Santiago Casilla, the former Jairo Garcia, remains in the Dominican Republic with visa troubles and might not rejoin the A's anytime soon. "I'm not expecting him in camp," manager Ken Macha said. "I think he's got problems." Casilla wasn't going to win a spot in the Oakland bullpen this spring, but he needed a good showing to remain atop the list of potential injury replacements.
Athletics prospect Dallas Braden won't be ready for the start of the season following offseason shoulder surgery. Braden, who used his screwball to win 15 games between Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland last season, is expected to miss the first couple of monthsat. He'll probably head back to Midland once healthy.
#16 - Adam Miller - "He was dirty. His fastball and slider were more than plus." --Lakewood manager P.J. Forbes
#43 - Dan Meyer - "He's a big-game pitcher. He pitches every game with that same level of intensity--as if it was the last game of the season with it all on the line." --Richmond manager Pat Kelly
As we all know, Dan Meyer was terrible in 2005. Meyer missed 12 starts with shoulder trouble and posted a 5.36 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and 6.37 K:IP in 89 innings.
Meanwhile, over in the Indians organization, Adam Miller was having trouble with his elbow. Miller missed 12 starts and posted a 4.90 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 6.6 K:IP in 70 innings.
What does Baseball America think of Dan Meyer? They have him as the A's #21 prospect. Seeing as how he's #21 in a system that they consider the 4th worst in baseball, I'd say they don't think much of Meyer at all.
Meanwhile, BA has Adam Miller as the Indians #1 prospect, ahead of one of my favorite's Jeremy Sowers. Adam Miller will be ranked by BA as one of the top 50 prospects in baseball.
Now granted, Miller is younger and has the ceiling of a #1 starter, but coming off of 2005 he's still in a similar situation to Meyer. Just another piece of inconsistency from BA to remind us to take what they say with a grain of salt...Not that we didn't know that already.
Things I think are of major note are in bold. I have some comments of my own inbetween
Q: J.P. from IL asks: How far down did Richie Robnett slide since last year? (I haven't received my Handbook yet.) Is he salvagable?
A: Kevin Goldstein: He didn't slide too far. He's in the early teens. And if you buy a Prospect Handbook (plug, plug, plug), you can see where he is and read scouting reports on their top 30 prospects. Robnett is still toolsy as toolsy can be, but was a little more raw than expected. His power came on in the second half (14 of his 20 home runs came after July 1), but at the same time, his already sizeable problems with contact became worse as he hit .197 with 49 Ks in his last 32 games.
Q: Simon from Montreal, Canada asks: Why is Danny Putnam ranked only 14th in the Prospect Handbook? He was a first-round pick who drove in a hundred runs in his first full season, yet a player with a low ceiling like Shaun Komine is ranked ahead of him.
A: Kevin Goldstein: Nobody questions Putnam's hitting ability. He's a very good hitter. The question is, will it be enough to be an every day left fielder. Because of his lack of speed and arm strength, he's relagated to left field, and the offensive expectations for an every day player there are enormous. He has average power at best, and still needs to learn how to pull balls better, so people just don't see the power in him normally associated with a corner outfielder.
Q: Thom Gentz from Ann Arbor, MI asks: Last year Ryan Webb cracked the top 30 and seemed like he had a lot of projection as he filled into his gangly frame. This year he isn't in the top 30 and is listed as a reliever. He didn't have a great year, but wasn't that bad for being 19. Has that projection evaporated already?
A: Kevin Goldstein: It hasn't necessarily, but Webb BARELY cracked the top 30 last year (No. 30) and then had an inconsistent year at Kane County, where he went 5-11, 4.76. He's still very young and offers some projection, but he needs to find a way to get lefties out. Oakland still likes him, and they think he's ready for Stockton.
Q: Ohad from Oakland asks: What can you tell me about A's rookie leaguer Ramon Alvarado? I read he's extremely toolsy, and he had a 900 OPS. This is true. He did crack the top 30 this year, but despite turning 21 in June, is stil a pretty raw product. The A's aren't sure he's even ready for a full-season league yet -- his spring training performance will determine if he begins the season in Kane County or extended spring training.
A: Kevin Goldstein: Ohad, Alvarado is extremely toolsy and had a 900 OPS in Arizona.
Me: That sure answers all of our questions
Q: Richard Sam from Vancouver, BC asks: Where does Andre Ethier rank in the A's system. I thought he put up some good numbers last year in AA.
