Word began to spread around various internet sites last evening that the A's had acquired the rights to the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Baseball Prospectus was the first to report the news. So it was no surprise on Thursday when the Devil Rays selected Ryan Goleski from the Cleveland Indians with the first pick and announced that they were trading Goleski to Oakland. The A's then used their own pick (the 26th pick in the draft) to select Chicago White Sox left-handed reliever Jay Marshall. (There were later reports that the A's traded Marshall to the Devil Rays for Goleski, but, at the moment, that appears to be untrue.)
In the minor league portion of the draft, the A's were busy, as well. They selected right-handed pitcher Andy Shipman out of the Chicago Cubs organization in the AAA portion of the draft and then took right-handed pitcher Josh Alliston from the Milwaukee Brewers organization in the second round of the AAA portion of the draft.
The A's lost right-handed reliever Jared Burton to the Cincinnati Reds in the major league portion, but didn't lose any players in the minor league portion of the draft. The Reds later made big news by acquiring the Chicago Cubs' rights to Josh Hamilton, whom the Cubs had taken from Tampa Bay with the third pick in the major league portion of the draft. Hamilton was the first overall selection in the 1999 amateur draft, but his career has been sidetracked due to a battle with drug addiction. He made his comeback with the Devil Rays last season, appearing in a handful of games with Hudson Valley, the first game action Hamilton had seen since 2002.
As for the A's, Goleski could fill their need for a fourth outfielder. The 6'3'' right-hander split the 2006 season between High-A Kinston and AA-Akron, batting a combined .306 with 27 homers and 106 RBIs in 125 games. He also struck out 117 times against 61 walks. He struggled with Kinston in 2005, but posted OPS of 831 and 895 in his two previous professional seasons. Goleski was a 2003 24th round pick out of Eastern Michigan by the Indians and he has spent his entire professional career in their chain.
Frank Derry of our sister site Indians Ink explains Goleski's poor 2005 season thusly:
"…for whatever reason, he struggled in 2005, batting only .212 with 17 homers and 67 RBI in 122 games at Kinston. He also struck out 134 times in 458 at-bats.
Those were, by far, the worst numbers he had ever put up at any level -- and led to his not even being ranked in the annual list of Top 50 Tribe Prospects by Indians Ink entering 2006.
So, what happened in 2005?
Some believe that after he hit 28 homers in 2004, he got it in his mind that in order to make it to the big leagues, he would have to be a home run hitter. Subconsciously, he changed his usually compact swing and began trying to hit the long ball. His focus, which is normally outstanding, began to get distracted by his desire to hit homers.
He regained his focus and determination in 2006. And, with his powerful swing once again intact, the ball started flying out of the park.
The ball jumps off his bat when he stays under control. At Eastern Michigan, he hit 51 homers and drove in 167 runs in just 155 games.
Goleski is also a good defensive player with an above-average arm makes him ideal for right field, which is his favorite outfield position."
Goleski will be given the first shot at winning the A's final outfield role this spring, as Oakland will need to carry him on their roster for the entire season. With at least $100,000 already invested in Goleski (it isn't clear whether the A's or the Devil Rays paid the $50,000 transfer fee to the Indians), he is likely to be given every opportunity to stick with the team. His acquisition may indicate that the A's are no longer interested in re-signing Jay Payton and could leave Milton Bradley as the A's back-up centerfielder (in addition to being the starting right-fielder).
The A's also selected left-handed reliever Jay Marshall, which was a surprise considering the A's just signed lefty Alan Embree for the bullpen yesterday and have Ron Flores and Brad Halsey still ticketed for bullpen spots. Marshall was a 25th round junior college draft pick in 2003 by the White Sox. He spent three years in Rookie Ball before finally making the jump to full season and High-A ball this year. He could be a long-shot to make the team despite the threat of having to return him to the White Sox. The A's may attempt to acquire his full rights from Chicago, something they tried to do with Tyler Johnson, when he was a Rule 5 pick in 2005.
Marshall saw a lot of success at High-A Winston-Salem this season. He had a 1.02 ERA in 62 innings and he allowed only 46 hits. He also walked only eight batters and struck out 44. He allowed only 10 hits in 104 at-bats against left-handers this season.
In the minor league portion, the A's took two right-handers: Andy Shipman and Josh Alliston. Shipman comes over to the A's from the Cubs organization, where he had pitched since 2004 when he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox. He was an All-Star at AA-West Tennessee in 2005. This past season, he spent the majority of the year at AAA-Iowa, where he was 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 46 appearances in relief. For his career, Shipman has primarily been a reliever. He has struck out 177 batters in 188.2 career innings.
Alliston was a 21st round pick of the Brewers in the 2002 draft. He played his college ball at Long Beach. Alliston has had injury problems throughout much of his career, pitching in only one full season before last year. Last year he appeared in 38 games for Brevard City of the Florida State League, going 5-3 with a 2.28 ERA with nine saves. He struck out 40 and walked 11 in 43.1 innings.