The Kids Are Alright! – The Low-Down On The A’s Hot New Prospects

As every A’s fan who doesn’t spend the winter hibernating already knows, the A’s acquired a major haul of young prospects in this off-season’s deals that sent away popular players Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney. In return, the A’s restocked their organization with six young pitchers and four young hitters, not a one over the age of 25.

But who are these talented youngsters that the A’s are pinning their future hopes and dreams on, and where will they end up in the coming year? Well, wonder no more! Without any further ado, let’s meet this year’s freshly-minted Athletics…

 

Crafty lefty Tom Milone (photo by Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI)

TOM MILONE

Left-handed Starting Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 25

Drafted 2008 – 10th Round

The oldest and most experienced of the A’s young pitching acquisitions, Milone had a 3.22 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Syracuse and a 3.81 ERA in 5 major league starts for the Nationals in 2011. A master of control, the California native walked a paltry 16 batters in his 148 1/3 Triple-A innings last year. At this point, he’s probably the most ready to step into the A’s major league rotation. The talented Mr. Milone is certainly not going to blow anyone away with his stuff, but he’s a smart lefty who knows how to pitch. And how many guys have had a very long career with that kind of profile? Paging Mr. Jamie Moyer, please pick up the crafty lefty courtesy phone!

Likely To Start 2012 With: Oakland A’s

 

Strikeout machine Brad Peacock (photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

BRAD PEACOCK

Right-handed Starting Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 24

Drafted 2006 – 41st Round

Of all the young hurlers the A’s acquired who pitched above Single-A last year, Peacock had the lowest ERA and the best strikeout rate of them all, turning in a stellar 2.39 ERA and striking out 177 in 146 2/3 innings between Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg last year. He earned a late-season call-up with the Nationals and gave up only 1 run in 12 innings of major league action. The lowest draft pick of the bunch, the Florida native seems to be another smart pitcher who’s figured out how to put it all together. And it’d be surprising if he didn’t get a chance to be pitching in the majors before the season’s through.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Sacramento Rivercats

 

Future star Jarrod Parker (photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

JARROD PARKER

Right-handed Starting Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2007 – 1st Round

Probably the most talented of all the A’s young pitching acquisitions, Parker was a first-round draft pick in 2007 who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009 and ended up missing all of the 2010 season. He returned to Double-A Mobile in 2011 and turned in a 3.79 ERA in 26 starts, striking out 112 in 130 2/3 innings. After earning a late-season call-up with the Diamondbacks, he gave up no runs in his only major league start. Parker should eventually end up as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the A’s, but he could probably benefit from a little more seasoning. And if the A’s are going to treat any of their new young pitching prospects with kid gloves, it’ll probably be Parker.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Sacramento Rivercats

 

Young stud A.J. Cole

A.J. COLE

Right-handed Starting Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 20

Drafted 2010 – 4th Round

Along with Parker, Cole is considered one of the best raw pitching talents in the A’s off-season prospect haul. At 6’4”, the young right-hander appears to be all arms and legs. But his right arm seems to have the ability to mesmerize mortal men, striking out batters at a rate of 10.9 per 9 innings over his short minor league career. Like most 20-year-old pitching prospects, he needs to work on developing his secondary pitches. But the lanky right-hander has tremendous potential and, at his young age, plenty of time to achieve it.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Stockton Ports

 

International man of mystery Raul Alcantara

RAUL ALCANTARA

Right-handed Starting Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 19

Signed As International Free Agent

The youngest of all the A’s new pitching prospects, the team was reportedly willing to include Ryan Sweeney in the Andrew Bailey deal in order to get their mitts on this talented youngster, who checks in at just 19 (let’s hope his Dominican birth certificate checks out!). Alcantara’s shown impeccable control for his age, walking just 20 batters in 125 2/3 minor league innings. Like Cole, he needs to work on his secondary pitches. But he’s another hurler with tremendous upside and plenty of time to get where he needs to go.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Burlington Bees

 

Man in the middle Ryan Cook (photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

