Month: March 2014

A Swingin’ A’s Music Video To Start The Season Off Right!

Last week, we brought you a great little ditty from The Baseball Project called “They Are The Oakland A’s.” And this week, we’ve decided to take it to another level by putting together our own video for the song filled with highlights from the team’s last two seasons and more. So be sure to check it out and get yourself in the green and gold groove for the season!

Our favorite line has to be, “Young and hungry, small payroll, but Billy Beane loves rock & roll.” And we can confirm that the A’s rock-and-roll-loving GM has heard the song and does approve! If you’re interested, you can find out more about the band – which features members of R.E.M., the Dream Syndicate and Young Fresh Fellows – and their new album, 3rd, at their website here.



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Projected A’s, River Cats, RockHounds, Ports & Snappers Opening Day Rosters

**4/1 UPDATE: Official opening day rosters for all the A’s minor league affiliates are here…


Catchers – Vogt, Ortiz

Infielders – Freiman, Aliotti, Martinez, Carrithers, Elmore, Nakajima

Outfielders – Peterson, Matthes, Goebbert, Crumbliss

Starting Pitchers – Blanton, Leon, Lindblom, Buschmann, Murphy

Relief Pitchers – Humber, Hooker, McBryde, Flores, Smyth, Nieve, Savery, Berger

(+Rodriguez – Rehab Assignment)


Catchers – Lipkin, Taylor

Infielders – Muncy, Coleman, Ladendorf, Russell, Marte, Head

Outfielders – Burns, Myers, Oberacker, Whitaker

Starting Pitchers – Neal, Granier, Alcantara, Peters, Jensen

Relief Pitchers – Werner, Urlaub, Gailey, Dull, Hassebrock, Frankoff, Long, Castillo, Smith


Catchers – Maxwell, Gorton

Infielders – Olson, Pinder, Kirkland, Robertson, Nunez, Healy

Outfielders – Crocker, Robinson, Shipman, McKinney

Starting Pitchers – Correa, Bowman, Streich, Haviland, Sanburn

Relief Pitchers – Atherton, Ynoa, Joseph, Doolittle, Healy, Hall, House, Duran, Barfield


Catchers – Pohl, Paz

Infielders – Huck, Mercedes, Pan, Roberts, Vollmuth, Soto

Outfielders – Boyd, Brugman, Marincov, Mathews. Powell

Starting Pitchers – Covey, Finnegan, Herrera, Trivino, Wahl

Relief Pitchers – Avila, Bragg, Bayless, Sosa, Pudenz, Lamb, Powers, Stalcup

*          *          *

*3/31 UPDATE: By now, everyone’s certainly heard about the makeup of the A’s opening day roster, but it looks like the River Cats and RockHounds rosters are now pretty much set as well. Here’s how they break down…


Catchers – Vogt, Montz, Ortiz

Infielders – Freiman, Aliotti, Nakajima, Elmore, Carrithers, Perez

Outfielders – Peterson, Matthes, Goebbert, Crumbliss

Starting Pitchers – Leon, Lindblom, Buschmann, Murphy

(+Pomeranz once Cook returns from the DL)

Relief Pitchers – Humber, Hooker, McBryde, Flores, Smyth, Nieve, Savery, Berger


Catchers – Lipkin, Taylor

Infielders – Muncy, Coleman, Ladendorf, Russell, Marte, Head

Outfielder – Burns, Myers, Oberacker, Whitaker

Starting Pitchers – Neal, Granier, Alcantara, Peters, Jensen

Relief Pitchers – Werner, Urlaub, Gailey, Dull, Hassebrock, Frankoff, Long, Castillo, Smith

*          *          *

arDSC02964exMajor and minor league rosters for the A’s and their affiliates have not yet been officially announced. Keeping in mind that the organization typically carries 13 pitchers and 12 position players on most minor league rosters, here’s our best educated guess as to how each team’s opening day roster is likely to look. The assumption is still that outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Chris Gimenez will both either be traded or claimed off waivers. If either ends up remaining in the organization, then those behind them will end up getting knocked down a notch. But there still appears to be an overload of position players at Double-A Midland. And if a couple of players at Midland or Sacramento don’t end up being added to the disabled list before the season starts, then a couple of cuts will have to be made. It’s also expected that outfielder Craig Gentry and reliever Ryan Cook will be activated from the disabled list after the first five games of the regular season, which should result in Sam Fuld and Joe Savery (assuming he makes the roster over Drew Pomeranz) being sent to Sacramento.




John Jaso C

Derek Norris C

Josh Donaldson 3B

Jed Lowrie SS

Eric Sogard 2B

Nick Punto 2B-SS

Daric Barton 1B

Alberto Callaspo 1B-3B

Brandon Moss 1B-DH

Yoenis Cespedes OF

Coco Crisp OF

Josh Reddick OF

Sam Fuld OF

(Craig Gentry OF – DL)


Sonny Gray RHP

Scott Kazmir RHP

Dan Straily RHP

Jesse Chavez RHP

Tommy Milone LHP

(A.J. Griffin RHP – DL)

(Jarrod Parker RHP – DL)


Jim Johnson RHP

Luke Gregerson RHP

Dan Otero RHP

Evan Scribner RHP

Sean Doolittle LHP

Fernando Abad LHP

Joe Savery LHP

(Ryan Cook RHP – DL)

(Fernando Rodriguez RHP – DL)

(Eric O’Flaherty LHP – DL)




Stephen Vogt C

Ryan Ortiz C

Luke Montz C-DH

Nate Freiman 1B-DH

Anthony Aliotti 1B-DH

Hiro Nakajima 3B-SS-2B

Jake Elmore SS-2B-3B

Jose Martinez 2B-SS-3B

Alden Carrithers OF-2B

Kent Matthes OF

Shane Peterson OF

Jake Goebbert OF

(Dusty Brown C – DL)

[Chris Gimenez C – Out Of Options / Traded or Claimed Off Waivers]

[Michael Taylor OF – Out Of Options / Traded or Claimed Off Waivers]


