With baseball's amateur draft only about a month away, it seems like a good time to take a look back at last year's draft class and see where things stand. And with that in mind, I spoke with A's director of player personnel Billy Owens last week to get his take on the A's top draft picks from last year's first five rounds as well as a couple of top international prospects whom everyone's always eager to hear about. I've included the usual weekly statistical updates for each affiliate's top players afterwards minus the usual written recaps. As always, you can get daily updates on all the A's top prospects on my Athletics Farm blog and lots more details on last year's draft class right here on Athletics Nation...
#1 (1st Round)
Shortstop / Age: 19
2013 (Stockton): 1 HR / 17 BB / 27 K / .192 AVG / .341 OBP / .315 SLG / .656 OPS
2012 (AZL A's/Vermont/Burlington): 7 HR / 23 BB / 48 K / .369 AVG / .432 OBP / .594 SLG / 1.027 OPS
BILLY OWENS: He had a sensational debut (last season), and we couldn't be more excited. And seeing him in major league spring training - how he handled himself, the professionalism that he showed, just the constant energy that he plays with everyday - he has a maturity beyond his years. It's obvious that he's had tremendous parenting, and he's got a lot of talent. It's a pretty advanced assignment going to High-A ball, but we feel he's going to be up for the challenge. We feel pretty confident that he can go there and handle himself. It's a long year. We're going to see how the season goes all the way through the end of the minor league championship season. And we're pretty confident that he's going to be able to catch up to the league, stay mature, show his tools, and be an exciting part of our system going forward.
#2 (1st Round)
Shortstop / Age: 19
2013 (Beloit): 2 HR / 2 BB / 5 BB / .448 AVG / .469 OBP / .759 SLG / 1.227 OPS
2012 (AZL A's/Vermont): 5 HR / 23 BB / 46 K / .241 AVG / .330 OBP / .400 SLG / .730 OPS
BILLY OWENS: His make-up is outstanding. He's a very coachable kid - talented, mature. He got dinged up a little bit, but he's gone straight to Low-A (this season). I think his first night, he was a triple short of a cycle, and he got another hit yesterday, and he's playing a solid shortstop. This kid definitely likes to play baseball and has been well-coached. His skill level is outstanding. He's a solid shortstop prospect. He can definitely play the position. His hands are solid. He's got a strong arm. He's fundamentally sound.
#3 (1st Round)
First Baseman / Age: 19
BILLY OWENS: Matt Olson comes from a baseball family. His father played college ball. His brother plays at Harvard currently. And he's a baseball rat. He can play first base, and he could even dabble in the outfield if need be. He's got a short, efficient swing. I think initially he had such a strong debut - he hit a home run in his first at bat last year in Arizona rookie ball - he might have gotten a little too pull-confident and tried to force the issue with power. But we think that Matt Olson's going to be a very good all-around hitter, be able to use the field line-to-line, and the power will just develop over time. He's just a natural hitter. We like his hands - his hands are fluid, they're strong, they're direct. He had a couple of doubles the other night and hit his first home run. He's using all the field again and squaring up multiple pitches. He's got a very good eye - he walked 3 times the other night. I'm seeing the trends, and I'm more excited seeing the all-fields approach and the walks start to pick up versus the power. The power's going to be there ‘cause this kid's 6'4", 230 pounds and just naturally strong. So it should be exciting.
#4 (2nd Round)
Catcher / Age: 22
2013 (Beloit): 1 HR/ 12 BB / 10 K / .256 AVG / .351 OBP / .378 SLG / .729 OPS
2012 (AZL A's/Vermont): 0 HR / 31 BB / 38 K / .277 AVG / .356 OBP / .349 SLG / .705 OPS
BILLY OWENS: His numbers at Birmingham Southern were just ridiculous. They were pretty amazing when you look at the extra-base hits versus the little amount of strikeouts. This kid's got a tremendous eye, discerning at the plate. His swing path is fluid - it's very compact, direct to the baseball. He's strong, he's going to have power, he's going to be a high-walk guy. His catching is improving. Just at first glance, he reminds me of ex-Athletic Mickey Tettleton. He can catch, he's probably going to mix in some first base down the road and get involved every now and then as a designated hitter. But first and foremost, he's a slugger who'll be an essential part of the Oakland Athletics organization.
