Meet Your 2018 Oakland A’s!

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

Back in May, we took a look at what a young, rebuilding A’s team might look like. But now that we’ve passed the July 31st trade deadline and the A’s have made a number of deadline deals, and even some post-deadline deals, to add players like Blake Treinen, Dustin Fowler, Boog Powell, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse, James Kaprielian and Jesus Luzardo to the system, it’s a good time to take another look at what the near future might look like for the A’s.

Of course, one never knows what the A’s might do in the offseason, but the fact that they don’t really have many veteran trade chips left to deal will definitely limit their ability to barter. And, as usual, it seems unlikely that they will splurge too much on the free agent market at this stage of the game. The team could dip its toe in the water to fill a few holes on a short-term basis, particularly on the pitching staff, but there aren’t likely to be any terribly significant commitments in the near term, at least not until a new stadium is within view.

Two players who’ve played significant roles this year seem likely to depart after the season – center fielder Rajai Davis, who’s set to become a free agent, and second baseman Jed Lowrie, whom the A’s hold a $6 million option on for next year. With the A’s now fully committed to a youth movement and with both Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder capable of playing second base, it seems unlikely that the A’s will opt to bring back Lowrie. But is there still any chance that they might be able to get something for either of them before the season’s through the way they did with Yonder Alonso? It’s possible, but it seems like any deal that would have been possible probably would have happened by now. And looking ahead, there are only two significant players on the current roster who are due to become free agents after the 2018 season – outfielder Matt Joyce and reliever Santiago Casilla. Could the A’s possibly get anything for either player in the offseason? Anything’s possible but, if they can, it’s not likely to amount to much.

When looking at next season on the position player front, eleven guys seem to be pretty solid bets for the major league roster, leaving a number of others left to battle for one or two remaining spots, depending on whether the A’s choose to go with twelve or thirteen position players in 2018. The eleven most likely to lay claim to a roster spot include catchers Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley, infielders Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Ryon Healy, outfielders Khris Davis, Matt Joyce and Dustin Fowler, and super utility infielder/outfielder Chad Pinder. That leaves guys like Boog Powell, Jaycob Brugman, Mark Canha, Jake Smolinski and Renato Nunez fighting for the one or two remaining roster spots. When it comes to the pitching staff, things could be a little more up in the air, and one would have to suspect that’s where any offseason additions might be most likely to occur.

So, setting aside any possible offseason deals or free-agent signings, and adding in a fresh batch of summer arrivals, let’s take a position-by-position look at how things might stack up for the 2018 Oakland A’s…

 

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

CATCHERS

With Stephen Vogt’s departure and Bruce Maxwell making the move to the major league roster in June, the catching corps could prove to be one of the more predictable parts of next season’s roster. Maxwell and Josh Phegley seem set to split time behind the plate for the 2018 A’s, though the team could always give recently-acquired catcher Dustin Garneau the opportunity to compete with Phegley for the chance to serve as Maxwell’s platoon partner. The team’s top minor league catching prospect, former 3rd-round pick Sean Murphy, has played in just 39 games at the Double-A level and is probably another year away from factoring into the catching conversation.

 

INFIELDERS

Matt Olson

Matt Olson

With the departures of Trevor Plouffe and Yonder Alonso, and the likely departure of Jed Lowrie in the offseason, the A’s infield looks to be right at the heart of the youth movement in 2018. Young slugger Matt Chapman is set to anchor the infield at the hot corner, while Marcus Semien is expected to be back at shortstop. It seems likely that top prospect Franklin Barreto will get every opportunity to take over at second base, where he’s probably best-suited defensively and where he’s most likely to remain since the A’s acquired promising shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal. The team seems ready to make Matt Olson its primary first baseman, though his consistent platoon splits make it likely that, like Yonder Alonso, he’ll frequently sit against lefties while Ryon Healy moves from the designated hitter spot to take over at first. Meanwhile, with Olson at first and Chapman at third, Healy looks likely to get the bulk of his at-bats in the DH slot once again, serving in that role against righties while seeing some time in the field against lefties. And with Olson likely to sit out against most lefties, that could give super-utility man Chad Pinder, who’s sure to make the squad, a good chance to get some regular at-bats against lefties while stepping into the field in any number of positions and giving various A’s regulars a bit of a breather by sliding into the DH spot for the day. And, of course, Pinder also has the ability to spell Semien and Barreto in the middle infield any time either of them is slumping or could just use a day off. The A’s could also decide to give a player who’s probably best-suited for the designated hitter role a shot to see what he can do as the regular DH against lefties. Right-handed slugger Renato Nunez may be limited defensively, but he’s currently leading the Pacific Coast League with 31 home runs while slashing an impressive .309/.387/.630 against Triple-A lefties this season. So, Nunez clearly could have the ability to do some damage from the DH spot when Healy makes the move to first against lefties. Behind Chapman, Semien, Barreto, Olson, Healy, Pinder and Nunez, other infield options down on the farm could include second basemen Joey Wendle and Max Schrock, shortstop Jorge Mateo, third baseman Sheldon Neuse and Yairo Munoz, who’s been increasing his versatility by playing third base, shortstop and center field for Triple-A Nashville this season.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Dustin Fowler

