Category: Minor League Teams

Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 4-Game Series vs. Kane County (5/15-17)

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers split a four-game series this week with the Kane County Cougars, Arizona’s Midwest League affiliate, at Pohlman Field in Beloit.

The teams were originally scheduled to play five games in three days in order to make up for two games that were rained out earlier in the year at Kane County. Unfortunately, rain was in the forecast yet again, forcing the teams to cancel one of the five games.

Kane County came into the series at the top of the Midwest League Western Division standings. The Cougars boast a well-balanced team with an especially strong bullpen. The Cougars also feature one of the premier hitters in the Midwest League, 20-year-old outfielder Marcus Wilson. And by the end of the series, Wilson was sporting an impressive .347/.446/.642 slash line to go along with 6 home runs on the season.

 

Game #1:  Kane County 8 – Beloit 5

Mitchell Jordan

Mitchell Jordan

*The A’s 10th-round draft pick in 2016, RHP Mitchell Jordan, struggled mightily to start the game. Jordan allowed a number of hard-hit balls, and a 7-run 1st inning put Beloit in a big hole early on.

*After giving up a total of 8 earned runs in the loss, Jordan’s ERA jumped from 1.08 to 4.58. His final line for the day read: 3 IP/10 H/8 ER/3 BB/4 K.

*First baseman Miguel Mercedes reached base in all three of his plate appearances and had the Snappers’ only extra-base hit of the game, a double to deep center field in the 4th inning.

 

Game #2:  Kane County 11 – Beloit 3

Nate Mondou Photo: Dave Baker

Nate Mondou
(Photo: Dave Baker)

*This game actually started on Monday night but was stopped after just seven minutes due to a heavy rainstorm and was resumed with just one out in the 1st inning on Tuesday.

*Last year’s 13th-round draft pick for the A’s, infielder Nate Mondou, hustled out of the box to stretch what would have been a single for most batters into an important two-out double in the bottom of the 1st inning. And Mondou’s hustle would open the door for three two-out runs to score for Beloit before the inning was through.

*Outfielder JaVon Shelby, the A’s 6th-round pick in 2016, reached base in all three of his plate appearances and drove in two of the Snappers’ three runs in the loss.

*It was a game to forget for the Snappers’ pitching staff. RHPs Jesus Zambrano, Seth Martinez (making his Beloit debut), Sam Sheehan and Yordys Alejo combined to give up 11 runs, 10 earned, on 11 hits and 7 walks.

 

Game #3:  Beloit 8 – Kane County 2

Brendan Butler Photo: Dave Baker

Brendan Butler
(Photo: Dave Baker)

*RHP Brendan Butler was asked to get the Snappers pitching back on track in Tuesday’s second game and, sure enough, he was up to the task. Butler’s breaking stuff was really working. He struck out 7 while allowing no earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings, and his ERA now sits at 1.60.

*Butler’s breakout is real. Not only does he pass the eye test, but his peripheral numbers also show how dominant he has been this season. Some notable stats include a 0.84 WHIP and a 10.5 K/9 rate, while hitters are batting just .176 against him. Butler already looks like a major draft-day steal for the A’s scouting department after being taken in the 30th round of the 2015 draft.

*RHP Heath Bowers tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win for the Snappers, and he now owns a sterling 1.74 ERA. Bowers has been manager Scott Steinmann’s go-to guy when he’s needed a long reliever this season.

*It was just another ho-hum, 3-for-4 day for infielder Nate Mondou. He barely missed a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 3rd inning as the ball hit off the wall in deep right-center field, and he had to settle for an RBI double that gave Beloit the lead.

*The Snappers scored three runs on bases-loaded walks and one run on a hit-by-pitch as part of their six-run 3rd inning.

 

Game #4:  Beloit 7 – Kane County 6

Luke Persico Photo: Dave Baker

Luke Persico
(Photo: Dave Baker)

*RHP Dakota Chalmers is still struggling to maintain consistent control of his pitches. Blessed with a fastball that sits around 95 mph and a wicked curveball, the A’s #13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline has the stuff to eventually become a front-line starter. In this one, the 20-year-old threw a season-high 75 pitches (his previous high was 57) and finished the game with a stat line of 4 IP/1 H/0 ER/4 BB/5 K.

*Oakland’s 21st-round draft pick from last year, designated Hitter Kyle Nowlin, hit a big 3-run homer to straightaway center field to put Beloit on the board in the bottom of the 1st inning.

*Outfielder Luke Persico raised his batting average over .300 with a 3-for-4 day at the plate while also drawing a walk. The A’s 12th-round pick in 2016 has really settled into the third spot in the batting order for the Snappers, which is somewhat remarkable considering that he started the season at extended spring training in Arizona. But Persico’s shown he can handle Midwest League pitching and could possibly be looking at a promotion to Stockton in the second half if he can keep up the pace.

 

Brendan Butler

Brendan Butler

 

A’s Prospect of the Series:

RHP Brendan Butler

(4 ⅔ IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 7 K)

 

 

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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.

Talking Ports Prospects with Stockton Skipper Rick Magnante

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

rmMGR_Magnante_dervlq1cStockton manager Rick Magnante originally began his professional baseball career as a 13th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians out of the University of Santa Barbara back in 1969. He first joined the A’s organization in 1995 as an area scout covering southern California. He also began managing short-season teams for the A’s in 2006 after his duties prepping for each year’s draft were through.

After spending five seasons in Vancouver and three seasons in Vermont, Magnante gave up his scouting duties and began managing full-time. He spent the 2014 season in Beloit and is now in his third season with Stockton.

Just before left-hander A.J. Puk’s impressive performance on Saturday, in which he allowed just one infield single and struck out 9 over 5 scoreless innings, we had the chance to chat with the Stockton skipper about the recent changes to team’s tandem-pitching rotation and well as many of the Ports’ most promising prospects…

 

AF:  First things first, you’re switching up the starting rotation a bit. You’re getting away from the eight-man tandem rotation and are stretching out a few of the guys now. Is that right?

RM:  Well, it’s a little bit of a hybrid now. There will be a couple of guys that piggyback. There will be three guys that get their own start: [A.J.] Puk, [Logan] Shore, and [Evan] Manarino. Those will be the three that will be on their own, and they’ll match up with what’s in the bullpen on that given day.

AF:  Do you have a pitch count for Puk, Shore and Manarino as they get stretched out? What could we expect from an innings standpoint?

RM:  I think we’re going to gradually increase them to where they can get back to 75-85 [pitches], and toward the halfway mark of the season, toward 100 and back on a starter’s number as it relates to what’s expected in the big leagues.

A.J. Puk

A.J. Puk

AF:  Puk’s previous three starts [prior to Saturday] were a little different than his first three. His BABIP was .522, everyone was making good contact against him, and he had three consecutive losses in those appearances. Was he trying something new?

RM:  I don’t necessarily think that he’s trying anything new. I think he’s just understanding that he’s in a professional environment now facing professional hitters. And when he’s making the pitches he’s capable of making, he’s pretty untouchable. But when he doesn’t make those pitches and falls behind or gets deep into counts, these guys – you have to give them credit – they can hit a little bit and it’s what they’ve been doing.

AF:  Back to the tandem-pitching experiment. How do you feel about it?

RM:  I think as far as getting guys more appearances, I get that, but I think we should mirror the model of what’s going on in the big leagues. If the big leagues are going to go to this same format, then I fully understand it. If they’re not, then I’m not sure if the Petri dish experiment is truly working. So, we’ve already amended it.

AF:  Let’s talk about some of the bullpen arms. Between Nolan Blackwood, Carlos Navas, Jared Lyons and Matt Sergey, they’ve managed to allow just 4 runs in their 41 innings of work. Everyone knows some of those names in the rotation, but for those who might not know much about the arms in the pen, tell me about a few of them.

