Month: July 2015

Thursday, July 30th: Brad Mills Is Solid Again in Sounds Loss as Brent Morel Joins Nashville, Dayan Viciedo Is Released and All Six A’s Affiliates Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Brad Mills (7 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Brad Mills (7 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Iowa Cubs               5

Nashville Sounds  4

LP – Coke 0-2 / 11.37

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Brad Mills

(7 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

LHP Brad Mills turned in his third straight quality start for the Sounds, allowing just 1 run while striking out 5 over 7 innings of work, and he left the game with a 2-run lead on Thursday. But RHP Brock Huntzinger gave up 2 runs, 1 earned, in the 8th inning to allow Iowa to tie the game. And it remained tied until the top of the 12th, when LHP Phil Coke surrendered 2 runs to suffer his 2nd loss for the Sounds. First baseman Nate Frieman collected 3 hits, including a double, and drove in a run, while outfielder Jason Pridie drew 3 walks and singled in a run, and Nashville’s new third baseman, Brent Morel, singled and doubled in a run for the Sounds. The A’s signed Morel, a former 3rd-round draft pick for the White Sox who’s appeared in 220 major league games, to a minor league contract after he was given his release by the Pirates earlier in the week. In order to make room for him on the Sounds roster, the A’s released another recent minor league free agent signee, Dayan Viciedo, who struggled at Nashville, posting a .221/.282/.336 slash line in just 30 games for the Sounds.

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

Getting to Know the A’s Hot New Prospects

It’s been a busy week for the A’s – and for A’s fans trying to keep up with all the team’s latest acquisitions. The bottom line is that the A’s dealt Ben Zobrist and pitchers Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard for four pitching prospects and a young catching prospect – all between the ages of 20 and 25. With the A’s not looking like a winning team this year and the players they dealt all set to hit free agency after the season, there was no reason not to trade them for the best prospects the team could get. But who are these talented youngsters and what can A’s fans expect from them in the future? Let’s take a look…

 

jn641924Jacob Nottingham – Catcher

Acquired: from Houston Astros for Scott Kazmir

Drafted: 2013 – 6th Round

Age: 20 / Height: 6’3” / Weight: 230

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2015 (A/A+): 359 PA / 14 HR / .321 AVG / .379 OBP / .535 SLG / .914 OPS

The only position player the A’s acquired in their recent haul, Nottingham was drafted by the Astros in the 6th round in 2013 as a hot-hitting high school catcher. Now 20, the California native has really blossomed this season, hitting 14 home runs and 24 doubles while putting up a .321/.379/.535 slash line in 83 games in the Midwest League and the California League. His 24 walks in 359 plate appearances is atypical for the A’s, and he tends to strike out a little too much too. Nottingham is starting out in Stockton, but as long as he can keep hitting for power and hitting for a high enough average to assure that he gets on base, then the big backstop should move quickly through an A’s system that is currently devoid of top-tier catching talent.

 

dm596043Daniel Mengden – Pitcher

Acquired: from Houston Astros for Scott Kazmir

Drafted: 2014 – 4th Round

Age: 22 / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 190

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2015 (A+/A): 93 1/3 IP / 90 H / 35 ER / 26 BB / 92 K / 3.38 ERA / 1.24 WHIP

Drafted by the Astros last year in the 4th round out of Texas A&M, Mengden has the least professional experience of any of the A’s recent pitching pickups. The Houston native pitched only 11 innings after signing in 2014, but he’s put up a 3.38 ERA over 93 1/3 innings in the California League and the Midwest League this year. Mengden has shown solid command, walking just 27 while striking out 109 in 104 1/3 career minor league innings. He had a perfect game through 4 2/3 innings in his first start for Stockton last weekend and ended up allowing just 1 hit over 5 innings of work in his debut. And if that wasn’t enough to start him off on the right foot, Mengden has also been known to wax his mustache a la Rollie Fingers at times, which ought to help endear him to A’s fans as well.

 

cm641861Casey Meisner – Pitcher

Acquired: from New York Mets for Tyler Clippard

Drafted: 2013 – 3rd Round

Age: 20 / Height: 6’7” / Weight: 190

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2015 (A/A+): 111 IP / 94 H / 29 ER / 33 BB / 89 K / 2.35 ERA / 1.14 WHIP

The youngest and the tallest of the A’s pitching pickups, the 6’7” righty was drafted by the Mets in the 3rd round in 2013 as a hard-throwing high schooler. Many consider Meisner to be the best pure pitching prospect of the pack, and MLB.com currently ranks him as the A’s #10 prospect. The Texas native just turned 20 in May and has thrown just 35 innings in High-A, so he’s still got a ways to go. But with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 111 innings in the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League this season, Meisner clearly knows what he’s doing despite his young age, and he’ll have the chance to try to work his magic on California League hitters when he soon joins Stockton.