Dustin Fowler

With a couple of the team’s most veteran position players still in the outfield picture, the youth movement may have a slightly less dramatic effect on the A’s outfield alignment in 2018. The team still has control of its top home run hitter, Khris Davis, for two more seasons. So, assuming he sticks around for at least one more campaign, he’s likely to see most of his time in left field once again. And assuming Matt Joyce is back for the final year of his contract, then he’s likely to wind up back in right field against right-hander hurlers anyway. As for center field, the A’s clearly acquired Dustin Fowler from the Yankees to be their center fielder of the future, and that future is likely to start in 2018. Super-utility man Chad Pinder is capable of putting in time in the outfield. And since Joyce and Fowler are both left-handed hitters, he could well serve as an outfield platoon partner, particularly for Joyce in right. And if things line up as expected, then that would leave one or two more roster spots available for outfielders depending on if the A’s choose to go with twelve or thirteen position players and whether or not they decide to make room for Renato Nunez on the roster in 2018. Lefty-swinging outfielders Boog Powell and Jaycob Brugman, who’ve been the main men in center field over these past couple of months, will clearly move behind Fowler on the depth chart as soon as he returns from the disabled list. Though Powell and Brugman are both capable of playing all three outfield positions, the fact that they both hit from the left side severely limits their ability to serve in any sort of platoon role in the A’s outfield as it’s currently configured. And we all know how much the A’s value those platoon matchups. That could help the cause of a couple of other outfield options who happen to be right-handed hitters – Mark Canha, who still possesses some intriguing power potential, and Jake Smolinski, who’s always put up strong numbers against lefties, is capable of playing all three outfield spots, and is currently on a minor league rehab assignment after sitting out most of the season due to shoulder surgery. One thing that seems certain is that the one of the most interesting roster battles next season should be for the A’s last one or two remaining outfield spots.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

What once looked like a strong suit for the A’s, thanks to trades, injuries and poor performance, now appears to be a little more up in the air. Twelve different pitchers have made starts for the A’s this season. LHP Sean Manaea is the only A’s hurler to make it to the mound for more than 20 starts so far this season, and he also leads the teams in wins and strikeouts. RHP Kendall Graveman was looked at as the team’s ace-in-waiting behind Sonny Gray and was the A’s opening day starter this year, but injuries have limited him to 11 starts this season. Manaea and Graveman look to be locks to top the A’s rotation again in 2018. But don’t forget about a guy who put up better numbers than either of those pitchers have this season before undergoing hip surgery this summer – RHP Andrew Triggs. If he returns healthy and regains his form, then Triggs would also be in line to claim a rotation spot next season. A pair of rookies would appear to be the best bets to round out the rotation – RHP Paul Blackburn, who’s been solid in 9 starts for the A’s, and RHP Daniel Gossett, a former 2nd-round pick who’s shown plenty of promising potential. Behind those five (none of whom is currently over the age of 28), there are a number of arms who could be in waiting at Nashville but who also come with a number of questions marks. RHPs Jharel Cotton and Jesse Hahn have combined to make 31 starts for the A’s this season, and while both have shown great promise at times, they can both be wildly inconsistent as well. RHP Daniel Mengden, who showed such potential at times last season, is still in the picture and has recently returned to action for Nashville after missing much of the season due to injuries. Veteran RHP Chris Smith also remains in the mix and could serve as valuable rotation depth at Triple-A. Other potential starting options in the system include RHP Chris Bassitt (who’s been working out of the bullpen at Nashville while making his way back from Tommy John surgery), RHP Frankie Montas (who had been serving in a starting role at Triple-A before landing on the disabled list), RHP Raul Alcantara (who started the season on the A’s roster), RHP Corey Walter (who’s made 11 starts for the Sounds this season), and LHP A.J. Puk (the A’s top draft pick last year who’s put up an ERA of 5.36 and struck out 61 in 45 1/3 frames since joining Double-A Midland in June). Puk may not be ready to be a real rotation option for the A’s to start the season but, depending on how things play out, he could prove to be a legitimate option for the team before next season is through.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Blake Treinen

