2007 Year In Review: The Draft Class

With the 2007 minor league season officially in the books, it is time for us to take a look back at the season that transpired. In this edition of "2007 Year in Review," we take a close look at the first professional seasons for the Oakland A's 2007 draft class, pick-by-pick.

Note: The number before the draft pick's name is the number of the pick that he was in the A's draft, not the round in which he was selected.

1. James Simmons, P: The A's challenged their top pick right away, and, for the most part, Simmons responded to that challenge. The right-hander became the A's first pitching draft pick to be sent directly to a level above A-ball since Mark Mulder made his pro debut in Triple-A in 1999. Simmons threw only 29.2 innings for Double-A Midland, as the A's were cautious with the number of innings he threw after he had a strenuous final collegiate season at UC-Riverside. Simmons was the youngest player on the Rockhounds' roster, but he held his own, posting a 3.94 ERA and striking out 23. He has an advanced feel for pitching for such a young pitcher and his fastball control is already top-notch. Simmons will continue to hone his secondary pitches this fall. He threw mostly in relief for the Rockhounds, but his future is as a starting pitcher. Simmons will get some additional innings in the Arizona Fall League and should be in a starting rotation for one of the A's top level affiliates next season.

2. Sean Doolittle, 1B: Doolittle was a two-way player in college, starring as both a first baseman and a left-handed pitcher for Virginia. The A's made it clear when they selected Doolittle that he was going to be a first baseman, and he was a position player only during his first pro season. Doolittle began his career in short-season Vancouver, where he hit .283 with an impressive .421 OBP in 13 games. He was then promoted to Low-A Kane County, where he struggled at the plate. He had only 14 extra-base hits in 193 at-bats and a .233 BA. Doolittle showed good hands and instincts around the bag at first, but he struggled at times with the routine plays, as many young players do. The A's believe strongly in Doolittle's potential with the bat, and aren't likely to be discouraged by his struggles with Kane County. Depending on how he performs in the instructional league and next spring, Doolittle could be sent to High-A Stockton to start the season despite his numbers for Kane County this year.

3. Corey Brown, OF: Brown played his entire pro debut season with short-season Vancouver, where he was one of the top offensive players in the Northwest League. He struggled with strikeouts (77 in only 59 games), but he was otherwise outstanding with the bat. Brown posted a 924 OPS with 11 homers, four triples and 18 doubles in only 213 at-bats. He also drove-in 48 runs and posted a .379 OBP. Brown demonstrated good athleticism in centerfield and on the bases. Unfortunately, Brown finished his season a week early, as he tore ligaments in his hand sliding head-first into a base. He will miss the instructional league season, but he should be ready for spring training. Assuming he is healthy, Brown could head directly to High-A Stockton.

4. Grant Desme, OF: Desme missed most of the season recovering from a broken wrist that he injured late in his final collegiate season at Cal-Poly. He did appear in 12 games for Vancouver, homering in his pro debut game and batting .261 with a .358 OBP in 46 at-bats. Desme comes to the A's with the reputation of being a five-tool talent. He hit 15 homers and stole 12 bases in his final season with the Mustangs and reached base at a ridiculous .494 pace. Desme is participating in the instructional leagues now and will probably begin next season in Low-A Kane County since he missed so much of the 2007 season. Desme and Brown are arguably the most exciting pair of outfield prospects the A's have selected in the same draft in quite some time.

5. Josh Horton, SS: Horton had a marathon 2007 campaign that included a full collegiate season, a trip to the College World Series with North Carolina, as well as stops in Vancouver and Kane County. Horton appeared in 14 games for the Canadians before being promoted to the Midwest League, and he batted .268 with an 816 OPS for the C's. He then took over as the Cougars' regular shortstop after his promotion and helped Kane County make a late-season push for the playoffs. In 122 at-bats for the Cougars, Horton hit .279 with a .417 OBP, and he had more walks than strikeouts (28:27). His overall OBP was an impressive .419 in 163 at-bats. He didn't show much power, but both leagues he played in are notoriously difficult power leagues. In the field, Horton showed good range and the ability to turn the double-play well. Some scouts have stated that Horton won't stay at short long-term, but the A's are likely to give him a long look at that position before experimenting with a move to second base. Coaches and scouts have always liked his make-up and he is a well-known for being a 100-percent-effort player. Horton is a good candidate to start next season in High-A Stockton.

