Oakland A's Top-50 Prospects: 45-41

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, we will profile our top-50 prospect list in groups of five. Today, we continue the series with a review of prospects 45-40.

45. Michael Spina

Spina had to learn first base on the fly.

Spina was the A's 11th round pick in 2009 out of Cincinnati and he made a good first impression as a pro, batting .255 with seven homers and a 776 OPS in 52 games for Low-A Kane County. Spina made the jump to the California League for the 2010 season and put together a solid year at the plate while also dealing with the difficult task of changing defensive positions.

The all-time homerun leader for the Cincinnati Bearcats showed consistent power for the Ports in 2010. Spina overcame a poor April, during which he hit .247 with a 680 OPS, to lead the team with 23 homers and finish third with 88 RBIs (he was seventh and eighth in the league, respectively), while posting a .253/.348/.444 line over 135 games.

Dating back to college, Spina has always been a run producer and it is a role that he embraces. He was at his best with runners on-base (860 OPS) or in scoring position (848) and he helped the Stockton offense finish third in the league in runs scored. He does a decent job of drawing walks, having walked 64 times in 135 games, but he has a tendency to get over-aggressive at times, something that was reflected in his 142 strike-outs. Spina also struggled against left-handed pitchers despite being a right-handed hitter, managing only a .187 average and a 701 OPS versus southpaws.

Defensively, it was a struggle for Spina at first base this season, especially early in the year. A third baseman in college and during his first professional season, Spina was asked to switch to first at the start of the 2010 regular season so that he and fellow Stockton slugger Stephen Parker could be in the line-up at the same time. While learning on the fly, Spina committed 17 errors at first base. He showed the agility to play the position and he has good hands, so he should continue to get better as he grows more comfortable with the position.

Spina's offensive profile is prototypical for a corner infielder and he is one of the more consistent power bats in the A's system. He was drafted as a college senior, so he is a little old for his league, but as long as he continues to move up every year, that shouldn't be too much of a factor. Spina will likely always strike-out a fair amount and he isn't likely to be a player who hits for a high average, but if he can refine his two-strike approach and improve against left-handers, he should be able to raise his average into the .270s.

In many ways, Spina is similar to former A's prospect Tom Everidge, who was eventually able to raise his average by looking to hit the ball up the middle more with two-strikes rather than pull everything. Everidge was always held back as a prospect by his defense at first. If Spina can continue to improve his defense, he should have an easier time moving up the A's chain than Everidge did.

44. Shawn Haviland

Haviland was among the top strike-out pitchers in all of minor league baseball.

Haviland may not be one of the more well-known names in the A's system, but he quietly put together one of best seasons of any A's pitching prospect in 2010. The A's 2008 33rd-round pick out of Harvard finished second in the California League in strike-outs (166) and led the Stockton Ports' in innings pitched (150.1), ERA among starting pitchers (3.65) and he maintained an excellent K:BB ratio of more than 4:1. He earned a post-season All-Star nod from the California League.

One might assume from the Ivy League background that Haviland is merely a crafty right-hander who uses location and pitch selection to rack-up strike-outs against younger hitters. While Haviland does have a good approach to pitching, he isn't a soft-tosser. Since turning pro in 2008, Haviland has seen his velocity jump from the mid- to high-80s to the high-80s to low-90s with occasional touches of 93 MPH on the radar gun. His best secondary pitch is his curveball and he also throws a change-up and added an effective cut-fastball in 2010.

Haviland likely would have made this list last year had it not been for a late-season slide that pushed his ERA with Kane County from the low 3.00s to 4.71. He said he felt healthy and strong during the second half of the 2009 season, but admitted that he may have been more tired than he realized. He had no such troubles in 2010, posting a 3.21 ERA after the All-Star break and striking out 85 in 73 innings. Haviland also improved his location in 2010, spotting his fastball better, especially against right-handed hitters.

"Shawn Haviland is just better [than he was last year]. I think he is able to command the baseball better and recognize what hitters might be trying to do. He just has an idea," A's Minor League Pitching Coordinator Gil Patterson told OaklandClubhouse.com during the season.

One area in which Haviland struggled a bit in 2010 was with homeruns. He allowed 15 after giving up only nine the year before. Haviland may always be prone to the longball because he is a flyball pitcher. He will need to continue to limit the walks as he progresses to higher levels in order to make that weakness a relatively unimportant one. Haviland has shown throughout his career that he can miss bats and he proved in 2010 that he can handle a heavy workload without losing his effectiveness. He should start next season in Double-A.

43. Tyler Ladendorf

Ladendorf is one of the top defenders in the A's system.

Since he was selected in the second round by the Minnesota Twins in 2008, scouts have been waiting for Ladendorf to show some of the offensive acumen that he displayed at Howard College in Texas. Although he still hasn't realized his full offensive potential, Ladendorf gave a glimpse of the hitter he can be during the second half of the 2010 season. Defensively, he is already an accomplished player.

The 2010 season was Ladendorf's first full season with the A's organization (he was acquired for Orlando Cabrera at the trade deadline in 2009). It was also the first time he had played a full year for a full-season affiliate, as he played a career-high 126 games for High-A Stockton (and added four games with Triple-A Sacramento). He held up well despite the long season and really played well during the second half of the year, posting a .279/.336/.424 line and helping the Ports make the playoffs. His overall line was .274/.326/.385 in 478 at-bats.