Drew Pomeranz LHP

Josh Lindblom RHP

Arnold Leon RHP

Matt Buschmann RHP

Zach Neal RHP


Fernando Nieve RHP

Philip Humber RHP

Deryk Hooker RHP

Jeremy McBryde RHP

Jose Flores RHP

Paul Smyth RHP

Andrew Werner LHP

Jeff Urlaub LHP



(With an abundance of position players at Midland, 2 would have to be cut from this roster unless there are other players who are added to the DL at Midland or Sacramento)


Ryan Lipkin C

Beau Taylor C

Addison Russell SS

Darwin Perez 2B-SS

Dusty Coleman 2B-SS

Max Muncy 1B

Jefry Marte 3B

Miles Head 3B-1B

Tyler Ladendorf IF-OF

Billy Burns OF

Conner Crumbliss OF

D’Arby Myers OF

Chad Oberacker OF

Josh Whitaker OF


Murphy Smith RHP

Sean Murphy RHP

Drew Granier RHP

Raul Alcantara RHP

Tanner Peters RHP


Jesus Castillo RHP

Nate Long RHP

Ryan Dull RHP

Blake Hassebrock RHP

Seth Frankoff RHP

Jonathan Joseph RHP

Frank Gailey LHP

Trey Barham LHP




Bruce Maxwell C

Phil Pohl C

Matt Olson 1B

Antonio Lamas 2B

Daniel Robertson SS

Renato Nunez 3B

Wade Kirkland 2B-SS

B.A. Vollmuth 3B-1B

Bobby Crocker OF

Myrio Richard OF

Dusty Robinson OF

Rashun Dixon OF


Chris Jensen RHP

Manny Correa RHP

Josh Bowman RHP

Seth Streich RHP

Nolan Sanburn / Shawn Haviland RHP


Nolan Sanburn / Shawn Haviland RHP

Tim Atherton RHP

Michael Ynoa RHP

Tucker Healy RHP

Austin House RHP

Ryan Doolittle RHP

Jeremy Barfield LHP

Omar Duran LHP




Nick Rickles C

Ryan Gorton C

Ryan Huck 1B

Melvin Mercedes 2B

Chad Pinder SS

Ryon Healy 3B

Sam Roberts IF

Billy McKinney OF

Aaron Shipman OF

Ryan Mathews OF

Brett Vertigan OF

B.J. Boyd OF


Brent Powers LHP

Andres Avila RHP

Dylan Covey RHP

Kyle Finnegan RHP

Ronald Herrera RHP


Lou Trivino RHP

Kris Hall RHP

Bobby Wahl RHP

Chris Kohler LHP

Chris Lamb LHP

Sam Bragg RHP

Dominique Vattuone RHP

Trevor Bayless RHP


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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Exclusive: Down on the Farm with Farhan Zaidi, the A’s new Assistant General Manager – Part 2

fzFarhanZaidiYesterday, we brought you Part 1 of A’s Farm’s exclusive interview with A’s assistant general manager and director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, where he gave us the lowdown on top prospects like Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson, Michael Ynoa, Raul Alcantara and Arnold Leon. In Part 2, we’ll cover Billy McKinney, Billy Burns, Max Muncy and more. So let’s get back to the action – we rejoin our game, already in progress…


AF:  Another guy who’s spent a little time in the big league camp this spring is last year’s top draft pick, Billy McKinney. So what have your impressions been of him to this point?

Billy McKinneyFZ:  I think the more times he’s come over, the more comfortable he’s been. I thought he was a little gun shy in his first couple of at-bats, which is totally understandable. But his performance last year somehow went a little under the radar, maybe because it was mostly in Arizona – he spent the last ten days in Vermont. But he did about as well as you could expect a high school position player to do. And we’ve seen some of that the more times he’s come over – the quality at-bats, the swing. You know, his bread and butter is going to be what he does offensively. And all that he‘s given us is positive in the times we’ve seen him.

AF:  Now what are your thoughts about the guy who everyone seems to be most excited about this spring, Billy Burns?

FZ:  The combination of elite speed and the ability to get on base isn’t as common as you would think. First of all, there aren’t that many elite speed guys. And the guys who do have elite speed don’t necessarily make enough contact or walk enough to really fully leverage that speed. I think he’s one of the best handful of guys at that in the minor leagues. And he’s got his strengths and weaknesses like every player. But he knows his strengths and he tailors his game to fully exploit those strengths. He tries to put the ball in play. He hits the ball on the ground. He has the speed to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. And I wouldn’t say he’s got Josh Reddick’s arm, but what he does is he gets to balls quickly. He’s accurate and he releases balls quickly when he does get to them. We saw him have a couple of assists in a game. And that was an area where we had some questions about whether he had the arm to play center field, and so far he’s shown every ability to play out there. So his all-around game has been great. And I think what coaches love is having a guy like that who knows what he has to do to be successful and knows what he has to do to help the team as much as possible. And obviously he’s really excited the fans, which is great. You know, he’s only spent about a month at Double-A, so he’s got a little bit of a ways to go. But we know the speed is going to play at this level for sure. It’s just letting some of those other skills catch up with that part.

AF:  I don’t think people realize how inexperienced he really is. He’s only had about 30 games above Class-A. So do you anticipate him getting a little more time in at Double-A this year?

FZ:  That’s the plan for right now. Things can change seeing how the rest of the depth chart plays out. But for a guy who hasn’t been switch-hitting for that long, getting more left-handed at-bats will be big for him. And in that sense, if a guy is still learning to swing from one side of the plate, you don’t want him to just be trying to stay afloat. And that’s maybe what moving a guy like that too aggressively might do. We want him to get comfortable hitting from the left side of the plate. So sending him back to the level where he finished last year and had some success makes some sense. But he’s a guy who’s made a strong enough impression that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with us at some point this year.

AF: Now I want to ask you about a guy who, along with Addison Russell, has moved up the ladder more quickly than anyone, and that’s Max Muncy. How do you view him at this point?

mmDSC02925bxFZ:  Very advanced bat. He’s sort of lived up to every expectation we had when we drafted him…but the way things look right now, he’s probably going to go back and start the year in Midland. But he’s a guy who could move quickly because he has a pretty polished game, particularly offensively.