6. Sam Demel, RP: Demel, one of the top closers in the NCAA this season with TCU, was challenged after signing with the A's by being sent directly to High-A Stockton. He struggled badly with his command in the unforgiving California League, walking 15 in 14 innings and allowing 16 runs. He was sent down to Low-A Kane County for the final month of the season and he was much better at the lower level, saving four games and allowing one earned run in 9.1 innings. Walks were still a problem for Demel in Kane County (four in 9.1 innings), but he struck out 10 batters and didn't allow a homerun. Overall, Demel used his low- to mid-90s fastball and full array of off-speed pitches to strikeout 23 batters in 23.1 total innings between Kane County and Stockton. Demel is a max-effort pitcher with an advanced arsenal of pitches (a fastball, change-up, slider and curveball). He isn't a big guy, so he is likely to remain a reliever in the A's system. Assuming he can work out his control issues, Demel could get a crack at High-A Stockton again at the start of next season.

7. Travis Banwart, P: The Wichita State alum had a solid debut season, which he spent entirely at Low-A Kane County. Banwart began his time with the Cougars as a reliever, and then was moved into the starting rotation in time to make six late-season starts. Banwart was impressive, posting a 2.60 ERA in 45 innings. He struck out 41 and walked only 10 over that span. Banwart did give up a number of unearned runs (eight), but his WHIP was an impressive 1.01. Like Simmons, Banwart entered the pro ranks with a very polished pitching arsenal which he used to great effect in Kane County. He features a low-90s fastball with a good change-up, a slider and a curveball. Banwart only allowed two homeruns in Kane County this season and should challenge for a spot in High-A Stockton's rotation next spring.

8. Andrew Carignan, RP: Like Demel, Carignan was a college closer with mid-90s heat. He spent his pro debut season at Low-A Kane County, where he was a late-inning reliever for the Cougars. Carignan saved four games and had a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings. Like Demel, he struggled with his control (11 walks), but he minimized that damage with 19 strikeouts and zero homeruns allowed. Carignan is the NCAA's all-time saves leader for the College World Series and he has a solid make-up for pressure situations. As relievers, both he and Demel have a chance to move quickly through the A's system over the next two seasons.

9. Scott Hodsdon, P: Hodsdon spent his pro debut season with Vancouver. He was mostly a starting pitcher for the Canadians. He struggled early in the season, but allowed only six earned runs over his last 25.2 innings and finished with a 7-1 record and a 4.57 ERA. In his final start for Vancouver, Hodsdon struck-out 12 in a brilliant 8.2 inning performance. Hodsdon was a two-way player at Azusa Pacific University, so he is still a little raw as a pitcher, although he already throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a slider, a change-up and a split-finger. He is a good athlete and he has an aggressive mentality on the mound. Hodsdon struck out 67 in 67 innings, although he did walk 23. He is at the instructional league now and is a likely candidate to begin next season in Kane County's rotation.

10. Lance Sewell, P: Sewell made only five appearances (all in relief) for Vancouver before he was shut down with an injury. He struck out 10 in only 6.2 innings, but also walked five and allowed three runs (all of which came in one outing). Sewell has a violent delivery and injuries could be a concern for him because of that violent motion. He has always been a high strikeout pitcher and could be a very effective lefty out of the bullpen down the road. Where he starts next season will have a lot to do with his health come spring.

11. Daniel Schlereth, RP: Unsigned.

12. Eric Berger, P: Unsigned.

13. Danny Hamblin, IF: Hamblin demonstrated why the A's selected him in the draft two years in a row with an outstanding effort for Vancouver during his pro debut season. Hamblin was selected as a Northwest League Post-Season All-Star after bashing 11 homeruns and driving-in 62 runs in 68 games. Like Brown, Hamblin struggled with the strikeout (93 in 265 at-bats), but he walked a decent amount (36) and posted an impressive .494 SLG in a normally power-stingy league. Hamblin played mostly at first base for the Canadians, but he did see some time at third. The Arkansas alum was a third baseman in college before he suffered an arm injury that limited his ability to make long throws across the diamond. If Hamblin can get that arm strength back, he will likely be shifted over to third base full-time. In the meantime, Hamblin remains an excellent power prospect in an organization that doesn't have a lot of pure power hitters.

14: Michael Richard. SS: If Hamblin is a rarity for his power within the A's organization, Richard is an even rarer bird for his speed. The Prairie View A&M alum was electric on the base-paths for Vancouver this season, swiping 25 bags in only 61 games (he was caught six times). Richard didn't hit for much power (seven extra-base hits in 225 at-bats), but he was on-base at a .400 clip and he scored 41 runs. Defensively, Richard was inconsistent, committing 18 errors at short. He may be moved to centerfield eventually, but his speed and his patience at the plate make him a legitimate lead-off hitting prospect.

