HOUSTON -- A high Draft pick is merely a consolation prize for a disappointing season. That the A's enter this week's Draft with their highest pick in 18 years, then, speaks to how well they've performed on the field in that time.
Oakland, which finished a disappointing 2015 season with a 68-94 record, is equipped with the sixth overall pick in this year's Draft -- marking its first pick in the single digits since 1999, when the club snagged lefty Barry Zito ninth. The year before that, the A's claimed left-hander Mark Mulder with the second pick, and the two would go on to form The Big Three with Tim Hudson.
The 2016 Draft will take place today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com today at 3 p.m. PT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 4 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the A's.
In about 50 words
A's scouting director Eric Kubota and his team are putting the finishing touches on "The Board," which features a list of players they have recognized as potential picks in the early going of the Draft, ultimately easing the selection process.
The A's have done well in replenishing parts of their farm system in the past year through a multitude of trades that netted them several exciting young players. They're still lacking in upper-level starting pitching, though, and could use an added dose of outfield talent as well. Both could seemingly be had early in this year's Draft.
There is little consensus throughout the first round, but MLB.com's experts have linked Oakland to four players who are expected to go early: Mercer University (Macon, Ga.) outfielder Kyle Lewis, Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel and prep players Jason Groome (LHP) and Mickey Moniak (OF).
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The A's have been assigned a pool of $9,883,500, which ranks sixth in the Majors. The value assigned to Oakland's first-round pick is $4,069,200.
Organizational holes aren't typically the No. 1 priority in the Draft, at least in the early stages, since needs are always changing because of injuries, promotions and trades, among other factors. Taking the best available player, most teams preach, trumps all.
Long keen on college players, Oakland bucked that trend in 2012, when five of its first seven picks came from the high school level. The A's also used their first pick of the '13 Draft to pick a prep player, before returning to their old ways in 2014, using each of their first five picks on collegiate talent. In 2015, 35 of the A's 40 selections came from the collegiate level.
Recent Draft history
Third baseman Matt Chapman, the A's first selection (25th overall) of the 2014 Draft, is in the middle of his first full season at the Double-A level after greatly impressing the Major League staff as a first-time invitee to big league camp. The power-hitting Chapman, who is also an excellent defender at third, doesn't appear far off from a stint in Triple-A.
Reliever Ryan Dull was a 32nd-round pick by the A's in the 2012 Draft. The right-hander jumped two levels in 2013 to reach Double-A Midland, where he remained until 2015, when he needed just 12 appearances at the Triple-A level to convince Oakland he was big league ready. Dull made his debut in September and has been a significant bullpen piece for the club ever since.
In The Show
Pitchers Sonny Gray, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Dull are the only players from the past five A's Draft classes in the Majors at the moment.
The A's recent top picks
2015: Richie Martin, SS, Class A Advanced Stockton
2014: Matt Chapman, 3B, Double-A Midland
2013: Billy McKinney, OF, Double-A Tennessee (Chicago Cubs)
2012: Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
2011: Gray, RHP, Oakland A's
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.