Oakland A's Top Prospects: 45-41

Dustin Majewski makes this list.

It's that time of the year when we take stock of the Oakland A's organization and analyze the top prospects. For the next few weeks, every Monday and Wednesday will be "Top Prospect List Day", as we will release our top 50 list in groups of five. Today, in the second of the series, we announce prospects 45-41.

45 – Jared Burton, RP

2005 was a breakout season for the right-handed reliever. After injury-marred 2003 and 2004 campaigns, Burton recovered to have one of the best seasons of any reliever in the A's system. Burton began the year as the Stockton Ports' set-up man. However, it was his work as the Ports' closer that got him noticed. Burton racked up saves at a record pace, recording 24 saves after becoming the closer in late June. He used his low-90s sinking fastball to strike out 67 batters in 55.1 innings to work, and he had a 1.16 WHIP and a 2.60 ERA.

At 24, Burton was old for High-A, and the A's will likely try to push him through the system quickly next season to see if he is a legitimate candidate for a major league bullpen spot. He is a three-pitch pitcher (fastball, slider and change-up), although his fastball is his best pitch, as it sinks in the strike zone and is hard for hitters to get in the air. He is tall (6'5'') and lanky and has an easy throwing motion. Burton was extremely durable in college (he threw 103 innings during his final season at Western Carolina), but he hasn't shown that he can stay healthy as a pro. If he can turn in another healthy, productive season in 2006, he could get a look by the A's in 2007.

44 – Brad Sullivan, P

Sullivan, the A's first round pick in 2003, has been steadily slipping down the A's top prospect list and if he turns in another unproductive season in 2006, this will probably be the last top prospect list he appears on. Thus far, Sullivan's career has been a cautionary tale for all college pitchers who have heavy workloads. Sullivan was one of the best college pitchers in the nation when he was at the University of Houston, but he has never been the same since he threw consecutive seasons of 120+ innings. Ever since he turned pro, his velocity has been down and his control has been shaky.

Sullivan's 2005 season was almost completely lost due to injuries. He had surgery to cure reoccurring headaches that he had been suffering from since he was a child and he struggled with a sore shoulder and back. Sullivan didn't make his debut until late in the season and never made it out of High-A. He appeared in 13 games for the Ports (two starts) and was ineffective in almost all of them. He walked 21 and struck out only 11 and allowed 13.14 hits per nine innings. He also allowed four homeruns in 24.2 innings. Sullivan will get another chance next season to prove that he was worth the first round pick used on him, but it will probably be his last shot.

43 – Dustin Majewski, CF (NOTE: TRADED TO TORONTO BLUE JAYS)

Majewski improved his stock substantially with a solid 2005 campaign as the centerfielder of the Stockton Ports. Majewski, who was a third round pick in 2003 out of Texas, showed good power and a good glove for the Ports. Majewski is the kind of player that can do everything fairly well. He has decent power (20 homeruns in 2005), good base-running skills (13 stolen bases) and a solid approach to playing centerfield. He isn't a speed-burner, but he uses solid baseball instincts to cover a lot of ground in centerfield and to get a good jump on the pitcher on the bases.

The Texas alum is a lefty and his swing can, at times, get long, which has led to a high strikeout total (130). However, he changed his batting stance late in the season and the new stance allowed him to see the ball better, which cut down a bit on his strikeouts. He'll need to continue to cut down on the Ks as he advances in the system. Majewski has a strong build and is a hard worker who gets the most out of his natural abilities. Majewski will likely start the 2006 season in AA.

42 – Matt Lynch, P

Lynch began the season in the Midland starting rotation after an outstanding 2004 campaign as the Modesto A's best starting pitcher. However, Lynch couldn't capture that same effectiveness for Midland. Midway through the season, the lefty was moved into the Rockhounds' bullpen, and he found a lot more success as a reliever. The A's sent Lynch to the Arizona Fall League so that he could continue to hone his craft as a reliever.

Lynch has a mid to high-80s fastball, an above-average change-up and a decent curveball. He has a deceptive delivery that allows him to hide the baseball well. He has historically had good control, but his walks were up in AA this season. Lynch keeps the ball down well and works the edge of the strike zone, similar to former A's reliever Chris Hammond. Like Hammond, he has to live on the corners to be successful.

41 – Mike Madsen, SP

Madsen could very well be the next in the line of great pitchers the A's have found in the late rounds of the draft. The right-hander had a solid, if not spectacular collegiate career at Ohio State University. However, his slight frame (6'0'', 155) caused him to fall all of the way down to the 21st round, where the A's scooped him up. Madsen spent the season with short-season Vancouver and he was easily the Canadians' best starting pitcher and was arguably the best pitcher in the Northwest League. He went 6-1 in 15 appearances with a 1.69 ERA and a miniscule 0.88 WHIP. Madsen gave up only two homeruns and 56 hits in 80 innings of work.

The righty throws a low-90s fastball, a change-up and he is working on a slider. Perhaps most impressive is Madsen's ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes in all counts. He was old for the short-season (he turns 23 in late November), so Madsen will need to move through the A's system quickly. Since he is small, there will always be questions about Madsen's durability, but the A's have had a history of putting a lot of faith in smaller pitchers if they have good stuff (Tim Hudson, Rich Harden and Shane Komine were all considered too small to be successful professional pitchers). Madsen will be watched closely in 2006 to see how well he responds as he faces stiffer competition.

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