A’s Choice will have to wait for his chance

The Oakland A’s starting outfield — Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick — is set. Their fourth outfielder — Chris Young — is playing well this spring.

That leaves no room on the big club for the organization’s No. 2 rated prospect, Michael Choice.

The 23-year-old center fielder spent the entire 2012 season at Double-A Midland where he hit .287 with 10 home runs in 91 games. A broken hand derailed his season in July.

This spring, Choice been one of the hottest A’s hitters in camp. In nine games, he leads the team with 11 hits in 22 at-bats. He also leads the team with eight RBI.

Last week, A’s manager Bob Melvin told the Oakland Tribune’s John Hickey what he likes about Choice:

“He has a quick bat and that allows him to wait on balls.”

Unfortunately for Choice, it doesn’t matter how well he plays this spring. Unless something dire happens, it’s almost a guarantee that he will start the year in the minors.

Crisp is locked into the starting center field job, and, if an injury were to get in his way, offseason acquisition Young is waiting to step in. The former All-Star was acquired from Arizona in October and will serve as the A’s extra outfielder.

The good news for Choice is that his time could come as early as 2014. The frugal A’s hold pricey team options on both Crisp ($7.5 million) and Young ($11 million).

After a storybook run to the AL West crown in 2012, many expect the A’s to contend again this year. But if they don’t, general manager Billy Beane could look to trade Crisp or Young, which would open a door for Choice.

Choice’s quickest path to the majors with the A’s is in center field. Left fielder Cespedes is signed through the 2015 season and right fielder Reddick is under team control through 2016.

Choice can point to winter ball as one of the main reasons he’s having so much success this spring. He went down to the Dominican Republic to get some extra at-bats and work on some mechanical adjustments.

MLB.com’s Jane Lee spoke with A’s director of player development Keith Lieppman last week after Choice hit a home run against the Indians in his third spring training game:

“Last year he wouldn’t have been able to do that, hit the inside pitch like he did. He probably would’ve been jammed. He learned how too pull his hands through and he hits it out for a homer. Those are all the kinds of things he’s been working at, and it happened in game time, so great, great progress.”

Choice is playing well and the A’s are noticing. It’s only a matter of time before Choice gets a chance to impress the fans in Oakland.