Future Athletic Roundup #2.1 – 2008 Stockton Rotation Edition.
Since we hear so much about Stockton's rotation being so good this year, I wanted to write up a projected line-up. Also, since it’s a new season with lots of new players and a new site, so I took the opportunity to choose a new name (I got bored with the last one). Hopefully, unlike last year, I’ll do more than 6 of these this year, but that really depends on my schedule.
With all the hype over Stockton’s rotation this year I wanted to make a list and find out more about the pitchers A’s fans might see in the rotation; when I was done the length of the list surprised me. My take on the situation is that the A’s system was always middle to bottom heavy to begin with. When Beane traded for a glut of mid-level pitchers in the Swisher, Haren, and Scutaro trades, he created a bubble in the system at the A+ level. It’s causing pitchers in A- Kane County or 2007 draftees that might have been a shoe in for an A+ rotation spot in any other year, to repeat their previous level. It’s the only way to explain a pitcher like James Heuser, who had a very good year at Kane County last year but could very well end up repeating the entire year there this year. I also expect the A’s will go with a 6 man rotation in Stockton to try to fit in all the talented pitchers who need starting time to develop. These aren’t ranked by pitching ability, but rather the speed at which I feel the pitcher will graduate from Stockton. Enjoy the list and tell me your opinions when you are done.
Future Athletic Power Rankings: Projected Stockton 2008 Rotation
- Brett Anderson (SP/LHP) – The 20 year old’s amazing control (he only walked 21 batters in over 120 innings last year) will make him the most advanced pitcher on the Stockton staff and, given the crowded Stockton staff, could start in AA if he has a good spring training. The left hander ended last year playing for the Diamondback’s A+ affiliate, throws in the low 90’s, has an average fast ball, a changeup, a large breaking curve; and a hard thrown slurve .
- Fautino de los Santos (SP/RHP) – De los Santos is the second pitcher that, although slated to start in A+ Stockton, could be quickly pushed to AA Midland given a good spring training. He throws in the mid-90’s (he can reach 97 if he needs to) , has a plus power slerve-ball, and a developing change-up. Both his fastball and power slerve can be considered out pitches giving de los Santos the highest upside of any pitcher in the system since Rich Harden.
- Trevor Cahill (SP/RHP) – After an excellent 2007 season with the A’s that saw him win Organizational Pitcher of the year; Cahill is all but guaranteed to start in A+ Stockton. Cahill is a lot like Brett Anderson, but--even without Anderson’s control--he strikes out more people and gets more ground balls. He has a changeup, slider, and a knuckle curve ball to complement his fastball, and he throws in the low to mid 90’s; he also walked 40 people in 105 innings last year. This will be his first time in A+ Stockton and he will likely stay longer then Anderson or de los Santos do, to give him time to work on his command and off-speed pitches.
- Vince Mazzaro (SP/RHP) – Mazzaro, one of the “little three” high school aces drafted in 2005, is likely to start the year repeating A+ Stockton. He pitches with an above average fastball with sink, a power knuckle-curve ball, and an inconsistent but developing change-up. If Mazzaro wants to get the bump up to AA, the A’s will be looking for him to be more consistent this year. Last year, although some up his strike-outs were up to 155 (from 81 in 2006), his walks were also up to 71 BB’s in 153 innings (from 42 BB/in 119 in 2006).
- Arnold Leon (SP/RHP) – The only thing you need to know about Leon (who signed this winter with the A’s out of the Mexican summer league) is that the A’s want him to start his major league career in Stockton—as a 19 year old. The baby of the young staff has a fastball in the low 90s, has two plus off-speed pitches, and had a 1.94era and .217 average against while pitching in the Mexican summer league last year. Already he’s impressed A’s manager Bob Geren, who listed his name along with players like Gio Gonzolez (the minor league 2007 strikeout leader). Leon will be an interesting player to watch this year.
