Mid-Season Review: A's Prospects 50-41

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 first of our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 50-41 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.

50. Gregory Paulino

The 20-year-old Paulino spent most of the first half of the season at extended spring training, preparing for his first experience in a league outside of the A's complexes in the Dominican and Arizona. The Dominican right-hander split the last two seasons between the A's DSL and AZL Rookie League teams and displayed good sinking action on his 88-91 MPH fastball and an excellent change-up. Paulino walked only 18 in 69.1 innings last year in the AZL, a good number for a pitcher of his age and experience.

Currently pitching for the Vermont Lake Monsters, Paulino has put together a solid start to the season. He made three starts to begin the year and was scheduled for a fourth on Tuesday, but wound-up pitching in relief when the start of the game was delayed by rain. Paulino has a 2.70 ERA with a 13:6 K:BB in 20 innings. He has allowed two homeruns. Paulino's main focus this year is working on improving his breaking ball. He should spend the entire rest of the season with Vermont and then head back to Phoenix for the fall Instructional League in September.

Status: On course

49. Stephen Parker

Parker made steady progress through the A's system after being drafted in 2009 out of BYU. He moved up one level a year through last season, which was his first at the Triple-A level. Parker had a poor season for the first time in his career last season with the River Cats, however. He didn't receive regular playing time in the River Cats' crowded infield and it impacted his ability to get into a rhythm at the plate.

With another crowded infield at both the big league and Triple-A levels going into the 2013 season, the A's chose to move Parker to another team to give him a chance to play regularly. During the final days of spring training, Parker was traded to Milwaukee for reliever Darren Byrd. Parker has been with Triple-A Nashville for the entire 2013 season. Although he is playing regularly, he hasn't found the same success he found with the A's at the A- and AA-levels. In 74 games, he has a .210 average and a 631 OPS. He hit well in May but managed only a .123 average in June. Parker will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft at the end of the year. To generate any interest from teams around the league, he will need to put together a big second half.

Status: Looking for a hot streak

48. Jose Torres

Torres, at age 18, made his US debut last season, pitching for the Arizona Rookie League A's. Although he struggled at times with his command, Torres impressed with his poise and flashed a promising fastball and breaking ball. He spent the first half of this season working at extended spring training and was on the Opening Day roster of the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Thus far, Torres is off to a decent start with the Lake Monsters. He has three starts under his belt and sports a 2.92 ERA. The left-hander, who will be 19 until September, has walked only three in 12.1 innings while striking out eight. He has only an 0.63 GO/AO, however, and batters are hitting .278 against him. Torres has made several mechanical changes over the past few seasons. Finding a consistent throwing motion that he is comfortable with and will allow him to throw strikes will be his main focus the rest of this season.

Status: Gaining experience

47. Josh Whitaker

Thanks to a glut of outfielders at the upper levels of the A's system, Whitaker was forced to repeat at the High-A level at the start of the 2013 season despite putting together a solid 2012 season with the Ports. He continued to play well in the California League at the start of the 2013 season, batting .283 with six homers and an 851 OPS in 30 games. That effort earned Whitaker a promotion to Double-A Midland.

Whitaker went 0-for-10 in his first three Double-A games, but he homered in his fourth game and went 2-for-3 with a double in his fifth game before fracturing his wrist late in that game. He has been out since, although he has been swinging a bat in Arizona and is expected to return sometime in July.

Status: Rehabbing

46. Dakota Bacus

A hard-throwing right-hander, Bacus served in a relief role during his pro debut with the Arizona Rookie League A's last season. In 30 innings, the ninth-round pick had a 1.20 ERA and a 35:5 K:BB ratio. With his arm strength and two promising secondary pitches, Bacus fit more of a starter's profile and he was moved back into that role this season with Low-A Beloit. Although Bacus has technically made more relief appearances than starts this season, he has been a reliever in name only, as he was in a tandem starter situation for the first half of the season.

With Raul Alcantara now in High-A Stockton, the reigns have been taken off of Bacus. He has responded by allowing five runs over his last three starts (18 innings). For the season, Bacus is 8-2 with a 3.47 ERA and a 62:20 K:BB ratio in 70 innings. He can reach the mid-90s with his fastball, has a solid change-up and a promising, if inconsistent, breaking ball. Bacus should reach 100 innings by the end of the year and looks on track to make the jump to High-A next season.

Status: Stretching out

45. Chad Oberacker

The A's 25th-round pick in 2011, Oberacker had a solid first full season in professional baseball last year when he hit .267/.336/.443 with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases for High-A Stockton and Low-A Burlington. That season earned Oberacker a move up to Double-A, and he has spent the entire year with Double-A Midland. In 77 games through Tuesday, Oberacker was batting .244/.322/.386 with 30 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases.