AF:  Would you say that, along with Addison Russell, he’s as close to being major-league ready as anyone you’ve drafted in the last couple of years?

FZ:  Yeah, I think from the position player side, that’s a fair statement.

AF:  I’ve talked to him a few times and I get the impression that he’s a really smart hitter who’s got a pretty good approach to things.

FZ:  Yeah, very cerebral guy – probably for us, the poster child for the kind of approach we want. We want guys to control the zone. And that means both not swinging at pitches out of the zone but also looking to do damage when you’re in hitter’s counts. And I haven’t seen the guy take a bad at-bat, so that’s very exciting. He has the kind of consistency that some of our younger guys still need to develop.

AF:  Are there any somewhat under-the-radar guys in the A’s system you’d suggest people might want to keep an eye on?

thDSC03367cFZ:  You know, one guy who has a chance to move pretty quickly is Tucker Healy, who started in Beloit and finished last year in Stockton…Every time Tucker’s name comes up, whether it’s regarding the depth chart or whether a team asks about him in a trade, which has happened a couple of times, and I go back and look, I’m always taken aback by how good he really was last year. So maybe not a guy who has the pedigree draft-wise…but between Beloit and Stockton last year, he had a 1.31 ERA and in 48 innings, he had 10 walks and 74 strikeouts. I mean, it’s ridiculous. And then the year before that in Vermont, he had 45 strikeouts and 13 walks in 29 innings. I would say he’s very under the radar.

AF:  What about any position players?

FZ:  I would say it’s harder for position players to slide under the radar. But two guys I think could take a big step forward are the first two college position players we drafted last year – Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy. Not that those guys are under the radar, but they didn’t get a ton of reps after signing. They’re both guys who are very advanced, and I expect them to either start the year in Stockton or wind up there at some point. And advanced college hitters can put up some noticeable numbers at that level.

cpDSC03243dAF:  And Pinder was hindered by injuries much of last year.

FZ:  Yeah, I don’t think we’ve seen any sort of true indication of his ability level. He’s a guy who could have gone as high as the late first round. So he could sneak up on people.

AF:  And he’s staying at shortstop?

FZ:  Yeah, I think we’ve been happy with how he’s looked there.

AF:  And what about Healy position-wise at this point? He’s primarily a first baseman but you also had him at third a little bit last year.

FZ:  I know we tried him at third base. Our guys liked him there. I think we’ll continue to at least give him a chance there. He likes playing third and he wants to get better there. So when a guy is being challenged on the defensive spectrum the fact that the guy wants to do it and wants to get better is always a big factor.

AF:  Now one last general question about the draft. You guys have drafted a lot more high school players in the past couple of years than you had in the past. And David Forst has said that he feels you have so much more information available on high school players now than you did even five years ago that you really feel a lot more confident going with high school guys at this point. Would you agree with that assessment?

FZ:  I think so, yeah. It’s sort of having a comfort level, seeing these guys the whole previous summer before their senior years playing in these summer circuits where they face a good level of competition…Now people have a long history of these guys dating back at least to the summer before their senior years. And scouting staffs are a little bigger now, so you get more looks…and we don’t think it’s a useful strategy to just lop off half of the draft pool and say we’re just taking these guys. We’re probably going to lose out on talent if we do that…and just to be clear, that’s not something that’s happened in the last three years. I think the balancing of value between high school and college guys is something that probably started ten or fifteen years ago and has sort of very slowly and steadily worked its way into what I think is pretty close to parity at this point. And that’s because of team’s drafting tendencies but also because of the correction of what was once a pretty big information asymmetry between these players.

AF:  Great, thanks a lot – that was even more informative than I’d hoped!

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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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Exclusive: Down on the Farm with Farhan Zaidi, the A’s new Assistant General Manager – Part 1

fz0511cnzaidi_x582dIt’s been a little over nine years since Farhan Zaidi first joined the A’s front office as a baseball operations analyst back in January of 2005. And while he now embarks on his sixth season as the A’s director of baseball operations, the team has also seen fit to elevate him to the position of assistant general manager, joining long-time A’s assistant GM David Forst. But rather than represent any particularly new or expanded duties, the title really just reflects a recognition of Zaidi’s overall importance to the organization. Zaidi, Forst and general manager Billy Beane form a powerful troika of top thinkers at the head of the A’s organization, and if there’s an important decision to be made, you better believe that these three are all in on it.

As far as Farhan goes, his responsibilities can span a wide range of issues on any given day from dealing with contract negotiations to developing advance scouting reports. But most of his time and energy is really centered around player evaluation, whether that involves setting up the team’s analytic infrastructure for evaluating player performance or just keeping a personal eye on the team’s player personnel. Zaidi usually travels on at least half the team’s road trips and personally scouts about thirty top amateur prospects each year in preparation for the draft. So, from soup to nuts, if it falls under the heading of player evaluation, it’s bound to be on Farhan’s plate.

Zaidi was good enough to take a little time to talk with us in his office at Phoenix Municipal Stadium just a few days after Addison Russell went down with a hamstring strain and just a few days before news of A.J. Griffin’s and Jarrod Parker’s injuries first broke. Of course, we wanted to know about some of the team’s top prospects and, as you can see, Farhan was happy to oblige with plenty of interesting information…


AF:  I want to start out by asking you about a few of the A’s top pitching prospects. First off, is Michael Ynoa going to continue as a starter or are you considering having him pitch out of the bullpen?

myDSC03273cFZ:  We’re considering both. He’s pitched in some short stints in big league camp and looked terrific. I think that’s a role that he could thrive in right away. As a starter, I think he may have some ups and downs. It’s an ongoing evaluation for us, whether we have the time and whether he has the time to go through that development curve as a starter, or whether we need him as a bullpen guy to move rather quickly. Even if he does go to the bullpen, I think we would like to still see him go through the lineup one time – throw two to three innings. That might be a nice intermediate option. He only threw under 100 innings last year so, if we did use him as a starter, he would probably run out of innings at some point late in the season. So maybe if you keep him to shorter stints, it allows him to pitch through the year – we might as well spread it out over the course of the season. And that also gives you a little insight into how he’d do as a reliever, so maybe it just gives you more data both ways.

