Crystal Ball - A look at 1B/DH in 2005 - Part 3

Crystal Ball - A look at 1B/DH in 2005 - Part 3

Part Three of Adam Miller's series looks at Graham Koonce and Adam's analysis of what the A's might do in the off-season.

Graham Koonce, L/L, 6'4", 220

Year

Team

Lg

Age

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

BB

K

XBH

ISOP

BB/K

1994

BRISTOL

ROOKIE

19

.217

.371

.252

115

25

4

0

0

28

22

4

.035

1.27

1995

JMSTWN

NYP A

20

.280

.358

.374

289

81

16

1

3

35

63

20

.096

0.56

1996

FVILLE

SAL A

21

.239

.320

.346

486

116

22

3

8

58

97

33

.107

0.60

1997

TRI-CITY

W-IND.

22

.287

.422

.392

286

82

15

3

3

67

55

21

.105

1.22

1998

CHICO

W-IND.

23

.331

.421

.517

242

80

15

0

10

38

41

25

.186

0.93

1999

R CUCAM

CAL A

24

.285

.384

.443

474

135

16

1

19

76

110

36

.158

0.69

2000

R CUCAM

CAL A

25

.295

.424

.505

475

140

40

3

18

107

105

61

.210

1.02

2001

MOB

SOU AA

26

.266

.425

.444

320

85

18

0

13

89

83

31

.178

1.07

2001

PORT

PCL AAA

26

.214

.421

.500

14

3

1

0

1

5

6

2

.286

0.83

2002

MID

TEX AA

27

.274

.440

.487

470

120

28

0

24

133

117

52

.213

1.14

2003

SAC

PCL AAA

28

.277

.403

.542

480

133

23

1

34

98

119

58

.265

0.82

2003

OAK

MLB

28

.125

.125

.250

6

1

1

0

0

0

6

1

.125

0.00

2004

SAC

PCL AAA

29

.246

.363

.466

399

98

22

0

22

69

116

44

.220

0.59



Before the MLB draft was limited to 50 rounds (teams could just keep drafting until they decided to stop), Koonce was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 60th round in 1993. After bouncing around in the Tigers organization for 3 years, Graham spent 2 years in the Independent League before being picked up by the Padres, where he played at various levels for 3 more years before the A's grabbed him in the December 2001 Rule 5 draft. Got all that? Since 1997, Koonce has been an on-base machine, with an OBP over .400 in 6 of the last 8 years, and some late-developing power.

Koonce's finest years have come in a RockHound and River Cat uniform. Koonce has hit almost as many homeruns (70) in nearly 3 seasons in the A's organization as he hit in his entire previous minor league career (75). One of the knocks on Graham is that he's never been a high average hitter (except for a stretch between 1997 and 2000); ever since his power developed, his average has dipped. Koonce's numbers have also seen a dip in 2004 from his excellent 2003 season, leading observers to wonder if Johnson has passed Koonce on the organizational depth chart.

Outlook

This is a difficult situation. It's never a bad thing to have too much talent in the system, but at some point, you either have to trade players or not re-sign them; otherwise, you have a backlog of players at a certain position in the minors (if Koonce and Johnson stay at AAA, there is no room for other 1B/DHs to move up there). A lot of what happens in 2005 hinges on how expensive Durazo will be. If he can be signed to a reasonable extension – a one-year offer for $3-4 million, or a two- to three-year contract worth around $10 million – I think Durazo should be retained. At worst, he'll provide similar or better production than Johnson or Koonce at this point in time. At best, he's one of the best hitters in the league. Koonce is getting a bit old to remain in the high minors. If he isn't given a shot in 2005, he may ask for (or be given) a chance to play elsewhere. Koonce is a bit of a luxury at this point, with Johnson and Brant Colamarino in the system, both of whom are younger players. Johnson is still young enough to spend one more year honing his skills in Sacramento, but you want to get use out of him during his prime years, when he's cheap. It should be interesting to see how this plays out in the off-season.

Questions or comments? Email Adam Miller at superflyam@excite.com

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