15. Gary Brown, OF: Unsigned.

16. Justin Friend, P: Friend had a very solid debut season with Vancouver. The righty out of Oklahoma State threw 27.2 innings for the Canadians, most of them coming in relief. He posted a 3.25 ERA and he struck out 31 batters. Friend was a little wild, walking 19, but he didn't allow a homer. Friend was a closer in college and he employs an aggressive mindset on the mound. Like Demel and Carignan, he has the capability of moving quickly if he can hone his control.

17. Matt Smith, C: Smith skipped the short-season level completely and went right to Low-A Kane County. He received ample playing time with the Cougars, as his arrival coincided with a season-ending injury to the Cougars' regular catcher, Jake Smith (no relation). Matt Smith appeared over-matched at the plate for much of the season, batting only .205 with a 617 OPS. He demonstrated good plate control with a 29:21 K:BB ratio, but he managed only seven extra-base hits in 122 at-bats. Smith handled himself well behind the plate, however. He should get another crack at the Midwest League next season and should hit better the second time around.

18. Brad Hertzler, P: Hertzler made headlines when he threw a rain-shortened perfect game for Vancouver on July 18. Hertzler was up-and-down all season for the Canadians, dominating at times and hittable on other occasions. He demonstrated excellent control, walking only 14 in 60 innings while striking out 46. The lefty has a deep arsenal of pitches, throwing a fastball, a cutter, a curveball and a change-up. Hertzler has a good starting pitcher's build, and given the A's lack of depth in the area of left-handed starters, he figures to be in a starting rotation again next season.

19. Brent Lysander, P: The 6'7'' Sonoma State product had a solid pro debut season for the Canadians. He threw 51 innings over 16 appearances (four starts) and posted a 3.35 ERA. He walked only 14 while striking out 34. In his last outing, Lysander allowed one run in six innings, striking out eight and walking none. Despite pitching in relief for much of the season, Lysander could move into a starting rotation next season.

20. Stephen Hunt, P: Unsigned.

21. Matt Ray, SS: Ray was one of the oldest members of the A's 2007 draft class, entering his pro debut season as a 23-year-old. The switch-hitting infielder batted .206 with 10 stolen bases in 51 games for the Canadians. Ray hit markedly better as a right-hander (653 OPS) than as a lefty (520 OPS). Ray has good speed and is a solid bunter, but he will need to show he can handle the bat better next spring to avoid repeating at Vancouver in 2008.

22. Dusty Napoleon, C: Napoleon shared catching duties in Vancouver with Julio Rivera and Dante Love, and he also saw some time at DH. The Iowa alum struggled offensively during his first season as a pro, batting .235 with a .294 SLG in 136 at-bats. He reached base at a good clip (.360 OPS), however. Napoleon may be forced to repeat in Vancouver if Love and Rivera wind-up both playing in Low-A Kane County next season.

23. Dan Wentzell, OF: The 22-year-old George Fox alum made the leap from small collegiate baseball program to the pros this season. He spent the year with the A's Rookie League team in Arizona. Wentzell posted a .253 BA with a 665 OPS in 39 games for the AZL A's.

24. Stephen Porlier, P: Unsigned.

25. Aaron Jenkins, P: The diminutive lefty Jenkins was solid for most of his pro debut season in Vancouver. Jenkins allowed only two earned runs in 13.2 relief innings in June, August and September. He struggled in July, however, allowing nine earned runs in 8.2 innings. That left Jenkins with a 4.43 ERA in 22.1 total innings. Jenkins was a strikeout machine for the C's, whiffing 41 batters. He also allowed only 13 hits and was mostly hurt by his 20 walks. Jenkins has good stuff and a deceptive motion, making him a difficult pitcher to hit off of. He was old for his league (he turns 23 in November), but he came out of a smaller collegiate program. Jenkins figures to be a lefty reliever for either Stockton or Kane County next season.

26. J.D. Pruitt, OF: Pruitt led the Northwest League with a heady .460 OBP. He walked a team-high 50 times in 61 games and was hit by a pitch a record 34 times. Pruitt didn't hit for much power (11 extra-base hits in 180 at-bats) or for much of an average (.211 BA), but his on-base percentage is hard to ignore. Pruitt will probably have to swing more often in advanced leagues to get on-base, and that will put his on-base skills to the test. He should be on the roster of a full-season affiliate in 2008.

