Tag: A.J. Puk

Monday, May 22nd: Gossett’s 8 Shutout Innings Lead Sounds to Victory while Puk Pitches 5 1/3 No-Hit Frames in Ports’ Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Daniel Gossett (8 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 6 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Daniel Gossett (8 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 6 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds         9

Sacramento River Cats  3

WP – Gossett 2-2 / 3.59

HR – Olson (11), Chapman (9), Wendle (4)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Daniel Gossett

(8 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 6 K / Win)

RHP Daniel Gossett delivered his best start of the season on Monday, allowing just 4 hits while walking none and striking out 6 over a career-high 8 innings of work to earn his 2nd win for the Sounds. And the A’s 2nd-round draft pick in 2014 has now allowed just 4 earned runs in 19 innings over his last 3 starts. RHP Aaron Kurcz gave up a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th for Nashville. First baseman Matt Olson homered for the second straight night, belting a 3-run blast in the 3rd inning and singling in another run in the 5th, while third baseman Matt Chapman slugged a solo shot in the 4th, and second baseman Joey Wendle drilled a 2-run drive in the 7th to help the Sounds win their second straight over Sacramento. In other news, Nashville manager Ryan Christenson told Sounds play-by-play man Jeff Hem on Monday’s pre-game show that he didn’t expect catcher Bruce Maxwell, who’s currently on the disabled list with an oblique injury, to be back before mid-June at the earliest.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Meet Your 2018 Oakland A’s!

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

A's top prospect Franklin Barreto

Top prospect Franklin Barreto

Whatever happens with the A’s before the start of next season, one thing is certain – with many of the team’s current everyday players set to become free agents in the offseason, there’s bound to be plenty of turnover on the 25-man roster.

Center fielder Rajai Davis, first baseman Yonder Alonso, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, current shortstop Adam Rosales, as well as reliever John Axford, are all set to hit the free agent market in the offseason, and second baseman Jed Lowrie has a team option for 2018 and seems unlikely to return. Of course, most of these potential free agents are likely to be traded before the season is through but, one way or another, they’re all likely to be long-gone by the time 2018 rolls around.

The only regular position players in the starting lineup who are currently under team control for 2018 are outfielders Khris Davis and Matt Joyce, catcher Stephen Vogt, first baseman/designated hitter Ryon Healy and shortstop Marcus Semien, who will reclaim his starting shortstop role once he returns from the disabled list. Backup catcher Josh Phegley, utility infielder Chad Pinder and reserve outfielders Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski will also remain under team control for 2018. And the entire pitching staff, with the exception of Axford, will still be under control next year as well.

Of course, no one is ever certain what the A’s will do in the offseason, but it does seem as though the front office has structured this team to be ready for a big youth infusion next season – which could work well with the team’s stated intention of announcing plans for a new stadium before the end of the year.

So, disregarding any potential trades or free agent signings, let’s just assume that the A’s do decide to move forward with a full-on youth movement next season, stocking the roster with as many prospects as possible who are currently in the team’s minor league system. No one is saying that they will, or that they should, but just for the fun of it, let’s take a look at what a young, prospect-laden A’s team could potentially look like in 2018.

As previously mentioned, the pitching staff is already full of fairly young arms under team control, so any big changes would primarily involve position players, which is what we’ll mainly focus on here, though we will briefly touch on 2018’s potential pitching staff as well. It’s worth noting that every single position player proposed below for a potential prospect-laden A’s roster is currently age 29 or under, with Khris Davis the only potential everyday.player currently over the age of 26.

 

CATCHERS

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

The team’s current catching corps is set to be under team control for next year. 32-year-old Stephen Vogt is earning $2.965 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration for the second time in the offseason, while 29-year-old Josh Phegley is earning just $545,000 this year and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. With Vogt struggling so far this season and set to receive a raise through the arbitration system next year, this looks like an obvious spot to make a move to get younger. 26-year-old catcher Bruce Maxwell seems to have mastered Triple-A at this point, with a career slash line of .318/.386/.527 in the Pacific Coast League. And he’s looked fairly solid both at the plate and behind the plate during his 42 major league games for the A’s last year and this year. If the team does decide to put the left-handed-hitting Maxwell behind the dish next season, then it would make plenty of sense to keep Phegley around as his right-handed-hitting counterpart, and to try to make a deal to trade the popular Vogt either this summer or in the offseason to a club that’s looking for a little veteran catching help.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Jaycob Brugman

