As the Oakland Athletics prepare for the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, it's worth checking out the organization's top prospects at this point. Given the nature of baseball as far as turnover and the number of prospects that actually emerge as legitimate big leaguers, one would imagine the A's will load up at just about every position multiple times over June 6 through 8. However, it's still valuable to look at the top talent in the organization.
There are a variety of prospect rankings out there. Baseball America is the grand-daddy of them all, but SB Nation has its own MInor League Ball to satisfy your needs. Additionally, the folks at mlb.com have put together a database ranking the A's top ten prospects. Here is a rundown of the top ten listed in all three. For BA, please note the rankings were as of December 3, 2010. For Minor League Ball, the rankings are from December 29. For both I've removed players that have been promoted to the majors. For BA that means I only have the top nine prospects since Tyson Ross is on the list.
|1||Grant Green||Grant Green||Grant Green|
|2||Chris Carter||Chris Carter||Chris Carter|
|3||Michael Choice||Michael Choice||Michael Choice|
|4||Steve Parker||Ian Krol||Jemile Weeks|
|5||Max Stassi||Jemile Weeks||Max Stassi|
|6||Ian Krol||Yordy Cabrera||Aaron Shipman|
|7||Michael Taylor||Max Stassi||Yordy Cabrera|
|8||Jemile Weeks||Aaron Shipman||Ian Krol|
|9||Yordy Cabrera||Renato Nunez||Michael Taylor|
|10||Adrian Cardenas||Michael Taylor|
The MLB.com rankings were probably created the most recently as their site also includes their current minor league numbers. However, there is an inherent subjectivity to any rankings like this, so we have to take them all with a grain of salt. In looking them over, we can at least see some level of consensus about the top talent in the A's organization as well as some structure at the top. All three agree on Green, Carter and Choice at the top. After that we see Jemile Weeks, Ian Krol, Yordy Cabrera, Max Stassi, and Michael Taylor included, leaving three spots mixed around.
On top of those top prospects, the A's would count Tyson Ross as a top prospect given his recent promotion (and now unfortunate injury). Beyond that the rest of the younger A's have been in the big leagues long enough to no longer qualify as glorified prospects.
The A's have to be hoping to get some bats developed from this current crop of minor leaguers. It's been quite some time since they developed a legitimate bat anywhere. They've got some decent bats in the majors, but nothing that instills much in the way of fear in opposing pitchers. They've got some decent complementary bats, but not big threat. Chris Carter and Michael Taylor were considered potential long term big-boppers, but both have had their share of struggles over the last year.
At this point, while Grant Green would appear to be the top overall prospect, the prospect who could represent the big power threat A's fans have been waiting for since Miguel Tejada left town could very well be Michael Choice. He has a lot of development left in front of him, but the raw tools are intoxicating. A's fans will be following Choice close in the coming years.