The opening day roster for the A’s Double-A affiliate in the Texas League, the Midland Rockhounds, was announced on Tuesday. And two of the A’s most recent first-round draft picks, right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray and slugging outfielder Michael Choice, will be the main attractions at Midland this season. Choice was the A’s first-round pick in 2010, and Gray was the team’s first-round pick last year.
The dynamic duo will be joined by the A’s 2007 first-round pick, right-handed pitcher James Simmons, who is attempting to fight his way back from injuries that caused him to miss all of the 2010 season and part of 2011. 2007’s second-round pick, infielder Josh Horton, will also be attempting to bounce back from injuries that limited him to just 27 games last year.
Other notable players on the Rockhounds roster this season include the Cardinals’ second-round pick from 2008, first baseman/outfielder Shane Peterson, and the A’s organization’s most frequent tweeter, outfielder Jeremy Barfield (@baseclogger), who drove in 72 runs for the Rockhounds last season.
But most Midland fans will be hoping that top prospects Choice and Gray can take the Rockhounds far this season before they get the chance to make their mark in Oakland. You’ll find the Midland Rockhounds’ complete roster, along with profiles of first-round draft picks Choice and Gray, below.
Right-handed Hitting Outfielder
Age On Opening Day: 22
Drafted 2010 – 1st Round
The A’s first-round draft pick in 2010, Choice has done little to disappoint since his signing. The 22-year-old hit 30 homers and posted a .285/.376/.542 slash line while playing center field for Class-A Stockton last year. His 134 strikeouts provide the only potential cause for concern. But he’s worked to shorten his swing and, as the best pure power hitter in the organization, the slugging outfielder should be able to quickly move up through an A’s system that’s not currently clogged with power-hitting outfielders.
Age On Opening Day: 22
Drafted 2011 – 1st Round
The A’s first-round draft pick in 2011, Gray has already managed to log 5 starts at Double-A Midland, giving up just 1 run in 20 innings while striking out 18. The 5’11” right-hander has been compared to Tim Hudson in that while he’s not all that physically impressive, his confident, gritty and fearless attitude sets him apart from the competition. With a good fastball and curve, it shouldn’t take long for the tough 22-year-old to fight his way into the A’s starting rotation.
-MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS 2012 ROSTER-