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 2009 season. Adjustments for 2009 performance will be made to the rankings during the off-season. All stats as of June 26, 2009.

50. Scott Hodsdon

After posting a 2.93 ERA in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League in 2008, Hodsdon has unsurprisingly seen a jump in his ERA in the hitter-friendly California League in 2009. The right-hander has been with the High-A Stockton Ports all season and in 71.2 innings, he has a 5.78 ERA. The biggest reasons for the jump in ERA for Hodsdon have been his increased walk rate (which has gone from 1.7 walks per nine innings in 2008 to 2.5 walks in 2009) and an increased homer rate (0.5 in 2008 and 1.3 in 2009). His strike-out rate has remained exactly the same (6.5) and his hit rate is only slightly higher (10.1 in 2008 and 11.3 in 2009).

There is reason for optimism that Hodsdon will be posting numbers closer to the 2008 ones than the first-half of 2009 ones for the rest of the season, however. In the month of June, Hodsdon had a 4.09 ERA in 22 innings and he walked only two and allowed only two homeruns during that stretch. Over his last two outings, he has 10 strike-outs and one walk with one run allowed in 10.2 innings. Hodsdon has the stuff to succeed even in the hitter-friendly Cal League, but he needs more consistency with the placement of his pitches. A better infield defense behind him wouldn't hurt either.

Status: Looking for second-half bump

49. Tom Everidge

At the end of the 2008 season, it finally appeared that Everidge was going to get the break he had been waiting for with a chance to play at the Triple-A level. After all, he was coming off of a season in which he led the Texas League in RBIs with 115 and he had hit 22 homeruns. That opportunity disappeared, however, when the A's signed Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Giambi, which pushed fellow first-baseman Daric Barton back to the Triple-A level and, consequently, left Everidge back in Midland. Always the good organizational solider, Everidge didn't pout about his situation and he hit .306 with eight homers, 53 RBIs and an 869 OPS in 55 games for the Rockhounds before finally getting that opportunity at Triple-A. After a slow start, Everidge has taken full advantage of his playing time with Sacramento. The North Bay native has been one of the River Cats' best hitters over the past two weeks and is batting .321 with three homers, nine RBIs, seven walks and a 933 OPS in 15 games.

It has taken Everidge, a 2004 10th round pick by Oakland, a long time to get to this level and because of his age, many have written off the burly infielder's chances of a major league career. However, Everidge has consistently shown that he can handle upper-level pitching for the past two seasons and baseball is littered with stories of guys in their late-20s or early-30s finally reaching the big leagues and developing careers as role players. Everidge will never win a Gold Glove, but he has improved his defense at first and has seen significant time at third over the past two seasons. If he can convince the A's (or any other major league club, for that matter) that his glove is not a major hindrance, then Everidge should present an attractive option for a club looking for a right-handed power bat to start against left-handed pitchers and to hit with runners on-base late in games (sound like any club you follow?). If he continues to tear through the Pacific Coast League, that opportunity might come sooner rather than later.

Status: On the verge

48. Jeff Gray

Gray is another member of the A's 2004 draft class who is looking for that big opportunity. The right-handed reliever has been given a few looks at the major league level over the past two seasons, but he has never had the chance to establish himself as a regular member of the A's bullpen. Gray was added to the A's 40-man roster before the start of the 2008 season and he struggled for much of the season with his control. Despite posting a 4.39 ERA for Sacramento, Gray was given a September call-up by Oakland, and he made five appearance for the A's down-the-stretch, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings. This season, Gray has been one of Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco's go-to guys late in games. In 27.2 innings, Gray has a 2.28 ERA and nine saves. He has improved his control dramatically this season, walking only five and allowing only two homeruns. Gray has also been pitching more to contact, which has worked for him. He has struck-out only 12, but has allowed only 20 hits. He has had two brief stints with Oakland, retiring the only batters he faced in two one-third of an inning appearances.

Gray has nasty stuff and with his improved command, he should be an asset in a major league bullpen. The A's bullpen has been a strength for the team for much of the year, but recently the heavy workload has appeared to affect some of the bullpen's key members. Gray figures to be one of the first guys the A's turn to if one of their right-handed relievers goes down with an injury or is traded at the deadline.

