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Monday Midnight Minors Musings: Who's Hot/Who's Not Edition

Both Zonis and PaulThomas have published very thorough and enlightening mid-season top prospects lists over the past week or so. I won't try to step on their toes, except to say that when I started making my own list, I eventually settled on making two seperate lists: 1 for the top prospects based purely on this season's performance and 1 based purely on future potential. Inevitably, there is some carry-over between two such lists, but I thought such a separation of thought was apt with the organization in such a state of flux at this time. So here I go:

Performance List

1. RHP Trevor Cahill - No pitcher in the entire minor leagues has raised his stock more than Cahill has this season. His mastery of the Cal League in the 1st half was just unbelievable.

2. LHP Brett Anderson - Just as impressive as Cahill performance-wise, minus the thumb injury.

3. RHP Vince Mazzaro - After wobbling through Stockton last season, no one expected Vince to dominate the Texas League. Yet he has and really upped his prospect status.

4. 1B Sean Doolittle - So much for those who questioned his power potential.

5. DH Chris Carter - The K's are concerning, but he's absolutely hammered the ball like he supposed to, approaching a .600 slugging percentage.

6. CF Aaron Cunningham - Aaron has really bounced back from his wrist surgery and, although he's been a very streaky hitter, his overall numbers are solid.

7. 2B Adrian Cardenas - Guess you have to include him since he's now officially part of the organization. Was having an impressive season before coming over, especially by hitting a TON of line drives.

8. RHP James Simmons - As a 21-year old pitching in Double-A, his strikeout numbers and control are outstanding. Still very hittable, which hurts his overall upside.

9. RHP Sam Demel - Andrew Carignan might be closing ahead of him at Double-A, but Sam's performance at High-A has been unbelievable: 12.7 K/9 is sickening.

10. OF Corey Brown - He still has major contact issues, but his power numbers, defense and baserunning were all very impressive for Kane County.

Potential List

1. RHP Trevor Cahill - Definitely showing that his floor is probably a solid #2 on a good major league staff.

2. LHP Brett Anderson - If he can consistently hit 93-94mph with his fastball, can be an ace.

3. LHP Gio Gonzalez - Inconsistency is concerning, but the good stuff and strikeout numbers are still there. Probably projects as a good #2 starter on a major league staff.

4. RHP Michel Inoa - Not sure what to expect from him at this point, but with many scouts thinking he can get Low-A hitters out now, you gotta think his potential is astronomical.

5. DH Chris Carter - The only player in the system with a legitimate chance to hit 30+ homers in the major leagues.

6. RHP Henry Rodriguez - He bombed in Double-A, but he's still only 21 and has the best pure arm in the system.

7. CF Aaron Cunningham - If he can hack-it in center long-term, he'll be a helluva major league asset.

8. 1B Sean Doolittle - Solid defender at 1st who should hit between 20-25 homers for several years in the bigs.

9. 2B Adrian Cardenas - Great line-drive contact hitter, but lack of power potential and so-so defense limits his upside.

10. RHP Craig Italiano - Great arm who dominated at Kane County but is getting rocked in Stockton. Still has electric stuff and is young.

Kind of a polyglot couple of lists, I know, but it all made sense to me!

Who's Hot/Who's Not

Sacramento RiverCats

HOT - 2B/OF Eric Patterson: I would say that batting .417 with 9 extra basehits in 36 total at-bats, 9 RBIs, 11 runs and 8 stolen bases since joining his new organization qualifies as hot. He still needs to find enough of a defensive home to make himself useful on a major league roster, but with the likes of Jack Hannahan, Brooks Conrad and Rajai Davis ahead of him in Oakland, he shouldn't have to wait too long to get a chance with the big club in a reserve role.

NOT - RHP Jeff Gray: After leading the AAA Champion Cats last season in saves and anchoring the bullpen all year, things were looking up for Gray. He was clocked in the mid-90s with his sinking fastball and he was added to the 40-man roster in the off-season. But this year Gray has looked like a completely different pitcher and has therefore seen non-roster players (Ziggy) beat him to the majors this season. Gray has only 1 save on the year as he's just getting hit way too hard (61 hits in 46 innings, .313 average against) and now has an ugly 5.05 ERA on the year. Gray's control hasn't ever been all that great and his K/9 is not very impressive for a late-inning reliever, so I'm guessing he might be in line to be removed from the 40-man soon, especially with hot-shots like Carignan and Demel zooming up through the relief-pitching depth chart.

Midland Rockhounds

*Note - LHP Josh Outman (from the Blanton trade) made his debut for the organization tonight for Midland and got rocked, only lasting 1.1 innings, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits, 3 walks and no strikeouts. Yikes!

HOT - RHP Andrew Carignan: The Midland closer has 5 saves in his last 10 games and has only allowed runs in 2 of those 10 appearances, for an ERA of 1.50 in that span, which was highlighted by a Herculian effort on July 1st where he went 2.2 innings, struck out 5 and got the win for the Hounds. What's been especially impressive during this hot streak is that Andrew, who's had well-documented control problems both this year and last, has really improved his control striking out 20 and only walking 5 in this latest streak.

NOT - OFer Javier Herrera: Look, this is Javy's 3rd go-round through Double-A and he just doesn't look like the dynamic 5-tooler he once was. At .240/.319/.346 with a few homers and extra base hits, Javy's probably doing just enough to stick on the roster, but with a full compliment of outfielders producing decently at Midland and Doolittle getting some reps out there Javy is definitely losing a lot of playing time and will probably be removed from the 40-man roster this off-season if he doesn't get his act together fast.

Stockton Ports

HOT - C Josh Donaldson: Man oh man, this kid has really turned around his season in a few short days with his new organization. He's already hit 4 homeruns in 10 games for the Ports! There's always room in the organization for a right-handed power hitter, no matter what position someone plays!

