There is much hype surrounding the impending promotion of Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals to the big leagues. Deservedly so. If he wasn’t hyped up enough before being drafted by Washington, he’s proved his mettle in the minors this season, specifically with his spotless 0.00 ERA after 18 1/3 innings at Triple-A Syracuse.

But what of the A’s most hyped prospect? First Baseman Chris Carter is nowhere near as acclaimed as Strasburg. However, a team as power-starved as the A’s can’t help but look to Carter to help bring balance to a team excelling with it’s pitching staff.

The A’s pitching staff managed to allow just one run to the struggling San Francisco Giants over the weekend, but you can’t expect them to turn in a performance like that the rest of the season.

The scrappy A’s survive by manufacturing runs, but if they want to contend in September, they need some power in the line-up, a bat pitchers are truly afraid to face.

In 2008, Chris Carter, freshly acquired by the A’s in the Danny Haren trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, put up remarkable power stats with the Single-A Stockton Ports: 39 home runs and 104 RBI to go along with a modest .259 batting average. As excited as the A’s must have been to finally have a true power bat in their minor league system, the .259 batting average and a strikeout total of 156 had to be worrisome.

In 2009, Carter started the season with the Double-A Midland RockHounds, and finished with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats en route to a career season. Carter totalled 28 home runs and 115 RBI to go along with a much improved .329 batting average.

Carter learned better plate discipline and overall became a force to be reckoned with. After this accomplished season, Carter added a MiLB Player of the Year award to his trophy case.

So of course, heading into the 2010 season, there was a lot of hype surrounding Carter as a future franchise player. The power has returned as Carter currently has collected nine home runs and 36 RBI.

I’m a little troubled by Carter’s .235 batting average and .328 on-base percentage. Granted, it’s only two months into the minor league season, and there’s plenty of time for Carter to improve, but it’s his threat as a hitter, as well as a power hitter, that needs to catch up.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, Daric Barton is finally living up to some of his own hype at the major league level. Barton has flashed the glove of a gold glover and the patience at the plate to become a hitter the A’s truly wouldn’t mind having at the plate for a crucial at bat.

Barton’s competence buys time for the A’s to take their time with Carter.

In a perfect world, the A’s play well down the stretch, Barton stays healthy and Carter can mature some more at Triple-A Sacramento.

The conundrum facing the A’s is if everyone’s healthy, Carter is dominating Triple-A and can help Oakland, where do you put him in Oakland?

Barton’s a quality first baseman. At DH, you have Jack Cust for the time being, hitting competently in the role. I’ve been conditioned to be pessimistic about any Eric Chavez return, but if he does return from his latest injury, it’ll just be one more roster hurdle for Carter.

Carter’s debut in Oakland this season will most likely come at the hands of an injury or a trade. I’m finally starting to enjoy Barton’s performance, I’d hate to lose that bat.

Cust likely is in Oakland to stay pending any return from Eric Chavez. If they A’s don’t want to lose any players prematurely via health or trade, they must consider that Carter might not debut until September when rosters expand or when the 2011 season begins. At least then Chavez’ contract will be up, the A’s can again choose to non-tender Cust and open up a 1B/DH spot.

I hope nothing rushes Carter to the big leagues. The A’s need to see him recapture that dominant batter’s box presence before they start selling Carter T-shirts and jerseys.

The 2009 Chris Carter is the man I want to see in Oakland.

He has the power… is it too much to ask for more?

Read more MLB news on