For a third consecutive year, the Oakland A's will run a minor league spring training mini-camp that will begin several weeks before the start of the 2014 regular minor league spring training camp. Pitchers and catchers will report to the mini-camp on February 15, with their first workouts taking place on February 16. Position players will report to the mini-camp on February 21, with their first workouts taking place on February 22. The A's currently have 30 players on their spring mini-camp roster.
The mini-camp is designed to bring in young players the organization wants to give a little more one-on-one instruction, as well as advanced prospects who will be able to help out in big league camp if the A's need extra players during the early part of the big league spring training schedule. The current roster has 19 pitchers, three catchers and eight position players. We take a look at the players invited to the spring camp below:
Jeremy Barfield, LHP: Barfield will be attending his first spring training as a pitcher after he converted from playing in the outfield last summer. He attended the A's fall Instructional League camps both in the US and the Dominican Republic in preparation for his first full season as a pitcher. Barfield hit a homerun in a major league spring training game last spring.
Dylan Covey, RHP: The A's fourth-round pick in 2013 opened a lot of eyes during his pro debut season. The right-hander from USD drew comparisons to Nolan Ryan for his over-the-top pitching motion. Covey logged time with Low-A Beloit at the end of last season and could jump to High-A Stockton to start 2014.
Ryan Doolittle, RHP: The younger brother of A's reliever Sean Doolittle, Ryan is looking for a full season on the mound after missing much of the 2012 season and the first half of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Doolittle has arguably the best command of any pitcher in the A's system, but his progress has been hampered by injuries.
Dustin Driver, RHP: Driver was the A's seventh-round pick in 2013 out of a high school in Washington. He came into the A's system not having thrown for several months and he struggled while shaking off the rust. Driver had a productive fall Instructional League camp and the hard-throwing right-hander will be a young arm to watch in 2014.
Ryan Dull, RHP: Dull had a huge first full professional season, moving up three levels and competing in the Arizona Fall League. The right-hander struck-out 78 and walked only nine in 60 innings for Low-A Beloit, High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. He should log some innings in big league camp this spring.
Kyle Finnegan, RHP: The A's sixth-round pick in 2013 had a strong pro debut season, posting a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts with short-season Vermont before receiving a two-start cameo with Low-A Beloit at the end of the season. Finnegan throws hard – touching 97 at times – and he made significant improvements with his breaking ball and change-up during fall Instructs.
Seth Frankoff, RHP: Frankoff had a breakout 2013 campaign, his first pitching exclusively as a reliever. In 74.1 innings with High-A Stockton, Frankoff posted a 2.78 ERA and a 93:23 K:BB. He also pitched well during the Arizona Fall League, striking out 15 and walking just three in 12.1 innings. Like Dull, Frankoff should receive the opportunity to log some innings in big league games this spring.
Frank Gailey, LHP: Gailey was a minor league free agent signing before last season, and the A's re-signed the southpaw reliever for the 2014 season. Gailey had an outstanding year for Double-A Midland in 2013, posting a 2.61 ERA and a 54:11 K:BB. He allowed just three homeruns. Gailey is also a strong candidate to receive innings in big league games this spring.
Drew Granier, RHP: It was a tale of two seasons for Granier, who starred for High-A Stockton during the first half of the 2013 campaign but struggled with Double-A Midland after a mid-year promotion. Granier struck-out 153 in 155.1 innings last season and he has the stuff to put up big strike-out numbers every year. Granier is still learning to trust his change-up and not to rely so heavily on his breaking ball. His fastball command is also a work-in-progress. If it all comes together for Granier this season, he could be a factor at the major league level in 2015.
Granier was leading the Cal League in strike-outs before he was promoted to Double-A.
Blake Hassebrock, RHP: Hassebrock moved from the rotation to the bullpen with High-A Stockton last season, and he pitched well in his new role. Possessing some of the best pure stuff in the A's organization, Hassebrock is entering an important year for his career; a big 2014 season could put him in the conversation for a big league middle relief role in 2015. He received a taste of the Double-A level at the end of last season and should start the 2014 season there. Hassebrock could get a few innings in big league games this spring.
