Thursday, May 4th: Olson’s Early HR Leads Sounds to Victory while Bassitt Looks Strong in 2nd Rehab Start for Stockton

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds      5

Round Rock Express  4

WP – C.Smith 2-1 / 2.39

HR – Olson (4), Parmelee (3)

Prospect Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

First baseman Matt Olson slugged a 3-run homer in the top of the 1st inning to give the Sounds a lead they would never surrender on Thursday. Olson has been hot since returning from his brief stint with the A’s, hitting .320 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs over his last 6 games. Designated hitter Chris Parmelee followed up with a solo shot in the 2nd, while left fielder Jaycob Brugman collected 3 hits, including a double, and third baseman Matt Chapman singled and tripled for the Sounds. Starter Chris Smith was solid, allowing 2 runs over 5 2/3 frames to earn his 2nd win, while RHP Chris Jensen gave up 2 runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief, and LHP Ross Detwiler threw a scoreless 9th to notch his 1st save for Nashville. And with Oakland catcher Josh Phegley landing on the 7-day concussion list, Sounds catcher Bruce Maxwell rejoined the A’s roster on Thursday.

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Wednesday, May 3rd: Marincov’s 3 HRs Help Hounds Win while Nunez Homers Again in Sounds’ Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Outfielder Tyler Marincov (3 for 5 / 3 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Outfielder Tyler Marincov (3 for 5 / 3 HRs / 5 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Corpus Christi Hooks      3

Midland RockHounds  12

WP – Holmes 2-1 / 5.16

HR – Marincov 3 (6), Rosa (5), Raga (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Tyler Marincov

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

Five home runs helped the RockHounds put 12 runs on the board in Wednesday’s win. Right fielder Tyler Marincov led the attack, hitting a 3-run homer in the 4th, then following up with solo shots in his next two at-bats in the 6th and the 8th. First baseman Viosergy Rosa singled, drew 3 walks, and hit a 2-run homer in the 1st, while catcher Argenis Raga slugged a 2-run shot in the 2nd, and second baseman Max Schrock doubled, singled twice, walked and drove in a run for the RockHounds. Third baseman Yairo Munoz went 1 for 5 and scored a run in his season debut after returning from the disabled list and, after a stint with the Sounds, shortstop Melvin Mercedes singled and walked in his return to the RockHounds. Starter James Naile gave up 3 runs in 2 2/3 innings of work, while his tandem-starting mate, RHP Grant Holmes, allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 6 over 4 scoreless frames to earn his 2nd win for Midland. And with Munoz and Mercedes returning to the RockHounds roster, RHP Jesus Zambrano was reassigned to the Snappers and infielder Jean Carlo Rodriguez was sent back to extended spring training in Arizona.

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Tuesday, May 2nd: Chapman’s 2 HRs Help Sounds Win 5th Straight while Graves & Meisner Lead Ports to Shutout Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Matt Chapman (2 Home Runs / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Matt Chapman (2 Home Runs / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds    11

Round Rock Express  0

WP – Brady 1-1 / 4.30

HR – Nunez (6), Canha (4), Chapman 2 (2), Wendle (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

(2 Home Runs / 3 RBIs)

The Sounds put 11 runs on the board as they shut out the Express on just 2 hits to win their fifth straight on Tuesday. Not only did Matt Chapman hit his first home run of the season in the 2nd inning to give the Sounds the lead, but he also added his second home run of the season in the 9th to cap off the victory. Left fielder Renato Nunez homered in his third straight game – slugging his team-leading 6th of the season – while right fielder Mark Canha singled, walked and belted his 4th big fly since joining Nashville. Second baseman Joey Wendle singled twice and ripped his 1st round-tripper of the year, and first baseman Matt Olson singled, doubled and drove in a pair for the Sounds. RHP Raul Alcantara was solid in his return to the Sounds, allowing just 1 hit over 3 shutout innings, while RHP Michael Brady threw 3 scoreless frames in relief of Alcantara to earn the win. Relievers Ross Detwiler, Tucker Healy and Aaron Kurcz each tossed a scoreless inning to complete the 2-hit shutout for the Sounds. Meanwhile, infielder Melvin Mercedes was reassigned to the RockHounds and outfielder Jaycob Brugman was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday.

