Mid-Season Review: A's Prospects 31-40

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 second in our series, we take a look at the progress of prospects 40-31 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 29, 2009.

40. Anthony Capra

Capra, the A's 2008 fourth-round pick, arrived in professional baseball with the reputation for being a polished collegiate pitcher. The southpaw from Wichita State was sent immediately to Low-A Kane County after signing and he had an up-and-down debut season, going 4-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 49 innings with the Cougars. He walked 22 and struck-out 39 for Kane County. Capra returned to Kane County for the 2009 campaign, and he has improved on his numbers this time around, although consistency has still been an issue for Capra. In 14 starts, he is 2-5 with a 3.87 ERA. He has allowed only 60 hits in 74.1 innings, but he has walked 35 and has allowed seven homers. Capra does have 71 strike-outs, however.

Capra's control has been his biggest weakness ever since he moved into the starting rotation during his junior year at Wichita State. As a freshman and a sophomore reliever with the Shockers, Capra walked 2.5 and 2.8 batters per nine innings, respectively. However, that number jumped to 3.9 per nine innings as a junior starter with Wichita State and it has been at 4.0 or higher since turning pro. Capra has maintained a solid strike-out rate as a starter, and he has done a good job of minimizing hits against, but he will need to cut down on the free passes if he is going to reach his potential at the higher levels. He may eventually be returned to the bullpen, but it seems likely that the A's will give him the rest of this year and much of next year to improve his command as a starter before they consider that option.

Status: Looking for control

39. Scott Mitchinson

It has been another year wrought with frustration for Mitchinson, who has had to battle a myriad of arm injuries since turning pro in 2003. The right-hander missed six weeks of the first half of this season with arm problems after being limited to 88.1 innings thanks to injuries in 2008. In seven appearances (six starts) with the Stockton Ports this season, the 24-year-old Australian has an 0-2 record and a 4.82 ERA. The ERA is misleading, however, as Mitchinson has maintained an impressive 29:9 K:BB ratio in 28 innings and has allowed only three homeruns. He has given up 31 hits, but some of that should be attributed to what has been a porous Stockton defense this season.

As a six-year minor league veteran, Mitchinson is running out of time to make his mark in professional baseball. When the right-hander has been healthy, he has always been impressive. In his career (which began in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization), Mitchinson has compiled a 3.32 ERA and has struck-out 380 while walking only 80 in 382.1 innings. However, because of injuries, he has never pitched above the High-A ball level. He will be eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the season. How much interest he receives on the open market will have a lot to do with how much he is able to pitch the second half of this season. If he puts in a good showing and remains healthy, he could be one of the most sought-after minor league free agents on the market given his talents.

Status: Still finding health elusive

38. Jeff Baisley

Baisley had a break-through season in 2008. After struggling through a knee injury in 2007, Baisley shook off an early-season foot injury to hit .298 with an 852 OPS in 81 games for the Sacramento River Cats in his first taste of the Triple-A level. The 2006 Midwest League MVP was a September call-up for Oakland at the end of the season and he batted .256 with five RBIs and a 598 OPS in 14 games with the A's.

Baisley's 2009 season got off to a poor start when he was designated for assignment by Oakland just before the start of the regular season. The third-baseman cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Sacramento. Thus far, Baisley has had a difficult time recreating his 2008 campaign with the River Cats. In 56 games, Baisley has hit only .217 with a 597 OPS and two homers in 198 at-bats. He hasn't played since June 17th and with the recent demotion of third-baseman Jack Hannahan to Sacramento and the emergence of first-baseman/third-baseman Tom Everidge, playing time might be hard for Baisley to find during the second half of the season. With top prospect Adrian Cardenas seeing time at third at Double-A Midland this season, Baisley may need a big second half to avoid being passed over on the depth chart for 2010.

Status: Looking for a big second half

37. Anthony Recker

Like Baisley, Recker had a disappointing beginning to his 2009 season. After being a non-roster invitee to major league spring training in 2008, Recker was left off of the list in 2009. He also saw his name slip down the A's depth chart for catchers when the team acquired Joel Galarraga from the Mexican League and signed major league veterans Curtis Thigpen and Eric Munson towards the tail-end of spring training. Recker managed to start the season with Sacramento despite these signings, however, as Galarraga was sidelined at the start of the year with visa issues, Thigpen landed on the DL and Munson started the season at extended spring training. Recker hit only .156 in 14 games with the River Cats in April, however, so when Galarraga's visa issues cleared and Munson was deemed ready for game-action, Recker was sent back to Double-A Midland. Recker hit well with the Rockhounds, batting .298 with a 911 OPS in 16 games. An injury to Galarraga gave Recker another chance at Sacramento, and he has hit better in his second go-around, although he is still only batting .211 with six homers in 152 at-bats for the River Cats.

