Things hardly have gone as planned this season for the A's, but the emergence of several young pitchers has been a bright spot.

Now the A's hope their farm system produces a wave of hitters to complement that pitching. Whether Oakland climbs the standings in 2010 could depend on how quickly their top young hitters start contributing in the major leagues.

Here's a glance at some of the A's best hitting prospects, and a prediction on when they'll arrive in the majors. Brett Wallace headlines the group, but the A's are optimistic about several others.

3B Brett Wallace: Since coming over in the Matt Holliday trade July 24, he hasn't disappointed. Wallace, who hits left-handed, batted .302 with nine homers and 28 RBI in 44 games for Triple-A Sacramento, which is currently in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

The A's see him as a middle-of-the-order presence. The question is whether he can handle third base in the majors. Wallace, a Sonoma native who grew up idolizing Eric Chavez, is determined to show third is where he belongs. Word is he's already made strides working with A's roving infield instructor Juan Navarrete.

The A's are unsettled at third as Chavez is trying to rebound from his second back surgery, and it's unknown if Adam Kennedy will be re-signed. But the A's will be patient with Wallace.

General manager Billy Beane points out that Wallace, 23, is completing just his first full professional season. He was drafted 13th overall by St. Louis in 2008 and was the key in the three-player package the A's received in exchange for Holliday.

"Usually people judge (a player's) bat against his glove, and it's the glove that may come first," Beane said. "With Brett, it's possible that the reverse is true. We're going to give him a chance (to play third) until he proves that that's not his best position."

One scout said he wouldn't be surprised to see Wallace starting at first base for the A's in 2010, adding: "He's definitely a pure hitter who uses the whole field. He does have holes (on) inside (pitches) with breaking stuff that he's got to make adjustments on. (But) his bat's gonna carry him."

Major league ETA: 2010.

1B Chris Carter: His right-handed power was no secret. But Carter, 22, surprised everyone by challenging for the triple crown in the Double-A Texas League with a .337 batting average, 24 homers and 101 RBI for Midland. He then had a three-homer game after being promoted to Sacramento on Aug. 26.

After Carter hit just .259 for Single-A Stockton in 2008, the A's were thrilled with his meteoric jump in batting average. One scout is skeptical about whether he'll hit for a high average in the majors but noted: "He's as dangerous as they come (with) the long ball."

Carter, listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, played some left field in recent weeks, and the A's hope he'll get more outfield time while playing winter ball in Mexico.

First base is his best position, but the A's are deep there. It'd serve them best if Carter can become an adequate left fielder.

Major league ETA: 2010.

IF Adrian Cardenas: Keith Lieppman, the A's director of player development, compares Cardenas to Kennedy as a hitter.

"A gap-to-gap kind of guy. Good contact, moves the ball around," Lieppman said.

Cardenas, 21, hit .326 with Midland in 79 games and got promoted to Sacramento.

The A's think his best position is second base, but they like the way he's adapted to third in some exposure there. That versatility could bode well for Cardenas in the future.

Major league ETA: 2010.

2B Jemile Weeks: The A's drafted Weeks 12th overall in 2008 — one spot ahead of Wallace. He missed the early part of this season recovering from a hip flexor injury but got off to a great start with Stockton and showed surprising pop at the plate.

He was promoted to Midland, where he hit just .238 in 30 games to close the regular season. Lieppman said Weeks, 22, has shown improvement with the glove. His defensive development should determine whether he's the heir apparent at second to Mark Ellis, who's signed through 2010 (with a club option for 2011).

Major league ETA: 2011.

C Josh Donaldson: An under-the-radar acquisition in last year's Rich Harden trade, Donaldson, 23, had 91 RBI for Midland this season. He converted to catcher in college and has improved greatly behind the plate. But Kurt Suzuki, just 25, is entrenched as the A's major league starter, so Donaldson must practice patience.

Major league ETA: 2011.

OF Grant Desme: Desme, 23, made a splash by posting a 30-40 season — he hit .288 with 31 homers, 89 RBI and 40 stolen bases split between low Single-A Kane County and Stockton. Not bad for a guy who was sidelined for virtually the entire 2008 season with wrist and shoulder injuries. He'll play in the Arizona Fall League, as will Weeks.

Major league ETA: 2012.

Note: The Tacoma Rainiers defeated Sacramento 5-2 at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium to even their PCL playoff series at one game apiece. Carter and Eric Munson homered for the River Cats. Game 3 of the best-of-five series is tonight in Sacramento. Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) also would be at Raley Field on Saturday and Sunday.

Now batting ... in 2012
Here's how the A's lineup could look in 2012:
1. Jemile Weeks 2B
2. Adrian Cardenas 3B
3. Brett Wallace 1B
4. Chris Carter DH
5. Kurt Suzuki C
6. Grant Desme LF
7. Ryan Sweeney CF
8. Grant Green SS
9. Aaron Cunningham RF
  • TODAY: A's (Clayton Mortensen 0-2) at Twins (Nick Blackburn 9-10), 5:10 p.m. TV: CSNCA.
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