Austin House, RHP: A's minor league pitching coordinator Scott Emerson raves about House's change-up, calling it one of the best in the organization. House pitched well as a back-end reliever during the second half of the 2013 season with Low-A Beloit. He made improvements with his delivery and his breaking ball last season and will be a relief arm to watch in 2014.
Chris Jensen, RHP: Acquired from the Colorado Rockies this off-season in the Brett Anderson deal, Jensen will be participating in his first spring training with the A's. The Oakland brass will likely take a close look at their new right-hander. Jensen has a solid fastball that he spots well and throws in the 91-93 MPH range (touching 95 at times). He will focus on the development of his secondary pitches this spring and is likely to start the 2014 season with Double-A Midland.
Chris Kohler, LHP: Kohler was the A's third-round pick in 2013 out of a Southern California high school. Drawing comparisons to Andy Pettitte, Kohler impressed during his pro debut, showing good command and impressive secondary pitches. Kohler could make the jump from Rookie ball to Low-A at the start of 2014.
Zach Neal, RHP: The A's picked up Neal at the start of the 2013 season from the Marlins, and Neal was one of the steadiest arms in the Double-A Midland rotation last year. The Oklahoma alum has an aggressive approach on the mound and isn't afraid to challenge hitters despite not possessing elite velocity. He will be in the conversation for a spot in the Triple-A Sacramento rotation.
Tanner Peters, RHP: Often overlooked because of his slight frame, Peters had an outstanding season with High-A Stockton in 2013. It was a good bounce-back year for Peters, who missed much of 2012 with injuries. Peters posted a 159:26 K:BB in 165.2 innings with the Ports and came within two-outs of a perfect game late in the season. Always around the strike-zone, Peters can be burned at times if he doesn't locate well (he allowed 24 homers), but he also gets plenty of swings-and-misses. Peters has an above-average change-up and he added a slider in 2013 that gave him another weapon. He should jump to Double-A at the start of 2014.
Nolan Sanburn, RHP: One of the most disappointing aspects of the A's 2013 season was the spring arm injury suffered by Sanburn that limited him to just 30 relief innings for the year. The A's 2012 second-round pick has plus stuff and he pitched well during the A's fall Instructional League. He is likely to move back into the rotation in 2014 and could be pushed up to High-A Stockton if he has a good (and healthy) spring.
Sanburn missed the first half of the 2013 season with an arm injury.
Paul Smyth, RHP: The Northern California native finally made it out of the Texas League last season, spending more than half of the year with Sacramento. The sidearmer had a 2.56 ERA for Midland and Sacramento in 2013 and has followed up that performance with a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League (2.95 ERA in 18.1 innings). Smyth should get some innings in big league games this spring.
Jeff Urlaub, LHP: Urlaub will be attending mini-camp coming off of a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, during which he struck-out 16 and walked three in 13 innings. The left-hander had a 3.86 ERA in 46.2 innings in his first season at the Double-A level in 2013. Urlaub doesn't have plus velocity, but he has a good curveball and excellent command. He has been compared to former A's left-hander Jerry Blevins. Urlaub will also be a candidate for innings in big league spring games.
Bobby Wahl: There was arguably no other member of the A's 2013 draft class that received more post-draft buzz than Wahl. The right-hander was on a strict innings limit after a long college season, but he still wowed scouts during his time with short-season Vermont in 2013. Wahl was a top-100 draft prospect heading into his junior season with Mississippi, but he fell to the A's in the fifth round after he battled through injuries during the college season. Wahl can throw his fastball in the mid-90s and he has a plus curveball and a solid change-up. The A's may give him an inning or two in a big league game to see how he fares against that level of competition this spring.
