Oakland AthleticsOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Oakland Athletics Team Projection
If you're looking to get an early start on your fantasy baseball draft prep, you have come to the right place.
1. SP A.J. Griffin
This year, the A's really don't have a true ace. Griffin had the most overall success with the exception of allowing a league high 36 HR''s. His command (2.4) regressed slightly from 2012, but his K rate (7.7) improved. He is 21-11 during his short major league career. While A.J. had the same success against righties and lefties (.226), he allowed a couple more HR's to RH batters and a couple of extra walks to LH batters. Griffin was tougher to hit (.213) after the All Star break, but he allowed 2.1 HR's per 9 innings. Over a 4 game stretch in late July to early August, A.J. allowed 10 HR's in 25 innings. Furthermore, he allowed 2 HR's or more 13 times in his 32 starts. His AFB (88.9) lost about 1 mph from the previous season. Additionally, he threw a curveball as his #2 pitch, followed by a changeup and slider. His FB rate (49.5%) jumped by more than 10% in one season. Griffin finished the year with a sore elbow. Overall, A.J. doesn't have an electric fastball and his HR rate is a huge concern. His command in the minors showed more upside and his K rate may reach another level. He has pitched over 180+ innings in his last 2 seasons, so it looks like he can handle a high workload as long as the elbow issue doesn't emerge again in the spring. Griffin has enough talent to make another step forward as long as his HR rate approaches 1 per 9 innings.
2. SP Jarrod Parker
Parker was on the chopping block more than once over the first 6 weeks of 2013. He only had 1 quality start in his first 8 outings, which led to a 6.86 ERA after 39.7 innings. Jarrod also had a huge walk rate (5.0) during this poor stretch. Parker found his rhythm on May 17th, and then allowed 3 runs or less over his next 12 starts to lower his ERA to 3.79 on the year. Jarrod allowed 2 runs or less in 19 of his 32 starts, but he had 5 disaster starts on the year (15.6% failure rate). Two of those starts happened late in September when he may have been pitching with a sore forearm. His walk rate (2.9) improved slightly, but his K rate (6.1) declined. RH batters only hit .223 against him, but he had a low K rate against them and allowed a slightly higher walk rate. Over a 21-game stretch from mid May to mid September, Parker had a 2.59 ERA. His AFB (91.5) has declined over his last 2 seasons. He throws a changeup as his 2nd pitch, followed by a solid slider. Just like Griffin, Parker has worked over 180 innings in the last 2 seasons. His K rate lacks upside at this point of his career, but it could make a nice step forward with slightly better command. The forearm injury bothers me a bit. In play if he has no negative news in spring training. Sub 3.50 ERA upside with 175+ K's.
3. SP Sonny Gray
Gray allowed 2 runs or less in 8 of his 10 starts with Oakland last year. He had a plus K rate (9.4) with good command (2.8). While Sonny had success against both RH (.198) and LH (.226) batters, he allowed 15 of his 20 walks to lefties. He has a solid fastball (93.1) with a plus curveball, followed by a show me changeup. Gray was a GB pitcher (52.9%) with the A's. Overall, his minor league resume doesn't match his major league success. Sonny has a career 3.66 ERA in 292.3 minor league innings with 237 K's. His command (3.2) was less and he had a weaker K rate (7.3). Early during his minor league career, Oakland tried to change his mechanics, which led to less movement on his pitches. He switched back to his old throwing motion, which led to more late life on his stuff. His 2013 success with the A's looks attractive, but he does have some downside risk if his command takes a step back. Gray really doesn't have a dependable 3rd pitch at this point of his career. Upside arm that may need more time to develop in 2014. His ERA may fall on the wrong side of 3.75 with a higher than expected WHIP.
4. SP Dan Straily
The A's gave Straily 1 start in the first week of the season where he pitched an electric 11 K game allowing 2 runs in 6.7 innings. He was then sent back to AAA for most of the month of April. Dan only allowed 4 runs in 31.7 innings (1.14 ERA) with 33 K's in the minors. When he returned to the majors on April 29th, Straily was ripped up for 19 runs and 33 base runners over his next 4 starts covering 19.3 innings. He finished the year allowing 2 runs or less in 17 of his last 22 starts (3.28 ERA). On the year, he had 4 starts where he allowed 6 runs (Tex, LAA, Sea, and Bal). His walk rate (3.4) is too high (2.8 in the minors) and his K rate (7.3) was shorter than his minor league career (9.7). Dan had more success against righties (.221) and allowed 36 of his 57 walks to LH batters. Furthermore, his AFB (90.3) isn't elite. Straily has a plus slider and a changeup with upside. Dan has enough talent to push to a higher level in 2014. His command should be a step higher than Gray and Straily has a 3rd pitch. Additionally, his K rate should grow this year if he can throw more strikes to lefties. Has an outside shot of winning 15 games.
