Oakland A's Top-50 Prospects: 45-41

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, we continue the series with a review of prospects 45-41.

45. Michael Rogers, SP

Rogers was the A's second round pick is 2004 out of North Carolina State. Since that time, he has shown flashes of excellence mixed in with a lot of surprisingly mediocre performances. This season was no different for Rogers. The right-hander was pretty good at Stockton, where he went 11-6 with a deceptively high 4.67 ERA. Rogers allowed a lot of homeruns with Stockton (20 in 115.2 innings), but he had an outstanding K:BB ratio (108:39). Rogers was promoted to AA-Midland during the middle of the season and he had a rougher time with the Rockhounds, going 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in six starts. His K:BB ratio fell (20:13) and he allowed 40 hits in 28.1 innings. On the season, he finished with a 5.63 ERA.

Rogers is a bit of an enigma. In some ways, he took a big step forward this season, as he dramatically improved his control from low-A Kane County in 2005 to high-A Stockton in 2006. However, he remained surprisingly hittable for a pitcher with his talents and he often struggled in the fifth or sixth inning of starts when he had pitched well early in the game. The A's showed a lot of confidence in Rogers by drafting him in the second round and promoting him for a time to AA. Next season, he'll need to reward that confidence by showing more consistency from start to start and even from inning to inning. He has the stuff to pitch at a high level, but he needs to prove it for a full season.

44. Brian Snyder, 3B

Snyder, like Rogers, is a prospect that the A's were very high on, but he has yet to perform consistently at the level they expect of him. Snyder was the A's 2003 first round pick. He had a poor debut in 2003 with short-season Vancouver, but he had an excellent – if injury shortened – 2004 season with low-A Kane County. Unfortunately, he missed all of the 2005 season with a leg injury and his 2006 season didn't match his 2004 form. Snyder began the year at AA, but he got into a terrible funk. He hit .232 in April and followed that by hitting .067 in May. He started to heat up in June (.324 in 10 games), but the A's sent him down to Stockton. Snyder hit much better average-wise in Stockton, hitting .279. However, in neither stop did he show much power.

Snyder has a lot going for him as a player. He has exceptional plate discipline. Even though he hit only .249 this season, Snyder managed a .374 on-base percentage. He is also a good fielding third baseman. However, Snyder hit only nine homeruns and finished only with a .377 slugging percentage. If Snyder can improve his power totals next season, he can move quickly through AA to AAA because he already has a mature approach at the plate and can catch the ball. However, if he can't hit for more power, Snyder isn't likely to get much of a look at the big league level because he plays at a power position. Snyder is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season.

43. Lorenzo Macias, OF

Macias is very much a work in-progress. He is the younger brother of Texas Rangers' prospect Drew Macias. Lorenzo was selected out of junior college in the 28th round. He didn't turn 21 until August and he began his professional career with the A's Rookie League team, where he was the A's best hitter with a .293 batting average and 17 RBI in 24 games. He struggled after a promotion to short-season Vancouver, where he hit only .165 in 35 games.

Macias has a promising speed and power combination. He is a switch-hitter and he has room to fill-out his 6'2'', 190-frame. In college and with the A's Rookie League team, he demonstrated a good approach to the plate and the ability to make loud contact. His performance in Vancouver is a little troubling, but since he was only 20 for most of his time with the Canadians, it may be nothing more than growing pains. If he has a good spring, the A's will probably start Macias in Kane County.

42. Vasili Spanos, 3B/1B

Spanos did what he always does: hit. The burly corner infielder had a solid season for AA-Midland, batting .308 with a .405 on-base percentage. It was a dramatic improvement over his showing at AA in 2005, when Spanos hit only .235 in 43 games. He spent a lot of time at DH this season, especially early in the season when Brian Snyder was at Midland. However, Spanos still managed to make a game-saving defensive play at third in the Texas League All-Star game. He struck out only 73 times in 439 at-bats and managed to be hit by a league-high 25 pitches.

Spanos saw his power numbers drop in 2006 and he will have to get those numbers back up into the .500 levels to get a real shot at the major leagues. He is the definition of a grinder, someone who will never jump out at you when watching him in one game, but someone who will impress you over the course of a season. He should get a crack at AAA-Sacramento next season and he could be a useful fourth infielder/pinch-hitter at the major league level, especially if he can increase his power numbers over time.

41. Mike Mitchell, RP

Mitchell leaped out of obscurity into a position of prominence this season with an outstanding 2006 campaign and an even better performance thus far at the Arizona Fall League. Mitchell was a draft-and-follow in 2003, but he had Tommy John surgery that year and didn't really get going in his career until 2005. He started the 2006 season and he ended up spending time in both AA and AAA. Mitchell spent the bulk of his season in Stockton, where he served as a closer for a time, saving 18 games for the Ports and earning a spot on the California League All-Star team. Mitchell pitched well in a short stint with Sacramento and had a decent showing at Midland.

Mitchell has a lively low-90s fastball and a good slider. He has struggled with his command at times, but he had a good K:BB ratio in Stockton and has only walked one batter in the Arizona Fall League. If he can continue to throw strikes, Mitchell should get a crack at a major league bullpen sometime in the next two years.

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