Blake Treinen

The bullpen could be the biggest question mark for the A’s heading into 2018. There aren’t too many locks here, nor too many talented young hurlers who look to be ready to bloom into superstar status. This could be an area the A’s seek to fill in with a few shrewd free-agent pickups, or the organization might just decide to make the best with what they’ve got and wait until the team looks like it might be ready to contend before investing in outside help for the bullpen. But looking at what’s in-house at the moment, RHP Blake Treinen seems to be the best option for the closer’s role. Of course, RHP Santiago Casilla is still under contract for next season, while the A’s will also maintain control of a couple of other familiar faces from the bullpen – RHPs Liam Hendriks and Ryan Dull. Two hard-throwing RHPs will remain in the mix as well – Frankie Montas, who’s still working to harness his potential, and Simon Castro, who has shown some promise in 13 appearances for the A’s this season. RHP Bobby Wahl will be returning from thoracic outlet surgery, while RHP J.B. Wendelken will be coming back from Tommy John surgery. And there are a number of possible long-relief options to consider as well, including RHP Chris Hatcher (who was recently acquired from the Dodgers), RHP Chris Smith (who could be well-suited for such a role), RHP Chris Bassitt (who’s been throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen at Nashville), RHPs Michael Brady and Josh Smith (both of whom have served in that role at times this season), and RHP Raul Alcantara (who started the season in that role for the A’s). On the left side of the bullpen, the A’s current options look to be fairly limited. Of course, LHP Daniel Coulombe, who’s made 53 relief appearances for the A’s this season, clearly stands atop the pack. LHP Felix Doubront has been serving in a relief role for Nashville since returning from Tommy John surgery, and the A’s recently acquired LHP Sam Moll, who’s made 139 relief appearances in the Rockies system over the last five years. But beyond that, there aren’t many more southpaws to be seen in the bullpen picture at this point anyway, so stay tuned.

 

One never really knows what the A’s might decide to do in any given offseason, and this one’s certainly no different. But one thing’s clear – the team is committed to rebuilding with this current crop of young players. There aren’t many veterans left to deal away at this point, so any significant additions would most likely have to come from the free agent market, though it seems unlikely that the A’s would be ready to make too much of a splash in the free agent pool at this stage of the game. Once plans for the A’s new ballpark are announced, we should start to get a much better sense of what the team’s long-term and short-term player personnel plans are. But for now, this is how the current crop of young players who are likely to make the squad next season is shaping up. And hopefully, A’s fans can look forward to watching this promising pack of prospects develop into a winning team that will be able to carry its winnings ways into a new ballpark somewhere in Oakland in the not-too-distant future.

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Thursday, August 17th: Sounds Win Behind Barreto’s Big Bat while Fillmyer Leads Hounds to Shutout Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (4 for 5 / Home Run / Triple / 4 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (4 for 5 / Home Run / Triple / 4 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds  11

Memphis Redbirds   8

WP – Gossett 4-4 / 3.66

HR – Barreto (14)

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Franklin Barreto

(4 for 5 / Home Run / Triple / 4 RBIs)

Shortstop Franklin Barreto had a big night at the plate to help Nashville win a slugfest in Memphis on Thursday. The 21-year-old collected 4 hits, including a home run and a triple, while driving in 4 runs and scoring 3 times for the Sounds. Left fielder Mark Canha singled twice, doubled twice and drove in 3, while center fielder Jaff Decker singled, doubled, walked twice, stole a base and drove in a run. Catcher Beau Taylor had 3 hits and scored 3 runs, and designated hitter Josh Phegley went 1 for 4 with a walk and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in his second rehab game with the Sounds. RHP Daniel Gossett turned in his second straight quality start, allowing 2 runs and striking out 6 over 6 innings of work to earn the win, while RHP Lou Trivino got the final three outs to secure his 2nd save for the Sounds.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit & Vermont…

Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 4-Game Series vs. Wisconsin (8/14-17)

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers lost three out of four games to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Milwaukee’s Midwest League affiliate, at Pohlman Field in Beloit this week. Due to a postponement on Wednesday, the last two games of the series were 7-inning contests played as a doubleheader on Thursday.