Nolan Blackwood

Nolan Blackwood

RM:  Blackwood can pitch. They [the A’s] like him. He’s a down-under guy and it sinks at 91-92. He’s got the frisbee slider going the other way. He’s hard to pick up with a lot of deception.

AF:  Do you think Brad Ziegler with a slightly better fastball would be a good comparison for Blackwood?

RM:  Probably. This is really my first look at Nolan. I didn’t have him last year. He’s had a few appearances here and, like anybody, he’s probably a little nervous or anxious and maybe sometimes tries to do a little too much. On certain days, there’s one pitch that works. He’s got a sinking fastball at 90-92 – you don’t need to go to the frisbee slider if they’re not swinging at that. And if you don’t have the slider, then you’ve got to go with whatever your best pitch is. So he’s learning.

AF:  I wanted to ask you about Carlos Navas. He pitched very briefly in Triple-A last season, he’s 24 and he pitched extremely well in the Venezuelan Winter League to guys who are bit older than him, and he hasn’t given up a run yet this year here in Stockton. What’s his ceiling?

RM:  There’s no telling. He may move quickly through this organization as the need arises and he’s seasoned. He’s been able to combine a 2-seamer and a 4-seamer, and if he can keep himself on line – that would be his biggest Achilles heal – he doesn’t always work down the slope. He can get left-to-right and that’s when he starts to yank the stuff. This year, his mechanics have been better, he’s been more on line, he’s got two-plane action and he’s got a very good slider. He’s durable, he’s strong, he competes, and he’s got great character, so we all pull for him.

AF:  Casey Meisner has looked much better recently. He hasn’t allowed a run in a couple of his recent appearances. How do you view his development?

RM:  He’s just kind of working through it. You know, he’s a big, tall, rangy guy and sometimes those guys have a more difficult time repeating [their delivery]. It’s confidence as well. In his mind and in the mind of the organization, he probably had a very disappointing season [last year]. He’s a high school draft guy without a lot of experience, but he had a real solid season in the South Atlantic League and in the Florida State League when we traded for him. He came here and stepped right into a role and competed. And then last year was a hiccup for him.

AF:  Although Brett Graves has moved on to Midland, both he and Evan Manarino have done such a great job this year in Stockton. Both pitchers have had their finest strikeout-to-walk ratios of their careers. What are you doing with two guys like that to help them develop?

Evan Manarino

Evan Manarino

RM:  You have two guys who really have a feel to pitch. And they really treat this as an opportunity. They’re students of the game. They assess their performances and they write things down to remind them of what they did right or wrong in their previous outings in terms of how they attacked the hitters. For me, Manarino is Tommy Milone. That’s who he is. He’s unflappable out there. His fastball wouldn’t bust your lip, but he never throws it in the same place twice. It’s the same with the changeup. He mixes his pitches and keeps hitters off balance. He has to be very control-and-command oriented because, the fastball, if it’s not located, is hittable. He’s a pitcher. Graves, on the other hand, he’s got 92-94 in the tank, so he’s got a litmus-test fastball. So with him, it’s commanding the breaking ball and attacking hitters and knowing how to get people out.

AF:  Logan Shore, I believe, at Florida topped out at about 92 mph. Is he getting a little more on his fastball, and how is the development coming along on his slider?

RM:  Yeah, I think his velocity has been somewhere between 91-94 – he’s probably sitting somewhere around 92. I think that’s probably his comfort level. Right now, it’s basically fastball, change and a developing slider. I actually talked to him before we came out today and he’s really working hard to figure out a grip and get comfortable, and he really believes he’s got a slider when he throws it right. It’s a good pitch, but just doesn’t have the consistency yet.

AF:  Offensively, we’ve seen a few guys really hitting well of late – outfielders Skye Bolt and Tyler Ramirez, shortstop Eli White and, despite his slow start, infielder Mikey White has shown some power of late. Is there anyone you’ve been particularly impressed with?

RM:  I think the guy that really had a terrific April and was pushed a little bit in terms of his matriculation through the system has been Eli White. I think he got off to a great start, and I think he’s a guy who has the tools and the skill set and, with some development – maybe a season under his belt – could be a guy that will really surprise.

AF:  Skye Bolt is a guy we’ve all been focused on because of his tools, and he’s currently in the top ten in the California League in on-base percentage. What is he doing differently this season?

RM:  I think he has just made some strides in his basic approach to hitting. He just seems to be more on time, his pitch recognition is better, his path is more consistent. He’s got a lean, sinewy kind of body that doesn’t really say “power,” but when the ball comes off the bat, it can be electric at times. I would kind of liken him a little bit to [Josh] Reddick in terms of that kind of profile or prototype.

AF:  About the injuries to first baseman Sandber Pimentel and catcher Sean Murphy, how long should we expect that they’ll be out?

Sandber Pimentel

Sandber Pimentel

RM:  Pimie…I don’t know. We got him here kind of hoping we could rehab him to begin the year. And we got him back on the field, but then he swung a couple of times and he had to shut it down. It’s a back issue. I’m not an orthopod, so I can’t tell you, but we all thought it’d be better to send him back to Arizona and give him more hands-on treatment to see what happens. Certainly we’d love to have him here because he’s an impact guy for us. If we have him and we have [Chris] Iriart—a lefty/righty combo at first-base and DH—we’ve got some thump and some dangerous guys in the lineup. So, we certainly hope he’ll be fine. With Murph, it’s just a little wrist problem and those are quirky. Those are things that can be hard to work through.

AF:  Catcher Jose Chavez joined the team with Murphy’s absence and hit two home runs in his first six games. Is he someone we can expect to get more and more time while Murphy is out?

RM:  I think so. I think Chavy will get the lion’s share of the catching when Murph’s not capable of playing. And everybody’s always been very complimentary of Chavy’s ability to catch and throw – that’s his forte. It’s the bat that’s always been a little suspect as he has developed through the minor league system. Now he’s getting a little better feel on how to hit. He’s a little stronger. He’s a little more mature. He’s had more experience. So, hopefully we’re starting to see that if this guy has the ability to get to the big leagues, he’ll have a serviceable bat that’ll allow him to play some.

AF:  How much of a defensive drop-off do you see between Murphy and Chavez?

RM:  I would say in the receiving end, probably not too much. I think Murphy is a prodigy. I think he’s advanced and has a baseball IQ that shows that not only can he catch, and he can really throw, but he also has an idea on how to help his pitchers attack hitters and exploit their weaknesses and take advantage of that – and that’s a thinking man’s catcher, and that’s something you can’t really grade out unless you see it every day on the field.

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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.

Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 3-Game Series vs. Bowling Green (5/5-7)

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers ended a 6-game home stand this week with a 3-game series against Tampa Bay’s Midwest League affiliate, the Bowling Green Hot Rods, at Pohlman Field in Beloit.

The Hot Rods feature five young position-player prospects all ranked in the top 15 in the Rays’ farm system according to MLB Pipeline. They are 20-year-old outfielder Garrett Whitley, 19-year-old outfielders Joshua Lowe and Jesus Sanchez, 19-year-old infielder Lucius Fox and 18-year-old infielder Adrian Rondon.

While we all know that the A’s may prefer to draft more experienced college players, based on the young talent on this team, it seems that the Rays may have their sights more set on high school players.

 

Game #1:  Bowling Green 7 – Beloit 6

Luke Persico

Luke Persico

*The Snappers’ stagnant offense finally came out of its shell in the 9th inning. After scoring just 1 run over the first 8 frames, Beloit put 5 runs on the board in the bottom of the 9th. Unfortunately, the Snappers’ rally fell short, with outfielder JaVon Shelby called out on strikes with the tying run on second and the winning run on first.

*The A’s 2016 12th-round draft pick, outfielder Luke Persico, went 4 for 5 with 4 singles and an RBI in the game.

*Last year’s 13th-round pick for the A’s, second baseman Nate Mondou, had his 10-game hitting streak and his 20-game on-base streak snapped with an 0-for-5 day.

