Attention, Athletics Nation! I have just been handed a very urgent and shocking news report, and I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen. Here you go: Addison Russell is the Oakland Athletics' top prospect. Whammy! Finally, the debate is over and there is a clear number one.
Okay, I guess that's not really breaking news. Russell was already AN's pick as the No. 1 prospect in the system, and he topped the Community Prospect List last winter as well. He's an elite talent, a shortstop with power and speed and solid defense. He's 20 years old and he's starting the season at Double-A. He's the kind of guy that you dream about building your franchise around.
It is no surprise, then, that Russell was prominently featured in two lists this week. He was named Oakland's top prospect in Baseball America's top-10 organizational rankings, and he clocked in as the No. 12 prospect in all of baseball in MLB.com's Top 100 list. Unfortunately, he is also the only Oakland farmhand on that Top 100 list, but at least there is quality despite the lack of quantity.
The rest of Oakland's top-10 looks like this:
2. Billy McKinney
3. Raul Alcantara
4. Michael Ynoa
5. Renato Nunez
6. Max Muncy
7. Dylan Covey
8. Bobby Wahl
9. Daniel Robertson
10. Nolan Sanburn
For the sake of comparison, here is AN's CPL as it stands so far:
5. Ynoa (currently leading in the poll)
So, what do these new lists tell us? The first is that Oakland's system is a little thin, which is a fact that we already knew. The A's have graduated an entire starting rotation to the majors in the last couple of years, as well as several position players, and they have used even more youngsters in trades for veteran players. The system is dry, but only because it recently catapulted the team to two straight division titles. Most of the fruits of that process are still wearing green and gold.
The second thing it tells us is that AN loves Daniel Robertson. Sheesh, we placed him five spots higher than BA did.
The third thing is that Miles Head has just fallen completely off the map. He was No. 7 last year. I guess a 527 OPS will do that. He should have been more headstrong.
The fourth thing, though, is that things are still looking good for the future. Seven of the ten players on that list are from the last two drafts, which means that the team is drafting well. Actually, I guess it means that the upper levels are so barren that the only nice things to say about the A's system are that its relatively untested guys have high ceilings, but I choose to interpret it the first way. Several of Oakland's recent draft picks have performed well in their first professional trials, and, while they may be a few years away from the majors, a few of them could be ready to help when some of the current big league stars begin getting prohibitively expensive. Help is on the way, eventually.
When a small-market team strips its farm system in search of postseason glory, all that it can hope to do is re-stock via the draft. As long as the team is contending, the options for keeping wheels turning and the good times rolling are either drafting well or trading veterans for prospects before they reach free agency. Therefore, drafting is a great way to extend the cycle of success, and the A's seem to be succeeding on that front.
What are your thoughts on BA's top-10 list? Let's discuss in the comments! I will also accept haikus and other offerings of appreciation for Daniel Robertson, who is apparently our guy.