2009 A's In Review: Crystal Ball Predictions

Before the season, we made five predictions about what would happen within the Oakland A's system during the 2009 campaign. Now that the 2009 minor league season is in the books, we take a look back at those predictions to see how we fared.

Just before the start of the 2009 season, we made five predictions about what would happen during the year in the Oakland A's system. Here is the original article: http://athletics.scout.com/2/854522.html. Below, we analyze our predictive skills.

Prediction: Midland will make the playoffs
Result: Spot on

Although the Midland Rockhounds finished the 2009 regular season with the best overall record in the Texas League, they didn't have a playoff spot secured until the season's final weekend. The San Antonio Missions edged them out for the first-half title and Midland had to hold-off the Frisco Roughriders to take home the second-half title. Once the playoff spot was secure, Midland breezed through the Texas League playoffs to take home its first league crown since 2005.

There were a number of key contributors to the Rockhounds' title who also earned rings in 2008 with the California League champion Stockton Ports. Manager Darren Bush skippered both squads, while Texas League MVP Chris Carter joined Corey Brown, Josh Donaldson, Archie Gilbert, Josh Horton, Raul Padron, Matt Spencer, Mike Affronti, Alexander Valdez, Travis Banwart, Michael Benacka, Sam Demel, Jason Fernandez, Graham Godfrey, Carlos Hernandez, Jared Lansford, Arnold Leon and Tyson Ross as players who contributed to the title runs for both teams.

Prediction: Three A's prospects will pass the 30-homer mark in 2009
Result: Close, but no cigar

Bolstered by the 30-homer performances of Chris Carter and Corey Brown in 2008, we predicted that the system would do one better in 2009 and produce three 30-homer men. It wasn't quite to be. Grant Desme would be the only A's farmhand to surpass the 30-homer total during the regular season. Carter would finish the regular season with 28, but he did pass the 30-homer threshold during the playoffs when he hit four more homers. Matt Carson was the next closest, hitting 25 during the regular season and two more during the playoffs. Tom Everidge and Brett Wallace were the only other A's minor leaguer to collect at least 20 homers during the regular season (Matt Spencer would pass the 20-homer mark during the post-season).

Prediction: A's farmhands will steal more bases in 2009
Result: Runnin' A's

Over the past few years, the A's have quietly transformed themselves from an organization that practices "station-to-station" baseball to one that challenges the opposition on the base-paths. That change in philosophy has been evident at the major league level this season, as the A's have swiped 125 bases already after stealing only 88 bases in 2008. That trend has been even more evident in the minor leagues. In 2008, the A's minor league squads stole 559 bases. In 2009, that total jumped to 721.

There were a number of contributors to this high total. Eric Patterson (43) and Grant Desme (41) both eclipsed the 40 stolen base total. Archie Gilbert stole 29 bases, while Jason Christian swiped 28 despite missing the last six weeks of the season and Cliff Pennington had 27 stolen bases despite being called up to Oakland on August 1st. As a team, the Midland Rockhounds led all A's affiliates with 133 stolen bases. All four of the A's full-season minor league affiliates had at least 100 stolen bases, while Vancouver managed 80 in only 76 games.

Prediction: A California native will win at least 10 games for A's affiliates in 2009
Result: Slam dunk

The A's have always kept a close eye on amateur athletes in their own backyard, and their California connection has yielded some positive results over the years. The A's have a number of California natives among their top prospects, especially among their pitching ranks. It was probably an easy guess that a native of California would pass the 10-win threshold. In fact, the A's had two California natives win at least 10 games in their minor league system during the regular season. Carlos Hernandez (15) and Tyson Ross (10) are not only both California natives, they are also Bay Area natives, with Hernandez hailing from Santa Clara and Ross hailing from Oakland.

The A's had six pitchers reach double-digits in wins in their minor league system in 2009: Hernandez, Pedro Figueroa (13), Steve Sharpe (12), Graham Godfrey (11), Ross and Travis Banwart (10). In 2008, the A's had five. Four of those pitchers were in the major leagues this season (Vince Mazzaro, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dan Meyer).

Prediction: At least eight players will make their major league debuts with the A's in 2009
Result: We are batting .800!

Although the A's added a number of veterans to their roster during the off-season, Oakland still couldn't avoid being a young team in 2009. Injuries and outstanding spring performances led to four players being on the A's Opening Day roster who had no previous major league experience (Brett Anderson, Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill and Landon Powell). Those four made their major league debuts in early April and were soon joined by Vince Mazzaro, who debuted in the big leagues in June, and Tom Everidge, who debuted in July. This September, two more players made their major league debuts with Oakland – Brad Kilby and Matt Carson. Reliever Henry Rodriguez was added to the A's roster this weekend, and his first appearance with Oakland this month will be his major league debut. Rule 5 pick Ben Copeland was on the A's roster briefly, but he didn't get a game appearance before being sent back to his original team, the San Francisco Giants.

The A's have received tremendous contributions from rookies this season. Anderson leads the A's pitching staff with 10 wins, while Bailey leads the team in saves with 25 and was the A's All-Star representative. Cahill has the most starts of any A's pitcher (30) and he has nine wins, while Powell has seven homers and 29 RBIs in only 127 at-bats.

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