A's need not look far for Major League-ready talent
Triple-A Sacramento stacked, but lower levels also boast prospects worth watching
By Jane Lee
ANAHEIM -- For years, Triple-A Sacramento has claimed not only some of the A's best prospects but the best prospects in all of baseball, which has led to 10 postseason appearances in the last 12 seasons.
Again, the River Cats are stocked with talent this year under new manager Steve Scarsone, though perhaps more so in position players than pitchers, which hasn't always been the case.
Sacramento's rotation currently includes Dan Straily and Sonny Gray, who will both likely be in Oakland before year's end. Beyond that, the excitement turns to the outfield, home to Michael Choice and Michael Taylor, along with Shane Peterson. Another familiar name, Grant Green, is in the infield, alongside Jemile Weeks.
Yet several up-and-comers, notably those that fall in the Top 10, are well below the Triple-A level, including top prospect Addison Russell, who begins the year at Class A Stockton. Fellow 2012 first-round pick Matt Olson (No. 7), a first baseman, is at Class A Beloit with No. 8 prospect Renato Nunez, while third baseman Daniel Robertson gets things going at short-season Vermont.
The talent, it seems, is really sprinkled all over this year.
where to watch
Where the A's Top 20 prospects are starting the season:
Vicmel de la Cruz
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.
Minor League Baseball is under way, and you can keep track of the A's top prospects throughout the season on MLBPipeline.com and Prospect Watch. Get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of Oakland's Minor League teams on MLBPipeline.com/A's.
While Triple-A Sacramento boasts plenty of familiar names in Gray (No. 6), Choice (No. 3), Green (No. 4) and Taylor (No. 12), Double-A Midland also houses some of the most intriguing prospects in the organization, including third basemen Miles Head and Jefry Marte, catcher Beau Taylor and right-hander Arnold Leon.
Class A Stockton is worth keeping tabs on, if only to check up on Russell. The shortstop impressed greatly in his first big league camp this year, both on defense and at the plate, where he showcased impressive bat speed and power potential.
Debuts and draftees
Right-hander Nolan Sanburn (No. 10), the A's fifth overall pick last year, didn't sign until the final day of the Draft signing period and was only able to get a handful of professional appearances under his belt, throwing 18 2/3 innings, so he'll start his first full pro season with the Vermont Lake Monsters.
New kids on the block
Marte, who rounds out the A's top prospect list at No. 20, was acquired from the Mets last offseason for outfielder Collin Cowgill. The 21-year-old Dominican third baseman is the youngest player on Midland's roster, yet this marks his second consecutive season at the Double-A level, with the Mets having moved him through their system rather quickly. Oakland has long been lacking in quality depth at third base, so keep an eye out for Marte and Head (No. 9) there this year.
Teams on TV
The Sacramento River Cats and Midland RockHounds are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2013 MiLB.TV package will include more than 3,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.