Mid-Season Review: A's Prospects 40-31

During the off-season, we named our top-50 prospects in the Oakland A's system. Now that we have passed the midway point of the season, we thought it would be a good time to check the progress of those players. In the second of our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 40-31 from our off-season list.

40. Jeremy Barfield
Coming off of a solid season with High-A Stockton, Barfield looked poised for a big campaign with Double-A Midland when he hit .307 with four homers and a 942 OPS in April. However, a quiet May and June (649 and 523 OPSs respectively) had him carrying a fairly pedestrian .266/.331/.382 line through Monday. The good news is that Barfield is off to a fast start in July and has been swinging for power again for the first time since April. Defensively, Barfield has remained a weapon in right field and he is tied for first in the league with 12 outfield assists.

Barfield profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter, but he hasn't yet hit for the level of power one would expect him to. Even last year when he drove-in 92 runs, Barfield's slugging percentage was still only .417 and this year it has dipped to .383. For him to take the next step in his career, Barfield will need to start hitting for power with more consistency. Barfield turns 23 next week, so he still has time to figure it out. Whether he shows more power during the second half of the season will go a long way towards determining whether he moves up to Triple-A or repeats Double-A in 2012.

Status: Looking for that power stroke

39. Pedro Figueroa
Figueroa had Tommy John surgery a year ago and is working his way back to game action in Arizona at the A's minor league complex. The hope is that he will get 10-20 innings in by the end of the season.

The hard-throwing left-hander will turn 26 in November. Although he has been a starter for much of his professional career, he is a candidate to be moved to a relief role when he returns. Figueroa is in his second option year on the A's 40-man roster. Although he is likely to receive an extra medical option year, he will still need to progress relatively quickly through Double-A and Triple-A for the A's before his options run out, something that will be easier to do as a reliever. Fautino De Los Santos made a similar switch after his recovery from Tommy John surgery and was in the big leagues a little more than a year after he was cleared to pitch without restrictions.

Status: Rehabbing from surgery

38. Andrew Carignan
It has been a long haul for Carignan, who was on the verge of making the major leagues at the start of the 2009 season only to lose most of the 2009 and 2010 campaigns to an arm injury. Coming into the 2011 season, there was optimism surrounding Carignan, who was a standout performer during the A's fall Instructional League. Unfortunately, nothing comes easily for Carignan, who developed a stress fracture in his foot during spring training and missed the first six weeks of the season. Now healthy, he has worked his way through High-A and is back in Double-A, where he starred in 2008.

Carignan only has 14.1 innings under his belt thus far this season, so it is hard to read too much into the numbers he has put up. However, for the most part, his numbers are in-line with the type of pitcher he was before he got hurt. In 14.1 innings, he has allowed only nine hits and he has struck-out 16 while walking six. Carignan's velocity is back to its 2008 levels, as well, so he could be in for a big second half. Although he has seen his career stalled with injuries, Carignan has the stuff to get back on the major league track quickly. He could make a return appearance to the Arizona Fall League this off-season to get back some of the innings he lost to the foot injury and, with a strong second half, could find himself on the major league spring training invite list, as well. Carignan will need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft this off-season, so if he puts up big numbers, that could push the A's towards adding him to the roster to keep him away from other teams.

Status: Making up for lost time

37. Anthony Capra
Two years ago, Capra was a prospect on the rise when he struck-out 170 in 152 innings for the A's A-ball teams. The 2010 season was a step-back for Capra, who saw his strike-out total drop to 118 in 130 innings and his walk total zoom to 89 with Double-A Midland. Those command issues have remained in 2011, as he has 36 walks in 65.2 innings and he has allowed seven homeruns and 78 hits. Capra was recently sent back to Arizona to work on his mechanics and delivery issues.

Command has never been Capra's strong suit since turning pro in 2008, but it has really deteriorated the past two seasons in Double-A. Capra has a plus change-up and a good enough fastball that he generates a lot of swings and misses when he is close enough to the strike-zone to tempt the hitters to swing. Right now, Capra is either missing too far out of the ‘zone or getting too much of the plate. He will receive a lot of personal attention and a chance to take a step away from the Texas League while in Arizona. Any improvement when he returns to full-season play will be a positive to build on for 2012.

Status: Looking to regain the magic

36. Ethan Hollingsworth
Acquired for Clayton Mortensen just before the start of spring training, Hollingsworth was off to a strong start with his new organization when a groin pull side-tracked him in late May. He missed all of June and is a few weeks away from returning to the Double-A Midland rotation. Before getting hurt, Hollingsworth made the Texas League All-Star team on the strength of a 3.78 ERA and a 33:14 K:BB ratio in 52.1 innings.

Hollingsworth isn't a strike-out pitcher, but he has plus command and does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. He isn't flashy, but he gets the job done and before his groin injury, he had always been a workhorse. In many ways, Hollingsworth is a similar pitcher to current A's right-hander Graham Godfrey. Assuming that the groin injury is an isolated incident and that he can finish the season on an up note, Hollingsworth could challenge for a Triple-A rotation spot in 2012. Like Carignan, he could be a candidate to make up for lost innings in the Arizona Fall League this off-season.

