On January 9, we released our final Oakland A's top-50 prospect ranking for the 2013 season. In compiling that ranking, we considered significantly more than 50 players. In this two-part series, we take a look at the players who just missed making the cut. Part one can be found here.
These players are listed in alphabetical – not rank – order.
Jeremy Barfield: It has been tough sledding for A's outfield prospects in the upper levels of the system over the past two seasons, as there haven't been many opportunities for advancement. Barfield has been caught in that roster jam, as he has spent the past two seasons with Double-A Midland. He hasn't exactly forced the A's hand on a promotion, either, as he posted a 702 OPS in 2011 and a 737 OPS in 2012. However, his 2012 season was more promising than it looked on the surface. Barfield had a big first half for the Rockhounds and was poised for a career-best season before the dog days of August hit and his numbers nose-dived. He still managed to reach double-digits in homeruns for a third straight season and he matched his career-best batting average with a .272 mark. Barfield has the best throwing arm of any outfielder in the A's system, so he can be a defensive weapon, as well. The Texas native is now 24 and is in need of a standout season to make the A's front office take notice of him.
Rashun Dixon: The 2012 season was one to forget for Dixon, who moved back a level for the first time in his pro career. It hasn't been a smooth ride for Dixon through minor league baseball, as he has failed to post an OPS above 800 since his pro debut season in 2008. No one can deny Dixon's raw talent, however. He has power to all fields, above-average speed and, when he is locked in, a good approach at the plate. However, he has had a tendency to allow struggles at the plate carry over from one game to the next, often resulting in prolonged slumps during which he loses his strike-zone judgment completely. Despite the ups-and-downs, Dixon is still only 22 years old. It isn't infinite, but there is still time on the clock for Dixon to make his move up the depth chart.
Tyler Ladendorf: There is no question that Ladendorf's glove would bring value to a major league team off of the bench. The versatile Ladendorf can handle every position on the diamond except catcher and pitcher – and it wouldn't be a shock if he could master those spots, too. However, for Ladendorf to receive any consideration for a major league spot, he will have to bring some value offensively. Thus far in his professional career, he has been unable to hit at a high level for an entire season. Early on in 2012, it looked as though Ladendorf was in for a breakthrough campaign. He hit .298 with an 819 OPS during the first half of the Texas League season and looked poised to make the leap to Triple-A during the second half of the season. However, he slumped badly down-the-stretch and finished the year with a 682 OPS for Midland. The 2013 season will be a pivotal one for the soon-to-be 25-year-old.
Chad Lewis: The A's took Lewis in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of a Southern California high school. They viewed him as a potential profile third baseman with a solid glove and power potential. Thus far in his pro career, he has been unable to translate his talent into on-the-field performance. In 2012, he began the year with Low-A Burlington, but was sent back to extended spring training after just two weeks. Lewis was then sent to short-season Vermont, but he struggled in 134 at-bats with the Lake Monsters and spent the final few weeks of the season in Arizona. The A's still believe in Lewis' talent and he has been working hard on improving his pitch recognition. The A's sent him to the Dominican Instructional League this fall to get extra work in and were pleased with his progress. Lewis turned 21 in December, so he has a little time to figure it out, but he needs some sustained success in 2013 to keep his prospect status.
Yairo Munoz: The A's gave Munoz a six-figure signing bonus in January 2012 and the Dominican shortstop made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League later that year. Munoz posted a 649 OPS in his first pro season, but the 17-year-old showed promise. Munoz is already an accomplished fielder and he is an above-average athlete with good speed. A switch-hitter, Munoz is still working on his approach from both sides of the plate. He may make the jump to the US in 2013 for the short-season leagues.
