Oakland primed for talent-deep Draft
A's have five picks in first 91, including 26th overall choice
OAKLAND -- As a result of making it to the American League Championship Series last fall, the A's won't make their first pick in next week's Draft until 26th overall.Not that Eric Kubota, Oakland's scouting director, is complaining. Last year, the A's were without a first-round pick, having surrendered it as compensation for signing Esteban Loaiza as a free agent, and weren't on the clock until No. 66 overall. "We're in a little bit better shape this time, yeah," Kubota said. "We're picking earlier and we have multiple [early picks]." This year, thanks to compensation picks received for losing free agents Barry Zito and Frank Thomas over the winter, Oakland has three of the first 59 picks, four of the first 75 and five of the first 91. "We didn't have to give anything up this year," Kubota said. "That helps." The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 11 a.m. PT, and MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round affair, start to finish. Kubota said the A's scouting and front-office staffs haven't started their formal preparations for the Draft, but once they get together, they'll build a draft board and "start lining it up according to ability." Asked if that meant the A's would be taking a best-player-available approach next week, as opposed to drafting out of need, he said, "We don't go into it looking at it either way." Kubota said the strength of this year's Draft is the quality of high-school pitching but added that he thought the Draft would ultimately be characterized by its depth of talent rather than a slew of can't-miss prospects at the top. That bodes well for the A's, who have a strong history of making the most out of the depth in Draft picks they've acquired while frequently losing marquee free agents. Three players from their haul in the 2004 Draft -- outfielder Danny Putnam and pitcher Connor Robertson -- have made their big-league debuts this season, and closer Huston Street was part of that Draft class, too. Nine players on Oakland's active roster as of May 29 were drafted by the club, and since 2000, 28 players drafted by the A's have reach the Majors. Recent top picks
2006: RHP Trevor Cahill, Vista High (Oceanside, Calif.), No. 66 overall.
After signing, Cahill appeared in four games for the Arizona Rookie League A's, striking out 11 in nine innings. Now 19 years old, he picked up his first professional victory on Monday for Class A Kane County. "We kept him at extended Spring Training for about six weeks this year, and he's doing very well," Kubota said. "A guy his age, it's a long-term process, but we're happy with the progress he's making."
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
After a solid first season as a pro, Pennington battled hamstring problems for much of 2006 and ended up batting .276 with three homers, 29 RBIs and a .364 on-base percentage in 69 games at Kane County. Pennington, 22, is now with Class A Stockton, and Kubota said he's been hot for the past six weeks: "He missed a lot of time last year, and he got off to a slow start in Stockton, but he's been playing very well lately." 2004: C Landon Powell, University of South Carolina, No. 24 overall/OF Richie Robnett, Fresno State University, No. 26 overall
Powell, who missed the 2005 season after knee surgery, played in 90 games with Stockton last season before being promoted to Double-A Midland for 12 games late in the year, batting a combined .264 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. Now 25, he's at Midland and was batting .221 through Monday, but Kubota said the club gets excellent reports on Powell's defensive developments and is pleased with his progress overall.
Robnett's development has been slowed by a slew of injuries, and he was batting .225 at Midland through May 28, but Kubota said the slugging outfielder is healthy and making strides. "He just needs to get some more consistency," Kubota said. "He has a lot to work with."Rising fast
Catcher Kurt Suzuki, a second-rounder in 2004, appears to be the heir apparent to current A's starter Jason Kendall. Suzuki, 23, impressed the big-league staff this spring and was sent to Triple-A Sacramento, his fourth level in four seasons with the organization. "His bat has come along faster than we probably thought, and he's really improved in all facets of the game," Kubota said. "Last year, when he was at Midland, the Texas League just stopped running against him. He's developed into a very, very good defensive catcher." Cinderella story
Righty reliever Mike Mitchell, a 35th-rounder in 2003, was the talk of Spring Training this year. He was a non-roster invitee based on posting a 3.22 ERA and 18 saves in three Minor League stops last season, and he didn't allow a run in 10 Cactus League appearances. "He was knocking on the door [to the big leagues]," Kubota said. Alas, Mitchell suffered a shoulder injury as camp closed and is out indefinitely. In the Show
Street, Putnam, Robertson, Braden and righty Jason Windsor, all from 2004, and outfielder Travis Buck, a compensation pick in 2005, are the six players drafted in the past three years who have made it to Oakland thus far.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.