Starter Aaron Brooks was impressive for the Sounds on Sunday, allowing 1 run on just 3 hits while walking none and striking out 8 over 7 innings of work to earn the win for Nashville. Catcher Bryan Anderson and shortstop Tyler Ladendorf each had 3 hits, including a double, and drove in 2 runs, while second baseman Joey Wendle had 2 hits and drove in a pair. Third baseman Brent Morel collected 4 hits, including a double, and scored 3 times, and outfielder Craig Gentry had 3 hits and drove in a run for the Sounds.
Second baseman Joey Wendle hit his 8th home run to tie the game in the bottom of the 3rd and also drove in another run in the 8th and doubled and was thrown out at the plate in the 1st on Saturday. And Wendle is now 10 for 19 with a pair of home runs over his past 5 games for the Sounds. Center fielder Craig Gentry reached base 4 times, on 3 hits and a walk, and drove in the go-ahead run in the 8th, while third baseman Brent Morel had a pair of doubles, and shortstop Andy Parrino had 2 hits and 2 walks for Nashville. Starter Nate Long was solid, allowing 1 run over 7 innings of work and left with the game tied, while RHP Brock Huntzinger tossed a scoreless 8th to earn the win, and RHP Angel Castro got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 6th save for the Sounds. Meanwhile, the A’s reinstated LHP Sean Doolittle from the disabled list and optioned RHP Dan Otero back to Nashville.
Third baseman Ryon Healy had his third 5-hit game this season for the RockHounds, going 5 for 7 with a double while also driving in a run in the 14th inning on Friday. Healy has gone 9 for 17 over his last 3 games and is now batting .303 in 111 games for Midland this season. With a man on and the game tied in the top of the 14th, catcher Beau Taylor homered for the second time in as many days, this time off first baseman Lars Anderson who was pressed into service for Tulsa, and Healy then followed up with an RBI single later in the inning. Starter Dillon Overton was solid, scattering 3 hits while walking none and striking out 4 over 5 shutout innings and left the game with a 1-run lead. RHP Jonathan Joseph allowed the tying run in the 7th, while RHP Andres Avila threw 3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win for the RockHounds.
On Thursday, RHP Casey Meisner turned in his best start for Stockton since being acquired from the Mets in the Tyler Clippard trade. The 20-year-old gave up a single in the 1st inning and then retired the next 11 hitters before giving up another single in the 5th. Meisner ended up allowing just those 2 hits while walking none and striking out 5 over 5 shutout innings to earn his 1st win for Stockton. RHP Lou Trivino tossed 3 scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Ben Bracewell got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 5th save and nail down the 3-hit shutout for Stockton. First baseman Michael Soto singled, doubled twice and drove in a pair, while right fielder Tyler Marincov also had 2 doubles and scored twice, and left fielder B.J. Boyd had a pair of hits for the Ports.
RHP Chris Jensen delivered an impressive outing for the RockHounds on Wednesday, allowing just 1 run while striking out 8 over 6 innings of work to earn his 8th win for Midland. RHPs Andres Avila, Ryan Doolittle and Seth Frankoff each tossed 1 scoreless inning in relief. Third baseman Ryon Healy collected 3 hits, including his 10th home run, and drove in 2 runs, while outfielder Josh Whitaker singled, doubled, walked and drove in a pair for the Hounds.
The A’s organizational RBI and batting average leader, shortstop Chad Pinder, did more to improve his numbers on Tuesday. The 23-year-old went 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles while driving in all 3 of the RockHounds’ runs in the team’s 1-run loss. And Pinder’s 82 RBIs and .323 batting average both lead the Texas League as well. Starter Parker Frazier allowed 3 runs over 5 2/3 innings of work, while RHP Brendan McCurry, who hadn’t walked a batter in 9 innings since joining Midland, walked the bases loaded and then walked in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th to give Springfield the literal “walk-off” win on Tuesday. Meanwhile, RHP Tucker Healy landed on the disabled list with a right forearm strain and first baseman Anthony Aliotti returned from the temporarily inactive list for the RockHounds.
