Oakland A's MLN: Early Impressions

Several Oakland A's top prospects and non-roster invitees have made strong first impressions in big league camp. We have news and notes about A's spring training.

Choice, Others Excelling In Big League Camp

Despite missing the final two months of the regular season and all of winter ball, Michael Choice hasn't missed a beat this spring. The Oakland A's 2010 top pick was red-hot when his 2012 season with Double-A Midland was ended abruptly by an errant pitch that resulted in a broken hand. There were concerns that Choice would struggle early this season to regain his timing, but he has put those worries to rest early with a hot start to his stint in big league camp.

With Coco Crisp and Chris Young nursing minor injuries, Choice has seen plenty of playing time in the early going. In five games, he has 14 at-bat, second-most on the team to fellow outfielder Shane Peterson. Choice has a team-high seven hits, and four of those hits have gone for extra-bases (one homer, one triple and two doubles). Choice also has five RBIs and he has struck-out just two times. Choice is expected to start the season with Triple-A Sacramento.

Peterson, in his first big league camp, is also off to a good start. In 15 at-bats, Peterson has six hits, with five of those going for extra-bases (four doubles and a homer). Peterson has seen time in the corner outfield, as well as centerfield and he has worked out at first base.

Jefry Marte, Darwin Perez and David Freitas are participating in their first spring trainings as members of the A's organization and both are making solid first impressions on the A's big league coaching staff. Perez has shown his versatility by playing in the infield and outfield and he has three hits - including a double - in eight at-bats. Marte has three hits in six at-bats, while Freitas is three-for-three with two runs scored.

A's 2012 first-round pick Addison Russell is making the most of his time in big league camp. He has three hits in six at-bats, and one of those hits was a double. Russell has also stolen a base and has walked once. Despite playing well, Russell is likely to be sent down to minor league camp in early March so he can get regular at-bats as he prepares for his first full professional season.

Position Battle Update

It's early, but Jemile Weeks is making a strong case to be the A's starting second baseman come Opening Day. The switch-hitter has five hits in eight at-bats, and three of those hits have been of the extra-base variety. Weeks has four RBIs, three runs scored and one walk in three games.

Scott Sizemore is off to a bit of a slow start with one hit in seven at-bats.

Andy Parrino has shown his versatility early in camp, playing all over the infield and in left-field. He is battling with Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard, Scott Moore and Grant Green for a possible utility role on the Opening Day roster.

The A's have yet to debut many of their pitchers, but Chris Resop and Hideki Okajima (two scoreless innings each) have had solid starts to their springs as they try to win spots in the A's bullpen. Pat Neshek also has two scoreless innings under his belt, while Jesse Chavez has allowed one hit in four innings (with two walks and three strike-outs).

Jordan Norberto, who missed the last two months of last season with a shoulder injury, is off to a slow start. The lefty has allowed five hits and four runs in 1.2 innings over his first two outings. Newly acquired right-hander Fernando Rodriguez has also struggled in two outings, allowing four hits and three runs in 1.2 innings.

A's MiLB Mini-Camp Going Well

A's minor league hitting coordinator Todd Steverson and minor league pitching coordinator Scott Emerson have been hard at work over at Papago Field, working with the participants in the A's minor league mini-camp. Both Steverson and Emerson have been pleased with the work put in by the participants thus far. The A's will open the first part of their full minor league camp next week when pitchers and catchers report.

"Overall I have been impressed with the work habit of every pitcher in mini camp," Emerson said via email. "It's fun to watch."

Emerson noted that right-handers Vince Voiro, Nolan Sanburn and Seth Streich have looked good in the mini-camp. Emerson also praised the work of right-hander James Simmons, who has shown good command of his fastball.

Raul Alcantara, who was acquired in the A's deal with the Red Sox last off-season, has been working on finishing his pitches better and on developing a swing-and-miss breaking ball. The hard-throwing Alcantara spent the 2012 season with the Low-A Burlington Bees, where he had a 5.08 ERA with a 57:38 K:BB ratio in 102.2 innings. Alcantara turned 20 this past December.

International Signings

The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported on Thursday that the A's had signed two international amateur free agents. According to Slusser, the A's inked Miguel Mercedes, a third baseman from the Dominican Republic, and Jean Carlo Rodriguez, a middle infielder from Panama. Both are 17.

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