OaklandClubhouse's 2006 Rookie All-Stars

Despite not having a first round draft pick this season, the Oakland A's still got a lot of production out of their first-year minor league players. Inside, we chronicle the top six A's minor league "rookies" for 2006.

The Oakland A's 2006 draft didn't grab many headlines this season. With no first round draft choice, the A's had to wait until the 66th pick of the draft to select their first player. When they did make a selection, they chose to go with a high school player rather than a well-known collegiate player. In the subsequent rounds, the A's took a number of players from the high school and junior college ranks and even more players from smaller collegiate baseball programs.

However, just because the names weren't well-known on draft day doesn't mean that the players the A's took in 2006 won't be big names down the road. Six 2006 draftees are already headed in the right direction after strong rookie campaigns in professional baseball.

OaklandClubhouse's 2006 Oakland A's Minor League All-Star Team

Matt Sulentic: Sulentic was the first position player drafted by the Oakland A's this season. As a high school senior, he destroyed Dallas-area high school pitching, winning his league's triple crown by hitting .676 with 19 homers and 58 RBI. His smallish frame (5'10''/170) scared off some teams, but the A's liked his intelligence at the plate and his quickness with the bat. Sulentic rewarded the A's faith by hitting .354 with a .409 on-base percentage in 144 at-bats for the short-season Vancouver . He was promoted to low-A Kane County late in the season and he hit .235 with a homer in 30 at-bats. Although Sulentic's numbers were down in his short stay in Kane County , he impressed a lot of scouts with his approach against pitchers three or four years to his senior. He hit well in the playoffs for the Cougars and should produce big numbers for either low-A Kane County or high-A Stockton next season.

The left-handed hitter doesn't run particularly well and he has a lot of work to do with his outfield defense, but there is no question he can hit. Sulentic has a smooth, line-drive swing and he can spray the ball around the field. He waits well on pitches and he became more selective as he gained more experience this season. Sulentic appears to be a very quick learner and he could end up like top A's prospect Daric Barton, landing in AAA by age 21. Whether he has enough homerun power to be an everyday corner outfielder in the major leagues is the only real question in his hitting repertoire right now.

Jermaine Mitchell: The A's selected Mitchell two rounds after Sulentic in the fifth round. Mitchell was a collegiate junior at UNC-Greensboro when he drafted. The athletic centerfielder went 3-4 in his professional debut for short-season Vancouver and he never looked back. Mitchell hit .362 with a 967 OPS in 138 at-bats for the Canadians. The five-tool player also swiped 14 bags. The only thing that kept Mitchell from moving up to low-A Kane County was a broken foot that sidelined him for nearly a month.

Mitchell is one of the most athletic players in the A's system. A former high school football player, Mitchell is built like a strong safety. He has plus-speed and good gap power that could develop into homerun power down the road. Mitchell has a lead-off hitter's mindset. He works the count well, bunts well and can disrupt an opposing pitcher on the basepaths. Mitchell covers a lot of ground in centerfield and should be able to stay in center as he moves through the system. He could jump to high-A Stockton next season, where he could put up big numbers in the hitter-friendly California League.

Ben Jukich: Jukich was selected in the 13th round by the A's out of NAIA Dakota Wesleyan. The tall left-hander was almost 24 when he was selected, but his collegiate numbers were hard to ignore. He led the NAIA in strikeouts with 144 in 94.2 innings pitched and he only walked 15 batters. Jukich also had nine complete games and a 1.90 ERA during his final season. The A's started him at short-season Vancouver , but he wasn't there long, pitching in three games and posting a 3.24 ERA with two saves. He then moved up to low-A Kane County, where he began in the Cougars' bullpen. Jukich moved into the starting rotation by the end of the season and he had a 2-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in four starts. He struck out 22 in 20 innings as a starter and 40 in 41.2 innings at Kane County overall. Jukich then went on to pitch extremely well for the Cougars in the playoffs.

The tall left-hander is built a bit like Mark Mulder and should have the stamina to be a starting pitcher during his career. He has an above-average curveball and a good fastball that sits in the low- 90s. He is a bit of a late-bloomer and he will be 24 at the start of next season, so he'll have to move quickly through the system. Jukich could start next year at high-A Stockton.

Andrew Bailey: The A's sixth round pick was somewhat of a question-mark when the A's selected him out of Wagner University . He was just a year removed from Tommy John surgery and was kept on a pitch limit during his final year at Wagner. Nevertheless, the A's liked his power sinker and his big, projectable frame. Bailey spent all of his debut season at short-season Vancouver . He got little run support from the Canadians and he posted only a 2-5 record. However, he had a 2.02 ERA and he held opposing hitters to a .187 BAA. Bailey struck out 53 batters in 58 innings and allowed only two homers, although he did walk 20 batters.

Bailey is built a little like fellow A's pitching prospect Brad Knox, although he throws a little harder than Knox, coming in at the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. He gets good natural sink on his fastball and he has a big curveball and is learning a change-up. The A's will likely try to get Bailey to add one more pitch to his repertoire as he moves through the system, perhaps a split-finger. Bailey has a big league arm, and if he can stay healthy, he should move up the system quickly as a starting pitcher.

Scott Moore: Moore was picked up in the 23rd round, and if his first season was any indication, he could be a steal. He spent most of the season with short-season Vancouver , where he allowed only three earned runs in 18.2 innings. He saved nine games for the Canadians and allowed only 14 hits. Moore struck out 27 and walked only five. He was called up to low-A Kane County at the end of the season and he had two scoreless innings during the regular season and then pitched well out of the bullpen for the Cougars in the post-season.

Moore was a big strikeout pitcher in college and that continued in Vancouver . He was a Friday night starter in college, so it isn't clear whether he'll stay in a bullpen role or move into a starting rotation next season. Moore will be 23 this December and he could start next season at high-Stockton.

Toddric Johnson: Like Mitchell, Johnson is an athletic outfielder. The 14th round draft pick started his professional campaign at short-season Vancouver . After 10 games, Johnson was promoted to low-A Kane County after batting .333 with a .429 on-base percentage and three stolen bases. He struggled at times with the Cougars both with injury and to make contact, but Johnson finished the season strong, hitting .405 over his last 10 games. He ended up with a .286 average for the Cougars.

Johnson is another centerfielder with good wheels and good range in the outfield. At 6'1'', 165, Johnson isn't likely to develop the kind of power that Mitchell is likely to, but Johnson should be a good top-of-the-order hitter. He has a good idea of the strikezone and good bat control. He projects as a Juan Pierre-type player down the road.


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