Oakland Athletics: A Decade Of Hits And Misses In The 1st Round

by Jasper Scherer | Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
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Sonny Gray

For the Oakland A’s, there have been a lot of misses. From 2003 to 2007, they drafted six players, one of whom made it to the majors. However, their prospects of late have actually looked rather promising. Here’s a look at the past ten years of first round drafting by the A’s.

2013: Billy McKinney, OF, 24th overall

The A’s drafted McKinney out of Plano West High School with the 24th overall pick in the draft, their second consecutive first-rounder out of high school. In the minors, the young lefty outfielder hasn’t disappointed. After batting .415 throughout his four years of high school, McKinney is hitting .320 with a .383 OBP in 206 plate appearances with the A’s Rookie level team.

2012: Addison Russell, SS, 11th

Russell was taken 11th overall straight out of high school, and he’s lived up to his draft spot thus far. He started off his minor league career by hitting a torrid .415 in Rookie ball, then finished the year hitting over .300 in single A. He finished 2012 with a .369 batting average, 1.027 OPS, 16 steals (with just two unsuccessful attempts), and 9 triples over 244 plate appearances. He played in the 2013 Futures Game, and he is hitting .279 with 17 home runs and an .891 OPS this year. He’s also the 19th ranked prospect on MLB.com’s Top 100 list. His future looks very bright, and he could be a contributor to the major league team before long.

2011: Sonny Gray, SP, 18th

Gray was the ace of the Vanderbilt pitching staff before being drafted 18th overall by the A’s. He’s moved up the ladder very quickly, pitching in Double-A in his first year with the organization. After posting a 0.45 ERA in Double-A in 2011, Gray struggled at the same level in 2012 with a 4.14 ERA over 148 innings. Regardless, the A’s promoted him to Triple-A in 2013, where he’s been solid. His record on the season is 10-7, and he has a 3.42 ERA over 118.1 innings. He’s also pitched 28.1 innings in the majors over four starts and two relief appearances, posting a 3.18 ERA. He is currently the A’s third-ranked prospect.

2010: Michael Choice, OF, 10th

Choice was an All-American outfielder at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he batted .392 with a school-record 34 home runs over three years. He started off a bit slow in the minors, but he’s improved drastically, batting .300 over 490 at bats in Triple-A this season. He looks ready for a major league call-up when the rosters expand this year.

2009: Grant Green, 2B, 13th

Green had a fantastic minor league career in the A’s organization, batting .306 in over 2,000 at bats across all levels, including .325 in Triple-A this year. The A’s traded him to the Angels on July 30th for Alberto Callaspo. Since the trade, Green has a .333 average and a .415 OBP with the Angels, while Callaspo is hitting .268 and .373 with the A’s in the same categories.

2008: Jemile Weeks, 2B, 12th

Weeks’ career has certainly been a roller coaster, and it reached its peak in 2011 when he batted .303 with 22 steals in 406 at bats as a rookie. He then had a dramatic drop off in 2012, batting .221 in 444 at bats with an ugly .609 OPS. The A’s sent Weeks down to Triple-A for the 2013 season to work on his bat and his questionable fielding, and he’s responded with a respectable performance. His .269 average is unspectacular, but he has drawn 77 walks, posting a solid .374 OBP. He’s also scored 94 runs and stolen 17 bases in 19 attempts. His fielding is also much improved, as he’s committed just 8 errors at second base and shortstop this year. The A’s have also experimented with him in center field. Weeks’ versatility and ability to get on base (and score) could be valuable for the A’s in 2014.

2007: James Simmons, SP, 26th

Simmons was drafted out of UC Riverside, and he’s struggled throughout his minor league career. He has a 4.66 ERA in his minor league career, including 5.62 this year in High-A ball. He has yet to make it to the majors, and doesn’t appear ready to do so anytime soon.

2006: None

2005: Cliff Pennington, 2B, SS, 21st

Pennington has never quite lived up to his potential, batting just .247 over six big league seasons. The A’s traded him to the Diamondbacks on October 20, 2012, and he’s hit .231 with a dismal .594 OPS this year.

2004: Landon Powell, C, 1B, 24th & Richie Robnett, OF, 26th

Powell has bounced around a bit, going from the A’s to the Astros to the Mets, all since 2011. He’s been unsuccessful in both the majors and the minors, batting .207 over his big league career, which consists of just 363 at bats. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2011, and he’s hitting .159 in Triple-A this year. Robnett is perhaps the Athletics’ biggest bust of the past ten years, as he never appeared in the majors at all. He last played for the A’s organization in 2008. He batted .257 over his minor league career, and he hasn’t played since 2010 after being released by the Yankees.

2003: Brian Snyder, 3B, 26th & Brad Sullivan, SP, 25th

Snyder lasted six seasons in the minors before leaving the game in 2008. He wasn’t terrible, but he was never quite good enough to get called up to the big league club. He finished his career with a .263 average, and he never reached Triple-A. Sullivan’s career was a complete disaster. Taken 25th overall in 2003, he posted respectable numbers in 2003 and 2004, but he fell apart after that. His ERAs in 2005 and 2006 were 7.93 and 10.16, respectively, and he was out of the game after 2007, never even reaching Double-A.

BHC Pick of the Litter: Jemile Weeks

BHC Franchise Flop: Brad Sullivan

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Jasper Scherer
About the Author

Jasper is a San Francisco native and an avid Giants fan. He currently resides in Evanston, IL, where he is studying journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jasper on Twitter @jaspsch.

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