 

Game #2:  Beloit 3 – Bowling Green 2 (12 innings)

Michael Murray

Michael Murray

*Starter Michael Murray pitched 5 strong innings for Beloit. He made just one real mistake all day, a solo home run to Hot Rods outfielder Jesus Sanchez.

*Murray had a big breaking curveball working in this one, and it helped him to strike out a season-high 7 batters while walking none. 47 of his 61 pitches went for strikes.

*Following in Murray’s footsteps, LHP Ty Damron and RHP Heath Bowers each had strong outings in relief, and they both did a marvelous job painting the corners of the strike zone.

*Beloit’s home run leader, first baseman Miguel Mercedes, came up with a clutch two-out single to tie the game in the 8th inning.

*Kyle Nowlin, pinch hitting for left-handed-hitting outfielder Cole Gruber against a left-handed pitcher, drew a bases-loaded, walk-off walk in the 12th inning to give the Snappers their third walk-off win of the season.

 

Game #3:  Bowling Green 6 – Beloit 2

Dakota Chalmers

Dakota Chalmers

*The A’s #13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, RHP Dakota Chalmers, had trouble finding the strike zone consistently yet again in this contest. Despite walking 4 and giving up 2 hits in only 2 innings of work, Chalmers escaped without giving up a run as he left the bases loaded to end both innings.

*Chalmers had a brilliant outing on April 17 against Kane County, during which he struck out 10 and walked none over 4 scoreless innings. Since then, he has walked 14 and hit 1 batter in just 8 ⅓ innings over 4 games. Despite his control issues, Chalmers still possesses filthy stuff. Opponents have hit a meager .175 against Chalmers, and he has punched out 30 batters in just 18 ⅓ innings.

*Outfielder Cole Gruber has struggled at the plate with a .182 batting average on the season. On the mound though, it’s been a different story. Gruber has proved to be an effective lefty reliever. The A’s 27th-round draft pick last year threw a scoreless 9th inning in this one and has now thrown 3 scoreless innings this season despite only topping out at around 85 mph.

*Snappers hitters combined for an ugly 14-strikeout/0-walk performance, which is the antithesis of the type of plate discipline that the A’s organization likes to preach.

 

Series Notes:

*The Snappers did not hit a home run in the 3-game series.

*Outfielder Luke Persico was Beloit’s hottest hitter in the series, going 8 for 15 for the Snappers.

*As mentioned in our last series recap, LHP Dalton Sawyer and RHP Brendan Butler will no longer be pitching as part of the Snappers’ two-man pitching tandems. Both will be stand-alone starters from here on out. Starting this week, the Snappers’ starting rotation will look like this:

Monday: Dalton Sawyer

Tuesday: Brandon Bailey/Mitchell Jordan

Wednesday: Brendan Butler

Thursday: Ty Damron/Michael Murray

Friday: Matt Milburn/Dakota Chalmers

 

mm663307

 

A’s Prospect of the Series:

RHP Michael Murray

(5 IP / 3 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 7 K)

 

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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.

Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 3-Game Series vs. Dayton (5/2-4)

By Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers started a 6-game home stand this week with a 3-game series against Cincinnati’s Midwest League affiliate, the Dayton Dragons, at Pohlman Field in Beloit. It was the Snappers’ first series of the season against a Midwest League Eastern Division opponent.

The Dragons have built a reputation this season for being very aggressive on the base paths and entered the series leading the Midwest League with 42 stolen bases in just 24 games. The Snappers, on the other hand, are currently last in the league with just 11 stolen bases in their first 22 games.

The Dragons also have the Reds’ # 5 prospect, outfielder Taylor Trammell, along with the Reds’ #8 prospect, catcher Tyler Stephenson (according to MLB Pipeline). The Snappers lost two of the three games in the series. Beloit won Game #2 by a score of 9-2, while Dayton won Game #1 and Game #3 by scores of 4-1 and 7-2, respectively.

 

Game #1:  Dayton 4 – Beloit 1

Miguel Mercedes

Miguel Mercedes

*First baseman Miguel Mercedes entered the game with 0 walks in 91 plate appearances. So, of course, Mercedes took 3 walks in his first 3 plate appearances of the game! Let this be yet another reminder that you can’t predict baseball.

*Snappers’ hitters struck out an unsightly 13 times in the loss.

*Catcher Jason Goldstein, acquired in the offseason trade that sent A’s pitcher Dillon Overton to the Mariners, threw out 2 of the 3 runners who tried to steal against him.

*Last year’s 5th-round pick for the A’s, right fielder JaVon Shelby, was credited with 2 outfield assists in the game.

*With a game-time temperature of 48 degrees, Snappers pitchers knew coming in it was going to be a battle to control their pitches. And between four Beloit pitchers, they combined to walk 8 batters.

*The A’s #13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, RHP Dakota Chalmers, allowed just 1 hit but walked 4 batters in 3 innings of work. He threw just 26 strikes in 54 pitches.

*RHP Michael Murray, the A’s 32nd-round pick in 2015, battled through a strenuous 3 innings of work. He threw 33 of his 60 pitches for strikes, with a line of 3 IP/5 H/3 R/2 ER/2 BB/3 K

*Both Chalmers and Murray were bouncing many of their breaking pitches in the dirt, a clear sign that they were having trouble with their grip in the less-than-ideal Wisconsin weather.

 

Game #2:  Beloit 9 – Dayton 2

Kyle Nowlin

Kyle Nowlin

*Last year’s 21st-round pick for the A’s, Kyle Nowlin, had a big game at the plate to help the Snappers win. The designated hitter went 3 for 5 with his 3rd home run of the year and 3 RBIs.

*Catcher Collin Theroux also homered in the game and currently leads all catchers in the A’s system with 4 home runs. And while the 32nd-round pick in 2016 has shown some good pop, he still needs to work on making more contact at the plate.

*After striking out 13 times in their previous game, the Snappers did a better job of battling through their at-bats in this one, resulting in 10 hits while striking out just 6 times and drawing 5 walks.

*The Snappers recorded 3 outfield assists in the game, one by last year’s 12th-round pick, right fielder Luke Persico, and a pair by last year’s 27th-round pick, left fielder Cole Gruber.

*Listed at 5’10” and 175 lbs., Oakland’s 2016 6th-round pick, RHP Brandon Bailey, doesn’t possess the kind of size that scouts usually look for in a starting pitcher. But what Bailey does have is a great fastball-changeup combination that resulted in 8 of his 12 recorded outs in this game coming on either a strikeout or a groundout.

 

Game #3:  Dayton 7 – Beloit 2

Nate Mondou

Nate Mondou

*I have to admit that I have so far failed to properly spotlight the contributions of Nate Mondou this season. Simply put, this guy has been playing great baseball, and I’ve hardly even mentioned him. Well, that’s about to change. After turning in a 3-for-3 night with a pair of walks in Thursday’s loss, the left-handed-hitting second baseman, who was taken by the A’s in the 13th round of the 2016 draft, made it into the top five in the Midwest League batting race with a .354 average. He also has excellent numbers across the board, boasting a .432 OBP, a .443 SLG and an .875 OPS.

*And after his impressive performance on Thursday, Mondou had managed to reach base in 20 straight games for the Snappers.

*Last but not least is his defense. Mondou has impressed with the leather quite a bit this season, notably making two jump-throw outs as well as a leaping catch that turned into a double play in this series.

*Center fielder Mike Martin, fresh off the DL last week, recorded 2 outfield assists in the game.

*It was an excellent pitching matchup, with two 6’5” lefties with great stuff on the mound for this one. For Dayton, it was one of the Midwest League’s best strikeout artists in Scott Moss. For Beloit, it was one of the Midwest League’s ERA leaders in Dalton Sawyer.

*Sawyer had his scoreless-inning streak snapped at 21 frames. The 23-year-old, 9th-round pick from last season finished with a respectable line of 4 ⅓ IP/4 H/2 ER/1 BB/6 K but still ended up suffering the loss.

