The 1st overall draftee claimed by the A's the previous June, McKinney symbolized Beane's distancing from his usual collegiate first round strategy on to selecting for higher reward pieces as the 2012 Draft boded Addison, Robertson and Olson, the first time the A's had selected three consecutive high schoolers to begin a draft class since 1978. McKinney, the Plano native, enticed the Athletics with some of the most elite hitting mechanics amongst any available draftee, prep or collegiate, despite no other significantly eye boggling tools. Still, the youngster is versatile with the potential to play any OF position as he showcased in his first professional stint and is preparing himself for a first crack at the full season ranks for 2014
He traveled westward from his southwest home and began with the AZL ballclub, and proceeded to shoot through the rookie leaguers after 206 PAs with a .378 wOBA, 8.3% BB% and a 14.1% K% (Despite a 36:6 BB/K during his final HS season) and received a rapid promotion to Vermont to close out 2013. Despite a mere 37 trips to the plate before the completion of his brief NYPL stay, McKinney went 12-34 with two doubles, a dinger and a triple and a trio of walks to conclude his campaign and initiate his professional career. McKinney also swiped 8 bases in his 9 attempts between the duo of short season affiliates and presented himself as a legitimate threat on the basepaths to complement his concrete poise in the batter's box. With Michael Choice having now graduated towards the major leagues with the Rangers, McKinney positions himself as the heir to his long held organizational honor of the most well thought of outfielder within the Athletics' possession. He'll likely contend with his greatest competition for that post, Bijon Boyd, with the Snappers come 2014.
#6: Daniel Robertson
Robertson, the Upland native, was welcomed lovingly into the A's farm as he was plucked from the fray in Secaucus as a supplemental 1st round draftee at 34th overall in 2012, directly following his bestie in Addison. The 18 year old was escorted to Arizona and assisted the AZL crop towards a playoff berth before being summoned by the Lake Monsters to complete his first pro year. Unfortunately however, Robertson suffered with the transition after going .297/.405/.554 between 127 AZL PAs with a .302 BABIP, 146 wRC+ and a .425 wOBA compared to .181/.238/.234 slash in a brief 104 NYPL attempts at the plate. It part, the decline was largely attributed to being overwhelmed by arsenals that were from top tier draftees and minor league sophomores as he K'd in 31 of his 104 PAs (28.9%). Still, Robertson proved himself worthy of a boost to Beloit after being retained in Arizona until May to recuperate from meniscus surgery he underwent during the offseason.
Robertson played primarily at SS for the turtles and sporadically at third while showcasing his elite defensive potential throughout the Midwest league campaign. Offensively, he was inconsistent in stretches, but still improved dramatically comparatively to his Vermont attempt with a .277/.353/.401 line through 451 PAs with a .324 BABIP, .125 ISO, .351 wOBA, 9.1% BB% and a 17.5% K%. D-Rob demonstrated his offensive specialty with reliable line drive contact that ought to translate into plus BABIP rates and consistent plate discipline. The power rates aren't anything that observers should expect from him, as the only time he may ever exceed double digit dinger totals in a single season may be during this impending 2014 Stockton assignment.
There is debate as to Robertson's positional fate, as some consider his lackluster range and astounding arm to be appropriately suited for the third base post. However, with Renato Nuñez likely to be his teammate as he climbs through the system, it would be difficult to divvy up plate appearances between the two. Due to Renato, the organization has utilized him exclusively for the most part at SS, which would also conflict with Addison Russell's projection, as Addie is permanently entrenched at the shortstop position and Robertson won't be able to challenge him for any playing time at short. With the departure of Chris Bostick, now it is assumed Robertson could garner duties at 2B to remain in the middle infielder, even though it would squander his best defensive tool in his arm strength. Regardless of probable position, Robertson will be within Stockton's lineup for the majority of the 2014 year and the coaching staff as well as the organization will have to decide upon the appropriate path for him to project as he embarks onto the upper portions of the farm system.
