6/7/2013 10:30 P.M. ET
Finnegan's loud fastball has A's excited
By Jeff Kirshman / MLB.com
Right-hander Kyle Finnegan's junior season at Texas State didn't unfold as planned. After starting 14 of 15 games as a sophomore, he struggled to find consistency in his first 10 outings of the 2013 season and was eventually moved to the bullpen.
But the role change may have been a blessing in disguise for Finnegan. Scouts often judge the success of future short-term relievers based on arm strength, and Finnegan's velocity has never been a problem. He possesses a singing fastball that can reach 97 mph in short stints, but his secondary pitches are a work in progress.
The A's took a flyer on Finnegan in the sixth round with the 191th overall pick.
Finnegan will flash an average slider, but not consistently, and he doesn't always command it well. He has a fringy changeup, but if he moves to the bullpen, he can shelve it and work on developing a two-pitch power combination.
"Personally, I think I can be a three-pitch pitcher," Finnegan said. "I got a really sharp slider, but I struggle to command it in the strike zone sometimes. So it's a good pitch, but I just need to get a little bit more control of it. And I've been developing my change up for the past year. It's really coming along.
It's possible Finnegan's days as a starter are over, but his Draft stock was boosted by his potential to be a power arm out of the 'pen.
"He has flashes of secondary stuff," Kubota said. "It's probably a matter of consistency more than anything else.
"With the strategy that they use under Billy Beane, it just goes to show that they see something in me that a lot of other teams didn't see," Finnegan said. "His system has been proven to work. That pitching staff last year did some incredible things, and I'm just excited to get in there and start working and hopefully what they saw in me will come out on the field."
Healy gives A's power, glove at No. 100
Ryan Healy's living room erupted after learning he had been drafted by the A's with the 100th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
A small contingency of family and friends had gathered at the home of Oregon's junior first baseman, monitoring the computer screen as Friday's third round began. Picks came and went without his name being called. Finally, an Oakland scout responsible for the Pacific Northwest gave him a call.
If you're on the board, we're taking you, he told Healy.
"It was a waiting game," Healy said. "The longest three or four picks of my life."
Healy said the Giants, Pirates, Tigers and White Sox were other teams that had contacted him leading up to the Draft, but he felt confident the A's would select him and he'd be able to continue wearing green and gold.
"I knew the A's were hot on me," Healy said. "I had a lot of communication with them in the past week."
Healy headlined the crop of prospects taken by the A's on Day 2 of the Draft, which saw the rounds of three through 10 go by. After two days, the A's have selected college players with nine of their 12 picks - eight pitchers, two infielders and two outfielders.
"If you look at today, we probably put an emphasis on pitching, but that's partially because of what was available to us," said Eric Kubota, the A's scouting director since 2002. "You can't really force anything about a Draft. A Draft kind of dictates to you what's available to you with who you take."
"It's a great honor to be picked by them, with Billy Beane and everything" Healy added. "Obviously, they're not going through and picking blindly off the Draft board, so it's a great honor to be valued this high to them and it's a great opportunity to play for the organization."
Healy has consistently been one of the best college hitters for three years and was named to the Pac-12's All-Conference team after hitting .333 (76-for-228) with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs to go along with a .408 on-base percentage.
He arrived at Oregon as a third baseman, but moved across the diamond to first base as a freshman. He has blossomed into an excellent defender at first base with the potential for plus power.
Healy has continued to play third base in the summer and he may get a chance to try the position again as a professional. Listed at 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, Healy is a physical player, but still fairly athletic for his size.
"I've coached Phil Nevin and Mark Kotsay and Kurt Suzuki … and nobody's hitting the ball as hard, or as consistently, or at more opportune times than Ryon has this year," Oregon head coach George Horton told Baseball America in April. "He's had a spectacular year, no question about it."
Healy follows first-round pick Billy McKinney, second-rounder Dillon Overton and Chad Pinder, the A's competitive balance pick, all taken in Day 1 of the Draft.