 

Series Notes:

Dalton Sawyer

Dalton Sawyer

*Dayton runners made an astonishing 14 outs on the base paths in the 3-game series. The outs were recorded on 7 outfield assists, 4 failed base-stealing attempts, 1 pickoff by the pitcher, 1 pickoff by the catcher, and 1 runner who was doubled off first after a leaping catch by second baseman Nate Mondou.

*In the second game of the series, Nate Mondou played third base for the first time in his professional career. It’s unclear whether that was just a one-time thing or possibly something we’ll be seeing more of in order to help increase Mondou’s versatility.

*Word around Pohlman Field is that both LHP Dalton Sawyer and RHP Brendan Butler are going to be stretched out and allowed to be stand-alone starters. The Snappers have been using an 8-man tandem rotation this season, as have a pair of other A’s affiliates, the Stockton Ports and the Midland Rockhounds. But with Sawyer and Butler performing so well this season, it seems to make sense to stretch them out and allow them to pitch deeper into games as starting pitchers would normally do.

*Fun fact: Dayton Dragons pitching coach Derrin Ebert played the role of former Oakland A’s relief pitcher Mike Magnante in the movie “Moneyball.”

 

nm670148

 

A’s Prospect of the Series:

Second Baseman Nate Mondou

(5 for 11 / 3 Walks / 2 RBIs + 3 great defensive plays)

 

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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.

Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 4-Game Series vs. Burlington (4/20-23)

By Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsThe Beloit Snappers recently hosted a 4-game series with the Angels’ Midwest League affiliate, the Burlington Bees, at Pohlman Field in Beloit that wrapped up on Sunday afternoon.

The Bees are managed by former A’s catcher Adam Melhuse, and the top prospect on the Bees roster is toolsy outfielder Jahmai Jones, who is the #1-ranked Angels prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

The Snappers and the Bees split the 4-game series, with Burlington winning the first 2 games 3-1 and 8-4, while the Snappers took the final 2 games 8-3 and 8-0.

 

Game #1:  Burlington 3 – Beloit 1

Ty Damron

Ty Damron

*LHP Ty Damron turned in another strong outing (4 IP/4 H/1 ER/1 BB/5 K) for the Snappers. Damron is a lefty who won’t blow you away with a big fastball, but he’s got great command. He also does an excellent job of keeping the ball low and getting ground balls, as evidenced by the five ground-ball outs he got in this game.

*RHP Brendan Butler, a 30th round pick in 2015, has had a magnificent start to his 2017 season. Butler looks to be a late-round gem that has a legitimate chance to move up the ranks fast. Butler pitched 4 scoreless innings of no-hit ball in the game. For the season, he has a 1.69 ERA with a 0.63 WHIP and a .137 batting-average-against while striking out 21 in over 16 innings.

*The Snappers struck out 12 times in the loss and didn’t draw a walk. The slider low and away was the main culprit on many of the strikeouts in this game.

 

Game #2:  Burlington 8 – Beloit 4

Dakota Chalmers

Dakota Chalmers

*RHP Dakota Chalmers (#14 A’s prospect on MLB Pipeline) started the game, but he didn’t last very long. Chalmers walked 4, hit a batter, and threw 4 wild pitches and got pulled after just a ⅓ of an inning. Chalmers was all over the place with his pitches. Our guess from the press box was that he was having trouble with his landing spot and that he didn’t have a good grip on the ball on a chilly April night. After such a strong start his last time out on the road (4 IP/ 1 H/ 0 ER/ 0 BB/ 10 K), hopefully we can just chalk this outing up to a bad day.

*Outfielder JaVon Shelby, the A’s 5th-round pick in 2016, went 3 for 4 with a stolen base.

*A’s 27th-round pick in 2016, speedy outfielder Cole Gruber had a rough day at the plate. He finished 0 for 5 with 4 strikeouts.

*Snappers infielder Eric Marinez was brought in to pitch to one batter in the 9th inning, and he struck out the Angels #1 prospect, outfielder Jahmai Jones, with a 94-mph fastball!

 

Game #3:  Beloit 8 – Burlington 3

Matt Milburn

Matt Milburn

*RHP Matt Milburn had his strongest outing of the year, going 4 scoreless innings, and the A’s 29th-round pick last year really had his cutter working effectively in this one.

*The A’s 6th-round pick from last year, RHP Brandon Bailey, also had a strong outing. Possessing more swing-and-miss stuff than his tandem-pitching partner Milburn, Bailey threw 3 scoreless innings while striking out 5 batters.

*LHP Andrew Tomasovich has been almost unhittable out of the Snappers bullpen. And he struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced in this outing. Tomasovich will come at you from a couple of different arm angles. His fastball ranges from 92-94 mph, and he has a hard, breaking slider. The 23-year-old lefty spent all last season in Beloit, where he struggled with his control. But this season, he has really found his mojo, and he currently boasts a stat line of 8 IP/3 H/0 ER/0 BB/12 K.

*First baseman Miguel Mercedes and designated hitter Kyle Nowlin both went deep for the Snappers. Nowlin’s blast was hit just to the right of the batter’s eye in deep center field.

 

Game #4:  Beloit 8 – Burlington 0

Mitchell Jordan

Mitchell Jordan

*LHP Dalton Sawyer, the A’s 9th round pick last year, was dominant on the mound. He pitched 5 perfect innings for the Snappers, striking out 8. He threw 57 pitches, 42 of them for strikes.

*Drafted a round later than Sawyer, 10th-round pick RHP Mitchell Jordan followed Sawyer’s impressive effort with a solid 4 IP/3 H/0 ER/1 BB/2 K line on Sunday.

*Together, Sawyer and Jordan combined for a 3-hit shutout of the Burlington Bees, while walking just 1 and striking out 10. The two also threw a combined 100 total pitches, 75 of which were for strikes.

*Outfielders Luke Persico and JaVon Shelby and infielders Edwin Diaz and Eric Marinez all homered for Beloit.

*Edwin Diaz’s home run was impressive, going “oppo boppo” (opposite field) for an estimated distance of nearly 400 feet to right-center field.

 

Series Notes:

*Miguel Mercedes and Kyle Nowlin have been alternating between first base and designated hitter. And, so far, Mercedes appears to be the superior defender.

*Speaking of Kyle Nowlin, the A’s 21st-round pick from last year has really started hitting the ball with much more authority lately. He tallied two doubles and a home run in the series.

*Outfielder Luke Persico, the A’s 12th-round pick from last year, came into the Burlington series just 1 for 22 as a Snapper. But he really heated up in this series, going 5 for 10 with a home run and 5 RBIs.

*Beloit Snappers Media Relations Manager, Garrett Mansfield, commented during Game #4, “I really like Dalton Sawyer’s delivery. It’s just so smooth.” And I would have to agree with that observation. The 6’5”, 210-pound southpaw really does have a great-looking delivery that is just so silky smooth.

 

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A’s Prospects of the Series:

LHP Dalton Sawyer                    RHP Brendan Butler

(5 IP/ 0 H/ 0 ER/ 0 BB/ 8 K)           (4 IP/ 0 H/ 0 ER/ 2 BB/ 5 K)

 

 

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Snappy Thoughts: Beloit’s 3-Game Series vs. Peoria (4/13-4/15)

bsby Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

The Beloit Snappers hosted the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, for a 3-game home series at Pohlman Field in Beloit this week.

The Chiefs had a couple of the Cardinals’ 1st-round picks playing in the series, including 18-year-old outfielder Dylan Carlson (#16 Cardinals prospect on MLB Pipeline).

Peoria took Game #1 from Beloit by a score of 7-3 on Thursday, while the Snappers mounted a great comeback in Game #2 (in what shall now be known as “the Collin Theroux game”) to win by a score of 5-4 on Friday, and Game #3, which turned out to be a 12-0 shutout win, was completely dominated by the Snappers on Saturday.