Jaycob Brugman

When we look at the A’s outfield picture for 2018, two things seem fairly certain: one Davis will stay and one Davis will go. 29-year-old left fielder Khris Davis, who’s hit 54 home runs since joining the A’s last season, is clearly the best-hitting outfielder on the A’s roster and seems likely to stick around. Davis is under team control for two more seasons, and he could serve as the most veteran presence on a young A’s squad next year while manning left field and holding down the cleanup spot. But 36-year-old center fielder Rajai Davis was always intended to serve as a one-year rental and is expected to depart via free agency in the offseason. One of last year’s other free agent signings, 32-year-old right fielder Matt Joyce, was signed to a two-year deal but has severely under-performed so far for the A’s. With one year left on his contract after this season, the team could try to foist him off on a contending club looking for a veteran left-handed bat, even if it means having to eat part of his deal. If the A’s do decide to go with a youth movement next year, there really won’t be much room on the roster for an under-achieving veteran outfielder with sub-par defensive skills. The A’s could replace Joyce in right field with 23-year-old slugger Matt Olson, who currently has 9 home runs, a .349 on-base percentage and a .508 slugging percentage for the Sounds while also leading the team with 19 walks. Olson has long been looked at as one of the top power-hitting prospects in the system and, though he’s mainly been playing first base for Nashville this season, he primarily played right field last year at Triple-A, has appeared at the position in half of his major league games, and has looked solid as a corner outfielder, where his strong arm can come in handy. Olson would immediately represent a defensive upgrade in the outfield and, potentially, an offensive one as well. When it comes to replacing Rajai in center, finding a successor in the A’s system could be tough since the A’s organization is sorely lacking in true center fielders, but there is one possible replacement who might be worth taking a chance on, and that’s Jaycob Brugman. Many in the A’s front office seem to feel that the 25-year-old is better-suited to serve as a part-time center fielder and really view him as more of a corner outfielder. And while he may not have the quickness and the range that one would ideally like to see in a true center fielder, it’s been a while since the A’s have had the luxury of having a true center fielder, and Brugman has shown a propensity for out-performing expectations at every level. He’s also experienced, having played more games in center field than at any other position in his minor league career. And while appearing in 154 games in center, Brugman has made just 2 errors at the position. Then there’s the fact that, while serving as the Sounds’ primary leadoff hitter, he’s boasting a .377/.441/.472 slash line this season since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. The former 17th-round draft pick has over-achieved at every minor league level, and he could do the same at the major league level as the A’s center fielder in 2018. It’s worth noting that Brugman and Olson are both left-handed hitters, but 28-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielders Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski both remain under team control for another few years and could be available to serve as platoon partners if needed.

 

INFIELDERS

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman

The A’s could be due for the biggest turnover in the infield next year. 30-year-old first baseman Yonder Alonso, 30-year-old third baseman Trevor Plouffe, and soon-to-be-34-year-old utility infielder Adam Rosales are all expected to depart via free agency after the season, if they’re not dealt before then, while 33-year-old second baseman Jed Lowrie’s contract has a club option for 2018, which essentially puts him in the same boat as the rest. The only starting infielder expected to return is 26-year-old shortstop Marcus Semien, who remains under team control through 2020. Fortunately, the A’s do have some talented young players to put around him in the infield, including top prospects Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto as well as a number of other promising young players. The 24-year-old Chapman has been the A’s top third base prospect since the day the team made him its top draft pick in June of 2014. He hit 23 home runs in just 304 at-bats for Stockton in 2015, mashed 36 between Midland and Nashville last year, and has hit 8 in just 88 at-bats while boasting a .557 slugging percentage so far this season for the Sounds. And to top it off, Chapman is also considered a top defender at the hot corner with an elite throwing arm. Widely considered to be the A’s top hitting prospect, Barreto just turned 21 a few months ago, but he’s already been tearing it up at Triple-A this year, putting up an impressive .320/.369/.510 slash line for the Sounds so far this season. Though Barreto has spent most of his time at the shortstop position, he’s also seen some time at second base, and many in the A’s front office have openly talked about the likelihood of him having to make the move to the other side of the bag, where the A’s are likely to soon have an opening. 25-year-old infielder Ryon Healy debuted with a bang for Oakland last season, posting a .305/.337/.524 slash line for the A’s. He’s been hitting at a more average pace so far this season while primarily serving in the designated hitter role, but Healy still holds plenty of promise. And given the chance to move out of the DH spot and play every day in the field at first base for the A’s in 2018 could be just what he needs to get back on track and really show what he can do. And speaking of designated hitters, 23-year-old slugger Renato Nunez has spent most of his minor league career playing third base, but since Matt Chapman has returned to health at Nashville, Nunez has been spending most of his time alternating between left field and the designated hitter spot for the Sounds. Nunez’s power has always been real, and he currently leads his team in home runs and doubles with 10 of each while sporting a .536 slugging percentage, and he even managed to hit a ball clear out of First Tennessee Park in Thursday night’s game. With his power bat and his defensive deficiencies, Nunez seems perfectly-suited to serve in the designated hitter role. And in a limited sample so far this season, 25-year-old infielder Chad Pinder has looked like one of the A’s best hitters. He’s gotten starts at shortstop, at second base, in the outfield and as the designated hitter so far for the A’s, and he’s also spent time at third base in college and in the minors. Pinder’s versatility could make him well-suited for a super-utility role, spelling Barreto at second, Semien at short and Chapman at third, while also filling in in the outfield and as well as in the designated hitter spot. We all know how much the A’s value versatility, and Pinder’s positional flexibility could make him a valuable piece for a young A’s team in 2018.

