During 2012, the Oakland A’s saw numerous players called up from the minor leagues have great seasons. The success of these call-ups helped immeasurably in the A’s winning of the AL West.
With most of the young team returning, there will not be a whole lot of chances for the current crop of prospects to make an impact on the lineup. Still, one or two minor leaguers may have a path to the majors in 2013.
Three prospects in particular stand out as having a chance to make a significant impact on the A’s next season – Dan Straily, Michael Choice and Grant Green.
Of these three, Straily will almost certainly see time with the A’s, possibly very soon. Last season, Straily led the minor leagues in strikeouts, and got a few chances to make an impression with the major league squad as well. He did not squander those opportunities, going 2-1 in seven starts with a 3.89 ERA. He also struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings, making him one of the few A’s starters who was a strikeout pitcher.
With Bartolo Colon returning, Straily does not have a path to the rotation on Opening Day, barring an unlikely trade of one of the current starters. However, Straily will be the first pitcher to crack the rotation in the event of an injury. No team ever makes it through a season with all five starters escaping unscathed from injury, so Straily is virtually guaranteed a chance to once again make the majors as long as he can stay injury free himself.
If Straily can make a good impression, he may well earn a permanent spot in the rotation in 2013.
As for Choice and Green, their road to the majors will be much tougher. Choice, an outfielder, might be ready for the majors at some point during the 2013 season, as he is the top prospect in the Oakland farm system. In Double-A last season, he hit .287 with 10 home runs, earning a selection to the 2012 All-Star Futures Game. He also has the potential to be an excellent defensive center fielder.
The A’s might like to get their 2010 first round draft pick a complete year in Triple-A, but with Choice’s potential, he also could be major league ready at some point in the season.
Until the rosters expand, however, it will be nearly impossible for Choice to crack one of the deeper outfields in the majors. With Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Chris Young and Seth Smtih in the fold, not to mention more experienced minor leaguers such as Collin Cowgill, Choice could tear up Triple A at an unprecedented rate and still not see any time with the A’s.
Green might have a better shot to make a meaningful impact with Oakland during their attempt to repeat as division champions. While Choice is probably a better fielder, Green has more versatility. Originally drafted in the first round as a shortstop, Green switched to the outfield for defensive reasons, although he has been playing second base in the Arizona Fall League this year.
Depending on whether or not the A’s can find a shortstop in free agency, Green might get a shot at one of the two middle infield spots.
Oakland likely does not want to count on Adam Rosales as an everyday shortstop, so if the team cannot sign or trade for a new shortstop, they may have a three way battle for second and short between Green, Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore.
Of course, if Green cannot stick with the team as an infielder during Spring Training, he may find his time with Oakland coming to an end. There is no doubt he can hit, but the A’s have plenty of young outfielders who can do that. They need infielders who can hit while still playing solid defense. Green may well get a shot to prove that he can do that in 2013.
Green and Straily should get their chances in Spring Training and during the year to prove that they belong in the big leagues. Choice may have to wait, but there is always a shot that he gets the same opportunities afforded to other young A’s in 2012.