Second baseman Keston Hiura, the Brewers’ 1st-round pick this year, is a star attraction for the Timber Rattlers. He came into the series hitting .356 in 22 games and has been drawing rave reviews for his performance at the plate. Meanwhile, the Snappers continue to fight for a playoff spot in the Midwest League’s Western Division.

 

Game #1:  Wisconsin 8 – Beloit 7

Luke Persico

Luke Persico

*Oakland’s 28th-round pick in 2016, second baseman Josh Vidales, hit his second home run as a Snapper, a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 1st inning to give Beloit an early lead.

*Center fielder Mike Martin, generally known as a speedy singles hitter, hit his first home run of the season along with a double. He had 3 hits in the game and scored 3 runs.

*With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the A’s 12th-round pick in 2016, right fielder Luke Persico, hit a 3-run double to right-center field to bring Beloit within one run of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, first baseman Kyle Nowlin could not come up with the clutch hit, grounding out to the shortstop to end the game.

 

Game #2:  Wisconsin 10 – Beloit 0

Jason Goldstein

Jason Goldstein

*Not much went right for Beloit as the Snappers were shut out on 7 hits in this 10-0 loss.

*Catcher Jason Goldstein had 3 of the Snappers’ 7 hits in the game to raise his average on the season to .208.

*LHP Kyle Twomey made the start and, despite battling through some control issues in the 3rd inning, finished with a respectable line of 5 IP/3 H/4 R/1ER/3 BB/7 K.

*RHP Heath Bowers had one of his worst outings of the season, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits in 3 ⅔ innings of relief.

 

Game #3:  Wisconsin 7 – Beloit 3 (7 innings)

Matt Milburn

Matt Milburn

*RHP Matt Milburn, known by many of his teammates as “Dad,” was knocked around by the Rattlers for 7 runs in 5 innings of work. Milburn was just one strike away from getting out of the 2nd inning unscathed, but instead gave up 3 runs on a bases-clearing double by Wisconsin left fielder Joantgel Segovia.

*2016’s 21st-round pick, designated hitter Kyle Nowlin, slugged a solo shot, his 11th home run of the season, to right-center field to put Beloit on the board in the bottom of the 2nd inning. And we’ll have an exclusive interview with Kyle Nowlin coming soon!

*Catcher Jason Goldstein hit his 3rd home run of the season, a 2-run shot, over the left-field fence in the bottom of the 7th inning for the Snappers.

 

Game #4:  Beloit 3 – Wisconsin 1 (7 innings)

John Gorman

John Gorman

*RHP Xavier Altamirano made the start and threw 4 shutout innings, surrendering just 2 hits for the Snappers.

*Designated hitter Kyle Nowlin cracked an RBI double in the 4th inning to give the Snappers a 1-0 lead.

*RHP John Gorman was superb out of the bullpen once again. He stranded two inherited baserunners in the 6th inning and then pitched a perfect frame in the 7th to notch the five-out save. Four of the five outs he recorded were strikeouts.

*Beloit scored two runs to take the lead in the bottom of the 5th inning without recording a hit. A pair of walks followed by a wild pitch on a swinging strikeout that allowed left fielder Luke Persico to reach base and a throwing error led to the decisive runs for the Snappers.

 

Eric Marinez

Eric Marinez

Series Notes:

*Infielder Eric Marinez is a switch hitter. But looking at his numbers hitting right-handed, one might start to wonder if maybe he should consider hitting left-handed on full-time basis. In 87 at-bats as a right-handed hitter, Marinez has put up a rather paltry slash line of .195/.286/.218. But hitting left-handed, Marinez has compiled a solid .311/.370/.413 slash line in 283 at-bats.

*Despite putting together a rather underwhelming 3-5 record on the 8-game home stand, the Snappers currently sit just a half-game behind the Peoria Chiefs in the race for a Western Division playoff spot.

 

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A’s Prospect of the Series:

First Baseman Kyle Nowlin

(4 for 12 / Home Run / 3 Doubles / 3 Walks / 2 RBIs)

 

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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.