 

PITCHERS

Kendall Graveman

Kendall Graveman

As mentioned earlier, the major turnover for the A’s next year is likely to be on the position-player front, and that’s primarily because Oakland’s pitching staff is already full of fairly young arms who will be under team control for years to come. The organization currently has a dozen starting pitchers at the major league or Triple-A level who will all still be in their 20’s next year and will remain under team control for multiple years, with Sonny Gray the first to be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. These pitchers (with their current ages in parentheses) include: Sonny Gray (27), Kendall Graveman (26), Sean Manaea (25), Andrew Triggs (28), Jesse Hahn (27), Jharel Cotton (25), Chris Bassitt (28), Daniel Mengden (24), Raul Alcantara (24), Daniel Gossett (24), Paul Blackburn (23) and Zach Neal (28). That represents a fair number of fairly decent young arms who still have the potential to get much better and will remain under control for years to come. That’s not even mentioning all the talented young arms the A’s currently have below the Triple-A level, including 24-year-old RHP Corey Walter and 21-year-old RHP Grant Holmes at Midland, and 22-year-old LHP A.J. Puk and 22-year-old RHP Logan Shore at Stockton. That should give the A’s plenty of pitching options to choose from in 2018 and beyond. As for the bullpen, it looks like that’s where most of the veterans may be found for the 2018 A’s. 34-year-old RHP John Axford is the only reliever eligible for free agency in the offseason, which means that most members of the A’s bullpen could be returning, including RHPs Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla, Liam Hendriks, Ryan Dull and Frankie Montas, along with LHPs Sean Doolittle and Daniel Coulombe, all of whom remain under team control for 2018. Of course, 25-year-old RHP Bobby Wahl and 29-year-old RHP Josh Smith, who are both currently auditioning for the A’s, could also be options, as could 26-year-old RHP Tucker Healy, who’s currently sporting a 1.29 ERA for Nashville.

 

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t necessarily a prescription, but just a look at what could happen if they A’s do decide to move forward with a full-on youth movement next season. Of course, if the team does decide to deal potential free agents like Alonso, Plouffe, Lowrie, Rosales, Rajai Davis and Axford, or possibly even veterans like Vogt and Joyce, before the season’s through, that could net a number of new prospects in return who could potentially fill even more holes on a talented young A’s team next year. But, whatever happens, it’s certain that there will be a lot of new faces on the 2018 A’s, and most likely, many of them will be much younger faces.

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Wednesday, May 17th: Schrock Hits 2 HRs in Hounds’ Loss while Nashville’s 3 HRs Aren’t Enough to Help Sounds Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Second Baseman Max Schrock (3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Second Baseman Max Schrock (3 for 4 / 2 HRs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  4

Frisco RoughRiders       7

LP – Finnegan 0-1 / 3.38

HR – Schrock 2 (5), Munoz (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Second Baseman Max Schrock

(3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs)

Despite having his team fall for the fourth time in their last five games on Wednesday, second baseman Max Schrock had a big night at the plate for Midland. The 22-year-old prospect got off to a slow start in April but has been heating up in May, and the 5-foot-8 infielder muscled up to mash a pair of solo home runs in Wednesday’s contest for the Hounds. Schrock’s first round-tripper in the 4th inning gave the RockHounds the lead and, after falling to a two-run deficit, his second solo shot tied the game in the 6th. Just before Schrock’s second big fly, shortstop Yairo Munoz homered for the second time in the last two days to give the keystone combo back-to-back jacks. Munoz also doubled, stole third and scored a run on center fielder J.P. Sportman‘s RBI single in the 1st. Starter Brett Graves had a rare rough outing, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits over 5 frames, while RHP Ben Bracewell tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief and left with the game tied, but RHP Kyle Finnegan gave up a big 3-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to suffer his 1st loss for the Hounds.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton & Beloit…

Friday, May 12th: Gossett Pitches Sounds to Victory while Boyd’s Bat Helps Hounds Win Again