27. Raymond Rodriguez, OF: Rodriguez was the youngest player to appear on one of the rosters for the A's US affiliates this season. The Puerto Rican native turned 18 in August. He appeared in only 14 games for the A's Rookie League team in Arizona, collecting eight hits in 45 at-bats (.178 BA). Rodriguez appeared over-matched at times, but this season was more about getting Rodriguez's feet wet playing professional baseball than a measure of his performance. He will be brought along slowly.

28. Jareck West, OF: West signed in late July after competing in the Northwoods Summer League to start the summer season. He appeared in 25 games for the A's Rookie League team. The Delta State alum showed good speed, stealing 10 bases in 10 chances. He batted only .218, however, with a 634 OPS. West will be 23 next April.

29. Tobias Streich, C: Unsigned.

30. Justin Frash, 3B: Frash signed early and appeared in 56 games for the Canadians. The Hawaii alum batted .244 with a .333 OBP and a 655 OPS. The corner infielder had a respectable 31:25 K:BB ratio. He handled himself well at third base and he could be in Kane County next season with a good spring training.

31. Lee Land, P: Land was signed just before the August 15 deadline after competing in the Cape Cod summer league and posting a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings. Land joined Vancouver in time to appear in seven games in relief for the C's. He didn't allow a run in 12.1 innings, allowing seven hits and walking six. He struck out six and saved two games. Land turned 23 in August. He'll compete for a spot in the Kane County or Stockton bullpens next spring.

32. Collin Cowgill, OF: Unsigned.

33. Chad Kerfoot, P: Kerfoot was one of the C's most valuable relievers this season. The Delaware alum posted a 3.47 ERA in 36.1 innings. Kerfoot demonstrated excellent command, walking only eight and striking out 37. He allowed only two homers. Kerfoot did give up six unearned runs, but it was still an impressive debut.

34. Fabian Gomez, P: Gomez struggled during his pro debut season. The southpaw posted an 8.44 ERA in 13 games (two starts). He allowed 43 base-runners in 21.2 innings and only struck out 13 batters. One bright spot: Gomez limited left-handed batters to a .217 BAA, so he may have a future as a lefty specialist in the A's system.

35. Bryan Collins, P: Like Gomez, Collins struggled to keep batters off of the bases. Collins allowed 45 base-runners in 27.1 innings for Vancouver. His ERA reflected those struggles (6.59 ERA), but he did strike-out 25. Collins throws hard, but he doesn't always know where it is going. If he can harness his fastball, he could have a future as a late-inning reliever.

36. John Quine, P: Quine missed a month with injury and he made only 10 appearances for the C's. He was wild – walking 20 in 22.1 innings – but he somehow managed to post a respectable 4.43 ERA by allowing only 17 hits. The Bay Area native throws his fastball in the low-90s and he features a good curveball and change-up. If he is healthy next season and his control is better, Quine should get a shot at a spot on a full season affiliate.

37. Ryne Tacker, P: Unsigned.

38. Herbert Hudson, OF: Hudson was drafted out of Mt. San Jacinto JC and he spent his pro debut season in the Arizona Rookie League. Hudson got off to a good start for the AZL A's, batting .279 through his first 20 games. However, he slumped badly over his last 11 games, finishing the season with a .231 BA.

39. Trent Abbot, P: Unsigned.

40. Nick Longmire, OF: Unsigned.

41. Kevin Rath, P: Unsigned.

42. Stan Widmann, SS: Unsigned.

43. Daniel Magante, C: Unsigned.

44. James Wernke, P: Unsigned.

45. Jonathan Johnston, C: Unsigned.

46. Stephen Cochrane, C: Unsigned.

47. Ben Barrone, C: Barrone got off to a very slow start for the A's AZL Rookie League team, but finished with a .244 BA and a .419 SLG. The Winona State catcher will turn 23 in November. He was a big power hitter in college. The A's will look for him to tap into that power even further next spring.

48. Jeremy Wise, IF: Unsigned.

49. Conner Bernatz, OF: Unsigned.

50. Seth Blair, P: Unsigned.

51. Adam Klein, OF: Klein was the Arizona League leader in OBP and stolen bases. His OBP was an eye-popping .477 and he stole 33 bases in 40 attempts. Klein, a Cal-State Los Angeles alum, was the oldest player that the A's drafted this season, as he turned 24 in August. Klein didn't hit for any power with only seven extra-base hits in 152 at-bats. Still, like Pruitt, Klein's on-base skills are hard to ignore.

52. Josh Bowman, P: Unsigned.

53. Steve Hagen, 3B: Unsigned.

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