It is that time again. Baseball season is slowly rolling back around, starting with spring training. The 2014 Oakland Athletics will probably not look too different from the Athletics of last season despite their active offseason. With the exception of Bartolo Colon, the A’s have not lost players that they considered part of the core of last season’s team.
As always, there are players on the fringe of making the team that will need to prove that they belong on the major league squad.
Stephen Vogt, C:
Vogt was very fortunate to get called up to the major leagues last season. When John Jaso suffered his season-ending concussion, Vogt was given an opportunity to catch and hit in the MLB. He may not have blown spectators away but he was solid behind the plate as a defender. He didn’t hit badly either, batting .252 with four home runs in 47 games.
Now, however, John Jaso is returning. This means that Vogt needs to really impress in spring training to get his job back. Bob Melvin has stated that he would be open to running a three-catcher system with Jaso, Vogt, and Derek Norris, but that would assume Vogt hits the ball competently, which is not quite a given.
Prediction: Vogt will not make it onto the Oakland Athletics for opening day. However, I can see him earning some time in the majors with injuries later on in the season.
Daric Barton, 1B:
Barton has spent ample time with the Oakland Athletics throughout his career. His defensive game makes him a serious Gold Glove candidate. His bat has kept him from consistently playing in the majors over the past three seasons. In 2013, Barton rekindled some of his previous hitting prowess from earlier in his career, revitalizing his chance to play for the Athletics again. In spring training, he will need to show management that he has taken a step in his hitting ability.
Prediction: I see this as Barton’s last chance to make it with the Oakland Athletics. With all the infield competition, however, I do not think Barton will hit well enough to earn a spot on an already crowded infield.
Nate Freiman, 1B:
Freiman was very impressive from a hitting standpoint last season. He was not expected to do much when he got a chance in the majors, but he managed to bat .274 with four home runs as a backup first baseman and designated hitter. He will likely compete with Daric Barton and Stephen Vogt for the last batting spot on the team. Freiman is a coordinated, very strong hitter with a 6-foot-7 frame. He is a very intriguing situation and seems to have a lot of potential.
Prediction: Nate Freiman will have a very solid spring training. In fact, it will be good enough to get him a spot on the Oakland Athletics roster.
Tommy Milone, SP:
Milone has always pitched decently. He has been fairly consistent throughout his young career. He has not, however, done anything to “wow” anyone. The only reason his spot is in any danger is because of the sheer pitching depth that the Oakland Athletics have. Without Milone, they have five quality starters, although it is possible that Milone beats out Dan Straily for the fifth spot in the rotation. The bullpen, on the other hand, lacks solid lefties, especially with Eric O’Flaherty on the disabled list.
Prediction: Tommy Milone will find himself on the roster come opening day, but he will be in the bullpen. I see Milone being a sort of utility pitcher this season, moving from the bullpen to the Sacramento Rivercats to the starting rotation.