With the game tied in the bottom of the 8th, designated hitter Nate Freiman slugged his second home run in the last two days to provide the winning run for the Sounds on Wednesday. Freiman also singled and drew a pair of walks in the game, while second baseman Joey Wendle hit his 9th home run in the 6th. Third baseman Brent Morel singled in a pair of runs, and first baseman Max Muncy singled and doubled in the tying run in the 7th. Starter Nate Long had another rocky outing for the Sounds, allowing 5 runs, 4 earned, over 6 2/3 innings of work and left the game with his team down by 4 runs, while RHP Trevor Bayless picked up the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Angel Castro got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 7th save. Meanwhile, the A’s optioned RHP Cody Martin back to Nashville on Wednesday.
After being down by 5 runs after just 3 innings on Tuesday, Stockton staged a startling comeback victory by putting 9 runs on the board over the next 5 innings. Right fielder Tyler Marincov drove in 4 of those runs – one on a single in the 4th, two on a double in the 6th and a final one on a sacrifice fly in the 7th. Center fielder Brett Vertigan had 3 hits, drove in a run and scored twice, while left fielder B.J. Boyd had 2 hits and a walk, stole a base and drove in a run, and second baseman Branden Cogswell and designated hitter Michael Soto had a pair of hits apiece for the Ports. RHP Daniel Mengden had a shaky start for Stockton, allowing 5 runs over 3 innings of work, while RHP Sam Roberts pitched 3 perfect innings in relief to pick up the win, and RHP Ben Bracewell got the final seven outs to post his 6th save for Stockton.
In his fourth appearance since returning from a seven-week stint on the disabled list, LHP Sean Nolin was impressive for the Sounds, retiring the first 12 batters he faced and allowing just 1 baserunner, on a single in the 5th inning, while striking out 6 over 4 2/3 innings of work, and he left the game with a 1-run lead on Monday. LHP Victor Veliz tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win in his first appearance for Nashville. Outfielder Jason Pridie had a pair of hits, shortstop Andy Parrino and designated hitter Rangel Ravelo each singled, walked and drove in a run, and second baseman Joey Wendle singled and swiped a pair of bases for the Sounds. In addition to Veliz’s addition to the roster, RHP Jake Sanchez and catcher Nick Rickles were promoted to Nashville from Midland and RHP Cody Martin was placed on the temporarily inactive list as the A’s prepare to promote him to Oakland on Tuesday.
Last year’s 2nd-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Daniel Gossett, had his second straight scoreless outing for the Snappers on Sunday. Gossett scattered just 3 hits over 6 shutout innings to earn his 5th win, and the 22-year-old has now tossed 13 scoreless innings over his last two starts. LHP Cody Stull got the final two outs in the 9th to notch his 1st save. Third baseman Jose Brizuela collected 3 hits, including 2 doubles, and drove in 2 runs, while first baseman Max Kuhn singled, doubled and scored a run, and catcher Argenis Raga and outfielder Joe Bennie each drove in a pair for the Snappers.
LHP Sean Manaea, acquired from Kansas City in the Ben Zobrist trade, turned in another impressive start for the RockHounds on Saturday, scattering just 3 hits while striking out 7 over 7 shutout innings to earn his 5th win for Midland. RHP Tucker Healy tossed a scoreless 8th inning and RHP Brendan McCurry picked up his 4th save despite giving up a run in the top of the 9th. First baseman Anthony Aliotti hit a 2-run homer in the 6th to provide all the runs the RockHounds would need on Saturday. Shortstop Chad Pinder doubled, walked and scored a run, while third baseman Ryon Healy and designated hitter Renato Nunez had a pair of hits apiece, and second baseman Colin Walsh drew 3 walks to increase his league-leading total to 110 and raise his league-leading on-base percentage to .447.
19-year-old Venezuelan third baseman Jean Carlo Rodriguez had a big day at the plate for the Arizona League A’s on Friday. Rodriguez had 4 hits, including a triple and a double, and drove in 4 runs, including the go-ahead run for the A’s in the bottom of the 3rd. First baseman Miguel Guzman singled, doubled and drove in 3, while left fielder Shane Conlon walked and doubled in a run in the win. This year’s 3rd-round draft pick for the A’s, 18-year-old RHP Dakota Chalmers, allowed 1 unearned run and struck out 3 in 1 2/3 innings to start things off on Friday, while rehabbing RHP Ryan Brasier tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his 1st win, and 19-year-old Venezuelan RHP Argenis Blanco contributed 4 scoreless frames in relief for the A’s.