 

Game #1:  Peoria 7 – Beloit 3

Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz

*Snappers tandem starters Matt Milburn and Brandon Bailey were not at their most effective on Thursday. Between the two, they walked 5 and gave up all 7 Chiefs runs in 5 ⅓ innings of work.

*The Snappers were very aggressive at the plate against Chiefs starter Ronnie Williams (#25 Cardinals prospect on MLB Pipeline), resulting in a lot of quick outs through the first 6 innings. In fact, Williams threw just 61 pitches through 6 innings of work.

*Half the Snappers 10 hits in the game came during their 3-run 7th inning.

*Snappers infielder Edwin Diaz led off the 7th inning with a booming home run to left field. It was his 2nd home run of the season and Beloit’s only extra-base hit of the game.

 

Game #2:  Beloit 5 – Peoria 4

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Miguel Mercedes

*Coming into Friday’s game, Beloit catcher Collin Theroux was 5 for 65 in his professional baseball career, including an 0-for-33 mark as a Snapper. Theroux proceeded to go 3 for 3 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs and also made a terrific sliding catch in foul territory.

*Theroux’s first home run of the game, and of his pro career, was hit over the Pohlman Field scoreboard in left-center field and the estimated distance was over 430 feet!

*Theroux’s second home run was a game-tying 2-run shot that came in the 7th inning.

*Snappers pitcher Brendan Butler noted that Theroux had a good spring in Arizona and was starting to make better and more consistent contact. Maybe this career game will be a turning point in his young career.

*Outfielder Luis Barrera showed off his blazing speed by legging out a triple to lead off the bottom of the 7th inning and later scored.

*Designated hitter Miguel Mercedes hit the go-ahead home run in the 8th inning just over the wall in left field. It was his 2nd home run of the season for the Snappers.

*Starting Pitcher Boomer Biegalski allowed a lot of hard contact in the 1st inning, but he bounced back and pitched much better over his next 3 innings of work. Biegalski’s final line: 4 IP / 4 H / 3 R / 2 ER / 1 BB / 3 K.

*Last year’s 9th-round draft pick for the A’s, LHP Dalton Sawyer, pitched 4 very strong innings. Sawyer dominated the Chiefs with a mix of fastballs, sliders and changeups. Sawyer’s final line: 4 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 BB / 7 K.

 

Game #3:  Beloit 12 – Peoria 0

Ty Damron

Ty Damron

*Beloit hitters recorded 16 hits and scored 12 runs in the game. Not to be outdone, Beloit pitchers combined to throw a 5-hit shutout with 0 walks and 12 strikeouts.

*Beloit pitchers Brendan Butler, Will Gilbert, and Ty Damron were very efficient, needing just 112 pitches to get through the game.

*Snappers pitcher Ty Damron is technically considered a starting pitcher. But with the 8-man tandem rotation that the Snappers (and other A’s affiliates) are using, Damron came in as reliever in this one and actually got credited with a save in a 12-run game.

*Beloit’s Pohlman Field offered ideal hitting conditions on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, with a temperature near 80 degrees and a 23 MPH wind blowing out to right-center field. And Snappers hitters took advantage, with all but one Snapper getting at least one hit.

*The Snappers’ 3 home runs came from outfielder JaVon Shelby, who hit his 1st of the season, and infielders Edwin Diaz and Miguel Mercedes, both of whom hit their 3rd.

*Diaz had a big day at the plate, going 3 for 5 with a home run and 3 RBIs.

*Shortstop Eric Marinez showed off his range with a Jeter-esque jump throw to cut down Chiefs first baseman Stefan Trosclair.

*Shelby’s home run was impressive as it capped a 6-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off three straight good pitches from Chiefs pitcher Dailyn Martinez. Shelby was also wearing special cleats in honor of Jackie Robinson day across baseball. You can see what Shelby had to say about Jackie Robinson here...

 

Series Notes:

*The start of Game #2 was delayed by an hour and thirty-one minutes because of inclement weather. Miguel Mercedes’ go-ahead home run actually came with the rain coming down pretty hard. And the game had an announced attendance of 94. Yep, you read that right.

*Game #3 of the series saw Snappers pitchers retire 16 Chiefs batters in a row.

*Snappers pitchers combined for 35 strikeouts in the 3-game series.

*Infielders Edwin Diaz and Miguel Mercedes are tied for the team lead in home runs with 3 apiece.

*Edwin Diaz looks like a player who is just starting to tap into his power potential. With his powerful right-handed swing and his sturdy 6’2”, 195-pound frame, this 21-year-old infielder is a player to keep an eye on.

*It is hard to properly describe the amazing game that Collin Theroux had on Friday. It is just another great example of how baseball is such an unpredictable game. Anyone can be the hero on any given night!

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A’s Prospect of the Series:

Catcher Collin Theroux

(4 for 6 / 1 BB / 2 HR / 4 RBIs / 3 Runs)

 

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Snappy Thoughts: Beloit Snappers Season-Opening Series Recap

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

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Beloit’s Pohlman Field

The Beloit Snappers opened their season with a doubleheader vs. the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins affiliate) at Pohlman Field in Beloit on Friday, April 8th. This came after the originally-scheduled opening day on Thursday was postponed due to wet grounds at Pohlman Field.

While starting the season with a doubleheader is not ideal for anyone (players, coaches, fans, front office, the guys in the press box), it ended up being a fine day at the ‘ol ballpark. The Snappers split the doubleheader, losing the first game 4-0 and winning the second game 3-2.

 

Game #1:

Pitcher Xavier Altamirano

Pitcher Xavier Altamirano

*Starter Brendan Butler had an inconsistent first outing, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, over 3 2/3 innings to take the loss. He was mostly hurt by a rough 2nd inning in which he gave up three straight hard-hit doubles.

*RHP Xavier Altamirano had a strong debut, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He featured a slow curveball at 67-69 mph that really kept the Kernels off balance. Fellow Snappers hurler Dakota Chalmers mentioned that Altamirano had a really good spring training, so he was not at all surprised that Altamirano started off the season strong.

*Outfielder Cole Gruber, last year’s 27th-round draft pick for the A’s, had a chance to show off his speed by reaching base on a beautiful bunt single down the third base line in the 3rd inning.

*Kernels starting pitcher Eduardo Del Rosario really impressed, holding the Snappers to just 2 hits and striking out 7 over 6 shutout innings.

 

Game #2:

First Baseman Miguel Mercedes

First Baseman Miguel Mercedes

*Starter Ty Damron, last year’s 15th-round draft pick for the A’s, pitched 4 strong innings of shutout ball, painting the outside corner all night. The left-hander was a strike-throwing machine, notching 7 K’s on the night. Damron needed just 11 pitches to get through the first two innings. Overall, he threw a total of 58 pitches, 46 for strikes.

*The only trouble for Damron came in the 4th inning, when the Kernels loaded the bases with nobody out. He then struck out the next two batters on six pitches. The third out of the inning was not as easy as Kernels outfielder Christian Cavaness worked an 11-pitch at-bat before finally succumbing to a strikeout. During the lengthy at-bat, Snappers pitcher Michael Murray commented, “Rarely does a long at-bat like this ever work out in the pitcher’s favor.” In this case, Murray was glad to be wrong.

*The Snappers first two runs of the season were scored on wild pitches by Kernels starter Tyler Wells.

*Designated hitter Miguel Mercedes had the Snappers’ first extra-base hit of the season, a double scorched into left-center field that scored first baseman Kyle Nowlin to give the Snappers their first win of the season in a walk-off!

 

Series Notes:

Early season baseball can be sloppy. In this short two-game series, there were two runs scored via wild pitch, one run scored via a throwing error, one passed ball, one balk, and a total of three errors. Catcher Collin Theroux picked a man off first base in Game #1 of the doubleheader, while lefty reliever Will Gilbert picked off an inherited runner in the 7th inning of Game #2.

