As we continue to look at the Oakland Athletics representatives in the Seedlings to Stars top 115 prospects in baseball, we look at someone who appeared to be poised to ascend to the top of many lists like this one before a bizarre and injury riddled 2012 season dulled his star a little. That man is 2010 first round pick Michael Choice who checks in at number 53.
Mar. 8, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Michael Choice (35) during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports
After the 2011 season, Choice was beginning to look like a slam dunk draft pick for Billy Beane and co. after demolishing the competition in the California League for the Stockton Ports. He posted a .285/.376/.542 line in 118 games with 30 home runs. His 131 wRC+ was good as well, though it left room for improvement. Nevertheless, Choice was on the fast track so much so that I wouldn’t have been surprised if he caught fire in 2012 and skyrocketed all the way to Oakland by September. Now, I wasn’t expecting the A’s to be on their way to an AL West championship last September. I expected them to be playing out the remaining schedule and perhaps taking a look at some young talent like Choice perhaps and the likes of Grant Green. That didn’t happen, and I certainly couldn’t complain.
It was all moot though because Choice struggled badly in 2012, the power that made him such an intriguing prospect in 2011 virtually disappeared in 2012. He played just 91 games, sidelined by injury, and he posted a .287/.356/.423 line with just 10 home runs. His wRC+ of 111 paled in comparison to the 131 he posted in 2011. If, Choice hadn’t posted the type of numbers with the Stockton Ports he did in 2011, his 2012 season would probably not have hurt his stock as much as it did. He got on base at just about the same rate as he did before, but he just wasn’t providing that thump everyone had grown accustomed to seeing.
So where does this leave Michael Choice heading into 2013? I had expected he might remain with the Midland Rockhounds to start the season and see if he can regain his power stroke, but that doesn’t appear to be the plan for him according to CSN’s Casey Pratt. Choice will report to Sacramento and will find himself just one step away from the show despite his odd 2012 season. If he returns to form with the Rivercats he will likely either force his way into the picture in Oakland, or will find himself somewhere else as a valuable trade piece to address needs of the A’s 25 man roster.
The bloom may have fallen to the floor, but Choice is young enough that there is still hope for him to become an impact major league hitter. The 2013 season will be a crossroads for his career, whether he makes it to the highest level or struggles and becomes something of a project for the Athletics.