From young minor league prospects to rookie big-league talent, Prospect Press will be providing an inside look at baseball's best talent for years to come. Today's Prospect Press focuses on Oakland Athletics infield prospect Jemile Weeks.
The Athletics had very high hopes for Weeks, brother of Brewers' star Rickie Weeks
, when they drafted him 12th overall in the 2008 draft. He's rewarded them by becoming one of their top organizational prospects, according to Baseball America.
Jemile was highly touted coming out of high school and was drafted by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2005 draft. However, he and the Brewers could not work out a deal and Weeks ended up fulfilling his commitment to the University of Miami. He proved that returning to school was the correct decision by hitting .363 with 13 home runs in his junior season. His bank account was surely grateful as his signing bonus was just under $2 million.
As a college star, Weeks was expected to ascend through the minors quickly. Though he began his career right away in the summer of 2008, Weeks would play his first full season in 2009. He eventually reached Double-A after tearing through high-Single-A with seven homeruns and a .299 average.
He struggled to adjust to Double-A pitching in 2010, hitting just .267 with three homeruns. But that didn't stop the A's from promoting him to Triple-A to start the season in 2011, the last line of defense before he'd hit the majors. The gamble paid off, as Weeks got off to a blazing start this year, hitting .321/.417/.446 with three home runs and 10 stolen bases.
Earlier this week, the Oakland Athletics took advantage of Weeks and his stellar play by promoting him to the 25-man roster. With veteran Mark Ellis
on the disabled list, Weeks and utility infielder Adam Rosales
should take over the primary second-base duties. Because he has the higher upside, I'd imagine that A's manager Bob Geren will give Weeks the glut of at-bats until Ellis returns.
Jack Moore of FanGraphs.com
offers an excellent comparison between the Weeks brothers, breaking down the main components that make them different. While Rickie saw immediate success at the major league level because of a high on-base percentage and excellent power, Jemile will likely take a different route.
According to Moore, Jemile has walked in 11.1 percent of his minor league plate appearances. That combined with his excellent gap power should help him become a prototypical leadoff hitter. And though Oakland fans would love to see the younger Weeks grow into the power that Rickie has, he doesn't project to be much of a power prospect.
Weeks stumbled in his big-league debut, going 0-4, but there's no denying that he has the tools to play himself in to a permanent spot on the roster. Geren has already shown confidence in the young infielder, electing him to bat leadoff in his first major-league game. And if he can prove he can set the table for the middle of the order, it will be hard to send him down for an aging veteran.
He's got the tools, but be cautious before starting Weeks right away in any fantasy league. At this point in the season you should have a serviceable second baseman that you can plug in until Weeks adjusts to major league pitching. But if the toolsy Weeks starts pounding pitchers, don't be afraid to play him or trade him high right away.