Oakland A's MLN: Minor League Free Agents

With the end of the 2008 major league season only a week away, the start of the major and minor league free agency period is about to begin. The Oakland A's have a number of minor leaguers who are eligible for free agency. Click inside to find out the A's minor league free agents…

Wes Bankston: Bankston, who was claimed off of waivers from the Kansas City Royals last off-season, was on the A's 40-man roster until just before spring training, when he was designated for assignment. He spent most of the year with Sacramento, hitting .280 with 20 homers and 73 RBIs. Bankston made his major league debut in 2008, hitting .203 with three doubles and a homer in 17 games for Oakland. The former top Tampa Bay prospect is bound to garner a lot of interest from teams this off-season.

Danny Borrell: Borrell re-signed with the A's as a minor league free agent before the 2008 season after joining the organization in 2007. He struggled with injuries for much of 2008, tossing only 37.2 innings for Sacramento and Midland, posting a 4.78 ERA. He didn't appear in a game after mid-June.

Brooks Conrad: Conrad was one of the most valuable members of the Sacramento River Cats in 2008, hitting a team-high 28 homers and 91 RBIs. The infielder appeared in six games for the A's, hitting .158 with a double and two RBIs. It was a major league debut for Conrad after six-plus years in the minor leagues. He was a highly sought-after minor league free agent last off-season, and he figures to have multiple teams interested in his services again this winter.

Lenny DiNardo: After winning eight games for the A's in 2007, DiNardo signed a one-year, $900,000 contract before the 2008 season. He struggled early in the season, however, and was sent down to Triple-A. DiNardo wound-up having two stints with Oakland, posting a 7.43 ERA in 23 innings. He spent the rest of the year in Sacramento, where he went 6-5 with a 6.69 ERA in 71.1 innings. There were rumblings towards the end of the season that DiNardo may look for opportunities in Japan.

Todd Donovan: Injuries limited the veteran Donovan, who signed a minor league free agent deal with the A's before the 2008 season. He appeared in 79 games for Midland, batting .274 with 37 stolen bases. The 30-year-old eclipsed the 300 career stolen bases plateau during the season.

Chris Farley: Farley was a valuable contributor, pitching for all of the A's full-season affiliates during the season. He spent the majority of the season with Midland, where he had a 4.01 ERA in 60.2 innings. Overall, Farley had a 3.61 ERA in 87.1 innings with 83 strike-outs. The A's brass were pleased with Farley's work this season and may try to bring him back in the fold.

Jose Garcia: Garcia was claimed off of waivers from the Florida Marlins organization last off-season, but he was designated for assignment before the start of the regular season. He was coming off of Tommy John surgery and missed much of the season completing his rehab. He appeared in 11 games for the A's Rookie League team, Sacramento and Midland, and posted a 3.32 ERA with 20 strike-outs in 19 innings. Garcia is currently pitching for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League, where he has allowed two runs in 3.2 innings with four strike-outs. He was a top prospect with the Florida Marlins before injuring his elbow, so the A's may make a strong effort to retain him if they believe he is healthy.

Archie Gilbert: The A's signed the Bay Area native during the off-season and he spent the year with Stockton, where he was a regular presence at the top of the Ports' line-up and in left-field. The speedy Gilbert hit .278 with seven homers and 35 stolen bases in 119 games. He saved his best baseball for the playoffs, as he was named the Ports' post-season MVP. The A's have a lot of outfield prospects, but Gilbert's speed and good on-base skills could make him an attractive minor league free agent target for Oakland once again.

Chris Gissell: Gissell was a non-roster invitee to major league spring training and he impressed the A's brass before a sore arm ended his spring early. Once he was healthy, he was sent to Sacramento, where he was a valuable member of the River Cats' pitching staff for the rest of the season. Pitching in both the rotation and in the bullpen, Gissell went 7-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 81.1 innings. He was the winning pitcher in the River Cats' Bricktown Showdown Triple-A title game.

Jesus Guzman: Guzman signed with the A's after spending seven seasons in the Seattle organization. The infielder had been a top prospect with the Mariners a few years back before stalling at Double-A. He had a huge season for High-A High Desert in 2007, but the M's chose to let him go. Guzman was outstanding when healthy in 2008 for the A's, winning the Texas League batting title with a .364 average in 80 games with Midland. He also played 15 games with Sacramento, but injured his quadriceps before getting a chance to log significant playing time with the River Cats. Guzman is currently playing for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League and he is hitting .393 in eight games. Chances are that some team will offer the 24-year-old Guzman a major league contract this off-season and that team could be the A's.

