The East Bay has produced some outstanding major league pitchers over the past 30 years. The Oakland…
A's 2008 Draft Analysis: Day One
For the second straight year, the Oakland A's talked a lot about picking players from the prep ranks rather than their traditional selection of college players. And for the second straight year, the A's leaned heavily towards four-year college players with their first day draft selections.
The six selections that the A's took on Thursday don't all fit what has become the "traditional Oakland A's pick": a polished, four-year collegiate player who is more about performance than athletic projection, however. The A's took four position players out of their first six picks, and three of the four grade high for their athletic abilities. The other is a strong defensive catcher. The A's other two picks were more traditional Oakland selections: polished, collegiate pitchers, the types of picks that have given the A's strong results over the past 10 years.
Over the past few years, the A's have been looking to add speed on the offensive-side of their system and velocity on the mound. The A's were able to add both and were also able to add a catcher and a left-handed pitcher, both important pieces in any system. Oakland also picked players who should be signable, something that the organization has tended to do with its first several picks over the past 10 years.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, University of Miami
Weeks, the brother of Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, was originally drafted in the eighth round of the 2005 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, but he elected to go to Miami instead of signing. He is the U's all-time leader in triples. Weeks stole 19 bases in 20 chances and batted .366 with 11 homeruns and 57 RBIs for the Hurricanes this season.
Weeks is a switch-hitter with a slashing style of hitting from both sides of the plate. He has good bat control, makes consistent contact and profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter. Although he had good power numbers with a metal bat, most scouts don't project him to be a power hitter at the major league level. Defensively, he has good range and an average arm. Some scouts believe that Weeks profiles better as a centerfielder than a second baseman, while others think that Weeks has a chance to develop into an above-average defensive second baseman. Some draft experts believed that the A's reached to grab Weeks at 12, while others had Weeks going to the A's at 12 for weeks before the draft.
Tyson Ross, RHP, Cal
Ross is a local product who hails from Oakland and went to Bishop O'Dowd High School and the University of California. Going into the college season, Ross was considered by many draft pundits to be a top-half of the first round talent. His draft stock dropped some as the season went on because he missed time with a lat injury and didn't have his best velocity for much of the season.
At 6'6'' and 225 pounds, Ross has the size and, when healthy, the velocity on his fastball (mid-90s) to project as a top-of-the-rotation starter or a closer at the major league level. His build is reminiscent of Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander, although doesn't throw quite as hard as Verlander. Some scouts were concerned that Ross' loss of velocity this season was a sign that he was pitching injured and believed that his herky-jerky throwing motion could cause long-term strain on his elbow. Scouts love his make-up, and he has pitched against the highest level of competition in college and with Team USA, something that should help him make the transition to the pros. Ross arguably has the highest ceiling of any of the A's first-day picks, but there are some questions about his future because of his struggles this season with his velocity.
Petey Paramore, C, Arizona State
There were three catchers taken in the top 10 picks of this year's draft, but most draft experts didn't see this draft as being particularly deep in catching talent. Of the group of catchers that fell behind the Buster Posey, Kyle Skipworth and Jason Castro trio, Paramore was viewed as one of the best. A switch-hitter, he doesn't have much power, but he is capable of hitting for average, especially from the right-side of the plate.
Where the Arizona State product get his highest marks, however, is with his defense. Paramore has a good throwing arm and he threw out more than 60% of potential base-stealers this season. He moves his feet well and does a good job blocking balls in the dirt.
Anthony Capra, LHP, Wichita State
Capra is a stocky southpaw who made the successful move from the bullpen to the starting rotation this season. He went 9-0 with a 2.87 ERA and 87 strike-outs in 75.1 innings in 13 starts for the Shockers. Capra throws his fastball in the high-80s, low-90s with an excellent change-up and an inconsistent curveball. He is a tough competitor who has solid control and an advanced feel for pitching. If any of the A's first-day picks fit the mold of a classic Oakland selection, Capra is that selection. Because of his polish, he could move quickly through the system. If he doesn't pan out as a starter, Capra could make it as a left-handed reliever. He had success as a reliever in college and even reached 94 MPH with his fastball out of the bullpen.
Jason Christian, SS, Michigan
The Big Ten isn't usually a hot bed for baseball talent, but the A's have done well with the conference in the past, finding success with Mark Mulder from Michigan State and Nick Swisher from Ohio State. Christian doesn't have the ceiling of those two players, but he has a chance to be a solid professional ballplayer. The Ohio native doesn't hit for power, but he has a good stroke, decent speed, good range at short and a strong arm. Some scouts graded him as one of the most well-rounded collegiate shortstop prospects. He has an advanced approach at the plate and good size (6'3'', 175 pounds).
Tyreace House, OF, College of the Canyons
House was the rawest prospect taken by the A's on the first day. The junior college product was a three-sport star at his San Diego area high school, and was recruited coming out of high school for football, baseball and track. House chose baseball and he excelled during his two years at Canyons. He has excellent speed, having stolen 31 bases in 35 chances this year. At 5'9'', House will probably never be a power hitter, but he has a chance to be a Bip Roberts-type top-of-the-order contributor. His swing is still rough, but he will be one of the best athletes in the A's organization if he signs.
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