AF:  What about Raul Alcantara? Obviously, he looked great last year and in camp this spring. He’s probably your best all-around pitching prospect and, at 21, he’s also one of your youngest pitching prospects. Is there any thought of taking it slow with him since he’s so young or, if he’s ready, will you just let him rise as fast and as far as his talent takes him?

raraul-alcantara01cFZ:  Yeah, the plan right now is for him to start the season in Midland. He was arguably Stockton’s best starting pitcher down the stretch last year – and he’s very advanced. He’s a guy who throws a lot of strikes and has a good changeup, which is obviously important for a starting pitcher. But the major league coaching staff was very impressed with him from the standpoint of being able to understand and execute signs and little things like that. Sometimes a guy who hasn’t pitched above A-Ball can be overwhelmed at this level, but he was completely unfazed by those aspects of the game. And I think our guys were really happy with him…Our perspective has always been with these guys that their performance and maturity will dictate how fast they move. We don’t like to necessarily impose strict timetables on guys. If you’re good enough to work your way up and get to the big leagues, no one in this organization is going to stop you.

AF:  So you’re not going to worry about starting their clock at too early an age.

FZ:  Whether it’s age or whether it’s service time, those factors are dwarfed by ability to perform.

AF:  By being a good player!

FZ:  Exactly, we like those guys.

AF:  Well, I guess that’s the main priority! Now Arnold Leon, who was once a highly-touted prospect and then had some injury issues, has been looking really good again this spring. So are you guys excited about what you’ve been seeing out of him so far?

al628x471eFZ:  Very excited…he’s looked terrific. He’s a guy who’s been in both roles, but I think we’ve always felt in the long run he was a starting pitcher because he has four pitches and he throws strikes. And the thing that we’ve really liked is he’s gone right after guys in camp, he’s been very efficient, he’s had short innings. And this has kind of been an area of development for Arnold. Coming from Mexico, there’s a very particular pitching style there which tends to be to nibble a little bit and go deep in counts, a little bit more of a finesse approach. It’s just a different style of pitching, not just from what you see here in general but what we try to teach, which is to go right at guys. If you get ahead in the count, we don’t necessarily want you wasting three pitches and winding up with a twelve pitch at-bat. And he’s done that really well here, so we’re very excited. He’s a guy who finished the year strong in Sacramento and most likely will start the year in the rotation there. And with Alcantara, probably our best two starting pitching prospects.

AF:  So he’s really in a good position to be moving up at some point.

FZ:  Absolutely, he has really good stuff. For a guy who walked as few guys as he did last year, to be throwing up to 95 mph with four pitches and those kinds of walk rates, that’s a really exciting combination.

mbMatt+Buschmann+San+Diego+Padres+Photo+Day+CF5PTFI7Uhol2AF:  What are your impressions of Matt Buschmann, whom you signed as a minor league free agent this offseason?

FZ:  He was terrific in Double-A and Triple-A last year. I think he had an ERA under 3.00 and more than a strikeout per inning at both levels. He pitched really well the other day. He was up to 93 mph, which is the velocity we’d seen from him in the past. So he’s going to be in the Sacramento rotation. And based on what he did last year, he has the chance to be a factor for us…When we were looking at the minor league free agents and his name came up, I remembered him being a guy we really liked when he was in the San Diego system…and he was a high priority for us in the free agent market.

AF:  Now you’re looking at having Philip Humber pitching out of the bullpen in Sacramento this year, right?

FZ:  For sure, yeah.

AF:  And you’re looking at having Andrew Werner pitching out of the bullpen in Sacramento too, right?

FZ:  Yeah, he was actually pretty good as a starter in 2012 in the Padres system. He worked his way up from Double-A up to the big leagues. He took a step back last year, but he’s a guy who has some funk and deception. And we think it’s a good opportunity to try him in that role. Teams are always looking for lefty relievers, so we’ll see how that goes…Even last year when he struggled, he was still pretty good against left-handed hitters.

AF:  Now I want to ask you about a few of your top hitting prospects. You’ve probably had the chance to see more of Addison Russell up close with your own eyes this spring than you ever have before. So what are your thoughts about him at this point?

arDSC02922fFZ:  He got off to a little bit of a slow start, but his last few games before he got hurt, just a lot of loud contact – just really exciting. If you think about how he started last year in Stockton, he was struggling early on. Now he’s moving up to Midland. I think people should have realistic expectations. That’s the single biggest jump in the minor leagues in our organization, going from the Cal League to the Texas League. We’ve had many college guys – Sean Doolittle, Nick Swisher back in the day – who really struggled in Midland. They hit in Stockton, they hit in Sacramento, but…it’s a tough place to play. So Addison is going to have his work cut out for him. And I think people are going to have to be patient with what he does on a daily basis. That said, knowing he’s going to have to make that big jump, seeing how he’s handled big league pitching in these games has been pretty exciting – good at-bats and obviously good performance.

AF:  He certainly seems to have the ability to learn and make adjustments fairly quickly.

FZ:  Yeah, guys with natural ability who have aptitude, you see that. You saw it with Yoenis when he first came over here in 2012 – he got better every month. And I think you’re absolutely right. That’s what we saw from Addison last year in Stockton. That’s what we’ve seen in a shorter time frame in big league camp here. And hopefully he continues it in Midland, because once you get to Double-A, there’s no soft spots in the pitching rotations like you see in A-Ball. So it’s going to be a challenge. But certainly, if he continues that sort of development curve, he should get on track there at some point.

AF:  Is there anything in particular that you want him to work on there or are there any aspects of his game that you feel need to be fine-tuned a bit?