Status: Waiting for an opening

47. Justin Sellers

The irrepressible Sellers was traded by Oakland to the Chicago Cubs as part of the Michael Wuertz trade just before the start of spring training. Sellers was then dealt again at the end of camp, this time to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has settled in with the Dodgers' organization since then and has spent the year with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. In 2008, Sellers hit only .255 with a 700 OPS in 123 games for Oakland's Double-A affiliate, the Midland Rockhounds. However, he has seen a big improvement with his offensive game in his second year at the Double-A level. In 64 games with the Lookouts, the 23-year-old is batting .290 with a .381 OBP and a 744 OPS. He hasn't homered yet, which actually is a good sign for Sellers, who often found himself over-swinging in an attempt to hit for power while in the A's chain.

Sellers was drafted out of high school by Oakland in 2005, so he is only 23 despite having been in pro ball for four-plus seasons. His glove has always been the strongest part of his game and he has above-average range both at second and at short. He is a pesky hitter who sees a lot of pitches. Although he'll never hit for enough power to be an everyday major league shortstop, more than likely, Sellers could be an asset for the a big league club off of the bench, especially if his OPS improvement this season is for real.

Status: Establishing himself with a new organization

46. Gregorio Petit

Like Gray, Petit has been given small tastes of the big leagues over the past two years, but has never really been given an opportunity to establish himself at the big league level. In 2008, Petit appeared in 14 games with the A's mid-season and hit .348, but that wasn't enough for him to earn a September call-up with the club. This season, Petit has been recalled twice when the A's have had injuries, but he hasn't done much at the plate, batting only .226 in 31 at-bats with Oakland. In Sacramento, Petit has been very up-and-down. He hit only .239 in April, but in May, he batted .293, only to fall back to a .186 average in June.

Defensively, Petit provides a lot of versatility, as he can handle the second, third and shortstop positions. He doesn't run all that well, however, so he isn't a speed option off of the bench. For Petit to establish himself as a fifth infielder in the big leagues, he will need to show more with the bat than he has over the past two seasons. Oakland has a number of middle infielders making their way up the system, so Petit will need a strong finish to remain on the A's 40-man roster all season.

Status: Needs a big second half

45. Brad Kilby

For much of his career, Kilby has flown under the radar, but his time in the spotlight might be fast approaching. The left-handed reliever has rarely appeared on prospect lists for Oakland despite posting a 2.59 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 during his four-plus year minor league career. Kilby's worst season as a pro came in 2008, when he posted a 3.47 ERA for Triple-A Sacramento and saw his K rate fall below 9.5 for the first time in his career. However, he has rebounded in a big way in 2009. After starting the year on the disabled list, Kilby has been the River Cats' best reliever. In 29 innings, he has allowed only 10 hits and nine walks while striking out 33. The only blemish on his stat-line this season has been in the homer column (he has given up five, which means that a remarkable 50% of the hits that he has allowed have left the park).

Kilby doesn't throw particularly hard (he tops out in the 89-91 MPH range), but he has a deceptive delivery and consistently induces awkward swings from batters at both sides of the plate. He historically has been similarly effective against right-handed batters as he is against lefties, meaning that he can be more than a left-handed specialists in a major league bullpen. Oakland hasn't shown Kilby a lot of love over the years. They left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and didn't give him a non-roster invite to spring training this past year. However, his numbers are hard to ignore and Oakland has been with only one left-handed reliever in its bullpen for much of the season, something that has clearly made life more difficult for A's manager Bob Geren. Kilby needs to look only to another Brad – A's reliever Brad Ziegler – as an example of a pitcher who forced his way onto a big league squad with his numbers alone. If Kilby gets an opportunity, he'll need to get off to a fast start like Ziegler did to remain in the bigs (although a scoreless streak like Ziegler's certainly isn't necessary). If that happens, he could have a nice career in the big leagues.

Status: Waiting for the call

44. Cliff Pennington

With Mark Ellis, Eric Chavez and Nomar Garciaparra all spending significant time on the disabled list this season, the A's infield was a revolving carousel of players early in the year. Gregorio Petit, Eric Patterson and Jack Hannahan were all promoted from Triple-A Sacramento to fill-in for the injured parties. Petit and Patterson failed to capitalize on their brief opportunities, while Hannahan has clung to his spot at third base with his glove work alone. Oakland's second base position has been solidified with the acquisition of Adam Kennedy, and Ellis is nearing a return to the big leagues. Throughout all of this, Pennington has never been called upon to fill a spot in Oakland despite a strong 2008 campaign that saw him post a .404 OBP in the minor leagues and play well in September for Oakland.

