Category: Roster/Transactions

Meet Your 2016 Oakland A’s

David Forst

Newly-minted A’s GM David Forst

As we sit here in late January, there are still about two and a half months to go until opening day for the A’s. But the first spring workouts are just a month away and the first spring games are just six weeks away.

It looks like most of the A’s major offseason work may be done, but you can never be too sure with Billy Beane and David Forst at the helm.

Of course, there could still be some surprising trades or injuries to come, but barring any more major moves or unexpected developments in spring training, the makeup of the A’s team that should be set to take the field in 2016 looks fairly clear, at least for the moment.

Today we’ll preview the A’s 2016 major league roster. And tomorrow we’ll take a look at the A’s Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds roster for the coming season (here).

 

Stephen Vogt

Stephen Vogt

CATCHERS

Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley, the A’s catching tandem from last season, appear set to return as the team’s primary backstops again next season. They also happen to be the only catchers currently on the A’s 40-man roster. The duo started behind the plate in 151 of the team’s 162 games in 2015 and, health willing, should be expected to do roughly the same again for Oakland in 2016. Catcher Carson Blair, who caught 11 games for the A’s last season, will be waiting in the wings at Nashville if needed.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Marcus Semien

Marcus Semien

The only member of the A’s 2015 opening day infield expected to return to a starting role in 2016 is shortstop Marcus Semien, who appears to have held on to his job with an improved second half in the field. He’ll be joined up the middle by former A’s infielder Jed Lowrie who returns to the team, thanks to an offseason deal with the Astros, to take over at second base. Meanwhile, long-time A’s infielder Eric Sogard, who has experience at second, short and third, appears set to shift to a utility role, just as he was in 2015 until multiple injuries pushed him back into action for 120 games last season. And if further reinforcements are needed, middle infielders Tyler Ladendorf, Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder should all be in reserve at Nashville.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

Danny Valencia

Danny Valencia

With Brett Lawrie traded and Ike Davis non-tendered, things will be looking plenty different at the corner infield positions for the A’s in 2016 than they did when the 2015 season began. Danny Valencia, who was the A’s best hitter over the final two months of the season after being acquired off waivers during the first week of August, is set to be the team’s everyday third baseman and potential cleanup hitter. Meanwhile, Yonder Alonso was acquired from the Padres to take over as the A’s primary first baseman next season. A left-handed hitter, Alonso is generally expected to sit against lefties, though his platoon splits aren’t quite as extreme as some might assume. But the expectation is that Mark Canha will end up getting most of the starts at first base when southpaws are on the mound. The A’s primary designated hitter, Billy Butler, is always available to step in at first now and then if needed. And if Valencia should need a day off at third, Lowrie can always slide over from second, with Sogard taking over Lowrie’s spot up the middle.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Josh Reddick

Josh Reddick

The A’s outfield will remain largely unchanged from 2015. Rifle-armed Josh Reddick will return to hold things down in right field, while speedster Billy Burns will be back to patrol center field for the green and gold. Left field will be the biggest question mark as the 2016 season begins, but that doesn’t mean that there will be any shortage of available options. Of course, if by any chance, Coco Crisp should prove to be healthy and productive, then he would likely end up getting most of the starts there. But considering that Crisp’s injuries limited him to just 44 games last year, and he didn’t exactly set the world on fire when he did make it onto the field, it’s probably better to count on Mark Canha making most of the starts in left field, at least when he isn’t spending time at first base versus lefties. And with Sam Fuld back in the fold to fill in anywhere in the outfield as needed, as long as everyone is healthy, there won’t be room for Jake Smolinski or Andrew Lambo, the only other outfielders currently on the A’s 40-man, to crack Oakland’s opening day roster.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

As long as there are no health issues with any of the expected starters, Oakland appears set to begin the season with four familiar faces being joined by newcomer Rich Hill in the team’s starting rotation. Hill is the 35-year-old lefty the A’s signed as a free agent, and he may end up filling the fifth-starter role with the occasional day off, since the southpaw threw fewer than 100 frames last year. Of course, All-Star Sonny Gray will be returning to anchor the rotation, and he’s likely to be joined by fellow returning right-handers Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman, as long as all are healthy to kick off the 2016 campaign. But the A’s also signed 25-year-old free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who is just one season removed from his impressive 2014 All-Star campaign. Alvarez is returning from shoulder surgery though and is not expected to be ready to go before May. But if one of the A’s other five starters is either injured or struggling at that point of the season, then Alvarez could be ready to step right in. Lefties Sean Nolin and Felix Doubront and righties Aaron Brooks and Jarrod Parker are all on the 40-man roster and could represent starting options as well. But as long as everyone else is healthy, they seem far more likely to find themselves starting the season either at Nashville or in the A’s bullpen.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle

No area of the A’s 2015 team needed as big an overhaul as the bullpen, and it definitely got one. Out are Evan Scribner, Dan Otero, Edward Mujica, Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz, and in are free agents Ryan Madson and John Axford, trade acquisitions Liam Hendriks and Marc Rzepczynski, and a healthy Sean Doolittle, who will be returning to the closer’s role. Madson, Axford, Hendriks and returning right-hander Fernando Rodriguez should represent some solid and experienced set-up options from the right side. With Rodriguez out of options and likely to make the roster, that means young righty Ryan Dull may be forced to start the season in Nashville until an inevitable opening develops. Rzepczynski should be the primary left-handed set-up option for the A’s, while Nolin (who’s also out of options) could be set to replicate Pomeranz’s role as a left-handed long reliever for the team. Left-handed starter-reliever Felix Doubront is another A’s hurler who’s out of options. And if there’s an opening in the rotation or in the bullpen due to injury, trade or poor performance, then the veteran southpaw could be the first called upon to step in and take on whatever role is needed for the A’s.

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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.

A’s Top 10 Major & Minor League Offseason Acquisitions

Rich Hill

Rich Hill

As usual, it’s been a busy offseason for the A’s – and it’s not over yet! Over the past few weeks since the end of the regular season, the A’s have acquired a total of 20 new major and minor league players. Let’s take a look at how the team’s 10 most important offseason acquisitions factor into things for the A’s in 2016 and beyond – with a quick glance at the other remaining 10 as well…

The A’s made their first big move of the offseason by signing left-handed free agent starter Rich Hill to a one-year contract. Later that same day, the team also announced the trade of right-hander Jesse Chavez to Toronto for right-handed reliever Liam Hendriks. And with Chavez’s departure, it quickly became clear that Hill would take over Chavez’s spot in the A’s starting rotation, where he’ll join right-handers Sonny Gray, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman – unless, of course, the A’s are able to make another surprising addition. The A’s front office would clearly like to add another veteran starter if they can, especially with Hahn still experiencing some forearm discomfort in the offseason.

The hard-throwing Hendriks, who served as a solid set-up man for Toronto last season, was just the first piece of the A’s major, and much-needed, bullpen reconstruction project. On Friday, the team also announced the signings of free agent right-handed relievers Ryan Madson and John Axford, both of whom have had 30+ saves in a season and should go a long ways towards stabilizing the A’s bullpen picture in 2016. But Oakland also added a new lefty to the bullpen mix when it acquired Marc Rzepczynski from the Padres, along with first baseman Yonder Alonso, in exchange for major league left-hander Drew Pomeranz, minor league left-hander Jose Torres and a player to be named. And as far as the A’s bullpen goes, it looks like Madson, Axford, Hendriks, Rzepczynski and a full season of a healthy Sean Doolittle are set to replace Pomeranz, Fernando Abad, Evan Scribner, Dan Otero and Edward Mujica, which ought to represent a significant upgrade.

Alonso was one of the key pieces in the A’s infield makeover, taking the place of the recently-departed Ike Davis, who was non-tendered. Jed Lowrie returned to Oakland from Houston in exchange for minor league right-hander Brendan McCurry, and is now slated to take over at second base for Eric Sogard, who is set to shift to a utility role. And with the recent trade of Brett Lawrie to the White Sox for minor league pitchers J.B. Wendelken and Zack Erwin, Danny Valencia will now take over as the team’s everyday third baseman next season, leaving shortstop Marcus Semien as the only member of the A’s 2015 opening day infield to return to a starting role with the team in 2016.

Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

The A’s completed the Lawrie deal with the White Sox on Wednesday, bringing young righty Wendelken and young lefty Erwin into the fold. Wendelken is a 22-year-old strike-thrower from Georgia, who should start the season with Triple-A Nashville but could end up in the A’s major league bullpen before the season’s through. The 21-year-old Erwin was Chicago’s 4th-round draft pick out of Clemson last year and posted a 1.34 ERA without allowing a home run in his first 40 1/3 innings of pro ball. Erwin will start the season in A ball, but he could prove to be a fast-riser.

The A’s acquired one more minor league arm via trade when the team dealt Evan Scribner to Seattle for minor league right-handed reliever Trey Cochran-Gill. He’s another one who home run hitters don’t like. Cochran-Gill has yet to surrender a home run in 111 1/3 innings of pro ball. And he’s likely to start the season in the bullpen at Double-A Midland, where home runs are already hard enough to come by.

