Oakland A's: Beyond The Top-50, Part One

Every year, our most difficult task is choosing only 50 prospects to include in our Oakland A's top prospect list. There are many more players than those 50 to keep an eye on, some of whom will develop into household names in a few years. In a two-part article, we discuss more than 30 players that we considered for our list but didn't make the cut for one reason or another…

Putting together our annual Oakland A's top-50 prospect list is a difficult task. It got even more difficult as the off-season wore on and the A's added a number of prospects via trades. We released our original top-50 list in November and then re-released the list this past week to take into account those off-season moves. After all was said and done, we saw eight players drop off of our original list: Connor Hoehn, A.J. Kirby-Jones, Graham Godfrey, Tyler Vail, Anthony Recker, Evan Scribner, Wilfredo Solano and James Simmons. We profiled those players as part of our top-50 countdown (for links to all of the top-50 prospects articles, please click here), so they aren't included in this two-part "Beyond the Top-50" series.

Below are the players we considered for our original list that didn't make the cut. We have cut the list into two, with players A through L appearing in the first article and M-Z appearing in the second. These names are in alphabetical order and are not meant to be a rank order.

Anthony Aliotti: The slick-fielding first-baseman has one of the best batting eyes in the organization. He is arguably the best fielding first-baseman in the organization. Alitotti hits for average and gets on-base at an above-average clip, but he will need to cut down on the strike-outs and up his power numbers to take his game to the next level.

Andres Avila: Avila was an amateur free agent signing of the A's out of Mexico before the 2010 season. The right-hander spent the entire 2011 campaign with the AZL A's. Although his ERA was high (5.20), Avila showed impressive command, walking only 16 while striking out 71 in 62.1 innings. He will need to learn to work the edges of the strike-zone more to be less hittable, but the 21-year-old is a pitcher to watch next year.

Travis Banwart: Banwart's 2011 ERA with Sacramento was 4.63, but he actually pitched better than that number would indicate for much of the season. In 149.2 innings pitched, he struck-out 120 and walked 46. Homeruns were a problem for Banwart, as he allowed 22. Banwart has above-average stuff. His fastball sits in the 91-93 MPH range and can touch 95, and he has a sharp slider, as well as a curveball and a change-up. He could be in-line for a Graham Godfrey-like breakthrough in 2012.

Jeremy Barfield: Barfield had an up-and-down season for Midland in 2011, his first campaign at the Double-A level. He finished the year with a 702 OPS, 55 points lower than his previous season with High-A Stockton. Barfield can put on a show in batting practice with his power, but he has had trouble translating that power into game action on a consistent basis. His swing can get long at times, which gets him into trouble. Barfield has the best outfield throwing arm in the system. He won't turn 24 until mid-July, so he still has time to put it all together offensively.

Trey Barham: Barham isn't flashy but he has been consistently effective throughout his professional career. The lefty posted a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings during his first season at the Double-A level. Barham's command slipped and his strike-out rate fell some in 2011, but he was still able get groundballs consistently. The VMI alum hides the ball well, making his fastball appear harder than it actually is. A numbers game may send him back to Double-A to start the 2012 season, but he should spend a significant portion of the season in Triple-A.

Bruce Billings: Billings was acquired as part of the Mark Ellis trade from Colorado. He had some command issues after joining the A's, both in Triple-A and at the major league level, and he was removed from the 40-man roster. A former starter, Billings throws harder in relief and has hit 96 MPH on the radar gun. He also has a solid slider and a usable change-up. If he can improve his command, he could get back into the A's bullpen picture in 2012.

Josh Bowman: Bowman, the A's 10th round pick in 2010, spent the entire 2011 campaign in the Low-A Burlington starting rotation. The right-hander was a solid member of that rotation, posting a 3.55 ERA and throwing 154.2 innings. A sinkerball pitcher with a solid change-up and curveball, Bowman was tentative at times early in the season and it showed with poor command. However, he became more aggressive in the strike-zone as the season wore on and both his K/9 and K:BB ratios improved down-the-stretch. He finished the year with 98 strike-outs and 44 walks, but struck-out 36 and walked only 13 over his last 47 innings. Bowman should be part of the High-A Stockton rotation in 2012.

