Category: Roster/Transactions

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.

 

 

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.

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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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 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.

Oakland A’s & Nashville Sounds 2015 Roster Outlook

It was another busy offseason for A's GM Billy Beane

A’s GM Billy Beane was a busy boy this winter

For the moment, as we sit here perched on the precipice of February, let’s go out on a limb and assume that the majority of the A’s offseason work is now finally done – which is never an entirely safe bet with general manager Billy Beane at the helm. But considering the massive amount of roster turnover and the vast number of new players the team has acquired, the shape of the A’s major league roster actually appears to be fairly clear at this point. While little has changed in the A’s outfield, the rest of the roster will look plenty different from the team that took the field to start 2014…

 

2015 OAKLAND A’S

While last year’s team started out with the tandem of John Jaso and Derek Norris behind the plate, the 2015 model figures to count on a catching platoon of fan-favorite Stephen Vogt and newly-acquired Josh Phegley, who arrived from the White Sox as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade.

The A’s 2015 starting infield looks to be entirely different from 2014, with Eric Sogard likely to be the only returning infielder on the roster, but this time in a utility role. 25-year-old Brett Lawrie will take over for Josh Donaldson at the hot corner, while Berkeley native Marcus Semien has been annointed as the team’s new shortstop. He’ll be mentored up the middle by former All-Star Ben Zobrist, who is set to be the team’s primary second baseman. Slugger Ike Davis should be stationed at first base against right-handers with free-agent catch Billy Butler as the designated hitter, while Butler should take over at first against lefties with Rule-5 pick Mark Canha serving in the DH spot as a sort of new-fangled Nate Freiman. With Zobrist taking over at second, last year’s primary second baseman and the almost-face-of-MLB, Eric Sogard, will likely serve in a utility role, backing up Zobrist at second, Semien at short and Lawrie at third. Sogard has experience at all three positions in both the majors and the minors.

Brett Lawrie: Can he make A's fans forget Josh Donaldson?

Brett Lawrie: Can he make A’s fans forget Josh Donaldson?

As mentioned, there aren’t a lot of new faces in the A’s outfield in 2015. Josh Reddick returns as the team’s rifle-armed right fielder, while Coco Crisp will man center field, as long as his health allows – and A’s fans better hope and pray that’s a lot – and Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry should share duties in left field. Of course, the 2015 version of the A’s does possess similar versatility to last year’s model. If needed, Zobrist is perfectly capable of playing in the outfield, with Sogard slotting in at second. Canha can also do time in the outfield if needed and, like Sogard, Semien has played all over the infield with the exception of first base.

As far as the team’s starting rotation goes, only two members seem to be certain locks – veteran lefty Scott Kazmir and young righty Sonny Gray. General manager Billy Beane did mention in a conference call with reporters that returning lefty Drew Pomeranz and newly-acquired right-handers Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman may have “the inside track” for the remaining rotation spots. So assuming the GM’s opinion counts for something, one would have to assume that’s the group that’s most likely to make up the team’s starting five, though new acquisitions Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin will surely be in on the competition as well and much will clearly depend on how spring training plays out.

It appears that the team may prefer to have Jesse Chavez back in the bullpen as a reliable long man and occasional spot starter if needed. And with Sean Doolittle set to miss the start of the season with shoulder issues, former Nationals closer Tyler Clippard is likely the leading candidate to take over Doolittle’s spot as the last man on the mound for the A’s. Fernando Abad and Eric O’Flaherty are set to be the team’s lefties out of the ‘pen, with Dan Otero and Ryan Cook available from the right side. That leaves one last bullpen spot available while Doolittle’s doing time on the DL. Since he’s out of options, it might be safe to give Evan Scribner the edge, though lefty Eury De La Rosa (acquired from Arizona) and righty R.J. Alvarez (picked up from the Padres) could also be distinct possibilities.

