A’s Trim Spring Roster to 36 on Sunday

The A's minor league complex at Fitch Park

The A’s minor league complex at Fitch Park

The big story out of A’s camp on Sunday was the news that five players were being sent down the road to the team’s minor league camp at Fitch Park. Infielders Max Muncy and Andy Parrino along with catcher Luke Carlin were reassigned to the minor league camp, while RHP Chris Bassitt and outfielder Alex Hassan were officially optioned to Nashville.

Bassitt had a tough spring and struggled particularly against left-handed hitters, but he’ll have the chance to straighten things out as a member of Nashville’s starting rotation, which could also include names like Brad Mills, Arnold Leon, Matt Buschmann, Rudy Owens, Zach Neal and, once he’s healthy, Sean Nolin.

Hassan went 8 for 18 for the A’s this spring but was slowed by a hamstring injury. He’s likely to be joined in Nashville’s outfield mix by Jason Pridie, Matt Angle and Billy Burns.

After signing a ball for a young fan on Sunday, A's manager Bob Melvin then broke the bad news that he was being reassigned to the minor league camp.

After signing a ball for a young fan on Sunday, A’s manager Bob Melvin then broke the bad news that he was being reassigned to the minor league camp.

Muncy opened some eyes in camp this spring with a combination of pop and plate discipline while also putting in some time learning to play third base. He’s expected to spend time at both third and first at Nashville this season.

Parrino’s always been known for his steady glove, but it appears that he may have been eclipsed on the depth chart by Tyler Ladendorf, who’s still in big league camp and on the 40-man roster. He’s likely to spend plenty of time turning double plays at Nashville this year with second baseman Joe Wendle.

Carlin, a switch-hitter who was signed as a minor league free agent fairly late in the offseason, is expected to split time behind the plate at Nashville this season with fellow backstop Bryan Anderson.

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Talking Propsects with A’s Minor League Manager Steve Scarsone

ssB9315342755Z.1_20141202162702_000_G409A1E4E.1-0cAfter spending parts of seven seasons as a big league infielder, Steve Scarsone has now spent six seasons managing in the A’s minor league system, the past two as the skipper of the A’s Triple-A affiliate at Sacramento.

This year, the California native will be heading east as the A’s Pacific Coast League affiliate switches to Nashville. Scarsone also spends much of spring training in the big league camp with the A’s. So we took the opportunity to get his take on a few hot young prospects who’ve been making their mark in the A’s big league camp this spring…

 

AF:  There are a few guys here in the big league camp this year you had last year at Sacramento I’d like to ask you about. Tyler Ladendorf was having a great year at Sacramento before his suspension. He’s been doing great here in camp. I know you’ve seen a lot of him over the years. Can you talk about the evolution you’ve seen with him and how he’s looked here this spring?

tlLadendorf, Tyler3SS:  Well, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve spent several years with Tyler coming up through the system. We were both together back in 2009 when he came over from the Twins in short-season A-ball. So I’ve been able to be around him ever since. He’s a guy who I think a couple of years ago was kind of wondering what direction he wanted to go. Fortunately, he dove in 100% into being a ballplayer. And he is reaching within himself and it’s shown on the field. It’s great to see a guy who had talent, had a lot of good things going for him but he just wasn’t quite focused yet. He became focused, he became a man, and now you see on the field he’s getting all the little things done. He’s shown Bob Melvin and the rest of the staff here that he can play infield, outfield and get quality at-bats. He’s doing things on the bases that they’re liking, and he’s just putting himself in a nice situation where, whether or not he makes the club out of spring, he can be that guy who can be that first call-up if somebody were to go down in either the infield or the outfield.

AF:  So you think getting the mental aspect of the game together was really the key for him?

SS:  Yeah, I definitely do. I think a lot of us, as players, get caught in a crossroads, where you get to a certain point in your development in your career where you have to commit 100% to this game and this job. And I think that’s what he did, and it’s shown quite well with the way he’s performed and the way he’s been focused. It’s a very good story.

AF:  He’s obviously very versatile, but where do you feel he’s best-suited in the field?

SS:  I’ve always liked him in the middle infield, either second base or shortstop, but he’s able to play third and he can play all the outfield positions. I bet you could throw him behind the plate! He has enough athletic ability to be able to do that. But I like him in the middle because there’s so much action going on there and I like a guy who’s capable of being in the middle of the action.

AF:  Another guy who’s been doing well here in camp whom you had for a bit at the end of last year at Sacramento is Billy Burns. What kind of development have you seen out of him thus far?

bbBurns, Billy2SS:  Yeah, he joined us in August of last year. He’s a guy who’s a leadoff, speed guy, and I think he’s been taught in the past to just slap the ball, put it in play and see what happens. I think what we saw in Sacramento last year was a concentrated effort to try to drive the ball a little bit – I’m not saying drive the ball over the fence, but let’s hit balls hard through the infield, let’s make the infielders have to move side to side, instead of coming in on the ball. That’s going to help his opportunities to get on base. And it seems like he’s carried that into the spring. He’s been taking good swings, he’s got numerous doubles, and he’s having a great spring.

AF:  Well, he certainly seems to be having much better results from the left side of the plate this spring.

SS:  Yeah, from the right side, he shows more power – a little bit more of a comfortable swing. From the left side, it was always slappier. So he seems to be sitting back a little better and having quality at-bats from both sides.

AF:  And how do you feel about his capabilities as a center fielder?

SS:  Well, I don’t think I’ve seen any kind of bad reads. He’s making good reads. Obviously, speed can get him to some areas that maybe other guys can’t get to. But the thing that I’m probably most impressed with is he’s charging the ball, coming up and making good, hard, quality throws. He’s not just flipping it in. He’s looking to throw somebody out or to stop a runner from advancing. But if that’s a reputation he gets as a center fielder, that could be a huge asset for him and help the club as well.

AF:  A guy I wanted to ask you about you haven’t had on any of your clubs yet but I’m sure you’ve gotten a good look at here is Max Muncy. What have you seen out of him as a hitter so far this spring?

mmMuncy, Max2SS:  He just has a nice, quiet, real compact swing. There’s not a lot of movement there to where his timing’s going to get messed up. So from what I’ve seen, it looks like he’s near or on time with every at-bat. When you’re kind of filling in every other day and your at-bats are kind of spread out, for him to step in the box and actually get something done, I like that. As a young player trying to get some exposure with the club, that’s a huge thing that the coaches are looking for – a guy who can come up with a quality at-bat. Now he’s transitioning over to third. It’s a different type of reaction. He’s putting in the work. He’s looking better all the time. If he comes with us to Nashville, he’ll get a lot of work and he’ll clean up a whole bunch. He’s a smart guy, so he’ll learn quick.

AF:  And you were an infielder, so you might have a thing or two tell him.

SS:  Yeah, that’s why I’m going to take it personally!

