Mid-Season Review: A's Prospects 41-50

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 2008 season. Adjustments for 2008 performance will be made to the rankings during the off-season. All stats as of July 23, 2008.

50. Brad Kilby
The left-handed reliever has spent all of the 2008 season pitching near his hometown with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. Kilby has put together a solid season in his first taste of Triple-A baseball. Through Wednesday, Kilby had a 4-2 record with a 3.96 ERA and a 43:19 K:BB ratio in 50 innings for the River Cats. He has been particularly tough on left-handed hitters this season, holding them to a .161 BA, while he has held his own against righties (.250 BA). Kilby has allowed more homeruns than he usually does this season – seven thus far, a career-high – but he has otherwise performed to expectations.

Kilby isn't overpowering, but his deceptive delivery makes his high-80s fastball appear more like it is in the low-90s, especially to left-handed hitters. He also gets good movement on his pitches. If Kilby can cut down on his walks and get his homer totals back to his previous career levels, he should have a future in the major leagues as a left-handed middle reliever/specialist.

Status: Steady

49. Mike Mitchell
After undergoing shoulder surgery in 2007, Mitchell has yet to appear in game action in 2008. The hard-throwing right-hander was on the verge of a big league call-up when he was diagnosed with a torn labrum in 2007. He tried rehabbing the injury without surgery to no avail. Mitchell will be 27 in late October and will be coming off of essentially two lost seasons when the 2009 campaign begins. Before the injury, Mitchell had big league stuff, but until he gets back on the mound in live game action, it is hard to determine if he still has the stuff to be a big league pitcher.

Status: Injured

48. Michael Richard
Thanks to an assortment of minor injuries, Richard was limited to only 13 games during the first two months of the season for Low-A Kane County. Since the start of June, however, he has been relatively healthy and arguably the Cougars' best hitter. The shortstop, who hit .303 in June, is batting .433 with a 993 OPS during the month of July. In 48 games overall this season, he has a .335 average to go along with a .417 OBP and 27 steals in 32 chances in a difficult league for offense.

Richard will turn 24 in late August, so he is old for the Midwest League. However, he was only drafted last season and he has one of the best combinations of on-base and speed skills in the A's minor league system. His defense at short remains a work-in-progress and it wouldn't be surprising to see the A's start to play Richard in different spots on the diamond to increase his versatility, perhaps as soon as this fall's Instructional League. With his ability to get on-base and his speed, Richard could be a useful bench player in the major leagues, especially if he can play more than one position.

Status: On the rise

47. Jeff Gray
Gray was added to the A's 40-man roster this winter after a strong 2007 campaign that saw him save an A's minor league-leading 15 games. He returned to Triple-A Sacramento, where he spent two-thirds of the 2007 season, and he has pitched out of the River Cats' bullpen all season, primarily as a set-up man. The hard-throwing righty is in the middle of a tough July that has caused his ERA to balloon to 5.03. In June, he had a 2.61 ERA, but his ERA for the month of July has been 7.36.

Gray has a live arm and can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, but he has often struggled with his command during his minor league career. His strike-out totals are way down in July, which perhaps is an indication that he is struggling with a mechanical issue, nursing an injury or fatigued (he led the River Cats in games pitched last season). The A's have kept Gray on their 40-man roster despite his struggles because of his good fastball, but he will need to put together a strong August to ensure his spot on the roster this off-season and to earn a possible September audition.

Status: Looking for a strong finish

46. Jason Windsor
Like Mitchell, Windsor has spent most of the season on the disabled list recovering from 2007 shoulder surgery. The right-hander has gotten further along in his rehab than Mitchell. Windsor made four starts for the A's Rookie League club in June and July and then made one outing for the Double-A Midland Rockhounds. He didn't fare particularly well in those appearances, posting a combined 7.90 ERA in 13.2 innings. He is currently on the disabled list for the Rockhounds, and it isn't clear whether he will return again in 2008. As with Mitchell, Windsor's status as a prospect can't be truly evaluated until he is 100 percent recovered from the injury.

Status: Recovering.

45. Cliff Pennington
Pennington came into the 2008 season looking to make a statement after two relatively disappointing seasons in 2006 and 2007. The A's top pick in 2005 began the year in Double-A, where he hit .260 with 20 stolen bases in 50 games. He was then promoted to Triple-A Sacramento, where his overall game saw significant improvement. In 47 games with the River Cats, Pennington is batting .282 with 40 walks against only 27 strike-outs and a .414 OBP. He played his way into final consideration for a spot on the US Olympic team and has seen his status in the organization go from disappointment to possible candidate for a big league job next season.