FZ:  I think the biggest thing for him is going to be making sure his contact rate doesn’t slip too far. His strikeouts were a little high last year. Like I said, he’s going to be facing tougher pitching. And that’s going to be the thing to monitor with him. Especially for a guy with speed, you want those guys putting the ball in play and letting their legs do some work for them. So I think that’s probably going to be the single biggest stat that I’m going to be monitoring.

drrobertson480_szmaxxpi_ibplc2rl2AF:  Another guy who’s been making some appearances in big league camp for you this spring is Daniel Robertson. Now he’s expected to start the year at Stockton, and he’s been playing pretty much exclusively at shortstop up to this point. The closer that Addison Russell gets to the majors, do you start to think more about possibly giving him a little time at another position?

FZ:  You know, when we drafted him, he was a guy who we saw starting at short but maybe moving to third eventually. But he’s been so good at short that we want to give him every opportunity to stay there. There are just so many things that can happen between now and the day that they’re both in the big leagues and we have to decide who’s playing what position. So from a development standpoint, we want both guys playing as much shortstop as possible for as long as possible.

AF:  So you don’t feel that you’ve reached that fork in the road quite yet.

FZ:  Yeah, we’re not at a point where we have to make a decision one way or another.

AF: Well, hopefully you will be soon.

FZ:  Yeah, that would be a good problem to have!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2 of A’s Farm’s exclusive interview with A’s assistant general manager and director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, in which he gives us the lowdown on some of the A’s most promising young position players like Billy McKinney, Billy Burns and Max Muncy and how the A’s have come to love high school players!

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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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Exclusive: A’s Special Assistant Grady Fuson Talks Top Prospects with A’s Farm

gfDSC01787-1[2c]Long-time baseball man Grady Fuson served as the A’s scouting director from 1995 until 2001, when the team drafted such talented players as Eric Chavez, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Rich Harden. He left the A’s at the end of 2001 to become the assistant general manager of the Texas Rangers and, after moving on to head up the Padres scouting department, Fuson eventually returned to the A’s a little over four years ago to serve as a special assistant to general manager Billy Beane.

Of course, many know Fuson as the scout in the cinematic version of Moneyball who has a dramatic confrontation with the A’s general manager – though that’s not quite how it happened (which we chronicled here), and he and Beane are both back on the same team and rowing in the same direction.

During spring training, Fuson can most frequently be found patrolling the A’s minor league fields at Papago Park, keeping a close eye on the team’s most prized prospects. And it was there that we took the opportunity to pick the brain of one of baseball’s top talent evaluators to get the lowdown on some of the A’s top hitting and pitching prospects…


AF:  So what are your impressions of Addison Russell after his first full year of pro ball now that he’s been out here in big league camp?

arDSC02922fGF:  I think the impression he’s made is the same. He hasn’t missed a beat. He’s played well on both sides of the ball. He’s made some very good plays at short. He’s gotten a lot of playing time. The first ten games or so until he had the hamstring strain, he almost played the last half of every game. So I think he’s had 25 at-bats over there and held his own in every category.

AF:  Is there anything that he needs to focus on this season just to get him a little bit closer to being major-league ready?

GF:  Well, you know, when he did come to camp, it looked like he toyed with his stance and his hand-set a little bit. So that was a little confusing at the beginning. But he figured a few things out with his hands and changed that. And you know, this kid looks like he’s really close – no matter where he goes, he looks like he’s close.

AF:  So it’s just a matter of letting nature take its course at this point.

GF:  Yep, nature will take its course.

AF:  What about Daniel Robertson? Where’s he at in his development at this stage of the game?

drrobertson480_szmaxxpi_ibplc2rl2GF:  Robbie’s had a nice camp. He was here early for the mini-camp. He’s actually been over there [in the big league camp] quite a bit. He’s had some opportunities. He’s another guy who’s held his own. I think he’s impressed them with his at-bats. And he’s made some good plays on some tough hops over there. He’s got a very polished look for a 20-year-old.

AF:  In the future, with Addison Russell moving along as quickly as he has and looking like the A’s shortstop of the near future, looking at Robertson down the line, are there other positions you could see him being a good fit at?

GF:  Yeah, I don’t think any of us think there’s going to ever be an issue if he has to go over to second or if he has to go to third. But there’s not a guy you would talk to in this camp who doesn’t look at him as a shortstop, so we’ll just keep that going.

AF:  Another guy who’s seen a little time in the big league camp this spring is last year’s top draft pick, Billy McKinney.

bmc320xGF:  Yep, Billy’s been over there a little bit. He actually had some quality at-bats. I was there for his first one. He battled a couple tough ones off and then they threw him an ultra-big-league slider and I think it froze him up a little bit. But yesterday, I think he went 0-2 in that count and battled back a little bit and hit a nice line drive to right. He’s done well…Those kids who get to go across the street [to big league camp], there’s nothing like it for them. I was talking to Renato Nunez this morning, and he came back from there, and he’s on fire. He was talking to all the guys over there, and it’s a thrill and a great experience for those kids to go over there for a day or two.

AF:  Since you just mentioned him, I’m guessing Renato Nunez is probably going to get the chance to hit a lot of home runs at Stockton in the California League this year. What’s the outlook on him, especially defensively at third base?

rnNunez_480_copy_rvisuyh3_iun9o7x5cGF:  We’re still grinding away defensively. It comes and goes. Sometimes his feet get in the way a little bit. But a couple of balls the other day, he reacted really well on. And then a couple of balls he kind of kicked around. It’s a work in progress. You know, I think his body is still evolving. He was such a young guy when we signed him…now he’s bulked up a little bit and he’s a little stronger, so he’s still going into those years where his body’s still growing and he’s starting to learn what’s going to feel good in the future as far as what weight he plays at and everything. You know, that’s what the minor leagues are for is to figure all that stuff out before you get there.

AF:  So he’s basically still a growing kid getting coordinated.

GF:  Exactly.

AF:  So what about his bat? Are you just letting him go or are you working on anything in particular with him?

GF:  It’s nothing major with him. It’s just time and repetition and doing the right thing more often. It’s taking a little bit more focus and intent in his batting practice as far as what he’s trying to do. And it’s all coming. I was down here where he hit today, and he hit about twenty out.

