You think only tow-truck drivers play "Fantasy AAA"? (Can you imagine, by the way? "What? Fred jump-started three cars on Sunday? I knew I should have drafted him in the second round!") In this sponsored post series running across SBN, here is your A's entry for "players who might put up really good numbers" in the minor leagues this year...
Let's start with Shane Peterson. Spring training aside, Peterson dominated AAA (.389/.484/.618) in 2012 and figures to start there anyway in 2013. His BABIP will inevitably dip and his OPS probably will be well south of 1.102 but it still has a chance to be awfully good.
Look for Michael Choice, who also opened some eyes in the Cactus League, to acquit himself well at AAA. At the time he was hit by a pitch that ended his 2012 season prematurely, Choice was finally hitting like the A's thought he would when they made him a 1st round pick.
On the mound, most of the A's good young pitchers are in Oakland and the River Cats' starting rotation might not be all that stellar. However, Bruce Billings quietly put up an excellent 2012 season and should be solid, while lefty Andrew Werner will do his best "Tommy Milone-lite" impression. Sonny Gray may be the A's best pitching prospect but I wouldn't recommend him just yet on a fantasy-baseball level, not until the BBs come down and his changeup develops.
As far as the lower minors go, not to put unworldly expectations on his young shoulders but I think the smart money is on Addison Russell putting up very good numbers. At some point he is going to struggle, but it may not be until he is pushed well up the ladder. Russell will start the 2013 season in A-ball (probably Stockton) and I'm betting he will thrive there (it doesn't hurt that the Cal League is known to be a hitters' league).
Sleepers and dark horses? Consider pitcher Nolan Sanburn (19 Ks/6BBs in 18.2 at Vermont), the pure hitting Matt Olson (.282/.345/.520 in the AZL league at age 18), and the toolsy B.J. Boyd (..301/.401/.434 in the AZL league at age 19).
It's not just the major league teams that are about to get going. We can also look forward to watching the A's minor league talent get going soon, and see who emerges as this year's "exceeder of expectations, putter upper of exquisite numbers" -- a la Dan Straily and Addison Russell in 2012. Play ball!
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