After five-and-a-half seasons in the Oakland A's organization, Tyler Ladendorf is finally on the team's 40-man roster. The slick-fielding middle infielder has been a coaches favorite for years for his ability to play above-average defense at several positions. However, he was stuck at the Double-A level in the A's organization for three years (2011-2013) before finally getting an extended look at the Triple-A level this season. When September came and went without Ladendorf being added to the 40-man roster, it appeared that he was going to leave the organization via minor league free agency. However, the A's made a move to keep him in the organization by adding him to the 40-man roster five days before the minor league free agency period would open.
Ladendorf will go into spring training with a chance to earn a spot on the A's roster. With starting shortstop Jed Lowrie and back-up infielder Alberto Callaspo likely to leave the A's via free agency and second baseman Eric Sogard coming off of a down season, the A's middle infield depth chart could be wide open this spring. Currently, Sogard, Nick Punto and Andy Parrino are the only middle infielders on the A's 40-man roster under contract for next season.
Ladendorf offers a lot of defensive versatility. A natural shortstop, he can also play second and third base, as well as all three outfield positions. Ladendorf made big strides at the plate this past season, batting a career-best .297/.376/.407 with a 43:35 BB:K in 78 games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. Ladendorf might have made his major-league debut this season, but he was suspended for 50-games midway through the year and returned for the last week and a half of August.
Ladendorf has good bat control and above-average speed, although he hasn't been a base-stealer in recent years. He hit .395 versus left-handed pitching last season and could be a good platoon option if the A's sign or start a left-handed hitting shortstop.
A second-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2008, Ladendorf joined the A's organization in 2009 when he was traded for Orlando Cabrera. He spent the 2010 season in High-A Stockton, where he hit .274. A native of the Chicagoland area, Ladendorf would have been eligible for six-year minor league free agency if he hadn't been added to the roster this week.
The A's also announced that they had claimed OF Andrew Brown off of waivers from the New York Mets. Brown was a member of the Mets' Opening Day roster, but he spent most of the 2014 season with Triple-A Las Vegas. Brown hit 21 homeruns for Vegas and was ninth in the PCL in SLG.
The former Nebraska star was an 18th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007. He reached Double-A in 2008 and was in the big leagues by 2011. In 2012, he appeared in 46 games with the Colorado Rockies. Brown had a 730 OPS for the Rockies that season. In 2013, he appeared in 68 games for the Mets and had a 688 OPS.
He is a career .286/.370/.521 hitter in eight minor league seasons. Brown has reached or surpassed the 20-homer plateau in four of those minor league seasons.
Like Ladendorf, Brown hit left-handed pitching extremely well last season (.323/.426/.615) and could be looked at as a platoon candidate in the spring. He will be out of options in the spring.