Jake Brown: Brown began his 2011 season with Low-A Burlington, but after two months of dominating the Midwest League, he was promoted to High-A Stockton. Brown struggled at the start of his stint with the Ports but improved as the season wore on. The left-hander finished his first full season with a 4.23 ERA and a 92:25 K:BB ratio in 149 innings pitched. Brown is a soft tosser whose mechanics remind A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson of Marlins' left-hander Mark Buerhle's. Brown doesn't have much margin for error and he was hit hard when he missed his location, especially with the Ports. When he is pitching well, however, he does a good job of keeping hitters off-balance. He was a starter for the majority of the season, but he could move into the bullpen longterm.

Dusty Coleman: It was a long road back for Coleman who broke his wrist early in the 2009 season and wasn't fully recovered until 2011. In fact, he played through the wrist issue in 2009, but missed all of the 2010 season when surgery failed to correct the break the first time around. A second surgery was successful and Coleman played in 130 games for High-A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento in 2011. He also went on to play in the Arizona Fall League. Coleman spent most of the year as the Ports' starting shortstop. He showed good power and speed, hitting 15 homers and stealing 21 bases. However, he also had contact issues, striking out 171 times in only 120 games. Coleman was outstanding with the glove, however, so when the A's needed a sure-handed shortstop in Triple-A at the end of the season, they called on Coleman on a few occasions. In 10 games with the River Cats, Coleman hit .333. Coleman was on the taxi squad during the AFL season, meaning that he was eligible to play only twice a week. That irregular playing time seemed to interrupt his timing, as he went through a huge slump during the middle of the AFL season. He finished the campaign on a strong note, however, going six-for-his-last-12 with two homeruns. Coleman is very talented and his ability to hit for power and steal bases combined with his strong glove make him an intriguing prospect. However, unless he can cut down on his strike-outs considerably, he will have a difficult time producing against advanced pitchers.

Royce Consigli: At 19-years-old, Consigli was the youngest position player on the Low-A Burlington Bees' roster in 2011 and one of the youngest position players in the Midwest League. The outfielder had an inconsistent season with the Bees, but he showed flashes of promise. In 127 games, Consigli had a .247/.335/.350 line. He homered seven times and stole 16 bases in 25 chances. Consigli had a red-hot month of April, but he was up-and-down the rest of the season. Consigli is a good athlete who at times looked like the best player on the field for the Bees. Consistency is something that will likely come as he gets older. He is still finding his way defensively, but offensively he has a smooth left-handed stroke that has some pop. He has above-average speed and a decent grasp of the strike-zone. The A's challenged Consigli with an aggressive assignment in 2011. They may let him repeat the Midwest League in 2012 and find some consistent success at that level before he moves up to High-A.

Jose Crisotomo: Injuries limited Crisotomo to 46 games with Low-A Burlington, but he made those games count. The outfielder hit .325 with an 823 OPS, a big improvement over his 607 OPS in the Midwest League in 2011. Crisotomo is a slashing left-handed hitter with good speed and a line-drive stroke. He has shown the ability to hit for average for much of his career and has done a decent job of getting on-base. If he can put together a healthy season, the soon-to-be 23-year-old could surprise in 2012.

Ryan Doolittle: Older brother Sean hasn't cornered the market in career-stalling injuries within the Doolittle family, unfortunately. A right forearm injury has caused Ryan to miss one entire season (2009) and much of the 2011 campaign. Without those injuries, Ryan could be threatening the major league roster by now. Instead, he has thrown only 20.1 innings above the Low-A level. In 2011, Doolittle began the year with High-A Stockton and was outstanding for the first month of the season. In five outings (two starts), he had a 2.21 ERA and a 24:3 K:BB ratio. Then the forearm issue re-emerged and Doolittle never returned to Stockton. He did appear in four games with the AZL A's at the end of the season and was able to participate fully during the A's fall Instructional League, ending his season on a positive note. When healthy, Doolittle is among the best command pitchers in the A's system. He aggressively attacks the strike-zone, forcing hitters to beat him. Over the past two seasons, Doolittle has struck-out 68 while walking only five in 65.1 innings pitched. He was up to 91-92 MPH at Instructs and was his usual strike-throwing self. If healthy, he should open the season with Stockton once again. His command could allow him to move up the ladder quickly if the A's have needs at the higher levels during the season.