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A’s Prospect of the Series:

Pitcher Ty Damron

(4 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K)

 

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Stockton Ports 2017 Opening Day Roster Preview

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

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Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark

This year, Stockton has the pleasure of welcoming Oakland’s first four selections from last year’s draft onto its 25-man opening day roster, as the Ports add a total of 13 new players to the 2017 squad.

The main cause for excitement in Stockton this year revolves around the team’s retooled pitching staff, which will feature last year’s top three draft picks for the A’s: LHP A.J. Puk (#6 overall, Florida), RHP Daulton Jefferies (#37, Cal) and RHP Logan Shore (#47, Florida).

Of the 13 pitchers currently on the Ports pitching staff, eight of them are expected to work as part of four two-man starting pitching tandems, at least to start the season. In addition to top picks Puk, Jefferies and Shore, a couple of 2016 Snappers starters, RHPs Angel Duno (7-7, 2.68) and Dustin Hurlbutt (3-6, 2.57), will be joining a pair of Ports hold-overs, RHPs Casey Meisner (1-14, 4.85) and Brett Graves (7-10, 4.60), along with LHP Evan Manarino (10-6, 2.58), who split time between Beloit and Stockton last year. And this octet of promising young pitchers certainly has the potential to shape up as the California League’s most talented starting staff in 2017.

Last season, Stockton’s hitters struck out a total of 1,226 times (second worst in the California League), and the Ports were league-average or below in nearly all offensive categories. With a pair of last year’s more productive hitters, Joe Bennie (.302/.376/.449) and B.J. Boyd (.288/.346/.395), joining Midland this season, the Ports hope that some of the newcomers will step up to help replace their production.

Among the new arrivals are a number of 2016 draft picks who just got a chance to get their feet wet last year, including catcher Sean Murphy (3rd round, Wright State), outfielder Tyler Ramirez (7th round, North Carolina), shortstop Eli White (11th round, Clemson) and second baseman Josh Vidales (28th round, Houston). Joining them will be some more experienced prospects who spent all of last season with Beloit, including outfielders Skye Bolt (.231/.318/.345) and Brett Siddall (.241/.321/.356) as well as second baseman Trent Gilbert (.269/.327/.380).

The key to success for Stockton this season, however, will be the performance of its talented young pitching staff. It will surely need to improve on a 2016 staff that underwhelmed last year, even after adding highly-touted RHP Grant Holmes, who joined the Ports in August after arriving from the Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill deal. Among the five teams in the California League North Division last season, Stockton had the highest ERA (4.56) and WHIP (1.44) as well as the fewest saves (20), so there’s definitely plenty of room for improvement in 2017.

 

10 Ports Players to Watch in 2017

1. LHP A.J. Puk

ap640462bIf there was any doubt who to note first on this list, witnessing Puk’s performance in Stockton’s exhibition game versus Cal State East Bay on Tuesday evening erased all doubt. The big lefty will undoubtedly be the big attraction at Banner Island Ballpark this season. And he possesses a unique set of skills that will be dearly missed whenever he is inevitably sent to Midland, whether it be midseason or next season, so that he can terrorize Texas League hitters. Sporting a 6’7″ frame and long, reddish-blonde hair, Puk is a dominant figure on the mound. His unique ability to hurl a 98-mph fastball on a downward plane results in a distinct POP audible a quarter mile down Fremont Street. Though he was facing collegiate competition on Tuesday, Puk was absolutely a man amongst boys. Brought into the game in relief of starter Dustin Hurlbutt, Puk struck out 8 batters in 4 innings while allowing just two base runners. Puk made his spring training debut in major league camp for the A’s, striking out the side in the first of his two appearances in big league camp. In 10 starts at Vermont in 2016, Puk pitched to a 3.03 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP while striking out 40 in 32 2/3 innings, and he was most proficient against right-handed hitters, allowing a stingy .157/.232/.202 line against righties. At his best in 2016, Puk combined to allow just 3 hits and 2 walks over 8 2/3 innings while striking out 13 and allowing no runs in back-to-back August starts. Like many larger-framed pitchers, however, Puk is also prone to a wild, difficult-to-repeat delivery and occasionally lacks control because of it. In both his freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida, Puk averaged more than 4 walks per 9 innings and allowed 3.3 free passes per 9 frames at Vermont. For Ports fans, the news of Puk’s arrival could be bittersweet. As one of the most potentially electrifying pitchers in the California League, he might not end up staying in the league for long.

2. RHP Logan Shore

ls624519Dating back to their days together at Florida when Shore and A.J. Puk dominated SEC lineups together, and despite what’s been written above, the better pitcher statistically has actually been Shore. Logan didn’t feature a mid-to-high 90s fastball or double-digit K/9 numbers at Florida, but he walked only a fraction of the batters that Puk did (1.90 to 4.04 BB/9), showed off an ERA in the mid-2s compared to Puk’s in the mid-3s, and won 30 games over three seasons as opposed to Puk’s 16 victories. Shore’s best asset is probably his ability to control the strike zone, which he typically pounds with a plus changeup, slider and a fastball that sits in the low 90s with excellent command. In his brief stint in Vermont last season, lefties struggled to the tune of a .306 OPS while Shore pitched to an overall 2.57 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, striking out 21 in as many innings for the Lake Monsters. He really impressed in a surprise spring training start in major league camp against the Angels, where he struck out 5 (including Mike Trout) over 5 solid innings and allowed just a single run thanks to some unusual spring training base-running shenanigans.

3. RHP Daulton Jefferies

djPFKSDMUFQUWSOHH.20151029180443Oakland’s second pitching selection in 2016 out of UC Berkeley, Jefferies was nearly as dominant as Shore against lefties in his first taste of pro action, holding them to a .167/.250/.222 slash line in the Arizona League in what was admittedly a very small sample size. Overall, in 11 1/3 innings, he pitched to a 2.38 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while notching 17 strikeouts for the AZL A’s. Like Shore, Jefferies’ consistency and control are a large part of what makes him so good. He walked only 8 in 50 innings while putting up a 1.08 ERA in his final season at Cal. And in limited action in the Arizona League last year, he issued just 2 walks in his 11 1/3 innings of work. A rocky spring training outing in his only action in major league camp saw him yield 8 hits and 6 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of work for the A’s, but Jefferies is certainly a prospect who has the potential to move through the A’s system quickly.

4. C Sean Murphy

sm669221Although Murphy is a defensive-oriented backstop with a laser for an arm, he hit .298 at Vermont before an 0-for-23 stretch cut his batting average to .237 last year. He finished last season on a high note, however, going 3-for-3 with a home run, 3 RBIs and a walk in his final game. He also caught both A.J. Puk and Logan Shore in each of their final starts last season. Murphy showed off his plus arm with a 1st inning laser beam to second base to nail the runner on a stolen base attempt in Stockton’s exhibition game on Tuesday, but the backstop appeared to be a little over-matched at the plate at times.

5. IF Mikey White

mw608383bWith the release of last year’s starting third baseman for Stockton, Jose Brizuela, White looks to take over the bulk of the third base duties for the Ports in 2017. The former Alabama standout was drafted by the A’s in the second round in 2015, just one round after the team selected fellow SEC infielder Richie Martin. And last year, he ended up hitting .247/.315/.352 in his first season with the Ports. Hitting in the seventh spot in the order behind Sean Murphy in Stockton’s exhibition game on Tuesday, White showed signs of improving his performance this year, drilling a 2-run homer to left, singling to left, and walking in his first 3 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.

6. RHP Nolan Blackwood 

nb670154A 14th-round selection out of Memphis, Blackwood projects to be Stockton’s primary closer in 2017. He’s a submarine-style pitcher similar to former A’s Chad Bradford and Brad Ziegler, but with a better fastball that reaches the low 90s. Blackwood began last season with Vermont, appearing 5 times in relief, allowing 2 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings (2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) before being promoted to Beloit. Blackwood got off to a rocky start for the Snappers, where he allowed 9 earned runs in his first 8 2/3 innings while opposing batters crushed his pitches to the tune of a .415 batting average and an OPS of 1.020. In his final 6 appearances, however, the 6’5” righty managed to right the ship, holding opposing batters to a .114/.162/.114 slash line while allowing just 6 base runners in 11 1/3 innings. Blackwood continued his scoreless streak during two brief appearances in major league spring training camp for the A’s, throwing 1 1/3 shutout innings versus Milwaukee and Chicago, which will hopefully help provide him with an added boost of confidence heading into his debut season in Stockton.