AF:  Another guy who was here earlier in the spring, Matt Olson, got off to a good start. He’s obviously a very talented young hitter. What did you see out of him while he was here in big league camp?

moOlson, Matt2SS:  Well, he’s a potential everyday major league player. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb on that one. Obviously, the eye test is awesome – he looks great, he’s good sized, his swing is pure, there’s power, there’s recognition of what he’s trying to do at the plate. I think he might be trying a little bit harder than he needs to this spring. Obviously, he’s not in camp anymore. He wasn’t in a situation to make this team, but I think the impression that he gave everybody here is that he can play. And it’s just a matter of time before the organization feels he’s ready.

AF:  And finally, about you, I know you’re a California guy. And with the A’s changing their Triple-A affiliate this year, you’ll be making the switch from Sacramento to Nashville. Any thoughts you have about making that big move?

SS:  You know, in the minor leagues, you don’t want to be stuck in the same city for too long. So still having the same job as Triple-A manager but getting to go to a new city kind of gives you a fresh take on it. They’re building a new stadium, so we’re going to enjoy that. And being the new kid in town, we should get a little honeymoon period there. So hopefully we come in and play well so that they receive us well, and it’ll be a good set up for hopefully a long time there.

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Spring Training Tour – 3/28/15

Minor League Camp at Fitch Park

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Entrance to the A’s new minor league training complex at Fitch Park

 

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Rear view of the new Lew Wolff training complex at Fitch Park

 

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Graphics of glories past inside the A’s new minor league training complex at Fitch Park

 

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One of the fields at the A’s new minor league training complex at Fitch Park

 

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The tower from which A’s minor league staff can keep an eye on things at Fitch Park

 

RHP Dylan Covey

RHP Dylan Covey

 

RHP Chris Kohler

LHP Chris Kohler

 

RHP Corey Miller

RHP Corey Miller

 

LHP Mike Fagan

LHP Mike Fagan

 

SS Franklin Barreto

SS Franklin Barreto

 

C Lana Akau

C Lana Akau

 

OF Brett Vertigan

OF Brett Vertigan

 

IF Trent Gilbert

IF Trent Gilbert

 

IF Max Kuhn

IF Max Kuhn

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Gallego Gives the Lowdown on Prospects’ Glove Work

mgGallego, Mike2A’s fans of all ages are familiar with Mike Gallego. For those who lived through the Tony La Russa/Bash Brothers era, they remember Gallego as a steady presence in the infield of three consecutive A.L. pennant-winning teams. But for younger fans, they know him primarily as the arm-waving coach who’s been manning the A’s third base coaching box for the past half dozen years.

Never known for his bat in his playing days, Gallego made his name with his steady glove work in the infield. And in addition to coaching third base for the A’s, he also works with the teams’s infielders. So we decided to get Gallego’s take on the glove work of some of the A’s top young prospects looking to make a name for themselves this spring…

 

AF:  Tyler Ladendorf is interesting because he’s a guy who can play all over the field and he’s gotten a lot of opportunities here this spring. But what have you seen out of him defensively?

tlLadendorf, Tyler3MG:  Well, we’ve seen him a little bit the last couple of years in spring training. He was never officially in camp with us, but he was one of those guys who would be brought up for games sporadically. He never really got an opportunity, but this year he’s been taking advantage of an opportunity that has been given to him and he’s been very impressive. With the athleticism that he has on the field at any position, he’s one of those guys where you don’t lose a thing, and maybe gain some things, at certain positions when Ladendorf’s playing defensively, from second base to short to third to the outfield – he’s pretty impressive out there as well. He looks pretty comfortable with the glove on his hand, and he’ll give you a good quality at-bat as well. So he’s been very impressive this spring. I can’t say if he’s coming north with us or not but, if he does, I think we’ll be better for it.

AF:  So you feel pretty confident seeing him at six different positions anyway?

MG:  No doubt in mind that he can handle all the positions that we put him in.

AF:  Now Max Muncy, who’s always been primarily a first baseman, has been getting a lot of time over at third base this spring. So what’s your opinion of what you’ve seen out of Muncy so far over at third?

mmMuncy, Max2MG:  Well, if somebody hadn’t told me that he hasn’t played much third base, I would have never known that, because he’s taken to third base just as easily as I’ve seen anybody make that transition over there. He seems very comfortable over there. I saw him the first day of spring training, we had that simulated game, and he made a backhanded diving play on a ball that was past him and got up and made a great throw. That was the first day that he impressed his name on my mind. So he’s very impressive over there. He looks very comfortable. The only thing that he needs now is reps. The more reps he has, obviously the more comfortable he’s going to be with the position. He’s got plenty of arm, he’s not afraid to work, and a power-hitting third baseman – those are nice to come by!

AF:  So you think he’s got the instincts for third then?

MG:  Absolutely!

AF:  A lot of people wondered about Joe Wendle when the A’s traded away a guy like Brandon Moss for him this offseason. But tell me what you thought of Wendle when he was here in the big league camp this spring.

jwWendle, Joey2MG:  Wow, that is one of the best second base prospects I’ve seen come through camp in many, many years, and I’m not just talking about the Oakland A’s camps – I was with the Red Sox and the Rockies as well. This guy’s a pure, solid, future major league second baseman. He’s just so fundamentally sound, but also has the ability to make and finish the great plays out there. And he’s fearless at turning the double play – a freight train could be coming down on him to break it up and he’s staying in there and taking the hit. He’s just so fluid around the bag and so smooth on routine ground balls that it’s hard to find a flaw in his defensive game.

AF:  And how’s his range?

MG:  His range is outstanding. I always emphasize that one of the biggest keys to being a good major league infielder is an explosive first step. I’ll sit in the dugout and watch each infielder and watch their movement on every pitch. And you’ll see a lot of guys, a pitch is made and a ball will be fouled off and the infielder will just be standing there. Well, he’s moving on takes – the guy doesn’t even have to swing and he’s anticipating where this pitch is going to be hit. So to see that in a young player is just unbelievable. When he has that type of focus on each and every pitch, it’s pretty impressive to see.

moOlson, Matt2AF:  Now Matt Olson is obviously one of the A’s top hitting prospects, but what do you think about his ability in the field?

MG:  I never knew how good a defensive first baseman he was. Everyone talks about his offense. He’s a Keith Hernandez over at first base – so smooth, very quick for his size, very confident. He makes your infielders that much better because they know they just have to get it in the vicinity and he’s going to catch the baseball – short hop, long hop, high, low. He’s an agile first baseman. He’s another no-doubter, and hopefully you and I are both around to see these guys play in the big leagues, because I look forward to seeing these guys play.

AF:  What have you seen out of Billy Burns in the outfield and what do you think about his long-term potential in center field?

bbBurns, Billy2MG:  You know, Billy’s just an impressive young player with a lot of talent and speed. As far as his mechanics are concerned, he’s shown some arm strength. He made a throw the other day and threw somebody out at third base who tried to take an extra base on him. And he’s bound and determined to impress and to prove that he belongs here, so hopefully he’ll get his shot here some day.

