10:00 AM: Today, the A's will have the 12th pick in the MLB amateur draft, their highest pick since they picked Barry Zito with the 9th pick in 1999.
This draft has an upper tier of about 10 players, and the A's are hoping that one of those ten falls to them. Those ten are SS Tim Beckham, 3B Pedro Alvarez, 1B Eric Hosmer, LHP Brian Matusz, C Buster Posey, C Kyle Skipworth, SS Gordon Beckham, 1B Yonder Alonso, 1B Justin Smoak, and RHP Aaron Crow. The A's are hoping that two of the 11 teams ahead of them pick a player not from this list.
From the buzz going around the last few days, this does not appear too likely. The one scenario that might cause this to happen is if the secretive Giants select Gordon Beckham, who is coveted by both the Reds at #7, and the White Sox at #8. That might lead to the Reds selecting Canadian HS C/3B Brett Lawrie, the White Sox possibly going for 3B/1B Brett Wallace and/or the Rangers (#11) selecting a much-needed pitcher instead of the remaining bat from the top 10 list.
The names being attached to the A's should the top 10 go in the top 11 are threefold: Wallace, Aaron Hicks, and Jemile Weeks. Wallace and Hicks are essentially polar opposites: Wallace is the most polished bat in the draft, a college star with a rare combination of power and patience, but his body and athleticism--well, let's just say he's not going to be selling any jeans here. His lack of defensive value may lower his stock in the A's minds, especially since the A's already have a number of young first base types in their system with Daric Barton, Sean Doolittle, and Chris Carter. Hicks, on the other hand, is a phenomenal athlete--he has speed and power and can throw in the mid 90s, but he's a very raw talent fresh out of high school. He says he wants to play centerfield as a pro, but the A's may prefer him as a pitcher. The A's may not want to draft a player who doesn't want to play the position they want him to play.
Which leads us to Jemile Weeks, who all the draft-day mock drafts have going to the A's, as sort of a compromise between college polish and raw athleticism. He's the brother of the Brewers' 2B Rickie Weeks. The A's are bulging with outfielders, first basemen and pitchers, and very thin in the middle infield, so there's a certain logic to this idea. However, Jemile is not as powerful as his brother, which makes his ceiling more like Chone Figgins than Rickie Weeks. Picking Weeks at #12 seems like a waste of the value of the #12 pick. Because he has no power, Weeks is a pick more appropriate for the bottom of the first round than the top.
Who will it be? We'll find out in about an hour...
11:38: The Giants take Florida State C Buster Posey at #5. Everything has gone according to the mock drafts so far, making the Jemile Weeks scenario more and more likely.
11:49: The first mild surprise of the first round: the Reds take Alonso instead of Gordon Beckham. Not sure if that affects the flow of the draft downstream enough to help the A's.
11:54: The White Sox take Beckham at #8. Only two of the top 10 players left: Smoak and Crow.
11:59: Nats take Crow. Will Astros and/or Rangers, who both need pitching, take Smoak?
12:04: Whoa. First big surprise: Astros took Jason Castro, a catcher from Stanford. Smoak is still on the board. Will the Rangers pass up pitching, and leave Smoak to the A's?
12:09: Bah. Rangers take Smoak.
12:12: A's are on the clock. The top ten are gone. Who's #11 on the A's list?
12:14: A's take Weeks. Jim Callis calls him "the last true up-the-middle player" of the first round. OK, whatever, but this is a typical Oakland safe pick. A guy who is likely to be a solid major leaguer, but probably not a superstar. I was hoping for something different with the A's first high draft pick in years and years--someone with some bigger superstar upside. Yes, the A's need middle infield talent, but I'll have to let this one sink in for awhile before I can feel excited about it.
15:34: A's second round pick: Tyson Ross, from Cal. As a Cal fan, I can't say I'm particularly excited about this pick, either. Ross has size and talent, but he hasn't produced the kind of results you'd expect from a 6' 6" guy who can crank it up to the mid 90s. Well, at least he has some upside.
16:09: A's third round pick: Preston Paramore, catcher from Arizona State, with excellent plate discipline. Keith Law had him ranked as his #41 prospect.
17:21: Fourth round: Anthony Capra, LHP from Wichita St. with good results, decent velocity, but no good breaking pitch. Fifth round: Jason Christian, a shortstop from U Michigan with decent stats. Just for comparison:
Player AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SLG% BB HBP SO OB% SB-ATT PO A E FLD% Jemile Weeks..... .366 57 216 75 79 16 5 11 57 .639 30 4 36 .447 19-20 93 148 9 .964 Jason Christian.. .330 50 194 56 64 13 6 7 48 .567 39 3 36 .445 16-18 83 113 13 .938
Very similar OBPs, but that slugging percentage is the difference betwen first round money and fifth.