Oakland native Tyson Ross has made the A's roster.
Over the past few years, the Oakland A's have had a number of surprises on their Opening Day rosters. In 2007, it was the inclusion of then-top prospect Travis Buck, who had never played above Double-A. Last season, the rookie trio of Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey were also surprise additions. Tyson Ross becomes the latest A's prospect to force his way onto the Opening Day roster
He was only expected to be in camp to gain experience, but Tyson Ross gained more than that - a ticket to the major leagues. On Monday evening, Ross will be at the Oakland Coliseum for Opening Day for the first time as a major leaguer and not as a fan. The Oakland native, who has thrown only 155.1 total innings as a professional, earned a spot in the A's bullpen by posting a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 innings. He struck out 12 and walked only two in five appearances. Ross most recently tossed a scoreless inning in the A's win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.
Ross grew up in Oakland as an A's fan. The Bishop O'Dowd alum stayed in the East Bay for college, heading up the Cal Bears starting rotation. Ross was selected by the A's in the second round of the 2008 draft. He made his professional debut with the Kane County Cougars that season and posted a 4.66 ERA in 19.1 innings. He missed a few starts with a sore right shoulder, but was back on the mound in time to join the Stockton Ports for the California League playoffs. Despite having little professional experience, Ross pitched well for the Ports, helping Stockton win a Cal League title.
The 6'6'' right-hander remained at Stockton to start the 2009 season and he wound-up splitting his year between Stockton and Double-A Midland. Ross had a 4.17 ERA in 18 starts for the Ports and a 3.98 ERA in nine starts for Midland. As he did in 2008, Ross stepped up his game during the post-season. He made two starts for Midland, with the Rockhounds winning both games. In 12.1 innings, he allowed only two runs on seven hits. He struck-out 19 and walked only three and earned his second league championship ring, as the 'Hounds won the Texas League crown.
Ross has been a starting pitcher throughout his professional career, but he will begin his major league career in the A's bullpen. He has a low-90s fastball that has heavy sink, as well as a cut-fastball, an above-average slider and a developing change-up. We ranked Ross as the A's top starting pitching prospect coming into this season and number 13 prospect overall. To read our full scouting report on Ross, please click here.
Ross joins an A's Opening Day bullpen that will look dramatically different than what it was anticipated to look like at the start of spring training. Two of the A's top set-up men, Michael Wuertz and Joey Devine, will start the season on the disabled list. Both are expected to be back by mid-April. The A's Opening Day bullpen will include incumbents Andrew Bailey, Brad Ziegler and Craig Breslow, as well as Jerry Blevins, who spent most of last season in Triple-A but was on the A's 2009 Opening Day roster. The bullpen will also include two pitchers who weren't even in the organization 10 days ago: Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez. Both right-handers earned World Series rings with the New York Yankees last season. Two relievers who had strong September call-ups with the A's last season - Brad Kilby and Henry Rodriguez - were optioned to Triple-A on Saturday.
The A's also made some surprising choices for their Opening Day roster on the position player side. Jack Cust, who led the A's in homeruns each of the past three seasons, was designated for assignment on Saturday. He had been expected to be the A's everyday DH, but a poor spring and the health of Eric Chavez cost Cust a spot on the A's roster. Chavez is now expected to get the bulk of the at-bats at DH. Cust could remain in the A's organization if he clears waivers and accepts an assignment to Triple-A.
Oakland also chose to keep Jake Fox on the roster as the team's primary back-up catcher, sending Landon Powell back to Triple-A. Powell had been the A's back-up catcher in 2009 and had a 725 OPS in 46 games. Fox, who was acquired by the A's in a trade with the Chicago Cubs this off-season, was out-of-options, so the A's chose to keep him on the roster despite the fact that he had a poor spring. Fox can also play the corner outfield and infield positions.
Centerfielder Coco Crisp landed on the DL on Saturday after he broke his left pinkie finger on a slide into second base on Friday night. With Crisp on the shelf and Cust's release, the A's were able to keep three roster-bubble players rather than just one: Travis Buck, Eric Patterson and Adam Rosales. All three had strong springs. Buck should see the bulk of the starts in the outfield while Crisp is on the DL, while Patterson and Rosales will bring speed and versatility to the A's bench. Patterson will join Gabe Gross as a back-up outfielder and will also be available to play second base, while Rosales will be the primary back-up infielder.
Daric Barton, another young A's player on the roster bubble, earned a second chance to be the A's starting first baseman with a strong spring. Barton had been the A's starting first baseman in 2008, but he lost his spot with a poor 2009 season and spent half of the 2009 campaign in Triple-A. He will be backed up at first base by Fox and Chavez.
The battle for the fifth spot in the A's rotation came down to the final day of camp on Saturday, as Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill both appeared in the game against the Giants. Gonzalez pitched well, allowing two runs in five innings with seven strike-outs, while Cahill struggled, allowing five runs and two homeruns in two innings. Cahill's struggles may have been due to an injury. He was placed on the DL on Saturday with a stress fracture in his left scapula. Gonzalez had an outstanding spring, posting a 2.96 ERA. The lefty, who has pitched for the A's and the River Cats each of the past two seasons, is on his first Opening Day roster.
In addition to Crisp, Devine, Wuertz and Cahill, the A's also placed Josh Outman on the 15-day disabled list. Outman is continuing his recovering from Tommy John surgery and is aiming to return to the mound around June or July. The A's open the 2010 season on Monday at the Coliseum against the Seattle Mariners. New acquisition Ben Sheets will take the mound for Oakland against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
For the A's complete Opening Day roster, please click here.