Although the overall numbers aren't as good as what he put together last year, Oberacker has done some things very well with the RockHounds. He has lowered his strike-out percentage and improved his walk percentage while continuing to steal bases at a very high clip (92.9%). The Texas League is tough on left-handed power hitters and Oberacker isn't hitting homeruns like he did last year, but he does have 20 doubles and eight triples, making him on pace to eclipse his numbers in both of those categories from last year by the end of this season. August can be particularly tough on hitters in the Texas League, but if he can keep his head above water, he will be a candidate to represent the A's in the Arizona Fall League this off-season.

Status: Learning Double-A

44. Bruce Billings

Despite a solid fastball and an excellent 2012 season, Billings has been continually overlooked when discussing the A's major league pitching depth. The right-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2011, when he made four relief appearances. However, he has looked like a major league pitcher for the past two seasons with Sacramento.

This year, Billings got off to a slow start with the River Cats, posting a 9.88 ERA in April. Since then, Billings has challenged staff ace Sonny Gray as the top starter in the River Cats' rotation. For the season, he is 9-4 with a 4.30 ERA. He has struck-out nearly a batter an inning (81 in 83.2 innings) and batters are hitting under .220 against him over the past two months. With Dan Straily and Gray ahead of him on the depth chart, Billings will need several breaks to make the A's rotation this season, but he could make a major league impact somewhere over the next year.

Status: Waiting for an opportunity

43. Anthony Aliotti

It's not a stretch to say that Aliotti has been the best player in the A's system thus far this season. Through Tuesday, the Midland first baseman led the system in batting average (.354), OBP (.459) and SLG (.544). His 1004 OPS was tops in the Texas League and he was the only player in that league sporting an OPS above 1000. This season comes on the heels of a solid 2012 campaign when Aliotti had an 811 OPS in his first year in the Texas League.

Aliotti doesn't have the traditional power of a profile major league first baseman, but he has learned to pull the ball more and the results have been noticeable. With 10 homeruns in 79 games, Aliotti is poised to set a new career-high in that category (his previous career-high was 11). Aliotti has one of the best batting eyes in the A's system and he does a good job using the entire field. Although limited to first base, Aliotti has a plus glove at the position. The A's are currently backed up at first with Daric Barton and Shane Peterson in Triple-A, but should there be any roster movement with either of those two players, Aliotti should get the call to Sacramento. The East Bay native is eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not added to the A's 40-man roster this off-season, so the team will have a decision to make at the end of the year. If he has a second half close to his first half, the decision will be an easy one for Oakland.

Status: Dominating the Texas League

42. Drew Granier

If Aliotti has been the system's best player, Granier has been one of the system's best pitchers thus far this season. The right-hander had an All-Star campaign with Low-A Burlington last season and he picked up right where he left off this year with the High-A Stockton Ports. Granier earned the nod as the California League's All-Star game starter after going 6-3 with a 3.25 ERA and a 97:40 K:BB ratio in 83 innings. He allowed just five homeruns and held California League batters to a .228 average.

After the All-Star game, Granier was promoted to Double-A Midland. He has made two starts for the RockHounds. The first was stellar, a seven-inning effort during which he allowed a run on four hits. He struggled with his command in his second outing, walking six in five innings, although he allowed just two earned runs. Command can be an issue at times for Granier, but he has a low-90s fastball with sinking action, a solid breaking ball and a change-up that has improved significantly this season. He could be one of the A's top-10 prospects going into next year if he finishes the season as strongly as he started it.

Status: Conjuring memories of Dan Straily

41. Josh Bowman

It has been a frustrating season for Bowman, who hasn't seemed right all year. The right-hander had a solid campaign with the High-A Stockton Ports last season, posting a 3.62 ERA and a 127:33 K:BB ratio in 25 Cal League starts. This season, he began the year with Double-A Midland, but he never found the same success that he enjoyed last year. In eight starts, he posted a 4.54 ERA, but that could have been much worse, as he walked 21 and allowed 41 hits in 39.2 innings. He also allowed five homers.

Bowman was sent back to the Cal League in May, but his struggles continued as he allowed 15 runs in 6.1 innings over his first two starts. He landed on the DL after his May 27th start and spent three weeks on the shelf before returning on June 16. His first two starts back were excellent, as he allowed one run on seven hits in 11 total innings. However, he struggled in his most recent outing, allowing eight runs in 5.2 innings. It remains to be seen whether the first two starts or the most recent one were the aberration. Bowman has a solid four-pitch mix and, when healthy, good command. He will be looking to get back to his 2012 form the rest of the second half.

Status: Searching for 2012 form


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