So at the top of the A’s offseason acquisitions list is a new first baseman (Alonso), a new second baseman (Lowrie), a new starting pitcher (Hill), four new relievers (Madson, Axford, Hendriks, Rzepczynski) and three minor league pitchers (Wendelken, Erwin, Cochran-Gill). But there have been a number of other minor league acquisitions as well, including five more arms to go along with five position players.

The A’s signed minor league left-handed starter Brandon Mann out of the independent American Association, along with four minor league free agent pitchers. Right-hander Chris Smith made 22 starts for the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate last year and could start the season in the Nashville rotation, while left-hander Eric Surkamp has pitched both as a starter and as a reliever but, with a number of other starting options available at Nashville, he may be more likely to find himself pitching out of the bullpen for the Sounds. Meanwhile, left-hander Patrick Schuster and right-hander Eduard Santos are both successful Double-A relievers who could end up in either the Nashville or Midland bullpens depending on how rosters shake out after spring training.

On the offensive side of things, Oakland claimed outfielder Andrew Lambo off waivers from the Pirates, and he should start the season in the Nashville outfield, as long as the A’s can slip him through waivers. The organization signed minor league infielder Josh Rodriguez, who looks like he could end up being a good fit for the second base spot at Midland this season. And the A’s also picked up three players in the minor league portion of the Rule-5 draft – outfielders Danny Oh and Alex Glenn and first baseman Viosergy Rosa, all of whom are likely to start the season at Midland.

That’s it for the A’s key acquisitions so far this offseason, but stay tuned, it’s not over yet!

 

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.

A’s Set Fall Instructional League Roster

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The A’s released their Fall Instructional League roster this week. Camp is set to open at the A’s minor league facilities in Arizona next week and will run for a month.

23 pitchers and 23 position players are currently scheduled to attend. And some high-profile prospects like catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitchers Chris Kohler and Dustin Driver will be participating.

The A’s top four picks from this year’s draft will also be attending – infielders Richie Martin and Mikey White, pitcher Dakota Chalmers and outfielder Skye Bolt. You can check out the full list of A’s prospects who are set to be in camp below…

 

–PITCHERS–

Dakota Chalmers

Dakota Chalmers

Xavier Altamirano

Ivan Andueza

Marc Berube

Boomer Biegalski

Brendan Butler

Dakota Chalmers

Wandisson Charles

Bowdien “Bubba” Derby

Dustin Driver

Mike Fagan

Heath Fillmyer

John Gorman

Ryan Gorton

Dustin Hurlbutt

Branden Kelliher

Chris Kohler

James Naile

Armando Ruiz

Jordan Schwartz

Matt Stalcup

Andrew Tomasovich

Oscar Tovar

Jesus Zambrano

 

Jacob Nottingham

Jacob Nottingham

–CATCHERS–

Iolana Akau

Jose Santiago Chavez

Robert Mullen

Jacob Nottingham

Brett Sunde

 

–INFIELDERS–

Richie Martin

Richie Martin

Joe Bennie

Edwin Diaz

Ryan Howell

Chris Iriart

Trace Loehr

Jesus Lopez

Eric Marinez

Richie Martin

Sandber Pimentel

Mikey White

 

–OUTFIELDERS–

Skye Bolt

Skye Bolt

Luis Barrera

Skye Bolt

Seth Brown

Justin Higley

Steven Pallares

Jhonny Rodriguez

Brett Siddall

James Terrell

 

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.

Meet Your 2016 Nashville Sounds!

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Of course, we’ve still got just a little ways to go until the opening of the 2016 season. And, of course, there will certainly be some trades, some free agent signings (both major league and minor league), some releases, some injuries and, knowing the A’s, some totally unexpected developments during the offseason as well as in spring training.

Considering the way the 2015 season has played out for the A’s, there could certainly be some considerable changes to come. But, just for fun, let’s take a look at the players currently in the A’s organization who will most likely find themselves in the running for a roster spot in Nashville next season…

 

CATCHERS

Carson Blair

Carson Blair

Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley appear likely to return as the catching corps for the A’s in 2016. And with Carson Blair the only other catcher currently on the A’s 40-man roster, it seems reasonably safe to assume that he could be making a return trip to Nashville next season. The Sounds primary receiver this season, Bryan Anderson, can become a minor league free agent in the offseason if he’s not added to the A’s 40-man roster. And the A’s could replace him by signing another experienced minor league backstop, as they seem fond of doing. But if they don’t, then Midland’s Bruce Maxwell would probably be the most likely suspect to join Blair as part of the catching combo at Nashville next season.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

