Oakland A's Minor League Depth Chart: 3B

Last March, the Oakland A's locked up budding superstar third baseman Eric Chavez with a six-year/$66 million contract. In doing so, the A's solidified their third base position for years to come. Last season, Oakland traded their top third base prospect, Mark Teahen, leaving third base as one of the system's thinnest positions. Despite the lack of depth, Oakland still has some talent at the third base position. Here is a look at the A's top third base prospects.

Editor's Note: This list is intended to demonstrate the player's status as a prospect in the A's system and is not reflective of how close the player is to appearing in the major leagues.

1) Brian Snyder, 6'0'', 195

When Brian Snyder was drafted by the Oakland A's in the first round of the 2003 draft, he made a little history as the highest position player draft pick ever to come out of Stetson University. After a sluggish start to his professional career at short-season A Vancouver in 2003, Snyder recovered to post an outstanding season in 2004 for low-A Kane County. The best offensive player on the Cougars, Synder hit .311 with a .421 OBP and 13 homeruns. He missed some time during the middle of the season due to a hip flexor strain, but that was the only blemish on an otherwise outstanding season.

Oakland rewarded the youngster by bringing him to the major league spring training camp this season as a non-roster invitee. He has drawn praise from the A's coaching staff this spring for his ability to do "the little things" well at the plate, including bunting and executing the hit-and-run. There has been some concern among scouts about Snyder's weight, but assuming that stays under control, he should be a solid player around the third base bag.

Snyder should begin the season in AA-Midland. Where he finishes the season could be determined by the A's needs at the major league level at the trade deadline. If Snyder shines at third the way Mark Teahen did last season, Snyder could be moved to an organization with a need at third in exchange for a major league player.

2) Vasili Spanos, 6'1'', 225

Vasili Spanos only played in 97 games for the Kane County Cougars in 2004, but he made them count. Spanos, who missed roughly three weeks of the season to play for the Greek National Olympic team in Athens, had a strong season at the plate for the Cougars. Spanos led the team with a .507 slugging percentage and he hit 12 homeruns and knocked in 80 runs over that 97-game span. The former Indiana Hooiser also swiped 11 bases and hit .311 for the season.

The 11th round pick has never been the most athletic player on the field (he was compared to Kevin Millar by Kane County GM Jeff Sedivy), but he puts maximum effort into everything he does. Spanos has a solid approach at the plate, as he is patient and looks for pitches to drive. At 24 years of age, Spanos is a little old for being in the lower levels of the minor leagues. However, he'll likely start the season in A-Stockton so that he won't be blocked at third base by Brian Snyder in Midland. Spanos needs to work on his defense and his future might be more as a utility player/outfielder then as a third baseman. However, with his hitting ability, Spanos has a chance to make the major leagues.

3) Myron Leslie, 6'3'', 210

Myron Leslie is a toolsy third base prospect whose skills at the plate have drawn a lot of interest from major league teams over the years. Before finally coming to terms with Oakland in 2004, Leslie was drafted two other times: in 2000 by the Texas Rangers and in 2003 by the Philadelphia Phillies. The switch-hitting infielder was a standout at the University of South Florida. Although he didn't display a lot of homerun power in college, he consistently hit for a high batting average and walked far more frequently then he struck out. Leslie also posted double-digit stolen base numbers in each of his three collegiate seasons.

After signing with Oakland in July, Leslie spent the remainder of the 2004 season in Vancouver. Although he didn't post a high batting average (.245), Leslie did post a 1.2 BB:K ratio. He will likely start the 2005 season in low-A Kane County. He is a very talented player and has a chance to become a solid player down the road.

Others to Note:

Adam Morrissey: We featured Morrissey in the middle infield depth chart article. There isn't really more to add on Morrissey except to note that he has been seeing playing time at third base this spring. He has struggled defensively (he made two errors in one inning on Saturday). Morrissey may see more time at third in Sacramento this season.

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