Status: Working his way back

35. Omar Duran
Duran is one of the most promising arms to emerge from the A's Dominican Academy in recent years, but he hasn't been able to reach his full potential yet thanks to reoccurring elbow injuries that have prevented him from jumping past the Arizona Rookie League. The hard-throwing left-hander was once again limited by arm soreness early this season, but he is now back on the mound and throwing well for the AZL A's. In 10.1 innings this season, he has 11 strike-outs and eight hits allowed. Duran struck-out 54 and walked only 17 in 40.1 innings for the AZL A's last season.

Duran's best pitch is his fastball, which can touch the mid-90s and has good movement. The southpaw has a starter's build and he has the talent to be a starter, but given his arm problems, he may remain in the bullpen longterm. The native Dominican is 21-years-old. The main goal for him the rest of this season will be to remain healthy through the A's fall Instructional League so that he can have a normal off-season and a normal spring training next year.

Status: Trying to stay healthy

34. Zhi Fang Pan
Pan was signed as an international free agent before the start of last season, becoming the A's first international free agent signing from Taiwan. He was impressive during his professional debut season, batting .331 with an 826 OPS in 43 games in the Arizona Rookie League. He would have received strong consideration for a spot with Low-A Burlington coming out of spring training, but a right elbow injury prevented him from playing defense at full strength. He rehabbed the elbow during extended spring training and broke camp with the A's short-season squad, the Vermont Lake Monsters. In 14 games with Vermont, Pan has 17 hits in 52 at-bats (.327 BA) with four stolen bases and seven RBIs.

Pan has yet to collect an extra-base hit this season, but he showed some gap power during his Arizona Rookie League season and he has the speed to turn balls hit slightly in the gap into doubles. The middle infielder is a switch hitter and has swung the bat well from both sides of the plate. He is a slashing, top-of-the-order type batter and has also shown good actions at both shortstop and second base. Pan won't turn 21 until November and he should be a prospect to watch in the A's system for the next few years.

Status: Slashing way through NY-Penn League

33. A.J. Kirby-Jones
After putting up impressive numbers in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League last season, Kirby-Jones was expected to have a huge year for the Midwest League's Burlington Bees. The 2011 season got off to a poor start for Kirby-Jones when he injured his knee in a collision during the second game of the year. After missing nearly six weeks, Kirby-Jones struggled to get back into the swing of things, batting .174 in 20 games in May. It was a completely different story for Kirby-Jones in June, as he hit a blistering .366 with six homers in 24 games. Now 51 games into the season, he has a solid .263/.371/.457 line.

Despite the slow start, Kirby-Jones is on pace for a strong season in yet another pitcher-friendly league. The Stockton Ports are currently faring well at Kirby-Jones' first-base position, but should there be an opening in High-A, the A's will likely not hesitate to challenge their 2010 ninth-round pick. With his ability to hit for power and get on-base, Kirby-Jones will be well-suited for the hitter-friendly California League.

Status: Back on track

32. A.J. Griffin
Griffin did nothing but impress during his pro debut season as a closer for the short-season Vancouver Canadians in 2010. He saved 15 games and struck-out 27 in 21.1 innings en route to a Northwest League post-season All-Star nod. Despite the fact that Griffin had so much success in the bullpen, the A's didn't hesitate to move him into the rotation this season. In college, Griffin was mostly a starter and was highly regarded for much of his career, pitching on the same Team USA squad as Stephen Strasburg. Griffin has rewarded the A's faith in his ability to start. Beginning the year in Low-A, Griffin has already worked his way to Double-A and even made a spot start in Triple-A when the A's needed an extra arm. Overall, Griffin has 2.38 ERA and 95 strike-outs against 15 walks in 98.1 innings.

The 6'5'' right-hander has a plus change-up and slider and a decent fastball that can touch 93 and sits in the 88-92 range. As a reliever, his fastball even jumped to 95 MPH at times. His command is very advanced, something that has allowed him to dominate at the lower levels. Griffin has pitched well in two higher-level starts (one in Double-A and one in Triple-A). If he can maintain that level of success through the end of the season, he will have a real shot of starting the 2012 season in Triple-A and possibly pushing his way onto the A's starting rotation depth chart by mid-season. Although he was a senior when he was drafted, Griffin is quickly becoming one of the A's brightest prospects from the 2010 draft.

Status: Making waves

31. Paul Smyth
Smyth burst onto the scene in 2009 when he tossed 36.1 innings without allowing an earned run in his professional debut season. A 35th round pick, Smyth proved that his 2009 season was no fluke when he saved 28 games and struck-out 94 in 77.2 innings for High-A Stockton in 2010. His numbers haven't been quite as impressive in 2011 with Double-A Midland, but he is still posting solid stats. The side-arming right-hander has a 3.86 ERA in 42 innings with 42 strike-outs and 20 walks in 26 appearances for the Rockhounds through Tuesday.

Smyth has been holding his own with Midland, although he hasn't been nearly as dominating as he has been in the past. In addition to his strike-out totals going down and his walk totals going up, Smyth has seen his groundout-to-flyout rate dip some. His homerun rate has also gone up but he still doesn't allow many balls to leave the park. Despite those dips in numbers, Smyth is having an overall solid season in his first taste at the Double-A level. If he can show improvement with his command down-the-stretch, the Astacadero native could be pitching near home in Sacramento next season. He is also a candidate to be one of the A's representatives in the Arizona Fall League this off-season.

Status: Holding his own

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