#5: Michael Ynoa
Ynoa has long been the organizational enigma after inking for $4.5M as a 16 year out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, the largest signing bonus in Athletics history and the second largest sum provided to an amateur Latin free agent of all time, as he has dealt with a litany of various injuries and hindrances that have stunted his development and prevented him from amassing professional experience. Finally, in 2012 Ynoa arrived in the United States and was able to accumulate a decent amount of frames after a brief nine AZL innings in 2010 before surgery. Ynoa, despite the less than desirable results of 3 HR and a 25:25 K/BB in 30 2/3 IP between Arizona and Vermont, still and most importantly was able to pitch in a competitive format and get through innings. As the offseason began, Oakland felt as though their investment into Ynoa was too monumental to risk as they placed him upon the 40 man roster to prevent any probable Rule 5 possibility of a team smuggling the righty away from the A's. With that, Ynoa was granted the opportunity to attend the major league spring training facility in Phoenix and gain valuable expertise with significantly more advanced arms. Unfortunately, a bout of chicken pox prevented Ynoa from arriving prior to being optioned, and thus was regulated to the minor league camp before his assignment. Once again, Ynoa suffered another preseason setback and whatever shread of optimism was still held by A's fans about him dwindled even further before his first career full season opportunity with the Snappers in Wisconsin.
The lanky 6'7" 21 year old defied expectations though, as he not only strung together his first ever stretch of prolonged starts, but actually was consistent as well, establishing himself as one of the premier pieces within the Midwest league between his 15 outings. Ynoa went 54 2/3 IP with a 3.53 FIP, 21.0% K%, 7.9% BB% and only three dingers allowed for Beloit before being permitted to rise to High A Stockton. The Cal League proved to be a more difficult hurdle for him however, regressing towards the 2012 model of Ynoa with mediocre 20:17 K/BB in his 21 IP and was trashed with a 56.1% LOB% as baserunners often plated following reaching and Ynoa's mechanics dissolved when attempting to pitch out of the stretch. Despite that, Ynoa represented the A's in the Futures Game in New York alongside Addison Russell and received national acclaim after his televised inning against elite competition. And he finally was able to successfully was able to navigate through a significant amount of innings and made it through a season practically undetered (He did miss 4 weeks in August with a shoulder injury though)
Ynoa has an absurd amount of upside, with a fastball ranging from 91-97 MPH that is incredibly effective when placed where it's intended. Additionally, Ynoa's most polished secondaries include a devestating curveball that often misses lumber and a developing changeup which will be sharpened as he progresses into AA Midland. The biggest issue is his consistency, as his mechanics and sequencing while he delivers his pitches can deteriorate randomly which will obviously need to be corrected. If he can harness his potential, Ynoa could still morph into the perennial phenom that the organization had hoped to acquire when they signed him as a pimply 16 year old out of Latin America. Despite that roadblock in Stockton, the A's could opt to rush him to Texas with Rockhounds as he commences his second option year. If he is retained in the 209, he'll likely ascend to Midland by June.
#4: Bobby Wahl
Wahl, the 5th round draftee out of Mississippi during the previous June, was one of the most noticeable steals throughout the entire field as he was originally projected as a 1st round asset before his velocity decreased during his collegiate season due to blisters, and Oakland scooped him away from remaining squads who assumed Wahl would opt to return to Ole Miss to increase his draft position and successfully inked him at #161 overall. The righty was flown to Papago to partake in a lone appearance where he went 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K prior to boarding another airplane and departing the southwest for Vermont where the 21 year old meandered through 20 2/3 IP in his nine appearances within July and August, concluding with a stellar 27 K's compared to 9 BBs and three dingers allowed.
Wahl's sample size is far too misiscule to make any consensus, but his extraordinary potential makes him unanimous top 5 Athletics prospect, with an upper 90's fastball that was recorded at 98-99 at it's peak with the Lake Monsters despite hovering between 94-97 to be more reasonable outcome as the organization's leash on Wahl's cumulative innings becomes longer. His featured secondary is a 82-85 MPH slider that often badly fools opposing batters with an additional changeup that will be tremendously benefitted from being tweaked by the A's staff.
Wahl is headed to Beloit for 2014 where he's grapple with full seasoners for the first time in his career and his innings will increase significantly. Even a promotion to Stockton could occur should he dominate MWL batters such as Ynoa and Alcantara did the year beforehand.