Shawn Duinkerk: Duinkerk was an international amateur free agent signing of the A's before the 2011 season. He is the first player the A's have signed as an amateur out of Aruba. The 17-year-old outfielder is a lanky 6'4'' and is very athletic. He is also very raw, having faced a limited talent pool as an amateur. A two-way player as an amateur, Duinkerk has a strong throwing arm, as well as the potential to hit for power. Duinkerk, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, showed promise at the A's US Instructional League. He will be brought along slowly by the A's, but is a player to watch in the coming years.

Omar Duran: Arm problems have held back this hard-throwing lefty from the Dominican Republic. In four minor league seasons, he has yet to pass the 50-inning mark for any one season. The A's were careful with Duran again in 2011 and he threw only 33.1 innings over three levels (Rookie League, short-season A and High-A). Duran struck-out 30 and walked 17, a dip from his 2010 effort that saw him strike-out 54 and walk 17 in 40.1 innings. Despite the dip in strike-outs and the increase in walks-per-nine-innings, Duran still managed a 2.16 ERA, as batters hit only .184 against him. He can hit 95 MPH with his fastball and is a groundball machine. In 2011, he induced three times as many groundouts as flyouts. Duran's control can betray him at times, but the biggest thing that has prevented him from being a high profile prospect is his inability to stay healthy. He will turn 22 at the end of February and, if healthy, could start the season with Low-A Burlington.

Seth Frankoff: The 2011 season didn't start out that well for Frankoff, who was sent back to extended spring training after five poor starts with Low-A Burlington. Frankoff worked on his mechanics at extended spring training and re-emerged with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters in June. He was the Lake Monsters' best starter for most of the season, posting a 2.34 ERA in 73 innings. He struck-out 63, walked 27 and allowed only one homerun. Frankoff was particularly good down-the-stretch, allowing only one run over his final 25.1 innings. He should get another chance with Burlington in 2012.

Michael Gilmartin: Gilmartin showed off a surprisingly powerful bat in a solid season with High-A Stockton. The infielder homered 14 times and posted a .437 SLG for the Ports. He also drove-in 75 runs and tripled nine times. Gilmartin was the Ports' only mid-season All-Star representative. The left-handed hitter had an 865 OPS versus right-handed pitchers but struggled versus southpaws (486 OPS). Gilmartin has a versatile glove and can play second, short and third base, giving him a good shot of moving up to Double-A in 2012.

Jose Guzman: Guzman has had a slow rise within the A's system. Signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, Guzman has pitched only two-thirds of an inning above the A-ball level during his six-year minor league career. In fact, he was a minor league free agent this off-season, but he re-signed with the A's. The right-hander has been impressive the past two seasons and looks to be coming into his own as a reliever. In 2011, he spent the entire year with High-A Stockton and led the team with 20 saves. He also posted a 2.91 ERA and struck-out 71 in 68 innings. Guzman doesn't overpower hitters, sitting in the 90-92 range, but he has an excellent change-up and locates well at the bottom of the strike-zone. He should move up to Double-A in 2012.

Carlos Hernandez: Hernandez began the 2011 season in the Double-A Midland rotation but spent the majority of the year as part of the River Cats' starting five. The left-hander continued his winning ways, posting a 12-8 record for Midland and Sacramento. Since turning pro, Hernandez has a 45-20 record over five minor league seasons. The Santa Clara native posted a 5.27 ERA at both levels in 2011, although that number was inflated (especially with Sacramento) by a handful of really terrible outings that were mixed in with a number of solid efforts. Hernandez is not a hard-thrower, but he uses his array of off-speed pitches very effectively. He also has good command and isn't afraid to challenge hitters in the strike-zone. Hernandez pitched in Mexico during the winter season and had a 2.92 ERA over seven starts. He has been a starter for most of his career, but he also has experience out of the bullpen and may ultimately find his path to the big leagues easier as a reliever.