Rangel Ravelo

Rangel Ravelo

It’s questionable whether the A’s will choose to offer Ike Davis arbitration in the offseason. And if they don’t, that makes it much more likely that Max Muncy will find a spot somewhere on Oakland’s roster next season. The left-handed hitter could serve as a great option to get some playing time at first base, third base and designated hitter, especially if right-handed hitters Brett Lawrie, Danny Valencia, Mark Canha and Billy Butler remain as the primary options at those positions. If he’s not added to the A’s 40-man roster, first baseman Nate Freiman can become a minor league free agent in the offseason. And Midland first baseman Matt Olson has been spending more time in right field than at first base during the second half of the season. So if Muncy finds a spot on the A’s opening day roster, Freiman departs for potentially greener pastures and Olson does indeed spend more time in the outfield – all of which seem likely – then Rangel Ravelo could find himself getting most of the starts at first base for Nashville next season. The situation at third base seems considerably less complicated. One of the organization’s top hitting prospects, Midland third baseman Renato Nunez, will be ready to make the jump to Triple-A next year, while his Midland teammate, Ryon Healy, who has been splitting time between third base and first base the past couple seasons, seems set to join Nashville as well, splitting time with Nunez at third and Ravelo at first in 2016.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Chad Pinder

Chad Pinder

One thing seems clear. After putting together an impressive season at Midland this year, it’s Chad Pinder’s turn to be the starting shortstop for Nashville next season. If he’s not added to the A’s 40-man roster, Andy Parrino can become a minor league free agent in the offseason, which will just help clear the path for Pinder. If Joey Wendle doesn’t win a starting job with the A’s in spring training, which seems less and less likely as Brett Lawrie spends more and more time at second base, then he’ll end up returning as Nashville’s starting second baseman again next season and serve as Pinder’s double-play partner. And if Tyler Ladendorf doesn’t land a roster spot as a utility man for the A’s, then he’ll also figure into the Sounds’ middle infield picture, along with Midland infielder Colin Walsh. If those two both end up on the Nashville roster, then expect to see them playing all over the diamond. While they’re both primarily suited to play second base, they’ve both got plenty of experience playing elsewhere. Ladendorf would most likely spend time at second base, shortstop and in the outfield, while Walsh would probably find time at second base, third base and in the outfield.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Matt Olson

Matt Olson

Craig Gentry and Jason Pridie were both staples of the Sounds outfield for most of 2015, but it’s quite possible that neither will be back in 2016. It would be surprising if the A’s chose to offer Gentry arbitration in the offseason, and it seems unlikely that Pridie would retain a 40-man roster spot throughout the offseason, though it is possible that he’ll manage to hang on. As mentioned earlier, top prospect Matt Olson has spent more time in right field than at first base during the second half of the season. And with Canha, Muncy and Ravelo all in the A’s first base picture and a lack of top-quality outfield prospects in the system, it seems likely that Olson will continue to see more time in the outfield at Nashville next season. Midland’s other primary outfielders – Chad Oberacker, Josh Whitaker and Jaycob Brugman – all seem ready to take the next step and could join Olson in the Sounds’ outfield picture next year. Jake Smolinski could land a spot with the A’s, sharing time with Coco Crisp in left field or giving Josh Reddick a break in right field against lefties. But if he doesn’t, possibly because the A’s acquire another outfielder, then he’ll be right in the middle of Nashville’s outfield mix next season as well.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks

A number of potential starting pitching candidates for the A’s will be out of options next season, including LHPs Sean Nolin, Felix Doubront and Drew Pomeranz as well as RHP Jesse Chavez – as noted by Jeremy F. Koo on Athletics Nation – so it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing any of them doing time at Nashville in 2016. In addition, RHPs Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman seem to have earned spots in the A’s major league rotation. So who does that leave as the likely starters in Nashville next season? Well, Aaron Brooks seems as likely as anyone to start the season in the Triple-A rotation. When it comes to current Sounds starters, unless they’re added to the A’s 40-man roster, Brad Mills and Nate Long will both become minor league free agents in the offseason. And if RHP Cody Martin remains on the A’s 40-man roster through all the offseason’s wheelings and dealings, then he’s likely to land a starting spot, as is reliable RHP Zach Neal. A.J. Griffin, who’s still working his way back from injury issues following last year’s Tommy John surgery, seems unlikely to be a leading candidate for the A’s starting rotation next spring and could end up starting the year as one of Nashville’s starting five. Jarrod Parker is also working his way back from injuries after his Tommy John surgery. It’s not clear whether or not he’ll return to a starting role but, if he does, then he could pose another potential Triple-A rotation option. And a few Midland starters could factor into the picture as well. RHP Jake Sanchez has already been called up to finish the season with the Sounds, while LHPs Sean Manaea and Dillon Overton are two of the team’s most promising pitching prospects who could be pushed up to Nashville in 2016.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Aaron Kurcz

