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Athletics Nation Community Prospect List #1

AN'ers come together to see who is the fairer of them all. Or something like that.

Michael Choice maxing, relaxing and acting all cool.
Michael Choice maxing, relaxing and acting all cool.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our regularly scheduled off season distraction, the Community Prospect List.

This year's routine will be a bit longer than usual. We will have a vote every week till mid to end Spring Training, and each week we will vote on another prospect onto the big list. This year, we also have the Stream available to us, so we can continue to add to the current stream as we go along to keep track.

The Rules:

  • Vote for the candidate you like in the poll below. The winning vote getter at the end of the week will go up on the board, and a new slot will open up to take his place.
  • Each week, I will take the top rec'd commented nomination and put him on the list. That means that after the first 5 prospects are put up, it will be you, AN, who chooses who gets up on the board next. So do your research.
  • Each prospect coming up each week will have a bio to introduce him, written by some of AN's front page editorial crew! So look forward to that.
  • In the very likely case of a trade, incoming prospects will be put up to a vote for where they rank between current people on the list. Outgoing prospects will be crossed out, and everyone moved up.
  • Candidates will be listed in Alphabetical order.

Now, onward!

Michael Choice

Choice could really go either way, in that he is very toolsy and is still quite young, but he has also shown some worrisome strikeout tendencies and hasn't yet had that "breakthrough season" that suggests he's more of a sure thing and less of an enigma.

Choice will always strike out a lot, but I think his quick bat, the combination of speed and power, and the fact that he projects to be above average defensively in the COF, will get him to the big leagues. I just not sure it will be that soon as he may be a late bloomer who takes a while at each level to master the competition.

I could see Choice becoming a .250/.340/.460, 20 HR, 20 SB, good defensive COFer -- basically a "very solid" player -- and I could also see him not becoming any of that until the age of 26. Perhaps Choice's destiny is to become "the Chris Young of the COF". - Nico

Choice blasted his way through the low minors, but struggled in his first taste of the upper minors, Double A. Double A is said by many to be the first time players will face stiff competition, and is the proving ground of prospects to see if they will be Major Leaguers, with AAA serving mainly as an injury reserve to many.

Choice was starting to get hot right before breaking his hand mid season. I had a lot of expectations, as did many, on Choice, but I would like to see him come out of the gate strong. Stockton is a place where we have seen many prospects crush and then fall flat, Stephen Parker and Grant Green being a recent example of this.

Still, Choice has the tools, and one of the more important ones at that (Power!) to be successful.

But 2012 was a lost season for him, in a sense. - Zonis

AJ Cole

Man, it's difficult to project "single A pitchers with #1 upside". I guess I'm comfortable saying he'll wind up being something between Luke Hochevar and Zack Greinke. Which is kind of like the doctor assuring you that your child will grow up to be around 4'6"-6'11" tall.

Since he's a pitcher, probably the safest prediction is to say he'll get injured. But if he stays healthy, maybe he winds up being like another AJ: AJ Burnett, who has spent time in the big leagues as a #2 SP, just not consistently. - Nico
All of a stir with the off season, Cole was the prize of the Gio Gonzalez trade. Upon arrival, Cole bombed in Stockton, which he might have been too young for, and was demoted to Low A Burlington, where he blossomed and exploded back into the pitcher that we thought we were getting. I would like to see Cole return to Stockton and dominate, and youth is still with him,, before I make any rash judgements, however. - Zonis

Miles Head

Ultimately, I see Head moving to 1B to become a solid defender somewhere instead of a "stretched defender". He seems like a pure enough hitter that he'll continue to "mash" at every level, even if it takes him a year to figure out a given league. I hate to compare anyone to Ty Wigginton but that's the kind of player I could see Head becoming. And Wigginton, while no star, had a long and good career. - Nico
The new prize of the Baily trade, Head turned heads when he came onto Stockton and burned the place to the ground. A .715 SLG (not OPS, SLG) in Stockton propelled him mid season to Double A Midland, where he held his own (.337 wOBA), but did not exactly excel. Head will likely repeat the year in Midland, with an aim to be ready for 2014. But, will that be at 3B or 1B? His questionable glove will plague him, and a good hitting 1B is not nearly as valuable as a good hitting 3B. - Zonis

Addison Russell

When the A's drafted Russell, it was widely seen as a reach. Russell was a Shortstop who was pegged to move to 3B due to body and conditioning concerns, and not everyone thought he could hit. The A's thought different, and drafted Russel high, and he has proven them right and the doubters wrong.

Russell's knock, his conditioning, turned out to be something of a mistake. He had gained weight and muscle due to the advice of scouts, and yet it was this same advised conditioning that had those scouts peg him as a 3B with poor conditioning. Addison went back to the drawing board, put himself in shape to be more agile and better built for SS again, and took off.

Addision crushed his Rookie Ball competition, putting up a .520 wOBA, and a 201 wRC+ in 121 PA. He similarly cruised through introductions to Short Season league and Low A Burlington, ending the year with flying colors and earning the adoration of A's Prospect Watchers everywhere. - Zonis

It's hard not to get gushy-excited about this guy who, at the age of 19, has yet to find a level he can't make look foolish. I have to think he's going to make it; the question is, as what percentage of the current hype and hope? At the moment, he seems a bit like Manny Machado, a comp I choose because Machado made it to the big leagues at the age of 20 and did not seem bothered by how quickly he was accelerated.

I don't think we'll see Russell until mid-2014 at the earliest, but I would not be at all surprised if he were the A's starting SS in 2015 at the age of "just turned 21". Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado have shown that it's possible and Russell may be special enough not only to be good, but to be good soon. - Nico

Addison Russell should be number one. I'm just saying. - Blez

Dan Straily

In the minors, Dan Straily proved to be a "strikeout machine," while in his first big league go-around he proved to be a "HR machine". My take on Straily is that he came up very raw, having flown through several levels, and from "who?" status to "lots of buzz" status, in a very short amount of time.

I think Straily will settle into being a solid middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher with some "TTO tendencies" -- that is, a tendency to allow more BBs, more Ks, and more HRs, than the average bear. His changeup has the potential to be very good, his slider is a solid "swing and miss" pitch, and his fastball, while nothing special, has enough velocity and movement to complement good secondary pitches. Prediction: A solid #3 with #2 upside. Think Freddy Garcia when he threw 92MPH (not when he threw 95MPH and was awesome, and not this year when he threw 85MPH and was dreadful). - Nico

The minor league strike out leader for much of the season, Straily became the A's blue chip prospect at the deadline, with the A's holding onto him at all costs. I do not know if they will regret that going forward, having not dealt Straily at his arguable peak, but he has proved himself ready for the big leagues.

Once in the big leagues, however, Straily put up a rather shiny ERA, which hid a very bad FIP. No, your eyes did not fool you, Straily's numbers were not really there for the A's. I feel that Straily has a tendency to get complacent during a start, and will 'nodd off' and give up mistakes, leading to that horrendous and completely out of place 2.52 HR/9. Straily will need to stay focused to stay in the big leagues, but if he can, he can be an upper rotation starter. - Zonis