Pennington has posted decent, if not spectacular, numbers for Sacramento this season. He is hitting .264 with an even 1:1 K:BB ratio and 23 stolen bases in 25 opportunities. The power numbers haven't been there for Pennington, however, as he has only 15 extra-base hits in 231 at-bats. Seven of those extra-base hits have come in June, however. In some ways, Pennington is a similar player to Petit, but he does offer a few additional skills that Petit doesn't. For instance, Pennington is a switch-hitter and he has an excellent understanding of the strike-zone. He also is an above-average base-runner, having stolen 58 bases in 67 opportunities over the past two seasons. To get any consideration as a major league starter, however, Pennington will need to show that he can drive the ball more than he has the past two seasons. Despite his lack of a call-up early in the year, Pennington figures to get a shot in Oakland at some point during the second half. With the A's shortstop, third base and back-up infield situations in flux, he could earn himself a big league job in 2010 with a strong showing in Oakland in 2009.

43. Robin Rosario

With the exception of Michael Ynoa, Rosario is the highest profile (and highest paid) international amateur free agent signing made by Oakland over the past couple of years. The Dominican outfielder debuted with the A's DSL2 team in 2008 and was one of the team's top hitters, batting .281 with a 762 OPS as an 17-year-old. Rosario has traveled to the US for the 2009 season. He spent the first half of the year working out in the A's extended spring training camp and on Thursday made his US professional debut, going 1-4 with an RBI and two strike-outs in a game for the Rookie League A's.

Rosario has a collection of raw tools and it could take him awhile to develop his baseball skills fully. Time is on Rosario's side, however, as he won't turn 19 until November. His skill-set has been compared to former top A's prospect Javier Herrera's, both having well above-average throwing arms, powerful swings and good speed. Let's hope that Rosario enjoys better health than Herrera did.

Status: Getting his feet wet

42. Landon Powell

When Powell was forced to miss the last few weeks of the 2008 season after undergoing his third knee procedure since 2005, it appeared that his window to be in the major leagues might be closing. The A's top pick in 2004 has had to suffer through two devastating ACL injuries and the 2008 clean-up procedure over the past four years. When he has been on the field, Powell has been the player the A's were hoping they selected in 2004 – a top-notch defensive catcher with a good eye and above-average power. Staying on the field has been Powell's biggest hurdle, however.

Powell had to overcome another health scare during the months leading up to 2009 spring training, but despite all of those obstacles, he reported to A's camp in good shape and impressed the Oakland brass enough that they cut the team's incumbent back-up catcher (Rob Bowen) during spring training, handing the job to Powell. Back-up catchers historically don't play much in Oakland, and that has been the case for Powell, as well. He has appeared in only 18 games with Oakland and has only 55 at-bats on the season. Predictably, it has been difficult for Powell to remain in a rhythm at the plate, and he is batting only .182. However, he has driven-in 13 runs and has six extra-base hits, including two homeruns. He has also worked well with the A's young pitching staff and, as long as he remains healthy, should continue to tandem with Suzuki in Oakland for the foreseeable future.

Status: Big leaguer

41. Travis Banwart

Banwart had a strange 2008 season. The right-hander threw 100.1 innings for Low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton, posting a 3.59 ERA and striking out 95 in his first full professional season. However, he pitched only sporadically for much of the second-half of the season as he worked his way through right-arm soreness. Banwart has been healthy this season and he has spent the entire year with the Double-A Midland Rockhounds, where he is 5-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 75.1 innings.

Banwart got off to a terrific start to the season before running into struggles in late May and June. He was near the top of the Texas League in ERA before allowing seven runs in 4.2 innings on May 30th. He followed that up by allowing eight runs in three innings in his next start. After a strong six-inning performance on June 13th, Banwart struggled again on June 18th, allowing seven runs in 4.2 innings. He ended the first half on a strong note, however, working six shut-out innings in a must-win game for Midland. Banwart has improved his command greatly from his time with High-A Stockton last season, when he walked nearly five batters per nine innings. In 2009, he is walking only 2.5 batters a game. He has also cut his homer rate in half from his time in Stockton, but his hit rate has risen and his K-rate has fallen by nearly 50 %. Banwart has strike-out stuff, as well as a good sinker, so one would expect both his K-rate and his hit rate to be better and they are likely to improve during the second half of the season.

Status: Looking to recapture early-season form

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