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A's enthusiastic about picks in First-Year Player Draft

First-round selection McKinney is highlight of three-day event for Oakland

One year after claiming the American League West crown, the Athletics looked to solidify their franchise through the 2013 First-year Player Draft.

The A's welcomed a total of 42 players to the organization over the three-day event -- 23 pitchers, six catchers, six infielders and seven outfielders.

Billy McKinney highlighted the A's Draft.

Oakland used the 24th overall pick to select the left-handed hitting outfielder from Plano West High School in Plano, Texas, who batted .394 (39-for-99) with six home runs and 32 RBIs. He also had a .585 on-base percentage, drawing 36 walks in 130 plate appearances and striking out just six times.

The A's selection of a high school player in the first round was their second straight -- the first time in the Billy Beane era they've gone with high school players back-to-back years -- and fourth in five years.

They later selected left-hander Chris Kohler with the 106th overall pick in the Draft despite his being a prospect with limited experience, even by high school standards.

"We don't see him as being inexperienced in any way when you compare him to other high school pitchers," A's scouting director Eric Kubota said. "It's not as simple to say it's just a college pitcher or high school pitcher, because every pitching prospect is different in their own way. Kohler is unique just because of who he is, not just because he's a high school pitcher."

Even with just a high school sample size, McKinney -- known more for his potential on the offensive end than on defense -- is projected to be a plus hitter with above-average power. He said he models his swing after Josh Hamilton of the Angels.

Two college players joined McKinney on Day 1. The A's selected Oklahoma left-hander Dillon Overton with their second-round selection and Virginia Tech infielder Chad Pinder with their competitive balance pick.

Day 2 was pitching-heavy for the A's, who used seven of their nine picks on pitchers.

"The top of the Draft, you try to get the best player available, whether it's a [position] player of pitcher," Kubota said. "If you look at [Friday], we probably put an emphasis on pitching, but that's partially because of what was available to us. 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."

Their fifth-round selection, Bobby Wahl out of Ole Miss, was a player Kubota considers a steal considering when the industry expected him to be taken.

"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."

The A's added 30 more selections to their total on the third and final day of the Draft, including 13 straight college seniors from rounds 21 through 33 to up their overall total to 31 college players of the 42 players picked over the three-day span.

"We're thrilled to have had the opportunity to draft these guys," Kubota said. "We always go into a Draft with high expectations. These past few days didn't do anything to damper our enthusiasm."

Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for
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