AF:  Another guy I wanted to ask you about is Marcus Semien at shortstop. Prior to him coming here, a lot of people questioned his ability to stick long-term at shortstop. The A’s front office obviously seemed to have confidence in him sticking there when they brought him over. So what have you seen so far out of him at shortstop?

MG:  You know, I’d like to speak to those people who doubted it. I’d want to hear what they had to say, because he’s been nothing but A+ to me. He’s taken to the position and pretty much has learned to own it. He’s done exactly what we had hoped for – for him to come in and take charge – and he’s done it in such a humble way. He’s such a nice kid – hopefully hanging out with me a little longer, he can get a little meaner. But other than that, he’s very athletic.

AF:  What would you say is Semien’s greatest strength as a shortstop?

msSemien, Marcus2MG:  He’s got great arm strength, there’s no doubt about it. He has that “easy cheese,” as we call it. He doesn’t put a lot of effort behind his throws, but they have some serious carry to them. It’s obviously developed into a solid, plus arm at shortstop. And you can’t miss his range. He’ll go back on fly balls and he’s calling off outfielders, and that’s definitely refreshing to see that kind of range out at shortstop. He’s another kid who’s not afraid to work. You know, having all these young kids around wears our butts out. I mean, these guys don’t know how to stop. It’s been a pure joy to have all these guys in camp and to watch them develop right in front of your eyes and just show what they can do and hopefully make a name for themselves.

AF:  So you think the front office got it right bringing him in as the shortstop then?

MG:  Thank God they didn’t ask me anything! They’re pretty on top of everything upstairs, and they have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for. Billy [Beane] and his staff have done an excellent job with the crop that they brought in this spring.

AF:  So overall, you’d say this is a pretty hard-working group with a pretty good attitude?

MG:  Well, like I said, the coaches have to pace themselves because these guys will wear you out. As far as hard work is concerned, there’s definitely no fear of that. They’re a great bunch of kids.

AF:  So you don’t see a lot of lazy old guys around this camp then?

MG:  Nope, you don’t see those guys around here, not unless you look in the coaches’ office maybe.

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Spring Training Tour – 3/27/15

Major League Camp at Hohokam Stadium

Hohokam goes Green & Gold!

Hohokam goes Green & Gold!

 

The graphics of past glories are a welcome reminder

The graphics of past glories are a welcome reminder

 

The biggest little scoreboard in the desert

The biggest little scoreboard in the desert

 

It’s always a beautiful day for baseball in Arizona – unless you’re prone to heat stroke

It’s always a beautiful day for baseball in Arizona – unless you’re prone to heat stroke

 

In case you’re wondering what you’re playing for kids, the Budweiser sign is always there to remind you

In case you’re wondering what you’re playing for kids, the Budweiser sign is always there to remind you

 

Looks like the A’s probably weren’t going to run out of players today

Looks like the A’s probably weren’t going to run out of players today

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

 

The A’s Hottest Hitting Prospects This Spring

Billy Burns

Billy Burns: The speedster is one of the A’s top hitters this spring.

With the A’s reassigning seven players to their minor league camp this past weekend, including top prospect Matt Olson and second baseman Joe Wendle, it’s a good time to take a look at how some of the team’s top young hitting prospects have been faring so far this spring.

The A’s will be counting on youngsters like shortstop Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha to play significant roles with the major league squad this year, while Josh Reddick’s oblique injury could potentially open up a roster spot for a guy like Billy Burns or Tyler Ladendorf. Meanwhile, prospects like Max Muncy, Joe Wendle and Matt Olson are set to start the season in the minors, where they’ll have the chance to hone their skills while they await the opportunity to crack the major league roster at some point in the near future.

Let’s take a look at how some of these players whom the A’s will be heavily counting on in the present and in the future have been faring so far this spring…

 

bbBurns, Billy2BILLY BURNS

0 HR / .392 AVG / .439 OBP / .549 SLG

Burns has been one of the team’s top hitters so far this spring. Known for his blazing speed, his bat has come alive in the first few weeks of March, and Burns currently leads the team in hits, runs and stolen bases. He’s gone 20 for 51 with 3 triples and a pair of doubles while swiping 4 bases and posting a .439 OBP. Burns is slated to start the season in center field for Triple-A Nashville, but if Josh Reddick isn’t ready to go on opening day, the A’s could decide to keep Burns around if, for nothing else, to be able to utilize his speed off the bench.

 

mmMuncy, Max2MAX MUNCY

1 HR / .286 AVG / .400 OBP / .536 SLG

Muncy was one of the team’s top hitters early this spring. He’s collected 5 extra-base hits and is tied for the team lead with 6 walks while posting an impressive .400 OBP. His plate discipline has always been one of the things that the A’s have loved about him, and his solid performance at the plate this spring has no doubt left a favorable impression on many. After spending all of last year at Double-A Midland, Muncy is ticketed for Triple-A Nashville this season, where he should see time at both first base and third base.

 

msSemien, Marcus2MARCUS SEMIEN

2 HR / .302 AVG / .362 OBP / .512 SLG
When he was acquired from the White Sox in the offseason in the Jeff Samardzija trade and pretty much anointed as the A’s new shortstop, no one was quite sure what to expect. Semien quickly made a good first impression by blasting a pair of home runs early on, but he’s also added 3 doubles and has been getting on base at a solid .362 clip. And it’s a good thing that Semien’s been such a steady presence in the lineup and in the field this spring since he appears to be the A’s plan A, B and C at shortstop this season.

 

tlLadendorf, Tyler3TYLER LADENDORF

1 HR / .319 AVG / .319 OBP / .468 SLG

Ladendorf has primarily been known as a glove man during his years in the A’s system, lending a reliable presence at second, short, third and occasionally in the outfield. But last season at Triple-A Sacramento, his bat began to heat up, and he’s carried that hot bat right into his first big league spring training camp this year. Ladendorf is currently 15 for 47 with a home run, a triple and a pair of doubles in 18 spring games and currently leads the team in RBIs with 11. He was originally slated for Triple-A Nashville, but if Josh Reddick is unable to go on opening day, Ladendorf’s ability to play all around the infield as well as in the outfield could make him a good addition to an A’s team that values versatility.

 

jpPhegley, Josh2JOSH PHEGLEY

2 HR / .250 AVG / .270 OBP / .556 SLG

Another young player acquired in the Samaradzija deal this offseason, Phegley is scheduled to share time behind the plate with Stephen Vogt this year. The backstop came to the A’s with the reputation for having a little pop in his bat, and he’s lived up to that reputation this spring, knocking 7 extra-base hits and posting a healthy .556 slugging percentage. Hopefully Phegley can keep it up because, without Donladson or Cespedes around this season, the A’s will definitely be looking for a few new power sources from the right side this year.