 

sm640455Sean Manaea – Pitcher

Acquired: from Kansas City Royals for Ben Zobrist

Drafted: 2013 – 1st Round

Age: 23 / Height: 6’5” / Weight: 235

Bats: Left / Throws: Left

2015 (AA/A+/Rk): 31 2/3 IP / 33 H / 13 ER / 11 BB / 39 K / 3.69 ERA / 1.39 WHIP

The only 1st-round pick in the pack, Manaea was selected 34th overall with the Royals’ second pick in the 1st round of the 2013 draft and many think he has the biggest upside of the bunch. The big lefty out of Indiana State was slowed by an abdominal injury earlier this season but, when healthy, has shown the ability to accumulate strikeouts in bunches. Manaea has whiffed 185 batters over 153 1/3 career minor league innings while allowing just 7 home runs over that time. And after dominating at High-A last season, he’ll get the chance to show what he can do with Midland at Double-A during the final month of the minor league season.

 

ab605156Aaron Brooks – Pitcher

Acquired: from Kansas City Royals for Ben Zobrist

Drafted: 2011 – 9th Round

Age: 25 / Height: 6’4” / Weight: 220

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2015 (AAA): 106 2/3 IP / 118 H / 44 ER / 21 BB / 92 K / 3.71 ERA / 1.30 WHIP

2015: (MLB): 4 1/3 IP / 6 H / 3 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / 6.23 ERA / 1.39 WHIP

The most experienced of the A’s recent pitching acquisitions, the 25-year-old Brooks has appeared in a total of 4 games for the Royals over the past two seasons while also pitching in 43 games at Triple-A. The California native has shown exceptional control over his career and has walked just 21 batters in 106 2/3 innings for Triple-A Omaha this year. Since he isn’t particularly overpowering, Brooks probably profiles as more of a back-end starter, and he’ll get the chance to make his first start for the A’s this Saturday against Cleveland.

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Wednesday, July 29th: Ryon Healy’s 5 Hits Help Hounds Win 5th Straight while Matt Chapman Hits 22nd HR in Ports Loss

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Third Baseman Ryon Healy (5 for 5 / Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Third Baseman Ryon Healy (5 for 5 / Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  5

Frisco RoughRiders       4

WP – Sanchez 8-7 / 5.02

HR – Healy (7)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Third Baseman Ryon Healy

(5 for 5 / Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Third baseman Ryon Healy had a big night at the plate for the RockHounds on Wednesday, collecting 5 hits, including his 7th home run, while driving in 3 runs to help the Hounds win their fifth straight. And it was the second time this season that Healy’s had a 5-hit game. Second baseman Colin Walsh had 3 hits, including a double, to run his hitting streak to 17 games, while right fielder Matt Olson and designated hitter Rangel Ravelo each singled in a run in the 1st for the RockHounds. Starter Jake Sanchez was solid, allowing just 2 unearned runs while striking out 6 over 6 innings of work to earn his 8th win on Wednesday. RHP Brendan McCurry pitched 2 perfect innings in his first appearance for Midland, and RHP Seth Frankoff picked up his 6th save despite giving up 2 runs in the 9th for the RockHounds. Meanwhile, recently-acquired LHP Sean Manaea has joined the team and should soon be officially added to the RockHounds roster.

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

Tuesday, July 28th: Parker Frazier Earns 3rd Straight Win for Hounds while Coco Crisp Hits 2 HRs in Rehab Appearance for Stockton

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Parker Frazier (6 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Parker Frazier (6 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  6

Frisco RoughRiders       1

WP – Frazier 3-0 / 0.34

HR – Rickles (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Parker Frazier

(6 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

RHP Parker Frazier, who was acquired from the Arizona organization earlier in the month, turned in his third straight quality start on Tuesday, allowing just 1 unearned run while striking out 5 over 6 innings of work to earn his 3rd win for Midland. And Frazier has now failed to allow an earned run in 20 2/3 innings over his last 3 starts for the RockHounds. Catcher Nick Rickles singled and slugged a 2-run homer, while first baseman Rangel Ravelo singled, doubled and drove in a pair, and outfielder Chad Oberacker collected 2 hits and 2 walks, stole 2 bases and scored 3 times in the win. Meanwhile, Midland’s saves leader, RHP Ryan Dull, was promoted to Nashville and Stockton’s saves leader, RHP Brendan McCurry, was reassigned to the RockHounds.

