During the off-season, we named our top-50 prospects in the Oakland A's system. Now that we have passed the midway point of the season, we thought it would be a good time to check the progress of those players. In the first in our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 41-50 from our off-season list.
* Note: These rankings were made prior to the 2007
season. Adjustments for 2007 performance will be made to the rankings during the off-season. All stats as of August 4, 2007.
41. Mike Mitchell, RP:
Mitchell came into spring training this season as a non-roster invitee to major league camp after an impressive 2006 season and a strong showing at the Arizona Fall League. The right-handed reliever wowed the A's brass during big league spring training and was on the cusp of making the A's 25-man roster. Unfortunately, Mitchell finished camp with a sore right shoulder that was later revealed to be a slight tear in his labrum. Mitchell tried to rehab the injury without surgery and he appeared to be back on-track in early July, as he started throwing with the A's Rookie League team and with the Stockton Ports. Mitchell didn't have the same sharpness with the Rookie A's and with the Ports, and his numbers reflected that he wasn't 100 percent. Mitchell was shut-down last week and he will undergo shoulder surgery to correct the labrum problem.
When healthy, Mitchell has closer-level stuff. He throws in the mid-90s with sink and he gets a lot of swings and misses. He can struggle with his control at times, but he induces a lot of groundballs which helps him get out of jams even when he is wild. Unfortunately, Mitchell has had a rough time with injuries throughout his minor league career. He had Tommy John surgery in 2004 and he didn't get back to feeling 100 percent normal until 2006. The labrum injury could keep him out at the start of next season and it has been known to be a difficult injury for pitchers to overcome. If he can get healthy, Mitchell's stuff will give him a good chance to be a good major league reliever.
42. Vasili Spanos, 3B/1B:
After a strong showing at Double-A in 2006, Spanos appeared destined for Triple-A in 2007. However, a roster crunch in the infield at Sacramento forced the A's to keep Spanos in Double-A for another season. The burly infielder got off to a horrible start in April, batting an uncharacteristic .203 with a 576 OPS. He recovered to post excellent numbers in May (.340 BA/ 977 OPS) and June (.338 BA/ 927 OPS). Spanos tailed off a bit in July, but has been swinging the bat very well over his last 15 games. On the season, Spanos is batting .288 with 10 homers and an 810 OPS. He has already exceeded his power totals from the 2006 season, although he isn't reaching base as frequently as he did last season. He has seen most of his playing time at first or as the DH, although he did see some time at third while Jeff Baisley
was out with a knee injury.
Spanos has been a very solid, if not spectacular, offensive performer since he was drafted by the A's in 2003 out of the University of Indiana
. He has never really be given a clear path through the A's organization, as he has been blocked at third by players such as Brian Snyder
(last season) and Jeff Baisley, and Daric Barton
, Brant Colamarino
and Dan Johnson
at first. Spanos doesn't hit for enough power to be an everyday DH. These factors have caused Spanos to stall within the A's organization. Should the A's choose to promote Daric Barton at the start of September, Spanos could be a candidate to be promoted to Triple-A this season. Otherwise, he'll probably finish the season at Double-A and hope for a clearer path to Triple-A next season.
43. Lorenzo Macias, OF:
Macias was selected in the 28th round last season out of junior college. The younger brother of Drew Macias
, Lorenzo hit well for the A's Rookie League team before struggling with short-season Vancouver last season. Macias never had a chance to improve on that performance in 2007. He tore his ACL before the start of the season and has missed the entire year. He will be 22 years old at the start of next season.
44. Brian Snyder, 3B:
After struggling badly in Double-A in 2006, Snyder got another chance in Midland in 2007. The 2003 first round draft pick also got a chance to prove his wares at a new position, shifting over from third base to second base. Snyder has made a smooth transition defensively and he has done much better offensively at Double-A in 2007. Snyder had a strong first half of the season at the plate, posting an 848 OPS and making the All-Star team. He has fallen off since the All-Star break and he hit only .182 in July. For the season, Snyder is batting .261 with eight homers and an 820 OPS.
Snyder has always been one of the most patient batters in the A's system and that has continued this season. He has 64 walks in 93 games and a .388 OBP. He was hitting for average, as well, until his poor July. Snyder's power translates better as a second baseman than it does at third base. On defense, Snyder is still learning the ins-and-outs of playing second base, but he has shown good hands and decent range. As a former third baseman, Snyder has a strong arm for a second baseman. Most importantly, Snyder has stayed healthy this season, something he struggled to do during his first two years as a pro. Snyder will be 26 at the start of next season and he'll need to show that he can perform at Triple-A next season to have a legitimate chance at a major league career. His increased defensive versatility and his ability to put together quality at-bats give Snyder a chance of being at least a bench player in the majors in the near future despite his age.
45. Michael Rogers, SP:
Rogers has had a very disappointing season. The 2004 second round pick started the year in the Midland bullpen, but was sent back to High-A Stockton in mid-May after struggling with a 7.30 ERA in 11 appearances at Double-A. Rogers' struggles have continued in Stockton, as he has an 8.88 ERA and was recently removed from the Ports' starting rotation. Overall this season, Rogers has an 8.37 ERA in 24 games (13 starts).