 

mcCanha, Mark2MARK CANHA

2 HR / .240 AVG / .296 OBP / .480 SLG

Another potential right-handed power source for the A’s, Canha currently leads the team in extra-base hits with 8 but is also the A’s spring strikeout leader with 20. The Rule-5 pick is expected to get the chance to show what he can do with the A’s this year and should start out the season with his name on the lineup card whenever the A’s find themselves facing lefties, whether it’s at first base, DH or in one of the corner outfield spots.

 

jwWendle, Joey2JOE WENDLE

0 HR / .286 AVG / .342 OBP / .371 SLG
When he was acquired from the Indians for Brandon Moss in the offseason, many people wondered what exactly the A’s saw in Wendle. But the second baseman has looked solid in the field and at the plate this spring. Before being reassigned to the minor league camp on Sunday, he was 10 for 35 with a pair of extra-base hits and a solid .342 OBP. Wendle is expected to start the season as the primary second baseman at Triple-A Nashville.

 

moOlson, Matt2MATT OLSON

1 HR / .195 AVG / .283 OBP / .341 SLG

The A’s top prospect according to many, Olson led all A’s minor leaguers in home runs as well as walks last season. And in his first big league camp this year, the big first baseman impressed early on before beginning to struggle a bit against better pitching. Just a few days shy of 21, Olson smashed 3 doubles and a home run while drawing 5 walks before being sent down on Sunday. He’s ticketed for Double-A Midland this season but, if he keeps flashing the mix of power and plate discipline the A’s love, the future could be sooner rather than later for Olson.

 

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Asst GM David Forst Gives the Lowdown on Team’s New Acquisitions & Top Minor League Prospects

David Forst

David Forst

In what’s become his annual winter interview with bloggers, A’s assistant general manager David Forst addressed a wide range of topics covering both the major league squad as well as the team’s minor league system at A’s FanFest on Sunday.

When asked which of the A’s offseason acquisitions he was personally most excited about, Forst hesitated to single out any one player, but he eventually got around to talking about infielder Marcus Semien, who was acquired from the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal, saying, “Marcus was a guy we were really focused on…We really believe in his ability to play the middle of the infield. As much as anybody we’ve added this offseason, he’s as deserving of an opportunity to play every day in the big leagues, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he does.”

Despite critiques by some of Semien’s range at shortstop, Forst praised his strong arm and quick release and said, “We’ve seen enough of Marcus to believe he can handle the position.”

Asked to assess the prospects of some of the A’s newly-acquired young pitchers with the team this season, Forst started out by praising right-hander Chris Bassitt, who arrived with Semien from the Sox, saying, “Bassitt pitched really well against us in September last year. He’s shown what he can do in the big leagues.”

But of all the A’s new arms, the A’s assistant GM sounded most intrigued by righty Kendall Graveman, who came over from the Blue Jays in the deal that sent third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto: “Kendall is the guy who moved up as quickly as anybody in the game last season and dominated almost every level. So you sort of hope that the projection on him continues to go in that direction.”

Regarding talk of Bassitt or lefty Sean Nolin, who was acquired along with Graveman in the Donaldson deal, possibly being useful bullpen pieces, Forst said the team plans to keep them as starters since, “We’re not going to get through the season with five starters.”

Ike Davis

Ike Davis

When asked how newly-acquired first baseman Ike Davis fits into the picture, Forst said, “I think he has a chance to fit into the way we set the lineup…particularly against right-handed pitching. There have not been any inconsistencies in his performance against righties…There’s no reason he’s not in the lineup against right-handers all the time.”

Forst also said that Davis had mentioned he wants to get a shot at getting some playing time in the outfield to increase his opportunities to play. But later, when asked about his abilities in the outfield, Davis sounded a little less enthusiastic, saying “I’m not going to be amazing…I can catch the ball if I get to it, and I can throw it in pretty quickly, but I’m down to do anything.”

Addressing the subject of team chemistry on a roster full of new faces, Forst admitted, “I recognize that we’re bringing twenty-something new guys into a clubhouse, and frankly they’re all down there shaking hands right now and introducing themselves.” But he expressed plenty of confidence in manager Bob Melvin’s ability to make it all gel.

Forst was asked about the apparent lack of home run power in the team’s new lineup and admitted, “We’re not unaware of that concern. The home run totals look different certainly than they did a year ago. That said, Coco’s hit 20, Reddick’s hit 30, Ike has hit 30…I don’t think power is as big a concern for us as some people have made it out to be.”

He also noted that the team has other advantages: “I do think we’re going to have a lot of options in terms of matchups and platoons. When you look at [Josh] Phegley and Davis and [Mark] Canha – all are here because of their particular skill sets.”

Forst discussed some of the infield prospects that fans can look forward to seeing at the team’s new Triple-A affiliate in Nashville this season. He mentioned that he expects Rangel Ravelo, acquired from the White Sox, to play “a good amount of third base” in addition to first base, and noted that Max Muncy could also see some playing time at third in addition to first for Nashville. And Forst named newly-acquired second baseman Joe Wendle along with Andy Parrino and Tyler Ladendorf as the Triple-A team’s middle infield options.

Matt Olson

Matt Olson

Regarding the A’s top young hitting prospect, first baseman Matt Olson, Forst seemed happy to still have him around after having recently traded away some of the team’s other hitting prospects: “I think Matt Olson is as surpised as anyone that he’s still here. In fact, when I called him last week to officially tell him he was coming to big league camp, I had to promise I wouldn’t trade any more of his friends.”

He praised Olson’s power and approach, saying that he “fits the bill” as the prototypical type of A’s hitter, and has hopes that he’ll go to Double-A Midland and pick up where he left off last year at Stockton.

Forst claimed that Olson’s Stockton teammate, third baseman Renato Nunez - who’s also ticketed for Midland – took a big step forward this year, particularly when it comes to his ability to handle breaking pitches and said, “At that age, with what he’s done, you can put a really high ceiling on a guy like that.”

As far as the team’s top draft pick last year, third baseman Matt Chapman, Forst praised his brief time at Double-A Midland and in the instructional league, saying the team saw a guy with a lot of power and a chance to be a really good third baseman and claimed, “Other than [Eric] Chavez, we haven’t seen anyone come through the system with that kind of ability and that arm at third base.”

Forst expects Chapman to start the season at Stockton but said, “If he keeps the power and increases the contact rate, he has the chance to move quickly.”

Another top prospect who appears likely to end up at Stockton is young shortstop Franklin Barreto, who came over from the Jays in the Donaldson deal. There have been some questions about Barreto’s ability to stick at short. But while admitting that he has some work to do on his throwing, Forst clearly stated, “We see Franklin at shortstop.” He also had praise for another one of the organization’s young shortstops, Yairo Munoz, whom he said was a popular target in offseason trade talks and who seems likely to end up at Beloit this season.

