Mid-Season Review: Prospects 41-50

In the fifth of our series, we round out our mid-season review of our pre-season top-50 prospects. The list of prospects 41-50 includes a number of players who are no longer with the Oakland A's organization. Stay tuned later this week for a preview of who may be joining the top-50 prospect list this upcoming off-season.

41. Mike Madsen:
Madsen was essentially unhittable last season for the Vancouver Canadians, but his 2006 season hasn't been nearly as successful. He started the year as the Stockton Ports' Opening Day starter. He had an up-and-down April, allowing only a .191 BAA but he walked seven and allowed seven runs in 13 innings. May was better for Madsen, who posted a 3-1 record with a 3.57 ERA and a 28:9 K:BB ratio in 35.1 innings. Things fell apart for Madsen in June, however. He was promoted briefly to AA-Midland when the Rockhounds were short-handed in their rotation, but he allowed 15 runs and 19 hits in 7.1 AA innings. Madsen didn't fare much better back in High-A, going 0-3 with an 18.26 ERA in 11.1 innings. He has done better in July (eight runs in 14.2 innings), but still hasn't gotten back to his 2005 form.

Madsen is a soft-tossing righty who uses a variety of off-speed pitches to keep hitters off-balance. When he is on, Madsen appears to be always one-step ahead of the hitters. When he is off, he can be very hittable. With a strong second half of the season, Madsen should have another shot at AA next season. However, a change to the bullpen could be in-order if he doesn't improve from his recent struggles.

42. Matt Lynch:
Lynch began the year back in AA-Midland after spending the 2005 season as both a starter and a reliever for the Rockhounds. However, a week into the season, Lynch decided to hang up his spikes. The 2003 10th round pick retired with two league championships (California League in 2004 and Midland in 2005) and a 24-14 record in three plus seasons. He had his best season in 2004, when he went 13-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 27 starts for Modesto.

43. Dustin Majewski:
Majewski was traded in the off-season to the Toronto Blue Jays for Chad Gaudin, who has filled in nicely as a middle reliever for Oakland this season. Majewski, who spent the 2005 season with High-A Stockton, began the year back in High-A with Dunedin. Majewski hit .271 with seven homers and a 49:39 BB:K ratio in 64 games for Dunedin before being promoted to AA. In 22 games, Majewski has hit .228 with three homers and seven RBI for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

44. Brad Sullivan:
Sullivan's slip down the A's prospect list has continued this season. The A's top pick in 2003 has had a strange season for A-Stockton. Pitching out of the bullpen, Sullivan has posted an ugly line of a 10.87 ERA in 25.2 innings. He has struck out only 14 while walking 29 and uncorking seven wild pitches. At times, Sullivan has been fairly effective, especially as a groundball specialist. From May 7 until June 10, Sullivan allowed only four runs in 15 innings. However, since then, Sullivan has allowed 22 runs in nine innings. Sullivan has struggled with his mechanics all season, often changing his release point from pitch to pitch. His delivery is a three-quarters motion now, similar to A's closer Huston Street, and it gives his pitches good movement when he is throwing well. However, he often gets out of whack and appears to have no idea where the pitches are going. It's hard to predict how the rest of Sullivan's season will go, but without a consistent throwing motion, it is also hard to see him move beyond High-A.

45. Jared Burton:
After starring as a closer for A-Stockton last season, Burton has done well as a set-up man for the Midland Rockhounds. In his first season at AA, Burton has posted a 3.71 ERA in 51 innings of relief. He has allowed only a .225 BAA and has struck out 47 batters while walking only 16. Burton missed most of the 2004 season due to injuries, but has progressed nicely in each of his other three professional seasons. Burton is 25 and should have a shot at AAA next season.

46. Steve Stanley:
Like Lynch, Stanley began the season back in AA-Midland after playing an important role in the Rockhounds' 2005 championship season. And, like Lynch, Stanley decided to end his baseball career and pursue other professional avenues this season. The 2002 second round pick and top-of-the-order sparkplug retired with a .295 minor league batting average. He reached AAA in 2004 and was part of two league championships (PCL in 2004 and Texas League in 2005).

47. Matt Watson:
Watson's career also took an unusual turn this season. After a solid spring training, Watson returned to AAA, where he was instantly the River Cats' best hitter for the second straight year. He hit .317 with five homers and 28 RBI in 32 games before deciding to try his luck in the Japanese Professional League to play for Bobby Valentine and the Chiba Lotte Marines. Watson has played very well for the Marines since joining the team in May. He is hitting .301/.366/.446 in 28 games for the Marines. Watson should receive an offer from some major league team this off-season to compete for a 25-man roster spot if he decided to return to the States.

48. Mark Kiger:
Kiger began the year in AAA-Sacramento as a back-up infielder. He saw irregular playing time and his hitting suffered, as he batted only .233 with three homers and 14 RBI in 61 games. He did walk 30 times, but the A's decided in late June to send Kiger back to AA where he would see regular playing time. Kiger has played in 15 games for the Rockhounds and has seen time at second, third and short. He is hitting .269 with five extra-base hits in 67 at-bats. Kiger is a versatile player with a good batting eye who could see time as a back-up middle infielder at the major league level someday. He is stuck behind Marco Scutaro, Antonio Perez and Mike Rouse in the A's chain, however, so he may get his best shot at the big leagues in a different organization.

49. John Baker:
Baker had a disastrous 2005 season for AAA-Sacramento and was dropped from the A's 40-man roster this off-season. However, he had a strong spring training at the plate and returned to Sacramento for another shot at AAA. Baker began the year as the River Cats' back-up catcher, but he has played his way into much more regular playing time as the season has gone on. Baker was named a AAA All-Star and is hitting .286 with four homers and 29 RBI in 55 games. He has struggled against left-handed pitchers, but has blistered right-handed pitching to the tune of a .311 batting average and all four of his homeruns. He could be a candidate to replace the A's Adam Melhuse as Jason Kendall's back-up catcher and platoon partner in 2007.

50. Ron Flores:
Flores had a break-through season in 2005, making his major league debut in three stints with Oakland. He had an outside shot of winning a spot in the A's bullpen this spring, but he lost out to the newly acquired Brad Halsey. However, injuries have opened a spot for Flores on the A's roster twice since that time. He has appeared in 20 games for the A's this season, posting a 1-1 record and a 3.54 ERA in 20.1 innings of work. His highlight this season came on June 29th when Flores worked four innings of scoreless relief on the road in San Diego to give the A's an important extra-inning win. He was sent back to AAA to make room for Jason Windsor on Monday, but he should be back in Oakland in September, if not sooner. Flores has pitched well in his short time with Sacramento this season. Minus one bad outing where he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning, Flores has given up only three runs in 15.1 innings of work.

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