AF:  What about Max Muncy?

mmDSC02925bxGF:  Muncy’s been all-world on both sides. He’s had quality at-bats every single time out. He’s stronger and the ball’s getting off the bat even a little bit farther. You could see his power really starting to come…One of the issues was always how much power this guy was going to have. He only hit 7 [home runs] at Baylor, but a few of us thought there was going to be some juice in there.

AF:  I’ve talked to him a couple of times and he seems to be a pretty smart hitter who really thinks about hitting and has a good approach and knows what he’s doing up there.

GF:  He is, yeah. Up and down the whole system, he might be one of our most complete hitters. He’s got the swing to match the eyes, and his plan, his patience, his pitch selection – he’s got a clue, he’s advanced.

AF:  So now let me ask you about a couple of pitchers. Where’s Michael Ynoa at at this stage of the game?

Michael YnoaGF:  He’s ahead of where he’s ever been. He had a couple of the best innings I’ve ever seen him throw over on the big league side. In his first outing, he was 93-96 mph. He was around the plate with his fastball and threw some of the best breaking balls I’ve seen him throw. The arm strength is fully recovered and the shape to the breaking ball is intact, so now it’s just about turning him loose and letting him pitch.

AF:  My understanding is that you guys are looking at starting him out in the bullpen this year.

GF:  Yeah, we’re probably going to keep him in the bullpen for a while and just let that arm play…

AF:  …and not have to worry about trying to fine-tune too many pitches.

GF:  The changeup’s still a work in progress with him.

AF:  Now what about Raul Alcantara? He looked really good in the big league camp and everyone seems to be saying nothing but good things about him.

raraul-alcantara01cGF:  Yeah, I think they were really impressed by him. He’s a strike thrower. He changes speeds. He’s got the fastball and the changeup. The breaking ball has always been on the bubble a little bit. It’s not a big, buckling pitch, but it’s a strike. His poise and everything else that goes into it, he was impressive over there in the big league games.

AF:  He’s potentially got to be your top pitching prospect right now.

GF:  Yeah, one of them. We got a nice little group out of last year’s draft who are going to be fun to watch.

AF:  What about Arnold Leon? He’s looked awfully good in the big league camp this year.

al628x471eGF:  The odds are he’s going to go back to Triple-A and be in that rotation, but he’s pitched very well. He’s got a four pitch mix, he’s throwing strikes, he’s a lot more aggressive and he’s using his fastball better. He’s got a very good curveball, he’s got a tremendous changeup, and he’s up to 94 mph – he’s got some weapons. You know, he’s everything you’re looking for.

AF:  He really looks like somebody who could be ready to step in if they need someone at some point this year.

GF:  Yeah, he’s close. He’s close.

AF:  What about the new guy in camp, Billy Burns? Are you as excited about him as everyone else is?

bbu1275322bGF:  Yeah, no doubt…I never saw him as an amateur, or even with Washington. So I was expecting a little bit more raw of a player, and he’s not. He gets good jumps in the outfield. I think he’s got an idea of what he’s doing at the plate. The worst thing we could do is try to get him to hit it harder and farther. But everything you’ve heard about the legs is dead on – when this guy puts it in play, there’s action.


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We asked Grady to tip us off to a few guys in the A’s system to keep an eye on and here’s what we got…


kf1217079bKyle Finnegan

He’s very aggressive. He’s got a good fastball. He’s really taken to the changeup. He had a better breaking ball last year than he’s throwing in this camp. He’s kind of struggling with his breaker. But I really like the way he goes about it and the things he does.


ckChrisKohler12bChris Kohler

We’re still building his innings, but he’s pitched 90 mph here. He’s got a good curveball. He’s really come a long way with the changeup. He’s around the plate. He’s got some strength in his body. And for 19, he’s doing great!


cp1226965bChad Pinder

We took him fairly high last year. One of the issues with him was, for a college guy, he was very physically immature – nice frame, but no muscle – but he’s put on twenty pounds. And it’s good weight, and it is showing in the BPs and in the game work – so we’ll see!


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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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Manager Bob Melvin Gives the Lowdown on the A’s Top Prospects


In spring training, A’s manager Bob Melvin mainly has his mind on trying to get his big league lineup ready to roll for the regular season. But with fifty-five players in camp everyday to start the spring, there are plenty of prospects who are bound to pique the skipper’s interest as well. And while we were in A’s camp for a few days, we took the opportunity to ask the affable Mr. Melvin about his impressions of some of the A’s most promising prospects.


On shortstop Addison Russell

arDSC02922eWhat we told him this year was just go out and play. We don’t want him to worry about too much here at big league camp. We just want to see what he has to offer athletically, and he’s shown that he has a lot to offer – whether it’s defensively or swinging the bat. He’s got a great awareness of what he needs to do in a particular plate appearance. He’s in the right position all the time. You never hear anything from him – he doesn’t even talk I don’t think. We didn’t want to cloud him up with too much instruction in this camp. We just wanted to see how the skills play out and then maybe at the end of camp talk to him about what we think he needs to work on.


On shortstop Daniel Robertson

drrobertson480_szmaxxpi_ibplc2rl2He’s a talented guy, and one of those baseball rats – he just loves to play. From what I understand, he’s always there early and just loves being in the clubhouse…I like him. For a guy who’s all of a sudden playing a little bit here in big league camp for the first time and hasn’t been in pro ball too long, my impressions are that he’s a tough kid and a good talent and a guy who would have to be ranked very high as far as the prospects go in our organization. So it’s nice to be able to get him some games here…I think experience-wise, it’s good. And whether it’s Billy McKinney or whether it’s Robertson, we like to get our prospects in some games here to get a taste of it…Those are two guys who, if you’re forecasting down the road, they’re going to be right in the middle of things. Sometimes it’s tough for us to keep guys who get to free agency. So you’re always mindful of two or three or four years down the road. And Billy [Beane] does a great job recognizing that and targeting certain guys for so many years out to try to keep this thing going in an upward direction.