Speaking of Stockton though, with the team’s Triple-A affiliate moving from Sacramento to Nashville, Forst admitted that fans in Stockton might be getting a lot more chances to see some of the team’s rehabbing major leaguers this season, and mentioned pitchers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, both of whom will be returning from Tommy John surgery, as distinct possibilities to be seeing time in Stockton this season.

Forst said that he doesn’t expect the team to make any other significant additions before spring training and said that the front office was “not spending a lot of time” on highly-touted Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada. But he did mention that newly-hired assistant general manager Dan Kantrovitz and director of pro scouting Dan Feinstein were leaving that day to attend a two-day prospect showcase in the Dominican.

On the subject of Kantrovitz, who replaced former assistant general manager Farhan Zaidi who was hired as the Dodgers’ new general manager this offseason, Forst said the fact that he had a clear skill set in quantitative analysis made him a particularly attractive candidate for the job and that he’s now running the A’s analytics department and “was integral, as soon as he got here, in helping with the decisions we made on player personnel.”

Forst also praised the A’s new hitting coach, Darren Bush, whom he claimed Bob Melvin has leaned on heavily since he joined the coaching staff prior to the 2013 season and said that “moving him into the hitting coach position was a logical next step.”

*          *          *

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A’s Farm’s 2015 Top 10 Prospect List

Former top prospect Sonny Gray - who will be the next A's prospect to make it big?

Former top prospect Sonny Gray – who will be the next A’s prospect to make it big?

With the first A’s players set to start turning up at the team’s new spring training camp in just a couple of weeks, it’s time to present A’s Farm’s 2015 Top 10 Prospect List.

It’s interesting to note that half the players from last year’s top 10 list are no longer with the organization. #1 Addison Russell and #2 Billy McKinney were both dealt to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal, and #6 Daniel Robertson went to Tampa Bay in the Ben Zobrist trade, while #4 Michael Ynoa and #9 Nolan Sanburn were both shipped off to the White Sox, Ynoa along with Jeff Samardzija and Sanburn in the Adam Dunn deal.

Those returning from last year’s list include third baseman Renato Nunez, first baseman Matt Olson, who’s shot to the top of the list on the strength of a solid 2014 season at Stockton, and RHP Raul Alcantara, who’s dropped a few spots thanks to Tommy John surgery. But that still leaves room for seven new entries making their first appearances on the list this year, four of them freshly arrived in this offseason’s flurry of trades – pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin along with infielders Franklin Barreto and Joe Wendle.

Six of this year’s top 10 are position players, while only four are pitchers. Most A’s prospect lists this year feature either first baseman Matt Olson or shortstop Franklin Barreto in the top spot, but we’ve opted to go with Olson as the more mature, advanced and polished prospect. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at A’s Farm’s 2015 Top 10 Prospect List

 

A’S FARM’S 2015 TOP 10 PROSPECT LIST

#1 – Matt Olson (1B)

#2 – Franklin Barreto (SS)

#3 – Matt Chapman (3B)

#4 – Renato Nunez (3B)

#5 – Kendall Graveman (RHP)

#6 – Sean Nolin (LHP)

#7 – Chad Pinder (2B)

#8 – Dillon Overton (LHP)

#9 – Raul Alcantara (RHP)

#10 – Joe Wendle (2B)

 

moMatt+Olson+2014+Arizona+Fall+League+O_O__VUX80Kl2#1 MATT OLSON

Left-Handed Hitting First Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 21

Drafted 2012 – 1st Round

The two most important things to know about Olson are that he led all A’s minor leaguers in home runs (37) and also in walks (117) in 2014. And combining that kind of power and discipline as a 20-year-old is certainly a good way to endear yourself to an organization like the A’s. The 6’4” first baseman also led A’s minor leaguers in total bases and slugging percentage and tallied 31 doubles while cutting down his strikeout rate and raising his batting average from the previous season. Olson has a sweet swing, turns in solid defense at first base and got into a handful of games in the outfield at Stockton in 2014. After leading the hitter-friendly California League in homers last season, the much less friendly confines of Midland – where those west Texas winds have wreaked havoc with past prospects like Michael Choice and Grant Green – will pose a much bigger challenge for Olson’s big bat this year. But if he can keep the strikeouts at a manageable level, his raw power, willingness to take a walk and competence in the field should put him in a good position to make his way to the majors in the next couple of years.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

fbBaretto_and_Davis_i1c6k3mz_vqb1gd05b#2 FRANKLIN BARRETO

Right-Handed Hitting Shortstop

Age On Opening Day: 19

Undrafted – Signed as International Free Agent

A highly-touted young prospect out of Venezuela, Barreto found his way to the A’s in the Josh Donaldson trade this winter. While playing in the Class-A Northwest League as an 18-year-old last year, Barreto slugged 23 doubles while swiping 29 bases in just 73 games. Though fairly small at 5’9”, he swings the bat well and seems to have some pop, especially for a middle infielder, to go along with his speed. There’s a question as to whether or not he can stick at shortstop but, at his age, there’s still time to see just how much his skills can develop in the field. The A’s are looking to have him pull an Addison Russell and start the season as a 19-year-old at Stockton in the High-A California League. And after dealing Russell to the Cubs last season and Daniel Robertson to Tampa Bay in the offseason, the organization is also looking for Barreto to take over as the A’s latest shortstop of the future.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

mcMB13476f#3 MATT CHAPMAN

Right-Handed Hitting Third Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 21

Drafted 2014 – 1st Round

The A’s top pick in last year’s amateur draft, Chapman quickly found his way to the full-season Beloit Snappers last year. Chapman’s pedigree as an experienced college player at a top program (Cal State Fullerton) and his reputation as perhaps the best defensive college third baseman on the landscape helped give the A’s confidence in his ability to handle the challenge. While showing great plate discipline in the college game, the southern California native was a little too free-swinging during his time in the Midwest League – striking out 46 times while drawing just 7 walks. But Chapman performed well when he got a chance with Double-A Midland during the Texas League postseason after some late-season injuries created an opening for the slick-fielding third baseman with the RockHounds. The 21-year-old is likely to start the season with High-A Stockton in the hitter-friendly California League, where he should have the opportunity to unleash his power potential. And if Chapman can combine some genuine pop with his elite defense at third, then he could find himself on the fast track to the majors.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

rnRenato Nunez 8x10b#4 RENATO NUNEZ

Right-Handed Hitting Third Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 21

