A's lose prospect to higher league

Well, this wins the prize for the odd baseball news of the week:

    Grant Desme, one of the Oakland A's top prospects, has retired from baseball in order to enter the priesthood.

    The A's confirmed what FOXSports.com first reported Friday morning and will make Desme available to the media later Friday afternoon.

    Desme, 23, established himself as a potential big-league standout by batting .288 with 31 home runs, 89 RBI and 40 stolen bases in a combined 131 games over two levels of minor-league play this season. He was minor league baseball's only 30-30 man.

    Desme capped off his season by dominating the Arizona Fall League, where many of the game's top prospects compete in each season. Desme was named the league's Most Valuable Player.

    Baseball America recently named Desme as the A's 8th-best prospect. Other publications had the outfielder ranked among the Top 5 of Oakland's prospects.

    Desme was a second-round draft choice by the A's out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in 2008.

Yeah, maybe in the draft room the A's should have thrown a Bizarro Milo on this kid. But hot prospects quitting baseball to study for the clergy is rare enough that I think we can give Oakland's scouting director a pass on this one.

How good a prospect is Desme, really? As Bleacher Report's Eric Stashin suggested during the Arizona Fall League, there are (or were) at least a few reasons to be skeptical. Due to injuries, Desme played only 14 games in his first two seasons after signing with the A's in 2007. This year in Class A, he struck out 148 times in 131 games. He stole 40 bases, but isn't said to have great speed; he's more smart than fast, which is nice but doesn't generally lead to a lot of steals in the majors. He's not particularly young, turning 24 right around Opening Day this year.

Stashin's big finish:

    Desme can certainly hit for power. He’s shown that all year long, but the concerns over the average are very real and knock him down quite a few notches. Despite his impressive showing this winter, he’s likely going to open the season at Double-A and will need to prove that he can hit for average before he even gets a chance in the major leagues.

    I think it is much more likely that he spends the entire season in the minors, though I guess a September call-up is possible. Outside of that, don’t look for much out of him in 2010. As of right now, I’d project him out to be Jack Cust with speed, which certainly doesn’t say much.

Yes, that sounds terribly pessimistic. The point is that Desme wasn't a sure thing -- not a Grade A prospect. He was a Grade B prospect, or maybe a B+ for the people who really loved him. The A's need star hitters if they're ever to get somewhere, and Desme didn't look like a future star.

Which isn't to suggest that the A's aren't hurting a little today. When you draft a player in the second round, you've got dreams about him. When a player hits 31 home runs and steals 40 bases, you've got dreams for him. And it can't be easy when you discover he's got dreams that have nothing to do with yours.