Mid-Season Review: A's Prospects 20-11

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 20-11 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.

20. Raul Alcantara

Alcantara was one of three players acquired by the A's for Andrew Bailey this off-season. While the other two players involved in that deal -- Miles Head and Josh Reddick -- have excelled in their first seasons in the A's organization, Alcantara has had an up-and-down 2012 campaign with Low-A Burlington. The hard-throwing 19-year-old has made 17 starts for the Bees this season, posting a 5.38 ERA with a 44:34 K:BB ratio in 85.1 innings. A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson recently described Alcantara's season as a "rollercoaster."

The native of the Dominican Republic is competing in his first full-season league and is really still learning how to pitch. His velocity has been in the 91-94 MPH range, but he has had trouble locating his fastball consistently. Patterson noted that Alcantara's change-up has been solid this season but that the right-hander was still working to develop his breaking ball. Alcantara has a high ceiling, but it will take awhile for him to develop. With the amount of pitching talent in the A's organization, Oakland will be very patient with the talented starter.

Status: Learning the ropes

19. Collin Cowgill

Cowgill was one of three players acquired by the A's from Arizona for Trevor Cahill this off-season. All three of those players have spent significant amounts of time at the big league level this season. While Cowgill's impact on Oakland hasn't been as big as his fellow trade mates Ryan Cook and Jarrod Parker, Cowgill has still shown signs that he can be a solid back-up outfielder for the A's this season and beyond. Currently, Cowgill is with Triple-A Sacramento on a rehab assignment for a high ankle sprain he suffered on June 22nd against the San Francisco Giants. It isn't clear whether the A's plan to reinstate Cowgill to their 25-man roster at the end of his rehab or have him go down to Sacramento for regular at-bats. That decision will likely be predicated on whether Coco Crisp has to go on the DL with a shoulder injury he sustained over the weekend.

When not on the DL, Cowgill has spent all but three weeks of the season at the major league level. In 32 big league games, he is batting .271/.343/.313 while playing all three outfield positions defensively. Cowgill has yet to provide much value on the base-paths (he is three-of-seven in stolen base attempts), but that is an area that he should be able to help the A's off of the bench based on his minor league track record. In some ways, Cowgill profiles similarly to former A's outfielder Eric Byrnes. He isn't a regular starter on a top division team, but he could provide value as an occasional starter and as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-runner. Assuming his recovery from the ankle injury continues without any set-backs, Cowgill should resume a fourth or fifth outfielder role with the A's at some point this season, if not later this week.

Status: On rehab assignment

18. A.J. Griffin

After posting a 3.47 ERA and a 156:32 K:BB ratio in 160.2 innings in his first full professional season, Griffin would have been hard-pressed to put together a better encore. Thus far, he has exceeded the standard he set in 2011. He began the year at the Double-A level and quickly earned a promotion to Triple-A by posting a 2.49 ERA in seven starts. He struck-out 44 with seven walks in 43.1 innings for Midland. The jump to Triple-A wasn't much of a challenge for Griffin. In eight starts, he posted a 2.81 ERA with a 40:7 K:BB ratio in 51.1 innings. He pitched complete games in consecutive starts, the first pitcher to accomplish that feat in River Cats' history.

When the A's lost veterans Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon to injury, they turned to Griffin to fill a spot in the rotation. The 6'4'' right-hander has continued to excel in the big leagues. In four starts, he has a 2.63 ERA and major league batters are hitting only .195 against him. He has 16 strike-outs and six walks. Griffin is a flyball pitcher and he has allowed four homers in his 24 big league innings. That is likely to be something that Griffin battles throughout his career, but as long as he continues to limit base-runners, it shouldn't be a major issue. Griffin may be squeezed out of the A's rotation when McCarthy returns from the DL, but he is likely to return to the rotation as soon as there is another opening. How he fares the rest of the year will determine whether the A's save a permanent spot for Griffin in their rotation in 2013.