Undrafted – Signed as International Free Agent

Nunez moved up one notch on our list this year on the strength of a strong season at Stockton. The young slugger was second only to Olson in home runs and total bases among A’s minor leaguers last year. He also turned in a healthy .517 slugging percentage while hitting 28 doubles and 29 homers for Stockton. Nunez reduced his strikeout rate as well as his error total – from 39 down to 15 – between 2013 and 2014, but he still has plenty of work to do on both his defense and his plate discipline. Nunez struck out 113 times while drawing just 34 walks last year and it’s still a question whether or not he’ll be able to stick at third base, but he showed that his power potential is real. Like Olson, Nunez will face a bigger challenge having to hit at Midland this year, but if he can just learn to be a little more disciplined at the plate, his power could take him a long way.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

kg37-kendall-graveman2#5 KENDALL GRAVEMAN

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 24

Drafted 2013 – 8th Round

After being drafted in 2013 out of Mississippi State, Graveman rocketed through the Blue Jays’ system and made it all the way to the majors for a brief spell last year. The Alabama native, who came to the A’s in the Josh Donaldson deal, has four pitches – highlighted by a solid fastball and an effective cutter – shows good command and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Over four minor league levels last season, Graveman walked 31 while surrendering just 2 home runs over 167 1/3 innings. He definitely profiles as the kind of pitcher the A’s like, and A’s general manager Billy Beane has even said that Graveman might have an inside track on claiming one of the open spots in the A’s starting rotation this year. And with a strong spring, the odds are good that A’s fans could end up seeing Graveman on the mound every fifth day this year.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Oakland A’s (MLB)

 

sn20140225_mse_sv7_1687.0b#6 SEAN NOLIN

Left-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 25

Drafted 2010 – 6th Round

Like Graveman, Nolin came to the A’s in the Josh Donaldson deal, and the A’s apparently have had their eye on the lefty for quite a while. Also like Graveman, Nolin doesn’t walk many and doesn’t give up a lot of longballs. He’s also managed to strike out more than one batter per inning over his minor league career. The 6’4” lefty was sidelined for a while with a groin injury last year and was only able to throw 96 2/3 innings, but he struck out 24 in 22 1/3 innings during a strong Arizona Fall League campaign. Nolin will surely be in the competition for a spot in the A’s rotation this spring, along with Graveman, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt and others, but if he doesn’t make it, he’ll be waiting in the wings at Nashville.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

cpDSC03243d#7 CHAD PINDER

Right-Handed Hitting Second Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2013 – 2nd Round

After a rough start in 2013, primarily due to injury, Pinder got off to a great start in 2014 and was perhaps the A’s best all-around minor league hitter early in the season. Some lingering injuries slowed him down a bit later in the season, but Pinder still performed well while making the move from shortstop to second base at Stockton. Pinder showed some power, putting up 15 homers and 32 doubles in just 94 games while posting a .489 slugging percentage for the Ports. His plate discipline could still use a bit of work as he drew just 22 walks while whiffing 99 times. His ability to show a little pop from the middle infield should serve him well though. But like Olson and Nunez, he’ll find himself facing a much more challenging hitting environment in Midland this year.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

dodillon_overton_yol4qgc8_l2u3nnii2#8 DILLON OVERTON

Left-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2013 – 2nd Round

The A’s 2nd-round pick in 2013, it was discovered shortly after the draft that Overton was going to need Tommy John surgery. Overton returned during the latter half of last season and looked impressive. The former University of Oklahoma ace struck out 53 while walking just 4 and allowing no home runs over 37 innings in the low minors last season. With a strong college pedigree and an effective fastball, slider and changeup, now that he appears to be healthy, the lanky lefty should start out the year with Beloit but could move up the ladder quickly if he can continue to confound minor league batters.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Beloit Snappers (A)

 

ra534361b3098d7.image4#9 RAUL ALCANTARA

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 22

Undrafted – Signed as International Free Agent

Last year at this time, Alcantara was looking like the A’s top pitching prospect but, like Overton, Alcantara ended up in need of Tommy John surgery. Alcantara went under the knife last spring and hopefully, if all goes well, he’ll be able to make a return to the mound sometime later this season. But before the injury, Alcantara showed what he was capable of in 2013, walking just 24 and striking out 124 while posting a 3.11 ERA in 156 1/3 innings for Class-A Beloit and Stockton. His strong fastball and changeup combined with an aggressive approach on the mound could push Alcantara back to the front of the pitching pack if he can make a return to good health this season.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Arizona League A’s (Rk)

 

jw11275-JoeyWendle-400x300b#10 JOE WENDLE

Left-Handed Hitting Second Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 24

Drafted 2012 – 6th Round

The most important thing to know about Wendle is that the A’s traded slugger Brandon Moss to Cleveland for him straight up. And given the overall track record of the A’s front office, you’ve got to assume they must know something. Wendle was a solid college player and earned Cleveland’s minor league player of the year honors after putting up a .295/.372/.513 slash line in 2013, but he missed some time in 2014 with a broken hamate bone and saw his line dip to .253/.311/.414 over 87 games at Double-A. Wendle does appear to have a little pop in his bat, and it seems like middle infielders with some pop are an asset that the A’s have been zeroing in on of late. Wendle is slated to start the season at Nashville and, if all goes well, he could be in a position to take over for free-agent-to-be Ben Zobrist in 2016.

Likely To Start 2015 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

Honorable Mentions: Rangel Ravelo (1B), Max Muncy (1B), Yairo Munoz (SS), Chris Bassitt (RHP), Bobby Wahl (RHP), Daniel Gossett (RHP)

 

Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

 

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Oakland A’s & Nashville Sounds 2015 Roster Outlook

It was another busy offseason for A's GM Billy Beane

A’s GM Billy Beane was a busy boy this winter

For the moment, as we sit here perched on the precipice of February, let’s go out on a limb and assume that the majority of the A’s offseason work is now finally done – which is never an entirely safe bet with general manager Billy Beane at the helm. But considering the massive amount of roster turnover and the vast number of new players the team has acquired, the shape of the A’s major league roster actually appears to be fairly clear at this point. While little has changed in the A’s outfield, the rest of the roster will look plenty different from the team that took the field to start 2014…

 

2015 OAKLAND A’S

While last year’s team started out with the tandem of John Jaso and Derek Norris behind the plate, the 2015 model figures to count on a catching platoon of fan-favorite Stephen Vogt and newly-acquired Josh Phegley, who arrived from the White Sox as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade.

The A’s 2015 starting infield looks to be entirely different from 2014, with Eric Sogard likely to be the only returning infielder on the roster, but this time in a utility role. 25-year-old Brett Lawrie will take over for Josh Donaldson at the hot corner, while Berkeley native Marcus Semien has been annointed as the team’s new shortstop. He’ll be mentored up the middle by former All-Star Ben Zobrist, who is set to be the team’s primary second baseman. Slugger Ike Davis should be stationed at first base against right-handers with free-agent catch Billy Butler as the designated hitter, while Butler should take over at first against lefties with Rule-5 pick Mark Canha serving in the DH spot as a sort of new-fangled Nate Freiman. With Zobrist taking over at second, last year’s primary second baseman and the almost-face-of-MLB, Eric Sogard, will likely serve in a utility role, backing up Zobrist at second, Semien at short and Lawrie at third. Sogard has experience at all three positions in both the majors and the minors.