Aaron Kurcz

Well, it should be noted that in recent years the A’s have tended to sign a big batch of minor league free agent relievers to stock their Triple-A bullpen. So if that ends up being the strategy again this offseason, then the Sounds bullpen is likely to be comprised of a bunch of guys we’ve yet to meet! But there certainly are plenty of arms currently in the organization who could fill the relief role in Nashville next season. First of all, if not added to the 40-man roster, then familiar names like Angel Castro, Brock Huntzinger, Jim Fuller, Taylor Thompson and Ryan Doolittle could all become minor league free agents in the offseason. When it comes to arms currently on the A’s 40-man roster, if he doesn’t find a spot in the A’s bullpen, then Ryan Dull will certainly be returning to the Sounds, as will Dan Otero, R.J. Alvarez and Pat Venditte. Aaron Kurcz also seems highly likely to be making a return appearance in 2016. Arnold Leon is out of options but, if the A’s can manage to sneak him through waivers, then he could find himself back in Nashville as well. Jarrod Parker could also be a candidate to start the season in the Sounds bullpen as he makes his way back from a serious arm injury incurred after his Tommy John surgery. And then there are a number of RockHounds relievers who’ve all earned the opportunity to see time at Triple-A, most notably Seth Frankoff and Tucker Healy (who’ve both had a taste of the PCL), Kris Hall (who’ll be showcasing in the Arizona Fall League starting next month) and Brendan McCurry (who’ll also be in the AFL and has been one of the most impressive relievers in the A’s system over the past two seasons). Add in the inevitable minor league free agent signees, and there shouldn’t be any shortage of available relief arms to stock the bullpen at First Tennessee Park in 2016.

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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.

A’s Farmhands Who Could Play A Role For Oakland In 2016

Billy Burns: Who will be the next A's farmhand to break through with Oakland?

Billy Burns: Who will be the next A’s farmhand to break through for Oakland?

With the 2015 season turning out to be such a big disappointment for the A’s, the team’s plans heading into this offseason are probably just about as unclear as they’ve been in quite some time. General manager Billy Beane and the A’s front office could choose to head in many different directions and there are very few players currently on the roster who are certain to still be around come 2016.

The only two players with multi-million-dollar guaranteed contracts for next season are also two of this season’s biggest disappointments – outfielder Coco Crisp and designated hitter Billy Butler. Reliever Sean Doolittle also has a guaranteed contract for next season but, with this season’s injury, there are still some question marks surrounding his reliability at this point. And there are three players currently on the 40-man roster – first baseman Ike Davis and outfielders Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry – whom it seems the A’s would be highly unlikely to offer arbitration to in the offseason.

So there certainly could be quite a few openings on the A’s roster heading into next season. And, though the A’s minor league system may not be rich in top prospects at the moment, there are plenty of players at the upper levels of the system who could potentially play useful roles for Oakland in 2016. So let’s take a look at some of the most likely suspects to be appearing in the green and gold next year…

 

mmMuncy, Max3Max Muncy (1B-3B)

Muncy has had 82 at-bats with the A’s this season, almost all against right-handed pitching. And while he may not have hit up a storm in his brief time in Oakland, he’s been a solid minor league hitter since being drafted in the 5th round back in 2012, particularly when it comes to his ability to get on base. The 25-year-old has a career minor league on-base percentage of .379 and has posted a .351 OBP in 179 at-bats for Nashville this season. Since it seems unlikely that the A’s will offer first baseman Ike Davis arbitration this offseason, that could leave an opening for the lefty-hitting Muncy to potentially share time with Mark Canha at first base next year. If the A’s decide to give Canha more playing time in the outfield, that could also open up more opportunities for Muncy at first. And if the A’s decide to move Brett Lawrie, either to second base or to another team in an offseason trade, Muncy also has experience at third base and could potentially form a platoon at the hot corner with righty-swinging Danny Valencia. Whatever happens in the offseason, it seems likely that there could be an opening on the A’s roster for a left-handed hitter with a track record of getting on base and who can play both first and third.

