2010 Year In Review: Vancouver Hitters

Our 2010 Year in Review series continues, with a move from the mound to the plate. We take a look at the hitters for the 2010 Vancouver Canadians.

Vancouver Canadians
Team Batting Average:
.250 (6th out of 8 teams)
Team OBP: .330 (4th)
Team OPS: 679 (5th)
HRs: 34 (6th) Runs Scored: 317 (6th)

Note: Only players with at least 90 at-bats were covered in this article

In what ultimately turned out to be the Oakland A's last season in Vancouver, the Canadians put together a huge second half and raced to the playoffs with a 42-34 record. As was the case through most of the A's tenure in Vancouver, pitching led the way for the C's, as the team finished second in the league in team ERA while finishing in the bottom three for most offensive categories.

The C's offense would have really been moribund if it hadn't been for the efforts of sluggers A.J. Kirby-Jones and Michael Choice. Kirby-Jones, the A's ninth round pick this season, was a Northwest League All-Star and the team's offensive MVP. After getting off to a slow start in June (729 OPS), Kirby-Jones improved as the season went on, posting OPSs of 895, 923 and 1074 in July, August and September, respectively. He led all team regulars in homeruns (14), RBIs (42), walks (61), OBP (.417) and was fourth in the league among qualified batters with an OPS of 887. Kirby-Jones' season was especially impressive when one considers that for much of the season, teams were refusing to pitch to the burly first-baseman. He will certainly be moving on to full-season ball in 2011 and could make the jump all the way to High-A Stockton if there is an opening.

Kirby-Jones may have seen more pitches to hit if Michael Choice had been in the line-up with him for the entire season. Choice, the A's top pick in 2010, didn't sign until late July and didn't make his playing debut until early August. Once he was on the field, he didn't disappoint. The right-handed outfielder collected 19 extra-base hits in only 102 at-bats, seven of those being homeruns. He also drove-in 26, scored 20 runs, stole six bases in seven chances and walked 15 times in 27 games. The only flaw in Choice's game was a high strike-out total (43), but he made up for that deficit with maximum productivity when he connected. Choice is likely to start his 2011 season in Stockton, where he will be in a much more friendly offensive environment and could put up huge numbers.

Outfielder Douglas Landaeta put together a solid season for Vancouver. The lanky right-hander posted a career-best .293 average in his first season at the short-season A level. He also connected for his first two professional homeruns and drove-in 32 runs, good for second on the team. Landaeta's 709 OPS was also a career-best. His power numbers should improve in a better hitting environment. He needs to improve his base-running (five stolen bases in 14 chances) and continue to improve his plate discipline. The Venezuelan, who just turned 22 in late November, should have an opportunity at the Low-A level in Burlington next season.

Landaeta tied with shortstop Wade Kirkland for the most number of at-bats by a C's player in 2010. Kirkland, the A's 11th round pick out of Florida Southern, hit for decent average (.271), but showed little plate discipline, walking only nine times and collecting 59 strike-outs. He also committed 24 errors in 68 games. Kirkland came into professional baseball with a good reputation, especially with the glove, so improvements in 2011 would not be surprising.

Jeff Bercume, an undrafted free agent signing, came in third on the team with 254 at-bats. The 5'8'' outfielder didn't hit for much power (.343 SLG), but he amassed a .280 BA and a .345 OBP. He also stole 10 bases and hit three triples. Bercume's best months came in July and August after a slow start in June.

Tony Thompson, the A's sixth-round pick, came into the 2010 season with some fanfare after he won the Big 12 Triple Crown in 2009. Thompson had a knee injury early in his campaign with the University of Kansas and slipped in the draft a bit to where the A's took in the sixth round. He signed quickly and had 236 at-bats with Vancouver. Thompson had an uneven professional debut season. In June and August he hit under .200 with an OPS near 500. However, in July, he hit .360/.418/.483. The A's believe in Thompson's bat and he will look to put together a strong first full season, likely in Low-A Burlington, in 2011.

Josh Whitaker is another A's 2010 draft pick who struggled to hit in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League, but who the A's see having big potential at the plate. The outfielder got off to a frigid start for Vancouver, batting only .179/.262/.179 in 56 at-bats in July. He picked it up in August, however, batting .299/.368/.519 in 77 at-bats. Whitaker hit four homeruns in August, which was good for third on the team for the entire season. He then went on to play well in the A's Fall Instructional League camp.

Bay Area native and USF grad Ryan Lipkin was so popular with the A's scouting department, he was drafted twice – first in the 43rd round in 2009 and then, after he didn't sign in 2009, again in the 24th round in 2010. Lipkin was a quick sign in 2010 and got the bulk of the playing time behind the plate for Vancouver. Lipkin got off to a slow start for Vancouver, posting a sub-600 OPS for June and July. However, he helped to carry the C's into the playoffs with a .338/.423/.397 line in August and a .333/.368/.389 line in September. He's a solid defensive catcher, so if he can also produce at the plate like he did in August, he'll move up the chain steadily.

Two years ago, Nino Leyja was considered a surprise rising prospect after he put up a .315/.383/.479 line as a 17-year-old with the Arizona Rookie League A's. Leyja was supposed to spend all of the 2009 season with Vancouver, but injuries on the Low-A Kane County roster forced the A's to move Leyja up to Kane County early. He struggled with injuries himself with the Couagars and hit a disappointing .231/.306./.347. Leyja got another chance with Kane County in 2010, but he struggled even more, batting only .224 with a 511 OPS in 125 at-bats. He was sent back to Vancouver at the start of the short-season and hit only .220/.289/.277 in 141 at-bats. Leyja just turned 20 in October, so it is too early to give up on the middle infielder, but he will need to put together a good season at the plate in 2011 to maintain any sort of prospect status.

Ryan Pineda was taken by the A's in the 28th round out of Cal-State, Northridge after a monster campaign during which he hit a Big West Conference-leading 16 homeruns. Pineda wasn't expected to be a huge power hitter in the pros, however, and he didn't hit any homeruns in 95 at-bats with the C's. He did post a solid 17:20 BB:K ratio, an indication that he could develop into a good top-of-the-order threat. Pineda had a long layoff between the end of his college season and when he signed with the A's, so it was no surprise that he got off to a slow start. He hit .250/.376/.355 in August and played well in the Fall Instructional League, however.

Like Pineda, Michael Fabiaschi was a player who did a good job of getting on-base, but didn't show much power in his first taste of pro ball. The James Madison alum had an excellent .374 OBP despite batting only .234 in 94 at-bats. He is a solid defender at second base and should move on to full-season baseball in 2011.

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