In-Season Report: A's Top 25 Prospects (16-20)

The fourth piece in our series of articles reviewing the prospects in our pre-season top-25 Oakland A's prospects list features a group of prospects who have had mostly disappointing seasons. However, there are two success stories amongst a group that has otherwise been a let-down this year. Below are the reviews of prospects 16-20 in our pre-season top-25 list.

16 - Landon Powell, C, Injured

Powell's 2005 season has been a lost one due to an off-season training misstep that resulted in a torn ACL. It is disappointing, to say the least, that Powell's development will be pushed back a year, but the injury doesn't diminish his status as a prospect that much. The rangy switch-hitter had tremendous power in college and was advanced enough as a hitter that he might start in AA next season despite not playing this year. Powell will be 24 to begin the 2006 campaign, so the A's will likely not be shy about moving him through the system. A position change could be in order for Powell if his knee isn't 100%, but he was a good defensive catcher in college, so it is likely the A's will look to keep him behind the plate if he is healthy.

17 - Jason Windsor, SP, A-Stockton Ports/AA-Midland Rockhounds

Until a recent slide that has caused his ERA to balloon over 5.00 at AA-Midland, Windsor was one of the better stories in the A's system for 2005. A third-round pick last season, Windsor began the year at the top of the Stockton Ports' rotation. He showed excellent command at Stockton, striking out 64 and walking only eight in 55.1 innings.

His initial efforts in AA-Midland were similarly impressive, as Windsor had his ERA in the mid-3.00s until he began to wear down over his last four starts. His strikeouts have gone down and his walks have gone up since the promotion, although the increase in walks has primarily been over those last four poor outings. Windsor could very well be tiring after a two-season stretch that saw him pitch a huge number of innings in college before pitching for A-Vancouver and A-Kane County as a reliever at the end of the 2004 campaign and then making 21 starts in Stockton and Midland in 2005.

Windsor's stuff isn't over-powering, but he has good command of his fastball and a developing change-up. Despite his recent struggles in AA, Windsor is still a good prospect. He will turn 24 during the middle of next season and is on track to make his major league debut by his 25th birthday. Whether he makes his debut as a starter or a reliever remains to be seen. Windsor has a "bulldog-like" presence on the mound that helps him make-up for what he lacks in over-powering stuff. However, he still may be best suited as a Kiko Calero-type set-up man where his command and his poise could make him a tough reliever. For now, the A's are thin in minor league starting pitchers, so Windsor is likely to remain in the rotation at the start of next season.

18 - Matt Allegra, OF, AA-Midland Rockhounds/A-Stockton Ports

Allegra was once thought to be the A's best outfield prospect, but his slide down the prospects chart has been precipitous and he will likely be off the chart completely to start next season. Allegra is a five-tool talent with plus homerun power, but he has never been able to put together that monster season. Last season, injuries held Allegra back. This year, it has been his hitting that has kept him down.

Allegra began the season at AA-Midland, where he was a regular part of the outfield/first base rotation. However, as his average slipped below .200 and teammates like Andre Ethier and Brian Stavisky continued to play well, Allegra saw him playing time diminish. He was sent down to A-Stockton in early July when uber-prospect Daric Barton was promoted to AA. Allegra finished his AA stint with an anemic .187 batting average. He did hit six homeruns, but he struck out an incredible 75 times in only 203 at-bats.

His play in Stockton has improved a little, but he still hasn't been able to make contact with much consistency. In 111 at-bats, Allegra has struck out 40 times and his batting average currently sits at .216. He has hit six homers and has driven in 23 runs in only 29 games, but at 25 years old, Allegra should be dominating this level of competition. He will be a six-year minor league free agent at the end of the season and it is very possible that the A's will let him move on.

19 - Kevin Melillo, 2B, A-Kane County Cougars/A-Stockton Ports/AA-Midland Rockhounds

As much as Allegra has fallen on the prospect charts, Melillo has climbed up those charts with his outstanding performance this season. The South Carolina alum was drafted in the fifth round last year after a 2004 injury-plagued season that saw his draft stock plummet from second round status. The A's may have gotten a steal, as Melillo has been one of the most productive hitters in Oakland's 2004 draft class thus far.

After a good but injury-shortened stint in A-Vancouver last season, Melillo began the year in A-Kane County with the simple goal of staying healthy. He has accomplished that goal thus far this season and it has allowed him to demonstrate his talents. After a rough patch in May, Melillo's numbers took off in June and they haven't slowed down ever since. He hit .286/.399/.457 in 78 games for the Cougars before being promoted on July 4 to Stockton.

It was in Stockton that Melillo's season really took off. In 22 July games with the Ports, Melillo hit an even .400 with a whopping 1271 OPS. His play earned him a quicker-than-expected promotion to AA-Midland, where he is currently holding his own against AA pitching. On the season, Melillo has clubbed 18 homers and has an excellent 71:62 walk to strikeout ratio. He has also stolen 12 bases and has improved around the bag at second.

With the departure of top middle infield prospect Omar Quintanilla, Melillo's is now arguably the A's best middle infield prospect. If he finishes strong in Midland, he should begin next season at AAA-Sacramento and could be the A's starting second baseman by 2007. He'll receive some stiff competition for that top second base prospect title long-term from A's first round pick Cliff Pennington, but it's Melillo's title for now.

20 - Brad Sullivan, SP, Arizona Rookie League/A-Stockton Ports

During the pre-season, many scouts were looking at the 2005 campaign as a make-or-break year for Sullivan. The A's 2003 first round draft pick had a very disappointing season in 2004, as he struggled with his command and with getting hitters out on a regular basis. Unfortunately for Sullivan, his 2005 campaign got off to a horrible start, as he was sidelined for the first two and a half months with injuries.

Once he was healthy, Sullivan began his season as a member of the Arizona Rookie League A's. After a few appearances for the Arizona A's, he was sent to A-Stockton. Sullivan began his stay in Stockton in the starting rotation, but his command issues quickly forced the Ports to move Sullivan to the bullpen. He has made four relief appearances now, but has still yet to find his collegiate form. In 12.2 innings for the Ports, Sullivan has allowed 20 hits and 14 walks. However, the most troubling aspect to Sullivan's time in Stockton is that he has allowed four homeruns and has struck out only six batters.

Sullivan was over-worked during his final season in college and he has never looked the same since. The velocity on his fastball isn't what it was in Houston and it is looking more and more like it may never return. The A's have first round money invested in Sullivan, so they won't give up on him too quickly. However, it's hard to be optimistic about Sullivan's chances to be a major league starter at the moment.

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