Mid-Season Review: A's Prospects 30-21

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. We take a look at the progress of prospects 30-21 from our off-season list.

Note: this is not a re-ranking of current prospects. A new top-50 prospects list will be released this off-season.


30. Andrew Carignan

Injuries have plagued Carignan for much of his career and he is once again sidelined. This time Carignan is dealing with the most serious injury of his career, a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. The injury occurred while Carignan was pitching at the major league level. He will be out at least through the All-Star break next season.

Before the injury, Carignan was starting to get settled in the major leagues. He struggled with his command with the A's early in the season, but he posted a 21:1 K:BB ratio in 13.1 innings with Triple-A Sacramento and was throwing well with the A's when he felt the pain in his elbow. Carignan has plus velocity and a swing-and-miss breaking ball when he is healthy. Most Tommy John survivors regain their pre-surgery velocity but can often struggle with their command for a year or so after they return to the field. Carignan is highly regarded within the A's system, so it is likely he will remain on the A's 40-man roster as he recovers from his surgery, although there is a chance Oakland could try to pass him through waivers during the off-season.

Status: Recovering from surgery


29. Ryan Ortiz

The past two seasons for Ortiz have been impacted by a shoulder injury that required surgery in 2010. Finally healthy in 2012, Ortiz was expected to have a big season. Instead, his 2012 campaign has been a struggle at the plate. In 44 games for Double-A Midland, he is batting only .167/.284/.257. His struggles with the Rockhounds this season are an extension of his struggles with Midland last year, when he hit only .237/.357.303 in 47 games after batting .340/.455/.515 in 28 games for the Stockton Ports.

It is surprising to see Ortiz struggle like he has with Midland. He has been a solid hitter throughout his minor league career and fared well during the Arizona Fall League last season. Although his walk rate has been solid with Midland, his strike-out rate has jumped up at the Double-A level and he has had a significant dip in his power numbers. Ortiz' arm strength has returned and he has done a better job with his throwing this season. The A's have always like Ortiz, but he will need to pick it up at the plate during the second half to stave off competition from catchers in the system currently at the A-ball level.

Status: In need of a big second half


28. Jermaine Mitchell

Mitchell had a dream season in 2011, busting out to a .332/.430/.530 line in 130 games for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. That season came after three mediocre campaigns, mostly with High-A Stockton, from 2008-2011. Mitchell's off-season got off to a bad start when he underwent surgery to fix a torn meniscus and wound-up having microfracture surgery. Mitchell made a remarkably speedy recovery from the surgery. He was originally expected to miss the first month of the season, but he was on the River Cats' Opening Day roster. Mitchell has been monitored closely this year, but he has still managed to appear in 67 games and accumulate 254 at-bats through Tuesday. Mitchell hasn't had the same success that he did last season, however. He has a .236/.339/.358 line for the River Cats.

Mitchell actually got off to a good start this season (920 OPS in April), but he struggled badly in May (472 OPS) and June (685 OPS). The left-handed hitter has been streaky throughout his career, however, and he has three straight multi-hit games and could be poised for a hot streak. Mitchell's knee has likely impacted his performance this season. He is a dynamic talent and showed what he is capable of last year. Despite the disappointing first half, Mitchell could still position himself for a September call-up with a strong rest of July and August. If the A's trade one or two outfielders at the deadline, Mitchell could get a look during the season's final weeks. Oakland will need to decide whether to keep the outfielder on the 40-man roster going into next year.

Status: Looking to break out of early season slump


27. Josh Donaldson

It has been a tale of two seasons for Donaldson. In 28 games and 98 at-bats with the A's, Donaldson managed only 15 hits, one homerun and a .153/.160/.235 line. He struck-out 26 times and only walked once. In 27 games and 110 at-bats with the Sacramento River Cats, however, Donaldson has looked like a completely different hitter. He has 42 hits, including 10 homeruns, and a .382/.433/.718 line. Donaldson has done a better job of controlling the strike-zone in Triple-A, as well, walking nine times and striking out 17 times. A catcher for nearly his entire professional career before this season, Donaldson has shown impressive skills at third base, increasing his versatility and value.