Recker's primary strength throughout his career has been his offensive production, so he will need to improve his numbers with the River Cats dramatically to get any serious consideration for a major league spot this year. A's back-up catcher Landon Powell has a long injury history, but, at the moment, it seems that Munson would be ahead of Recker on the depth chart should something happen to Powell or A's starter Kurt Suzuki. A big second half could change that for Recker. He also needs a good second half to position himself as one of Sacramento's catchers going into the 2010 season. Josh Donaldson, the Midland Rockhounds' catcher, is one of the A's top prospects, and Galarraga should be under Oakland's control again next season, so Recker will need to post some impressive numbers to hold them off.

Status: Looking for a rebound

36. Daniel Thomas

Thomas, the A's 13th round pick in 2008, had a number of members of the A's front office (as well as a few scouts) buzzing at the start of the season thanks to a dominating performance at the A's Instructional League camp in the fall of 2008 and a strong showing in spring training. The lanky right-hander boasted a high-90s fastball, a 12-6 curveball and a plus-changeup. He also came with a significant injury history. He had Tommy John surgery in high school and another elbow injury in college that cost him much of his 2007 season. Unfortunately, Thomas added to that injury history early on in the 2009 season, tearing his right labrum. He hasn't pitched since April 21st and isn't likely to return this season.

A labrum tear is one of the most difficult injuries for a pitcher to overcome and given Thomas' already extensive arm woes, he is definitely facing an uphill battle to return to the form that made him the most dominating pitcher in Arizona last fall. As a reliever, Thomas will be able to move quickly through the A's system if he is healthy, but that is a big if. His future is cloudy right now.

Status: Injured

35. Jermaine Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the A's top prospects heading into the 2008 season after posting an 803 OPS and swiping 24 bases for the Low-A Kane County Cougars in 2007 and putting together a .362 average and a 967 OPS with short-season Vancouver in 2006. Things didn't go according to plan for Mitchell in 2008, however. Despite playing in a hitters' league for the first time in his career, Mitchell posted career-worst numbers with the Stockton Ports in 2008, batting only .244 with a 715 OPS. He did hit a career-high 10 homeruns and he stole 23 bases while walking 54 times, but the end results were underwhelming, especially when one considers that, at times, Mitchell looked like the best player on the field, even as part of a talent-laden Ports' team that won the Cal League title.

Thanks to the lackluster 2008 numbers, Mitchell had to repeat with Stockton in 2009. He put in a lot of extra work during the off-season to try to improve on his 2008 offensive totals, but that work has yet to pay off in 2009. The speedy outfielder is batting only .255 with a 696 OPS. His power numbers are down (two homers in 259 at-bats) and he has had trouble on the base-paths (eight stolen bases in 14 attempts). The only positive has been his on-base percentage, which is a solid .364 thanks to 45 walks in 77 games. Mitchell is a better player than his numbers have reflected in Stockton, but he will need to figure out the Cal League if he has a chance to move beyond the High-A level. The A's have a number of talented outfielders in their system, so Mitchell will need to show a spark quickly to move up.

Status: Looking for a surge

34. Jason Fernandez

Since being selected in the 11th round of the 2006 draft by Oakland, Fernandez has been one of those fly-under-the-radar types despite posting solid numbers at practically every level he had pitched. In 2006, Fernandez had a 3.24 ERA for Vancouver. He improved on that in 2007, posting a 2.77 ERA for the Kane County Cougars. In 2008, Fernandez spent the bulk of the season with High-A Stockton, where he was an impressive 9-5 with a 3.36 ERA in the hitter-friendly California League. He struggled some in a late-season stint with Double-A Midland (4.91 ERA), but all-in-all, Fernandez had an impressive campaign in 2008.

Fernandez began the 2009 season back with Midland and he has been near the top of the Rockhounds' rotation all season. His overall numbers for Midland have been mediocre, as he is 6-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 15 starts. However, that ERA is inflated by a few bad starts. Fernandez has gone at least five innings in all but three of his 15 starts this season, and he has one eight-inning outing and a complete game to his credit. In 10 of his 15 starts, he has allowed three runs or less. At home, he has struggled to the tune of a 6.04 ERA. On the road, however, he has a 2.12 ERA. Left-handed hitters have been Fernandez's biggest bugaboo this season, as he is allowing southpaws to hit .350 off of him. The jump to Double-A is the most difficult one a pitcher can make in the minor leagues. If Fernandez shows improvement during the second half of the season, he should put himself in a good position to make the jump to Triple-A in 2010.