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Monday, May 1st: McBride’s Big Blow Gives Sounds Walk-Off Win while Hounds Suffer 3-Hit Shutout

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Outfielder Matt McBride (Home Run / 2 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Outfielder Matt McBride (HR / 2 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

New Orleans Baby Cakes  4

Nashville Sounds             6

WP – J.Smith 2-0 / 3.29

HR – Nunez (5), McBride (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Matt McBride

(Home Run / 2 RBIs)

With two outs, a man on and the game tied in the 12th, left fielder Matt McBride smacked a 2-run homer to give the Sounds a walk-off win as Nashville notched its fourth straight victory on Monday. Designated hitter Renato Nunez slugged a solo shot in the 8th, while center fielder Kenny Wilson doubled in a run in the 9th, then in the next at-bat, shortstop Melvin Mercedes singled in the tying run for the Nashville. Franklin Barreto tripled and scored the winning run in the 12th, while catcher Ryan Lavarnway singled, doubled and scored a run for the Sounds. Starter Daniel Gossett was charged with 2 unearned runs over 5 innings of work, while RHP Chris Jensen gave up 2 runs in 2 innings of relief, and RHP Josh Smith picked up the win after throwing scoreless frames in the 11th and 12th for the Sounds. And with Sonny Gray returning to action for the A’s, outfielder Ryan LaMarre was optioned back to Nashville on Monday.

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A’s April Minor League Leaders

Franklin Barreto

Franklin Barreto

With the first month of the minor league season now complete, it’s a good time to take a look at the A’s minor league leaders in a few key hitting and pitching categories. And it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see the names of top prospects like Franklin Barreto, A.J. Puk and Logan Shore high atop our lists of A’s minor league leaders.

A minimum of 60 at-bats is required for the hitting categories and a minimum of 20 innings is required for the ERA and WHIP categories for pitchers. Players from all four of the A’s full-season affiliates – Nashville, Midland, Stockton and Beloit – are included, and the stats are complete through games of Sunday, April 30. Some of these names you may expect to see atop the lists, while others might come as a bit of a surprise!

You can always stay up to date on the A’s top prospects and all the daily action in the A’s minor league system right here on Athletics Farm. A version of this report originally appeared on Athletics Nation

Click here to see the A’s April Minor League Leaders…

Sunday, April 30th: Manarino & Hurlbutt Pitch Ports to Shutout Win while Marincov’s Grand Slam Isn’t Enough as Hounds Lose Late Lead

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Evan Manarino (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Evan Manarino (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports    3

San Jose Giants   0

WP – Manarino 1-1 / 1.57

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Evan Manarino

(5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / Win)

It was another impressive performance by the Ports pitching staff as RHP Dustin Hurlbutt and LHP Evan Manarino combined to shut out San Jose on just 4 hits on Sunday. Hurlbutt gave up 2 hits and struck out 3 over 4 scoreless frames before being replaced by Manarino, who was even better, allowing 2 hits while walking none and striking out 5 over 5 shutout innings to earn the win for Stockton. And Manarino has now allowed just 1 earned run without issuing a walk over his last 11 innings of work for the Ports. Second baseman Josh Vidales singled twice, walked twice and scored his team’s first run, while left fielder Tyler Ramirez had 2 hits, walked and drove in a run, and center fielder Skye Bolt singled, drew a pair of walks, stole a base and scored the final run for Stockton.

