown very good contact skills, not striking out much (only 63 times in his first full-season) and hitting for a solid average. While he only hit seven home runs in 2013, scouts think that he’ll have average power and, if he makes the show, could hit between 12 and 15 per season.
2014 Prognosis: At the very least, Maxwell will be back in High-A Stockton. Catchers generally take longer to develop with the bat and a nice, friendly hitting environment could be just what the doctor ordered.
Arnold Leon – RHP
Date of Birth: September 6, 1988
Acquired: International free agent out of Mexico in 2008
|2013||24||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-AAA||OAK||9||8||.529||4.12||25||24||144.0||168||76||66||13||24||97||7||5||1.333||10.5||0.8||1.5||6.1||4.04|
Analysis: Leon made the most starts in his minor league career in 2013 at fairly advanced levels after having been mostly a reliever up until then. While the numbers aren’t glowing, they’re certainly solid, especially his Triple-A numbers which come in an unforgiving pitching environment. The strikeout numbers are low and the rap on Leon is that he really only has two major-league-average pitches, his fastball and changeup. The plus side is that he gets some great movement and consistently gets more ground outs than air outs.
2014 Prognosis: He’s already on the 40-man roster and could make his major league debut in the Oakland bullpen in 2014.
Bobby Wahl – RHP
Date of Birth: March 21, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’2″/210 lbs
Acquired: 5th round of 2013 draft
|2013||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–Rk||OAK||0||0||4.15||10||5||2||2||21.2||20||11||10||3||8||28||0||3||1.292||8.3||1.2||3.3||11.6||3.50|
Analysis: While Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus is very high on Wahl, there are some doubts as to whether he’ll be a starter or a reliever and until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to side with the consensus on this one. Despite his size, Wahl has a very high-effort delivery, using a “drop-and-drive” type of mechanic which screams “reliever.” He throws quite hard, with his sinking fastball sitting in the 92-95 range and has two at least ML average potential offspeed pitches with a good slider and a very good changeup.
2014 Prognosis: Wahl was used mostly in relief this season so the question remains: was he coming out of the bullpen to limit innings on an arm that was taxed heavily in the college season? Or, was he working in relief because the A’s think he’ll be a reliever? How the Oakland A’s answer that question will determine where he starts 2014 and how quickly he moves through the system.
Miles Head – 3B
Date of Birth: May 2, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’/215 lbs
Acquired: Traded from the Boston Red Sox on December 28, 2011 with Josh Reddick and Raul Alcantara for Ryan Sweeney and Andrew Bailey; drafted by Boston in the 26th round of the 2009 draft
Analysis: Head has shown some very good power so far in the minor leagues but that all disappeared in 2013. Some believe that it’s due a shoulder injury that showed up late in 2012 and has sapped his power ever since while others think that Head is not doing himself any favors by coming into camp in 2013 out of shape. He missed half of 2013 with that shoulder injury but he still has legitimate plus power to go along with a good arm to play third base. If he rebounds, he could be a guy that sneaks up on people.
2014 Prognosis: Head will get another crack at the Texas League in Midland, hopefully, with better results than last year. The good news is that he’s still fairly young and has time to come back from a bad 2013.