5. SP Scott Kazmir
Kazmir was banished from baseball in 2011 after struggling in back to back seasons with the Angels. His lack of success was somewhat due to a bad back. After 5 disaster starts at AAA in 2011 (0-5 with a 17.02 ERA), Scott found himself trying to rebuild his career in the Independent league in 2012 where his results were less than attractive over 14 starts (5.34 ERA with 33 walks in 64 innings). The Indians signed him to a minor league deal in December of 2012. Kazmir pitched well during spring training, but he developed an abdomen injury at the end of March which cost him the first 20 days of the season. Scott was bombed in his first start with the Indians (6 runs and 11 base runners in 3.3 innings), but he responded with 3 straight solid outings highlighted by a 10 K game on May 9th. Overall, Kazmir allowed 2 runs or less in 16 or his 29 starts. In September, he showed electric upside when he posted three 10 or more K games. Scott was very good against lefties (.226), however, he allowed 41 of his 47 walks to RH batters and they hit .275 against him with 16 HR's in 451 at bats. Kazmir finished the year with a plus K rate (9.2) and solid command (2.7). His AFB (92.5) was also his highest since his 2005 season. He threw a changeup as his 2nd best pitch, followed by a slider and a show me cutter. His HR/FB rate (11.6%) was higher than his best years in Tampa, but he did change his skill set, evidenced by him allowing the least amount of fly balls in his career (36% - 42.1% career average). His success led him to signing a 2-year, $22 million contract with the A's. Kazmir has upside in 2014, but he needs to improve against RH batters. His K rate and command give him a chance at a 3.50 ERA or less with 200 K upside and 30 starts.
6. SP Tommy Milone
Milone won 12 games in the majors last year, but he pitched himself out of the A's starting rotation in early August. After 14 starts on the year, he had a 3.61 ERA. Tommy struggled over his next 3 starts (13 runs and 28 base runners in 16 innings). In the past, his command has been his biggest asset. Milone walked 3 or more batters 8 times in his 26 starts (4 in 31 starts in 2012). With less command, he was easier to hit. His walk rate (2.2) was very good for most pitchers, but Tommy has shown plus command (1.5) during his minor league career. His K rate (7.3) showed some growth, but he allowed too many HR's (1.4 per 9 innings). Milone still struggles to throw strikes to lefties, which led to a .298 batting average against them. RH batter hit 21 of his 25 HR's allowed. Tommy has a short fastball (87.2), and throws a changeup as his #2 pitched (followed by a curveball and cutter). His FB rate (44.7%) did spike upward from 2012 (37.3%). Milone is a soft tosser with plus command and a strong enough K rate where he could get 150+ K's with 200 innings pitched. He has a major league arm and will be in the mix for a starting job if one of the young righties falter. Possible upside if he makes a step forward against LH batters.
7. RP Drew Pomeranz
The A's made an interesting trade for Pomeranz in the offseason. Drew is a year younger than Anderson, but he has a poor major league resume (4-14 with 5.20 ERA with 115 K's in 136.7 innings). Last year, he went 0-4 with the Rockies with a 6.23 ERA. His command (4.6) has been very bad in the majors and it wasn't great during his minor league career (3.4). His K rate (7.6) was also much stronger in the minors (10.0). Pomeranz is 16-9 during his minor league career with a 2.97 ERA with 270 K's in 242.7 innings. His AFB (91.3) has improved over the last 3 seasons with Colorado. Drew has a plus curveball, but he barely throws a 3rd pitch (changeup). The change to Oakland will probably mean millions of dollars down the road for Drew. He has high upside when his command improves and the move to the AL will help his stats tremendously. Pomeranz success in the majors will be determined by the development of his changeup. Drew is a nice flyer in an AL only league as a reserve player.
8. CL Jim Johnson
Johnson has the most saves in baseball over the last 2 seasons. He signed a one year, $10 million contract in January with the A's. His command (2.3) has declined over the last 3 seasons. While his K rate (7.2) made a nice bump, it has been short during his entire career. Last year, he didn't dominate RH (.266) or LH (.279) batters. Johnson is an extreme GB pitcher (58.0%) with a low FB rate (21.5%). His HR/FB rate (11.4%) made a high jump from his previous 2 years. Furthermore, his AFB (93.8) was his lowest since 2008 and it has declined over the last 2 seasons. His curveball is his 2nd best pitch, followed by a changeup. Johnson's resume looks good, but he did blow 9 saves last year. He isn't dominant and wasn't tough to hit in 2013. He has 40 save upside with a low K rate, but his skill set may lead to job loss if he struggles.
9. RP Luke Gregerson
Gregerson has been a solid major league reliever during his career, but his skill hasn't been strong enough to create an opportunity for a closing job. He has a career 2.88 ERA with 352 K's in 347 innings. His K rate (8.7) hasn't been as strong as it was during his first two seasons in the majors. However, his command (2.4) is in a good area. RH batters are only hitting .191 against Luke during his career with a short SLG % (.292). His AFB (88.2) has declined during each season in the majors. His #1 pitch is a slider, which he threw 56.4% of the time last year. Gregerson threw his changeup at the highest rate (8.1%) in 2013. Luke has a nice bullpen arm with a plus slider. His lack of a fastball will keep him out of the 9th inning, unless Johnson has an injury.
10. RP Ryan Cook
Cook has had 2 solid seasons in the majors with a solid K rate (9.3). His walk rate (3.3) has been short, but his first strike % (58%) did show some growth last year. Ryan has been very good against RH batters (.195) during his career, but he walks too many lefties (19 of his 25 walk in 2013). He has a plus fastball (94.9) with a solid slider. Additionally, Cook also throws an occasional changeup. Ryan has more upside than Gregerson at this point of his career, but his command against LH batters will keep him in a set up role.