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First-round picks Grant Green (2009) and Sonny Gray (2011) will take a dip in the Bay after being summoned by the Oakland Athletics from Class AAA Sacramento.
Gray to provide relief, initially
The righty-hitting Green, who turns 26 in late September, will see at least platoon duty with lefty stick Eric Sogard at second base, where he's played for most of his Sacramento work this year. If the newbie rakes, he could earn full-time work, though Oakland appreciates Sogard's contributions.
Green was coming off a .372-7-21 June with a 1.055 OPS in 121 at-bats and was named the month's final player of the week for the Pacific Coast League. His power took awhile to recover after a disappointing Double-A showing in 2011, but it's moving closer to his baseline level, which'll probably round out at close to 20 homers per year if he reaches his peak ability. Returning to a primary infield position means those numbers will play more effectively than they would've if he had stuck in the outfield.
Green's aversion to taking a walk should hurt him in the other columns, and his home park doesn't breed bat development. Of course, he hit righty arms well in the minors, despite the fact Oakland plans to use him for strictly the opposite, at least initially. If you're looking for a middle-infield spark in deep mixers, a tempered trial could pay off. He's probably already tucked away in competitive single-universe games.
As for Gray, Oakland appears to be taking the Earl Weaver route with him, or at least just sticking him in the bullpen because of need. This selection will help the right-hander "get his feet wet," per Bob Melvin; the A's don't need a fifth starter until after the All-Star break.
Gray stumbled when he started 2012 at Single-A Midland, but he's punched out 107 in 102 1/3 frames while dishing out only 34 free passes for Sac-Town this season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder must create plenty of torque with his lower body, and sustaining the so far exciting life on his four-seamer will sway his development. His curveball presents a nice complement, but the accompanying changeup and slider/cutter haven't caught up yet.
At his current development stage, he fits as a reliever, at least for Oakland's needs. Maybe Gray will see an extended stint, including a start or two, in September, perhaps if Bartolo Colon is tagged by a Biogenesis-related suspension this year. It's not always prudent to rent such short-stay assets in AL-only games, but Gray could be worth tucking away for potential. Dynasty leaguers should already have him at least on their radars.
Springer standing out
Oakland has company when it comes to news-making, highly touted farmhands making noise this week with the Houston Astros' Mark Appel, the first overall pick in 2013, and George Springer, the 11th overall grab in 2011.
Appel made a painful pro debut last week for Class A Tri-City, yielding two runs on three hits with a K in two frames. The bright side and the future promise: One scout registered his four-seam velocity at around 95 mph, and he's known to push it a bit higher. Plus, it's only one outing, folks. He responded with three scoreless in his next trip before being promoted to Class A Quad Cities, which also houses last year's top selection, shortstop Carlos Correa.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound hurler possesses the makeup of a front-end MLB starter and is on path to develop three pitches with at least a plus rating, with his heater exhibiting the "plus squared" variety. Appel's high floor and likely rapid transition to the majors, which could take place late next season, place the soon-to-be 22-year-old among the top youngsters in the game -- someone for whom dynasty leaguers will pay heavily to keep or acquire.
Springer, meanwhile, probably won't join the 'Stros until the farm season ends, but the 23-year-old is pushing to join them before September. In 45 at-bats since earning a bump to Class AAA Oklahoma City, he only has batted .422 with six homers, 15 RBIs, five swipes, and a 1.407 OPS. Kid is a power-speed dynamo, though slightly shaky plate discipline could hinder his chance at immediate MLB plate consistency.
Depending on how many plate appearances he'll see at the highest stop this calendar year, he's someone to watch in the late rounds of 2014, a la Adam Eaton from this spring, though with much greater power potential. There shouldn't be a long-term keeper format with a farm roster that doesn't own him.
- Outfielder Cesar Puello was handed the Eastern League Player of the Month award for June following a contribution of .441, eight homers, 24 RBIs for Double-A Binghamton. 'Dat power. He might challenge for the league's Triple Crown -- that is, if the 22-year-old doesn't receive something a bit less promising: a 50-game suspension for the New York Mets prospect's connection to the Biogenesis proceedings. Stay tuned.
- Baseball America's J.J. Cooper cites a list of 10 breakthrough prospects for 2013 (subscription required), and one of them is 6-foot-7, 195-pound Tyler Glasnow. The Pittsburgh Pirates' right-hander, twirling for Class A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League, still walks too many opponents (43 in 76 1/3 innings), but the 110 strikeouts listed next to it say he's a few adjustments from taking the next step. His height and stride augment the suffocating nature of his mid- to upper-90s heat, and though undeveloped, this profile could pay off down the road.
- On the heels of Keith's report last week, Danny Hultzen will be shut down for approximately 10 more days while trying to recover from irritation in his left (throwing) shoulder. The Seattle Mariners will examine his health further and take a look at his mechanics to diagnose his problems. Expect them to be patient with the second selection of the 2011 draft, meaning he may not arrive in the bigs until late next year if all goes well.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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