With so many new players from all over the country joining the Oakland A’s this off-season, not much light has been shed on top prospects who are working their way up through the A’s farm system. The Athletics are known for bringing up talented young spitfires from their minor league affiliates much like how they brought up star pitcher Sonny Gray last year. So who are the A’s top prospects this year?
1) Addison Russell
This 20-year-old shortstop has wowed scouts and players alike with his cat-like reflexes and dedication to the game. He was chosen 11th overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and has quickly made his way up through the Oakland A’s farm system. Even though he spent most of his time this past year in Stockton with Oakland’s Class A-Advanced minor league team, he jumped up to Triple-A for some time and played with the Sacramento River Cats. His success has not gone unnoticed and was recently ranked #3 on Keith Law’s Top 100 prospects list on ESPN.
He is still working on his batting skills and ended last season with a .269 AVG. However, his power arm and quick hands make him excellent defensively at shortstop. Interestingly enough, the Oakland A’s weakest position is shortstop. And after being invited to Oakland’s spring training in Phoenix, Arizona, it is clear that the A’s coaches are strongly considering his MLB potential.
2) Billy Mckinney
He was drafted in the first round in 2013 for his skills at the plate. With one of the best bats out of all the other draft picks, his swing speed allows for higher than average batting power. It also helps that he has great hand eye coordination and can go deep into a pitch count. When he moved from the Rookie level in Arizona to the Vermont Lake Monsters – Oakland’s Short Season A level team – Mckinney batted .353 and had a .405 OBP. With his batting skills already earning him high marks, Mckinney now only needs to work on his fielding skills in order for him to make that jump to the Major Leagues.
Mckinney plays in the outfield however he will most likely be pushed to left field since his arm strength is not top-notch. If he can focus on his strengthening his arm and defensive skills, he will be a forced to be reckoned with in the future. Maybe, once he makes his way through the minors, he could become the permanent DH for the Athletics since they currently rotate multiple players through the position over the course of a season. Just a thought.
3) Raul Alcantara
Alcantara was traded to Oakland back in 2011 and was protect from the Rule 5 draft in December 2013 by being brought up and added to the Athletics major league roster. The Athletics obviously see potential in Alcantara and feared that he could be snatched up by another team during the December draft. So what does Alcantara have that could help him rise to the MLB?
This right handed pitcher has a commanding and methodical arm which allows him to have great control over his fastball and pitch up into the 90 mph range. In 2013, Alcantara had a 3.11 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. But, in order to make his debut in Oakland, he will need to work on his other pitches – especially his breaking ball. He has shown a willingness to learn and the ability to change his pitching strategy mid-season, which is a positive sign for the future. With all of the newly acquired pitchers in the Athletics bullpen, it is not likely that Alcantara will make to the mound in the Coliseum this year, but mostly likely in 2015.