Plenty of talent rising through A's system
Weeks latest Oakland prospect to make big league debut
OAKLAND -- Another First-Year Player Draft in the books, and the A's farm system has been restocked with hand-picked talent. The new draftees will join the Minors, where several of the team's picks from recent years are still working their way up to the Majors -- and some of them will get there sooner rather than later.
Of the top-10 players in the A's system, seven were drafted in the last three years, one of whom, Jemile Weeks, was recently called up to Oakland. Weeks, drafted in the first round (No. 12 overall) in 2008 out of the University of Miami, made his Major League debut Tuesday after A's second baseman Mark Ellis hit the 15-day disabled list.
Weeks, 24, is MLB.com's No. 8 prospect at second base despite battling injuries in his first years out of college. He played in fewer than 80 games each of his first two seasons, but the speedy switch-hitting infielder was batting .321 in 45 games for Triple-A Sacramento this season before getting called up to Oakland. In his debut against the Orioles on Tuesday, Weeks went 0-for-4 in the leadoff role as the A's were blanked, 4-0. He collected his first career hit Wednesday, a double in the third inning.
While Weeks was the first of Oakland's top prospects to make it to the Majors, he's only No. 5 on the board. The top player in the team's farm system is still playing Double-A ball for the Midland Rockhounds. Grant Green was selected 13th overall in 2009 and had a solid first season playing shortstop in the Minors. That season, he hit .318 with a .520 slugging percentage while launching 20 home runs and driving in 87 runs.
This year for the Rockhounds, the 23-year-old Green is hitting .294 in 48 games with 12 doubles and 27 RBIs. He has struck out 44 times and his plate discipline could use some work. Although he is playing shortstop now, by the time he makes it to the Majors -- which could be as soon as next season -- he could become a second baseman with solid offensive numbers.
Behind Green on the A's list of top prospects is 24-year-old Chris Carter, a power-hitting first baseman who can also play outfielder. Carter was part of the package with left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson that the A's got from the D-backs for Dan Haren. Carter, with the A's Triple-A team in Sacramento, is on a rehab assignment, but could get called up to the A's later this season.
The third-best prospect in the A's system, Michael Choice, is still a ways away from making his Major League debut. Choice, the club's top selection in last year's Draft, is with the club's Stockton affiliate and isn't expected to be called up until at least 2013. However, Choice, an outfielder, was considered one of the most impactful hitters in last year's Draft. This year, he has shown it, notching 26 extra-base hits in 54 games. He strikes out a lot, but also draws plenty of walks.
After three solid offensive prospects comes the top pitcher in the A's farm system -- Ian Krol. Drafted in the seventh round out of high school two years ago, Krol has shown the advanced ability that has drawn him comparisons to a college southpaw. He led the entire Oakland system with a 2.80 ERA last year, but has been sidelined this year by a forearm strain, putting his move to the California League on hold for the time being.
The 23-year-old lefty has good location with all three of his pitches, as he walked only 28 in 138 1/3 innings last year. If he keeps on locating his pitches and stays healthy, Krol could find himself located in Oakland by 2013.
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.