Justin Knoedler: Knoedler signed with the A's after spending his first six professional seasons in the Giants' organization. He competed for a spot on the A's roster during the spring and even traveled with the A's to Japan as a non-roster player. Knoedler spent the entire regular season with Sacramento, splitting time behind the plate with Landon Powell. Knoedler struggled as a hitter (.175 average, although he hit 10 homeruns in 217 at-bats), but he was strong defensively. Knoedler will likely get a non-roster invitation to some team's big league spring training camp next year.

Brad Knox: Knox is one of the longest-tenured members of the A's organization, having been selected by Oakland in the 2002 draft. He has been a steady performer for the A's since that time, eating up innings and being a strong contributor to two Triple-A championship Sacramento teams. Knox has never been given an invite to major league spring training, so he'll likely be looking for a non-roster invitation to a big league camp, and he's likely to get it.

Shane Komine: Komine's 2008 season was all but lost thanks to a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder. The former A's righty appeared in only four games for Sacramento, allowing four runs in five innings. Komine has been a solid pitcher when he has been healthy, but he has battled arm problems since he was in college. He will probably have to prove that he is healthy before he is offered a contract.

Chris Michalak: The A's signed Michalak mid-season after he was let go by the Florida Marlins. Michalak was a 1993 12th round pick of the A's and he has major league experience in parts of six seasons. He made 10 relief appearances with Midland, posting a 4.82 ERA.

Jed Morris: Morris was an inspirational story in 2008. The catcher/infielder hit .274 with 10 homers in 62 games for Stockton and Midland after missing virtually all of the 2007 season while he was recovering from acute lymphocytic leukemia and a broken hamate bone. He had an 842 OPS this season and he hit .351 with two homers over his last 10 games of the season.

Donnie Murphy: Murphy began the year as the A's back-up middle infielder. However, an early season slump and an arm injury resulted in Murphy being dropped from the A's roster just after the All-Star break. He hit well for Sacramento during the remainder of the season, batting .270 with 11 homers in 36 games. Murphy rejoined Oakland for the final week of the season when Eric Patterson went down with a season-ending injury, but he was dropped from the A's roster after the season was over and declined his minor league assignment, electing free agency. Despite Murphy's major league struggles, he should be an in-demand minor league free agent this off-season given his minor league track record and defensive versatility.

Bret Prinz: The major league veteran joined the A's in June and spent the rest of the season with Sacramento, posting a 6.75 ERA in 29.1 innings and saving five games.

Casey Rogowski: Rogowski was named the River Cats' Most Valuable Player after hitting .277 with 14 homers, 16 stolen bases and an 802 OPS. He also played excellent defense at first base. Rogowski has yet to make his major league debut despite a distinguished minor league career; perhaps this is the off-season that he signs with a team that gives him that opportunity.

Kirk Saarloos: The veteran Saarloos returned to the A's in 2008 after spending the 2007 season with the Reds. Saarloos, who won 10 games as a starter with Oakland in 2005, spent most of the season with Sacramento, where he made 22 starts and had a 4.22 ERA and nine wins. He also had two stints with Oakland, going 1-0 with a 5.47 ERA in 26.1 innings. Saarloos will undoubtedly draw interest from an organization looking for a veteran arm at Triple-A who can be insurance for the major league pitching staff.

David Shafer: Shafer was actually acquired by the A's from Cincinnati for Saarloos before the 2007 season. He has spent the past two seasons splitting time between Midland and Sacramento. In 2008, Shafer pitched well for Midland, posting a 1.52 ERA in 29.2 innings. He struggled some with Sacramento, posting a 5.06 ERA in 26.2 innings. Shafer has a quality arm, but he has struggled with his command throughout his time in the Oakland chain. The A's have a lot of relief depth in the high minors, so Shafer will likely be with another organization in 2009.

Jesus Silva: Silva never really had a chance to show his stuff with the A's this season, as injuries limited him to only 12 games for Midland and Sacramento. He posted a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings. Silva is healthy now and currently pitching for the Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Ryan Wing: Wing was a top prospect with the Chicago White Sox before arm injuries stalled his progress. He signed with the A's this off-season and pitched well out of the Sacramento bullpen. In 47 innings, Wing had a 2.33 ERA with 47 strike-outs and a .218 BAA. He also made the PCL mid-season all-star team. He should be a sought-after minor league free agent this off-season.

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