Brett Lawrie: Can he make A's fans forget Josh Donaldson?

Brett Lawrie: Can he make A’s fans forget Josh Donaldson?

As mentioned, there aren’t a lot of new faces in the A’s outfield in 2015. Josh Reddick returns as the team’s rifle-armed right fielder, while Coco Crisp will man center field, as long as his health allows – and A’s fans better hope and pray that’s a lot – and Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry should share duties in left field. Of course, the 2015 version of the A’s does possess similar versatility to last year’s model. If needed, Zobrist is perfectly capable of playing in the outfield, with Sogard slotting in at second. Canha can also do time in the outfield if needed and, like Sogard, Semien has played all over the infield with the exception of first base.

As far as the team’s starting rotation goes, only two members seem to be certain locks – veteran lefty Scott Kazmir and young righty Sonny Gray. General manager Billy Beane did mention in a conference call with reporters that returning lefty Drew Pomeranz and newly-acquired right-handers Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman may have “the inside track” for the remaining rotation spots. So assuming the GM’s opinion counts for something, one would have to assume that’s the group that’s most likely to make up the team’s starting five, though new acquisitions Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin will surely be in on the competition as well and much will clearly depend on how spring training plays out.

It appears that the team may prefer to have Jesse Chavez back in the bullpen as a reliable long man and occasional spot starter if needed. And with Sean Doolittle set to miss the start of the season with shoulder issues, former Nationals closer Tyler Clippard is likely the leading candidate to take over Doolittle’s spot as the last man on the mound for the A’s. Fernando Abad and Eric O’Flaherty are set to be the team’s lefties out of the ‘pen, with Dan Otero and Ryan Cook available from the right side. That leaves one last bullpen spot available while Doolittle’s doing time on the DL. Since he’s out of options, it might be safe to give Evan Scribner the edge, though lefty Eury De La Rosa (acquired from Arizona) and righty R.J. Alvarez (picked up from the Padres) could also be distinct possibilities.

Of course, the team is counting on Doolittle to return at some point. And let’s not forget that A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are both working their way back from Tommy John surgery with midseason returns quite possible for the pair.

 

2015 NASHVILLE SOUNDS

With all the young players the team acquired in trades, and plenty of minor league free agent signees as well, there will be a bit of a roster crunch at the top levels of the A’s farm system in 2015. And it’s going to be particularly difficult for many players to make the move up from Midland, with the possible exception of first baseman Max Muncy with the team’s top prospect, Matt Olson, set to take over at first for Midland in 2015. As things now stand, it appears that there are about 16 position players competing for what is typically 12 roster spots and 23 pitchers competing for what is typically 13 spots on the pitching staff at the A’s Triple-A affiliate. So let’s take a look at some of the players most likely to find themselves playing in Nashville as the PCL team begins its first season as the A’s top affiliate.

The team has two very experienced minor league catchers who’ve had the chance to get their feet wet in the majors and who’ll be waiting in the wings at Nashville in 2015. 28-year-old, lefty-swinging Bryan Anderson has caught 755 minor league games and has appeared in the majors with the Cardinals and the White Sox and even managed to get one at-bat with the A’s last year, while 34-year-old switch-hitter Luke Carlin has been behind the plate for 773 minor league games and has made appearances with San Diego, Arizona and Cleveland.

One of the A’s most exciting minor leaguers, speed-burner Billy Burns, should have the chance to run around the bases and tear up the turf in center field for Nashville in 2015. He’ll likely be flanked by a pair of minor league veterans – 29-year-old Matt Angle and 31-year-old Jason Pridie, who’s appeared with the Twins, the Mets, the Phillies, the Orioles and the Rockies – along with Josh Whitaker, who split last season between Sacramento and Midland.

Nashville’s infield should be anchored up the middle by shortstop Andy Parrino, newly-acquired second baseman Joe Wendle, and Tyler Ladendorf, who split time last season between second base and shortstop and can also play a little in the outfield. The corners could be a little crowded with Alden Carrithers returning at third base, newly-acquired Rangel Ravelo set to see time at third and first, Nate Freiman likely to play first and DH, as is Max Muncy, and Anthony Aliotti, who spent time at first as well as in the outfield for Sacramento last season, is also in the mix.

Infielders Colin Walsh and Niuman Romero, who was signed as a minor league free agent, will also be battling for a spot on the Nashville roster, but it might be tough unless injuries, trades or releases unexpectedly open the door to a roster spot. Due to the roster crunch, Romero, who’s spent over 700 minor league games at shortstop and second base, may end up sharing middle infield duties with Chad Pinder at Midland, where there aren’t a lot of legitimate shortstop options with the departure of Daniel Robertson in the Ben Zobrist deal with Tampa Bay.

Billy Burns: Will he set a new land speed record in Nashville?

Billy Burns: Will he set a new land speed record in Nashville?

When it comes to the Sounds’ starting rotation, between all the new acquisitions, minor league free agent signees and returning players, there should be an abundance of starting pitchers available at the Triple-A level that will make it almost impossible, barring some unexpected injuries, for any starters to make the move up from Midland, including deserving candidates like Nate Long and Chris Jensen. It also means that some better known pitching prospects like former 1st-rounder Deck McGuire aren’t likely to have much of a shot at starting the season with the Sounds.

If, as speculated, Kazmir, Gray, Hahn, Pomeranz and Graveman end up comprising the A’s starting five, that would leave seven solid candidates for the Sounds’ starting rotation, six of whom will be in major league camp this spring. Three of them are currently on the A’s 40-man roster and would probably be first in line – new acquisitions Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin along with returning righty Arnold Leon – while minor league free agent additions Brad Mills and Rudy Owens, both of whom have gotten a taste of life in the majors, and returning righty Matt Buschmann would all be solid options. Zach Neal, who was one of Sacramento’s most solid starters last season, may be at a bit of a disadvantage since he won’t be participating in the major league camp with the others. But depending on how everything shakes out, they all have a legitimate shot at starting the season in the Sounds’ starting rotation.

Thanks to multiple minor league free agent signings, the bullpen picture is even more crowded, with at least 16 pitchers competing for what will likely be 8 bullpen spots in Nashville. Two who were acquired in trades during the offseason, lefty Eury De La Rosa and righty R.J. Alvarez, are on the 40-man roster, as is righty Taylor Thompson, who was claimed off waivers. As long as they don’t make the major league roster, they should all be assured spots, as should righty Fernando Rodriguez, who posted a 1.97 ERA at Sacramento and allowed 1 run in 7 appearances for the A’s last season.