Outfielder B.J. Boyd had a big night at the plate for the Ports, singling in a pair of runs in the 4th inning and belting a 3-run homer in the 8th. First baseman Michael Soto singled and homered, while outfielder Tyler Marincov homered and drove in 3. Designated hitter Jacob Nottingham had 3 hits, including a double, and drove in a run, while shortstop Yairo Munoz and outfielder Brett Vertigan had a pair of hits apiece for the Ports. Starter Raul Alcantara was solid, scattering just 2 hits over 4 scoreless innings of work, while RHP Kyle Finnegan allowed 2 runs, just 1 earned, over 3 1/3 innings to pick up his 7th win for the Ports.
LHP Sean Manaea led the RockHounds to their 16th shutout of the season on Sunday. The former 1st-round draft pick scattered 4 hits while striking out 5 over 6 scoreless innings to earn his 3rd win, and two of the recently-acquired lefty’s four starts for Midland have now resulted in shutouts. RHP Kris Hall tossed a scoreless 7th, while RHP Andres Avila pitched a perfect 8th, and RHP Jonathan Joseph got the the final three outs in the 9th to nail down the 5-hit shutout for the Hounds. Right fielder Matt Olson had a big day at the plate, doubling in a pair in the bottom of the 3rd, hitting a 2-run homer in the 5th and doubling and scoring in the 7th, and Olson now has 31 doubles and 14 home runs on the season. Designated hitter Chad Pinder had 3 hits, including a double, and drove in a run, while center fielder Jaycob Brugman doubled in a pair. Left fielder Josh Whitaker had a pair of hits and drove in a run, and catcher Beau Taylor walked and doubled in the first run of the game for the RockHounds.
With two outs, two on and his team down by two runs in the bottom of the 7th, catcher Nick Rickles, getting a rare start at first base on Saturday, stroked a single to center field to bring in both runners and tie the game 4-4. Rickles also singled and scored a run in the 3rd, and the RockHounds plated the winning run in the 8th when second baseman Colin Walsh scored on designated hitter Chad Pinder’s sacrifice fly. Third baseman Ryon Healy had a pair of hits and a walk and drove in Rickles in the 3rd, while Matt Olson made a remarkable 9 putouts in right field. Starter Dillon Overton allowed 3 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings of work, while LHP Jeff Urlaub gave up 1 run in 2 innings of relief. RHP Ryan Doolittle struck out the side in the 8th to pick up his 4th win, and RHP Seth Frankoff got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 7th save. In other news, outfielder Chad Oberacker was activated from the disabled list, while third baseman Renato Nunez landed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, and first baseman Anthony Aliotti was placed on the temporarily inactive list for the RockHounds.
With just about three weeks left in the minor league season, it seems like a good time to take a look at some of the players in the A’s system who’ve been having true standout seasons on the field this year. Many minor league players can dazzle with an amazing week, or even an amazing month, but being able to perform at a high level over the course of a sometimes grueling minor league season, where travel can be torturous and days off are rare, is another thing altogether. So let’s take a look at some of the top performers in the A’s system this year. And remember, we’re not ranking top prospects here, just taking a look at the top performers on the field…
The A’s 1st-round draft pick just last year, Chapman leads all A’s minor leaguers in home runs with 23 after playing only three months this year. The Orange County native missed the first month of the season with a knee injury and has been out since the first week of August with a wrist injury. The 22-year-old also leads the A’s minor league system in slugging percentage (.587), thanks not only to his 23 home runs but also his 21 doubles and 3 triples in just 293 at-bats. When he was drafted, A’s front office personnel raved about Chapman’s power potential, and it seems to be coming to fruition in the hitter-friendly California League. And in the field, he possesses an elite throwing arm at third. The hope is that he’ll be able to make it back on the field over the next few weeks before the end of the minor league season. But either way, expect him to see him manning the hot corner and facing the more challenging hitting environment at Midland next season. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson told me about Chapman last month: “There’s no doubt about the power – the power’s going to be there. It’s all going to depend on how good a hitter he ends up becoming.”