Of course, the team is counting on Doolittle to return at some point. And let’s not forget that A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are both working their way back from Tommy John surgery with midseason returns quite possible for the pair.

 

2015 NASHVILLE SOUNDS

With all the young players the team acquired in trades, and plenty of minor league free agent signees as well, there will be a bit of a roster crunch at the top levels of the A’s farm system in 2015. And it’s going to be particularly difficult for many players to make the move up from Midland, with the possible exception of first baseman Max Muncy with the team’s top prospect, Matt Olson, set to take over at first for Midland in 2015. As things now stand, it appears that there are about 16 position players competing for what is typically 12 roster spots and 23 pitchers competing for what is typically 13 spots on the pitching staff at the A’s Triple-A affiliate. So let’s take a look at some of the players most likely to find themselves playing in Nashville as the PCL team begins its first season as the A’s top affiliate.

The team has two very experienced minor league catchers who’ve had the chance to get their feet wet in the majors and who’ll be waiting in the wings at Nashville in 2015. 28-year-old, lefty-swinging Bryan Anderson has caught 755 minor league games and has appeared in the majors with the Cardinals and the White Sox and even managed to get one at-bat with the A’s last year, while 34-year-old switch-hitter Luke Carlin has been behind the plate for 773 minor league games and has made appearances with San Diego, Arizona and Cleveland.

One of the A’s most exciting minor leaguers, speed-burner Billy Burns, should have the chance to run around the bases and tear up the turf in center field for Nashville in 2015. He’ll likely be flanked by a pair of minor league veterans – 29-year-old Matt Angle and 31-year-old Jason Pridie, who’s appeared with the Twins, the Mets, the Phillies, the Orioles and the Rockies – along with Josh Whitaker, who split last season between Sacramento and Midland.

Nashville’s infield should be anchored up the middle by shortstop Andy Parrino, newly-acquired second baseman Joe Wendle, and Tyler Ladendorf, who split time last season between second base and shortstop and can also play a little in the outfield. The corners could be a little crowded with Alden Carrithers returning at third base, newly-acquired Rangel Ravelo set to see time at third and first, Nate Freiman likely to play first and DH, as is Max Muncy, and Anthony Aliotti, who spent time at first as well as in the outfield for Sacramento last season, is also in the mix.

Infielders Colin Walsh and Niuman Romero, who was signed as a minor league free agent, will also be battling for a spot on the Nashville roster, but it might be tough unless injuries, trades or releases unexpectedly open the door to a roster spot. Due to the roster crunch, Romero, who’s spent over 700 minor league games at shortstop and second base, may end up sharing middle infield duties with Chad Pinder at Midland, where there aren’t a lot of legitimate shortstop options with the departure of Daniel Robertson in the Ben Zobrist deal with Tampa Bay.

Billy Burns: Will he set a new land speed record in Nashville?

Billy Burns: Will he set a new land speed record in Nashville?

When it comes to the Sounds’ starting rotation, between all the new acquisitions, minor league free agent signees and returning players, there should be an abundance of starting pitchers available at the Triple-A level that will make it almost impossible, barring some unexpected injuries, for any starters to make the move up from Midland, including deserving candidates like Nate Long and Chris Jensen. It also means that some better known pitching prospects like former 1st-rounder Deck McGuire aren’t likely to have much of a shot at starting the season with the Sounds.

If, as speculated, Kazmir, Gray, Hahn, Pomeranz and Graveman end up comprising the A’s starting five, that would leave seven solid candidates for the Sounds’ starting rotation, six of whom will be in major league camp this spring. Three of them are currently on the A’s 40-man roster and would probably be first in line – new acquisitions Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin along with returning righty Arnold Leon – while minor league free agent additions Brad Mills and Rudy Owens, both of whom have gotten a taste of life in the majors, and returning righty Matt Buschmann would all be solid options. Zach Neal, who was one of Sacramento’s most solid starters last season, may be at a bit of a disadvantage since he won’t be participating in the major league camp with the others. But depending on how everything shakes out, they all have a legitimate shot at starting the season in the Sounds’ starting rotation.