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

Monday, July 27th: Matt Olson’s 2 HRs Help Hounds Win while Barry Zito Struggles in Sounds Loss and Yairo Munoz & Trent Gilbert Make Debuts for Ports

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  12

Frisco RoughRiders         9

WP – Joseph 7-4 / 4.20

HR – Olson 2 (12), Walsh (12), Ravelo (2)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(2 Home Runs / 5 RBI)

First baseman Matt Olson has definitely been heating up again as we approach the final month of the minor league season. On Monday, he hit a pair of home runs, a 2-run shot to give his team the lead in the top of the 4th as well as a 3-run drive in the 5th, to give Olson a total of 4 home runs over his last 5 games. Designated hitter Rangel Ravelo doubled and hit a 2-run homer, while second baseman Colin Walsh homered in the 1st and singled in a run in the 8th, and shortstop Chad Pinder and outfielder Chad Oberacker had a pair of hits apiece for the Hounds. Starter Jonathan Joseph allowed 5 runs over 5 1/3 innings of work to pick up his 7th win, while LHP Omar Duran was charged with 4 runs in just 1/3 of an inning in relief, and RHP Ryan Dull got the final two outs in the 9th to notch his 12th save for Midland.

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Sunday, July 26th: Matt Olson’s HR Helps Hounds Win while Matt Chapman Hits 21st HR in Ports Loss

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Designated Hitter Matt Olson (Home Run / Double)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Designated Hitter Matt Olson (Home Run / Double)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

San Antonio Missions    5

Midland RockHounds  6

WP – Jensen 6-9 / 5.68

HR – Olson (10)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Matt Olson

(Home Run / Double)

A’s top prospect Matt Olson started off the season hot, hitting 6 home runs in 20 games in April. He cooled off considerably in May and June though, hitting just 1 home run in each month. But Olson’s been getting his power stroke back lately. He hit his second home run in Midland’s 4-game series with San Antonio on Sunday and also collected his 8th double of the month in the game. Second baseman Colin Walsh had 3 hits, including a pair of doubles, while first baseman Rangel Ravelo had 2 hits and a walk and drove in the go-ahead run for the RockHounds. Starter Chris Jensen allowed 4 runs over 7 innings of work to earn his 6th win, while RHP Ryan Doolittle got the final six outs to post his 1st save for Midland.

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

Exclusive: Get the Inside Scoop on Nashville’s Top Players from Sounds Skipper Steve Scarsone

ssB9315342755Z.1_20141202162702_000_G409A1E4E.1-0cAfter spending parts of seven seasons as a big league infielder, Steve Scarsone has now spent seven seasons managing in the A’s minor league system.

He’s currently midway through his third season managing at Triple-A, though this year the California native had to head east as the A’s Pacific Coast League affiliate switched from Sacramento to Nashville.

Scarsone is handling a veteran club this year in Nashville where the average age is close to 29 and there are very few young prospects on the roster. We took the opportunity to talk with the skipper in Nashville last weekend to get his take on some of the team’s top players…

 

AF:  I know you spent a lot of time watching Max Muncy in the big league camp this spring, and now he’s back here with you at Nashville. I don’t know if you had the chance to see much of him playing at the major league level.

SS:  Not as much as you’d hope. A lot of times we’re playing at the same time. And by the time our game’s over, if they’re still playing, it’s like…

mmMuncy, Max2AF:  The last thing you need at that point is more baseball…

SS:  Sometimes, to be honest! But we tried to follow him as best we could. I know he wasn’t getting the consistent play, but that’s what he was brought up to do was to be that guy to help out and fill in. And it sounds like he did a pretty good job of it. It’s not easy for a guy to go up for his first time and not be in the everyday lineup and have to try to figure out not only how to compete at that level but how to compete at that level with three or four days in between games. I think it was a great experience for him. I think he’s taken a lot of positives out of it. And now, being here and playing every day, I think he’s shown a huge improvement defensively at third base, which is still somewhat of a new position for him. And his swing plays very nicely in this game – it’s a short swing. He has considerable power, very good pitch recognition, and he’s not afraid to take a walk. He’ll wait for his pitch. Right now he’s kind of struggling, but that won’t last very long. He’ll be fine. I think he’s going to be something that we’ll try to hold on to in this organization and see if we can find a spot for him.

AF:  So is there anything in particular that he needs to do to get himself into a position to get back up there?

SS:  No. From reports that I’ve heard, his return here was not due to his lack of performance. He was just kind of the odd man out up there. To be honest, with his age and experience level, getting a good half-season in Triple-A would be to his advantage – seeing some advanced pitching day in and day out and getting a chance to learn from his teammates and see how to handle himself on and off the field. He’s still relatively young. This year’s his first year in Triple-A, and getting an opportunity to play in the big leagues for a spell was icing on the cake for him. But I think he’s got a good mental outlook on what he needs to continue to try to fight towards, and I think he’ll be fine.

AF:  Like Muncy, one of the other younger position players you’ve got on this team here is Joey Wendle. So what have you seen out of him this year and where do you feel he’s at in his development?

