Sep 20, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Tom Milone (46) delivers to the plate during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during game one of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies 4-3 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

A's 2012 Top 10 Prospects, #6: Tom Milone

Sep 20, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Tom Milone (46) delivers to the plate during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during game one of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies 4-3 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Every Thursday, Swingin’ A’s will unveil a top Oakland A’s prospect. Starting from number 10 and finishing with number 1, be sure to stop by every Thursday to see who makes the list of the Top 10 Oakland A’s prospects. This week’s edition turns the spotlight on pitcher Tom Milone, who was acquired by the A’s in the Gio Gonzalez trade.

After Billy Beane came to the realization that his franchise wasn’t going to be a perennial playoff contender for a few years, he did what he does best: tear apart his team and try to rebuild it. The moves made by Oakland this winter are, in more ways than none, indicative of Beane’s train of thought.

The decision to tear apart his starting rotation by trading pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez plays right into the whole idea of rebuilding the franchise. The A’s, mired in a tough stadium situation, were not going anywhere and Beane realized that. Both the Cahill and Gonzalez trades brought in a ton of young talent Oakland’s way, but fans, understandably so, were a bit frustrated by the moves.

The A’s haven’t enjoyed much success since their 2006 meltdown in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers and fans are growing weary of third-place finishes and sub-.500 records. In their credit, though, the A’s have stayed focused on their most recent attempt to rebuild their franchise.

They’ve been patiently waiting the word on their proposed move to San Jose, a territory the San Francisco Giants calls their own, but the A’s haven’t heard anything substantial yet from MLB. The team has shown that they remain committed to the San Jose project. This month’s Billy Beane extension serves as yet another reminder the team has long-term goals in mind.

But for the sake of this post, let’s turn our attention now to the Gio Gonzalez trade. In the trade, the A’s acquired some great young talent in exchange for their former southpaw Gonzalez. Among those young talents the A’s scored in the deal is LHP Tom Milone, who could be the next Dallas Braden.

Some of you reading this post will likely question why Milone is ranked so high on this list, but I assure all of you that Milone definitely belongs in the No.6 spot on this list.

The former 10th round pick of the 2008 draft, Milone comes to Oakland after posting impressive numbers with Washington’s organization. In 24 stars last year in Triple-A Syracuse, Milone posted a 12-6 record with a 3.22 ERA and a 9.4 SO/9 rate. More importantly, though, Milone showed great command last year in Triple-A, walking just 16 batters while posting an impressive 9.69 SO/BB.

The year before that in Double-A Harrisburg, Milone posted a 12-5 record with a 2.85 ERA over 27 starts. He recorded 155 strikeouts over 158 innings pitched that year as well.

Despite those impressive numbers, the lefty has endured his share of criticism. The biggest form of criticism, though, revolves around Milone’s poor fastball velocity. The lefty has a fastball that climbs into the upper-80′s (on a good day), but nothing higher than that. Still, the A’s can expect pin-point precision from their recently acquired southpaw.

Milone made five appearances last year in Washington, posting a 1-0 record with a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings pitched. He also compiled a 1.231 WHIP, 5.2 SO/9 rate and a 1.4 BB/9 rate as well.

He may not receive the type of attention as A.J. Cole or Brad Peacock, but Milone definitely has the abilities to be a solid major league starter. Of the pitchers acquired in the Gonzalez trade, I’d say Milone is probably the one who is most major-league ready. His impact on the starting rotation could be felt immediately and his presence in the rotation could be a lasting one.

Milone isn’t going to overpower anybody with his stuff, but the left-hander should be able to make a lasting impression this spring with his superb command and decision making. Milone has the talent to be a very good No. 3 or No.4 guy in Oakland’s rotation for years to come.

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