- Henry Rodriguez (SP/RHP) – You know you are going to have a deep rotation when the number six guy on your list throws 100mph. He had the best arm in the A’s system until the Swisher trade brought in DLS. He pitches with a high 90’s two and four seam fastball, a solid change up, and a developing slider. He has the upside of a staff ace, but he’ll have to work on his command and off-speed offerings to get there. He tends to overthrow his pitches and last year it cost him when he walked 58 people in 99 innings of work.
- Jared Lansford (SP/RHP) – Two years ago Jared Lansford was throwing perfect games and considered one of the best pitching prospects in the A’s system. Last year he was given the A+ Stockton opening day start, but ended up missing most of the 2007 season because of detaching a muscle from a bone in his chest. This year he’s a borderline candidate to make the Stockton rotation. He pitches with a low 90’s sinking fastball, a knuckle curve, a slider, and a developing change-up. If he wants to keep moving through the system and make up for lost time he’s going to have to improve his strike-out totals. (Although in all fairness, part of his K problem is rumored to have stemmed from not being able to use his curve or slider in Kane County/2006) Lansford being the 7th man in this 6 man rotation is the main thing leaving me to believe that Anderson or DLS will start the year in AA Midland.
- Graham Godfrey (SP/RHP) – Godfrey, who came over in the Scutaro trade, is in a bit of a predicament. He’s too good for A- Kane County, not good enough to AA Midland, and has seven guys ahead of him for a spot in the A+ Stockton rotation. My prediction is that he’ll start in the Stockton bullpen and move to the rotation as a spot opens up. He throws in the low 90’s and has a developing change-up and slider.
- Jason Fernandez (SP/RHP) – Fernandez came out of nowhere last year to become one of the A’s more interesting pitching prospects. He pitched well in A- Kane County, and depending how badly the A’s want him to be a starter or reliever, he could ether start the year as the ace of the Kane County staff, or start in the Stockton bullpen and battle for a rotation spot as it opens up. Fernandez throws at a Joe Blanton like 88 to 91mph and has a good curveball and slider.
- Travis Banwart (SP/RHP) – This 2007 draftee put up a sub 3 era after being aggressively promoted to A-Kane County out of college. He has a low 90’s fastball, an above average change-up, a slow curveball, and a developing slider. He’ll likely start the year in A- Kane County, but at 22 years old is a strong candidate for a mid-year call up to Stockton if he continues to pitch well.
- Ryan Webb (SP/RHP) – Webb should start in A+ Stockton again given his performance last year, but Stockton’s glut of pitchers could very well force Webb onto the AA Midland staff. Webb, a four year veteran of the A’s system, is an intelligent pitcher with a low 90’s fastball, a slider, and a curve ball. He almost had a break-out year last year, but after giving up 10 homeruns in four games after being promoted to AA, he floundered after the demotion back to A+ that followed.
- James Heuser (SP/LHP) – Heuser is a victim of his own success. He did well as the solid but unspectacular innings eater of the A- Kane County staff last year (you could almost say the Joe Blanton of the staff), so well in fact that the A’s could want to keep him as a starter and, in my opinion, won’t consider him for Stockton’s bullpen. Because he doesn’t yet have the ability/experience of the eleven people ahead of him on this list he’ll likely start in Kane County again. Any other year and he’d go straight to Stockton, but because of the system rebuilding he’s a mid-year call-up at best.
Other Candidates: Scott Deal (A control pitcher with a slider, developing change-up), Brandon Dewing, Jose Guzman, Luis Ramirez (Had a good winter league).
Candidates who were cut from the minors: Michael Rodgers, Trent Peterson
Which pitcher are you going to be most excited to see pitch in Stockton this year?
Brett Anderson (19 votes)
Fautino de los Santos (151 votes)
Trevor Cahill (29 votes)
Vince Mazzaro (3 votes)
Arnold Leon (31 votes)
Henry Rodriguez (21 votes)
Jared Lansford (7 votes)
261 total votes