Wednesday, August 16th: Holmes Wins 10th for Hounds while Martin & Pimentel Homer to Help Ports Prevail

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Grant Holmes (6 IP / 4 H / 2 ER / 3 BB / 6 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Grant Holmes (6 IP / 4 H / 2 ER / 3 BB / 6 K / Win)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

NW Arkansas Naturals   3

Midland RockHounds   4

WP – Holmes 10-11 / 4.73

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Grant Holmes

(6 IP / 4 H / 2 ER / 3 BB / 6 K / Win)

RHP Grant Holmes turned in a strong start to help the RockHounds win their third straight on Wednesday. The 21-year-old allowed 2 runs and struck out 6 over 6 innings of work to become just the second 10-game winner in the Texas League so far this season. And after compiling a 5.45 ERA in the first half, Holmes has now put up a much-improved 3.98 ERA in the second half. RHP Sam Bragg pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings in relief to pick up his 6th save for Midland. Shortstop Jorge Mateo had 2 hits, including a double, and drove in a run, while right fielder Tyler Ramirez singled, doubled and walked, and catcher Sean Murphy and third baseman Sheldon Neuse each singled twice and drove in a run for the RockHounds.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Tuesday, August 15th: Carter’s Big Bat Leads Sounds to Victory while Mateo Helps Hounds Win in a Walk-Off

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Designated Hitter Chris Carter (3 for 3 / Home Run / Triple / Walk / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds DH Chris Carter (3 for 3 / Home Run / Triple / Walk / 5 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds   6

Memphis Redbirds   5

WP – Bracewell 3-2 / 6.25

HR – Carter (3)

Prospect Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Chris Carter

(3 for 3 / Home Run / Triple / Walk / 5 RBIs)

Designated hitter Chris Carter had a huge night at the plate to lead Nashville to victory on Tuesday. The 30-year-old slugger singled, tripled, homered, walked and drove in 5 runs, including the tying and winning runs in the top of the 8th for the Sounds. Third baseman Renato Nunez singled twice and scored 3 times, while catcher Beau Taylor walked and singled in a run. Starter Ben Bracewell picked up the win despite surrendering 5 runs in 7 innings of work, while RHP Raul Alcantara tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief to secure his 3rd save for the Sounds.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit & AZL A’s…

Monday, August 14th: Ports Battle Back to Win 5th Straight while Mengden Returns to Mound for Sounds

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter Eli White (3 for 5 / RBI / 2 Runs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter Eli White (3 for 5 / RBI / 2 Runs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports                      7

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes  6

WP – A.Ruiz 3-1 / 4.00

Prospect Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Eli White

(3 for 5 / RBI / 2 Runs)

The Ports mounted a late-game comeback to tie things up in the 9th inning and then wound up winning in extra innings to notch their fifth straight victory on Monday. RHP Brendan Butler had a rough start, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits in just 3 2/3 frames, while LHP Evan Manarino allowed 1 run in 3 1/3 innings of relief for Stockton. Catcher Jose Chavez doubled in a pair, while second baseman Nate Mondou singled twice, walked and drove in a run. Third baseman Mikey White singled in a run with two outs in the top of the 9th to tie things up and send the game to extra innings. Then in the top of the 10th, designated hitter Eli White collected his third single of the game and ultimately came around to score the winning run on catcher Argenis Raga‘s RBI single. RHP Armando Ruiz earned the win after tossing scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Nolan Blackwood got the final three outs in the bottom of the 9th to notch his 15th save for Stockton. In other news, Ports infielder Sheldon Neuse was promoted to the RockHounds while Midland infielder Branden Cogswell was reassigned to Stockton on Monday.

Click here for more on Nashville, Beloit & AZL A’s…

Sunday, August 13th: Smolinski’s Big Bat Leads Ports to 4th Straight Victory while Sportman’s Grand Slam Helps Hounds Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter Jake Smolinski (5 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports DH Jake Smolinski (5 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 5 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Visalia Rawhide    1

Stockton Ports  10

WP – Shore 2-5 / 4.47

HR – M.White (14), Smolinski (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Jake Smolinski

(5 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 5 RBIs)