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Saturday, April 29th: Smith’s 6 Shutout Frames Lead Sounds to Victory while Bassitt Makes First Rehab Start for Stockton

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Chris Smith (6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 3 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Chris Smith (6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 3 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

New Orleans Baby Cakes  2

Nashville Sounds            10

WP – C.Smith 1-1 / 2.18

HR – Nunez (4)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Chris Smith

(6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 3 K / Win)

A night after Nashville starter Paul Blackburn threw 5 scoreless frames, Saturday’s starting pitcher, RHP Chris Smith, followed up by tossing 6 shutout innings to earn the victory as the Sounds won their third straight. And the 36-year-old Smith has now allowed a total of just 5 earned runs over his first 4 starts of the season. Nashville’s offense notched a total of 10 runs for the first time this season. First baseman Matt Olson collected 4 hits, including a double, and drove in a pair of runs, while center fielder Mark Canha doubled twice and drove in 3. Left fielder Renato Nunez notched his 4th home run, a solo shot, and drew a pair of walks, and second baseman Franklin Barreto singled twice, doubled and drove in a run while raising his team-best batting average to a healthy .349. In other news, RHP Raul Alcantara cleared waivers and was sent to the Sounds, and second baseman Joey Wendle’s rehab assignment came to an end as he was activated from the disabled list and officially added to Nashville’s roster.

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Brett Graves: Stepping It Up For Stockton

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

RHP Brett Graves  (Photo: Meghan Camino)

RHP Brett Graves
(Photo: Meghan Camino)

If you’ve been paying attention to Stockton’s impressive pitching staff this season, you’re not alone. There’s been plenty of talk about the potential of top draft picks like A.J. Puk and Logan Shore, but it was another pitcher on the Stockton staff who was actually the team’s most consistent hurler over the first three weeks of the season.

RHP Brett Graves started off his second season at Stockton by allowing just 1 run and 1 walk while striking out 19 in 18 innings over his first 5 appearances of 2017 for the Ports. The 24-year-old finally had his first rough outing of the season for Stockton on Friday, but he’s still sporting a 3.00 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP to go along with just 2 walks and 24 strikeouts over 21 innings of work.

Graves was a 2014 3rd-round selection out of the University of Missouri, where he spent three seasons pitching in the SEC (the same conference that both Puk and Shore called home). Prior to attending college, Graves was a 26th-round selection of his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 after leading Francis Howell High School to the MSHSAA State Championships. Splitting time between pitching and playing shortstop, he pitched to a 9-1 record with a 1.95 ERA while batting .441 with six home runs and 35 RBIs as a high school senior.

At Missouri, Graves made impressive strides over the course of his collegiate career, giving many organizations the feeling that he had a lot more potential left to be tapped. He finished his junior season at Missouri with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP, limiting hitters to 0.4 HR/9 while increasing his strikeouts to 6.2 K/9 and decreasing his walks to 1.7 BB/9.

Graves endured a rough start in his first season at Stockton in 2016, posting a 5.72 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in the first half. He showed improvement over the course of the season though, putting up a 3.36 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in the second half. Graves ultimately finished the season with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP over 141 innings, but his 5.5 K/9 and his 1.8 K/BB ratio could still stand a little improvement.

Well, one only has to look at Graves’ 24 strikeouts and 2 walks in 21 innings in 2017 to see that he’s clearly stepped up his game this season. We recently had the chance to speak with him to find out, among other things, what accounts for his success at Stockton this season…

 

AF:  You were originally drafted by your hometown St. Louis Cardinals out of high school prior to accepting the offer to pitch at Missouri. How close were you to taking the Cardinals up on their offer and foregoing your college career?

BG:  After getting drafted in the 26th round, I was pretty set on going to college. I think it worked out for the best for me and I was really excited to go to Mizzou.

AF:  Were you a huge Cardinals fan growing up and was it ever your dream to play for them?

BG:  Yes, I was a huge Cardinals fan. I used to imitate their lineup playing in the backyard.

AF:  Did you have any favorite pitchers growing up that you wanted to emulate?

BG:  I really liked Chris Carpenter. He spent a lot of his time in St. Louis, and I loved the way he competed, as well as his intensity on the mound.

AF:  Going all the way back to 2006, there have been quite a few notable Missouri pitchers selected in the early rounds of the draft, including Max Scherzer, Aaron Crow, and Kyle Gibson. Have you ever had the opportunity to talk with any of them?

Brett Graves (Photo: Meghan Camino)

Brett Graves
(Photo: Meghan Camino)

BG:  As far as those guys go, no, I haven’t ever gotten to know any of them. I paid very close attention to how Max attacked hitters and how he competed out on the mound. I definitely tried to pick up anything I could from those guys. I wanted to follow right in their footsteps.

