The Oakland A's 2002 draft class was immortalized by author Michael Lewis in "Moneyball," a book that was later brought to the big screen. That draft was notable because the A's had eight picks before the end of the second round. Since 2002, the A's have had compensation picks in four drafts. For the first time since 2007, the A's have more than two picks in the first two rounds of the draft. We take a look at what those drafts netted the A's.
Number of Picks Through Round 2: 4
In 2003, the Oakland A's received two compensation picks for the loss of free agents. They received the 26th overall pick from the San Francisco Giants as well as the 33rd overall in compensation for the Giants signing A's free agent Ray Durham. In addition to those two picks, the A's had their own first round and second round picks, giving them four selections among the first 62 players taken.
The A's two first-round picks came in succession at pick 25 (which was their own) and pick 26 (which was the Giants' selection). With pick 25, the A's took University of Houston right-hander Brad Sullivan. Sullivan was a highly regarded collegiate right-hander who had slid from the top half of the first round due to health concerns. Those concerns, as it turned out, were probably well founded. Sullivan threw 147 innings during his first full professional season in 2004, but that would be his only healthy season. He would throw only 88 more innings over the next three seasons before control problems and arm issues led to his release in 2007. He has been out of affiliated baseball ever since.
The A's second first-round pick, Brian Snyder, was also impacted by the injury bug. The third baseman set all sorts of records at Stetson University and he had a promising start to his career, posting a 904 OPS in 2004 with the Low-A Kane County Cougars. However, he would appear in only one game in 2005 thanks to a severe groin injury that he suffered during spring training and re-injured in his first appearance with the A's Rookie League team. He would be healthy in 2006, but he never regained his 2004 form. Snyder was released by the A's in 2008 and finished that season in the San Diego organization. He has been out of affiliated baseball since the end of 2008.
Oakland got significantly more value out of their next two picks. With their supplemental first-round pick (number 33 overall), the A's took University of Texas middle infielder Omar Quintanilla. Although Quintanilla never suited up in the major leagues with the A's, he played well enough in the A's system to be the prospect the Colorado Rockies sought when the A's traded Quintanilla and outfielder Eric Byrnes for pitchers Jay Witasick and Joe Kennedy in 2005. Quintanilla has gone on to appear in 227 games in the big leagues and is currently in the New York Mets' organization.
The A's fourth pick in 2003 was by far their best selection. With pick 62, Oakland took Arizona State outfielder Andre Ethier. Ethier, like Snyder and Sullivan, dealt with injuries early in his career. He was sidelined for the final two months of the 2004 season with a back injury that required surgery. Unlike Sullivan and Snyder, Ethier was able to make a complete recovery from the injury. He won the Texas League MVP award in 2005 and shined that fall in the Arizona Fall League. Ethier's stock as a prospect was so high that he was traded straight up for two major leaguers before the 2006 season – outfielder Milton Bradley and infielder Antonio Perez. Bradley helped the A's reach the American League Championship Series in 2006 before a falling out with the A's front office led to his release in 2007, while Perez struggled during his time with the A's. Ethier, meanwhile, has gone on to be one of the best outfielders in the National League. In seven seasons with the Dodgers, Ethier is a career .292 hitter with an 848 OPS.
Number of Picks Through Round 2: 6
The 2004 draft was, in some ways, Moneyball part two, as the A's had six picks among the first 67 selections in the draft thanks to the loss of free agents Keith Foulke and Miguel Tejada. For Foulke, the A's received compensations picks at slots 24 and 36. For Tejada, the A's were given picks 40 and 49.
With their first pick (which was originally the Boston Red Sox's selection), the A's took switch-hitting catcher Landon Powell out of the University of South Carolina. The A's envisioned Powell as a Jason Varitek-type catcher, a power hitter with a good glove behind the plate. Powell showed many of those qualities during his time in the minor leagues with the A's, but his progress to the major leagues was stymied by a series of serious knee injuries. The first came just before the start of the 2005 season and cost him that entire year. Powell's injury allowed Kurt Suzuki – who was the A's sixth selection in the 2004 draft (more on him later) – to move ahead of Powell on the A's depth chart. Powell would eventually make the major leagues as Suzuki's back-up. From 2009-2011, Powell appeared in 123 games with the A's. He caught Dallas Braden's perfect game, but managed only a 612 OPS in limited playing time. He is currently in the Houston Astros' organization.
The A's spent their second pick (selection 26) on a raw, power-hitting outfielder from Fresno State. Richie Robnett had a build that would put all but Yoenis Cespedes to shame and he could put on a show in batting practice. Robnett struggled with breaking pitches during game action, however, and poor plate discipline prevented him from ever realizing his full potential. He was traded along with infielder Justin Sellers to the Chicago Cubs for reliever Michael Wuertz before the 2009 season. He would split the 2009 campaign between the Chicago and New York Yankees' organizations before being released. He last appeared in affiliated baseball in 2009.
