Athletics invite top prospects to camp

Athletics invite top prospects to camp

LAS VEGAS -- It wasn't anything in the Rafael Furcal/Randy Johnson realm, but the A's released a little news Monday morning as the opulent Bellagio Hotel and Casino officially morphed into the center of the baseball universe with Day 1 of the annual Winter Meetings.

Oakland announced its 17 non-roster invitees to Spring Training, and the list includes hot-shot pitching prospects such as Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro.

Also slated to suit up with the big leaguers -- early in camp, at least -- are first baseman Chris Carter, who led the Minor Leagues with 75 extra-base hits and 288 total bases for Class A Stockton, and second baseman Jemile Weeks, Oakland's top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Nine of the other invitees are from the A's Minor League system: pitchers Drew Bailey, Andrew Carignan, Brett Hunter, Jared Lansford, Tyson Ross and James Simmons; catcher Josh Donaldson; and infielders Adrian Cardenas and Sean Doolittle.

The A's also agreed to terms with righty Jerome Williams on a Minor League contract and will invite two players from Mexican League teams: pitcher Arnold Leon from Saltillo and catcher Joel Galarraga from Minatitlan.

Anderson and Cahill are the A's No. 1 and No. 2 prospects according to Baseball America. Anderson, who was acquired from Arizona in the Dan Haren trade, combined to go 11-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for Stockton and Double-A Midland. Cahill was 11-5 with a 2.61 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 21 games (19 starts) with Stockton and Midland.

Both pitched for Team USA in the 2008 Futures Game at Yankee Stadium and were members of the bronze-medal-winning United States team in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Mazzaro, rated No. 8 among A's prospects by Baseball America, was 12-3 with a 1.90 ERA in 22 starts at Midland and earned Texas League Pitcher of the Year honors after leading the league in ERA and wins. He also posted a 3-3 record and a 6.15 ERA in six games (five starts) at Triple-A Sacramento, and his 15 combined wins tied for fifth in the Minors. 

Carter, the No. 6 Oakland prospect according to Baseball America, led the California League in home runs (39), RBIs (104), runs (101), slugging percentage (.569), extra-base hits and total bases. Also acquired in the Haren trade, he tied for second in the Minors in home runs and tied for fourth in runs.

Weeks, who was selected 12th overall out of the University of Miami, hit .297 and stole six bases in 19 games at Class A Kane County before sustaining a season-ending hip injury. 

Cardenas and Donaldson were acquired in the Joe Blanton (to the Phillies) and Rich Harden (Cubs) trades, respectively. Cardenas combined to hit .278 with Stockton and Midland after batting .307 for Class A Clearwater in the Phillies organization. He was named the A's No. 5 prospect by Baseball America and batted .239 for the Arizona Fall League champion Phoenix Desert Dogs. Donaldson hit .330 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 47 games for Class A Stockton following the trade from the Cubs.

Simmons, ranked as Oakland's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America, spent the entire season at Midland, where he was 9-6 with a 3.51 ERA in 25 starts. He was named to the Texas League postseason All-Star team after ranking second in the league in strikeouts (120) and third in ERA.

Doolittle, Carignan, Bailey and Lansford also played for Phoenix in the AFL.

Doolittle was named to the AFL All-Prospects Team after hitting .293 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 32 games for Phoenix. He combined for a .286 average, 22 home runs and 91 RBIs in 137 games with Stockton and Midland during the regular season. 

Carignan also played for Stockton and Midland and combined for a 4-4 record, 28 saves and a 2.01 ERA. He saved a team-leading 24 games for the Midland (ranked second in the Texas League), and added six saves for Phoenix, leading the AFL.

Bailey was 5-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 37 games (15 starts) at Midland and added a 1.29 ERA in 11 relief appearances for Phoenix. Lansford was 2-6 with a 4.41 ERA and three saves in 31 games (two starts) with Stockton and went 3-1 with five saves and a 0.70 ERA in 15 relief appearances at Midland.

Ross, a second-round Draft pick who was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection at the University of California, also played for Kane County and compiled an 0-1 record and a 4.66 ERA in six games, including four starts. Hunter, a seventh-rounder was drafted out of Pepperdine, where he missed most of the season with forearm and elbow soreness. He appeared in just three games for A's farm teams and then went 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in seven relief appearances for North Shore Honu in the Hawaiian Winter League.

Williams, 27, combined for a 2-3 record and a 3.25 ERA in 13 games, five starts, for Class A Inland Empire and Triple-A Las Vegas in the Dodgers farm system last year.  He pitched in the Majors for the Giants (2003-05), Cubs (2005-06) and Nationals (2007) and is 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA in 76 career appearances, including 71 starts.

Leon was with the A's last spring before returning to Saltillo, where he was 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 13 relief appearances. Galarraga batted .318 with three home runs, 47 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and 55 walks in 105 games for Minatitlan last year.

Oakland pitchers and catchers report to Phoenix for their first workout on Saturday, Feb. 14.  The remainder of the squad reports Wednesday, Feb. 18, with the first full-squad workout slated for the next day.

The A's open the Cactus League season on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at Milwaukee.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.