Ryan Ortiz: Ortiz's struggles in 2012 were surprising, to say the least. The former Oregon State star had struggled during the final month of the 2011 season with the Midland Rockhounds, but he had recovered to hit well during the Arizona Fall League and seemed poised for a big 2012 season. Ortiz had shoulder surgery in 2010 and was slowed by it some in 2011, but he was completely healthy in 2012, making his struggles with Midland (541 OPS in 144 at-bats) even more baffling. Ortiz was sent back to High-A Stockton for the final seven weeks of the season. After a slow start with Stockton, Ortiz hit well down-the-stretch for the Ports, which could be a good sign for him heading into 2013. However, Ortiz will have to battle to move up the A's depth chart, as the A's have several promising catchers at the Double-A level. A good start to the season would be huge for Ortiz.
Andy Paz-Garriga: The A's signed Paz-Garriga out of France before the 2011 season. The Cuban-born catcher had defected to France in grade school and was one of the most accomplished high school baseball players in that country. Since signing with the A's, he has played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and has hit well in both seasons. In 2012, he posted an 831 OPS in 82 at-bats, walking one more time than he struck-out. He has a very advanced approach at the plate and the ability to hit for average. The A's often move slowly with catchers in their Dominican Academy, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the now 20-year-old Paz-Garriga come to the US in 2013.
Jensi Peralta: Peralta was an amateur free agent signing of the A's out of Venezuela in 2008. The A's hoped that they had signed a slick fielding shortstop with some hitting ability. However, the hitting aspect of Peralta's game never really emerged. At the end of the 2012 season, the A's moved Peralta off shortstop and onto the mound. He only made one regular season appearance as a pitcher, but he impressed the A's coaching staff during side sessions. His fastball was clocked in the mid-90s and he flashed a promising breaking ball. 2012 AZL A's pitching coach Jimmy Escalante compared the quality of Peralta's arm to that of A's reliever Sean Doolittle. Peralta will be a player to watch this season.
Sandber Pimentel: Pimentel was another amateur free agent who received a six-figure signing bonus from the A's before the 2012 season. The Dominican outfielder had a promising debut for the A's DSL team. Although he didn't hit for power, Pimentel showed remarkable patience at the plate, walking 28 times in 37 games. He posted a .430 OBP and a 751 OPS. At 6'3'', 215 pounds, Pimentel has the body type to hit for power and should see that part of his game develop as he gets older. The 18-year-old also has a strong throwing arm that should play well in right field. He could make his US debut in 2013.
Nick Rickles: It was a disappointing first full season for Rickles, who never got on-track at the plate with the Low-A Burlington Bees in 2012. The Stetson alum managed only a 584 OPS in 95 games with the Bees after posting an 806 OPS with the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters in 2011. Rickles, the A's 2011 14th-round pick, wasn't nearly as patient with Burlington as he was with Vermont and he swung and missed more frequently. The A's loved his contact-hitting abilities when they drafted him, as well as his promise defensively. If he can get back to hitting the way he did in 2011, Rickles should re-emerge on the top-50 prospect list for 2014.
Dusty Robinson: Robinson led all A's minor leaguers last season with 27 homeruns. The Fresno State alum split his season between Low-A Burlington and High-A Stockton and showed impressive power throughout the year. A 10th-round pick in 2011, Robinson has always had big power, but he has also always struggled with plate discipline. That has continued into his pro career, as he struck-out 162 times and walked only 49 times in 2012. Despite being 6'0'', 210 pounds, Robinson is a decent athlete with surprising speed. If he can develop better plate discipline, he could be an intriguing prospect because of his power. He turned 23 in September.
Brett Vertigan: The A's selected Vertigan with their 10th-round pick in the 2012 draft. The UCSB centerfielder made his pro debut with the Vermont Lake Monsters and posted a 713 OPS in 256 at-bats. Vertigan didn't show much power in his pro debut, but he had a solid approach at the plate and swiped 12 bags in 17 chances. Vertigan also covered a lot of ground in centerfield. The 22-year-old hit much better over the final month of the season. He is likely to start the 2013 season with Low-A Beloit, but he could make the jump to High-A Stockton with a strong start to the season.