That leaves five veteran minor league free agent signees – righties Kevin Whelan and Brock Huntzinger, lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (yes, he throws with both arms!) – five returning players who spent all or part of last season at Sacramento – righties Angel Castro, Paul Smyth, Seth Frankoff and Tucker Healy, plus lefty Jeff Urlaub – and two solid pitching prospects who had strong seasons at Midland last year – righties Ryan Dull and Ryan Doolittle – all competing for the remaining four spots in the Sounds’ bullpen.

Of course, one never knows what unexpected injuries might sideline some arms to start the season but, regardless, a number of these names who don’t make the cut with the Sounds are bound to end up in the bullpen at Midland, where Nate Long, Chris Jensen, Sean Murphy and Drew Granier could all be returning to the RockHounds’ rotation this season, perhaps along with someone like Deck McGuire.

Speaking of the A’s Double-A affiliate, some of the team’s top prospects will be found in Midland’s infield this year, with Matt Olson at first, Renato Nunez at third, and Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy in the infield mix there as well. Top catching prospect Bruce Maxwell will be competing for a spot behind the plate with Blake Forsythe and Ryan Ortiz, as well as fellow backstops Beau Taylor and Carson Blair. Meanwhile, the outfield should primarily be comprised of returning RockHounds like Kent Matthes, Chad Oberacker and Conner Crumbliss, with the possible addition of Jaycob Brugman, who proved himself at both Beloit and Stockton last season.

But let’s clearly lay out the possible players on your 2015 Oakland A’s and Nashville Sounds opening day rosters right here (just click on each player’s name below to view their complete stats page)…

A’s 2015 Minor League Staff

 

Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone

Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (Triple-A)

Manager Steve Scarsone

Pitching Coach Don Schulze

Hitting Coach Webster Garrison

Steve Scarsone was named manager of the A’s new Triple-A affiliate at Nashville.  This will be his third consecutive season as manager of the A’s Triple-A club as he guided Sacramento to a 79-65 record in each of the previous two seasons.  Scarsone now has a 568-554 record in eight seasons as a minor league manager, including stints in the A’s system with Midland from 2011-12, Stockton in 2010 and Kane County in 2009.  Don Schulze and Webster Garrison earn their first Triple-A assignments in 2015 as pitching coach and hitting coach, respectively.  This will be Schulze’s 10th year as a pitching coach in the A’s system, including the last four at Double-A Midland, and Garrison’s 15th as a coach or manager.  Brad LaRosa returns as the athletic trainer and Terence Brannic was named strength coach.

 

Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson

Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (Double-A)

Manager Ryan Christenson

Pitching Coach John Wasdin

Hitting Coach Eric Martins

Ryan Christenson takes over as manager at Midland after leading Stockton to an 85-55 record and a playoff appearance in 2014.  He made his managerial debut in 2013 at Single-A Beloit after spending six seasons as a player in the Major Leagues, including four with the A’s from 1998-2001.  John Wasdin will be the pitching coach on Christenson’s staff for the third consecutive season and Eric Martins was named hitting coach.  Martins served as a scout for the A’s for the past seven seasons.  Justin Whitehouse returns as the athletic trainer and A.J. Seeliger is the new strength coach.

 

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

STOCKTON PORTS (High-A)

Manager Rick Magnante

Pitching Coach Rick Rodriguez

Hitting Coach Brian McArn

Rick Magnante assumes the managerial reins at Stockton, his 13th season as a minor league manager.  He has a 457-497 record in his previous 12 seasons, including 55-84 last season with Beloit.  Rick Rodriguez will be the pitching coach after two seasons in that capacity at Sacramento.  Rodriguez is in his 31st season in the A’s organization, which includes seven seasons as a player and two years as bullpen coach in Oakland (2011-12). Brian McArn returns as hitting coach, his 18th in that role with the A’s and his fourth at Stockton (2011-12, 14).  Travis Tims returns as athletic trainer and Henry Torres takes over as strength coach.

 

Beloit Snappers manager Fran Riordan

Beloit Snappers manager Fran Riordan

BELOIT SNAPPERS (Class-A)

Manager Fran Riordan

Pitching Coach Steve Connelly

Hitting Coach Lloyd Turner

Fran Riordan joins the A’s organization as manager at Beloit after spending 14 years managing in independent leagues.  Riordan spent the last four seasons at the helm of Florence in the Frontier League, guiding the Freedom to a 190-194 record over that stretch.  Steve Connelly, who had his first professional coaching assignment as pitching coach at Vermont last year, takes over those duties at Beloit in 2015.  Lloyd Turner returns for his second consecutive season as hitting coach with the Snappers and Brian Thorson returns as athletic trainer.  JD Howell will serve as strength coach.

 

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS (Class-A Short-Season)

Manager Aaron Nieckula

Pitching Coach Carlos Chavez

Hitting Coach Tommy Everidge

In addition to his duties as minor league field coordinator, Aaron Nieckula will manage the A’s short-season club at Vermont, his ninth year as a manager in the A’s farm system.  He has spent the last two seasons at Midland and guided the RockHounds to a 77-63 record and the Texas League Championship in 2014.  Carlos Chavez will be the pitching coach after two seasons with the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League.  Tommy Everidge returns for his second consecutive season as Vermont’s hitting coach and Toshi Nagahara returns as the athletic trainer.

 

Arizona League A's pitching coach Ariel Prieto

Arizona League A’s pitching coach Ariel Prieto

ARIZONA LEAGUE A’S (Rookie Short-Season)

Manager Ruben Escalera

Pitching Coach Ariel Prieto

Hitting Coach Juan Dilone

Ruben Escalera will manage the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League for the second consecutive season and ninth season overall.  He previously managed from 2002-08 and spent the five years in between in various roles as an instructor in the A’s system.  Ariel Prieto was named pitching coach after serving as a coach on the Major League staff the previous three seasons.  He previously served as pitching coach with the A’s rookie club from 2009-11 and will also serve as a liaison between the A’s Dominican Republic and United States based operations.  Juan Dilone returns for his seventh season as hitting coach and Gabriel Ortiz is in his second season as coach.  Chris Lessner returns as the athletic trainer.

 

Minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks

Minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks

Minor League Field Coordinator: Aaron Nieckula

Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Greg Sparks

Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Garvin Alston

Minor League Rehab Pitching Coordinator: Craig Lefferts

Minor League Defensive Coordinator: Juan Navarrette

Aaron Nieckula was named minor league field coordinator and will oversee minor league spring training, extended spring training and instructional league.  Greg Sparks will take over as minor league hitting coordinator after spending three seasons as hitting coach at Triple-A Sacramento.  Sparks is in his 18th season in the A’s organization, which includes eight years as minor league roving hitting instructor from 2004-11.  Garvin Alston was named minor league pitching coordinator after spending the previous six seasons as minor league pitching rehab coordinator.  Craig Lefferts, who spent the previous 12 seasons as a pitching coach in the A’s farm system, replaces Alston as minor league rehab pitching coordinator.  Juan Navarrette is in his 21st season with the A’s and will be the minor league defensive, base running and bunting coordinator.  

 

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