New faces among A's Top 20 Prospects
Russell, Choice still at top of list; Ynoa breaks into rankings at No. 5
After reeling in an abundance of young talent during the 2011 offseason, by way of a couple of big-name trades, the A's stayed mostly quiet after winning the American League West title in 2012.
That meant little movement was seen within Oakland's farm system, which isn't overflowing with talent like it used to be, as few of its top prospects are near Major League-ready.
Right-hander Sonny Gray and infielder Grant Green recently made their Major League debuts before returning to Triple-A, while outfielder Michael Choice represents the only other top prospect in the system on the River Cats' roster.
Still, there are plenty of names to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Entering the 2013 season, righty Dan Straily was expected to be the odd man out of Oakland's rotation -- at least as soon as Bartolo Colon served the remaining five games of his drug suspension. Not surprisingly, Straily returned to Triple-A Sacramento upon Colon's return, but he was back just a few weeks later when lefty Brett Anderson went down with an injury. There's a reason Straily was ranked No. 2 in the system by MLB.com before the season, as he's been a mainstay in the rotation since the end of April, giving the A's a quality fifth starter while Anderson rehabs a stress fracture in his right foot.
Five players who appeared in the Top 20 list before the start of the season are no longer in the mix, including outfielder Michael Taylor, who entered the year ranked No. 12. Taylor remains a productive offensive player in Triple-A, but his struggles in the big leagues -- spanning a handful of stints over the past three seasons -- suggest Taylor's future in the organization isn't so promising anymore.
Bruce Maxwell, previously No. 15, and Beau Taylor, who came in at No. 17 entering the season, are also both off the list, leaving the A's without any catchers among their Top 20 Prospects. Right-hander Blake Hassebrock and third baseman Jefry Marte, who ranked No. 19 and 20, respectively, also slipped out of the Top 20. Both were recently promoted to Double-A Midland.
Righty Michael Ynoa, signed at 16 to a then-record $4.25 million bonus in 2008, cracked the Top 20 at the No. 5 slot, a reflection of the ongoing progress he's made since an injury-plagued start to his professional career. After rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, the hard-throwing Ynoa spent all of 2012 and part of this season in the low Class A levels, before debuting with Class A Advanced Stockton last month.
Other notable names new to the Top 20 are 2013 draftees Billy McKinney, the prep outfielder selected by the A's with their first pick, and left-hander Dillon Overton, taken in the third round out of the University of Oklahoma. McKinney is raking in the Arizona Rookie League, while Overton recently underwent Tommy John surgery.
athletics' top prospects
First basemen Max Muncy (No. 18) and Anthony Aliotti (No. 20) and second baseman Chris Bostick (No. 19) also now appear in the Top 20.
Aside from the many additions and subtractions to the list, there hasn't been much other movement with players still on the list. 2012 first-round Draft pick Addison Russell remains at No. 1, but with Straily off the board, Triple-A outfielder Michael Choice has jumped from No. 3 to No. 2, while Green, who recently got his first taste of the Majors, grabbed hold of the No. 3 spot. Gray, who figures to be in Oakland's rotation by the start of next season, moved from No. 6 to No. 4.
Top 100 representation
Russell isn't just a top prospect for the A's, he's a top prospect in the Majors, ranking 21st in MLB.com's breakdown. It's quite a jump, considering he was 48th back in Spring Training.
Choice, who wasn't in the Top 100 when the season started, cracked the list at No. 100.
Based on a scoring system that awards 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and so on, the A's rank 23rd among MLB's 30 teams, in terms of their Top 100 talent.