The Texas A&M product, like Richard, doesn't have a lot of power, but he does an excellent job of getting on-base and he steals bases at a high percentage. On the year, he has 26 stolen bases in 31 chances and was 20 of 21 at one point this year before a stolen base "slump" when he first got to Triple-A. He has good hands and the ability to play both at his natural shortstop position and at second base. A switch-hitter, Pennington has excelled as a right-handed hitter this season and he could form an interesting platoon with the newly acquired Eric Patterson at second base for the A's next season should Oakland decide not to bring back Mark Ellis. He could be competing with Patterson, Brooks Conrad and Gregorio Petit for a chance to be in the A's everyday infield next season should Ellis be allowed to leave. A strong end to his season will secure a spot on the 40-man roster for Pennington this off-season and could earn him a September call-up.

Status: On the verge

44. Ronny Morla
After a strong 2007 campaign for the A's Rookie League club and a good Instructional League, Morla was one of our pre-season breakout candidates. He hasn't quite had a breakout season for the short-season Vancouver Canadians to date, but he has still shown good promise. The Dominican right-hander was the C's Opening Day starter. Through eight starts, he has a 3.89 ERA and 39 strike-outs in 41.2 innings. After being inconsistent in his first five starts, Morla has been outstanding in his last three outings, allowing only two runs in 17 innings with 13 strike-outs and only five walks.

Morla's command hasn't been as consistent as it was in 2007, when he walked only 18 in 67 innings and held opposing batters to a .240 BA. At times, however, he has been quite good. At 6'4'', Morla has a starting pitcher's build and a good pitch mix with a low-90s fastball, slider and change-up. He just turned 20 in May and will likely be given his first crack at full-season baseball next year.

Status: On schedule

43. Graham Godfrey
Godfrey was acquired by Oakland last November in the Marco Scutaro trade with Toronto. The right-hander has spent most of the season with High-A Stockton, save for two appearances for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats when the River Cats' staff was thin. Godfrey's ERA with Stockton isn't that impressive – 5.75 – but he has pitched better than that number for much of the season. In fact, removing a disastrous month of June that saw him post an 11.32 ERA, Godfrey has a 4.03 ERA for the Ports this season. His K:BB ratio (76:29 in 87.2 innings) is pretty solid. Where he has been hurt has been in the hits column. In 87.2 innings for Stockton, Godfrey has allowed 102 hits and batters have hit him at a .293 clip.

In many ways, Godfrey's numbers for Stockton this season mirror those of Vince Mazzaro in 2007 for the Ports. Mazzaro is leading the Texas League in ERA in 2008. While Godfrey may not be able to match Mazzaro's Double-A performance next season, he could see a dramatic improvement with his numbers when he leaves the California League. Godfrey is one of many intriguing pitching prospects in the A's system. It isn't clear whether he will slot as a starter or a reliever next year, but he appears on-track to be promoted to Double-A in 2009.

Status: Progressing

42. Danny Hamblin
After an outstanding professional debut season in 2007 with short-season Vancouver during which he hit a team-high 11 homeruns and drove-in 62 runs in only 68 games, Hamblin had a rough start to his 2008 campaign when he began the year back in extended spring training with an injury. He eventually joined the Low-A Kane County Cougars in late May, but the slugging corner infielder never got on-track with the Cougars. In 76 at-bats, he hit only .145 with one homer and a 468 OPS. On June 23, he announced his retirement from baseball for personal reasons. The A's have said that they would welcome back the Arkansas alum if he decides to return to the field.

Status: Retired

41. Dan Meyer
Meyer began spring training under the impression that he was out of options and that, therefore, the A's would have to make a decision one way or another about whether to keep him on the 25-man roster. However, Meyer was given another option year by major league baseball thanks to the time that he missed in 2005 and 2006 with injuries, so he has spent the entire season at Triple-A Sacramento. After posting a 3.28 ERA for the River Cats last year, Meyer has been more inconsistent this season, compiling a 4.75 ERA in 108 innings. He has struck-out 100, but he has walked 48 and allowed 10 homers.

In the span of one off-season, Meyer went from being one of the A's top young lefties to being one of many advanced left-handed pitching prospects when Oakland acquired Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez. With Dallas Braden getting the nod over Meyer for a spot in the A's rotation this month, it seems that Meyer's big league future is probably not with Oakland. He remains on the A's 40-man roster and could see time with the A's this August or September if Oakland makes a few more deals, but next season, he is likely to get his shot with another team.

Status: Looking for an opportunity

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