30. Trystan Magnuson
|Magnuson's control improved dramatically in 2010. b>|
Early in what has turned into a very busy off-season for the Oakland A's, the team traded outfielder Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays for two minor league relievers. One of those relievers was Magnuson, who some had been predicted would make a run at a spot in the Toronto bullpen this season. Now with Oakland, Magnuson's path to the big leagues is filled with more competition, but he will get an opportunity to show what he can do at the A's big league camp this spring as a member of Oakland's 40-man roster.
Magnuson was selected by the Blue Jays in the supplemental first round out of Louisville in 2007. At the time, many draft experts considered the selection to be an over-draft, as Magnuson was a college senior with solid, but not spectacular, stuff. Concerns about his draft position continued after he signed when Magnuson was shut-down for the 2007 short-season with an inflamed UCL. Surgery was not required on his elbow and he pitched a full season in 2008 in the Midwest League. It wasn't an impressive showing for the 6'7'' right-hander, however, as he went 0-9 with a 5.40 ERA and a 49:35 K:BB ratio in 81.2 innings.
In 2009, the Jays moved Magnuson to the bullpen, a role that he had served for Louisville during his senior season. He responded well to the move, posting a 2.77 ERA in 61.2 innings for the Jays' High-A club and pitching 10 scoreless innings in Double-A. He improved his K:BB ratio to 52:28 and cut his homerun total from 10 in 81.2 innings to two in 71.2 innings.
Magnuson made an even bigger step forward in 2010, which was spent entirely at the Double-A level. He posted a 2.58 ERA in 73.1 innings, but pitched even better than that ERA would indicate. He struck-out 63, walked only 10 and allowed only one homerun. Magnuson, who is originally from British Columbia, Canada, was a representative of the Jays in the MLB Futures Game as a member of Team World.
Magnuson features four pitches: a fastball, slider, split/change-up and a cutter, although his fastball and slider are his bread-and-butter pitches. He generally sits in the 91-93 MPH range with his fastball, but can touch 95 when he is raring back for something extra. Magnuson has excellent fastball command and he uses his slider as a chase pitch. At 6'7'', he has sometimes had issues with his mechanics, but he found a comfortable throwing motion in 2010 and that showed in his results. He takes an aggressive mindset to the mound and is intelligent, having completed a degree in mechanical engineering at Louisville.
The A's bullpen is stacked with players with significant major league experience, so Magnuson isn't likely to win a job coming out of spring training in the A's bullpen. However, a good spring and a strong start to the 2011 season with Triple-A Sacramento could make him a top option for Oakland when injuries strike. He will turn 26 during the season.
29. Ryan Ortiz
|Ortiz was limited by a shoulder injury. b>|
Ortiz made a strong first impression with the A's in 2009 after being selected in the sixth round out of Oregon State. The backstop hit .258 with an 818 OPS in 48 games for the Vancouver Canadians, showing excellent patience (26:29 BB:K ratio) and some power (.430 SLG in a tough league for power hitters).
Ortiz was one of two promising catchers taken by the A's in the top 10 rounds of the 2009 draft, with high school catcher Max Stassi being the other (he was taken in the fourth round). The A's wanted both Stassi and Ortiz to get a lot of playing time in 2010, so they split them up, sending Stassi to Low-A and Ortiz to High-A. Unfortunately, thanks to a shoulder injury, Ortiz wound-up playing in only 58 games for Stockton.
In those 58 games, Ortiz was productive, batting .277 with an 873 OPS. He walked 36 times against 47 strike-outs and bashed eight homeruns. The right-handed batter was especially effective against southpaws, batting .319/.543/.511 in 47 official at-bats. Defensively, Ortiz mixed the good with the bad, committing 11 passed balls but throwing out 32% of attempted base-stealers in 54 games.
A shoulder strain kept Ortiz from really making a big statement with his season, however. He appeared in his final game of the season on July 28th. Ortiz has been rehabbing this off-season and, as of January 25, he had been swinging the bat for a few weeks and had begun a light throwing program. His status for the start of spring training is still up-in-the-air.
If Ortiz is healthy at the start of spring, he may get a chance to move up to Double-A despite not playing that much in A-ball. He already possesses a mature approach at the plate and while his defense is still a work-in-progress, it is good enough to play at that level. If Ortiz has to start the season in extended spring training, his assignment may be determined by which team between Midland and Stockton has a greater need for an everyday catcher.
Ortiz has the potential to be a very intriguing prospect given his abilities to hit for power and get on-base regularly while playing a position that is often bereft of good offensive players. His glove is currently behind his bat, but that isn't unusual for a player with his level of professional experience. His health will go a long way in determining where he lands on this list next year.
28. Chad Lewis
|Lewis has a Scott Rolen-like build. b>|
Lewis was the third of four high school players the A's selected in rounds two through five of the 2010 major league draft. The third-baseman from Huntington Beach, California, didn't sign until the final day of the draft signing period in August, so the A's got only a brief glimpse of him during the regular season. In 13 at-bats (four games) for the Arizona Rookie League A's, Lewis collected three hits, walked three times, drove-in three runs, scored five times and struck-out five times. A's coaches got a longer look at the right-handed hitter during the fall Instructional League.