NOT - OF Jermaine Mitchell: I've always liked Mitchell as a player and thought he would do great things in the California League. And yet he has not and is really slumping lately. Over his past 10 games he's only batting .211 with only 3 walks and 12 strikeouts and one extra base-hit. His season totals have taken a hit as a result and now he's under a .700 OPS on the year. He's stealing bases at a decent rate (19 for 23) but he's not getting on-base enough to really exploit it. Luckily, Mitchell's a good enough defender to stick in center so his power numbers won't need to be huge for him to stay promising, but his season so far has been a big disappointment.

Kane County Cougars

HOT - SS Michael Richard: Since he was drafted last year, it has been easy to label Richard as somewhat of a novelty act; a small guy that can squeeze the strikezone, get on-base without the benefit of actual hitting skills, run like hell all across the basepaths and look horrible doing pretty much everything else. However, that's not the case anymore with Michael. He's still getting on base at a ridiculous clip (.417) but he's doing it with the benefit of both a great eye at the plate (24-20 BB-K) and a nice swing (.335 batting average, thanks to a 20% line-drive rate). He's also added a little power to his game (slugging .420 with 2 homers, not an easy thing to do in the Midwest League) and has kept up his relentless assault on the basepaths (27-for-33 in stolen bases). He's still a butcher in the field with 16 errors so far in only 48 games, but since he's taken steps forward with his power stroke, it will interesting to see if Michael can also improve with the glove enough to stay relevant in an organization that is suddenly placing a premium on speed.

NOT - LHP Anthony Capra: When I saw Capra start Wichita State's final game of the NCAA super regionals (when he got lit-up), I was unimpressed with his stuff and wondered why Beane would spend a 4th round pick on him. That curiosity continues in me today. Although he's only started 2 games for the Cougars for a grand total of 6 innings, they have been pretty bad innings. Capra's been very hittable (8 hits allowed, 2 of which were homers, .333 average against) and wild with 2 walks and 1 hit batter already. I shouldn't pass judgment so soon on the guy and he's probably just rusty from not starting in awhile, but everything I read about this guy said that he was a low-upside, decent lefty starter in college and that his ceiling was that of a middle-reliever at best. I just wanted a little more from a 4th rounder, that's all.

Vancouver Canadians

HOT - RHP Jose Guzman: Guzman is a product of the A's Domincan program and he is putting up some impressive number for Vancouver in a relief role. He's got a 0.48 ERA with a 0.91 WHiP in 18.2 innings, 7 saves and 20-5 K-BB ratio so far. He could become the next Jairo Garcia!

NOT - OF Jeremy Barfield: Yes, son of Jesse and brother of Josh. Jeremy was a pretty highly-touted signing for the A's this year as a power-righty bat with good athleticism in the field. Unfortunately, Jeremy's not producing very much at all at the plate, with a meager .607 OPS (which is what will happen to your numbers when over 60% of your balls in play are groundballs and your name is not Ichiro Suzuki.) Jeremy is 3rd on the team in RBIs with 11 and the season is still very young, so things can turn around quickly for him, if he starts getting the ball off the ground.

A's Prospects in the News

1. Baseball America ran a bunch of press about A's prospects over the past week:

-Chris Carter, Vince Mazzaro & Josh Donaldson were all included in last week's Prospect Hot Sheet.

- In the Hot Sheet chat JJ Cooper thinks that A's now have the deepest collection of pitching talent, just edging out Tampa - which probably has the edge in pure talent though - and in discussing the Harden and Blanton hauls Cooper points out that in Cardenas the A's netted a true "impact"-type player that was missing in the Harden trade.

- In Jim Callis's ASK BA Chat, Jim points out that Weeks is likely the long-term heir apparent  at 2nd base, since he's the best defender, has the best speed on the basepaths and is just a good a hitter as Cardenas or Patterson. He goes on to speculate that Patterson will end up as a utility man while Cardenas will end up at 3rd.

- Matt Eddy's breakdown of the Joe Blanton haul doesn't really tell us anything we don't know: Cardenas is a great line-drive hitter with good pop but average defense, Outman is a deception-oriented lefty that dominates left-handed batters and Spencer was a throw-in.

2. Kevin Goldstein over at BP usually has some interesting things to say about A's prospects and this past week was no exception:

- In his draft-update version of his weekly "Future Shock" feature Kevin mentions that the A's continue to scout and monitor 7th round draft pick Brett Hunter, a power righty out of Pepperdine, who is pitching for the Team USA National Collegiate Team. Kevin reports that Brett is healthy and is pitching wildly, but effectively, for the team and says that he wants $2 million to sign with the A's. I say just sign the guy. 2 mil is just a little more than what we're paying DFA Brown this season.

- In today's Monday Ten Pack Kevin highlights Aaron Cunningham and considers him like a right-handed Travis Buck. Gotta disagree with him there. Aaron's finding his power stroke after his earlier wrist injury and he's hit more homers and stolen more bases at a slightly younger playing age than Buck at similar levels. From everything I've heard, he's also a legit center fielder, which Buck is not.

3. Alex Eisenberg, who runs the excellent site, recently profiled Gallagher, Murton, Patterson and Donaldson using his trademarked slow-mo video breakdowns. He has some very encouraging things to say about each of these guys with some evidence to back it up.

Alex has been in contact with me for a few weeks now and he's interested in delving into the A's farm system with some more in-depth video analysis (which would be AWESOME), so hopefully we can put something together to get that going in the coming weeks. Thanks Alex!

I'll be heading to Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday night to check out the Ports on their final trip to Quakes Stadium. Next week I'll be sure to post some pics and some observations about all the new guys on the Ports' roster!