Sure, becoming proficient at a few positions might accelerate a trip to the Major Leagues. But when a player gets comfortable in one spot and is told to learn a new one, that can lead to frustration and, ultimately, delay a callup to the Major Leagues.
That's the situation for Grant Green, who is playing in the Arizona Fall League for the third time and learning his fifth position, as he continues to grind his way up the Oakland Athletics' organizational chart. This time, the former left fielder, center fielder, third baseman and shortstop is playing second base.
Green, who is playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, is 25 -- one of the older players in the league. He was a first-round selection (13th overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, and currently ranks fifth on MLB.com among the A's top prospects.
"I've always said when they started moving me around that it kind of stinks now, not having a position right away. But you never know," said Green.
"Maybe after I get a callup, [versatility] keeps me in the league [for] three, four, five more years if I can play five different positions."
Green is hoping his ability to play almost anywhere, coupled with his good numbers, will soon pay dividends. With the A's trade of infielder Cliff Pennington to the D-backs for center fielder Chris Young, and the club's decision to decline the 2013 option on Stephen Drew, it could be a good scenario for Green, whose average has hovered around .300 during AFL play.
Green's manager in the AFL, Aaron Holbert, appreciates the way Green has eagerly accepted every new assignment.
"I know in some ways it's probably tough for a player to come back for his second -- [and] especially his third -- time. But at the same time, you have to look at it as a good thing," Holbert said. "The organization likes you, they see value in you, and they're trying to figure out the best possible fit for you to help the Major League club.
"When you look at the big picture, and hopefully [Green] does, he truly needs to realize what a great opportunity he has to make the most of this [chance] here in the [AFL], because a good Fall League showing will bode well for him come February."
A good Spring Training, combined with a good scouting report, could propel Green. After his solid season at Triple-A Sacramento, it's no mystery what he hopes happens next.
"Definitely, [I'd like] a callup," Green said. "It's everyone's dream for next season. Hopefully, it'll be a fight during the spring to see who gets it."
Though he admits it is somewhat frustrating at his age to be sent to the AFL again, Green still considers it an honor to be selected for the Arizona trip.
"They could have sent me anywhere else, or they could have just said, 'You know what, we're not going to send him anywhere, and he's just going to go home and hopefully he learns,'" Green said. "But, yeah, it's a little bit nagging being 25 and being here. But in the same sense, there's a lot ... worse things that could happen."
Green played for Midland in the Double-A Texas League in 2011, which is typically dominated by pitching. He batted .291 with nine home runs and 62 RBIs, but struck out 119 times.
At Sacramento this past season, Green found his groove -- feeling he hit the benchmarks the organization set, including improving his power numbers. Following a slow start, which has become his norm since his first Minor League season, Green said he began to adapt to the pitching. He hit .296 with 15 home runs, 28 doubles and 75 RBIs, while cutting down considerably on his strikeouts.
"The strike zone definitely helped," Green said. "The strike zone gets smaller and smaller as you go up, so the Triple-A strike zone was way more hitter-friendly than in Double-A. Toward the end, I started feeling very comfortable. I felt like I belonged, so that was a huge plus for me."
Athletics hitters in the AFL
Miles Head, at the age of 14, was named the top player for his age in the United States by Baseball America. He turned down a scholarship to the University of Georgia to sign with the Red Sox after he was a 26th-round Draft pick (798th overall) in 2009. A first baseman, he was traded to Oakland this season and played at Midland, where he hit .272 in 57 games. Head was injured in his first AFL game.
Max Stassi is considered among Oakland's best defensive catching prospects. His father, Jim, and great-great uncle Myril Hoag played professionally. Stassi had his best season in the Minors in 2012, hitting .268 with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs for Class A Advanced Stockton. He is batting .268 with a home run and eight RBIs through 11 AFL games this season.
Athletics pitchers in the AFL
Gary Daley, a right-hander, was a third-round Draft pick (106th overall) of the Cardinals in 2006, and he has worked his way up the Minors. In '12, Daley was 10-10 for Midland with a 5.11 ERA, appearing in 34 games (18 as a starter). He has struggled a bit in the AFL, going 1-0 in his first nine appearances with an ERA of 8.38.
Shawn Haviland, who has a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard, turned 27 during Week 5 of the AFL season. He pitched at Midland this season, going 6-8 with a 4.80 ERA. In three AFL starts so far, Haviland has no record and a 5.19 ERA.
Brett Hunter is a 6-foot-4 righty who was a seventh-round Draft pick (214th overall) in 2008. He was 3-3 with Midland this season, posting a 4.50 ERA in 42 relief appearances. In his 56 innings of work, Hunter struck out 60. In eight Fall League relief appearances to date, covering 7 1/3 innings, he has a 6.14 ERA.
James Simmons returned to the AFL after playing there in 2007 and '09. The 26-year-old right-hander, who missed the '10 season with a shoulder injury, was a first-round Draft pick (26th overall) of the Athletics in '07. He began this season at Midland before being promoted to Sacramento, where he was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in nine relief appearances. In his first 10 trips to the mound as a reliever in the Fall League, he had an ERA of 1.93.
Jim Gintonio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.