 

js519295bJake Smolinski (OF)

In just 35 at-bats with the A’s this season, Smolinski has shown the potential to be a productive righty-hitting platoon outfielder for Oakland. The former 2nd-round draft pick also put up an impressive .349/.402/.628 slash line in 86 at-bats at Nashville this season and appeared in 59 major league games for Texas between 2014 and 2015. With no clear left fielder in the picture for the A’s next season, it’s possible that Smolinski could vie with Coco Crisp for playing time in left or also serve as a possible platoon partner for lefty-swinging Josh Reddick in right. And with the A’s unlikely to offer fellow right-handed hitter Craig Gentry arbitration in the offseason and a lack of other respectable outfield options currently on the roster, there could be room for a right-handed hitter with a little bit of pop in the A’s outfield picture next year.

 

jwWendle, Joey3Joey Wendle (2B)

After coming over from Cleveland for Brandon Moss in the offseason, Wendle has spent this year as the starting second baseman for Triple-A Nashville. The left-handed hitter currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in hits with 151, in extra-base hits with 52 and in doubles with 37. His .428 slugging percentage is nothing to sneeze at either, and folks in Nashville have been raving about Wendle’s abilities in the field. The problems start when you catch a glimpse of his 19 walks, 100 strikeouts and .318 on-base percentage. Still, second base has been a weak spot in the A’s lineup. Last spring, before the injuries started to pile up, the plan was to have Ben Zobrist start out as the team’s primary second baseman, with Eric Sogard moving into the utility infielder role. And if the A’s decide they’d like someone with a little more pop at second base this season, they could try to slide Sogard into a back-up role once again while giving Wendle a real shot to start the season at second.

 

Tyler Ladendorf (2B)

Ladendorf had just 10 at-bats with the A’s earlier this season before heading to Nashville and then missing most of the season after undergoing ankle surgery. After primarily being known for his defense, the former 2nd-round draft pick had a breakthrough offensive season at Sacramento last year, posting a .297/.376/.407 slash line while playing at second base and shortstop as well as in the outfield. Ladendorf’s been back in action at Nashville since earlier this month and has already played four different positions while putting up similar numbers for the Sounds. While his versatility makes him valuable, his best position is probably second base. So, while Ladendorf could be quite useful in a utlity role, backing up at a variety of different positions, he could also serve as a possible right-handed platoon partner for either Eric Sogard or Joey Wendle at second base next season.

 

rrRavelo, Rangel2Rangel Ravelo (1B)

Ravelo missed most of the season after undergoing wrist surgery, but he returned to action with Double-A Midland in July before joining Triple-A Nashville in August. Before his injury, the plan had been to have the 23-year-old Cuban spend time at both first base and third base at Nashville but, since returning from his injury, he’s appeared exclusively at first base and also as a designated hitter. Like a right-handed version of Muncy, Ravelo’s always shown the ability to get on base, and he has a career minor league on-base percentage of .371 and a .353 OBP this season at Nashville. It’s possible that Muncy and Ravelo could form a potential first base platoon at some point. But since Ravelo has only appeared in two games at third base since 2012, it’s probably going to be difficult to count on him possibly being able to fill much of a role at third base at this stage of the game. And with only 17 career games at the Triple-A level at this point, it would probably take a mighty impressive spring for Ravelo to factor into the A’s plans to start the 2016 season. But with Ike Davis unlikely to be offered arbitration by the A’s in the offseason, depending on how everything else shakes out, there could be some opportunities at first base for the A’s before next season is through.

 

rdDull, Ryan4Ryan Dull (RP)

Dull started the season with Double-A Midland before moving up to Triple-A Nashville in July, and the right-hander hasn’t missed a beat since advancing a level. Between both levels, the 25-year-old has allowed just 4 runs while notching 68 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings of work this season. At a listed height of just 5’10”, the former 32nd-round draft pick doesn’t fit the profile of the big, intimidating, flame-throwing reliever. He’s also not currently on the A’s 40-man roster. And while Dull’s been nearly unhittable against righties, he’s been considerably less impressive against lefties. But with the effectiveness that he’s shown throughout his minor league career, along with a solid fastball, slider and changeup, and the team’s current lack of quality relievers at the major league level, it’s hard to imagine that Dull wouldn’t at least be given a very long look by the A’s in spring training in 2016.

 

 

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Getting to Know the A’s Hot New Prospects

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

 

jn641924Jacob Nottingham – Catcher

Acquired: from Houston Astros for Scott Kazmir

Drafted: 2013 – 6th Round

Age: 20 / Height: 6’3” / Weight: 230

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

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

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

 

dm596043Daniel Mengden – Pitcher

Acquired: from Houston Astros for Scott Kazmir

Drafted: 2014 – 4th Round

Age: 22 / Height: 6’2” / Weight: 190

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

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

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

 

cm641861Casey Meisner – Pitcher

Acquired: from New York Mets for Tyler Clippard

Drafted: 2013 – 3rd Round

Age: 20 / Height: 6’7” / Weight: 190

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

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

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

 

sm640455Sean Manaea – Pitcher

Acquired: from Kansas City Royals for Ben Zobrist

Drafted: 2013 – 1st Round

Age: 23 / Height: 6’5” / Weight: 235

Bats: Left / Throws: Left

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

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

 

ab605156Aaron Brooks – Pitcher

Acquired: from Kansas City Royals for Ben Zobrist

Drafted: 2011 – 9th Round

Age: 25 / Height: 6’4” / Weight: 220

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

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

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

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

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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.