Rogers has struggled with his command all season. He has 68 walks in 76.1 innings and he has allowed 17 homeruns. He is already 24 and will be 25 in October. Rogers was a polished pitcher coming out of college, but he has seemingly regressed every year as a pro. He'll need to show some major improvement at the end of this season and in spring training next year to get another chance at Double-A.
46. Brad Knox, SP:
Despite a strong season at Double-A in 2006, Knox was sent back to Midland to start the 2007 season. He got off to a blistering start for the Rockhounds, posting a 2.19 ERA in four starts. That performance put Knox in good position to be promoted to Triple-A Sacramento when injuries hit the River Cats' rotation. He joined Sacramento in late April and has been one of the River Cats' most consistent starters since then. In 18 games, Knox is 8-5 with a 4.17 ERA and one complete game. He has been a workhorse for the River Cats and has average more than six innings an appearance.
Knox doesn't have the strikeout stuff that he did in Low-A Kane County in 2004 when he struck out 174 in 156.1 innings. This season, he has managed only 71 strikeouts in 137 innings. However, he has excellent control (39 walks) and he induces a lot of ground-outs. Despite incurring a career-threatening back injury at the end of the 2004 season, Knox has proven to be a durable starter for the A's since that time. He has missed only one start since mid-May 2005 and he has shown the ability to work deep into games thanks to being around the strikezone and keeping his pitch counts low. He doesn't throw all that hard (he tops out in the high-80s, low-90s), but he gets good sink on his pitches. With all control pitchers, it is hard to know how his stuff would translate at the major league level. However, if he continues his solid work the rest of this season, he certainly will be deserving of a chance to compete at big league spring training, something he has yet to do during his pro career. Knox will turn 26 during spring training next season.
47. Isaac Omura, 2B:
Omura came out of nowhere last season to hit .296 in 93 games for the Low-A Kane County Cougars. He also showed a good glove at second base. Despite those numbers, Omura was sent back to Kane County to start the season and he saw very irregular playing time for the Cougars. He played in only 33 games during the first half of the season and he hit only .194 in 108 at-bats. Omura was promoted to High-A Stockton despite those numbers and he got a little more regular playing time with the Ports, appearing in 12 games during the second half of June and 15 games in July. He wasn't able to get his bat on-track in Stockton, either, batting only .195 in 77 at-bats. Omura broke his thumb on his glove hand on July 25 and he could miss the rest of the season.
The 2007 campaign has been a big set back for Omura. He will be 24 next season and the A's are deep with second basemen/ shortstops at the mid-levels.
48. Scot Drucker, P:
Drucker had a solid season as a swingman in the Stockton Ports' pitching staff in 2006. Unfortunately, he never had a chance to build on that season in 2007, as he was shut-down with shoulder problems before the start of spring training. The shoulder problems turned out to be a tear in his labrum and Drucker had surgery in April and he is out for the season. Unlike Mitchell, Drucker had the labrum surgery early enough this season that he should be on-track to pitch at the start of spring training. If he shows well in spring training, he could be in the Double-A Midland bullpen to start the season.
49. Ben Fritz, P:
Fritz finished the 2006 season in the Triple-A Sacramento rotation, but he was sent back to Double-A at the start of the 2007 season. Fritz got off to a great start with Midland this season, posting ERAs under 3.80 in April and May. He has struggled in June (5.34 ERA) and July (9.95 ERA), although he was effective in his last start for the Rockhounds. Fritz hasn't struck out many batters this season (68 in 117 innings) and he has walked more than normal (45).
Fritz hasn't always been able to maintain his low-90s velocity on his fastball late into starts and may be better suited to pitch out of the bullpen at this stage in his career. A move to the bullpen might allow Fritz the chance to move more quickly through Triple-A. He has an excellent change-up and he keeps the ball down well. Fritz has battled injury problems throughout his career, but he has made all 22 of his starts on turn this season. He will be 27 at the start of next season and could be a minor league free agent at the end of the year if the A's don't add him to the 40-man roster.
50. Scott Moore, RP:
After finishing his first pro season at Low-A Kane County, Moore was sent back to Kane County to work in the back-end of the Cougars' bullpen at the start of this season. Like the rest of the Cougars, Moore got off to a slow start, posting an ERA of 4.50 in April. However, he had a great May, saving five games and posting a 2.25 ERA in 10 outings. He had a 3.04 ERA and nine saves before the All-Star Break, but he struggled during the Midwest League All-Star game and he has a 5.63 post-break ERA.
Moore is a big guy at 6'3'', 245 pounds. He has always been a strikeout pitcher, and he maintained that this season, striking out 43 in 42.2 innings. He has walked a lot of guys (28), which has hurt him late in games. Moore has shown good durability this season out of the bullpen. If he can finish the season strong, he should be in High-A Stockton next season.