In many ways, Donaldson is just biding his time in Sacramento. He doesn't have a lot left to prove at the Triple-A level, although if he were to concentrate on getting better in one area, it would be on getting his K:BB ratio back to where it was when he was at the Double-A level and he walked 80 times in 124 games. With Derek Norris earning the promotion to the big leagues, Donaldson isn't likely to leave Sacramento unless the A's trade Kurt Suzuki during the second half. If the A's do trade Suzuki, Donaldson is the most likely candidate to get the call to serve as Norris' back-up the rest of the season.

Status: Tearing up the PCL


26. Josh Whitaker

As a 25th-round pick, Whitaker has faced an uphill battle to be taken seriously as a prospect since he turned pro in 2010. Despite hitting .326 with a 957 OPS in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League last season, Whitaker still didn't garner a lot of respect from many prospect watchers. Those doubters appeared to be in the right through the first two months of this season, as Whitaker slumped to an OPS around 700 in the hitter-friendly Cal League. However, since the start of June, Whitaker has been one of the league's best hitters and looks well on his way to another outstanding season at the plate. In 21 games in June, Whitaker had a .312/.379/.727 line with nine homeruns. He has continued to hit well into July, posting a .300/.310/.600 line in eight games. Overall, Whitaker has a .284/.343/.502 line in 303 at-bats for Stockton.

At 6'3'', 235, Whitaker looks the part of a lumbering corner outfielder, but he is actually more fleet of foot than he would appear. He has 10 stolen bases in 14 chances this season. After playing mostly first base last season, Whitaker has moved back into the outfield, where his strong throwing arm has been put to better use. Whitaker's power and ability to hit for average make him an intriguing prospect despite already being 23 years old. To be taken even more seriously, Whitaker will need to cut down on his swings-and-misses. He already has 95 strike-outs this season. If he can control the strike-zone better during the second half, he could post his second consecutive 900+ OPS season.

Status: Putting up big numbers once again


25. Aaron Shipman

Shipman's 2012 season got off to a slow start, as he was sidelined with an injury during spring training and didn't join the Low-A Burlington Bees until midway through April. In 62 games with the Bees, Shipman is batting .206 with a .312 OBP and a 562 OPS. The 20-year-old has done a good job drawing walks (31 in 204 at-bats) but he hasn't produced much else with the bat thus far. He has only nine extra-base hits and, despite having plus speed, Shipman has only three stolen bases in seven chances.

Shipman is a very young player in a difficult league for hitters, so his struggles are not surprising. He has a solid approach at the plate, but he hasn't yet gotten the results he or the organization would like. Shipman had a .385 OBP and 17 stolen bases in 63 games with short-season Vermont last season but didn't hit for much power. Shipman is still growing into his frame and once he can hit with more authority, he should produce significantly better numbers given his solid approach. Until then, the A's will continue to be patient with the Georgia native.

Status: Looking to add some pop


24. Yordy Cabrera

Like Shipman, Cabrera is another young player looking to get his footing as a professional. Also a member of the 2010 draft class, Cabrera is competing at the High-A level for the first time this season. Last year, Cabrera hit .231/.297/.368 for the Low-A Burlington Bees. He had a strong fall Instructional League season and was off to a good start this spring before a back injury put him on the shelf. Cabrera would miss the first six weeks of the season with the injury before joining the Stockton Ports in mid-May. Cabrera has struggled with the Ports, posting a .208/.283/.257 line in 144 at-bats. He has also had a rough time with the glove, committing 16 errors in 163 chances.

At 21 years old, Cabrera is still young and making the adjustment to professional baseball. He has yet to find a consistent approach at the plate that he has been able to carry with him into every at-bat. Once he finds that support, Cabrera should improve significantly. He has yet to homer this season, but he has shown impressive power in batting practice. Cabrera has been sidelined for the past five days with a recurrence of his back injury and it is possible that the injury could have been affecting him all season. If he can recover from the injury, Cabrera still has time to turn his season around. If the injury lingers, however, this could wind-up as a lost season for the talented shortstop.