Stockton scored 10 runs to win its fourth straight on Sunday. Designated hitter Jake Smolinski had a big night at the plate in his second rehab appearance for the Ports, collecting 5 hits, including a home run and a double, while driving in 5 of Stockton’s 10 runs in the game. Third baseman Mikey White homered for the second time in the last three nights, while shortstop Richie Martin singled, tripled and scored twice, and catcher Argenis Raga singled, doubled and drove in a pair for the Ports. RHP Logan Shore turned in a strong start on Sunday, striking out 7 over 5 scoreless frames to earn his 2nd win for Stockton, while LHP Brandon Marsonek pitched 3 perfect innings in relief to pick up his 1st save for the Ports. In other news, Ports play-by-play man Zack Bayrouty announced on Sunday that Stockton infielder Sheldon Neuse has been promoted to Double-A Midland. Neuse has put up an impressive .386/.457/.675 slash line since joining Stockton after being acquired from the Nationals organization in the Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle deal. Though Neuse had been splitting time between shortstop and third base for the Ports, he’s likely to spend the bulk of his time at the hot corner for Midland with A’s shortstop-of-the-future Jorge Mateo also on the RockHounds roster.

Click here for more on Nashville, Midland, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 4-Game Series vs. Clinton (8/10-13)

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers split a 4-game series with the Clinton LumberKings, the Mariners’ Midwest League affiliate, that concluded this Sunday at Pohlman Field in Beloit.

It’s been a rough year for the LumberKings, and nothing sums it up better than the fact that they’re currently on their third manager this season after their first two skippers resigned.

Beloit, meanwhile, continues to battle with the Peoria Chiefs for a Midwest League Western Division playoff spot.

 

Game #1:  Beloit 4 – Clinton 1

Jesus Lopez

Jesus Lopez

*LHP Kyle Twomey allowed no earned runs in 5 innings of work. And in 15 ⅔ frames over his last 3 starts, Twomey has given up just 1 earned run. During that stretch, he’s lowered his ERA almost a full run to 4.15 for the Snappers.

*Left fielder Josh Vidales, the A’s 28th-round pick in 2016, reached base in all 4 of his plate appearances. The 24-year-old had 3 singles and a walk and also drove in a run for the Snappers.

*Second baseman Jesus Lopez cracked a line-drive home run to left field with two outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning to put Beloit on the board. It was his 1st home run of the year for the Snappers.

*Lopez struggled last season, putting up a slash line of .193/.256/.262 between Beloit and Vermont. The native of Nicaragua came back this season with a couple of changes. He’s grown his hair out and, more notably, he’s abandoned switch hitting and is hitting strictly from the right side now. Lopez has looked good this season in his second stint with the Snappers. He’s currently slashing .313/.356/.422 for Beloit, and at just 20 years old, there’s still plenty of time for improvement.

 

Game #2:  Beloit 4 – Clinton 2

Matt Milburn

Matt Milburn

*Matt “The Burn” Milburn had another solid outing for the Snappers, giving up just 1 run and striking out 6 in 5 innings of work. The A’s 29th-round pick in 2016 has shown some real swing-and-miss ability, as evidenced by his 8.8 K/9 rate.

*RHP John Gorman worked 1 ⅔ scoreless innings to close out the game and earn his 1st save for the Snappers. He’s proved to be a great addition to the Beloit bullpen. In 16 ⅓ innings for the Snappers, Gorman has compiled a 1.10 ERA and an excellent 20/1 K/BB ratio.

*Both designated hitter Kyle Nowlin and second baseman Jesus Lopez went 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI and a stolen base for the Snappers.

 

Miguel Mercedes

Miguel Mercedes

Game #3:  Clinton 5 – Beloit 4

*First Baseman Miguel Mercedes went 2 for 3 with a walk. He hit a double and a towering home run to center field, his team-leading 16th of the year.

*RHP Xavier Altamirano battled through 5 innings without his best stuff. His final line was 5 IP/9 H/4 ER/1 BB/2 K.

*The Snappers put a run on the board in both the 8th and 9th innings but still came up short, stranding the tying run on third base in the bottom of the 9th to end the game.

 

Game #4:  Clinton 4 – Beloit 2

Kyle Nowlin

Kyle Nowlin

*LHP Zack Erwin gave up 2 runs while striking out 6 in 5 innings of work. After three terrific pitchers (Dalton Sawyer, Brendan Butler and Brandon Bailey) were promoted from Beloit to Stockton this season, Erwin has become the ace of the Snappers pitching staff in the second half.