Outfielder Jaycob Brugman reached base 5 times, on 3 singles, a double and a walk, while driving in 3 runs to help the RockHounds win and clinch a berth in the Texas League playoffs on Thursday. First baseman Anthony Aliotti had a pair of singles and a pair of doubles and drove in a run, while third baseman Renato Nunez singled, doubled and drove in a pair in his return from the disabled list, and second baseman Wade Kirkland collected 3 hits, including a double, and drove in a run for the RockHounds. Starter Dillon Overton had his second straight scoreless outing for Midland on Thursday, scattering 3 hits over 5 shutout innings to earn his 4th win for the RockHounds. In other news, Hounds shortstop Chad Pinder was named the Texas League Player of the Year on Thursday. Pinder has put up an impressive .320/.362/.491 slash line in 113 games and currently leads the Texas League in hits (148), RBIs (86) and total bases (227). In addition, Midland second baseman Colin Walsh, third baseman Ryon Healy and RHP Ryan Dull were all named to the Texas League Postseason All-Star Team.
Billy Burns: Who will be the next A’s farmhand to break through for Oakland?
With the 2015 season turning out to be such a big disappointment for the A’s, the team’s plans heading into this offseason are probably just about as unclear as they’ve been in quite some time. General manager Billy Beane and the A’s front office could choose to head in many different directions and there are very few players currently on the roster who are certain to still be around come 2016.
The only two players with multi-million-dollar guaranteed contracts for next season are also two of this season’s biggest disappointments – outfielder Coco Crisp and designated hitter Billy Butler. Reliever Sean Doolittle also has a guaranteed contract for next season but, with this season’s injury, there are still some question marks surrounding his reliability at this point. And there are three players currently on the 40-man roster – first baseman Ike Davis and outfielders Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry – whom it seems the A’s would be highly unlikely to offer arbitration to in the offseason.
So there certainly could be quite a few openings on the A’s roster heading into next season. And, though the A’s minor league system may not be rich in top prospects at the moment, there are plenty of players at the upper levels of the system who could potentially play useful roles for Oakland in 2016. So let’s take a look at some of the most likely suspects to be appearing in the green and gold next year…
Muncy has had 82 at-bats with the A’s this season, almost all against right-handed pitching. And while he may not have hit up a storm in his brief time in Oakland, he’s been a solid minor league hitter since being drafted in the 5th round back in 2012, particularly when it comes to his ability to get on base. The 25-year-old has a career minor league on-base percentage of .379 and has posted a .351 OBP in 179 at-bats for Nashville this season. Since it seems unlikely that the A’s will offer first baseman Ike Davis arbitration this offseason, that could leave an opening for the lefty-hitting Muncy to potentially share time with Mark Canha at first base next year. If the A’s decide to give Canha more playing time in the outfield, that could also open up more opportunities for Muncy at first. And if the A’s decide to move Brett Lawrie, either to second base or to another team in an offseason trade, Muncy also has experience at third base and could potentially form a platoon at the hot corner with righty-swinging Danny Valencia. Whatever happens in the offseason, it seems likely that there could be an opening on the A’s roster for a left-handed hitter with a track record of getting on base and who can play both first and third.
In just 35 at-bats with the A’s this season, Smolinski has shown the potential to be a productive righty-hitting platoon outfielder for Oakland. The former 2nd-round draft pick also put up an impressive .349/.402/.628 slash line in 86 at-bats at Nashville this season and appeared in 59 major league games for Texas between 2014 and 2015. With no clear left fielder in the picture for the A’s next season, it’s possible that Smolinski could vie with Coco Crisp for playing time in left or also serve as a possible platoon partner for lefty-swinging Josh Reddick in right. And with the A’s unlikely to offer fellow right-handed hitter Craig Gentry arbitration in the offseason and a lack of other respectable outfield options currently on the roster, there could be room for a right-handed hitter with a little bit of pop in the A’s outfield picture next year.
