Updated List of A's Top 25 Prospects

Jairo Garcia lands at number nine on the list.

<b>Editor's Note: After the A's busy season of trading, we thought it would be timely to update the top 25 prospect list to include some of the A's new top prospects.</b><br><br> It was a great season for the A's farm system, as it may have emerged as one of baseball's best farm systems. In addition to producing top prospects, every level except for Midland made the postseason along with having two title winning teams.

Here are how the top prospects break down by an equation of potential + performance... (Note that all 'projections' are basically peak and are not viewed as probable outcomes.)

1 - Nick Swisher, OF

After a very disappointing second half in 2003 in Midland, Swisher was left with nothing to do in 2004 but dispel many doubts about his ability -- and that's exactly what he did this season after a promotion to Sacramento. He's never going to be someone that hits for a high batting average. His average actually peaked in his last game in Sacramento, as he ended at a season high .269. Swisher will hit for a ton of power, though. Being a switch hitter, he may have comparable power numbers to Lance Berkman. With such a balance of power and patience, Swisher may post a .900 OPS as soon as 2005 with the A's. Projected Location to start 2005 – Oakland A's

2 - Daric Barton, 1B

Kiko Calero and Danny Haren should play key roles on the A's in 2005, but Daric Barton may have been the centerpiece in the Mark Mulder trade to St. Louis. Barton was 18 all but one month last season, but played like he was four years older. His numbers were great, with an OPS of over .950, but the thing that makes Barton such an advanced and impressive hitter is his K:BB ratio of 44:69 in 313 AB's. Barton was catcher all of last season, but is likely to be moved to 1B at the start of 2005. That position change gives a hint of how fast the A's intend on moving Barton up the ranks, as they're already moving him to a position that he can actually play in Oakland in the near future. Barton actually posted similar numbers to the ones Albert Pujols put up in the Midwest League -- except that Pujols was two years older. So how is that for a comparison? Projected Location to start 2005 – A-Stockton, with a ticket to move up quickly

3 - Dan Meyer, SP

Similar to the Mulder deal, the A's got a couple players for Tim Hudson that should help the A's in 2005 in Juan Cruz and Charles Thomas. However, Dan Meyer may end up being the gem from that deal. Meyer is a much needed left-handed starter for the A's minor league system as John Rheinecker had been the best the A's had. In over 350 minor league innings, Meyer has a combined 2.71 ERA. He has good control of good stuff with a K:BB of almost 5:1. Meyer continued to post a solid ERA, 2.79, after a midseason promotion to AAA, but his WHIP was a career high 1.42. Due to that increase, the A's will likely let Meyer start the year in the minors. Meyer has similar stuff to Andy Pettitte, but he may have slightly better command. Projected Location to start 2005 - AAA-Sacramento

4 - Joe Blanton, SP

Blanton had sort of a let-down season if you focus on his 4.10+ ERA, but his walks were still down and his K's were still up -- very telling signs for a young pitcher. He did allow hitters to get hits at an alarming .282 rate, but much of that was due to a very poor Sacramento defense. Due to his size and arm strength, a Brad Penny comparison isn't too far fetched, though Penny does have a little harder fastball. Projected Location to start 2005 – Oakland A's

5 - Javier Herrera, OF

Herrera likely has the highest ceiling of anybody in the system. No doubt a five-tool talent, the 19-year old Herrera was the Northwest League's MVP. Herrera has burning speed and a cannon of an arm. He does need to improve his K:BB ratio, which was 59:24, but his patience should increase with age. Herrera has the potential of a non switch-hitting Carlos Beltran, but like I stated, his patience needs to improve. Projected Location to start 2005 - Low A - Kane County

6 - Dan Johnson, 1B

A great season from Johnson was not over-shadowed by Swisher, as Johnson was named the PCL MVP. Johnson must hit to be a major league regular, as he's limited to first base, and he isn't a great one. He has played a few games in the OF, but so did Durazo with Arizona, and you can imagine how horrible he was out there. As a hitter, Johnson has improved every season as a professional, this season to a .940 OPS and 63 XBH's in just 536 AB's. Johnson may have a Lyle Overbay-type future. Johnson is currently blocked at first base in Oakland, so he may have to wait one more year to make his debut despite his success at AAA last season. Projected Location to start 2005 - AAA-Sacramento

