Oakland A's Top Prospects: 35-31

It's that time of the year when we take stock of the Oakland A's organization and analyze the top prospects. For the next few weeks, every Monday and Wednesday will be "Top Prospect List Day", as we will release our top 50 list in groups of five. Today, in the fourth of the series, we announce prospects 35-31.

35 – Ramon Alvarado, OF

For the second straight season, a Venezuelan-born outfield prospect opened a lot of eyes in the Oakland A's organization with a strong showing in a short-season league. In 2004, it was Javier Herrera who made a splash for the Vancouver Canadians. In 2005, it was Ramon Alvarado who opened eyes in the Arizona Rookie League. Like Herrera, Alvarado is a five-tool prospect who has the raw skills to be a special player.

Alvarado has a lanky 6'1'' frame with room to fill out and he won't turn 21 until June 2006. The corner outfielder was one of the best hitters in the Arizona Rookie League in 2005, and he was ranked as the 15th best prospect in the league by Baseball America at the end of the season. Alvarado's batting average was well above .300 for much of the season until a quadriceps injury caused him to slump badly in August. He still finished the year at .294. He had an excellent .412 on-base percentage and six homeruns in 169 at-bats. He also finished with nine stolen bases.

Alvarado is a strong right-handed hitter who already shows an ability to hit to all fields with power. He has above-average speed and a good arm. Alvarado still struggles with his routes to the baseball in the outfield, but he has the make-up speed to make some spectacular catches. The A's will keep a close eye on Alvarado next season, where he will likely start in Kane County (low-A).

34 – Brian Snyder, 3B

2005 figured to be a breakout season for Brian Snyder. After a solid 2004 campaign at Kane County, Snyder seemed on the brink of pushing his way near the top of A's prospect lists. Many pundits (including this one) predicted that Snyder would make himself a highly-prized trade target, a la former A's prospect Mark Teahen, with a strong 2005 campaign. The 2003 first round pick was invited to major league spring training camp and appeared in five games before being sent to minor league camp. However, he sustained a rib cage injury during training camp and never recovered. He made a mid-season appearance in the Arizona Rookie League, but never appeared again after two at-bats.

Much like fellow 2003 first round pick Brad Sullivan, Snyder's time is running out to move through the system after missing almost the entire year. He is a very talented hitter, however, so he does have the ability to move up a couple of levels next season if he is healthy. In 2004, Snyder also struggled with injuries, but he did play well in the 101 games he was on the field for. He hit for average (.314), had a good on-base percentage and he hit for decent power (13 HR in 366 at-bats). The A's passed on some tremendous players in the 2003 draft to take Snyder, so you know that they have a lot of faith in his raw abilities. He'll get another chance to justify that faith in 2006.

33 – Justin Sellers, SS

In a draft that saw the A's take a surprising number of players out of high school, Justin Sellers was the first position player that the A's took directly out of high school. The A's had to convince Sellers to leave behind his commitment to Cal-State Fullerton, but they were able to get him in the fold early on. Rather then starting him in the Arizona Rookie League with his fellow prep school draftees like Craig Italiano and Jared Lansford, the A's pushed Sellers all of the way to short-season Vancouver. Despite being only 19 and slight of frame, Sellers held his own with the older competition.

The athletic shortstop hit .274 with a decent .369 on-base percentage. He also stole eight bases in 47 games. However, he was probably most impressive on defense. Sellers has excellent range, soft hands and a solid understanding of the game. Although he doesn't project to hit with much power, he could develop into a Mike Bordick-type player who brings a tremendous amount of value to his team with his glove despite not being a run producer. He also has that major league family pedigree that the A's seem to value so much. His father is former Boston Red Sox Jeff Sellers. Justin is likely to start next season in low-A Kane County.

32 – Myron Leslie, 3B

After being drafted twice and electing not to sign, Myron Leslie finally put his name on the dotted-line for the A's in 2004. After a mediocre debut in 2004 for short-season Vancouver, Leslie had an All-Star season for the Kane County Cougars in 2005. The switch-hitting third baseman posted a .275/.377/.447 line and played in the Midwest League Mid-season Classic.

The South Florida graduate has a major league body at 6'3'', 210 and he is a polished hitter with an excellent understanding of both the strike zone and how to hit the ball to all fields. He is a switch-hitter and he puts a charge into the ball, although his homerun power is still developing. On the defensive-side, Leslie has a very strong throwing arm, but he is still a project at third base. He was a shortstop in college, but he wasn't quick enough to play that position in the pros. Leslie has below-average hands and average range and he led the Cougars in errors this season with more than 30. There was some thought to moving Leslie to catcher when he was drafted by the Phillies in 2003 to take advantage of his strong arm, but the A's haven't shown any indication that they want to move him behind the plate.

31 – Tom Everidge, 1B

Despite splitting time at first with Eddie Kim, Tom Everidge was one of the Cougars' most productive hitters. The right-handed slugger started off the season slowly, but picked up his pace when the Chicago-area weather warmed in June. The California-native slugged 14 homers in 114 games and drove in 66 runs. He reached base at a .370 clip and slugged .482. Everidge also showed improvement with his defense at first, as he improved his footwork and his throwing.

Everidge has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order force. In college, Everidge slugged better than a .600 percentage and he showed good power in his second professional season with Kane County. He has strong hands and is selective at the plate, swinging most often at hittable pitches. He isn't particularly athletic, but he has soft hands at first. The A's are fairly light on first base slugging prospects, so Everidge should move fairly quickly through the system.


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