AF:  Is there anyone else from your time at Missouri that has had a profound impact on your maturation process?

BG:  Rob Zastryzny. He was our Friday night starter at Mizzou my freshman and sophomore years. We pushed each other and were there for each other whenever we needed to vent. Last year, he made his debut with the Cubs and got to be a part of that amazing World Series run.

AF:  Over your three seasons at Missouri, your walk rate decreased dramatically each year. Some thought that, as a freshman, you came out throwing hard and had to learn how to command the strike zone; as a sophomore, you controlled the strike zone but maybe weren’t throwing as hard; but as a junior, you really tied both in together and threw quality pitches with a good command of the strike zone. Do you agree with that assessment?

BG:  Yes, I would say that’s pretty spot on. When I came in as a freshman, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to reach back and throw it by these hitters anymore. I had to find my balance between attacking with my best stuff and learning how to pitch.

AF:  What played the biggest role in your collegiate development and making those transitions?

BG:  I would say my two years of summer ball in Newport, Rhode Island. My sophomore summer is where I really think I started to figure things out. Also, I think Rob [Zastryzny] helped me a ton with that.

AF:  How has your pitch repertoire evolved from Missouri to how you pitch now?

BG:  I think I have really been able to expand on my repertoire. I mix my four-seamer with my sinker much more. I’ve added a changeup that I really feel comfortable with that I hardly threw in college. And I think my breaking ball is way ahead of where it was in college.

AF:  Although it’s early in your second season with Stockton, you’ve commanded the strike zone extremely well, showing off a really good walk rate and strikeout rate. Is there anything else that’s enhanced your development since being drafted by the A’s?

BG:  I think the insight and access to some of the new TrackMan data from our staff has helped me to see how to use my pitches better and how to mix pitches maybe more effectively.

AF:  There’s so much information flowing in and out of baseball circles these days. Velocity, spin rates, release heights, the list goes on and on, but what do you find most compelling and most interesting when examining the data for your own pitches?

BG:  I like to look at how my pitches stack up against major league averages – how they’re moving and in what locations they are most effective. It gives me an insight on what pitches to throw in certain counts and the confidence and conviction of how and when to throw them. [A’s minor league pitching coordinator] Gil Patterson and the rest of the A’s staff have really gone to great lengths to make this information available to us and I think it helped me. I don’t think it’s something you can think too much about, but getting a general idea on how to use your pitches, which of your pitches are most successful, and gauging your pitch development based on some of the numbers you see can be very beneficial.

AF:  What pitch combinations are working for you now? Are you doing something different with your pitches that’s equating to better results or are you simply getting more comfortable on the mound?

Brett Graves (Photo: Meghan Camino)

Brett Graves
(Photo: Meghan Camino)

BG:  I think it has to do with a lot of those factors. First and foremost, I think I am just attacking the hitters better, leading to more counts that I’m ahead in, which typically leads to better results. I also think the development of my curveball to this point in the season has given me much more confidence and I’m really feeling much more comfortable with it.

AF:  A few really talented pitchers [A.J. Puk, Logan Shore, Daulton Jefferies] joined you in Stockton this season. Did you feel any added pressure coming into the season knowing that there could be more eyes focused on the pitching staff with some high expectations?

BG:  Not necessarily. Iron sharpens iron and they’re all good dudes that work really hard, so I was excited.

AF:  How do you feel about how they’ve been progressing? Do guys like Logan or A.J. come to you for advice and, conversely, have you picked anything up from them that you’ve felt was helpful?

BG:  Well, I feel they both have a tremendous grasp of who they are and what they need to do. But just from having been through a couple professional seasons now, I try to let them know what to expect – mainly just some things that I would have liked to know coming into pro ball.

AF:  Coming into the season, the A’s were beginning a relatively new philosophy of having eight starting pitchers pitch together in four-inning tandems, and you got the first crack on opening day. How are you adjusting to starting a game and then relieving in a game per the tandem starting pitch philosophy?