Ladendorf made a number of improvements offensively from 2009, when he hit .231/.301/.338 in 35 games for Low-A Kane County. He hit for more power, connecting on five homeruns, four triples and 30 doubles, and stole 20 bases in 24 chance after stealing only two in four chances for the Cougars. One area he slipped, however, was his patience at the plate, as he walked only 35 times against 110 strike-outs for Stockton after posting a 10:19 BB:K with the Cougars.

Defensively, Ladendorf impressed scouts and opposing coaches throughout the California League. He spent much of the year at second base playing alongside A's 2009 first-round pick Grant Green, but when Green had a day off or was DHing, Ladendorf slid over to shortstop. Ladendorf was equally impressive at both positions, showing good range and hands. He also flashed a strong arm and the ability to make the tough throw at difficult angles.

Ladendorf has the potential to be a valuable super-utility player. He has plus speed and he improved his reads and jumps on base-stealing attempts considerably in 2010. Ladendorf also has some gap power and the ability to hit for average. Defensively, he already projects as an above-average middle infielder and, although he didn't get to play there much during the regular season, he is a solid defensive outfielder, as well. In many ways, he profiles similarly to current A's farmhand Corey Wimberly, but he is better defensively than Wimberly and has the projection to hit for more power. For Ladendorf to reach the big leagues, however, he will need to add some of Wimberly's patience to his game. Ladendorf, who will be 23 in March, should join many of his 2010 Stockton teammates in Double-A Midland next season.

42. Connor Hoehn

Hoehn was selected in the 12th round of the 2009 draft by the A's out of a Florida community college. The strong-armed right-hander breezed through his first exposure to pro ball, posting a 1.35 ERA and striking out 28 in 20 innings for the A's two US short-season affiliates. Boasting a solid fastball that sits in consistently in the low-90s and a solid breaking ball, Hoehn was one of the more intriguing arms selected by the A's in 2009.

At the start of spring training 2010, the A's flirted with the idea of having Hoehn move into the starting rotation. He pitched out of the rotation for the entire spring, but when the rosters were set for the regular season, he was moved back to the bullpen. He would pitch exclusively in relief for Kane County for the entire 2010 season.

For the most part, it was a solid first full season for the 21-year-old. He made the mid-season Midwest League All-Star team and struck-out a remarkable 101 batters in 87.2 innings while holding opposing batters to a .210 average. Hoehn was also consistently reliable for the Cougars until August, when he showed some fatigue and struggled to the tune of a 7.78 ERA and 11 walks plus 22 hits allowed in 19.2 innings. He also allowed three of his six homeruns in that month. Overall, he posted a 3.80 ERA.

Hoehn has an unusual delivery that serves both to hide the ball well from hitters and disrupt their timing at the plate. He gets good sinking action on his fastball and his slider is an out-pitch when he is throwing well. He can throw the slider with two grips: one gives it a tight break and the other makes it more of a slurvy-type pitch. When he tires, his slider has a tendency to elevate and flatten out. He also throws a change-up. Hoehn's fade at the end of the season is something to note, but it isn't a cause for huge concern given it was the first time he has made that many appearances in one season in his career.

Hoehn's ability to miss bats is impressive and, more often than not, when hitters do make contact, they don't get the good part of the bat on the ball. His command still needs work, however, as he walked 39 and hit seven. He will be challenged next season in the California League, where misses in location often result in big damage. Hoehn has the stuff to succeed in the Cal League and beyond. If Hoehn can sharpen his command, he should be able to move quickly through the A's system and could be knocking on the door of the A's bullpen by the end of the 2012 season.

41. Royce Consigli

Consigli was the AZL A's best hitter in 2010.

Despite being in his second pro season, Consigli was one of the youngest players to suit up for the A's Rookie League club in Phoenix this summer. He was also their best player. The outfielder, who turned 19 in early September, finished third in the Arizona Rookie League in batting average (.340) and fourth in OPS (893) and earned his way onto the AZL post-season All-Star team.

The 2010 campaign was actually Consigli's second go-around in the AZL. He was sent there in 2009, as well, after being selected in the 30th round of the draft out of an eastern Canadian high school. Consigli hit only .202 in 2009, but he showed some promise, walking 16 times in 26 games. He continued to show good patience in 2010 (20 walks in 41 games and a .406 OBP), but he added a lot more to his offensive game. In addition to the high batting average, Consigli found the gaps for 12 doubles and four triples and he hit his first professional homerun. The left-handed hitter dominated right-handed pitchers (.352/.408/.496), and he held his own against southpaws (.290/.395/.452).

"Having to repeat the Arizona League, I admire his ability to go back. This is a very difficult league to play in Arizona in the summer and he was able to go back and put up solid numbers," A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman said after the season.

"He's shown really great ability with the bat. He's shown a little bit of power in this [Instructs] program and he's continued to impress people. He's one of the younger guys who is just making it through the system, but I think next year he should be in a position to compete for one of those Midwest League jobs in Burlington, Iowa."

Consigli is still growing, but he already has a solid physique at 6'2'', 205 pounds. He has good footspeed for his size, although he isn't a major threat to steal at this stage of his career. Consigli has power potential and has the build to develop into a homerun hitter as he gets older. His bat is ahead of his glove at this point, but he has a strong arm. He is best suited for the corner outfield spots. The jump from short-season to full-season ball is a big one, especially for high school draft picks, so Low-A Burlington will be a big test for Consigli next season.

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