SS:  I think the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Joey is just his love for the game. He hustles on and off the field and plays as hard as he can. I think that’s a quality that sometimes kind of gets overlooked, because we get so caught up in defining tools and stuff like that. And it’s kind of that X factor that doesn’t really come up in a scouting report, but I think it’s very important to bring up for him because that’s a huge part of the kind of player he is – he’s kind of a throwback in a sense. But he’s given us great defensive play. I think he’s improved greatly in just his knowledge and experience and anticipation of what’s going to happen and how to be in the right spot at the right time. His work habits are obviously good. I really have enjoyed watching him progress. I think playing with some of these older guys has been a huge advantage for him. As coaches, we kind of find ourselves limited at times. There’s so much we can do. We can give them the work, we can give them the information, but the criticism and encouragement that comes from his teammates go leaps and bounds above what we can do as coaches. I think he’s benefited greatly from some of the older players that he’s playing with – just in terms of how to best prepare himself and how to play the game as a professional player. I think that’s going to help him along the way as he continues, and I’m sure he’ll make the next step too.

jwWendle, Joey3AF:  I talked to A’s infield coach Mike Gallego about him in spring training. He raved about his preparation and how much he had his head into every play and he was really impressed with his whole approach. Now you were an infielder too, so do you concur with that assessment?

SS:  Definitely. And what we’ve tried to do this year with him is to take that attention to what’s going on, his first step and his movements and everything, and try to smooth everything out so it’s a little bit more fluid through the play. Early on, he was getting himself into trouble kind of being a little bit too forceful to the ball instead of really reading the ball and getting the hop that’s going to be best for him. As a second baseman, you don’t have to be as aggressive as on the other side. So I’ve seen a great improvement on that in terms of taking the game in a little bit more and not trying to force yourself down the game’s throat.

AF:  So letting things come to him as opposed to maybe trying a little too hard and trying to force things all the time.

SS:  Exactly! And he’s taken to it very well – he’s got a very nice rhythm about him right now.

AF:  Now what about at the plate? Obviously, he could be a little more selective. But what have you seen in terms of the evolution of his approach at the plate over the course of the year, and what does he need to be thinking about doing up there right now?

SS:  I think that’s the key. The key for him is to get good pitches to hit, because he can handle just about any pitcher he sees. He has just as much success against left-handers as he does against right-handers. He’s shown some power. He’s able to hit the ball to all fields. I think, at times, he just gets a little too aggressive. So that’s been the process with him, to try to smooth out his offense just liked we’re trying to do on the defensive side. We have him hitting in the two hole, so there’s some more things that can happen up there. He’s willing to bunt and he tries to hit the hole when he has that opportunity. So there are a lot of good things that we’re seeing, and we know that the mentality is there. It’s just a matter of more and more reps. I think we’re going to see where it’s going to start to click for him more and more as this season finishes up. And I’d like to see how he comes back next season after having an offseason to just kind of rethink everything, because in the heat of the season, you just grind and grind and grind. Sometimes that offseason of reflection can be very useful. I really do look forward to seeing how he plays out.

AF:  So it sounds like you think he knows what he needs to do and he’s headed in the right direction and it’s just a matter of executing.

SS:  By all means, yes.

AF:  A guy who was a big hitter for you last year at Sacramento is Nate Freiman, but he’s really been struggling this year. So what’s been going on with him and what’s been holding him back?

nfNate+Freiman+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+CFUGtYuCl4Ll2bSS:  Well, Nate showed up in spring and hurt his back. He was down all spring, and he was left in Arizona. He ended up joining us almost six weeks after the season started. And then, at that point, we were using him kind of sparingly to keep him from a relapse.So it took him seven or eight weeks into our season before he was kind of starting to play every day. He didn’t have a spring training. He found himself not getting off to a start, and he’s been kind of pressing, trying to contribute. He feels like he’s letting the team down. He’s a very selfless guy – he’s a great teammate. For him not to hit the ball and drive people in, it’s been very frustrating for him, and we’ve had several talks. Of course, he went through the situation where they took him off the 40-man roster, and he was stressed about that. We’ve all had to go through that at some point. It’s been a learning year for him. If you think about it, he went from Double-A to the big leagues. And then last year, he kind of went up and down. So he hasn’t had a 400+ at-bat season since 2012 when he was in Double-A with the Padres. He’s just now kind of getting a chance to get some more regular playing time. He’s working on it, he’s trying a bunch of different things and it’s frustrating. It’s tough to pull yourself out of the hole, but he’s got a good attitude and he works hard and he plays hard.

AF:  Is the back still an issue at all? Are there any lingering physical issues with him?

SS:  No, he’s 100% percent. That’s all fine. He’s just trying to get on some kind of a roll at the plate and start feeling like Nate again.