Status: Earning his stripes in the big leagues

17. Tom Milone

Milone was one of four players acquired by the A's from the Washington Nationals this off-season for All-Star Gio Gonzalez. At the time of the trade, Milone was considered the most major league ready player in that package and that assessment has held true throughout this season. He was the first of those four players to make the major leagues, earning a spot on the A's Opening Day roster. Milone has been a key member of the A's starting rotation all season. The left-hander has put together a strong rookie season. In 18 starts, he has a 9-6 record with a 3.54 ERA, a 114 ERA+ and a 1.21 WHIP.

Milone has been Cy Young while pitching at home this season. At the Coliseum, opposing batters have a 467 OPS. He has allowed only one homerun in seven starts at home, while giving up 15 on the road. His home ERA is 1.03 and he is 5-1. On the road, Milone has a 5.69 ERA and a 4-5 record. The soft-tossing lefty doesn't have much margin for error, but he has done a good job limiting unnecessary base-runners (26 walks in 114.1 innings). He has proven to be a solid number four starter and has a chance to stick in that role with the A's for the next several years.

Status: Establishing himself as a big league regular

16. Miles Head

If the vote for Oakland A's Minor League Player of the Year were to take place today, Head would be the runaway winner. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox during the off-season, Head has quickly become one of the A's top hitting prospects. In 2011, the then-20-year-old split his season between Low-A and High-A. His numbers at High-A last season didn't blow anyone's socks off but the experience likely helped him this year with the High-A Stockton Ports. In 67 games with the Ports, Head hit .382/.433/.715 with 18 homers. Had the A's left Head with the Ports all season, he had a chance to win the Cal League's Triple Crown.

The A's didn't leave Head with the Ports all season, however. After the Cal League All-Star game, Head was promoted to Double-A Midland. While Head's bat has cooled some with the Rockhounds, he is still more than holding his own for a 21-year-old at the Double-A level. In 20 games (77 at-bats), Head is batting .273/.356/.455. Head currently leads all A's minor leaguers in batting average, hits, homers (tied with Dusty Robinson), RBIs, SLG and OPS. Defensively, Head is still a work-in-progress. The A's moved Head from first base, where he played in the Boston organization, to third base, where he played in high school. In 68 games at third this year, Head has committed 12 errors. Given how young he is, however, he should get plenty of time at the position to see if he can improve.

Status: Soaring up the prospect ranks

15. Adrian Cardenas

When Jemile Weeks established himself as the Oakland A's second baseman of the present and future, Cardenas suddenly found himself blocked at the major league level with Oakland. The A's tried Cardenas at several other positions besides second base during his time in the organization – shortstop, third base and even the outfield – but he never found a comfortable defensive home away from second. When the A's needed a roster spot a few weeks before the start of spring training, they designated Cardenas for assignment and he was claimed by the Chicago Cubs.

Cardenas has split the 2012 season between Triple-A and the big leagues. With the Iowa Cubs, Cardenas has been red-hot all season. In 155 at-bats, Cardenas has a .342/.411/.523 line, easily the best slashline of his career. He spent two months in the big leagues, appearing in 25 games with the Cubs. He only had 37 at-bats in those 25 games, however, and he managed just seven hits. Five of those hits were doubles. Cardenas is likely to get another shot with the Cubs before the end of the season.

Status: Tearing up Triple-A

14. Eric Sogard

Sogard began the year as the A's back-up middle infielder, earning his first Opening Day roster spot. Since then, he has had a couple of different stints with the A's, but he hasn't received much regular playing time during any of those stretches with the big league club. Sogard has struggled with the irregular playing time, batting only .149/.192/.246 in 69 at-bats with the big league club. It has been a different story with Triple-A Sacramento, where Sogard is currently plying his trade. In 130 at-bats with the River Cats, he is hitting .323/.425/.462.