Michael YnoaOn RHP Michael Ynoa

Ynoa’s a big arm. He’s just had injury problems and has had trouble staying healthy for an entire season. We would love to see that this year, so he can progress. The fastball’s electric. He needs to work on his breaking stuff a little bit and be able to throw secondary pitches for strikes. We feel a lot better at this point in time than we ever have with him going into a season health-wise.


raraul-alcantara01cOn RHP Raul Alcantara

We heard from the development people that this is one of the guys in our system who has a chance to pitch in the big leagues as a starter, and we’ve seen exactly that. He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him – he gets all the signs, he’s a clear thinker and he’s got good stuff on top of it. So we have very high hopes for him.


On RHP Arnold Leon

al628x471eLeon’s impressed. Last year was his first big league camp, and we were looking at a little shorter stints with him. But we’re lengthening him out a little bit. He looks way more comfortable here now, just his demeanor on the mound – and you’re seeing the results too. This is a guy who, as far as our pitching prospects go, ranks way up there…We’ve always, going in to this season, felt like he would potentially be an option for us. And with two guys [Parker and Griffin] going down, he moves up in the pecking order definitely. But he was a guy who we had our eye on regardless and who we were going to stretch out.


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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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

The Baseball Project releases new anthem for A’s fans, “They Are The Oakland A’s”

The Baseball Project – featuring members of R.E.M., The Dream Syndicate and Young Fresh Fellows – is releasing their third album, titled 3rd, next Tuesday, March 25th. All the songs are about baseball, but only one of them is about the Oakland A’s. We’ve got it right here, and I can confirm that rock-and-roll-loving A’s general manager Billy Beane – who’s referenced in the song – has heard it and loves it. So with that stamp of approval, give it a spin and get your Bay Area baseball groove on, A’s fans! You can check out the band’s website here for more…



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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Catching Up With: A’s Top Prospect Addison Russell

arDSC02922dxAt age 20, the A’s top prospect, shortstop Addison Russell, was invited to spend spring training in the A’s big league camp playing with and against major leaguers this spring. Most people expect Russell to be the A’s opening day shortstop in 2015, after Jed Lowrie’s expected departure via free agency, and many are even clamoring for him to make the team this year.

For now though, the talented 20-year-old is just trying to take things one step at a time. We took the opportunity to speak with him late last week in Arizona, just a few days after he strained his hamstring and just a few days before he was reassigned to the A’s minor league camp for the remainder of the spring.

AF:  So how’s your hamstring feeling?

AR:  It’s coming back. Just taking it easy, one step at a time. I’m not trying to do too much for now, just trying to make sure the thing’s 100% before I try to go back out there…We’re just kind of playing it by ear, just doing treatment every day and doing rehab. One day I could be doing rehab and the next day I might be ready to play. So we’re just playing it by ear right now.

AF:  How do you feel overall about your time in the big league camp this spring?

AR:  So far, it’s good. I’m settled down. I’m a lot more relaxed than I was last year. You know, it was my first year here, and this is my second year. So I’m starting to get a good grasp of everything and what’s going on here at camp. And I’m just having fun. You know, even though I’m down right now, I’m just having fun.

AF:  Has anyone been helping you out or taken you under their wing this spring?

AR:  I just try to look around and see what the guys are doing. Of course, I talk to all the guys – I talk to Coco [Crisp], I talk to [John] Jaso, I talk to all of them. I have a locker right by [Josh] Reddick and I pick his brain about certain things. I just talk to everyone.

arDSC02964exAF:  Was there anything particularly important that you learned last year in your first full season of pro ball?

AR:  It’s just a long season. You know, you can’t try to do too many things all at once. You have a long period to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. You always need to try to keep it on a bit of a pace. But I’m just trying to relax this year, and I think it’s going to work out for me.

AF:  Is there anything that you want to work on or try to improve during this upcoming season?

AR:  Just trying to learn more knowledge about the game. I want to gain more knowledge about the guys I play against every day, just so down the line if I play against them again I have that knowledge on them. And that’s kind of what I want to get out of this year.

AF:  Was that little bit of time you spent at Sacramento for a few days at the end of last season eye-opening for you in any way?

AR:  Oh yeah, for sure. You know, a lot of older guys, pitchers, know how to command their stuff. And it’s just a whole different atmosphere. I’m glad that the A’s put me in that position for me to see what it’s going to be like. And now that I have that knowledge, I know that I could go in there and be relaxed and just trust the type of player that I am.

AF:  What’s it been like having your buddy Daniel Robertson over here with you in the big league camp on occasion this year?

AR:  Oh, it’s fun. It kind of keeps him more at ease. Of course, this is his first year up here, and I try to relax him a little bit, and I think I do a good job. And whenever it’s just us two, we’re just goofballs together and we kind of take the stress off each other. And we kind of feed off each other and try to make each other better.

AF:  I know you and Robertson and Matt Olson have all been living together out here this spring. So how’s that been going?

Russell, flanked by his favorite roommates, first baseman Matt Olson and shortstop Daniel Robertson

Russell, flanked by his favorite roommates, first baseman Matt Olson and shortstop Daniel Robertson

AR:  It’s been fun. We were taken in the same class, same year, all high school guys. So we can relate to each other. We like playing with each other, and we love watching each other play. And we just kind of like to compete with each other and try to outdo one another, but it’s just a friendly competition.

AF:  So if you’re all sitting around the house on a Friday night with nothing to do, what are you most likely to do be doing?

AR:  We like to play card games. We like to play dominoes. We just like to talk to each other. They’re into video games, and I kind of just sit back and watch and make smart comments. I like those guys a lot, they’re positive people – and it’s just fun.

AF:  So has your family been out to Arizona to see you yet?

AR:  Yeah, they came a week and a half ago. It was really good to see my mom and dad. It was kind of a shock to them – I’m playing with guys they kind of grew up watching. It’s a good feeling.

AF:  Everyone expects you to be starting the season at Midland. Have the A’s actually said anything to you about that yet?