A’s Trade Triple-A RHP Matt Buschmann to Tampa Bay to Make Way for Possible Addition of Barry Zito to Nashville Rotation

Could Barry Zito be Nashville bound?

Could Barry Zito be Nashville bound?

The A’s traded Triple-A RHP Matt Buschmann to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash on Thursday. We’€™ve also learned that, though no final decision has been made yet, the A’€™s front office thinks it’s likely that non-roster pitcher Barry Zito will agree to join the Triple-A Nashville Sounds to start the season. And if that is indeed the case, then the Buschmann deal would serve to open up a spot in Nashville’s starting rotation for Zito.

If Zito does agree to accept the Triple-A assignment, then the Sounds would open the season with a starting staff consisting of LHPs Zito, Brad Mills and Rudy Owens as well as RHPs Chris Bassitt and Arnold Leon. The team’s bullpen would likely include 8 of the following 10 relievers: Ryan Cook, Eury De La Rosa, Fernando Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Brock Huntzinger, Kevin Whelan, Ryan Verdugo, Jim Fuller, Chad Smith and Angel Castro.

In other news, the A’€™s released three more minor leaguers on Thursday. Outfielder Zeke DeVoss and RHPs Tyler Vail and Joseph Michaud were all given their releases. They join hurlers Paul Smyth, Murphy Smith, Drew Granier, Deck McGuire, Brandon “€œBranch”€ Kloess and Dakota Freese, as well as first baseman Ryan Huck, who were all released earlier this week.

DeVoss was a light-hitting 24-year-old outfielder who’€™s appeared in just two dozen games above Class-A in his career and played primarily at Stockton last season. The 23-year-old Michaud was drafted in the 33rd round in 2013 and looked good at Vermont early last season but had a tough time after being promoted to Beloit. Also 23, Vail has mostly struggled since being selected by the A’€™s in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. He posted a career 4.56 ERA over 290 innings in the A’s minor league system.

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A’s Release More Minor League Hurlers on Wednesday

Murphy Smith: One of the latest minor league hurlers to be released by the A's.

Murphy Smith: One of the latest minor league hurlers to be released by the A’s.

Hot on the heels of the releases of minor league hurlers Drew Granier, Deck McGuire, Brandon “€œBranch”€ Kloess and Dakota Freese earlier this week, the A’s also released RHPs Murphy Smith and Paul Smyth on Wednesday.

After being moved to the bullpen last year, Smith posted a 4.73 ERA in 85 2/3 innings at Double-A Midland. Smyth, despite posting a 3.05 ERA in 59 relief innings at Triple-A Sacramento last year, was told earlier in the week that he would likely be sent back to Double-A this season. The reliever then requested his release and it was eventually granted by the organization on Wednesday.

In other news, it looks like RHP Nate Long, who was one of Midland’s top starters last year, will open the season on the disabled list or at extended spring training in Arizona. That means that, in addition to Zach Neal and Chris Jensen, Midland’s starting rotation is likely to include 3 of the following 4 hurlers: Chris Lamb, Jake Sanchez, Tim Atherton and Tanner Peters. Meanwhile, with Smith and Smyth’€™s release, the top candidates for Midland’s bullpen now appear to be Jeff Urlaub, Seth Frankoff, Tucker Healy, Ryan Dull, Ryan Doolittle, Kris Hall, Jonathan Joseph and Andres Avila.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Triple-A Nashville rotation appears to be set for the moment with RHPs Chris Bassitt, Arnold Leon and Matt Buschmann as well as LHPs Brad Mills and Rudy Owens. And there are currently 10 arms available for 8 slots in the Nashville bullpen: Ryan Cook, Eury De La Rosa, Fernando Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Brock Huntzinger, Kevin Whelan, Ryan Verdugo, Jim Fuller, Chad Smith and Angel Castro.

As we reported yesterday, there are whispers that the A’s have been talking to other teams about recently-demoted RHP Ryan Cook. And with the recent news that outfielder Coco Crisp may miss as much as the first two months of the season due to elbow surgery, it certainly wouldn’€™t be surprising to see the A’s package a couple of experienced bullpen arms like Cook and possibly Fernando Rodriguez for someone who could help provide the team with a little more depth in the outfield.