*RHP Joseph Camacho, signed as an undrafted free agent after last year’s draft, struck out 4 in 3 scoreless innings of relief. He’s compiled a 3.07 ERA with a 23/5 K/BB ratio in 29 ⅓ innings for the Snappers this season. Thus far, Camacho has looked like a real find by the A’s scouting staff.

*RHP Sam Sheehan, a 31st-round pick by Oakland in 2016, had a rare bad day on the mound. He surrendered 2 runs in the top of the 9th to suffer his 1st loss for the Snappers.

*First Baseman Kyle Nowlin cracked a two-out double to right-center field, scoring a hustling Edwin Diaz from first base to put Beloit on the board in the bottom of the 1st inning.

*Nowlin has made some immense strides in his hitting as well as his play at first base this season for the Snappers. While he doesn’t possess great range, Nowlin has learned how to better scoop out throws in the dirt. And he’s come on strong at the plate of late, putting up a slash line of .307/.409/.473 for the Snappers in the second half.

 

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A’s Prospect of the Series:

Left Fielder/Second Baseman Josh Vidales

(7 for 16 / Triple / Walk / 4 RBIs / Stolen Base)

 

*          *          *

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.

Saturday, August 12th: Sawyer Leads Stockton to Shutout Win while Gossett K’s 10 in Sounds’ Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Dalton Sawyer (5 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Dalton Sawyer (5 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Visalia Rawhide   0

Stockton Ports   4

WP – Sawyer 3-4 / 3.22

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Dalton Sawyer

(5 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

Stockton shut out Visalia on 5 hits to win its third straight on Saturday. Starter Dalton Sawyer was outstanding, striking out 5 while throwing 5 scoreless innings to earn his 3rd win for the Ports, and last year’s 9th-round draft pick for the A’s has now allowed just 4 earned runs while striking out 23 over his last 20 innings for Stockton. RHPs Joey Wagman, Miguel Romero and Kyle Friedrichs combined to throw 4 scoreless frames in relief to complete the shutout on Saturday. First baseman Mikey White walked and doubled with the bases loaded to drive in 3 runs, and designated hitter Jake Smolinski went 0 for 2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in his first rehab appearance for the Ports. Meanwhile, LHP Andrew Tomasovich was activated from the disabled list while LHP Jared Lyons landed on the DL for Stockton on Saturday.

Click here for more on Nashville, Midland, Beloit & Vermont…

A’s Top 11 Draft Picks Mid-Season Progress Report

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

00DSC04060xThe A’s were fortunate enough to be able to sign all of their 11 picks from the first 10 rounds of this year’s amateur draft.

It’s been almost two months since the first of those players signed by the A’s began playing with the Class-A Vermont Lake Monsters or the rookie-ball Arizona League A’s. So, it seems like a good time to take a look at how some the A’s newest prospects have been performing down on the farm.

You’ll find the A’s top 11 picks from the first 10 rounds of the 2017 draft along with their current statistics through August 11 listed below. The teams they’ve played for so far this season are noted, with the team they’ve appeared in the most games with listed first and their current team in bold…

 

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#1 – 1st Round

Austin Beck

Age: 18 / Outfielder

AZL A’s

92 AB / 1 HR / 5 BB / 33 K / .185 AVG / .240 OBP / .272 SLG / .512 OPS

 

Beck got off to a bit of a slow start, going 1 for his first 21 with 12 strikeouts. And his 5/33 BB/K ratio on the season will still need to see quite a bit of improvement. But Beck’s bat’s been starting to warm up a bit of late, and the 18-year-old just hit the first home run of his pro career in Thursday’s game. He’s also gone 4 for 4 in steal attempts while starting 20 error-free games in center field for the AZL A’s.

 

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#2 – 1st Round Supplemental

Kevin Merrell

Age: 21 / Shortstop

Vermont Lake Monsters

107 AB / 2 HR / 8 BB / 20 K / .299 AVG / .345 OBP / .402 SLG / .746 OPS

 

Merrell’s basically been doing what was expected of him when he was drafted – making contact, getting on base and utilizing his speed to make things happen. While primarily hitting in the leadoff spot, Merrell’s .299 batting average is second-best for Vermont and his 9 stolen bases and 22 runs both lead the squad.

 

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#3 – 2nd Round

Greg Deichmann

Age: 22 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters

93 AB / 3 HR / 16 BB / 24 K / .323 AVG / .423 OBP / .559 SLG / .983 OPS

 

Thus far, Deichmann has been the best batter to come out of this year’s draft for the A’s. The slugger from LSU appears to be an advanced college hitter who’s demonstrated both power and plate discipline. He currently leads Vermont in extra-base hits, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage while also showing a good arm in right field.

