The A's have a smaller-profile set of guys playing baseball down south in the sun this year, but a lot of these players are still pretty important to the health of this franchise. There's a full list of A's organizational players in a winter league here, but I wanted to run through some of the notables.
Obviously, any discussion would have to start with OF Michael Taylor. He was involved in that Cliff Lee mega-trade last offseason, bringing up the rear as he was swapped with Brett Wallace by Toronto. Before coming to California, Michael Taylor had zoomed through the minors with a career OPS close to .950, where he used his athletic 6'6" 260 lb. frame to generate a very large amount of power. Taylor was given a full-time job in AAA Sacramento this year, but for some reason, his power completely deserted him, and he compiled a slugging percentage over 100 points below his career average. John Sickels gave him a great grade of a "B+, borderline A-" before 2010, but now he's at a fairly significant risk of becoming a future non-prospect altogether. Unfortunately, his power outage hasn't really ended quite yet. To his credit, he bounced back in other areas of his offense, so that his batting line is pretty solid overall, but I really would have liked to see him hit the ball with more authority. Strangely enough, his Arizona Fall League line looks eerily like a slightly better version of Daric Barton's batting line.
But the big winner? Stephen Parker, who was recently drafted in 2009. He spent 2010 in high-A Stockton, where he flashed both power and discipline from the hot corner. The competition in the Arizona Fall League is generally a mix of tough AA and AAA guys, so Parker would have had a very valid excuse if he didn't exactly set the league on fire. Instead, he decided to tear the cover off the ball, and the end result is a very impressive AFL batting line for a 22-year-old fresh out of high-A. Additionally, Baseball America noted that he was one of the "best defensive 3B in the [California] league". Expect to see him ranked pretty highly on a future list of Oakland prospects.
As for the others, Josh Horton has been hitting extremely well, but in only 42 plate appearances. Grant Green has a similar sample size issue, but with the opposite end result. For both, it's hard to make a judgment based on such a small amount of playing time. And Corey Wimberly is, as usual, slugging less than his on-base percentage, which makes it look more and more likely that he won't get anything more than an injury callup to the majors.
Oakland sent a lot of mediocre AAA roster-filling pitchers to the winter leagues this year, and it shows, as most of them have middling strikeout rates and mediocre walk rates. The only notable guy is flamethrower Henry Rodriguez, who is doing his usual act—he's striking out almost thirteen batters per nine innings, while walking over four. He is what he is, I suppose.
So, the end result? Some good, some bad, and a lot of fringey filler. But on the bright side, there hasn't been a faith-fueled change of careers yet. Yes, I'm still looking at you,.