A: Kevin Goldstein: Andre DID rank 4th, but now he's a Dodger after the Milton Bradley trade. Lots to like as a hitter, but many of the same issues that I talked about in the Putnam answer. Good bat, but enought for an every day corner outfielder for a first-tier club?
Q: Dave from San Jose asks: What happened to John Rheinecker? He started last season then pitching well and then disappeared.
A: Kevin Goldstein: Talk about frustration. Rheinecker ranked as high as No. 2 on this list, and seemed to be finally back on track, going 4-0, 1.77 in seven starts at AAA Sacramento. Then he had an irriation on the second joint of the middle finger of his pitching hand, and it just would not go away. Even after the season, just gripping a ball was uncomfortable. The A's are hoping it will clear up with just rest.
Me: That can't be good. Who knew it would last as long as it did, let alone into the offseason?
Q: Dan from California asks: Hey! I was wondering about the other high school kids drafted in 2005, Kevin Bunch, Scott Deal, and Justin Sellers. Where do you think they will end up next year and what is the outlook for them in the future?
A: Kevin Goldstein: As I mentioned in the Prospect Pulse that is linked on the homepage along with the top 10 stuff, Bunch and Deal both have good shots of joining the mostly teenage pitching staff at Kane County, and right now, Sellers is the starting shortstop. The A's think Sellers is a real sleeper (and he ranked in the teens), with scouting director Eric Kubota telling me that he's convinced that if Sellers was more of a physical specimen (he's 5-10,160) he would could have gone in the second or third round.
Me: They thought the same about Melillo. But about Kubota mentioning his size..Duh. If he was bigger there wouldn't be questions of whether or not Sellers can hit a single home run.
Q: Pete from Fairfax, VA asks: How much longer will the A's keep McCurdy, and where does he begin the season, AA? Any chance that they'll move him to 2b, or is he too slow to play the middle infield?
A: Kevin Goldstein: 2006 will be McCurdy's 5th year in the system, and if anything, he continues to regress. He came nowhere near a whiff of the top 30. Just a massive dissapointment for the 2002 first-round pick.
Me: Yeah, McCurdy sure does suck
Q: Tom Hill from Hamilton, New Jersey asks: How close was Michael Rogers to making the Top 10? He was a fairly low risk pick in 2004 and had an impressive high school and college pedigree of being a big game pitcher (2 hit shutout vs. Texas in 2004). Does he profile as a 4 or 5 starter?
A: Kevin Goldstein: He fell a little short of even making the top 30. Rogers simply hasn't shown the stuff he did in college. While polished college pitchers like Blanton, Bondurant, Knox, and even Street and Windsor (in smaller stints) have excelled in Kane County, Rogers went just 6-8, 4.90. His prospect light has dimmed significantly.
Me: Rogers too
Q: Matt from Baltimore asks: I know that Dan Meyer was hurt for most of the year, but what do the A's look at for him, is he going to get a chance to make the big league squad out of camp this year or another year of AAA?
A: Kevin Goldstein: It seems like I'm taking quite a hit in the blogosphere world for not having Meyer in the top 10. Meyer was expected to step into the rotation after the Tim Hudson deal, but he was bad from day one in spring training, and simply never recovered. His fastball dipped to the mid-high 80s, his slider flattened, and his control faltered. He did have some physical problems, but at the same time, his mechanics fell apart. Scouts were completely unimpressed with him, and the A's are definitely not looking for him to make the team out of spring training. Just healthy and starting the year in Triple-A will be a huge plus.
Me: I don't get why he doesn't feel that Meyers injuries (which started in ST) are an excuse.
Q: Joseph from Florida asks: Any word on 2003 1st rd pick Brian Snyder? Saw an article saying he was healthy are ready to go this year. Any thoughts or comments?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Snyder had a hip flexor that bothered him all year, and he had a grand total of TWO plate appearances in 2005. His conditioning was pretty awful at Kane County in 2004, and is reportedly hasn't gotten better. He's a gifted hitter with a great eye, but he's going to have to get into shape. He also turns 24 in March and is coming off a lost season, so the clock is ticking.
Me: Not sure what to think about that. Snyder himself has talked about how much better his conditioning has become.
Q: Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks: Melillo looks like he can really hit, but where will he play in Oakland? If Pennington has to move to 2B, will Melillo's lack of defensive prowess relegate him to DH, or is a move to the outfield possible? Love these chats! Keep up the great work!
A: Kevin Goldstein: Too many players at one position is a good thing, not a bad thing. Melillo is an average second baseman at best, but most of his value depends on his ability to stay there. With Pennington (and some other good infielders) coming through the system, it's on of those situations where the A's will deal with it when they're forced to.