Thanks to multiple minor league free agent signings, the bullpen picture is even more crowded, with at least 16 pitchers competing for what will likely be 8 bullpen spots in Nashville. Two who were acquired in trades during the offseason, lefty Eury De La Rosa and righty R.J. Alvarez, are on the 40-man roster, as is righty Taylor Thompson, who was claimed off waivers. As long as they don’t make the major league roster, they should all be assured spots, as should righty Fernando Rodriguez, who posted a 1.97 ERA at Sacramento and allowed 1 run in 7 appearances for the A’s last season.

That leaves five veteran minor league free agent signees – righties Kevin Whelan and Brock Huntzinger, lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (yes, he throws with both arms!) – five returning players who spent all or part of last season at Sacramento – righties Angel Castro, Paul Smyth, Seth Frankoff and Tucker Healy, plus lefty Jeff Urlaub – and two solid pitching prospects who had strong seasons at Midland last year – righties Ryan Dull and Ryan Doolittle – all competing for the remaining four spots in the Sounds’ bullpen.

Of course, one never knows what unexpected injuries might sideline some arms to start the season but, regardless, a number of these names who don’t make the cut with the Sounds are bound to end up in the bullpen at Midland, where Nate Long, Chris Jensen, Sean Murphy and Drew Granier could all be returning to the RockHounds’ rotation this season, perhaps along with someone like Deck McGuire.

Speaking of the A’s Double-A affiliate, some of the team’s top prospects will be found in Midland’s infield this year, with Matt Olson at first, Renato Nunez at third, and Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy in the infield mix there as well. Top catching prospect Bruce Maxwell will be competing for a spot behind the plate with Blake Forsythe and Ryan Ortiz, as well as fellow backstops Beau Taylor and Carson Blair. Meanwhile, the outfield should primarily be comprised of returning RockHounds like Kent Matthes, Chad Oberacker and Conner Crumbliss, with the possible addition of Jaycob Brugman, who proved himself at both Beloit and Stockton last season.

But let’s clearly lay out the possible players on your 2015 Oakland A’s and Nashville Sounds opening day rosters right here (just click on each player’s name below to view their complete stats page)…

A’s 2015 Minor League Staff

 

Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone

Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (Triple-A)

Manager Steve Scarsone

Pitching Coach Don Schulze

Hitting Coach Webster Garrison

Steve Scarsone was named manager of the A’s new Triple-A affiliate at Nashville.  This will be his third consecutive season as manager of the A’s Triple-A club as he guided Sacramento to a 79-65 record in each of the previous two seasons.  Scarsone now has a 568-554 record in eight seasons as a minor league manager, including stints in the A’s system with Midland from 2011-12, Stockton in 2010 and Kane County in 2009.  Don Schulze and Webster Garrison earn their first Triple-A assignments in 2015 as pitching coach and hitting coach, respectively.  This will be Schulze’s 10th year as a pitching coach in the A’s system, including the last four at Double-A Midland, and Garrison’s 15th as a coach or manager.  Brad LaRosa returns as the athletic trainer and Terence Brannic was named strength coach.

 

Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson

Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (Double-A)

Manager Ryan Christenson

Pitching Coach John Wasdin

Hitting Coach Eric Martins

Ryan Christenson takes over as manager at Midland after leading Stockton to an 85-55 record and a playoff appearance in 2014.  He made his managerial debut in 2013 at Single-A Beloit after spending six seasons as a player in the Major Leagues, including four with the A’s from 1998-2001.  John Wasdin will be the pitching coach on Christenson’s staff for the third consecutive season and Eric Martins was named hitting coach.  Martins served as a scout for the A’s for the past seven seasons.  Justin Whitehouse returns as the athletic trainer and A.J. Seeliger is the new strength coach.