Ben Hornbeck: Hornbeck began the season at extended spring training to get some extra work in on his mechanics. The left-hander made his season debut in May and pitched for both High-A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento for the next three weeks. He was very effective with both teams, posting a 1.13 ERA in eight innings for Sacramento and a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings for Stockton. He was promoted to Double-A Midland in mid-June and suddenly started struggling. After four outings and a 14.73 ERA in 3.2 innings, Hornbeck landed on the disabled list and missed the rest of the season. He has one of the best change-ups in the A's system when healthy. Hornbeck has moved between the rotation and the bullpen throughout his career, but he has likely found a permanent home in the bullpen.

Brett Hunter: It has been a struggle for Hunter since he turned pro after being signed to a record-breaking bonus for a seventh-round pick by the A's in 2008. Hunter has struggled with his mechanics and with arm injuries. Both factors have compromised his command significantly and, going into 2011, he had walked more batters than innings pitched. Hunter made significant progress in 2011, however. He had his healthiest season as a pro and he was able to repeat his delivery with far more frequency than in previous seasons. In 49.2 innings for Stockton, Midland and Sacramento, Hunter had a 3.08 ERA with a 46:23 K:BB ratio. Hunter has reduced his velocity some in exchange for better control, but he still has swing-and-miss stuff. This will be a big year for the Pepperdine alum. If he can stay healthy and continue to improve his ability to repeat his delivery, he could be a breakout candidate for 2012.

A.J. Huttenlocker: A 44th-round pick in 2009, Huttenlocker has had to fight for recognition within the A's organization. After his 2011 campaign, he may not have to fight quite as hard in 2012. The southpaw reliever posted a 1.83 ERA in 69 innings for the High-A Stockton Ports. Despite not having over-powering stuff, Huttenlocker limited opposing batters to a .242 average and he struck-out 60 while walking 12. In 159 career minor league innings, Huttenlocker has struck-out 159 and he has walked only 30. Perhaps most impressive, Huttenlocker has allowed only six homeruns during his career. He should get a shot with Double-A Midland in 2012.

Nathan Kilcrease: There aren't many 5'6'' right-handed pitchers in professional baseball, but Kilcrease is making a case for size being just a number. After a standout career with Alabama, Kilcrease was selected in the 30th round by the A's. He spent his first professional season in the short-season Vermont bullpen and posted a 2.67 ERA with a 28:5 K:BB ratio in 30.1 innings. He didn't allow a homerun and held opposing batters to a .228 average. Kilcrease has a solid fastball that sits in the 90-92 MPH range and an aggressive approach to pitching. He receives high marks for his make-up, as well.

Chris Lamb: Lamb was the A's 11th round draft pick in 2011 out of Davidson University. A native of Berkeley and a graduate of Berkeley High, Lamb grew up an A's fan. The left-hander signed at the August signing deadline, so he didn't get a chance to show much during his professional debut season. In five innings pitched for the A's AZL club, Lamb didn't allow an earned run and he struck-out four while walking one. Lamb struck-out 85 batters in 81.2 innings during his final season at Davidson and can touch 92 MPH with his fastball. It isn't yet clear whether his ultimate home will be in the starting rotation or the bullpen, but he figures to get a look as a starter in 2012.

Josh Lansford: Lansford began his professional career as a third baseman in the Chicago Cubs' organization. He switched to the mound 2008 but was released by the Cubs after the 2009 season. The A's picked him up and he has pitched well during his two seasons in the Oakland organization. In 2011, he was one of the High-A Stockton Ports' top relievers. He had a 2.78 ERA in 58.1 innings for Stockton and had a stellar 68:11 K:BB ratio. Lansford has added velocity every year he has pitched and was clocked as high as 95 MPH on the radar gun last season. He was a groundball pitcher last season, as well. Lansford is old for his level because of the time he spent as a third baseman, but he has shown potential. He will be tested this season at the Double-A level.

Tyler Ladendorf: Like many of his Rockhounds' teammates, Ladendorf struggled in 2011 in his first season at the Double-A level. The infielder hit only .225 in 125 games with the Rockhounds and managed only 26 extra-base hits. Despite those numbers, Ladendorf remains an intriguing prospect within the A's system because of his abilities with the glove. The Illinois native is an outstanding defensive infielder and he can also play a solid centerfield when called upon. He has above-average speed, as well, but he has yet to develop an approach at the plate that would allow him to take full advantage of that speed. Ladendorf will turn 24 in March and the 2012 season will be a make-or-break season for him.

Part two of this article will appear tomorrow.

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