Q: Jon from Peoria asks: Kevin, what's the latest on Landon Powell?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Should be ready to go in spring training. Like Snyder, his conditioning has been an issue in the past, and he wasn't in great shape during the instructional league, where he wasn't ready to catch or run yet. He'll likely start the year in Stockton.
Me: I'd like to know if that is based on his original, very large weight, or if he's become even bigger.
Q: Don from Rosemont, IL asks: What type of prospects are Gregorio Petit and Francis Gomez?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I think Petit is one of the better 'lesser known' of the A's prospects, and he ranks in the teens. He's been moved to second base, but has the defensive chops to play shortstop and third. He also surprised with the bat last year at Kane County last year, in particularly with his ability to drive a ball. He'll make a pretty nifty double-play combo with Cliff Pennington in the Cal League this year.
Q: Don from Rosemont, IL asks: Is Dallas Braden's screwball a good enough out pitch to make him an effective starter in the majors?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I don't think so, and I can't find any scouts that think so either. With a fastball in the mid-to-upper 80s, the more advanced hitters of the Texas League were able to lay off the trick pitch and Braden struggled. I do think he could be effective in shorter stints, and he ranks in the lower teens, which still makes him quite the find for a 24th round pick.
Me: Struggled? His numbers in Midland were still pretty good in Midland considering he was drafted just a year before.
Q: Joe from Bay Area asks: What do you think about Jason Windsor who ended the season at Double-A Midland? What does the orginazation expect from him this year?
A: Kevin Goldstein: What the organization would LIKE out of him, is just a healthy season, as Windsor had to be shut down three times with biceps tendonitis. That said, Windsor has pedestrian stuff, but succeeds on control and moxie. He still has a shot to make it as a back-of-the-rotaiton starter.
Q: Funny Guy from Funnyville asks: How did Cliff Pennington pass Gregorio Petit as the best defensive infielder? Speaking of Petit, is there any love? He was solid with the bat in Kane County...
A: Kevin Goldstein: Of of the major reasons, is that Petit is now a second baseman. The other big reason is that Pennington wasn't in the system last year. As far as love for Petit, it's there, just check out my answer a little above this one.
Q: Ohad from Oakland asks: Jason Ray absolutely DOMINATED short season ball in Vancouver. 17.00 K9??!! That is sick. How far will he go this year, and what's his future like?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I can make him even sound sicker, as he registered 32 strikeouts over 14 innings in his last 10 games. Ray hasn't been pitching very long, and he only has two pitches (a 93-95 mph fastball with good movement and a plus power curve). Because of that, and because of his anything but ideal mechanics, the A's seem him as a reliever-only, but with that said, they're very high on him. He ranks in the low 20s and will begin the year on one of the two class A squads.
Me: Man, I really like Ray. And that finally answered why the A's didn't at least try him in the rotation.
Q: Semi-Funny guy from Slightly-Funny Village asks: The A's system is ranked 26 in the book... It's definitely not that bad. Can you justify this?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I can. The A's system is significantly down this year as compared to last, but it's for all the right reasons, as if you look at last year's top 10, many of those players either contributed heavily at the big league level, or where used in trades to get big league talent. That was a lot of talent to replace, and hopefully for A's fans, what looks like a very good 2005 draft will get the system moving back in an upwards direction.
Q: Matt Scace from Canada asks: Which of the A's three high school pitching selections has the biggest upside? I personally think Mazzaro, but BA ranked Italiano ahead of him. Is that simply because Mazzaro signed too late to pitch last year in the minors, or does Italiano clearly have better stuff and profile better to be a major leaguer in time?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I'll got with the way I ranked them -- Italiano, Mazzaro, Lansford. Italiano had the best velocity of any high school arm available, but Mazzaro's performance in instructional league was a bit of a shocker (in a good way), even to the A's. Lansford JUST missed the top 10. He doesn't have the raw stuff of Italiano or Mazzaro, but right now has far more polish.
Q: Matt Scace from Canada asks: Javier Herrera is an oddity in the A's system - a player with supreme tools that is still learning to take a walk. Are there any other potential toolsy gems in the top 30, or just outside of it, or is Herrera the sole exception to the A's drafting style?
A: Kevin Goldstein: I would first off question the premise that the A's don't draft tools. They do. Like at Italiano this year or Richie Robnett, who to answer your first question, is the best package of pure tools after Herrera. I would argue that the reason the A's rarely draft five-tool ***** is that they're rarely around when the A's are drafting.
