Pitchers That Just Missed The Top-50 List, Part One
Note: The players below are in alphabetical - and not rank - order.
Hunter Adkins: An 18th-round pick in 2012, Adkins chose not to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers after his junior season at Middle Tennessee State. He didn't hear his name called in 2013, but Adkins was still able to turn pro after the A's signed him as an undrafted free agent. The right-hander began his career with the AZL A's, and he struck-out more than a batter an inning (17 in 16 innings) before earning a promotion to short-season Vermont. Over the final three weeks of the season, Adkins pitched for the Lake Monsters, making four starts and a relief appearance. He posted a 2.81 ERA and a 16:6 K:BB in 25 innings.
Adkins' fastball ranges in the 88-91 range, but he has a deep secondary pitch arsenal – featuring a cutter, a curveball and a good change-up. He is an excellent athlete and he has a solid delivery and a good pick-off move. Adkins is entering pro ball on the older side, but if he performs, he'll keep moving up the ladder.
Tim Atherton: The A's selected Atherton in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. While the major league portion of the draft requires teams to keep those players selected on the major league roster for the entire season, the minor league portion has no such restrictions. Essentially players selected in the minor league portion become property of their new organization with no restrictions as to where those players suit up for the following season.
Atherton joins the A's after spending the last two seasons pitching for the Midwest League affiliate for the Minnesota Twins. The native of Australia was a reliever for much of his pro career, but he moved into the starting rotation during the second half of last season and he pitched well in that role. In 11 starts, he posted a 2.45 ERA with a 60:13 K:BB in 62.1 innings. Atherton finished the year with a career-high 95.2 innings pitched.
The right-hander began his pro career as an outfielder, but he was converted to the mound in 2011 when he signed with the Twins as a minor league free agent (he began his career with the Padres). Atherton doesn't throw particularly hard (88-91 MPH on his fastball), but he has an above-average breaking ball, an effective change-up and good command. Atherton will be 24 throughout the 2014 season. He is likely to start the year with High-A Stockton.
Jeremy Barfield: After six seasons in the A's organization as an outfielder, Barfield will be embarking on a new journey in 2014. Barfield will be on the mound next season, looking to break through the top of the A's depth chart after being stuck behind the A's slew of outfielders for the past few seasons.
The 2013 season started off as Barfield's most productive at the plate. He posted an 848 OPS in 26 games with the RockHounds and finally earned a promotion to Triple-A after two-plus seasons with Midland. Barfield played sparingly for Sacramento, however, and the A's asked him to make the switch to the mound in mid-July. He would spend the rest of the season in Arizona, working with A's rehab coordinator Garvin Alston on developing as a pitcher. He then spent the fall participating at the A's Instructional League camps both in Arizona and the Dominican Republic.
Barfield has yet to make his regular season debut as a pitcher, but he is a talent worth keeping an eye on. Before making the switch to the mound, Barfield was the best throwing outfielder in the A's system. That arm strength should translate well on the mound. His fastball is already up to 93 and he could continue to add velocity as he refines his throwing mechanics. Barfield also has two secondary pitches that are coming along quickly – a slider and a split-finger fastball.
"There's a lot there to work with," A's minor league pitching coordinator Scott Emerson said. "A lot of guys swung right through his fastball, so he offers some deception. I think he'll gain velocity as he matures into his delivery and starts to understand how his body can move and all of that stuff."
The left-hander will likely be in a relief role. He can be a minor league free agent at the end of the 2014 season, so if Barfield pitches well, he could be moved along aggressively next year.
Barfield is making the switch to the mound.
Kayvon Bahramzadeh: A spring training injury slowed Bahramzadeh's progress in 2013, but he looks poised to move through the system at a more accelerated pace in 2014. The right-hander was selected in the 24th round of the 2012 draft out of Kansas State. He made his pro debut with the AZL A's and had a strange season. Bahramzadeh posted an inflated 7.30 ERA in 37 innings, but he had a plus K:BB of 48:7. Homeruns were the biggest problem for Bahramzadeh in 2012, as he allowed seven.