7. 1B Chris Iriart 

ci664872bDefensive limitations aside, Iriart can swing it with power, as he combined to hit 22 home runs last season between Beloit and Stockton. His impressive .689 slugging percentage in 61 at-bats at Stockton last season more closely resembled most other Ports hitters’ OPS. Besides Iriart, only fellow first baseman Sandber Pimentel (.779) and outfielder Seth Brown (.702) return to the club with an OPS that was better than .700 last season, and the young slugger promises to provide the Ports will plenty of power in 2017.

8. OF Skye Bolt

sb621450A quick, switch-hitting center fielder, Bolt will instantly become Stockton’s best defensive outfielder. After electing not to sign with the Nationals after being drafted out of high school, he showed promise as a freshman at North Carolina, hitting .321/.418/.491, but he never saw his production match those numbers again over his next two collegiate seasons. Oakland selected the speedy center fielder in the 4th round in 2015, but he’s yet to come on strong at the plate in Vermont or Beloit during first two professional seasons, hitting a combined .233/.321/.358 while grounding into more double plays (14) than he has stolen bases (12). Bolt went 0-3 in Tuesday’s exhibition, striking out once, though his first two at-bats were loud outs, resulting in his counterpart in center field having to make two spectacular plays to keep him off the basepaths.

9. 1B Sandber Pimentel

sp622698Though Pimentel will open the season on the 7-day disabled list, he returns to Stockton for a second season after leading the Ports in home runs (21) and notching the second-most RBIs (66) and walks (60) on the team. 18 of the left-handed slugger’s 21 home runs came in 317 at-bats versus right-handed pitchers in 2016. Pimentel cooled off in the latter half of the season, doing most of his damage between May and July, when he slashed .257/.349/.530 and belted 17 home runs. Pimentel hit fifth in the order in Tuesday’s exhibition game and once again went yard to right-center.

10. RHP Matt Sergey

ms519270Finally, if you’re a fan of the classic underdog, I’ll try to sell you on Matt Sergey, even if just for this season. Once a 45th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers way back in 2007, the 27-year old Sergey has spent much of his time bouncing around the independent leagues. Despite an obvious lack of tools, and with a fastball that tops out in the low-90s and barely fringe-to-average secondary pitches, Sergey seems to pick his spots well and has a knack for missing bats. Matt spent parts of 2016 with Laredo in the independent American Association, where he pitched to a 4-0 record in 7 starts over 44 innings, allowing only 4 runs with a WHIP of just 0.93. His first attempt at A-level ball was last year at Stockton, where he made 12 appearances with mixed results. Despite Sergey’s success as a starter in Laredo, he’s probably not cut out to be starting pitcher, but his 13.7K/9 ratio in his 27 innings with Stockton last year indicate that he can indeed produce outs in limited stints. He made an appearance in Tuesday’s exhibition game, retiring the only four batters he faced. In 2016, 6 of Sergey’s 9 relief appearances for Stockton were in similar three-to-four-out situations; and in them, he didn’t allow a single run and struck out 12 in just 6 1/3 innings of work.

 

You can find the complete Stockton Ports opening day roster here.

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Beloit Snappers 2017 Opening Day Roster Outlook

by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent

bsHi there! My name is Ryan Christoffersen and I will be contributing to Athletics Farm this season from Beloit, Wisconsin. Beloit is the home of the Oakland Athletics’ Low Single-A affiliate, the Beloit Snappers (#OhSnap).

Working as a Stats Stringer and Official Scorer at Pohlman Field in Beloit, I am going to be at almost every home game. That means I will be able to keep everyone updated on what is happening and what I am seeing from the prospects playing for the Snappers. This is actually my second year working in the Pohlman Field press box. Last season, I was the Pitch F/X Operator for the Snappers, so I am already familiar with about ten of the players on the current roster.

Don’t forget to read the main source of news for the Beloit Snappers at snappersbaseball.com, where new Media Relations Manager Garrett Mansfield is doing some great work. And speaking of snappersbaseball.com and Garrett, check out his article on the Snappers opening day roster. That article and my following thoughts should work together to give Oakland A’s fans a very good idea of what prospects are in Beloit to start this season and why they should be very excited!

 

They’re baaaaack…

Ten Snappers making a return trip to Beloit this season…

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Leon “Boomer” Biegalski

RHP Boomer Biegalski: Real name is “Leon.” I prefer “Boomer.” It makes me think of Tom DeLonge’s character from the blink-182 music video First Date. Boomer Biegalski actually led the 2016 Beloit Snappers with 153 1/3 innings pitched. He finished with a respectable 3.70 ERA (3.96 FIP) and a 1.19 WHIP. He was even selected to play in the Midwest League All-Star Game. The problem with Biegalski last season was how poorly he pitched in the second half. Not only was his ERA about a full run higher after the all-star break (first half: 3.21 ERA, second half: 4.15 ERA), but his home runs allowed ballooned from 4 in the first half to 10 in the second half. It has got to be frustrating to return to Beloit after a full season there, but I would bet he is one of, if not the first, Snappers moved up this season.

SS/2B/3B Trace Loehr: Here is an interesting case. Loehr, like Biegalski, spent all of last season with the Snappers. A 6th-round pick out of high school in 2014, Loehr was the #26 prospect in the A’s organization according to MLB Pipeline going into the 2016 season. But it was a season full of speed bumps for this slick-fielding infielder. Loehr did not hit well in the first half, batting just .211/.241/.283. He had a short stay on the disabled list in late April/early May. And then, in late July, Loehr was arrested and was placed on the temporarily inactive list for almost two weeks. With limited information available on the incident, I have to assume Loehr was cleared of any wrongdoing. When he came back in August, he started to play really well, hitting .338/.372/.513 in 21 games with 4 stolen bases and numerous “web gems” in the field. If Loehr can continue to play closer to what he did last August, we could have a post-hype breakout player.

3B/SS Edwin Diaz: Spent all of last season with the Snappers. Has some potential with the bat, but a high strikeout rate (29.7%) is part of the reason he is back in Beloit.

LHP Andrew Tomasovich: Side-arm lefty reliever has some nasty swing-and-miss stuff (11.34 K/9 in 39 2/3 innings), but has trouble controlling it (1.64 WHIP, 5.67 ERA).

RHP Michael Murray: Made 12 starts for the Snappers last season. ERA was a little high at 4.28, but probably more representative of his season is the fact that he had a 3.66 FIP in 61 innings.

RHP Brendan Butler: Pitched well in 9 starts for Beloit in 2016 with 3.14 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 51 2/3 innings. Can he build off of successful 2016 season? If so, he could move up quickly.

OF Mike Martin: Pleasant surprise for Snappers in 2016 before getting hurt in July and missing the rest of the season. Hit .298 with a .372 OBP and 7 stolen bases in 34 games for the Snappers.

OF Luis Barrera: Young outfielder with exciting potential is going into his age-21 season. Hit .310/.361/.428 between Vermont and Beloit last season while playing all three outfield spots.

RHP Xavier Altamirano: Strong start to 2016 in Beloit, but struggled in May before being put on DL. Once healthy, he pitched in Vermont the rest of the year and had a 2.48 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 65 1/3 innings.

C Collin Theroux: 32nd-round pick in 2016 had a brief cameo in Beloit at the end of the season. In 21 at-bats, Theroux struck out 15 times and did not record a hit. Nowhere to go but up!