7 - Huston Street, RP

Street will, without a doubt, be the first 2004 draft pick to play in an Oakland A's uniform, and it may be to start the 2005 season. Street was born a winner and has a major league-ready attitude. Street was great in Low A-Kane County this season, better after a promotion to AA-Midland, and even better when he arrived in AAA-Sacramento. Street was even closing in the playoffs for the PCL champion RiverCats. After all that, though, Street wasn't finished. He then went to the Arizona Fall League -- a notorious hitters league. While there, Street posted an ERA under 1.00 to go with a WHIP that was around 0.50. Scot Shields may be a good comparison for Street with a low 90's fastball and wicked slider. However, Street, with his closer's mentality, may be a better pitcher in the closer role than in middle relief like Shields. Projected Location to start 2005 – AAA-Sacramento

8 - Omar Quintanilla, SS/2B

Quintanilla had a slow start to the season, but hit over .340 during the final couple months of the season. After being promoted to AA-Midland, Quintanilla was great with a .350 BA and .940 OPS in 94 AB's. He did make 32 errors in 127 games at SS, but with a weak arm, a probable change to second base should correct quite a few of those errors. Quintanilla followed his stellar season by hitting over .400 in the Arizona Fall League. As an offensive minded second baseman, Quintanilla may peak with Marcus Giles type numbers -- not bad for someone scouts thought of as a fringe prospect entering the 2003 draft before the A's took him in the supplemental first round. Projected Location to start 2005 – AAA-Sacramento

9 - Jairo Garcia, RP

Coming out of nowhere, Garcia at one point in the year may have been the best relief prospect in baseball. That changed though once he was shelled in a brief stint in Oakland and also did not put the same numbers up in AAA that he had in the lower levels. Some of that, though, may have been due to fatigue, as Garcia has had a history of arm tweaks and hasn't pitched a full five month season before. With a mid-90's fastball and a slider that's near 12-6, Francisco Rodriguez seems to be the comparison that fits him best, but with less control, Garcia will probably be closer to Octavio Dotel. Projected Location to start 2005 – AAA-Sacramento

10 - Richie Robnett, OF

Another five-tool'er with loads of potential, Robnett was seen as having some of the best potential in the 2004 draft. If Robnett had stayed in school for his senior season, he was said to be a potential top 5 pick. According to A's beat writer Susan Slusser, when Robnett took his first batting practice at the Coliseum, he was putting balls into Mt. Davis, something that hasn't been done by anyone else. With power, speed, and patience, Robnett can peak at a Bobby Abreu level, though with the A's, it'll be hard to get as many stolen bases. Projected Location to start 2005 - Advanced A - Stockton

11 - John Baker, C

Baker had a solid season behind the plate after a discouraging stint in Midland in 2003. Not great defensively (although improving), Baker has to hit to play, and that's just what he did this season. Baker had a very consistent season in Midland posting a .920 OPS. After being promoted to Sacramento, though, Baker didn't quite have the OPS, but did hit .347 in 49 AB's, although in Sacramento, he had 23 strikeouts. Baker may put up similar numbers to what catcher Damian Miller put up for the A's in 2004, though he'll do it left-handed. Projected Location to start 2005 - AAA - Sacramento

12 - Bradley Knox, SP

On a few sleeper lists entering the season, Knox showed why with his outstanding 2004 season. At 22, he wasn't exactly young for the Midwest League, but his numbers were unmatched. He actually posted similar numbers to the ones Joe Blanton put up in 2003 though he has lesser 'stuff' than Blanton. Knox will never be an ace, but standing 6-foot-2, he can end up eating innings from the back-end of the rotation, which is a skill that is valued pretty highly in the majors. Knox is expected to miss at least the start of Spring Training with back troubles, but he should be ready by the season's start. Brad Radke is a nice peak to hope for with his ability to change speeds, but Rodrigo Lopez is more likely. Projected Location to start 2005 - AA - Midland

13 - Brian Snyder, 3B

After struggling in his professional debut season, Snyder adjusted to wood bats nicely in 2004 and posted an OPS over .900. He was a little old for the Midwest League at 22, and he missed some time with a torn hip flexor. Snyder, though, is a very good opposite field hitter, and it should be easier to teach him to pull the ball then it would be to teach him to go opposite field. If he's able to pull the ball next season, he should see a marked improvement in power. Snyder could put up Joe Randa numbers with more walks, or if he can add power like the A's think he will, he may be similar to Mike Lowell. Projected Location to start 2005 - AA - Midland

14 - Danny Putnam, OF

While Putnam had a great career at Stanford and was seen as a top-30 pick, the A's were able to get him in the supplemental first round. He has loads of power, but his defense is a question mark along with his ability to hit for average. He faced a tough challenge quickly this season, being sent to Kane County after a brief stint with Vancouver. He lacked average, but had very respectable power numbers. Putnam can post Craig Wilson numbers with Craig Wilson type (poor) defense, but he may be able to hit for a little more average than Wilson. Projected Location to start 2005 - Advanced A – Stockton