"We're very excited about how things turned out," Kubota said. "There were a couple of guys who fell to us that we had evaluated as going higher prior to entering the Draft, and we're just happy with how everything turned out today."
Fresh arm gives Kohler strong outlook
Chris Kohler was worth the wait for the A's, who took him with the 106th overall pick in the Draft.
The left-hander from Los Osos (Calif.) High School didn't pitch much growing up, saving his arm for high school and beyond. That strategy has appeared to pay off for Kohler, who has projectability, size and pitching know-how.
"We don't seem him as being inexperienced in any way when you compare him to other high school pitchers," Kubota said.
The prep lefty, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 200 pounds, has three solid pitches and a loose, easy arm. He can touch 90 mph with his fastball, but there's more in the tank, and he has a solid curveball and fairly deceptive changeup -- both of which should be at least Major League-average offerings.
"He has flashes of stuff now and we see him getting bigger and stronger as he matures," Kubota said. "He can really spin a breaking ball and he's got a really bright future ahead of him."
Kohler was named to Rawlings' 2013 third-team All-American and first-team All-Region teams after finishing the season 11-1 in 12 appearances with a 2.24 ERA.
Five of his outings were complete games, and he even proved proficient at the plate, hitting .444 in 90 at-bats during the season.
"He's got a good arm and we expect him to throw hard down the road," Kubota said. "He's what you look for in a high school pitching prospect."
A's see high upside in resilient Covey
Dylan Covey grew up a Dodgers fan, but he's ready to switch allegiances toward the north. The right-hander from Los Angeles slowly weaned himself off the team in preparation of being drafted. "I knew the likelihood of being picked by my favorite team was pretty slim," said Covey, who was drafted by the A's in the fourth round Friday. "I guess you can say that I'm an Oakland A's fan now."
Covey was a first-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, but when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he headed to the University of San Diego to learn how to pitch with the disease.
It's now under control, and Covey entered this year's Draft as, once again, a legitimate prospect. The A's made him the 131st overall pick.
"That definitely was a surprise when I was drafted the first time," Covey said. "I had a 100 percent intention of signing the first time I was drafted, but then I found out I had diabetes and things didn't fit into place like I thought they would.
"I definitely think that going to college taught me a little bit more how to pitch. I grew up a little bit, matured a little bit. I figured out who I was as a pitcher. I think I'm definitely a better pitcher now. Mechanically, I'm not as sound as I was out of high school. But I think that the A's understand that."
Covey can run his fastball up to 94 mph, and it regularly sits in the 90- to 91-mph range with some heavy life. His power curve is an average offering with the potential of being an out pitch, and his changeup gives him a third usable weapon. A slider, though not as developed, is another option for Covey.
He goes right after hitters and is especially effective when he can keep his fastball down in the zone. His control has been an issue at times, as he has led USD in both wild pitches and strikeouts each of the last two seasons.
"He was on every team in baseball's radar," Kubota said of Covey's draft stock two years ago. "There's a lot to like there. … We think his best days as far as performance are ahead of him."
As starter or reliever, Wahl can help A's
Wahl had an impressive sophomore season as a starter at Ole Miss then had a successful turn pitching in relief for Team USA over the summer. He returned as Ole Miss' Friday starter and continued to use his power repertoire successfully.
Oakland took the physical right-hander in the fifth round, which Kubota said was a steal considering where the industry expected him to go.
"He was very highly regarded going into the draft, and for whatever reason he went a little lower than expected, but we're very happy to have him," Kubota said.
USA Today rated Wahl as the 16th-best pitching prospect in the draft, but more than 80 pitchers were picked ahead of him.
"Scouting is a very subjective business," Kubota added. "You'd have to ask every club to get a real answer on why it happened. It's just one of those things that sometimes things happen, and we were happy to be there and take advantage."
Wahl has a good pitcher's body and plenty of arm strength, cranking his fastball up to 95 mph with good life to it. He couples that with an average to sometimes plus curve, more than enough for the bullpen. Throw in a feel for the changeup and any team that takes him should probably send him out as a starter when he enters the pro game.