Q: Matt Scace from Canada asks: Kevin, thanks so much for the chat. Much is debated about Daric Barton's power potential and defense. I agree that his defense will hold him to playing 1b, or DH if needed, but his bat will play very well at the MLB level. Do you see him topping out as a John Olerud (.300+ AVG, 20-25 homers, 40-55 doubles) or a Todd Helton ceiling (.300+ AVG, 30-35 homers (Coors Factored), 35-45 doubles)? Also, does he have the work ethic necessary to get good enough in the field to avoid just being a DH?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Right now, that's the big question. Some see a player who is contact-oriented, who can hit any pitch and uses all fields, but because he's so good at just putting bat on ball that he rarely hits for power. Others see a player who is such a gifted hitter, and a strong guy, that the bigtime power will develop naturally, as power is often the last tool to develop.
Me: Good comparison to Helton. I've felt that Helton (minus a couple insane seasons) is about Barton's peak if he learns how to hit HR's.
Q: Jeff from So CA asks: Where do you believe the 2005 crop of high school players will end up in April? Italiano, Lansford and Mazzaro seem to be a lock for Kane County.
A: Kevin Goldstein: Those three are locks for the Kane County rotation, and again, if you read the prospect pulse linked from the homepage, I talk to the A's about how they will deal with that. Sellers will almost certainly join them, with fifth-round pick Scott Deal and seventh-round pick Kevin Bunch also having a good shot at starting for the Cougars. It will definitely be a different look in Kane County from what we've seen in the past few years.
Q: Rocco from Da' Village, NY asks: Not sure what to make of Brad Sullivan, a college star at the University of Houston but has struggled as a pro. Does he project now as a middle reliever or will the A's find a rotation spot for him at Double-A Midland?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Don't feel too bad Rocco, I'm not too sure the A's know what to make of him at this point either. Sullivan has not shown the stuff of his sophomore year (or even his less effective junior year) at U. Houston at any point as a pro, and sinus surgery limited him to just 36 (pretty awful) innings in 2005. Definitely on the outside looking in at this point.
Q: Trevor Jenson from Tustin, California asks: Where does RHP Jimmy Shull rank in the top 30?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Lower teens, and (just saying this to annoy, really) ahead of Dan Mayer. Shull was the first college arm taken by Oakland in 2005 (4th round), and struck out over a batter per inning at Vancouver. Decent fastball, plus slider, excellent control. Will likely skip Low A and begin the year in the Cal League.
Me: Sounds like he might make a pretty good reliever.
Q: Sean from Sandwich, MA asks: In Cliff Pennington's description, you mention his stellar summer in the Cape League. How much stock do Major League scouts put into the CCBL? Can it make up for a poor regular season, or is it used more as a way scoutsteams can solidify their stances on players?
A: Kevin Goldstein: The Cape League is a great opportunity for scouts to see college players facing top competition on a daily basis with wood bats. So one of three things happen -- a. It reinforces an evaluator's position on a player; b. It adds concerns about a player; or c. It moves a player way up on the next year's follow list.
Q: Eric Byrnes fan from Phoenix, AZ asks: A lesser known prospect in the A's system gets no ink: RHP Connor Robertson. This guy is a little older but do you see him in the Sacramento bullpen in 2006?
A: Kevin Goldstein: Robertson made the Top 30 this year, so there's some ink. Robertson set some offensive records at Birmingham-Southern, but he also served as the team's closer as a senior, and the A's like him there and took him with a 31st round pick in 2004. That pick is looking very astute -- as a pro Robertson has 171 Ks in just 109 innings. His stuff is good, but not great (89-92 mph sinker, pretty good slider), but everything is made more effective by his unique motion, in which is basically turns 90 degrees to the side in his delivery, completely blocking his arm from the hitter's view until just before the release. He's an interesting one to watch, but is more likely to open the year at Double-A Midland than Sacramento.
I actually have more beef with BA than I usually do. There are certain things I would have not agreed with but understood. Vince Mazzaro #9? I don't really understand it. Komine #8? It's also worth mentioning that they have Dan Meyer at #21. What worries me about Meyer so low is that BA bases a lot of their list according to the organizational opinions. Meyer so low may illustrate how the A's feel Meyer will pitch next season. As soon as I have BA's prospect handbook in my hands (I didn't know getting it from Target/Wal-Mart would make me 3 weeks late) I'll post the whole top 30 and whatever might be of real note.