With the MLB draft taking place tomorrow, we thought it would be fun to do a retrospective of the top picks made by the Oakland Athletics over the past 10 years. Some of the names on the list ring a bell, others either haven’t or never will make it to the big leagues. Accompanying each selection is a little bio about the player. The players in parentheses are who the A’s acquired in a trade for that player.
2003- Brad Sullivan, Brian Snyder- Sullivan never reached the majors, and has no stats past 2007 with the Stockton Ports. Brian Snyder never got above AA in the Athletics’ organization. He finished his playing days in the San Diego Padres’ farm system in 2008.
2004- Landon Powell, Richie Robnett- Landon Powell was called up to Oakland in 2009 and impressed enough to get a look in each of the following 2 years. In both 2010 and 2011 Powell’s numbers declined and he has since moved on, initially signing with the Houston Astros in 2012, then with the New York Mets in 2013. He was released by the Mets after the 2013 season.
Robnett shot through the A’s minor league system in 2006, making stops in Stockton, Midland and Sacramento, with most of the time spent in Stockton. In 2007, he played most of his season with Midland, and got another brief look in Sacramento. In 2008, Robnett again stopped at all three camps, but this time spent most of his time with Sacramento, where he hit .236 with 3 HR and 19 RBI. 2008 was his last in the A’s organization. 2009 saw Robnett go from double-A to Triple-A in both the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees’ organizations.
2005- Cliff Pennington (Chris Young)- Finally a name most people will know! Yes, Landon Powell was up for a stint, but he was never deemed the starter. Pennington held down the middle of the infield for the A’s from 2008-2012. His best season in Oakland came in 2011, when he hit .264 with 8 HR and 58 RBI. Pennington was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2012 season for Chris Young.
2007- James Simmons-Simmons was not performing well in the A’s farm system, and is currently with the Nationals’ affiliates. His ERA has gone from 7.16 in his final year in Sacramento, to a 2.79 with the Nats’ Double-A affiliate this season.
2008- Jemile Weeks (Jim Johnson)- Weeks had a breakout season in 2011, batting .303 with 26 doubles in the green and gold. He struggled in 2012, and was demoted late in the season when the A’s acquired Stephen Drew. Weeks found himself out of the good graces of A’s management in 2012. This may have simply been because of his performance on the field, but some have speculated that his attitude following the demotion that did the trick. Either way, he was most likely not going to see any playing time in Oakland and was shipped to Baltimore for Jim Johnson. Johnson is now also not seeing much playing time in Oakland due to poor performance.
2009- Grant Green (Alberto Callaspo)- After going 0-15 in Oakland, the A’s deemed that they needed an upgrade. They decided Alberto Callaspo was that upgrade, and shipped Green to the Los Angeles Angels last season. In limited playing time with LAA, Green is batting .361 and is acting as a utility man for the injured Angels. It could just be that Green is happier playing where he grew up, but it’s possible the A’s may have given up on Green a little too early.
2010- Michael Choice (Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom)- Choice is still maturing at the plate and in the field, so with the Athletics’ win now mentality, he was expendable for arguably the best 4th outfielder in the game in Craig Gentry. Choice has some decent power numbers in 123 ABs, hitting 3 HR and driving in 19. His BA is currently sitting at .203 however. For what the A’s need to win now, this trade may pay off, but in the future it may come back to haunt them, especially with Choice playing within the division.
2011- Sonny Gray- The word in Oakland before last season was that Gray was good. This year we are finding out just what he can be. He is 6-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 2014. He has dominated some tough lineups in his young career, and could be the ace that the Athletics have been waiting for.
2012- Addison Russell- He has missed most of the 2014 season to date due to a hamstring injury, but is expected to return soon. That being said, he has been annointed to be the A’s shortstop of the future. He is currently in Double-A, but is expected to make the jump to Sacramento this season. If all goes well, he could be the Athletics’ starting shortstop as early as next year.
2013- Billy McKinney- McKinney is currently in Stockton. The Ports’ outfielder has been struggling at the plate this season, batting just .221 in 231 PA. He has shown a good eye at the plate, collecting 32 walks, upping his OBP to .338 thus far. While the 32 walks are nice, he is striking out at a high rate. He has 46 K’s on the season, or roughly 1 in 5 PAs. He is expected in Oakland in 2017, and is the A’s #2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
What the MLB Draft has proven in recent years for the Athletics is that nothing is guaranteed with each of these picks. The MLB Draft is designed to make each team better. If a team can find 2 to 3 future MLB players in each draft, they’re doing their job well. 2 MLB players every year for 10 years is nearly an entire roster. Free agency and trades can take care of the rest. This should be another fun and exciting MLB Draft, and we will cover the Athletics’ picks for you here, as well as a little bit about the players selected and what that means to the team in the future.