#5 (2nd Round)
RHP / Age: 21
2013: Extended Spring Training - Has Not Played
2012 (Vermont): 18 2/3 IP / 23 H / 8 ER / 6 BB / 19 K / 3.86 ERA / 1.55 WHIP
BILLY OWENS: We were excited to get Nolan when we got him. With his arm and his variety of pitches, it was a coup where we got him in the draft last year. When he went to rookie ball in short-season (Class-A), he was 96 mph+. His curveball broke off the table, and he's got a solid changeup. He's a very athletic kid. Just being predominantly a reliever in college last year, we're starting to get him prepared him for X amount of innings. We're kind of taking baby steps initially, but he's raring to go and ready to unleash that arsenal out there.
#6 (4th Round)
Outfielder / Age: 19
2013: Extended Spring Training - Has Not Played
2012 (AZL A's): 1 HR / 23 BB / 36 K / .301 AVG / .401 OBP / .434 SLG / .835 OPS
BILLY OWENS: He's got a dynamic skill set. Last year, he was by far the fastest player in our draft class. And then he went straight out to rookie ball and showed that speed. He's just explosive. He was an accomplished football player, had multiple Division I offers, but we were able to draft him. And all that carried over to rookie ball last year. That was a fun team that lost the final to the Rangers' rookie ball squad, but B.J. was a catalyst for that team. He hit a few home runs, he walked, he hit for a high average, he stole bases, he played a good center field. The Midwest League is a great league, we're proud to be there, but it's a little bit cold initially, so we held a couple guys back. We've got him back there in extended (spring training), but at some point, I think he'll be ready for the Midwest League this year. And I honestly believe that he'll make a positive impression once he gets there. Right now he's chomping at the bit, working hard in extended, shedding a few pounds, and getting ready to hopefully take the Midwest League by storm later on.
#7 (5th Round)
First Baseman / Age: 22
2013 (Stockton): 9 HR / 24 BB / 26 K / .286 AVG / .418 OBP / .554 SLG / .972 OPS
2012 (Burlington): 4 HR / 41 BB / 37 K / .275 AVG / .383 OBP / .432 SLG / .816 OPS
BILLY OWENS: Maxwell Muncy is a guy we're excited about. Armann Brown, our area scout out there in Texas, pointed Max out early, always liked the make-up. Max came from a good family structure and background. He's at the field early. He's there late. He's watching video. He's just ready to play everyday, so we're excited. He's amongst the minor league home run leaders, and we like his skill set. He can pick it at first base - we like his range there. His swing is the type of swing that's going to be able to hit advanced level pitching. And first and foremost, this guy's a baseball rat. I mean, he's a cage-wrecker. You've got to turn the lights off otherwise he's going to be in that cage 24/7. He's a fun guy to watch.
(International Amateur Free Agent)
Third Baseman / Age: 19
2013 (Beloit): 6 HR / 7 BB / 26 K / .303 AVG / .367 OBP / .573 SLG / .940 OPS
2012 (AZL A's): 4 HR / 17 BB / 32 K / .325 AVG / .403 OBP / .550 SLG / .953 OPS
BILLY OWENS: He's an exciting kid to watch. Sam Geaney, our international scouting director, and Julio Franco, our chief scout in Venezuela, they identified Renato all the way back to when he was 14 years old. And we were able to track him, follow him, and we were able to secure his services. He went to the Dominican Summer League at 16 years old and was able to get his feet wet and was able to do pretty well there. Last year, in the Arizona Rookie League, I believe he led the league in doubles. He just has that short stroke - it's a very accurate barrel. He's pretty advanced to send him at 19 years old to the Midwest League. This kid's got outstanding make-up, he's not afraid of anything. I think he's hit 4 home runs, 5 doubles. He's having a good start up there in Beloit. And it'll be fun to watch him this year, because this kid likes to play a lot and his background is excellent and he's a natural-born hitter.
(International Amateur Free Agent)
RHP / Age: 21
2013 (Beloit): 18 IP / 11 H / 2 ER / 7 BB / 16 K / 1.00 ERA / 1.00 WHIP
2012 (Vermont): 20 2/3 IP / 20 H / 16 ER / 16 BB / 19 K / 6.97 ERA / 1.74 WHIP
BILLY OWENS: It's definitely fun to see Michael in the box scores. The talent's always been immense, and now it's just a matter of him continuing to increase his workload and get out there on the diamond. He's a fabulous athlete. He's topped out at 96-97 mph, his breaking ball is getting better everyday, and his command is improving. So seeing him every five days in that box score is an exciting thing, and hopefully he can keep on doing that, because the talent's there. And hopefully we're crossing our fingers that he's passed certain hurdles and he can be out there and enjoy a healthy season.