RYAN COOK

Right-handed Relief Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 24

Drafted 2008 – 27th Round

The only reliever the A’s grabbed in their off-season prospect haul, Cook turned in a nifty 2.21 ERA while striking out 62 batters in 61 innings between Triple-A Reno and Double-A Mobile last season. The Fresno-area native struggled a bit in his brief audition in the Diamondbacks bullpen last year, giving up 6 runs in his 12 appearances. But Cook did manage to strike out 7 major league batters over 7 2/3 innings. He throws hard and could ultimately prove to be an effective set up man behind future A’s closer Fautino De Los Santos.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Oakland A’s

 

Hustler Josh Reddick (photo by Kelly O'Connor/SittingStill.net)

JOSH REDDICK 

Left-handed Hitting Outfielder

Age On Opening Day: 25

Drafted 2006 – 17th Round

The key piece of the Bailey deal with Boston, Reddick compiled a .280 batting average while playing in 87 games for the Red Sox last year, primarily as a right fielder. Reddick has shown good power in the minors, clubbing 14 homers in just 191 at bats at Triple-A Pawtucket last season. And he did manage to hit 18 doubles in a part-time role with the Sox last year, so he could be counted on to chalk up a few more two-baggers in the slightly more spacious Coliseum. He does tend to strike out a lot more than he walks though. The Georgia native has been characterized as a gritty, go-go, Eric Byrnes type of player, as well as a colorful character – and he does seem to be slightly fond of crazy hair! Reddick will be given the first shot at spending the 2012 season as the A’s primary right fielder, so he should get a chance to win over the A’s faithful and show the A’s brass just what he’s capable of.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Oakland A’s

 

Over-achiever Collin Cowgill (photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

COLLIN COWGILL

Right-handed Hitting Outfielder

Age On Opening Day: 25

Drafted 2008 – 5th Round

A speedy right-handed hitting outfielder who throws with his left hand? Could it be the second coming of Rickey? Probably not. But Cowgill could end up finding a spot in the A’s outfield this season, even if it’s just as the A’s fifth outfielder. The team has had their eye on Cowgill for quite a while, attempting to draft him and trying to trade for him once before. He hits for average, steals bases and has shown surprising pop for his 5’9” / 185 lb. stature. Cowgill hit .354, stole 30 bases and hit 13 home runs for Triple-A Reno last season. And the good news is his numbers have improved each of the last few years as he has moved up the ladder from South Bend to Visalia to Mobile to Reno, his OPS rising from .705 to .819 to .825 to .984 last year at Triple-A. He got 100 at bats in the Diamondbacks outfield last season, turning in a .239 batting average in his time with Arizona. Cowgill should get a chance to come to the plate more often for the A’s in 2012, most likely serving as the fifth outfielder and getting some starts in right field behind Josh Reddick.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Oakland A’s

 

Walk machine Derek Norris (photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

DEREK NORRIS

Right-handed Hitting Catcher

Age On Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2007 – 4th Round

Norris certainly fits the A’s mold in that he’s a power hitter who has a propensity for drawing walks. He has a career minor league OBP of .403, which no doubt got the A’s attention. But while he clubbed 20 home runs at Double-A Harrisburg last season, he managed to hit only .210. The previous year in the Single-A Carolina League, he hit just .235. In each of the last two seasons though, Norris managed to chalk up more walks than hits, so he’s found his way on base one way or another. Expect him to try to improve on his batting average at Double-A Midland this year. If Norris can just keep his power numbers up and manage to get on base enough, he could serve to bridge the gap between current A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki and the A’s even younger catching prospect, Max Stassi.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Midland Rockhounds

 

Young slugger Miles Head (photo by John Sullivan/Daily News)

MILES HEAD

Right-handed Hitting Third Baseman/First Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 20

Drafted 2009 – 26th Round

Head is a talented, but still very young, hitter whom the A’s decided to target in the Bailey trade with Boston. Last year while playing in Single-A, he opened eyes by hitting .299 with 37 doubles and 22 HRs to go along with an .887 OPS. Originally drafted as a third baseman, he’s spent most of his time in the Red Sox system playing first base, but the A’s are planning to return him to third. Some are skeptical about the 6-foot / 215-pounder’s ability to stick at third, but it can’t hurt to give it the ol’ college try! Just 20, Head’s still a few years away from making an impact at the major league level, but if he continues to hit, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to move up through the A’s system pretty quickly regardless of his ultimate position.

Likely To Start 2012 With: Stockton Ports

 

 

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