Despite only turning 19 in December, Lewis already has what scouts call "a big league body." He is 6'3'', 210 pounds. His broad frame was compared to Cincinnati Reds' third-baseman Scott Rolen's by A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman. Lewis generally hit more for gap power in high school and hit well for average, but his build suggests more homerun power potential down-the-road. He also has a strong arm and good athleticism for a man of his size. Lieppman believes that Lewis will be able to stay at third-base.
The A's have always had a significant scouting presence in Southern California, so the team got plenty of looks at Lewis as he was coming through the high school All-Star baseball circuit and while he was playing for Marina High School. Lewis was a regular in the prospect showcases and he generally performed well on the big stage, something that the A's valued from a make-up perspective.
Whether Lewis spends next year in Burlington, Vermont (short-season A) or Burlington, Iowa (full-season Low-A) will have a lot to do with how he performs in spring training and where the A's assign some of their other third-base prospects. Even if he spends the bulk of the 2011 season in the Midwest League, he may start the year at extended spring training so the A's can avoid having Lewis start his season in inclement weather.
27. Brad Kilby
|A bad shoulder prevented Kilby from contributing to Oakland much in 2010. b>|
The 2009 season was a breakthrough one for Kilby, who went from an under-the-radar relief prospect to solid major league reliever. The left-hander spent all of September with the A's, and he allowed only one earned run while striking out 20 in 17 innings pitched.
Kilby entered 2010 spring training with a chance to make the A's Opening Day roster out of spring training, but he struggled and was sent to Triple-A. He was recalled to Oakland in late April and pitched well once again at the big league level, allowing two runs in 8.1 innings. After making a 3.2 inning long relief appearance for the A's, Kilby was sent down to Triple-A for a fresh bullpen arm. At the time, it was assumed he would return to Oakland later in the season, but that never happened, as he ran into shoulder troubles while with Sacramento.
Kilby tried to rehab the shoulder without surgery, but he eventually went under the knife for a small tear in his rotator cuff. He would miss the rest of the season. During the off-season, the A's designated Kilby from the 40-man roster and he cleared waivers.
Thus far, Kilby's rehab from the shoulder surgery has gone well. He is already throwing four or five days a week while also doing therapy and weight training. Kilby indicated recently that he had thrown a few times off the mound and his arm was feeling good. Because he is still completing his rehab, Kilby wasn't invited to major league spring training and it is possible that he will start the year in extended spring training to build up his arm strength.
The A's have fortified their major league bullpen this off-season, but a healthy Kilby will be a key part of the A's depth, as he has an 0.83 WHIP and 28 strike-outs in 25.1 big league innings. He isn't a hard-thrower, but Kilby hides the ball well and gets good movement on all of his pitches. Kilby has historically been effective against left-handers and right-handers, which allows him to pitch longer outings. If Kilby is healthy and throwing well, he is likely to factor into the A's plans at some point during the season.
26. Wilfredo Solano
Solano was the A's headline signing out of the July 2nd international amateur free agent class in 2009. The Venezuelan turned 17 at the start of 2010 and made his professional debut with the A's Dominican Summer League team. Although his raw numbers with the DSL A's weren't impressive, there was still a lot to like about Solano's first season in the A's organization.
Solano appeared in 45 games for the DSL A's in 2010, and he posted a .179/.314/.192 line in 156 at-bats. Solano managed only two extra-base hits and struck-out 30 times, but he also walked 30 times and stole six bases. Despite hitting below the Menedoza line, Solano was sent to the A's US Instructional League camp, where he got a lot of personal instruction from the A's coaches in Phoenix. According to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, Solano made big strides at Instructs, mainly with finding a balance between being selective and being aggressive at the plate.
"He made it a point to try to follow our recipe for success while he was in the Dominican, which included being selective, having a discerning eye and still being aggressive. He bought into all of that and tried to execute it. He took a lot of walks," Lieppman said.
"But what comes with that sometimes is a passivity as a hitter. He kind of got into that mode where he lost a little bit of that aggressiveness, but he did accomplish the other part of the approach – getting on base and walking and doing the things that we wanted. This program [Instructs] has allowed him to come out of his shell a little bit and has brought out the aggressive part."
When Solano signed with the A's, he was listed as a switch-hitter, but he has dropped the left-handed swing. He is 6'2'' and wiry now, but he should fill out as he gets older. Scouts love the power potential in his swing, but some scouts project that when he does fill out, he will need to move off of shortstop to third base. At the moment, he remains at short and has seen time at second, as well.
"He's got a short, compact powerful stroke combined with a clean, athletic and projectable body. His hands keep up with the speed of the game to play either 3B or SS and he has plenty of arm for anywhere on the diamond," A's Coordinator of International Operations Dan Kantrovitz said.
Solano is intelligent and has excelled in the classroom. He already speaks English fluently and had aspirations of being an engineer when he was in high school. Solano has a strong work ethic and plays the game with a lot of energy.
After his strong showing at Instructs, Solano is set to attend the A's US minor league spring training camp and is likely to play for the A's Arizona Rookie League team next season. He will be 18 throughout the year.