BG:  It’s interesting. I think you can learn some valuable lessons from it. You have to come out ready to go and attacking with your best stuff. There’s no time for a two or three spot early whereas, in a normal start, you can settle in and go six or seven innings and it’s a quality start – you just don’t have that option in the eight-man.

AF:  Back to opening day, you pitched four perfect innings without allowing a base runner. Had you ever gone that deep into a game without allowing a man on? And was there talk of coming back out for the 5th inning?

BG:  I have a couple times. However, I’ve never been able to seal the deal. We briefly discussed it in the dugout, but we decided it was just [too] early in the season and [we] had our eyes set more down the road and looking to be at our best come July and August.

AF:  Well, let’s wrap this up with some light stuff. Our readers often like to know some random details about players. I’m personally a big music geek, so what bands are you currently listening to?

BG:  I’m a country music fan. Lately, my roommates and I have been listening to a lot of Thomas Rhett.

AF:  If you were only allowed to keep one country artist’s entire collection of albums with you on a long road trip, which artist would it be?

BG:  Well, last year I went to Hawaii and downloaded every Kenny Chesney song. He has so many hits, I hardly have to listen to the same one twice.

AF:  By the way, you mentioned roommates. Is there anyone you’re particularly close to on the team?

BG:  Well, I share a bedroom with Lana Akau. Doesn’t get much closer than that…

AF:  It’s been a pleasure. Good luck the rest of the way.

(All photos courtesy of Meghan Camino)

*          *          *

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Friday, April 28th: Blackburn Pitches Sounds to Victory while Mann & Sportman Help Hounds Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Paul Blackburn (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Paul Blackburn (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

New Orleans Baby Cakes  1

Nashville Sounds             4

WP – Blackburn 1-2 / 1.64

HR – Canha (3), Olson (3)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Paul Blackburn

(5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

RHP Paul Blackburn turned in another strong start for the Sounds, allowing just 2 hits over 5 shutout innings to finally earn his 1st win on Friday. And the 23-year-old has now allowed a total of just 4 earned runs over his first 4 starts for the Sounds. RHP Simon Castro struck out the side in order in the 9th to notch his 2nd save for Nashville. Right fielder Mark Canha homered in his third straight game, drilling a 2-run drive to put the Sounds on the board in the 3rd, while first baseman Matt Olson slugged a solo shot in the 6th. Second baseman Joey Wendle doubled and singled twice, while left fielder Renato Nunez had a pair of doubles and drove in a run to help the Sounds win their second straight on Friday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Thursday, April 27th: Sonny Gray Impresses in Sounds’ Victory while Snappers Win 6th Straight

A’s “Prospect” Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Sonny Gray (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

A’s “Prospect” Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Sonny Gray (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

New Orleans Baby Cakes  2

Nashville Sounds             9

WP – Gray 1-0 / 0.00

HR – Barreto (4), Lavarnway (2), Canha (2)

“Prospect” Of The Game:

Pitcher Sonny Gray

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

After tossing 5 scoreless frames in a rehab appearance for Stockton last weekend, A’s starter and Nashville native Sonny Gray turned in another impressive performance, this time in front of a hometown crowd at First Tennessee Park in the heart of Music City on Thursday. Gray allowed just 2 hits while walking none and striking out 7 in 6 scoreless innings to earn the win for the Sounds. Over his two rehab starts, Gray has allowed a total of just 3 hits while walking none and striking out 13 over 11 shutout innings, and he appears ready to rejoin the A’s rotation next week. It was an easy win for Nashville on Thursday. Shortstop and leadoff batter Franklin Barreto belted his team-leading 4th home run in the bottom of the 1st inning to give the Sounds an early edge, and Nashville never lost the lead. Barreto also drew a pair of walks in the game, while right fielder Mark Canha singled and slugged a 2-run shot. Designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway homered, doubled and walked, and second baseman Joey Wendle doubled, tripled and drove in 3 runs in the win. And with the A’s activating RHP Kendall Graveman, first baseman Matt Olson was optioned back to Nashville on Thursday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

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