Heading into the 2012 season, the A’s will probably feature an entirely different outfield. Fans should embrace the fact that the A’s are poised to lose both Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp this winter, especially since the team already lost the other member of their 2011 starting outfield staff, David DeJesus.
DeJesus’s departure most likely means Oakland has no interest in retaining their free agents this winter and will probably look for in-house help next season. Players like Ryan Sweeney, Jai Miller, and Michael Taylor are all vying for playing time and with open spots in the outfield it’s expected that they’ll get a chance to play in 2012.
Aside from those three players, Oakland has another potential player to add to their outfield mix in 2012: Jermaine Mitchell. Mitchell, 27, was selected in the fifth-round of the 2006 June Amateur Draft by the A’s, and has quietly emerged as an outfield option for the power-hungry Athletics.
The A’s had Mitchell split time between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento this year, but Mitchell performed exceptionally well on both levels. He hit an astounding .355/.453/.589 with 10 HR and 50 RBIs with the Rock Hounds and hit .302/.401/.453 with 5 HR and 28 RBIs with the River Cats.
For a team like Oakland, Mitchell’s solid display of power is definitely a welcomed sight. At 27, though, Mitchell is a bit old to still be in the minor leagues. Given the fact that Oakland is set to lose all its 2011 starting outfielders, however, Mitchell could get a shot at some serious playing time this year.
Oakland will be losing a lot this winter, but there are some options in the minor leagues waiting to help ease the pain of losing guys like Willingham and Crisp to free agency. Mitchell figures to be one of those players who can help Oakland offensively next season given his success in the minor leagues.