If you recognized him before reading this caption, then you are probably Mike Ekstrom's mom. - USA TODAY Sports
We're not just talking about filler here. From the scrap heap of pitchers you've never heard of or hadn't thought about for years come guys like Travis Blackley, Brandon McCarthy, and Gil Heredia (I might have skipped a few years). In other words, the A's have a keen eye for pitching talent, so much so that when they commit guaranteed money to Chris Resop you go, "Well I don't see it, but if Billy does..."
Keep an eye on Mike Ekstrom, who put together a pretty sensational season for Colorado Springs last year. Despite pitching at high altitude, Ekstrom's 57 IP produced a 2-0 record, a 2.20 ERA, and exactly 0 HRs. Granted, he's 29 and hardly a household name, but if you're looking for this year's "diamond in the rough" he's a pretty strong candidate. You can check out his career ledger here.
Garrett Olson is another intriguing pickup. A LHP with a good arm, Olson's career 6.26 ERA probably won't excite you but his stuff might. One scouting report from the days when he was considered a hot prospect note an 89-92 MPH fastball with "a ton of life" and a big breaking power curve. But...That report is from 2007. Now 29, Olson is a LHP who comes to the A's at the same age when Oakland took a flier on...Travis Blackley. You never know.
Any other guys we should keep an eye on this spring? Remember, when camp ends there are 25 players left standing but when it opens there are about 60. Here's the list of "non roster invitees". David Freitas, Scott Moore, and Jefry Marte could also open -- or close -- some eyes in spring training. Remember, in past years spring training has been a "get on the map" opportunity that in the cases of Travis Buck and Huston Street even meant a spot on the Opening Day roster. This year, the roster is probably too close to being set for any of these guys to sneak on April 1st, but any guesses as to who will be this year's "wow!" standout?