--WEEKLY AFFILIATE UPDATES--
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS
(Triple-A Pacific Coast League)
Record This Week: 4-3
Record This Season: 17-14
C Stephen Vogt (6 HR / 11 BB / 11 K / .381 AVG / .440 OBP / .670 SLG / 1.110 OPS)
OF Michael Choice (6 HR / 19 BB / 25 K / .309 AVG / .422 OBP / .527 SLG / .949 OPS)
OF Shane Peterson (2 HR / 26 BB / 21 K / .304 AVG / .450 OBP / .457 SLG / .907 OPS)
RHP Sonny Gray (31 IP / 28 H / 9 ER / 0 HR / 12 BB / 25 K / 2.61 ERA / 1.29 WHIP)
RHP Jesse Chavez (30 IP / 35 H / 9 ER / 1 HR / 5 BB / 26 K / 2.70 ERA / 1.33 WHIP)
RHP Dan Otero (13 2/3 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 0 HR / 1 BB / 9 K / 0.00 ERA / 0.44 WHIP / 7 SV)
(Double-A Texas League)
Record This Week: 1-6
Record This Season: 14-16
1B Anthony Aliotti (2 HR / 23 BB / 24 K / .348 AVG / .453 OBP / .487 SLG / .940 OPS)
OF Jake Goebbert (3 HR / 9 BB / 29 K / .283 AVG / .355 OBP / .444 SLG / .799 OPS)
OF Jeremy Barfield (6 HR / 14 BB / 15 K / .233 AVG / .333 OBP / .467 SLG / .800 OPS)
RHP Murphy Smith (42 1/3 IP / 36 H / 9 ER / 1 HR / 12 BB / 29 K / 1.91 ERA / 1.13 WHIP)
RHP Zach Neal (35 IP / 33 H / 8 ER / 2 HR / 7 BB / 28 K / 2.06 ERA / 1.14 WHIP)
RHP Sean Murphy (17 1/3 IP / 15 H / 5 ER / 0 HR / 6 BB / 16 K / 2.60 ERA / 1.21 WHIP)
(High-A California League)
Record This Week: 3-3
Record This Season: 16-14
1B Max Muncy (9 HR / 24 BB / 26 K / .286 AVG / .418 OBP / .554 SLG / .972 OPS)
2B Antonio Lamas (3 HR / 8 BB / 21 K / .327 AVG / .382 OBP / .475 SLG / .857 OPS)
OF Josh Whitaker (4 HR / 6 BB / 20 K / .277 AVG / .340 OBP / .479 SLG / .818 OPS)
OF Dusty Robinson (4 HR / 17 BB / 27 K / .222 AVG / .336 OBP / .407 SLG / .743 OPS)
RHP Drew Granier (32 IP / 25 H / 10 ER / 2 HR / 18 BB / 40 K / 2.81 ERA / 1.34 WHIP)
RHP Pedro Vidal (16 2/3 IP / 8 H / 2 ER / 0 HR / 5 BB / 17 K / 1.08 ERA / 0.78 WHIP)
(Class-A Midwest League)
Record This Week: 5-2
Record This Season: 14-13
3B Renato Nunez (6 HR / 7 BB / 26 K / .303 AVG / .367 OBP / .573 SLG / .940 OPS)
1B Matt Olson (3 HR / 15 BB / 34 K / .271 AVG / .369 OBP / .458 SLG / .828 OPS)
OF Brett Vertigan (0 HR / 13 BB / 8 K / .267 AVG / .381 OBP / .384 SLG / .765 OPS)
RHP Michael Ynoa (18 IP / 11 H / 2 ER / 1 HR / 7 BB / 16 K / 1.00 ERA / 1.00 WHIP)
RHP Austin House (24 IP / 21 H / 8 ER / 1 HR / 9 BB / 15 K / 3.00 ERA / 1.25 WHIP / 1 SV)
RHP Raul Alcantara (34 1/3 IP / 43 H / 12 ER / 2 HR / 5 BB / 20 K / 3.15 ERA / 1.40 WHIP)
You can check out my blog - Athletics Farm - for daily updates on the A's minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.