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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.

Abundance of Arms Affecting A’s Minor League Pitching Prospects

Drew Granier: No longer in the A's plans.

Drew Granier: No longer in the A’s plans.

When the A’€™s signed 7 minor league free agents pitchers, re-signed 2 of their own minor league free agent hurlers, and acquired a number of other young arms in trades this offseason, it was inevitable that there was going to be a bit of a roster crunch at the upper levels of the minor league system once spring training began to wrap up. And that’€™s exactly what’s happening now.

It appears that the pitching staff at the A’s new Triple-A Nashville affiliate will consist entirely of pitchers currently on the 40-man roster and minor league free agent signees, plus a pair of fairly experienced arms in Fernando Rodriguez and Angel Castro. So if you’re a pitcher not on the 40-man roster or a minor league free agent signee, then it’s likely that you’€™re bound to wind up at the Double-A level or below.

Another effect of this roster crunch has been the release of a number of arms in the past week, including Andrew Werner, Drew Granier, Deck McGuire, Brandon “€œBranch”€ Kloess and Dakota Freese. And this week, we heard that RHPs Nate Long, Ryan Doolittle, Paul Smyth and Seth Frankoff were all being ticketed for Midland barring any last-minute trades.

With Nashville’€™s Triple-A rotation already full, it looks like RHP Zach Neal will be sent down to anchor Midland’s rotation, while RHPs Nate Long and Chris Jensen, both of whom had solid seasons at Double-A last year, will be returning to the RockHounds rotation once again. Other potential candidates for Midland’s starting staff include Chris Lamb, Jake Sanchez, Tim Atherton and Tanner Peters. RHP Sean Murphy, who spent most of last season in the RockHounds rotation, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and will sit out the season.

Meanwhile, at Nashville, the starting rotation should consist of RHPs Chris Bassitt, Arnold Leon and Matt Buschmann as well as LHPs Brad Mills and Rudy Owens. LHP Sean Nolin will likely join the Nashville rotation once he’€™s fully recovered from sports hernia surgery. The Nashville bullpen is still a little crowded with 10 arms currently available to fill 8 slots: Ryan Cook, Eury De La Rosa, Fernando Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Brock Huntzinger, Kevin Whelan, Ryan Verdugo, Jim Fuller, Chad Smith and Angel Castro.

It’€™s expected that the A’s may make a couple of deals before opening day to help clear the pitching logjam at the upper levels of the system. And to that end, it’s been whispered that the A’s have been talking to other teams about recently-demoted RHP Ryan Cook. But even if the A’€™s were to trade Cook, that might not be the last deal involving a young hurler that the team will end up making before opening day arrives.

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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.

A’s Trim Spring Roster to 36 on Sunday

The A's minor league complex at Fitch Park

The A’s minor league complex at Fitch Park

The big story out of A’s camp on Sunday was the news that five players were being sent down the road to the team’s minor league camp at Fitch Park. Infielders Max Muncy and Andy Parrino along with catcher Luke Carlin were reassigned to the minor league camp, while RHP Chris Bassitt and outfielder Alex Hassan were officially optioned to Nashville.

Bassitt had a tough spring and struggled particularly against left-handed hitters, but he’ll have the chance to straighten things out as a member of Nashville’s starting rotation, which could also include names like Brad Mills, Arnold Leon, Matt Buschmann, Rudy Owens, Zach Neal and, once he’s healthy, Sean Nolin.

Hassan went 8 for 18 for the A’s this spring but was slowed by a hamstring injury. He’s likely to be joined in Nashville’s outfield mix by Jason Pridie, Matt Angle and Billy Burns.

After signing a ball for a young fan on Sunday, A's manager Bob Melvin then broke the bad news that he was being reassigned to the minor league camp.

After signing a ball for a young fan on Sunday, A’s manager Bob Melvin then broke the bad news that he was being reassigned to the minor league camp.

Muncy opened some eyes in camp this spring with a combination of pop and plate discipline while also putting in some time learning to play third base. He’s expected to spend time at both third and first at Nashville this season.

Parrino’s always been known for his steady glove, but it appears that he may have been eclipsed on the depth chart by Tyler Ladendorf, who’s still in big league camp and on the 40-man roster. He’s likely to spend plenty of time turning double plays at Nashville this year with second baseman Joe Wendle.

Carlin, a switch-hitter who was signed as a minor league free agent fairly late in the offseason, is expected to split time behind the plate at Nashville this season with fellow backstop Bryan Anderson.

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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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