AF:  I wanted to ask you about a couple of pitchers here. The most interesting story on your pitching staff this year has to be Barry Zito. So what have you seen out of Barry and what he’s been doing here?

bzZito, Barry3SS:  Well, on the field, he’s pitched phenomenally. The numbers speak for themselves. He’s going deep into games, he’s controlling the games and he’s doing very well now. I would have loved to have been around when he was at the top of his game. He’s not an imposing pitcher like he was in terms of his velocity – there’s onbviously been a drop-off. But the curveball and the changeup are still there. He makes hitters look silly still. He sets them up and puts them down. And it’s just that experience and knowledge of pitching and the ability to make a pitch when he needs it that really has been impressive. No, not every pitch has been right where he wants it, and you can see that there’s some struggle there, but he never lets that bother him to where he can’t go back and make the pitch he needs when he needs it. And off the field, in the clubhouse, he’s been outstanding. He’s been a great source for these other guys. They look up to him, and he takes it with a ceratin modesty and grace. It’s actually fun to have him on the club.

AF:  Well, there aren’t too many minor league clubhouses with Cy Young winners in them.

SS:  But you know what what? He doesn’t wear that on his sleeve. He’s very humble. And I’m enjoying the fact that I got the chance to spend the summer with him.

AF:  So where’s his velocity been at lately?

SS:  He’s mid-80s with the fastball. When you just look at the fastball, that’s not very hard. But when you play it off of that changeup, which is arguably Tom-Glavine-like at times, and then the breaking ball, which is purely Barry-Zito-like, the velocity of the fastball probably looks about 92 to some of these hitters when he uses it at the proper time. On the scouting side, you’d probably say it’s not quite there. But in terms of effectiveness, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to get people out.

AF:  Do you have any update on a guy who was pitching here for you before landing back on the disabled list, A.J. Griffin?

ag456167SS:  He’s back in Arizona. I’m not positive where he’s at. It’s just one of those situations where trying to compensate for one injury kind of created a little bit of another. So it was decided not to push this. Obviously, I can’t talk too much about the medical side of it. He just needs to get himself feeling right.

AF:  And was it basically right shoulder soreness?

SS:  Basically.

AF:  And what about Sean Nolin, who recently went back on the disabled list again?

SS:  Sean’s still here with us. He started for us for four or five starts and he started feeling some stuff, so we slowed him down. He’s currently on the DL trying to regain some strength and ability to really get after it. But he’s on the mend and we’ll probably look to see him start to get himself into a rehab situation over the next week or so. And then hopefully over the next couple weeks we should see him back active. I don’t know if we’ll use him as a starter or in the bullpen. We’d have to build him up as a starter again, and I don’t know if we have enough time left in the season to get him built up.

AF:  Well, I guess it’s a good sign that he’s still here with you guys rather than being down in Arizona.

SS:  Yeah, it was just some small stuff. After coming off all the stuff he’s had to battle through the last year, everybody agreed that it was best for him to stay on a little bit of a slower pace rather than trying to push him into something and make things worse.

AF:  Another guy you’ve got here with quite a bit of major league experience is Ryan Cook. He’s been struggling a bit lately. But where’s he at, what’s been going on with him and what does he need to figure out to get back to where he used to be?

rc5l64jcRW2SS:  He went up and down early. Obviously, he started the season here. And I know he was frustrated. I think it was kind of a shock to him. He handled it pretty well, but you could tell he was struggling with the situation and all. And he didn’t really get off to a great start. Then he got called up and you thought, “Okay, he’ll back in a groove and he’ll stay there.” Then they did so many quick moves so soon with all those relievers. Since he’s been here, his attitude has greatly improved. He’s all about trying to get himself back on track and get himself back to the big leagues, which is a good sign. He’s an emotional guy. He’s high-strung. We’ve all seen him in Oakland – he’s out there giving it everything he’s got. He’s a hard charger. He’s just been kind of getting knocked around a little bit, so he’s getting a little bit of humility. And that sometimes can be a good thing. So he’ll continue to pitch and he’ll continue to give it everything he’s got. And I think that, at some point or another, Oakland will need him again and he’ll go up and step right back into where he left off.

AF:  Is there anything in particular that he’s been working on here?

SS:  No, no, he’s pretty much the same pitcher. He’s just trying to get a little bit more consistent with his control, trying to pitch a little bit more ahead in the count. He’s finding himself kind of getting behind and having to come across the plate with a little bit more of a hitter’s pitch. Two years ago when he was dominating in the big leagues, he was getting ahead, he was using both sides of the plate. He had late movement that was giving him opportunities for missing the barrel. But now I think he’s just trying to aim a little too much and probably losing a little bit of that late movement, and it’s being knocked around a little bit more than he’s used to. You know, sometimes that just comes from the pressure and from trying to be too fine and trying to take that next step to prove that he’s able and ready to go back up. But his velocity’s there and the pitches are getting stronger. So he’s still a valuable part of this organization.

AF:  Great, thanks!

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Saturday, July 25th: Chad Pinder’s 4 Hits & 5 RBIs Help Hounds Win while Matt Chapman Hits 20th HR & Daniel Mengden Impresses in Ports Victory

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Chad Pinder (4 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 5 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Chad Pinder (4 for 5 / HR / Double / 5 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

San Antonio Missions    1

Midland RockHounds  9

WP – Overton 3-1 / 3.96

HR – Pinder (10)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Shortstop Chad Pinder

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

Shortstop Chad Pinder continued his hot hitting of late, collecting 4 hits, including his 10th home run and his 24th double, while driving in 5 runs for the RockHounds on Saturday. Pinder ran his hitting streak to 18 games, matching the longest in the Texas League this season, raised his team-leading batting average to .319 and took over the Texas League RBI lead with 60. Outfielder Chad Oberacker and first baseman Rangel Ravelo both had a pair of singles and a double, and designated hitter Renato Nunez had 2 hits and a walk and drove in a run for the RockHounds. Starter Dillon Overton was strong, allowing just 1 run over 5 innings of work to earn his 3rd win for Midland.

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Catching Up With A Couple Of A’s Infield Prospects: Max Muncy & Joey Wendle

DSC04192On a veteran Nashville club where the average age is almost 29, only two position players on the team were born in the ‘90s – infielders Max Muncy and Joey Wendle.

As the youngest hitting prospects on the squad, the two are more likely to find themselves playing significant roles in Oakland in the future than just about any other position players currently at the Triple-A level.

Muncy has already seen time with the A’s this season, and Wendle may very well end up spending time in Oakland next season. We took the opportunity to speak with both of them last weekend in Nashville as the Sounds were wrapping up a 4-game home stand against Omaha.

 

MAX MUNCY

mmMuncy, Max224-year-old first baseman-third baseman Max Muncy became the first member of the A’s 2012 draft class to make it to Oakland’s major league roster when he was called up by the A’s in late April. The team’s top pick in 2012, Addison Russell, got the call from the Cubs just a few days earlier. Originally a first baseman, Muncy’s been learning to play third base over the past year. He made 4 errors in 12 games at the position while with Oakland, but he’s yet to make an error at third since returning to Nashville. Muncy’s .385 on-base percentage at Midland in 2014 was one of the best in the A’s minor league system last season, but he managed to post just a .273 OBP in 34 games with the A’s. Back at Nashville though, he’s put up a much more Muncy-like slash line of .252/.351/.433 in 34 games at Triple-A. Everyone at Nashville, including Muncy himself, claims that he looks much more comfortable now that he’s been getting the chance to man the hot corner on a daily basis.

AF:  The last time we touched base with you was during spring training when in you were in the big league camp with the A’s. You ended up spending a good amount of time with the big league club since then, and now you’re back here at Nashville. So what kind of experience was it for you to get the chance to be playing at the big league level for the first time?

MM:  It was a lot of fun. It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s as good as everyone says it is. Once the glamour wears off a little bit, you realize it’s still just baseball. It’s not like it’s a completely different sport – it’s the same sport you’ve been playing your whole life. But the biggest thing for me was realizing it’s still just baseball.

AF:  In terms of actually hitting at the major league level, did you feel the pitchers there were approaching you any differently, and were there any changes you needed to make to adapt to what you found yourself encountering there?

MM:  Yeah, there were a lot of things I needed to change. One of the biggest things for me was just my timing. I was struggling to figure out how to make sure I was in a good rhythm when I wasn’t playing every day. I didn’t do it properly, and that’s why I didn’t hit as good as I should have up there. I’ve just been trying to get back into that rhythm and that timing. It’s been a little tough doing that. But I haven’t been in this league [the Pacific Coast League] too long. One of the things everyone tells you about this league is that all the pitchers live off their off-speed. And I’d definitely say that the difference between up there and down here is that up there those guys live off their fastballs – they’re not afraid to throw those fastballs. So that’s been a huge difference for me. You go up there and you see fastballs and you come down here and suddenly you don’t see fastballs. It’s an adjustment, but it’s one you’ve got to make.

AF:  Throughout your minor league career, you’ve always played pretty much every day. So do you feel that keeping your rhythm and timing while not playing every day was the biggest adjustment for you?

MM: Yeah, I definitely think for me that was the hardest adjustment because, like you said, I’ve never done that before. And it wasn’t just hitting, it was defensive rhythm. I went out there and I worked hard on every single day on defense with Ron Washington and I did everything that I could. I just couldn’t figure out how to translate that into a game and that really hurt me – and really hurt the team in a couple games. So that was an adjustment I needed to make and, unfortunately, I didn’t. But getting back down here and getting playing time again, I feel like everything’s starting to come back. You know, I don’t blame them for that, I blame myself entirely. I just wasn’t able to make that adjustment and it cost.

mmDSC02925bxAF:  Well, you’ve primarily been playing third base down here. So has it been helpful to you to be playing over there pretty much every day?

MM: Yeah, it’s been really helpful. Like I said, I worked with Wash every single day up there. And there were a lot of things that he was trying to teach me that, at the time, when you’re not seeing it in a game, you can’t exactly see what he’s trying to get going for you. But now that I’m in the games, I can see exactly what he’s talking about and how it’s translating to me. It’s a night-and-day difference from how I was playing third in spring training to how I’m playing third now. Everything is so much smoother and so much more natural, and that’s due to all the work I’ve been putting in.

AF:  So is there anything specific that you’re working on or anything you’re mentally focused on trying to improve right now?

MM:  The biggest thing I’m trying to work on is getting my swing back. My swing has gotten away from me and it just kind of feels foreign to me right now. And I’m trying to get it back to where I’m used to having it. I believe in myself and I believe that it won’t take too long, but it’s just a process right now. And I’ve got to keep going out every day and harding work. I can’t get too frustrated with it. But that’s just been the biggest thing is trying to get my swing back.

AF:  It sounds like you’re just trying to find that comfort zone again where everything feels right.

MM:  Exactly!

AF:  So how is Nashville as a place to play in and a place to live in?

MM:  I haven’t had too many home games yet, but the town’s great from what I’ve seen. It’s a big town, it’s up and coming. There are a lot of people here, and the country music scene’s outrageous. So many people are out here, and the games I’ve been in we’ve had sold-out crowds almost every night. It’s been pretty crazy. They’ve got that thing out in right field called “The Band Box.” It’s almost like a nightclub out there. They’ve got music playing during the game. It’s just a completely different experience. As far as the field goes, it’s a tough field to hit at. I’ve seen some guys absolutely crush balls that just go nowhere here. I’m kind of used to that coming from Midland. But the situation’s different in Midland because you hit a ball and it gets caught up in the wind. Here, you hit a ball and it just doesn’t go anywhere. If you look at the field, the dimensions are actually pretty fair – they’re almost on the small side. So you think there’d be a lot of home runs being hit there, but there’s just none. I haven’t seen one ball go out to dead center field in batting practice or in a game here. It plays really big.

AF:  So, on a day-to-day basis, what’s the best thing about playing in the majors as opposed to the minors?

MM:  You know, on the road, it’s definitely the hotels. When you’re up there, you get your own room. You’re staying in 5-star hotels. Down here, we still stay in pretty nice hotels, but you’ve got a roommate. Being a young guy, it’s a little different up there. You’ve got to be at the field early. You’ve got to find your own way there. That’s not a rule, but it’s kind of like an unwritten rule. If you’re a young guy, you probably need to find your own way to the field – you probably shouldn’t ride the bus. But the biggest thing for me is just the living situation up there is just a lot different. You get treated pretty well up there.

 

JOEY WENDLE

jwWendle, Joey325-year-old second baseman Joey Wendle joined the A’s this past offseason in one of the more surprising deals for A’s fans, when the team traded popular first baseman Brandon Moss to the Indians for the Double-A infielder whom most A’s followers had never heard of. He’s played in 95 of Nashville’s 100 games so far this season, appearing at second base in all of them. Everyone at Nashville raves about Wendle’s work ethic and his hustle in the field and claims that he’s been as solid as can be at second base this season. He also leads the team in doubles with 27, but the one critique most frequently raised about Wendle concerns his plate discipline. He’s walked just 17 times in 425 plate appearances, but he says that he knows what he needs to work on to get where he wants to go.

AF:  We last spoke in the early part of May and now here we are in late July. So how have things been going for you here over the past few months?

JW:  It’s been good, both from a personal standpoint and a baseball standpoint. It’s been a really fun summer. It’s been enjoyable for me and my wife, as we’ve moved out here for a couple of months. Baseball season’s been going well. It’s been full of adjustments, full of ups and downs, but overall it’s been good. I’ve been playing well here lately. It was nice having the All-Star break for three days just to get your mind off of baseball for a couple days, and I think that’s good for most of the players. We were just able to kind of hang around Nashville and really explore it.

AF:  So what do you feel are the main things you’ve learned so far this year?

JW:  I think, at this level, players are able to highlight your limitations faster than maybe at other levels. So it’s been a little eye-opening for me. Pitchers realize if they don’t have to throw me strikes, they’re not going to. So that’s been a challenge for me – staying within myself and learning the pitches that I can and can’t hit. So it’s been constant adjustments and constantly trying to improve in that area.

AF:  Do you feel that you’ve made some progress over the past few months in terms of learning to be more selective?

JW:  Yeah, I do feel that way. Any hitter will tell you that they’re constantly working on something and constantly looking to improve. In a game where you fail 70% of the time, I think there’s always going to be some of that where guys are always looking to hone their skills and make them as polished as possible.

AF:  Well, there’s a reason they say it’s a game of adjustments.

JW:  Yes, it definitely is!

AF:  But going back to what you were saying earlier, you feel that pitchers at this level have a much greater ability to exploit any weakness that you may have in your game.

JW:  Yeah, I think that’s true. They get the scouting report on you and they’ve seen you once or twice before – and obviously it’s magnified at the next level too.

AF:  So how do you feel about your defense? Is it steady as she goes or is there anything you’re working on out there?

jwOakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+HJZsfVURAAbl2JW:  We do a pretty good job as a team staying on top of our defense, especially when we’re at home, we’re able to get into a nice routine. We go out before batting practice and take groundballs for about half an hour and then take balls off the bat live during batting practice. So I think that really helps me just kind of stay fresh. But I’ve felt pretty good, pretty comfortable over there at second base. I had one week in particular where I played poorly over there and had kind of a defensive slump I guess. But other than that week, I’ve been feeling pretty good over there.

AF:  Well, your manager, Steve Scarsone, was a major league infielder. So has he been much help to you here?

JW:  Yeah, he’s been great. He’s the one I’ve been working with almost every day, especially when we’re at home. And he knows what he’s doing out there so, when he talks, you definitely want to listen to him and take any advice that he has and really think about it and try to work on that. It’s been very helpful. I know he was a great defensive player. So being around someone like that and just seeing how they talk about different positions they played and how they did it is something that you definitely want to tap into and learn from.

AF:  You’ve played all your games this season at second base. Has there been any talk at all of having you maybe sample some other positions to increase your versatility? Has anyone said anything about that at all?

JW:  Not that I’m aware of, no. But I have played a little bit of third, actually right when I got drafted in short-season. But, as far as I know, it’s just second.

AF:  This is the first year that the A’s Triple-A affiliate has been here in Nashville. So how’s it been for you playing here in Nashville?

JW:  Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s really up and coming. It’s really grown at this point. It’s fun to be a part of and see new people coming in. A guy told me the city bird is a crane, with so many buildings going up. But it’s been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed it here.

AF:  This is a pretty veteran team here in Nashville. And at 25, you’re actually one of the younger guys on this team. So has it been useful for you to have some of these more experienced guys around? Is there much that you’ve picked up from your teammates here this year?

JW:  Definitely! I mean, having that kind of advice and having those eyes in the dugout for mechanical issues and stuff like that is huge. But more so for me even, just them having been around the game for such a long time and being able to learn from them about how to deal with the failures and successes of this game and just seeing how they handle themselves and seeing what it really means to be a professional is really what I take away from them. But it is nice. The coaches that we have our great, but it’s almost like we have 25 coaches down the bench.

AF:  Well, it must be interesting to see some of your teammates, like Max Muncy and Billy Burns, going up and playing for the big club. It must give you the sense that that opportunity really isn’t that far away.

JW:  Yeah, it does. And it’s real exciting for them. Playing alongside Billy Burns, and now he’s been up most all season. Seeing the success they have here and then up there is really encouraging for everybody down here. And it’s just really fun to watch. Anytime you turn on the TV and you see somebody you know, it’s just pretty cool. So we’re definitely really happy for all the guys that get called up here, and I hope to be one of them!

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Friday, July 24th: Max Kuhn, Michael Soto & Chris Iriart All Have Big HRs to Lead Beloit, Stockton & Vermont to Victory

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Max Kuhn (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Max Kuhn (HR / 3 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Beloit Snappers        13

Cedar Rapids Kernels  7

WP – Johnson 2-5 / 4.38

HR – Kuhn (5)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Max Kuhn

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Outfielder Max Kuhn singled in the Snappers’ first run of the game in the top of the 1st inning. Then, with one on, one out and the game tied in the top of the 5th, Kuhn clubbed a 2-run homer to give Beloit the lead, and the Snappers would never look back on Friday. Second baseman Tim Proudfoot collected 3 hits, including a double, and drove in 4, while shortstop Yairo Munoz singled, doubled and drove in a run, and designated hitter Argenis Raga had 2 hits and a walk and drove in a pair for the Snappers. Starter Joey Wagman had a rough outing, allowing 5 runs over just 3 2/3 innings of work, while RHP Kevin Johnson picked up the win despite giving up 1 run in 1 2/3 innings of relief for Beloit.

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