Walsh has been having perhaps the best overall season in the A’s minor league system this year. The Stanford alum was a 13th-round draft pick for the Cardinals back in 2010 and was signed by the A’s to a minor league deal early last year. Walsh has played in all but five games for Midland this season and has been the Rockhounds’ best all-around hitter this year. His .432 on-base percentage is the best in the A’s minor league system by a mile. The 25-year-old switch-hitter also leads all A’s minor leaguers in doubles with 35 and in extra-base hits with 48. And his .309 batting average trails only his double-play partner, Chad Pinder. He’s also the RockHounds’ team leader in hits (131), runs (76) and total bases (204). Walsh has plenty of experience at third base and in the outfield as well, and his versatility could help make him a potential option as a utility man for the A’s at some point. Expect to see him playing some second base and doing a bit of moving around the diamond next season at Nashville.
After having a solid season while playing second base for Stockton last year, Pinder is having an even better season while playing shortstop for Midland this year. The 23-year-old has the best batting average (.316) in the A’s minor league system and also has more RBIs (77) than any other A’s minor leaguer. Pinder possesses a little pop too, and he’s put up 14 home runs and 25 doubles in the notoriously difficult hitting environment at Midland. He’s also improved his walk-rate a bit, but his plate discipline could still stand a little more improvement. Meanwhile, Pinder seems to be doing a dependable job of playing shortstop, while also having some experience and second and third, which only increases his value. Expect to see him playing shortstop at Nashville next season, where he’ll be just a step away from breaking into Oakland’s infield mix. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson told me about Pinder last month: “He’s been great on both sides. He’s played a very solid short…When it comes to his numbers, across the board, the arrows are pointing up.”
(137 IP / 121 H / 53 ER / 60 BB / 90 K / 3.48 ERA / 1.32 WHIP)
The A’s 1st-round draft pick back in 1999, Zito has come full circle. After pitching for the A’s Triple-A team in 2000, he’s twirling for the team’s Triple-A affiliate again in 2015. In 2000, it was Sacramento but, in 2015, it’s Nashville. And the 37-year-old has been the Sounds’ most consistent starter this season. Zito leads the team in innings pitched with 137, in wins with 8 and in strikeouts with 90. He also has the best ERA (3.48) and batting-average-against (.235) among all A’s minor league starters. He’s proven to be a solid presence while starting 22 games for the Sounds. So, some A’s fans may wonder why Zito hasn’t yet been called up to make an appearance with the A’s. Well, there are likely two main things that have been holding Zito back – a fastball that lingers in the mid-80s and a $1 million guarantee if he makes the major league roster. The feeling seems to be that, while the wily veteran may still be able to fool minor league hitters with his curveball and his changeup, that the velocity is not where it needs to be to be able to sustain success in the majors. But for now, Zito’s been making the most of the opportunity to show minor league hitters, and pitchers, just how it’s done. He’s currently serving a stint on the 7-day disabled list but is expected to be back in action for the Sounds this weekend.
(53 2/3 IP / 35 H / 4 ER / 15 BB / 64 K / 0.67 ERA / 0.93 WHIP)
Ryan Dull has had one of the best seasons of any A’s minor league reliever in recent memory. The 25-year-old didn’t allow a run until the seventh week of the season in late May, then didn’t give up another run until July, and has still allowed only 4 runs all season. And he hasn’t missed a beat since his promotion to Nashville a few weeks ago. The former 32nd-round draft pick has regularly been fooling minor league hitters, striking out 64 over 53 2/3 innings this season. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson told me about Dull last month: “He’s been 90-92 mph, his ball has a little sink and dive to it, and he pitches at the bottom of the zone fabulously. He’s got a hard little slider and he’s got a nice little changeup. He’s one of the better pitchers in our system when it comes to really pitching down in the zone consistently, and that’s the biggest attribute he has, plus he pounds the strike zone.” And he concluded about Dull, “If he continues to do that at every level, he will pitch in the big leagues.”
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 uphere.