Status: Battling a sore back


23. Bobby Crocker

Crocker, the A's fourth-round pick last season, generated some excitement when he hit .322/.367/.441 in 118 at-bats for the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters in 2011. The athletic centerfielder from Cal-Poly showed the ability to hit to all fields with authority, as well as use his legs effectively both on the bases and in the outfield. To start the 2012 season, Crocker was sent to Low-A Burlington. It seemed like with a strong first half, Crocker would be a candidate to move up to High-A Stockton at the All-Star break. Instead, Crocker got off to a very slow start with the Bees. Through the month of May, his OPS was still well below 700 and he had only nine walks in 125 at-bats. Since the start of June, Crocker has turned his season around, however. He posted a 957 OPS in June and walked as many times in 83 at-bats as he had in his previous 125. He also hit three homeruns, drove-in 21 runs and scored 13 runs. As of Tuesday, Crocker's line had improved to .282/.359/.412.

The Midwest League is a pitcher's league, especially in the early, cooler months of the season, so Crocker's dip in power numbers isn't too alarming, especially given that he has seen those numbers rise as the weather has warmed. His plate discipline is some cause for alarm, however. He has walked 21 times in 65 games, but he has also struck-out 61 times. That ratio will need to improve if he expects to be able to produce at the higher levels. His left-right splits are also large, as he is batting .359/.431/.469 in 64 at-bats versus southpaws and .253/.333/.391 versus righties. Crocker's base-running game has not yet come together with seven stolen bases in 12 opportunities. However, those numbers have improved lately. He is three-for-his-last-four in stolen bases. Although there isn't an obvious spot for Crocker in Stockton right now, there is a good chance the A's will find a way to give him at least a few at-bats in the California League before the end of the season if he continues to hit like he did in June.

Status: Heating up with the weather


22. Stephen Parker

After posting a 900 OPS in the Cal League in 2010, Parker had a mildly disappointing 2011 campaign with Double-A Midland, during which he had a 786 OPS. Parker still hit for a solid average and got on-base at a good clip with the Rockhounds, but he saw his power numbers dip in the Texas League by nearly 100 points. He also struggled defensively at third base. Despite the lower power numbers and the struggles with the glove, Parker was given the benefit of the doubt and promoted to Triple-A for the start of the 2012 season. He has remained with the River Cats all season and has produced inconsistent numbers with Sacramento. Parker's current overall line of .253/.333/.393 is below his previous standards. However, he has put together some good stretches for the River Cats, posting OPSs of better than 830 in both April and June. He had a very poor month of May (561 OPS), however, and is in a July slump at the moment.

When asked about Parker's season in the PCL thus far, A's minor league hitting coordinator Todd Steverson said that the BYU alum was still adjusting to the league and its often breaking-ball heavy pitching environment. Parker's normally above-average plate discipline has wavered at times this season. He has also continued to struggle defensively, with 10 errors in 142 chances. The A's still like a lot about Parker's game and potential, but it is clear the organization doesn't trust him at the major league level yet. Until the A's signed Brandon Inge, they had a revolving door at third base this season, yet Parker was never called upon for an opportunity with the A's. For him to earn that opportunity, he will need to get back to his patient style of hitting and be more consistent defensively. Parker will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December if he isn't protected this off-season by Oakland. His second half will go a long way towards determining if he is added to the A's 40-man roster.

Status: Playing for a spot on the 40-man


21. Renato Nunez

Signed to a seven-figure bonus in July 2010, Nunez made his pro debut in 2011 in the Dominican Summer League. The then-17-year-old got off to a fast start with the DSL A's, but faded down the stretch, finishing with a .268/.301/.407 line. He showed flashes of plus power and athleticism, but also displayed a lot of rawness to his game, striking out 42 times and walking only six times in 194 at-bats. Nunez participated in the A's fall Instructional League in Phoenix and the A's coaching staff worked hard with the third baseman on improving his approach at the plate. They also spent a lot of time working with Nunez on his defense, where at times he looked very stiff. That work continued into the extended spring training season, and Nunez showed marked improvements both offensively and defensively. He has only a handful of at-bats for the A's Arizona League team thus far (19), but the 18-year-old is off to a good start with six hits and four walks and only two strike-outs.

Nunez has the potential to be a profile third baseman, i.e., a hitter who can hit for power and a decent average while also playing a solid third base defensively. He has a long way to go to meet that potential, but he has shown already that he is very receptive to instruction and that he is a fast learner. Nunez will almost certainly spend the rest of the season in the Arizona League and will continue his baseball education at the A's fall Instructional League.

Status: Improving his overall game


Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories