Month: July 2017

Sunday, July 30th: Manarino & Twomey Lead Ports & Snappers to Shutout Victories while Holmes Helps Hounds Win and Canha & Rosa Collect Grand Slams

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Evan Manarino (7 IP / 6 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Evan Manarino (7 IP / 6 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports  10

Modesto Nuts       0

WP – Manarino 5-7 / 4.63

HR – Siddall (17), Pimentel (9), Neuse (3), Barrera (3), Raga (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Evan Manarino

(7 IP / 6 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

The Ports prevailed by an impressive margin for the third straight night on Sunday. LHP Evan Manarino turned in one of his best starts of the season, striking out 7 without allowing a walk while throwing 7 shutout innings for Stockton, and undrafted free agent LHP Brandon Marsonek tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief to complete the 7-hit shutout on Sunday. Ports batters continued their recent offensive outburst by blasting five home runs in the game. First baseman Sandber Pimentel had 3 hits and homered for the second straight night, while shortstop Sheldon Neuse homered for the third time in the last three days, belting a 3-run blast to put the Ports on the board in the 4th. Center fielder Luis Barrera slugged a solo shot, and catcher Argenis Raga and left fielder Brett Siddall both singled, homered and drove in a pair for the Ports.

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

Saturday, July 29th: Pimentel Helps Ports Win Big while Martinez Leads Snappers to Another Shutout Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports First Baseman Sandber Pimentel (4 for 6 / Home Run / 2 Doubles / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports First Baseman Sandber Pimentel (4 for 6 / Home Run / 2 Doubles / 3 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports  15

Modesto Nuts       5

WP – Lyons 2-2 / 4.67

HR – Pimentel (8)

Prospect Of The Game:

First Baseman Sandber Pimentel

(4 for 6 / Home Run / 2 Doubles / 3 RBIs)

After scoring 11 runs in Friday’s win, the Ports exploded for 15 runs on Saturday to take their second straight from Modesto. 22-year-old first baseman Sandber Pimentel had a huge night at the plate, collecting 4 hits, including a home run and a pair of doubles, while driving in 3 runs for Stockton. Shortstop Sheldon Neuse had 4 singles and a walk and drove in a run, while designated hitter Eli White tripled, singled twice and drove in 3, and right fielder Seth Brown tripled, doubled and drove in a pair for the Ports. RHP James Naile was activated from the disabled list and made his first start for Stockton this season, allowing 2 runs over 3 innings of work, while LHP Jared Lyons tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win. In other news, Ports pitcher Brandon Bailey was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury.

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

Taking a Look at AZL A’s Top Teens: Armenteros, Beck, Allen & Vargas

by Joseph Hartsock / A’s Farm Arizona Correspondent

00DSC04060xThe great thing about the Arizona League is that it allows us to look at the future, perhaps the distant future, and dream about the possibilities.

The Arizona League A’s have put up a 12-15 record so far this season. But the AZL isn’t as concerned with win-at-all-costs competition as much as it’s focused on developing young prospects and offering an introduction to professional baseball for many players. A number of the players here just left high school a couple of months ago and others just recently left the A’s Dominican facilities and are now being introduced to life in the U.S. for the first time.

I’ve had the chance to catch a few AZL A’s games this season, and there are definitely some intriguing prospects on the squad who make one hopeful for the future. So, let’s take a look at a few of the AZL A’s players who come with some high expectations: Lazaro Armeteros, Austin Beck, Nick Allen and Yerdel Vargas.

la2bLazaro Armenteros is the A’s $3 million bonus baby out of Cuba. The team signed him in the summer of 2016 as a 17-year-old. The young outfielder has put up a decent slash line of .264/.333/.425 in 23 Arizona League games so far this year. Lazarito has a real presence on the field. He doesn’t look like he just turned 18 two months ago. His physique looks more like that of a 21-year-old, with powerful legs and arms. At the plate, you can more easily see his lack of maturity. The teenage slugger occasionally lunges for balls outside of the zone and can be fooled by breaking balls. But when he does connect, even his outs are loud. It’s hard not to like what you see. And as Armenteros develops, he should still add more muscle and power to what’s already there. Lazarito clearly possesses superstar potential, but only time will tell how his development will play out.

0abAustin_Beck_t1u2zolz_rloc5a7fAustin Beck was the A’s 2017 1st-round draft pick (the 6th pick overall) out of North Carolina. The 18-year-old outfielder is a potential five-tool player who’s getting his first look at professional ball after graduating from high school just a couple of months ago. His early experience in the Arizona League has been a little rough, and he’s currently slashing just .145/.203/.203. His bat speed, base speed, arm and defense are all there. He just needs to be able to reach base consistently. His pitch recognition needs to be refined, and his load has extra bat movement, making it difficult to get to the pitch. When Beck does connect, his quick bat speed provides him with a lot of pop, and you can see the reason he was picked early in the first round of the draft. His fielding looks good, and his arm is above average, so I would imagine he’ll stay in center, though he could possibly end up moving to a corner outfield position as he develops.

na2Nick Allen was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft, but his reported $2 million signing bonus shows that he was regarded as more of a top-tier talent, and other teams must have passed on him due to their inability to sign him. Like Beck, Allen just graduated from high school a couple of months ago and is now getting his first look at professional baseball. The young shortstop has been faring a bit better at the plate in the early going though, with a .258/.292/.339 slash line. Allen is undersized at a listed 5-foot-9 and 155lbs. He has been the smallest player on the field almost every night I’ve seen him, but he’s shown some great skill in the field and good speed on the bases. The 18-year-old has a compact swing that encourages contact, and he has used his speed to help him get on base. Allen has batted leadoff every night I’ve seen him, and with his speed, I could see him sticking there. Of course, he could always end up moving down towards the bottom of the lineup if his bat doesn’t develop as hoped. But with his solid glove, I don’t see him profiling anywhere other than the middle infield.

yvVargas_Yerdelluis_yqiptmwr_v4i4p2djYerdel Vargas is another A’s prospect in the AZL who stood out to me. Vargas was a 2016 international free agent out of the Dominican Republic whom the A’s signed for a reported $1.5 million. Vargas is only 17, so if he was a U.S.-born player, he would be busy preparing for his senior year in high school right now. He’s listed as a shortstop, but I’ve only seen him play second base, where his arm may profile a bit better. He looked very natural with great instincts in the field. Vargas’s bat is very quick to the plate. He has a compact swing with a contact approach at the plate, but he’s shown some surprising pop at times. So far this season, he’s put up a .239/.271/.328 slash line. I’ll admit that Vargas wasn’t high on my radar to start with, but seeing his instincts in the field, his speed on the bases and in the field, and his approach at the plate, I’m excited about his future.

The Arizona League is nothing but dreams, full of prospects in their teens, with the big leagues a number of years away for most of the players here. Young players often possess many of the raw tools, which will need to be refined, and we can only imagine the possibilities. But some of the A’s top prospects in the Arizona League definitely represent some intriguing possibilities, and it should be really interesting to watch them develop the rest of this year and beyond.

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

Friday, July 28th: Stockton Wins behind Neuse’s Big Bat while Nashville Notches Shutout Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Shortstop Sheldon Neuse (3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Shortstop Sheldon Neuse (3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports  11

Modesto Nuts       5

WP – Butler 3-3 / 5.12

HR – Neuse 2 (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Sheldon Neuse

(3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

Shortstop Sheldon Neuse, recently acquired from the Nationals in the Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle deal, had a big night at the plate for the Ports on Friday. The 22-year-old collected 3 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 1st inning and a 2-run shot in the 9th. First baseman Mikey White doubled and singled twice, while left fielder Brett Siddall had 2 hits, including a double, and drove in 2 runs, and right fielder Seth Brown walked and doubled in a pair for the Ports. Stockton starter Kyle Friedrichs gave up 3 runs over 3 2/3 innings of work, while RHP Brendan Butler allowed 1 run in 4 innings of relief to earn his 3rd win on Friday. In other news, RHP James Naile is set to be activated from the disabled list and make the start for Stockton on Saturday.

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

Thursday, July 27th: Altamirano Leads Snappers to Shutout Win while Murphy Homers in 2nd Straight Game for Hounds

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Xavier Altamirano (7 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Xavier Altamirano (7 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / Win)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Beloit Snappers          8

Kane County Cougars  0

WP – Altamirano 7-2 / 2.81

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Xavier Altamirano

(7 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / Win)

RHP Xavier Altamirano turned in his third straight quality start, allowing just 2 hits over 7 shutout innings to earn his 7th win as the Snappers won for the fifth time in their last six games on Thursday. RHPs Joseph Camacho and John Gorman each contributed 1 scoreless inning in relief to complete the 3-hit shutout. Shortstop Eric Marinez singled, doubled and drove in a run, while third baseman Trace Loehr tripled in 2 runs, and designated hitter Miguel Mercedes singled twice and drove in a pair for the Snappers.

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

Mondou & Bailey on Making the Big Move from Beloit to Stockton

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

spRoFg4u4YThere’s been a mighty big turnover on Stockton’s roster since the start of the season.

And just since June, infielders Nate Mondou and Edwin Diaz, outfielder Luis Barrera and pitchers Brandon Bailey, Brendan Butler, Dalton Sawyer, Norge Ruiz and Miguel Romero have all joined Stockton from Beloit for the second half.

Late last week in Stockton, we took the opportunity to talk to a pair of those players, second baseman Nate Mondou and right-hander Brandon Bailey, who also happen to be roommates, to see how the duo was adjusting to life in the California League…

 

NATE MONDOU

nm670148bThe lefty-swinging second baseman was the A’s 13th-round draft pick last year out of Wake Forest. Mondou spent the first few months of the 2017 season hitting near the top of the order for the Snappers, and his .296 batting average and .371 on-base percentage both led Beloit batters when he was promoted to the Ports. Since joining Stockton late last month, the 22-year-old has posted a .279/.352/.441 slash line over his first 28 games for the Ports. In a recent interview with Stockton manager Rick Magnante, the skipper said about Mondou: “His ability to swing the bat has been impressive. I think he’s a sleeper. I think you could see Nate in the big leagues.”

AF:  You started out the season in Beloit. And I know sometimes those first couple of rainy, chilly months in the Midwest League can be rough for hitters, so how did you handle hitting in the conditions there?

NM:  Definitely, it was freezing cold when we got there. It rained quite a bit. But in those type of situations, you’ve just got to stick with the process and try to simplify everything, because the outside conditions kind of made it tough. But overall, it was a good experience and I was able to learn a lot. It’s always good to learn how to play in those conditions before coming up to higher levels. So, overall it was good, but it was kind of tough at first like you said. Not being able to feel your hands at the plate is kind of rough.

AF:  Yeah, when your hands are on the verge of frostbite, it’s probably a little hard to hit.

NM:  Exactly!

AF:  You got off to a good start there though, and you had a nice hitting streak going there for a while, so you obviously managed to deal with it. But coming here to the California League in the second half has got to be a great development for you.

NM:  Definitely, very glad to be here. It’s definitely more of a hitters’ league. It’s a little bit of an adjustment just being able to hit the ball in the air a little bit more. In Beloit, it didn’t quite fly as well as it does here. So, I’m just kind of making little adjustments here and there to fit the ballpark and fit the league and everything. But I’m very glad to be here. It’s nice to have nice, dry, warm weather every day.

AF:  Where’d you grow up?

NM:  I grew up just about an hour south of Seattle, Washington…so it’s nice to be back on the west coast too.

AF:  Do you find any differences with the pitchers you’re facing here in the California League compared to what you were used to seeing in the Midwest League?

NM:  Yeah, it’s definitely another level up. There’s a little more consistency in the quality of pitching, and that carries over for both the starters and the bullpen guys. We definitely saw some very good arms up there in the Midwest League, but down here, it’s day in and day out, and every guy coming out of the ‘pen too.

AF:  What kind of adjustments have you had to make since you’ve been here in Stockton?

Nate Mondou (photo by Meghan Camino)

Nate Mondou
(photo by Meghan Camino)

NM:  Yeah, I think earlier in the year I didn’t really use the pull side of the field as much. I was kind of really, really focused on driving the ball the other way. And I think coming here, I’ve seen a lot more fastballs in, a lot more pitches inside, so I’ve kind of tried to open up the field, kind of going left-center/right-center rather than just kind of left of center field. So, that’s been the biggest thing for me, being able to open up that right side of the field.

AF:  What do you feel are the biggest strengths of your game? What are you really confident that you’re bringing to the table for a team?

NM:  I think the biggest thing is a quality at-bat. I’m going to try to grind out an at-bat no matter how tough the situation is and try not to take any at-bat for granted. Definitely working deep in counts, and once I get to two strikes, hopefully grinding a long at-bat out. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things for me, not taking anything for granted, not letting one at-bat slip through my fingers. So, quality at-bats – that’s probably one of the biggest things for me.

AF:  Now you’re a smaller guy, so people probably weren’t looking at you as being a big, powerful prospect coming out of school. So, have you had to play the game with that sort of underdog mentality, feeling like you had to prove to people what you were really capable of doing on the field?

NM:  Yeah, definitely. There’s always that height thing that’s always been mentioned at every level I’ve played at. So, it’s kind of nice to show people that doesn’t really matter and that you can work past it no matter what. I came out of college hitting a bunch of home runs and kind of had to change my approach once I got here to more of a table-setter type. So, I’m trying to hit more line drives, and I think that’s helped me succeed so far, especially with the average. The power numbers aren’t where they were in college, but I think I’m slowly working to kind of find the best of both worlds between the contact and the power.

AF:  Well, if you spend enough time in the California League, you might just become a power hitter again!

NM:  Exactly!

AF:  On the personal side, since you had to move here in the middle of the season, where are you staying at, who are you living with, and what’s life like off the field here in Stockton?

NM:  Yeah, it was kind of a whirlwind couple of days coming from Wisconsin out here and trying to figure out who I’m living with. But I’m living with Eli White and Brandon Bailey right now in an apartment. It’s a little bit more expensive than out there in Wisconsin, but it’s a nice setup and we’ve got a nice little spot and they’re a couple of good guys to live with, so I’m happy.

AF:  And you’ve got sunshine every day!

NM:  Exactly, no thunderstorms!

AF:  Well, you’ve got a little over a month of the minor league season left here now in Stockton. So, what are you really focused on this final month or so of the season here?

NM:  I think consistency is the biggest thing for me, just trying not to have a roller-coaster type of season. Of course, there’s always going to be ups and downs, but trying to keep it as close to the main line as possible. So, I think just finishing strong. I’ve had multiple coaches tell me so far this year, “It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.” And that’s what people really care about. So, I had a good strong start, but I’m definitely focused on continuing that consistency throughout the year and finishing strong.

 

BRANDON BAILEY

bb669064bThe A’s made Bailey their 6th-round pick in last year’s draft after he struck out 125 batters in 100 1/3 innings while posting a 2.42 ERA in his junior year at Gonzaga. He spent most of last season playing for Vermont, the A’s Class-A affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn League, where he put up a solid 3.08 ERA in 10 appearances for the Lake Monsters. But Bailey was even more impressive for Beloit in the first half of this season, posting a 2.68 ERA while notching 73 strikeouts over 57 innings of work for the Snappers. Since being promoted to the Ports earlier this month, the 22-year-old has struck out 27 in 19 1/3 innings while compiling a 6.05 ERA for Stockton. We’ve periodically featured blog posts by Bailey about his experiences in the A’s minor league system, which you can find here.

AF:  You got called up here to Stockton from Beloit about a month ago. So, how has it been for you adjusting to a whole new league here this past month?

BB:  It’s been exciting, just for the mere fact that I’m back on the west coast. Being a West Coast Conference guy in college, this is where we had our conference tournament, and I’m real familiar with the park. So, it wasn’t like a complete shock. I was really familiar with the park and how it plays. I was just really excited to move up a level. It’s a long season, and you’re just trying to climb the ladder. And at the end of the day, I just couldn’t be happier to be back on the west coast.

AF:  So, remind me where you were born and where you went to school.

BB:  I was born in Westminster, Colorado and lived in the Denver metro area my whole life. My parents still live there today. I reside in Broomfield, Colorado. That’s kind of my hometown – about 20 minutes north of Denver and 15 minutes east of Boulder. And when college came, I moved to Spokane, Washington, where Gonzaga University is. And that’s kind of where I’m living currently in the offseason, just because I’m trying to finish up my degree. I hope and plan to go back this fall to knock out that last semester that I have and be done, and then from there, just go back to spring training and do it all over again.

AF:  What are you majoring in?

BB:  Sports management with a minor in public relations.

AF:  Well, that might come in handy!

BB:  Yeah, definitely useful. I love being around sports, and it’s something that I would like to pursue after the playing career is over, whether that be working in professional baseball or I’ve always had a really big passion for Nike and all the products that they release, especially the N7 brand that they have going. My dream would be to work for Nike when it’s all said and done.

AF:  You got off to a really good start to the season in Beloit. So, is there anything you’ve found that’s particularly different here in the California League?

BB:  I think the biggest adjustment is that you can’t kind of give in in those hitter advantage counts. Sometimes in the Midwest League, the parks play big and you know if you get behind that you can challenge a little bit up. They might know your 2-0 fastball is coming, but the park plays big enough that you’re not going to get hurt. And so far, in the majority of these parks, if they’re bigger, the wind blows out really hard, and if they’re smaller, it blows out even more! So, you’ve just got to be really particular with all your pitches. And I think the emphasis for me, the biggest adjustment, is really emphasizing getting ahead in the count, putting the hitter in a position where they’re unfamiliar with what’s coming, where they’re kind of on their heels and they can’t be as aggressive as they might be in the 1-0 or 2-0 counts.

AF:  Yeah, with these parks in the Cal League, if you get behind, you can’t afford to groove one in there!

BB:  Yep, but I like that challenge a little bit too, because it makes me focus just that much more on trying to be that much more conscious and particular with my pitches, and I feel like that’s actually helping me get better. And I’ve heard that at Midland, the strike zone gets a little bit smaller. So, I’m just focusing on really hitting spots. And I think that’s good for me, because in college, I knew that I could just challenge you up with a fastball and the exact location didn’t really matter – I knew that I was probably going to win that battle. But here in pro ball, it’s not exactly the same.

AF:  Well, the strike zone might be smaller in the Texas League, but the good news is the parks are bigger – and the wind isn’t usually blowing out!

Brandon Bailey (photo by Meghan Camino)

Brandon Bailey
(photo by Meghan Camino)

BB:  There you go!

AF:  Tell me a little bit about your repertoire and what you’re working with.

BB:  I throw five pitches. It was four, but four days ago I learned a new pitch, so now it’s five. I throw a four-seam fastball which has a really high spin rate, so it’s got good ride and carry through the zone. I guess to the hitter, they perceive it as the ball kind of rising almost. Oakland’s really been encouraging me to throw the ball up in the zone, which, going into professional baseball, you’re taught your whole life to keep the ball down. But here, they want me to throw up with my fastball, so that’s really kind of a bit of a change for me, but it’s kind of nice at the same time, because I do like throwing up in the zone with that fastball. So, I throw a four-seam fastball, a four-seam changeup which spins the same way as the fastball – it just has an arm-side drop and run to it. And then, I throw a slider, which is now a true slider. In college, it was kind of more of a slurve, but I’ve tightened it up and I’ve been throwing it a lot harder lately, which is nice. And then this offseason, I added a spiked curve, just because I wanted to have a get-me-over breaking ball that looked a little bit different to the hitter, so that way they wouldn’t be able to sit on something hard early in the count, whether that be the fastball or the slider. And then, I just added a cutter four days ago, which is really exciting because, like I said before, my four-seam fastball’s pretty straight and true – it has good carry, but not a lot of movement to either side. And this cutter has been moving glove side with late action to it, so it’s just a nice extra tool that I can have in my repertoire just to keep the hitters honest.

AF:  Well, that’s a couple more pitches than most guys have at this level!

BB:  Yeah, so the biggest thing for me is the fastball/change has always been my bread and butter, so now it’s just trying to get those breaking pitches, along with the cutter, up to speed and hopefully get them to be big league average or a tick better than that.

AF:  So, have you used the cutter in a game yet?

BB:  Yeah, I did in a game versus the Quakes. I threw three – one was really good, one was straight as an arrow and one went in the dirt. So, I went one for three, but I’ll take it for only having thrown it for like two days in advance.

AF:  On the personal side of things, you had to make a move here in the middle of the season from Wisconsin to California. So, where are you staying at and who are you living with now?

BB:  I think the person who was most excited for me to move out here was my girlfriend, because she’s actually from Sacramento. So, when I told her, she was pumped. But I currently reside in an apartment complex about fifteen minutes north of the stadium. I’m living with Nate Mondou and Eli White in a two-bedroom apartment. It’s the typical minor league apartment. We’ve got the cardboard box as the TV stand. We’re all living on air mattresses. But at the end of the day, it’s still a lot of fun. They’re great guys to live with. I was able to room with Eli White in Vermont to start everything off last summer, so me and him are really good buds. And then with Mondou being in Beloit, we obviously knew each other. So, it’s been a good fit. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment going from a host family in Beloit to apartment living, but I kind of enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.

AF:  Well, probably most of your time is spent out here at the park anyway.

BB:  Exactly! All you’ve got to do is wake up, make breakfast and then go to the park and you’re here basically the majority of your day anyway.

AF:  Well, we’re heading into the final month or so of the minor league season now. So, what are you thinking about and what are you trying to accomplish in the last month or so here?

BB:  I think it’s just to finish strong. At the start of the year, there can be some bumps in the road – everyone has their ups and downs. But I remember in spring training, [minor league pitching coordinator] Gil Patterson and [farm director] Keith Lieppman and [special assistant] Grady Fuson and all these guys saying, “It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.” And they re-emphasize that when the first teams come out, because some guys aren’t exactly thrilled with where they’re starting. So, my goal is just to try to continue to work on my craft and really get a feel for these new pitches – the curveball and the cutter that I’m adding. And just try to finish strong here in Stockton and hopefully end on a high note and go into the offseason with some good goals to try and achieve, and then come back and hopefully fight like hell to make the Midland roster. I think, at the end of the day, it’s just trying to see progress with each day that you come to the field and when you leave the park, you can say, “I got better today.” So, the goal each day is to try to get a little bit better than you were the day before.

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

Wednesday, July 26th: Meisner & Sportman Help Hounds Win 6th Straight while Hahn Earns 1st Win for Sounds

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Casey Meisner (6 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Casey Meisner (6 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / Win)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Frisco RoughRiders        3

Midland RockHounds  11

WP – Meisner 2-3 / 6.59

HR – Sportman (8), Ramirez (3), Murphy (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Casey Meisner

(6 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / Win)

RHP Casey Meisner turned in one of his best starts for the RockHounds since joining the team late last month. The 22-year-old allowed 2 runs over 6 innings of work to earn his 2nd win for Midland and help the Hounds secure their sixth straight win on Wednesday. Right fielder J.P. Sportman, who left Tuesday’s game after being hit in the hand with a pitch, had a big night at the plate, collecting 3 hits, including a home run, while driving in a pair. Catcher Sean Murphy and left fielder Tyler Ramirez both homered, while third baseman Jordan Tarsovich had 3 hits, and first baseman Viosergy Rosa doubled, walked and drove in 3 runs for the RockHounds.

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

Tuesday, July 25th: Cotton & Canha Combine to Help Sounds Win while Fillmyer & Duno Pitch Hounds & Ports to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Las Vegas 51s          4

Nashville Sounds  10

WP – Cotton 3-0 / 2.95

HR – Nunez (26), Olson (20), Canha 2 (11)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Jharel Cotton

(6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

RHP Jharel Cotton made an impressive rehab start for the Sounds on Tuesday, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 9 over 6 shutout innings to notch his 3rd win of the season for Nashville. After making a pair of rehab appearances for Stockton, RHP Bobby Wahl made his first rehab appearance for the Sounds on Tuesday and gave up 1 run in 2/3 of an inning of relief. Right fielder Mark Canha had a huge night at the plate, collecting 5 hits, including a pair of home runs, while driving in 4 runs. First baseman Matt Olson belted his 20th home run, a 2-run blast, while left fielder Renato Nunez, slugged his league-leading 26th home run, a solo shot, and shortstop Franklin Barreto had 3 hits and drove in a run for Nashville. Meanwhile, A’s RHP Chris Bassitt was activated from the disabled list and assigned to the Sounds on Tuesday.

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Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 5-Game Home Stand vs. West Michigan & South Bend (7/19-24)

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers split a rain-shortened two-game series against the West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit’s Midwest League affiliate, last week at Pohlman Field in Beloit. The Snappers then went on to sweep the South Bend Cubs, Chicago’s Class-A affiliate, in a three-game set that concluded on Monday.

The Whitecaps entered the series with the best record in all of minor league baseball. A sparkling 2.64 ERA and 19 shutouts are far and away the best from any team this season in the Midwest League. In terms of top prospects, the standout is outfielder Derek Hill, who ranks as the #8 prospect in the Tigers organization according to MLB Pipeline. A 1st-round pick in 2014, Hill spent most of the season on the disabled list before returning to action late last month.

South Bend has been a solid team, staying above .500 during most of the season. The Cubs recently lost their top prospect, RHP Dylan Cease, to the White Sox organization in the Jose Quintana trade. But they do have an athletic, high-upside outfielder in D.J. Wilson, who ranks as the #6 prospect in the Cubs organization according to MiLB Pipeline.

 

Game #1:  West Michigan 6 – Beloit 3

Heath Bowers

Heath Bowers

*After three rather uneventful innings on Wednesday, things started to get a little crazy in Beloit. As the skies grew darker, a tornado siren suddenly went off while the Snappers were warming up, which halted the game. The contest would not resume until the next day as a major thunderstorm with tornado potential rolled through south-central Wisconsin. A lightning bolt actually struck one of the left field light poles, which knocked out a number of lights as well as the scoreboard, and Pohlman Field had to go without a scoreboard the next day.

*When the game resumed in the top of the 4th inning on Thursday, RHP Mitchell Jordan took the hill for the Snappers. It was clearly not his day, as he gave up 6 earned runs while getting just two outs in the top of the 4th inning. Jordan, the A’s 10th-round pick in 2016, has struggled to miss bats this season, giving up a lot of hard contact.

*RHP Heath Bowers righted the ship for Beloit, throwing 3 ⅓ scoreless innings in relief. What was most encouraging to see from Bowers is how he attacked the strike zone, throwing 33 of his 47 pitches for strikes. As good as his 1.96 ERA in 55 innings might look, the 30 walks he has given up show that he has constantly been walking a tightrope. If Bowers is going to succeed going forward, he’ll need to start issuing fewer free passes.

 

Game #2:  Beloit 2 – West Michigan 0

Matt Milburn

Matt Milburn

*In this 7-inning game, a safety squeeze bunt from shortstop Jesus Lopez and an RBI double from first baseman Miguel Mercedes accounted for all the Snappers’ scoring.

*RHP Matt Milburn, a 29th-round pick by the A’s in 2016, pitched 5 ⅔ scoreless innings to earn his 6th win for the Snappers. While Milburn is sporting a respectable 3.92 ERA, his peripherals suggest that he has been much better than that. His FIP sits at 2.90 and his xFIP at 3.12. Meanwhile, his K/9 is a solid 9.34 and he has a very good swinging strike rate of 13.1%.

*RHP Sam Sheehan, the A’s 31st-round pick last year, shut the door on the Whitecaps. He allowed just 1 hit and struck out 2 in 1 ⅓ scoreless innings to earn his 4th save. Sheehan now has superb 1.57 ERA in 28 ⅔ innings this season for the Snappers.

 

Game #3:  Beloit 6 – South Bend 3

Collin Theroux

Collin Theroux

*RHP Xavier Altamirano had a quality start in his second straight outing, putting up a pitching line of 6 IP/4 H/2 ER/1 BB/6 K.

*Center fielder and leadoff hitter Mike Martin went 3 for 4 while scoring a pair of runs for the Snappers.

*First baseman Kyle Nowlin, Oakland’s 21st-round pick in 2016, went 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 RBIs for Beloit.

*Catcher Collin Theroux, the 32nd-round pick by the A’s last year, threw out both runners who tried to steal. For the season, he has thrown out nearly 48% of attempted steals, which is an impressive number for any catcher. The 23-year-old possesses a cannon of a throwing arm and is not afraid to show it off. It’s definitely something that opposing teams need to be wary of coming into a series.

 

Game #4:  Beloit 6 – South Bend 0

Seth Martinez

Seth Martinez

*Beloit batters hit 3 home runs off of Cubs starter LHP Manuel Rondon. Third baseman Trace Loehr hit his 3rd home run in the 1st inning, designated hitter Kyle Nowlin clubbed his 8th, also in the 1st, and second baseman J.C Rodriguez slugged his 2nd home run on the season in the 4th.

*Loehr went 2 for 4 to continue his hot hitting in the second half. By the end of the series with South Bend, Loehr was batting .340 with a .553 slugging percentage in 26 games in the second half.

*Nowlin reached base in all 4 plate appearances, continuing his own second-half hot streak. By the end of the South Bend series, Nowlin was slashing .326/.426/.500 in the second half.

*Despite having to warm up multiple times due to rainy conditions, LHP Zack Erwin threw 4 scoreless innings of 2-hit ball.

*RHP Seth Martinez was spectacular in relief of Erwin. Working at a brisk pace, the A’s 17th-round pick in 2016 did not allow a baserunner over 5 perfect innings while striking out 3. Martinez’s successful outing can be attributed to his solid fastball command and a sweeping slider, which helped him induce a lot of weak contact.

 

Game #5:  Beloit 7 – South Bend 6

J.C. Rodriguez

J.C. Rodriguez

*The Snappers pitchers with the three worst ERAs on the current staff combined to help Beloit win the final game of the set on Monday and sweep the series from South Bend. LHP Kyle Twomey (5.93 ERA), RHP Mitchell Jordan (6.04 ERA) and RHP Jesus Zambrano (5.36 ERA) weren’t particularly sharp, allowing a lot of hard contact and scattering 16 hits while allowing 6 runs, 5 earned. But they buckled down to get out of some sticky situations, and some impressive defensive plays behind them helped to bail them out as well.

*Beloit threw out three South Bend runners at home plate in the game. A great throw by left fielder J.C. Rodriguez to the plate got the first runner, while a tremendous relay from center fielder JaVon Shelby to shortstop Trace Loehr to catcher Collin Theroux nailed the second, and second baseman Josh Vidales made a magnificent bare-handed pick up and then fired home a bullet to nab the third runner.

*With the score tied at 6-6 and one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, up stepped left fielder J.C. Rodriguez. Full name: Jean Carlo Rodriguez. Extra innings were looming over what was already a long and wacky game. But on a 1-1 pitch, Rodriguez smacked his third home run of the year, a line drive over the left field wall, to cap off a wild win and complete the sweep.

 

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A’s Prospect of the Home Stand:

First Baseman Kyle Nowlin

(7 for 13 / Home Run / 3 Walks / 3 RBIs)

 

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

Stockton Center Fielder Skye Bolt Loving Life in the California League

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

sb621450bThe A’s made Skye Bolt their 4th-round selection in the 2015 draft after the Georgia native put up a .259/.383/.449 slash line in his junior season at the University of North Carolina. The center fielder was viewed as a toolsy prospect who possessed speed, a strong arm, a solid glove, good bat speed and some raw power potential. After spending 2015 with short-season Vermont and 2016 in Beloit, Bolt is now spending the 2017 season with Stockton in the California League.

After Monday’s contest, Bolt was sporting a .239/.338/.439 slash line for the Ports. He leads the team with 9 stolen bases and is tied for the team lead in walks with 42. The 23-year-old has significantly increased his power numbers this year and has already hit a career-high 10 home runs in 81 games this season. Last week, after batting practice in Stockton, we took the opportunity to talk with Bolt about his first season in the California League…

 

AF:  So, how do you feel your first season in the California League has been going for you so far?

SB:  Yeah, it’s been a great year thus far. The Cal League’s been very receptive. I enjoy the home ballpark. That’s obviously a blessing and a nice place to play day in and day out. Everybody here’s been real receptive. It’s a well-oiled machine. It’s been great thus far – good first half of the season, good start to the second half. Every day’s getting better than the day before it, and that’s the name of the game. For me, it’s been a great season as far as improving things I wanted to improve. And I’m going to keep putting the right foot in front of the left and repeat as we go into this last quarter of the season.

AF:  How is it hitting here in the California League as opposed to hitting in the Midwest League in Beloit? I know they’re very different environments.

SB:  Yeah, definitely! That first month and a half to two months out in Beloit is unfriendly to say the least. But the Cal League’s been great. You’re forewarned to not fall into a trap, especially here in Stockton with the short porch in right. And for me personally, it’s been beneficial for me – not in the sense of hitting the long ball and utilizing it, but keeping my approach away from trying to do damage to that side of the field. The Cal League is obviously great as far as other ballparks. There’s eight teams, so you get to see everybody. You start to build that understanding and familiarity with different pitchers – or the same pitchers. And that’s what you’re going to see as you go up the ladder. I know in Midland, our Double-A club, it’s a small league as well. But as you go up the ladder, you’re going to see guys over and over again. So, it’s a learning experience, just like everything else. But I’ve really, really enjoyed playing here.

AF:  I would think so. Those first couple of months of the season in the Midwest League, when it’s raining every other day, it must make it a little tough to get into a groove.

SB:  Absolutely! There’s no rainouts here. You’re going to play every day. The game on the schedule is going to be played one way or another. And that’s great!

Skye Bolt (photo by Meghan Camino)

Skye Bolt
(photo by Meghan Camino)

AF:  Have the pitchers here in the California League been approaching you any differently than what you’ve been used to seeing in the past?

SB:  Yeah, again back to seeing the same guys over and over again, you start to build a log. A lot of us guys keep track of what certain pitchers are trying to do to us. And that’s something that we visit quite often as we see them what seems like every two weeks. But I feel like guys are more in the zone. They’ve got more of an aggressive, attack-the-zone mentality, which for me as a hitter, I love. I enjoy a pitcher who’s going to attack the zone and going to come right at you. And that’s, for the most part, what we’ve gotten here in the Cal League – more refined arms working to attack the zone as they’re trying to go up the ladder as well.

AF:  Well, at least you’re more likely to see more pitches you can get the bat on anyway.

SB:  And that’s exactly it! You ask any hitter and they’ll tell you they’d much prefer that kind of guy.

AF:  What kind of adjustments have you had to make this season, and what have you really been trying to work on this year as a hitter?

SB:  For me personally, it’s been the duality of being a switch hitter and getting the reps on both sides and working with [hitting coach] Tommy [Everidge] on what I need day in and day out to maintain both sides of the dish, which to this point, I think I’ve done. And for me, the adjustment has been not missing my pitch. Reflecting back on the past two seasons, it’s just been a lot of misses. Did the pitcher get you out or did you get yourself out? You ask any hitter, and 70% of the time they’re going to say, I got myself out. And that’s the tough part of the game. But 70% of the time, it’s on us to get the pitch that you’re looking for and do with it what you’re supposed to. And most of the time with hitters, it’s “I missed my pitch” – it wasn’t the strike-three call. So, this season, it’s been not missing my pitch, being prepared each and every pitch, getting myself in a good hitting position, especially from the left side of the plate, to attack my pitch and do what I want with it. And thus far in the season, I’ve done a better job of that and I’ve started to do more damage with some extra bases.

AF:  I know the minor league season can be a bit of a grind, and we’re getting into the dog days here towards the end.

SB:  Yep.

AF:  So, this last month or so here, what are you really focused on and what are you trying to accomplish as we head into the home stretch of the season?

SB:  In the home stretch of the season, you want to be as aggressive as you can be. You don’t want to leave a season saying, “I wish I would have been a little more aggressive.” But being aggressive gives you more opportunities, and that’s something that I’ve aimed to do progressively over the past few seasons – be aggressive and let my tools play, and be the athlete that I know I can be and that I have to be in order to continue to go where I want to go in this game. And I can’t stress enough, I don’t think any position player wants to leave the season having this conversation with you or others saying, “I wish I was a little more aggressive.” Let it all out, attack your pitches, attack bases, take extra bases on the base paths – that’s my goal for this last quarter. So, this home stretch of the season, it’s just be aggressive, play my game and let the cards fall where they may.

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

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