 

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

STOCKTON PORTS (High-A)

Manager Rick Magnante

Pitching Coach Rick Rodriguez

Hitting Coach Brian McArn

Rick Magnante assumes the managerial reins at Stockton, his 13th season as a minor league manager.  He has a 457-497 record in his previous 12 seasons, including 55-84 last season with Beloit.  Rick Rodriguez will be the pitching coach after two seasons in that capacity at Sacramento.  Rodriguez is in his 31st season in the A’s organization, which includes seven seasons as a player and two years as bullpen coach in Oakland (2011-12). Brian McArn returns as hitting coach, his 18th in that role with the A’s and his fourth at Stockton (2011-12, 14).  Travis Tims returns as athletic trainer and Henry Torres takes over as strength coach.

 

Beloit Snappers manager Fran Riordan

Beloit Snappers manager Fran Riordan

BELOIT SNAPPERS (Class-A)

Manager Fran Riordan

Pitching Coach Steve Connelly

Hitting Coach Lloyd Turner

Fran Riordan joins the A’s organization as manager at Beloit after spending 14 years managing in independent leagues.  Riordan spent the last four seasons at the helm of Florence in the Frontier League, guiding the Freedom to a 190-194 record over that stretch.  Steve Connelly, who had his first professional coaching assignment as pitching coach at Vermont last year, takes over those duties at Beloit in 2015.  Lloyd Turner returns for his second consecutive season as hitting coach with the Snappers and Brian Thorson returns as athletic trainer.  JD Howell will serve as strength 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 Tommy Everidge

In addition to his duties as minor league field coordinator, Aaron Nieckula will manage the A’s short-season club at Vermont, his ninth year as a manager in the A’s farm system.  He has spent the last two seasons at Midland and guided the RockHounds to a 77-63 record and the Texas League Championship in 2014.  Carlos Chavez will be the pitching coach after two seasons with the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League.  Tommy Everidge returns for his second consecutive season as Vermont’s hitting coach and Toshi Nagahara returns as the athletic trainer.

 

Arizona League A's pitching coach Ariel Prieto

Arizona League A’s pitching coach Ariel Prieto

ARIZONA LEAGUE A’S (Rookie Short-Season)

Manager Ruben Escalera

Pitching Coach Ariel Prieto

Hitting Coach Juan Dilone

Ruben Escalera will manage the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League for the second consecutive season and ninth season overall.  He previously managed from 2002-08 and spent the five years in between in various roles as an instructor in the A’s system.  Ariel Prieto was named pitching coach after serving as a coach on the Major League staff the previous three seasons.  He previously served as pitching coach with the A’s rookie club from 2009-11 and will also serve as a liaison between the A’s Dominican Republic and United States based operations.  Juan Dilone returns for his seventh season as hitting coach and Gabriel Ortiz is in his second season as coach.  Chris Lessner returns as the athletic trainer.

 

Minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks

Minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks

Minor League Field Coordinator: Aaron Nieckula

Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Greg Sparks

Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Garvin Alston

Minor League Rehab Pitching Coordinator: Craig Lefferts

Minor League Defensive Coordinator: Juan Navarrette

Aaron Nieckula was named minor league field coordinator and will oversee minor league spring training, extended spring training and instructional league.  Greg Sparks will take over as minor league hitting coordinator after spending three seasons as hitting coach at Triple-A Sacramento.  Sparks is in his 18th season in the A’s organization, which includes eight years as minor league roving hitting instructor from 2004-11.  Garvin Alston was named minor league pitching coordinator after spending the previous six seasons as minor league pitching rehab coordinator.  Craig Lefferts, who spent the previous 12 seasons as a pitching coach in the A’s farm system, replaces Alston as minor league rehab pitching coordinator.  Juan Navarrette is in his 21st season with the A’s and will be the minor league defensive, base running and bunting coordinator.  

 

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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