With their third pick (36th overall), the A's selected outfielder Danny Putnam out of Stanford. Putnam starred for the Cardinal but fell into the supplemental first round over concerns about his power potential. As it turned out, Putnam's relative lack of power was a detriment as a pro. Although he posted a solid 810 OPS in the minor leagues, he was never given a long look in the big leagues in large part because he didn't have the power of a profile corner outfielder or the speed to be an everyday centerfielder. Putnam did appear in 11 games with the A's in 2007, collecting a homer in 28 at-bats. He was traded to the San Diego Padres during the 2009 season and Putnam played in the independent leagues the past two seasons.
The A's got excellent value from their fourth overall pick (selection 40) in 2004. With that selection, Oakland took University of Texas closer Huston Street. Despite having a standout career with the Longhorns, Street was not among the first 30 players selected because scouts doubted the diminutive right-hander's ability to close at the big league level. Street quickly dismissed his doubters. He appeared in 21 games in the minor leagues with the A's in 2004 and then pitched in the Arizona Fall League that off-season. That and a strong spring training was all the A's would need to see before giving Street a chance in their big league bullpen. He took over as the A's closer that May and held the job until 2008, winning the American League Rookie of the Year in 2005 along the way. Street was traded to Colorado before the 2009 season along with Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith for All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday. Although Street has struggled with injuries at various points in his career, he has still managed to be one of baseball's top closers over the past eight seasons. Now with San Diego, Street has 182 career saves and a better than 4:1 K:BB ratio.
Oakland was far less fortunate with their fifth selection. The A's took college right-hander Michael Rogers with the 49th overall pick. The second round selection was originally the Baltimore Orioles' pick and it was given to the A's as compensation for Baltimore signing Tejada. Rogers was dominant with NC State, but he never found his way as a professional. In four seasons in the A's system, Rogers never posted an ERA under 4.00 and he struggled badly with his command. He was released during the 2007 season and latched on briefly with the Twins' organization before landing in the independent leagues in 2008 and 2009.
The A's sixth and final pick among the first two rounds in 2004 is the only one of the six who is still with the organization. Catcher Kurt Suzuki was a College World Series hero with Cal State Fullerton, but many scouts believed he was too small to be an everyday big league catcher. Suzuki has proved those critics wrong over the years. He made his major league debut in 2007 and has been the A's starting catcher ever since. Suzuki has been an iron man with the A's despite being undersized, appearing in at least 131 games in each of the past five seasons. Although he has struggled offensively the past two seasons, Suzuki has been a stalwart behind the plate, helping the A's pitching staff post one of the best team ERAs in the American League over the past several seasons.
Number of Picks Through Round 2: 4
In 2005, the A's were awarded two compensation picks for the loss of free agent catcher Damian Miller. The A's received a supplemental first round pick (36th overall) and a second round pick (53rd overall) from the Milwaukee Brewers for Miller that year.
The A's first pick (21st overall) was used to select switch-hitting shortstop Cliff Pennington from Texas A&M. Pennington struggled with leg injuries early in his minor league career, but he recovered and made the major leagues in 2008. He also spent time with the A's in 2009 and became the Oakland's regular shortstop in 2010. Pennington has been a mediocre hitter in the big leagues, but he has shined defensively at times and has added a speed element to the A's line-up.
With the A's second pick (the 36th overall selection), the team went back into the Arizona State outfield pool and took Travis Buck. Buck made a rapid rise through the A's system, starring as a minor leaguer in 2006 and making the A's Opening Day roster in 2007. He had a strong – but injury-shortened – rookie season with the A's and was expected to be a cornerstone of the A's lineup for years to come. Buck struggled out of the gate in 2008, however, and then found himself fighting a myriad of injuries over the next several years. He was released by the A's at the end of the 2010 season and spent last year in the Cleveland organization. He is currently playing for the Houston Astros as a back-up outfielder. Buck has a career 724 OPS in 236 major league games.
The A's next pick (53rd overall) was a departure for Oakland. The A's selected right-hander Craig Italiano, a high school pitcher from Flower Mound, Texas. Italiano was the first high school pitcher taken by the A's in the first two rounds in nearly a decade and he would be one of three high school pitchers taken in a row by the A's in rounds two and three that season. Italiano's career with the A's was marred by injuries. He missed the majority of the 2006 and 2007 seasons with major injuries (a torn labrum and a skull fracture caused by a line-drive that hit his head while he was on the mound). In 2008, he finally had a healthy season and by 2009, he had rebuilt enough of his prospect value that the A's were able to use him as a trade chip. He was traded along with right-handers Ryan Webb and Sean Gallagher to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Scott Hairston. Italiano would eventually make the Padres' 40-man roster, but he never reached the big leagues with the club. He was a minor league free agent this off-season and has yet to latch on with another big league organization.
