This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Athletics:
Veterans and younger players that no longer have rookie/prospect status occupy roster positions for the coming season in Oakland.
Outstanding pitchers with little service time and huge upside like Sonny Gray, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin anchor the club's pitching. Unfortunately, Jarrod Parker will miss the season, requiring his second Tommy John surgery. Hopefully, he comes back strong.
PROJECTED 2016 OAKLAND LINEUP
Projecting the A's 2016 lineup based on players currently in their system.
Outfielder Billy Burns has made a tremendous impression this spring with his fantastic speed. He has shown an ability to get on base, steal and wreak havoc on the basepaths. The A's could use Burns' energy. He has a chance to continue increasing his profile. Burns stole 74 bases last season, while playing in the Washington Nationals' system.
Addison Russell is one of the finest shortstop prospects in the game. He can do it all.
An extremely skilled athlete, Russell was the A's first-round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The 20-year-old is 6-foot and 195 pounds. In only two seasons, Russell has progressed through every classification of the A's organization, having finished 2013 at Triple-A Sacramento. He has a career Minor League batting average of .302, with good power numbers as well.
Russell has extremely quick hands and feet. Even more power should be on the way as he continues to fill out his frame. At the plate, Russell is quick through the ball. On defense, he has enough range to make every play.
Center fielder Billy McKinney was a first-round selection in the 2013 Draft. The left-handed-hitting McKinney has already played for two A's clubs. I saw him in the Arizona Summer League, where he hit .320 in 206 plate appearances before moving on to Class A Short-Season Vermont to finish the summer. McKinney hit .353 there, for a combined first-year batting average of .326.
McKinney, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, has good instincts and fine speed. He provides the club with a reliable hitter and solid defender in center.
Right-handed Raul Alcantara is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound starting pitcher. He has completed four Minor League seasons, finishing last year at Class A Advanced Stockton. Alcantara's career record is 24-24 with an ERA of 3.51 and a WHIP of 1.21. He has very good control and command. Last year, Alcantara walked an average of one hitter a game. He pitches to contact with a fastball that can touch 95 mph, a slider and a changeup.
Right-hander Michael Ynoa joins Alcantara in the starting-pitching prospect pool. Ynoa is tall and lanky, at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds. He could stand to add more weight to his frame.
Ynoa has completed three Minor League seasons, walking an average of five hitters per nine innings. Command and control are his major issues for future development. Ynoa finished 2013 with a combined 3.69 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP over two classifications.
Daniel Robertson is another shortstop candidate in the system. Selected in the first round of the 2012 Draft, he makes good line-drive gap contact. Robertson is also a very good fielding infielder.
Robertson had a great debut in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .297, but he scuffled when he moved on to Class A Short-Season Vermont, hitting only .181. Given the presence of Russell at shortstop, Robertson could profile at third base, too.
Left-handed-hitting Max Muncy gives the A's a future option at first base, a position of recent need for the franchise. The 6-foot, 190-pound, 23-year-old has some raw power. Muncy hit 25 home runs and drove in 100 runs last season, combined between Class A Advanced Stockton and Double-A Midland.
Muncy waked 88 times last year, showing good patience at the plate. He struck out 102 times in 625 plate appearances, fine for a power hitter.
Right-handed pitcher Bobby Wahl is a few years away from the big leagues. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound, 21-year-old pitched for the University of Mississippi. He reached Short-Season A Vermont last season and threw 20 2/3 innings, yielding nine earned runs for a 3.92 ERA. Wahl walked 2.6 per nine innings, while striking out 11.8 per nine.
Renato Nunez is a solid candidate at third base who is a few years away from the parent club. He has power to all fields and hit 19 home runs while driving in 85 runs at Class A Beloit. Nunez's game is still raw, and he needs to refine his hitting mechanics to retain the excellent start to his career.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter.