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A closer look at the A's new prospects

A closer look at the A's new prospects

Call it keeping up with the Brewers. Or at least trying to.

The Cubs dealt four prospects/prospect-type players to Oakland on Tuesday for right-handed pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. When compared to Monday's deal between the Brewers and Indians, this one easily could be called "blockbuster light."

All the names are nice, but not as big as the ones that traded addresses 24 hours earlier. The quartet of players Oakland received will help on one level or another for the next few seasons but are not the quality of uberprospect Matt LaPorta, whom the Tribe pried away from Milwaukee.

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Here's a closer look at what the A's got:

Sean Gallagher, RHP: The former 12th-round pick (2004) pick is one of the centerpieces of the deal from an Oakland standpoint. He's further ahead in his development than LaPorta and will jump right into the A's rotation, while LaPorta may not be in the Indians' lineup until sometime next summer.

It's that ability to help immediately that makes him such an important part of this deal. He was 3-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) for the Cubs but hasn't won since June 1, going 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his last five starts. Gallagher has gone more than six innings just once since coming up from Triple-A Iowa, and that was a seven-inning stint against the Dodgers on May 27 in which he allowed only one run.

Gallagher had been 2-2 with a 3.10 ERA in five Pacific Coast League starts before earning the promotion. He pitched at three levels last year, going 10-3 in 27 games (19 starts) at Double-A Tennessee of the Southern League, Iowa and Chicago. He's been a winner on almost every level he's pitched and is 20 games over .500 for his career as he heads to Oakland.

While Minor League numbers don't always translate into big-league success, Gallagher possesses a nice low- to mid-90s fastball that often finds the black. And when it does, he is effective. He also has a big-time curve that he can use as an out pitch and has made considerable strides with his changeup.

Gallagher, who won't turn 23 until December, has had some weight issues in the past but seems to have it under control now and projects to be a solid middle to back end of the rotation starter.

Josh Donaldson, C: Oakland just keeps stockpiling top prospects from other clubs and Donaldson is the latest example. He was a compensation-round pick a year ago out of Auburn and has made tremendous leaps in the eyes of most pundits since moving over from third base midway through his college career.

Donaldson projects as someone who will hit, despite the fact he's been mired in a season-long slump and was batting only .217 in 235 at-bats with Class A Peoria of the Midwest League. He has six homers and 23 RBIs while his on-base percentage is a disappointing .276, but he has hit .264 in his last 19 games.

Rich Harden

Still, Donaldson hasn't shown much patience at the plate this season, walking only 17 times while striking out 41. He had a much better eye at the plate last season at short-season Boise of the Northwest League, hitting .346 in 162 at-bats with a .470 OBP and 37 walks. Donaldson won't run much, but he has shown flashes of speed, collecting seven steals in eight attempts.

Donaldson's eight errors are tied for second among Midwest League catchers, although he is third in throwing out runners attempting to steal (27 caught in 72 attempts, .375). He also has six passed balls. Donaldson figures to stay in the Midwest League, moving to Kane County.

The Cubs had enough catching in their system that it was worth it to move Donaldson. At the moment, he's still a bit of a project, but his bat has enough potential to keep him somewhat high on everyone's radar for at least another season or two.

Matt Murton, OF: Speaking of potential, Murton was a first-round pick by the Red Sox in 2003, was traded to the Cubs in 2004 and has spent most of the last six seasons trying to live up to that potential. He was hitting .250 with six RBIs in 40 at-bats with the Cubs this season and .298 with a homer and 15 RBIs in 191 at-bats for Iowa.

Murton spent parts of four seasons with Chicago and is a .294 career hitter with 28 homers and 104 RBIs. He's a lifetime .310 hitter in the Minor Leagues and has made All-Star teams in both the Double-A Southern and Class A Advanced Florida State Leagues. The argument can be made that with proper playing time, he will produce. But it's difficult to imagine that he'll get extended playing time in Oakland instead of winding up in Sacramento.

Eric Patterson, OF: Corey Patterson's little brother has been somewhat of an enigma for the Cubs. He's shown he can be effective in the Minor Leagues, hitting for some power, stealing some bases and putting up a batting average that's going to hover around .300.

The Georgia Tech product has bounced between Iowa and Chicago this season and has done well during his time in the Pacific Coast League. He's hitting .320 with 11 steals and 28 RBIs through 203 at-bats, despite being on the shuttle between the parent club and the I-Cubs. He was hitting .237 in 38 at-bats with Chicago.

Patterson batted .297 for Iowa last year, stole 24 bases and was a PCL All-Star. The next logical step would have been for him to break through and earn a spot on the Cubs' roster, but he was unable to get a foothold this spring.

He has played the infield but hasn't really found his niche, and that as much as anything else seems to have held him up. He also can lose focus at times, on and off the field, and that has been a bit of a hindrance at times.

In some ways, he faces the same problems Murton will face in Oakland. How often will he be able to get in the lineup and will he spend more time in Sacramento than with the A's?

Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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