Status: Looking for a strong finish

33. Andrew Bailey

Bailey's rise through the A's system has been one of the most impressive in recent memory. At this point last season, Bailey was looking at a 1-8 record and a 6.18 ERA after 15 starts with the Double-A Midland Rockhounds. One year later, and he is a legitimate candidate for the American League's Rookie of the Year award as the A's closer. The keys to Bailey's ascension have been his conversion from starting pitching to relief and his new-found mastery of his cut-fastball. Bailey made the switch to relief after the All-Star break last season and he posted a 0.92 ERA and a 41:11 K:BB ratio in 22 relief appearances down-the-stretch. He continued that impressive performance in the Arizona Fall League, where he had a 1.29 ERA and a 16:1 K:BB ratio in 14 innings. That earned him a non-roster invitation to the A's 2009 big league spring training.

Bailey came into spring training with presumably little chance of making the A's Opening Day roster. However, he dominated the Cactus League all spring and when camp broke, he was in the A's bullpen. He began the season as a middle reliever for Oakland, but quickly became a late-inning reliever and eventually moved into the A's closer role. In 35 appearances, Bailey has a 4-1 record with eight saves, a 2.14 ERA and 54 strike-outs in 46.1 innings. He has walked 18, but he has allowed only 29 hits (for a 1.01 WHIP). His 54 strike-outs are the most for any American League rookie reliever. Bailey may not get enough save chances with a below .500 Oakland team this season to be a front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year award, but, if he keeps up his domination into the second half, he should get some votes.

Status: A's closer

32. Matt Spencer

Spencer came over to the A's mid-season last year as the least-heralded prospect of the three that Oakland got from Philadelphia for right-hander Joe Blanton (Adrian Cardenas and Josh Outman were the other two prospects). At the time of the trade, Spencer was batting only .251 with a 686 OPS in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He took an immediate liking to the hitter-friendly California League, as he batted .333 with a 935 OPS in 41 post-trade games with Stockton and was a big part of the Ports' push for a title. Surprisingly, the first-baseman/outfielder began the 2009 campaign back at Stockton, but he quickly proved that he was ready for a promotion to Double-A. In 30 games for the Ports, he hit .274 with 10 homeruns and a 911 OPS. The 10 homeruns are still the most of any Ports player this season (although Jemile Weeks is closing fast). Spencer was promoted to Midland in May and he got off to a slow start with the Rockhounds, batting only .222 with a 567 OPS and no homeruns in his first 11 games. He has improved in June, batting .281 with three homeruns and a 791 OPS in 23 games.

At 6'4'', 225, Spencer doesn't look much like an athlete, but he moves surprisingly well for a big man. He has shown that he can handle both the corner outfield spots and first-base defensively. Offensively, he has shown he can hit for average and for power, but he still needs to work on his plate discipline, which has been lacking since joining the A's organization. Given the organization's hitting philosophy, Spencer will need to improve his control of the strike-zone to continue to move up. Nonetheless, he is one of the A's better power prospects. Before a recent slump, Spencer's OPS for June was near 900 for most of the month. He will look to continue to improve as the season progresses.

Status: Getting settled at Double-A

31. Jared Lansford

Like Bailey, Lansford made a successful transition from starting pitcher to reliever in 2008. The right-hander had an 8.64 ERA in two starts before he was moved into the Stockton bullpen last April. He improved dramatically in that role, posting a 3.76 ERA and striking out 67 in 55 innings as a reliever for the Ports. Lansford was even better with Midland later in the season, posting an 0.70 ERA and saving six games in 25.2 innings for the Rockhounds. He was unable to duplicate that success in the Arizona Fall League, however, as he posted a 7.36 ERA in 11 innings.

Lansford was a non-roster invitee to the A's spring training, but he struggled in his first big league camp. He allowed 11 base-runners in only six innings. That performance continued into the regular season, which he began with Triple-A Sacramento. In 11 innings with the River Cats, Lansford allowed 11 earned runs and walked 12 while striking out only one. He was sent to Arizona to work with A's rehab coordinator and 2008 Stockton Ports pitching coach Garvin Alston on his pitching mechanics. After working with Alston for a few weeks, Lansford was assigned to Midland. He has improved his ERA with the Rockhounds (3.50), but he is still allowing base-runners at an alarming rate. In 18 innings, he has allowed 22 hits and 12 walks while striking out only eight. His groundball tendencies have allowed him to pitch out of a number of jams with Midland, but it has been a tight-rope walk for the 22-year-old for much of the season. The A's insist that Lansford is healthy, although he did have some soreness in his right trapezoid muscle early in the season. That is the same muscle that caused him to miss virtually the entire 2007 season. Lansford has the stuff to be a solid late-inning reliever (his sinker is a plus pitch), but he needs to reclaim his command. The A's are still high on Lansford, but he'll need a strong second half to remain a viable candidate on a deep Oakland relief depth chart.

Status: Looking to recapture 2008 form

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