A's Add Four To 40-Man Roster

Friday was the deadline for teams to set their rosters for the upcoming Rule 5 draft and the Oakland A's chose to add four players, protecting them from the possibility that they could be taken in the annual draft, which takes place during baseball's Winter Meetings.

On Friday, the Oakland A's added four players to their 40-man roster. Chris Carter, Fautino De Los Santos, Pedro Figueroa and Justin Souza will now be protected from the Rule 5 draft, which will take place in early December during baseball's annual winter meetings.

The additions of Carter, De Los Santos and Figueroa were expected, as those three are among the A's top prospects. Souza's inclusion was a bit of a surprise, and it is a testament to how well Souza pitched at the A's recent Instructional League camp. Souza was one of the oldest players at Instructs, but A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson raved about Souza's stuff, calling him a "poor man's [Andrew] Bailey."

Souza was acquired by the A's during the 2009 season from the Seattle Mariners for Jack Hannahan. The Stockton native had a 3.35 ERA in 78 innings for Double-A West Tennessee before the trade, but he struggled in five starts with Double-A Midland after the deal, posting a 10.35 ERA. The A's are still deciding whether Souza's future lies in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

The 24-year-old was selected by Seattle in the ninth round out of Sacramento Community College in 2006. He is a hard thrower, with a fastball that sits in the 91-95 MPH range. Souza also features a hard slider and a curveball and Patterson mentioned that Souza may add a cutter before the start of next season. Souza was named the top pitcher at the A's US Instructional League camp in late October.

Carter is one of the A's top prospects and he could be contributing to Oakland's major league team as early as this season. The first-baseman/outfielder had a monster 2009 campaign, earning the Texas League's MVP award and batting .329/.422/.570 with 28 homers and 115 RBIs in 138 games between Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Since joining the A's organization in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks before the 2008 season, Carter has hit 67 homeruns and has been an instrumental part of two league championship teams (the 2008 Stockton Ports and the 2009 Midland Rockhounds).

De Los Santos was also acquired by the A's via a trade before the 2008 season. The hard-throwing right-hander has been sidelined for much of the past two seasons. He had Tommy John surgery in May 2008 and has had a long recovery from that surgery, although De Los Santos is currently throwing at the A's Dominican Instructional League camp and the team expects him to be healthy for the start of the 2010 season. When healthy, he has one of the best arms in the A's system. He was a starter before the injury, but De Los Santos could be moved into a relief role if the A's want him to move through their system quickly.

Figueroa is arguably the hardest throwing left-hander in the A's system. The native of the Dominican Republic has been clocked in the mid-90s. He had a strong season for the A's two full-season A-ball affiliates, going 13-6 with a 3.38 ERA and 145 strike-outs in 152 innings. Figueroa will turn 24 on Monday. He was originally signed by the A's as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2003.

With the four additions, the A's have 39 players on their 40-man roster, meaning that they will have one open slot available to them to take a player in the Rule 5 draft, if they so choose. The A's have been active participants in the Rule 5 in recent years.

The Oakland brass will have to hold its collective breath during the draft that they don't lose any prospects in the draft. The A's have left some high-profile names available in the draft, including reliever Jared Lansford, starter Graham Godfrey (a Texas League All-Star this season), utilityman Corey Wimberly and catcher Anthony Recker.

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