Ryan Ortiz: Ortiz has had time in big league camp over the past few springs and he should be over with the big league club a decent amount again this spring. He had a solid stint with Triple-A Sacramento last season, posting a 762 OPS in 115 at-bats and improving his defense.
Ortiz played well for Sacramento last season.
Nick Rickles: Rickles is one of the best defensive catchers in the A's system and has the most accurate throwing arm behind the plate. He caught nearly 45% of all attempted base-stealers while with Low-A Beloit in 2013. Rickles struggled with the bat during the first half of last season, but he hit well during the second half before a late-season concussion slowed him down.
Beau Taylor: Taylor was the first position player in the A's 2011 draft class to reach the Double-A level. He has struggled with the bat with Midland, but he showed promise at the plate at the lower levels. He will be looking for a rebound season in 2014 after posting a 548 OPS with Midland last year.
Anthony Aliotti, 1B: Aliotti hit .350 with a 993 OPS in 91 games with Double-A Midland before spending the final seven weeks of the season with Triple-A Sacramento. The sweet-fielding first baseman figures to be a fixture in the River Cats' line-up this season and should get some playing time in big league spring games.
Alden Carrithers, UT: Carrithers signed with the A's as a minor league free agent this off-season. He had spent the previous two seasons in the Braves' organization. A UCLA alum, Carrithers has logged significant playing time at second, third and in the corner outfield spots during his pro career. He has excellent plate discipline, having walked more than he has struck-out during his six-year career. He is a .297/.403/.366 career hitter for affiliate in the Tigers, White Sox and Braves chains. Carrithers has also swiped 87 bases in 112 career chances (78%).
Max Muncy, 1B: Muncy had an impressive first full professional season, hitting 25 homeruns and driving-in 100 runs for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. Muncy also walked 88 times and posted an 857 OPS between the two levels. He represented the A's in the Arizona Fall League, as well. Muncy has an excellent eye at the plate and the ability to reach the gaps to all fields. He is also an excellent defender. Muncy is likely to start the 2014 season with Midland.
Renato Nunez, 3B: Nunez may have the most pure power of any prospect in the A's organization. His aggressive approach allows him to make the most of his swings, but he also leaves himself vulnerable to breaking balls. Nunez held his own in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League as a 19-year-old last season and should jump up to High-A Stockton in 2014. He will spend this spring working on his pitch recognition and on his defense at third base.
Nunez has the potential to hit 30+ homeruns.
Matt Olson, 1B: Although he had ups-and-downs, Olson put together a solid first full pro season with Low-A Beloit in 2013. The left-handed hitting first baseman hit 23 homers, drove-in 93 and walked 72 times. He also struck-out 148 times. Olson experimented with several set-ups at the plate in 2013, but he seemed to be more comfortable by the end of the year. An excellent athlete, Olson is also an asset with the glove. He should move up to High-A Stockton in 2014.
Daniel Robertson, SS: Robertson was the A's second-overall pick in 2012. A knee injury slowed him down early in the 2013 season, but he still finished his year with Low-A Beloit with a respectable .277/.353/.401 line. Robertson was one of the best defensive shortstops in the Midwest League last year. The Southern California native has the talent to be an above-average all-around shortstop in the big leagues. He should benefit from an longer spring training program this year after he was limited in camp last year because of the knee.
Jake Goebbert: The A's acquired Goebbert from the Houston Astros for reliever Travis Blackley just before the start of the 2013 regular season. Goebbert had a strong first year in the A's organization, putting up an 828 OPS with 22 homers and 62 walks for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Goebbert can play both corner outfield spots, center in a pinch and is a capable first baseman, as well. He should get some time in big league games this spring.
Billy McKinney: The A's top pick in 2013 had a good pro debut, posting an 824 OPS and a .326 BA for the A's two short-season affiliates. McKinney is a solid all-around player who has drawn comparisons to former A's CF Mark Kotsay. McKinney is likely to start the 2014 season with Low-A Beloit.