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Oakland A’s: Top 10 Prospects For 2013

Oakland A's prospectsPaced by homegrown arms like Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin, the Oakland A’s were one of baseball’s most pleasant surprises in 2012, winning 94 games and overtaking the Texas Rangers to capture the American League West title on the last day of the regular season.

The A’s also received help from minor league products like reliever Ryan Cook, first baseman Chris Carter, catcher Derek Norris and young acquisitions such as international free agent Yoenis Cespedes and former Red Sox prospect Josh Reddick.

Last year’s success was accomplished without former A’s top prospects Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, who were traded away to get more prospects in typical Billy Beane fashion. Milone and Parker were among the haul of prospects landed in the aforementioned deals.

The 2013 A’s are still young, and once again they will likely give opportunities to top prospects throughout the season. Right-handed pitchers Dan Straily, Sonny Gray and Brad Peacock, and outfielders Grant Green and Michael Taylor are among the minor leaguers who can find themselves in A’s uniforms at some point this year.

Here are the top 10 prospects in the A’s organization entering the 2013 campaign:

1) Michael Choice and Addison Russell are projected to have higher ceilings than Dan Straily, but the 24-year-old right-hander emerged from obscurity last season to lead the minors in strikeouts before he was summoned to Oakland, where he was 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and a .237 batting average against in seven starts. He fanned 190 in 152 innings with a .202 opponent’s batting average between Double-A and Triple-A.

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2) A first round pick (11th overall) out of high school in 2012, Addison Russell is about to turn  19 and last year, at the age of 18, he batted .369 with seven home runs, 45 RBI and a  1.027 OPS in 217 at-bats at three levels, the last of which was advanced Single-A. Impressive performance for a player who was facing high school pitching and swinging with an aluminum bat a few months earlier. Currently a shortstop, he could remain there or move to third base.

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3) Selected 10th overall out of the University of Texas in 2010, 23-year-old Michael Choice has yet to tap into his tremendous raw power, but the outfielder is showing his is a proficient all-around hitter as last year’s numbers (.287, 10 home runs, 58 RBI) suggest. Prone to the strikeout – he whiffed 88 times in 359 at-bats at Double-A Midland last year – a fractured hand ended his season in July.

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4) A first round pick (18th overall) out of Vanderbilt University in 2011, 23-year-old right-hander Sonny Gray has a low to mid-90s fast ball that moves and a power breaking ball.  He made 26 starts at Double-A Midland last season before making a start at Triple-A Sacramento. He could make his Major League debut in 2013.

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5) Drafted 13th overall in 2009 out of the University of Southern California as a shortstop, 25-year-old Grant Green was moved to center field and could make his Major League debut this year after hitting .296 with 15 home runs, 75 RBI and 13 stolen bases at Triple-A Sacramento in 2012.

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6) Acquired from the Red Sox in a package for Bailey last offseason, 21-year-old first baseman Miles Head hits for average and power. After raking in the California League, where he produced a .382 average with 18 home runs, 56 RBI and a 1.127 OPS in 267 at-bats, Head struggled in his first taste of Double-A (.213, five home runs, 28 RBI, .741 OPS in 213 at-bats), yet he has promise as a run producing corner infielder.

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7) In six minor league seasons, 24-year-old right-hander Brad Peacock has a 4.32 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. His numbers have been adequate, but not overly impressive. In 2011, though, he was 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP and 177 strikeouts in 146.2 innings between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse before he was included in the Gonzalez trade. Peacock struggled at Triple-A Sacramento last year with a gaudy 6.01 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 28 games (including 25 starts). His 4.4 walks per nine innings didn’t help.

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8) A supplemental first rounder (34th overall) out of high school in 2012, 18-year-old Daniel Robertson was a shortstop as a prep player but projects as a third baseman in the pros. The right-handed hitter can hit for average and power, and he has a high baseball IQ and plays the game hard.

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9) Vanderbilt University liked  18-year-old Matthew Olson for his arm, but the A’s drafted him for his power bat. Olson was selected 47th overall last summer and at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds he is a physical specimen.

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10) The Red Sox were high on 20-year-old Dominican right-hander Raul Alcantara before they included him in a package for Bailey last offseason. He had a rough time at low Single-A Burlington, and he is still harnessing his fast ball, breaking ball and change-up, but he has command and poise, and the potential to become an intriguing starting pitching prospect as he matures.

Jeff Louderback is a professional writer, author, editor and publicist whose work about the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and general Major League and Minor League columns and features appear in print and online media outlets.