Oakland's next selection (69th overall) was also a high school pitcher, Jared Lansford. The South Bay native had ties to the A's organization through his father, who starred for Oakland in the 1980s and early 1990s. Lansford had a strong first professional season in 2006, throwing a no-hitter for Low-A Kane County and reaching High-A Stockton by the end of the year. An arm injury cost Lansford most of the 2007 season, however. In 2008, the A's moved Lansford from the rotation to the bullpen and he made the jump to Double-A mid-season. By the end of the year, he was one of the A's top relief prospects. In 2009, Lansford started the year at the Triple-A level, but he found himself back in Double-A after control problems caused him to walk 12 and strike-out only one in 11 Triple-A innings. Lansford would split the 2010 and 2011 seasons between Double-A and Triple-A. Although he did an excellent job of inducing groundballs, Lansford was never able to make that leap to the big leagues with Oakland thanks to his poor command. He was a minor league free agent this off-season and was signed by the Dodgers but was later released.
Number of Picks Through Round 2: 4
The A's first pick in 2007 was the number 26 overall. Oakland took collegiate right-hander James Simmons out of UC Riverside. Simmons was considered a polished prospect and the A's started him out at the Double-A level in 2007. He pitched at Double-A again in 2008 and then reached Triple-A in 2009. Simmons was expected to make a push for the big leagues in 2010 but a shoulder injury cost him the entire season. He returned to the mound midway through the 2011 season, pitching for High-A Stockton. Simmons is currently pitching in relief for Double-A Midland. He has a 5.29 ERA, but has struck-out 16 and has allowed only 14 hits in 17 innings.
Oakland took Sean Doolittle with their second pick in 2007. Doolittle starred at the University of Virginia as both a pitcher and a first baseman. The A's chose to use Doolittle as a first baseman. He had a solid first full professional season for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. Doolittle then had a strong Arizona Fall League season and nearly made the A's Opening Day roster in 2009 after a standout spring. Doolittle got off to a fast start with Triple-A Sacramento that year, but he injured his knee in early May. That knee injury wound-up costing Doolittle the rest of 2009 and all of 2010. In 2011, it was a wrist injury that left Doolittle on the shelf. At the end of the 2011 campaign, the A's and Doolittle made the mutual decision to make the move back onto the mound. He began the year with Stockton and is already pitching for Midland. Between the two levels, Doolittle has a 1.10 ERA and 31 strike-outs against five walks in 16.1 innings.
With the 59th overall pick, the A's took outfielder Corey Brown from Oklahoma State. Brown made steady progress through the A's chain, reaching Double-A by the 2009 season. He posted an 837 OPS for the Rockhounds in 2009, but he appeared in only 66 games thanks to a knee injury. In 2010, he began the year with Triple-A Sacramento, but he was sent down to Double-A in May after a slow start. He dominated at the Double-A level that season but only received a brief look at Triple-A at the end of the season. During the off-season, Brown was traded along with reliever Henry Rodriguez to the Washington Nationals. He made his major league debut in 2011, going hitless in three at-bats. Brown was dropped from the Nationals' 40-man roster during the off-season, but he cleared waivers and remained with the organization. He is currently off to a fast start with Triple-A Syracuse and could get another look by the injury-depleted Nationals soon.
The A's first second-round pick in 2007 was used on outfielder Grant Desme from Cal Poly. Desme would have likely gone higher in the draft than pick 74 if he hadn't suffered a broken wrist during his collegiate season. Desme recovered from that broken wrist in time to appear in a handful of games in 2007 but injuries continued to plague him in 2008, as he missed virtually the entire season with back and shoulder issues. In 2009, he was finally healthy and he demonstrated the power and speed that made him such an intriguing prospect in college. In 131 games for Low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton, Desme hit 31 homers and stole 40 bases. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League. Going into the 2010 season, there were big things expected of Desme, but before he could even take the field, he shocked everyone by retiring from baseball to join the monastery.
Shortstop Josh Horton was the A's second pick in the second round in 2007. Horton starred for North Carolina in college, helping lead the Tar Heels deep into the collegiate post-season. Horton came to the pros with the reputation as a better hitter than fielder. Over the years, however, Horton's glove has become the signature aspect of his game. Offensively, Horton has shown above-average plate patience, but he hasn't hit for a lot of power or average. He also missed time the past two seasons with injuries. Horton is currently playing for Double-A Midland and is off to the best start of his career. In 37 games, Horton has a .274/.371/.452 line and he has already matched his career-high in homeruns with five.