 

The Newbies

Top five new Snappers ranked in order of how excited I am to see them play this season…

  1. RHP Dakota Chalmers: Only Snapper ranked on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Oakland A’s prospects at #14. I figure there is a good chance he spends the entire season in Beloit because he is just 20 years old and needs to work on his control.

  2. OF/3B/2B JaVon Shelby: An article from last year here on Athletics Farm talks about the 2016 A’s draft class with Athletics Scouting Director Eric Kubota. In the article, Kubota talks about how Shelby is capable of playing the outfield as well as third base and second base. He is described as a versatile, “toolsy” player with a lot of potential. Kubota even says he is “a Josh Harrison (of the Pirates) type of player.” Harrison is a versatile, productive and overall exciting player to watch – he also hit .337 in 79 games in the Midwest League in 2009. If Shelby even slightly resembles Josh Harrison, the Snappers are getting a fun player to watch.
  3. 1B Miguel Mercedes: Listed at 6’4”, 255 lbs., this power-hitting first baseman should be knocking home runs out of homer-friendly Pohlman Field all summer long. HOT TAKE ALERT! – Mercedes will finish in the top three in home runs in the Midwest League.
  4. LHP Will Gilbert: A college closer at North Carolina State, this guy looks to be the best bet as the Snappers best reliever to start the season. I have always heard one of the quickest paths to the majors are for left-handed relievers. From his good stats in Vermont to his high draft spot for a reliever (8th round), I could see Gilbert playing for the Oakland A’s in the big leagues in the not-too-distant future, provided he pitches up to his potential in Beloit.
  5. OF Cole Gruber: I am always pumped to see a player with blazing speed. Whether it is base stealing, running the bases, or making plays in the outfield, speed kills. Gruber led the Arizona League with 28 stolen bases while being caught just twice last season.

I hope you enjoyed my opening thoughts on the opening day Snappers roster! Growing up here in the midwest as a huge baseball fan, it was inevitable that I would take interest in the Midwest League. I really started to follow the Midwest League starting in 2004. In my experience, I have found that the Midwest League is a place for players to have their breakout seasons. While 2016 was a tough year in the standings, I am very excited for the 2017 Beloit Snappers. While lacking in top prospects, this team is full of players with breakout potential. #OhSnap

You can find the complete Beloit Snappers opening day roster here.

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A’s 2017 Minor League Staff

 

Nashville Sounds manager Ryan Christenson

Nashville Sounds manager Ryan Christenson

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (Triple-A)

Manager: Ryan Christenson

Pitching Coach: Rick Rodriguez

Hitting Coach: Eric Martins

Ryan Christenson was named manager at Triple-A Nashville after guiding Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League Championships in 2015-16.  He began his managerial career in the A’s farm system in 2013 and has a 323-236 (.578) record while leading his clubs to postseason appearances in all four of his seasons.  Christenson is currently managing the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.  Rick Rodriguez (pitching coach), Eric Martins (hitting coach) and Brad LaRosa (athletic trainer) return to the Nashville staff while Henry Torres joins the club as strength and conditioning coach.

 

 

Midland RockHounds manager Fran Riordan

Midland RockHounds manager Fran Riordan

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (Double-A)

Manager: Fran Riordan

Pitching Coach: John Wasdin

Hitting Coach: Brian McArn

Fran Riordan replaces Christensen at the helm of Midland after managing at Single-A Beloit the previous two seasons.  Prior to that, he managed for 14 season in independent leagues.  John Wasdin (pitching coach), Brian McArn (hitting coach) and Justin Whitehouse (athletic trainer) return to Midland and Matt Rutledge joins the staff as strength and conditioning coach. [UPDATE: Pitching coach John Wasdin has joined the Baltimore organization as pitching coordinator, and Beloit pitching coach Don Schulze will now move up to serve as Midland’s pitching coach.]

 

 

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

STOCKTON PORTS (High-A)

Manager: Rick Magnante

Pitching Coach: Steve Connelly

Hitting Coach: Tommy Everidge

Rick Magnante returns as manager at Single-A Stockton for the third consecutive season and is in his 21st season in the A’s organization.  Steve Connelly (pitching coach), Tommy Everidge (hitting coach) and Sean Doran (strength and conditioning coach) also return to Stockton.  An athletic trainer to replace Travis Tims will be determined at a later date.

 

 

Beloit Snappers pitching coach Don Schulze

Beloit Snappers pitching coach Don Schulze

BELOIT SNAPPERS (Class-A)

Manager: Scott Steinmann

Pitching Coach: Don Schulze

Hitting Coach: Juan Dilone

Scott Steinmann joins the Oakland organization as manager of the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League.  Steinmann had spent his entire professional baseball career, which began in 1996 as a player, in the Seattle organization.  His first coaching assignment came in 1999 at Everett of the Northwest League and he spent 17 seasons on various coaching staffs in the Mariners farm system, including nine seasons as a manager.  His most recent assignment was in 2015 at the helm of Single-A Clinton.  Don Schulze (pitching coach), Juan Dilone (hitting coach) and Brian Thorson (athletic trainer) return to Beloit and Omar Aguilar takes over as strength and conditioning coach. [UPDATE: With Midland pitching coach John Wasdin joining the Baltimore organization as pitching coordinator, Beloit pitching coach Don Schulze will now move up to serve as Midland’s pitching coach. And Carlos Chavez has been promoted from Vermont to take over as Beloit’s new pitching coach.]

 

 

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS (Class-A Short-Season)

Manager: Aaron Nieckula

Pitching Coach: Carlos Chavez

Hitting Coach: Lloyd Turner

The coaching staff at Short Season Single-A Vermont remains the same with Aaron Nieckula as manager, Carlos Chavez as pitching coach and Lloyd Turner as hitting coach.  Toshi Nagahara returns as athletic trainer and J.D. Howell will be the new strength and conditioning coach. [UPDATE: With Carlos Chavez moving up to serve as Beloit’s pitching coach, Bryan Corey will now take over as Vermont’s new pitching coach.]

 

 

Arizona League A's manager Webster Garrison

Arizona League A’s manager Webster Garrison

ARIZONA LEAGUE A’S (Rookie Short-Season)

Manager: Webster Garrison

Pitching Coach: Gabriel Ozuna

Hitting Coach: Ruben Escalera

The A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League will also have the same staff, including manager Webster Garrison, pitching coach Gabriel Ozuna, hitting coach Ruben Escalera, coach Gabe Ortiz, athletic trainer Chris Lessner and strength and conditioning coach Terence Brannic.

 

 

Traveling instructor Steve Scarsone

Traveling instructor Steve Scarsone

Minor League Instruction Coordinator: Ed Sprague

Minor League Traveling Instructor: Steve Scarsone

Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Jim Eppard

Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Gil Patterson

Minor League Pitching Rehab Coordinator: Craig Lefferts

Minor League Defensive Coordinator: Juan Navarrette

Minor League Field Coordinator: Aaron Nieckula

Ed Sprague was named coordinator of instruction after serving as a consultant for the A’s player development department in 2016.  He hit .247 with 152 home runs and 558 RBI in 1203 games over 11 seasons in the majors, including part of one season with Oakland in 1998.  Following his playing career, the Stockton native was the head coach at the University of the Pacific for 12 seasons from 2004-15.  Steve Scarsone, who has spent the last eight seasons managing in the A’s farm system, was named traveling instructor.  Gil Patterson, Jim Eppard, Juan Navarrette and Craig Lefferts return in their roles as pitching coordinator, hitting coordinator, defensive coordinator and pitching rehab coordinator, respectively. Nate Brooks was named medical coordinator after 12 seasons with the A’s as a minor league athletic trainer and rehab coordinator.  Travis Tims, who begins his 10th season in the Oakland organization, replaces Brooks as rehab coordinator.  A.J. Selliger will take over as strength and conditioning coordinator in his fourth season in A’s system.  Brooks and Selliger replace Jeff Collins and Josh Cuffe, who have joined the Major League staff in Oakland.

(Information provided by A’s Media Relations)

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