Sogard profiles as a back-up at the major league level, a player with a solid glove at second, short and third who will see a lot of pitches at the plate. Given the struggles this season of current A's starting shortstop Cliff Pennington, however, Sogard could conceivably be given a chance to show what he can do at the big league level with regular playing time at shortstop. A's shortstops have a collective 520 OPS this season. With Brandon Hicks also struggling as Pennington's back-up, Sogard, at the very least, will likely see time as a reserve again in the big leagues before the season is done.

Status: Working his way back to Oakland

13. B.A. Vollmuth

Vollmuth was the first position player selected by the A's in the 2011 draft, coming to the team in the third round. The Southern Mississippi star signed in August and only appeared in a handful of games with short-season Vermont before the end of the season. At the start of the 2012 campaign, the A's sent Vollmuth to Low-A Burlington so that he and fellow third baseman Miles Head could receive regular playing time on separate rosters. When Head was promoted to Double-A Midland following the Cal League All-Star break, Vollmuth followed Head up the ladder and went from Burlington to High-A Stockton. On the season, Vollmuth is batting a combined .266/.338/.407 in 88 at-bats between the two leagues.

With Burlington, Vollmuth got off to a very slow start but hit better as the weather warmed. He is just now getting his feet wet in the Cal League and is batting .281/.340/.393 in 21 games. Strike-outs have been an issue for Vollmuth this season, as he already has 95 in only 88 games. The A's viewed Vollmuth as a potential profile-type third baseman when they drafted him. His numbers thus far are disappointing, but it is still early in his career and he has time to develop. Despite the relatively slow start to his season, Vollmuth could still position himself for a 2013 promotion to Double-A with a strong finish for Stockton.

Status: Learning the Cal League

12. Vicmal De La Cruz

De La Cruz caught everyone's attention last year when he hit .318/.438/.453 in 58 games for the DSL A's in his professional debut season. He was invited to the States for the A's US fall Instructional League and he continued to draw raves from the A's hitting instructors. Before the start of the 2012 season, the A's planned to have De La Cruz play for short-season Vermont. However, he injured a wrist diving for a ball during extended spring training and wound-up missing a significant amount of that camp. Because of the injury, the A's kept De La Cruz in Arizona to play with the A's Rookie League club. In 12 games (51 at-bats), he is batting .216/.255/.392.

While those numbers aren't strong, the A's are still encouraged with what they have seen from De La Cruz at the plate when he has been healthy this season. Wrist injuries tend to linger and he may not be at full strength for the remainder of this year. He should spend the rest of the regular season with the AZL A's and will likely remain in Phoenix for the A's fall Instructional League. Despite the missed time with the wrist injury, De La Cruz could still be a candidate to debut in a full-season league next year as a 19-year-old.

Status: Working off the effects of a wrist injury

11. Max Stassi

Virtually all of Stassi's 2011 season was lost thanks to a shoulder injury that required surgery. He has managed to remain relatively injury-free this season. Stassi has spent the entire year with the Stockton Ports, splitting time between catcher and DH with Beau Taylor (who was recently promoted to Double-A). In 62 games (232 at-bats), Stassi is hitting .254/.314/.409. He has struggled since the Cal League All-Star break, posting a 652 OPS.

Defensively, Stassi is arguably the A's most talented catching prospect. His arm strength is still being built up after his arm surgery and he has thrown out only 23% of would-be base-stealers this year. However, he should see that caught-stealing percentage rise the further removed he is from his surgery. Offensively, Stassi is still looking for that consistent approach that will allow him to reach his offensive potential. He has decent power, but his strike-zone judgment has limited his effectiveness at the plate as a professional. In his last full season (2010), Stassi had 141 strike-outs and only 45 walks in 110 games. He has bettered those numbers somewhat in 2012 (62 strike-outs and 19 walks in 62 games), but they still need to improve. Taylor was promoted to Double-A this week, so Stassi should receive even more consistent playing time at catcher with the Ports the rest of the year. At 21, he is still young for his level and has plenty of time to continue to improve.

Status: Making up for lost time in Stockton

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories