With today’s day off for the Oakland Athletics as they enter the final stretch run towards a hopeful postseason berth, I thought it was a prime opportunity to take a brief look at the minor league system of the organization in 2012.
We’ll start at the highest minor league level, the Triple A affiliate Sacramento Rivercats. The Rivercats have a long standing history of success and this season was no different. The team finished with an 86-58 record, and won it’s 6th consecutive PCL Southern Division title. While many members of the 2012 Rivercats find themselves on the active roster of the Oakland Athletics, those were not the only standouts in Sacramento. Grant Green, who was the subject of much discussion from yours truly and others as someone who deserved a call up to Oakland, and in 2012 he put himself on the map for the A’s in 2013. In 125 games Green hit .296/.338/.458, and played all over the diamond. There’s no telling where he’ll wind up playing in his career, but his versatility will be very useful. Michael Taylor continues to find himself in organizational purgatory, he played well in 120 games hitting .287/.404./.441. The power still hasn’t come like his stature would indicate should happen (sound familiar Ryan Sweeney fans?), and with the depth the A’s have in the outfield it seems likely that Taylor’s big MLB chance may ultimately come with another organization. The Rivercats can expect to see a lot of the likes of Shane Peterson in 2013, who tore the cover off the ball upon his promotion from Double A Midland.
The Double A Midland Rockhounds struggled a bit in the Texas League South Division, finishing 64-74 and in 3rd place. This team was expected to be centered around top prospect OF Michael Choice. Choice had a monster 2011 season with the Stockton Ports, and hoped to follow it up with another big season for the Rockhounds. It didn’t exactly go as planned though, Choice hit .287/.356/.423 which isn’t poor by any means but severely lacks the power he showed in 2011. Choice was injured midway through the season so he never got the chance to regain his power stroke. Thought to be on track for Sacramento, it’s likely Choice begins 2013 back in Midland. Sonny Gray had a bit of an up and down season, struggling with his control. His 4.14 ERA and his 1.39 WHIP were not what the A’s were hoping for, but his pitching towards the end of the season did earn him a promotion to Sacramento. I expect he’ll be in the Rivercats rotation starting in 2013.
The Class A Stockton Ports struggled even more mightily than the Rockhounds did in 2012. Their 56-84 record was enough to land them in the cellar of the California League North Division. The lone true offensive bright spot came from Miles Head, who had been acquired in the deal for CL Andrew Bailey from the Boston Red Sox. Head was considered a fringe prospect at best entering this season, but he elevated himself into potential diamond in the rough status this year. His astounding .385/.433/.715 line in 67 games for the Ports earned him a mid-season promotion to Double A.
The Low A Burlington Bees finished below .500 with a 67-72 record. There were some notable names on the roster as the season ended, namely 2012 first round pick Addison Russell. Russell played in just 16 games but hit .310/.369/.448 in those games and may have earned himself a promotion to Stockton when the 2013 season rolls around. A.J. Cole also saw action in Burlington after struggling with the Ports, in Burlington Cole dominated with a 2.07 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 95.2 innings.
The short-season A level Vermont Lake Monsters finished with a 33-43 record which put them in last place in the Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League. The aforementioned Addison Russell earned his promotion to Burlington with a .340/.386/.509 line in 13 games for the Lake Monsters. Also present was 2012 draft pick Matt Olson who made a cameo appearance in 4 games and hit a home run.
Overall record wise it wasn’t the most successful season the organization has ever seen, but progress with some key prospects was made. The team has been able to restock what were some relatively bare cupboards prospect wise through trades, and hopefully that will translate to future success throughout the organization and in Oakland as well.