The only thing that could hold Wahl back is his command and control and any team taking Wahl can take comfort in knowing he does just fine in short relief. But that might just be a backup plan because many think he'll be just fine to start.
Kubota said whether a pitcher ends up a starter or reliever often plays itself out in the minors, but noted that they'll try to see if Wahl can make it as a starter.
Ferocity on mound one of Driver's strengths
It's always interesting to see what talent comes out of the Pacific Northwest, and Dustin Driver has the chance to be one of the best from the region this year.
Oakland drafted the high schooler from Washington in the seventh round for their last non-collegiate of the day.
Driver has some good stuff, with a fastball that's already touching 93-94 mph and a power breaking ball to go along with it. He threw very well at the Area Code Games, showing a good feel for mixing his fastball, breaking stuff and even a changeup.
Kubota compared Driver to Jeremy Bonderman, who spent eight seasons with the Tigers before joining the Mariners for the 2013 season.
And while some feel he may be a reliever when all is said and done, there's plenty to like about this young right arm. As good as his raw stuff is, he gets equally strong, if not better, marks for his mound presence, instincts and competitiveness, all of which add up to a very bright future.
As to questions of Driver's signability, Kubota said the A's feel strongly that they'll be able to get him under contract.
"There's a lot of work that goes into determining signability, and at this point we feel confident that we can get him signed," he said.
A's thrilled athletic Marincov chose baseball
While Marincov doesn't have a standout tool, his overall package makes him an intriguing prospect.
"He's just an athletic college outfielder," Kubota said of the A's eighth-round pick. "He's been a very good performer for his school. He's got strength and speed. We're excited to be able to bring him in and drafted."
A former star high school quarterback, Marincov still plays with an aggressive football mentality and earns high marks for his hustle. Marincov's strong 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame produces good power, though it doesn't always carry over into games. He makes good contact and has been mostly a gap-to-gap hitter at North Florida.
Marincov is an average runner and takes advantage of his speed on the basepaths. Marincov can play center field, but his profile fits best in right field.
"It shows that he's a good athlete," Kubota said regarding Marincov's football past. "I wouldn't say it's a plus or a minus. It's just an indicator of athleticism."
Lefty Stalcup has strikeout potential
Matt Stalcup went 7-3 last season as a leader of Pittsburgh State's pitching staff, allowing 63 hits in 71 1/3 innings. He finished the year with a 3.93 ERA, striking out 95 batters to just 33 walks.
Drafted by the A's in the ninth round, he's a left-handed pitcher from a small school in Kansas with a strong fastball and solid breaking ball along with a history of accumulating high strikeout numbers.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior pitcher was also a member of the 2013 Baseball America 500, a list of the top 500 potential draftees.
"Guys who strike out guys in pro ball generally struck guys out in high school or college," Kubota said. "That's generally something that moves with a pitcher, whether they're in high school or college. There's a feel to it.
"The best way to look at it is if you strike a guy out, there's no room for error. If the ball is put in play, if you're pitching to contact, there's a lot more factors that come into getting the guy out. With a strikeout, there's just pitching. It's black and white. If you don't hit the ball, you can't make something happen."
Baseball America referred to Stalcup as someone who "gets strikeouts thanks to his 88-93 mph fastball, solid curveball and the deception provided by a delivery that one scout compared to Warren Spahn's windmill."
Polished lefty Grundy A's 10th-round pick
Jerad Grundy rounded out the day for the A's as their 10th-round pick and the 311th overall pick of the Draft.
Oakland's selection on Friday was Grundy's fourth time being drafted. He was selected in 2012 in the 26th round by the Twins, the 46th round in 2009 by the Rangers and in the 42nd round in 2011 by the Marlins.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound lefty for Kentucky made 14 starts in 2013, owning a 6-6 record and a 4.86 ERA. Grundy worked 83 1/3 innings along the way, allowing just 20 walks and striking out 61.
"He's a polished college lefty who had a very good college career," Kubota said. "We hope he can have the same success as he did in college."
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.