In 2013, the Phoenix native missed his opportunity to pitch for a full-season affiliate because of his early season injury. However, he was able to get out to the New York-Penn League for the final seven weeks of the season. With the Lake Monsters, Bahramzadeh showed improvement over his 2012 season. He posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings. He struck-out only 14, but he walked just four and didn't allow a homerun. Opposing batters hit just .179 against him.
Bahramzadeh's low-90s fastball can flatten out at times, but he locates his secondary pitches well and is an intelligent pitcher who mixes his pitches effectively. He was a starter in college and with the AZL A's, but he pitched out of the bullpen in 2013. It isn't clear what role he will take on in 2014, but Bahramzadeh should make his full-season debut coming out of spring training, as long as he is healthy.
Trey Barham: A 25th-round pick of the A's in 2008, Barham was nearing the big leagues in 2012 when an elbow injury stopped his momentum. The left-handed reliever had Tommy John surgery early in the 2012 season and he missed 14 months. He returned to regular season action during the second half of the 2013 season and could be poised to move up the A's depth chart in 2014.
Barham threw 21.1 innings in 2013, splitting his time between the AZL and High-A Stockton. Like many pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery, Barham's command wasn't as sharp as it normally is last season, but that should improve the further he gets from the surgery. He struck-out 30, so his stuff was good even if his command wasn't perfect (11 walks).
The left-hander has a two- and four-seam fastball, a change-up, a curveball and a slider. Barham gets good movement on his pitches and he hides the ball well, making him difficult to square up despite the fact that he doesn't have overpowering stuff. He generates a lot of groundballs and rarely allows homeruns. The A's don't have a ton of depth from the left-side in the upper-levels of their minor league system. If Barham pitches well this spring, he will likely start with either Midland or Sacramento in 2014. He will be eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the season.
Trevor Bayless: Bayless had a fairly undistinguished career for USD before he put together a big senior season for the Toreros out of the bullpen. The right-hander increased the velocity of his fastball from the mid- to high-80s to the low-90s and also added in a devastating split-fingered fastball that gave him two legitimate weapons as a reliever. In 34.1 innings for USD in 2013, he posted a 2.10 ERA and a 40:16 K:BB.
Bayless made his pro debut with the Vermont Lake Monsters. Serving as the Lake Monsters' closer, Bayless made the New York-Penn League All-Star team by posting a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings. He struck-out 21, walked only five and allowed just 14 hits. He earned a late-season promotion to Low-A Beloit. He struggled some with the Snappers, but was well over his career-high for innings pitched by that point in the season.
Because he was a senior sign, Bayless is a little old for his level, but as a reliever, he has a chance to move fairly quickly. He has good command and the split-finger gives him a weapon that keeps hitters off of his fastball. He is likely to start the season back with Beloit, although he could jump straight to High-A Stockton if he has a big spring training.
Ryan Doolittle: Since being selected in the 26th round of the 2008 draft, Doolittle has shown lots of promise, but that promise has been held back by injuries. Doolittle missed significant parts of the 2009-2011 seasons before finally succumbing to Tommy John surgery during the first half of the 2012 season. Before Doolittle had the surgery in 2012, he was putting up some eye-opening numbers with High-A Stockton (1.48 ERA; 31:3 K:BB in 24.1 innings). Doolittle returned to Stockton during the final week of the 2013 season.
When healthy, Doolittle has arguably the best command of any pitcher in the A's minor league system. In 163 innings, Doolittle has walked just 20 batters and he has allowed just 10 homeruns. He has struck-out 157. Doolittle's fastball sits in the low-90s with sinking action. He also has a good change-up and a slider he uses to keep left-handers off of his fastball. Doolittle has a good mindset to be a reliever. He is a good athlete, he challenges hitters and he works quickly.