AR:  I have no verification on where I’m supposed to start. But wherever I do start, I just want to go out there and have fun and just play and not try to get to the big leagues so fast. I just want to relax and just have a good year. In time, I think I’ll be ready. And in time, they’ll know that I’m ready. And whenever that time is, I’ll be ready. I’m going to prepare myself every day as if maybe I do get the call up. But I’m not looking to get to the big leagues right away. There are still some things I need to work on in developing my part of the game to where I feel like I’d be ready for anything.

AF:  Well, thanks a lot and best of luck with everything this season.

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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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Catcher Stephen Vogt Offers the Inside Scoop on the A’s Top Pitching Prospects

svstephenvogtoaklandathleticsvminnesota5tni_depo0cl2Catcher Stephen Vogt turned out to be something of a secret weapon for the A’s last year. Acquired from Tampa Bay during the first week of the season, he started the year at Sacramento. But when catcher John Jaso went down with a concussion, Vogt got the call. And not only did he help propel the team during its pennant drive, but he also started every game behind the plate in the A.L. Divisional Series and ended up driving in the game-winning run in the A’s dramatic Game #2 victory.

So far this spring, Vogt’s been one of the team’s most productive hitters. With Jaso’s return though, Vogt finds himself battling for an opening day roster spot. But whatever happens, we figured that anyone who’s spent the time that Vogt has behind the plate for the A’s this spring ought to have a pretty good perspective on some of the A’s top pitching prospects, so we took the opportunity to get his take on some of the A’s most talented young pitchers.


Michael YnoaOn RHP Michael Ynoa

I caught him in the bullpen and I caught him in live BP. And his fastball is there – it’s electric – it’s a good fastball. His curveball’s really good, and his changeup’s coming along. The biggest thing with him is just his command. He has a hard time staying in the strike zone at times. But when his stuff is in the zone, he’s pretty nasty. He’s definitely got good stuff and he’s got a lot of potential – just some of the issues he runs into are with his control and his command.


raraul-alcantara01cOn RHP Raul Alcantara

I actually hit against him in live BP. Same thing there, you know, good stuff, just a little raw. I think both those guys have a really good chance of being something special. His changeup was outstanding – it’s a really good secondary pitch – he’s got a good feel for it and it’s a good pitch. He throws hard and he’s got a lot of life on his ball.


al628x471dOn RHP Arnold Leon

He’s outstanding. He’s got four quality pitches. He’s smart and he throws hard, and he’s able to command and control all four pitches. He’s got a lot of upside and he’s ready to go. I caught him probably three times at Sacramento. He’s very good and he’s got a good idea. His ball’s got a lot of life on it right now – his curveball’s good, his changeup’s good, and his slider’s a lot better than it was last year. So he’s going to be something special.


dpdrew-pomeranz-baseball-headshot-photo3On LHP Drew Pomeranz

That’s a left-handed power arm right there. The thing with him is his command at times. And I think as he gets deeper into the season, it’s going to get better. He’s pretty special. His changeup and curveball are good pitches. He’s got good stuff. Fastball command is his biggest thing.


jl12016128bOn RHP Josh Lindblom

It’s early in camp right now and he’s still getting a feel for his breaking pitches. But for the most part, his slider and his curveball are really good, and his fastball’s good and his changeup’s good. I mean, we’ve got a lot of good arms here and Josh is another one of those – it’s exciting to have him.


On the success he’s been having at the plate this spring…

I made some minor adjustments in the winter, but nothing crazy. Just trying to allow myself to stay back a little bit more and see the ball a little bit longer. It’s been working so far and I’ve just got to keep it going.


sv51ce58484676a.preview-620bOn having the chance to play in his native northern California…

Last year, being in Sacramento and Oakland was huge – just being back in my home state, close to where I grew up. I’ve had a lot of fun so far.


On the clubhouse environment in Oakland…

It’s pretty special. I’ve been blessed to be in two pretty special places – Tampa and here. They’re pretty similar atmospheres in the clubhouse. There’s a lot of personalities, but we all mesh well and have a lot of fun.


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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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Spring Training Tour – 3/14/14

While the big league team was busy battling the Royals and dealing with injuries to starting pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin on Friday, there were also plenty of A’s minor leaguers in action around Arizona…

Intrasquad Game at A’s Minor League Camp at Papago Park

Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson coaching a minor league game Friday at Papago Park

Bobby Crocker

Outfielder Bobby Crocker – Drafted 4th Round 2011 / 2013 Stockton .276 / .343 / .454

Ryan Gorton

Second baseman Melvin Mercedes – Drafted 16th Round 2012 / 2013 Vermont .228 / .331 / .248

Ryan Gorton

Catcher Ryan Gorton – Drafted 31st Round 2012 / 2013 Vermont .212 / .339 / .260

Catcher Lana Akau

Catcher Lana Akau – Drafted 20th Round 2013 / 2013 AZL A’s .133 / .182 / .167

RHP Junior Mendez

RHP Junior Mendez – Drafted 16th Round 2013 / 2013 AZL A’s-Vermont 2.75 ERA / 1.20 WHIP

RHP Carlos Navas -

RHP Carlos Navas – International Free Agent / 2013 AZL A’s 4.83 ERA / 1.33 WHIP

Minor League Games at D’Backs Minor League Camp at Salt River Fields

Outfielder Chad Oberacker -

Outfielder Chad Oberacker – Drafted 25th Round 2011 / 2013 Midland .237 / .305 / .388

RHP Jonathan Joseph -

RHP Jonathan Joseph -International Free Agent / 2013 Stockton 3.50 ERA / 1.15 WHIP

LHP Brent Powers -

LHP Brent Powers – Drafted 18th Round 2011 / Vermont-Beloit 3.10 ERA / 1.22 WHIP

RHP Andres Avila -

RHP Andres Avila – International Free Agent / 2013 Beloit-Stockton 5.82 ERA / 1.69 WHIP

RHP Tucker Healy -

RHP Tucker Healy – Drafted 23rd Round 2012 / 2013 Beloit-Stockton 1.31 ERA / 0.90 WHIP

RHP Seth Frankoff -

RHP Seth Frankoff – Drafted 27th Round 2010 / 2013 Stockton 2.78 ERA / 1.08 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 updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

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