15 - Kurt Suzuki, C

Suzuki had a great college career, catching Jason Windsor at Cal-State Fullerton, but he's an offensive minded catcher. He posted solid but unspectacular numbers during his time at Vancouver this season, but when you consider he was adjusting to wood bats, the numbers look even better. Jason Kendall with slightly more power and slightly less average may be Suzuki's peak. Projected Location to start 2005 - Low A - Kane County

16 - Landon Powell, C

Powell didn't hit for much average at South Carolina, but he did hit for a ton of power -- rare to see from a switch-hitting catcher. Powell struggled to start at Vancouver, got hot, and then struggled again to end the season. With his power, he may be like Jason Varitek with slightly less average. Projected Location to start 2005 - Advanced A – Stockton

17 - Jason Windsor, SP

After the A's took Windsor in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft, he had one of the best College World Series ever for a starting pitcher, something that probably would have made him go at least a round higher if it had come before the draft. Windsor may actually be more likely to be a Brad Radke-type than Knox will. Windsor was started in relief after a heavy workload in college and he excelled in that role. However, he should go back to starting in 2005. Projected Location to start 2005 - Advanced A – Stockton

18 - Matt Allegra, OF

Allegra has always had tools, but he's never been able to display them on the field. This season, after missing the start of the year, he was finally putting together great numbers, then he got hurt again. Once he came back he didn't miss a beat, then got hurt again and this time didn't return. Allegra can post Shannon Stewart numbers if he can stay healthy and reach his potential. Projected Location to start 2005 – AA – Midland

19 - Kevin Melillo, 2B

Mellilo didn't put up great numbers in college, but sure did in Vancouver in limited time before pulling a muscle in his ribcage. Melillo is never going to hit for a ton of power, but not a lot of second basemen do. His .340 BA in 94 AB's was surprising from the 5th rounder, but it may be even more surprising if he can come close to that at higher levels. Melillo may be able to post Ray Durham numbers post-prime, but it's hard to judge on such a small size. Projected Location to start 2005 - Advanced A – Stockton

20 - Bradley Sullivan, SP

Sullivan was the biggest let-down of the A's system this season. Sullivan struggled all season outside of a three week stretch. He didn't strike out many people, he walked a ton of people, and he gave up a ton of hits -- poor from a college veteran in A ball who was quoted as saying he thought he'd be with Oakland some time in 2005. Sullivan did see a few MPH's back on his fastball to end the season, however, and next year he should be allowed to throw his slider more often. Out of anybody on this list, Sullivan has the most room to rise as he is still capable of being one of the A's top 3 prospects. Brian Lawrence is a good comparison, but Sullivan may very well end up better than Lawrence. Projected Location to start 2005 - AA – Midland

Prospects 21-25
21 - Andre Ethier
22 - Mike Rouse
23 - Jason Perry
24 - Ryan Webb
25 - Alexi Ogando

Comments

Keep your eye on -- Ryan Webb -- Loads of potential. Stands at 6-foot-6 at the young age of 18. Already throwing in the high 80's, as he fills out, low 90's is not out of the question. From the tall frame, low 90's will look like a mid-90's fastball from someone like Tim Hudson or Rich Harden. Another is pitcher to watch is Jose Corchado. He is said to have a mid 90's fastball and a nasty slider. He's had trouble staying healthy and will now be used only in the bullpen, which sounds an awful lot like Jairo Garcia before the start of 2004.

Don't forget -- Jeremy Brown. Brown was great right away after being drafted in 2002. Since then, though, he has seemingly hit a wall. He's entering 2005 attempting to bounce back from two straight poor seasons. Injuries may have played a role; in 2003, Brown played some of the year with a broken thumb. The bright spot, though, is that Brown had a very strong Fall League. In limited time, Brown hit .353 with an 1.124 OPS in 34 at-bats. Brown has one more chance to prove he was worth the first round selection, likely at AAA-Sacramento.

Sorry to -- Steve Obenchain. He has been bad for two years now since the A's made him a Moneyball first rounder. Ben Fritz was a great sleeper candidate entering the season, but pitched poorly before going down with Tommy John Surgery mid-season 2004 -- but with a great fastball/changeup combo, Fritz can become a very solid reliever if he can remain healthy.

Questions or comments? You can contact Bobby Lee at bobby1134@yahoo.com.

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