Since the current state of the A’s can’t have fans too fired up right now, we’ll look toward the future with this blog post, as the major league draft is just a few hours away …
–The A’s first pick comes at No. 11 overall, and the mock drafts don’t provide much clarity on which direction they will go. Baseball America’s latest prediction has the A’s taking Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Heaney, considered the best college lefty available. Baseball America has also linked them to prep right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. out of Tampa. ESPN’s mock draft says they’ll go with prep third baseman Joey Gallo from Las Vegas, who is said to have the best raw power in this year’s class. Other intriguing names who could be available at No. 11 — prep left-hander Max Fried, prep outfielder Courtney Hawkins, Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer and prep shortstop Addison Russell. Baseball America provides scouting reports on all of these guys.
If the A’s go the pitching route, my money’s on them taking Heaney. But how long have we been saying the A’s need impact prospects on the left side of the infield? I’d say Shaffer and Gallo (who could both project at first base too) and Russell are all in play.
–Check out this interesting note on the history of the No. 11 pick. Can the A’s avoid the “curse”?
Here’s an update on the A’s top picks from recent drafts:
**OF Grant Green (2009, No. 13 overall) — Green isn’t raking Pacific Coast League pitching in his first season at Triple-A. He’s hitting .266 with six homers and 27 RBIs in 48 games with the River Cats. He’s also struck out 39 times, and surely the A’s would like to see that number drop. Of course, Green’s development in the outfield will also dictate how quickly we see him in Oakland. The converted shortstop was switched to center field midway through last season, but he’s also played some left field for Sacramento. If Green, 24, turns it on at the plate, he’ll be a candidate for a September call-up.
**OF Michael Choice (2010, No. 10 overall) — Considered the A’s best power-hitting prospect, Choice is also off to a slow start. He’s hitting .263 with four homers and 27 RBIs in his first season for Double-A Midland. The strikeouts are high (54 in 53 games), but that will probably come with the territory with the 22-year-old Choice his entire career. The A’s are encouraged by his .352 on-base percentage, but watch his progression this season. After leading the hitter-friendly California League with 30 homers last season, Choice’s season-long body of work at Double-A will be revealing. The A’s consider Double-A competition a good measuring stick for how close players are to being major league-ready.
**RHP Sonny Gray (2011, 18th overall): Gray, 22, made one start in rookie ball after signing last summer and then jumped straight to Double-A, posting an 0.45 ERA over five starts. That brief show of dominance set the bar high, and things aren’t coming so easy for Gray in his first full season with Midland. He is 1-4 with a 4.19 ERA over 10 starts. Gray has pitched less than five innings in three of his past four starts, but a few bumps in the road aren’t surprising considering it’s his first full season of pro ball.
That’s all for now … I’ll check back in tonight from the Coliseum.