After coming over from Cleveland for Brandon Moss in the offseason, Wendle has spent this year as the starting second baseman for Triple-A Nashville. The left-handed hitter currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in hits with 151, in extra-base hits with 52 and in doubles with 37. His .428 slugging percentage is nothing to sneeze at either, and folks in Nashville have been raving about Wendle’s abilities in the field. The problems start when you catch a glimpse of his 19 walks, 100 strikeouts and .318 on-base percentage. Still, second base has been a weak spot in the A’s lineup. Last spring, before the injuries started to pile up, the plan was to have Ben Zobrist start out as the team’s primary second baseman, with Eric Sogard moving into the utility infielder role. And if the A’s decide they’d like someone with a little more pop at second base this season, they could try to slide Sogard into a back-up role once again while giving Wendle a real shot to start the season at second.
Ladendorf had just 10 at-bats with the A’s earlier this season before heading to Nashville and then missing most of the season after undergoing ankle surgery. After primarily being known for his defense, the former 2nd-round draft pick had a breakthrough offensive season at Sacramento last year, posting a .297/.376/.407 slash line while playing at second base and shortstop as well as in the outfield. Ladendorf’s been back in action at Nashville since earlier this month and has already played four different positions while putting up similar numbers for the Sounds. While his versatility makes him valuable, his best position is probably second base. So, while Ladendorf could be quite useful in a utlity role, backing up at a variety of different positions, he could also serve as a possible right-handed platoon partner for either Eric Sogard or Joey Wendle at second base next season.
Ravelo missed most of the season after undergoing wrist surgery, but he returned to action with Double-A Midland in July before joining Triple-A Nashville in August. Before his injury, the plan had been to have the 23-year-old Cuban spend time at both first base and third base at Nashville but, since returning from his injury, he’s appeared exclusively at first base and also as a designated hitter. Like a right-handed version of Muncy, Ravelo’s always shown the ability to get on base, and he has a career minor league on-base percentage of .371 and a .353 OBP this season at Nashville. It’s possible that Muncy and Ravelo could form a potential first base platoon at some point. But since Ravelo has only appeared in two games at third base since 2012, it’s probably going to be difficult to count on him possibly being able to fill much of a role at third base at this stage of the game. And with only 17 career games at the Triple-A level at this point, it would probably take a mighty impressive spring for Ravelo to factor into the A’s plans to start the 2016 season. But with Ike Davis unlikely to be offered arbitration by the A’s in the offseason, depending on how everything else shakes out, there could be some opportunities at first base for the A’s before next season is through.
Dull started the season with Double-A Midland before moving up to Triple-A Nashville in July, and the right-hander hasn’t missed a beat since advancing a level. Between both levels, the 25-year-old has allowed just 4 runs while notching 68 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings of work this season. At a listed height of just 5’10”, the former 32nd-round draft pick doesn’t fit the profile of the big, intimidating, flame-throwing reliever. He’s also not currently on the A’s 40-man roster. And while Dull’s been nearly unhittable against righties, he’s been considerably less impressive against lefties. But with the effectiveness that he’s shown throughout his minor league career, along with a solid fastball, slider and changeup, and the team’s current lack of quality relievers at the major league level, it’s hard to imagine that Dull wouldn’t at least be given a very long look by the A’s in spring training in 2016.
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Shortstop Yairo Munoz has a big night at the plate for the Ports on Wednesday. The 20-year-old brought in a run with a sacrifice fly in the 2nd inning, hit a 2-run homer in the 4th, and then doubled in a run and came around to score on a throwing error in the 6th. First baseman John Nogowski hit his 4th home run in the 2nd, while designated hitter Jacob Nottingham singled, doubled and drove in a run, and third baseman Melvin Mercedes had 2 hits and a walk, stole a base, drove in 2 runs and scored 3 times for the Ports. RHP Daniel Mengden turned in a strong start for Stockton, allowing just 1 run over 5 innings of work to earn his 6th win on Wednesday.
With two outs, two on and the game tied in the bottom of the 8th on Tuesday, second baseman Colin Walsh stepped to the plate and singled in the winning run for the RockHounds. Walsh reached base 5 times in the game, on a pair of singles and 3 walks, and he’s now reached base in 17 straight games and currently leads the Texas League with 105 walks and a .442 on-base percentage. Third baseman Ryon Healy singled in the 1st and doubled in a pair in Midland’s 4-run 8th, while catcher Bruce Maxwell had a pair of doubles and drove in a run for the Rockounds. Starter Chris Jensen allowed 3 runs over 7 innings of work and left with his team down by a run. LHP Jeff Urlaub tossed a scoreless 8th to pick up the win, and RHP Brendan McCurry pitched a perfect 9th to notch his 3rd save for the Hounds.