 

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#4 – 3rd Round

Nick Allen

Age: 18 / Shortstop

AZL A’s

76 AB / 1 HR / 4 BB / 16 K / .250 AVG / .288 OBP / .355 SLG / .643 OPS

 

Allen got off to a slightly late start after taking a little longer to sign than most. But since the start of July, he’s been playing shortstop regularly while usually leading off. He’s been doing a decent job while still getting his feet wet as a pro, and the 18-year-old has 2 triples and stolen 3 bases so far for the AZL A’s.

 

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#5 – 4th Round

Will Toffey

Age: 22 / Third Baseman

Vermont Lake Monsters

133 AB / 0 HR / 26 BB / 27 K / .233 AVG / .356 OBP / .323 SLG / .680 OPS

 

Toffey has pretty much been serving as Vermont’s everyday third baseman since play began in the New York-Penn League. He’s done a good job of getting on base, and his 26 walks and 8 doubles both lead the team, but he’s failed to record a home run in his first 36 pro games for Vermont.

 

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#6 – 5th Round

Santis Sanchez

Age: 18 / Catcher

AZL A’s

50 AB / 0 HR / 6 BB / 16 K / .160 AVG / .250 OBP / .180 SLG / .430 OPS

 

The A’s have been bringing the 18-year-old backstop along slowly and he’s been playing sporadically for the Arizona League squad. Sanchez has mostly struggled at the plate early on, going 8 for 50 with just 1 extra-base hit for the A’s.

 

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#7 – 6th Round

Logan Salow

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

16 1/3 IP / 11 H / 3 ER / 11 BB / 22 K / 1.65 ERA / 1.35 WHIP

 

There was talk of the college closer getting a shot at serving in a starting role, but that may have to wait until next season. For now, the southpaw has been serving out of the Lake Monsters bullpen. He’s been victimized by bad defense at times, but Salow has managed to post 22 strikeouts over his first 16 1/3 innings as a pro.

 

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#8 – 7th Round

Parker Dunshee

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

29 1/3 IP / 16 H / 3 ER / 6 BB / 35 K / 0.92 ERA / 0.75 WHIP

 

Dunshee has been the most promising pitcher to come out of this year’s draft so far for the A’s. After allowing 3 runs in his first appearance for the AZL A’s, Dunshee moved to Vermont, where he’s now failed to allow a run in his first 27 1/3 innings of work for the Lake Monsters. The former Wake Forest star is an experienced college hurler, and he’s been striking out nearly 11 batters per 9 innings while notching nearly 6 times more strikeouts than walks.

 

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#9 – 8th Round

Brian Howard

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

22 1/3 IP / 20 H / 4 ER / 1 BB / 22 K / 1.61 ERA / 0.94 WHIP

 

Howard has been almost as impressive as Dunshee in the early going. The 6-foot-9 righty has demonstrated great control, walking just 1 and striking out 22 while also failing to allow a home run over his first 22 1/3 innings of work for the Lake Monsters.

 

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#10 – 9th Round

Jared Poche

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

2 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0.00 ERA / 1.50 WHIP

 

Poche made his first appearance in July, throwing 2 scoreless innings for Vermont, before landing on the disabled list with a forearm strain that’s expected to end his first pro season prematurely.

 

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#11 – 10th Round

Jack Meggs

Age: 22 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters

69 AB / 3 HR / 9 BB / 14 K / .290 AVG / .370 OBP / .449 SLG / .820 OPS

 

The 10th-round draft pick out of Washington started out strong. Meggs smashed 3 home runs in his first 17 games, a number no one on the Lake Monsters squad has yet to surpass, while also boasting a .370 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging percentage before landing on the disabled list in late July.

 

–TOP HITTER–

gd656364#3 – 2nd Round

Greg Deichmann

Age: 22 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters

93 AB / 3 HR / 16 BB / 24 K / .323 AVG / .423 OBP / .559 SLG / .983 OPS

 

–TOP PITCHER–

pd670161#8 – 7th Round

Parker Dunshee

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

29 1/3 IP / 16 H / 3 ER / 6 BB / 35 K / 0.92 ERA / 0.75 WHIP

 

 

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.

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