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Daniel Gossett (6 IP / 5 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Daniel Gossett (6 IP / 5 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Albuquerque Isotopes  1

Nashville Sounds       3

WP – Gossett 1-2 / 4.15

HR – Barreto (5), Parmelee (4)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Daniel Gossett

(6 IP / 5 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

RHP Daniel Gossett turned in his best start of the season for the Sounds, allowing just 1 run while striking out 7 over 6 innings of work to earn his 1st win on Friday. And the 24-year-old has now given up just 3 earned runs and struck out 16 in 16 innings over his last 3 starts. RHP Zach Neal, who’s now working out of the bullpen with Jharel Cotton‘s addition to the rotation, LHP Ross Detwiler and RHP Simon Castro each tossed 1 scoreless inning in relief, with Castro getting the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 3rd save for Nashville. Shortstop Franklin Barreto hit his 5th home run, a 2-run shot, in the 1st to give the Sounds an early lead, and right fielder Chris Parmelee followed with a solo shot in the 2nd. Left fielder Jaycob Brugman collected 3 hits, while center fielder Ryan LaMarre had a pair of singles as the Sounds snapped their four-game losing streak on Friday. In other news, A’s RHP John Axford was sent to Nashville on a rehab assignment and is scheduled to make his first relief appearance on Saturday, while RHP Daniel Mengden is set to make his second rehab start on Saturday for the Sounds.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Talking Ports Prospects with Stockton Skipper Rick Magnante

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

A.J. Puk

A.J. Puk

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

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

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

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

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

Nolan Blackwood

Nolan Blackwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evan Manarino

Evan Manarino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandber Pimentel

Sandber Pimentel

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

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

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

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

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

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Saturday, May 6th: Puk Pitches Ports to Victory while Midland & Beloit Both Win in Walk-Offs

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher A.J. Puk (5 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 9 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher A.J. Puk (5 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 9 K / Win)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

San Jose Giants    2

Stockton Ports   13

WP – Puk 1-3 / 4.26

HR – Iriart (5)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher A.J. Puk

(5 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 9 K / Win)

Last year’s top draft pick for the A’s, LHP A.J. Puk, turned in his most impressive performance of the season for Stockton on Saturday. The 22-year-old allowed just 1 hit while walking none and notching a pro-career-best 9 strikeouts over a season-high 5 shutout innings to post his 1st win for the Ports. Puk threw a total of 67 pitches, 49 for strikes, in his first post-tandem start for Stockton. LHP Will Gilbert replaced Puk on the mound and gave up 2 runs in 3 innings of relief, while LHP Andrew Tomasovich pitched a perfect 9th to close things out for the Ports. Meanwhile, Stockton’s lineup put a season-high 13 runs on the board on Saturday. Left fielder Tyler Ramirez led the attack by lining 3 hits and driving in 3 runs, while first baseman Chris Iriart hit his 5th home run. Shortstop Eli White singled twice, walked, drove in a run and scored 3 times, and designated hitter Mikey White doubled, drew a walk and drove in 3 for the Ports. Saturday’s game marked the first time that Puk was not pitching as part of a two-man tandem for Stockton. The tandem of RHPs Casey Meisner and Angel Duno is set to pitch on Sunday, while RHP Logan Shore will be the starter on Tuesday, with LHP Evan Manarino making the start on Wednesday, and the tandem of RHPs Dustin Hurlbutt and Boomer Biegalski scheduled to pitch for Stockton on Thursday.

A.J. Puk on the mound in the 1st inning at Stockton on Saturday  (photo: Josh Moore)

A.J. Puk on the mound in the 1st inning at Stockton on Saturday
(photo:Josh Moore)

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Friday, May 5th: Martin Helps Hounds Come Back to Win 4th Straight but HRs by Chapman & Canha Aren’t Enough to Help Sounds Prevail

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Richie Martin (2 for 2 / Double / Sac Fly / Stolen Base / 2 Runs / GWRBI)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Richie Martin (2 for 2 / Double / Sac Fly / Stolen Base / 2 Runs / GWRBI)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Corpus Christi Hooks      4

Midland RockHounds  10

WP – Friedrichs 1-3 / 5.16

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Richie Martin

(2 for 2 / Double / Sac Fly / Stolen Base / 2 Runs / GWRBI)

A big 4-run 6th inning allowed the RockHounds to come back and win their fourth straight to complete the sweep of their series with Corpus Christi on Friday. Shorstop Richie Martin drove in the winning run in the 6th with a sacrifice fly and also singled, doubled, stole a base and scored twice in the win. Center fielder J.P. Sportman singled, doubled and drove in 2 runs, while catcher Andy Paz had 2 hits and drove in a pair, and second baseman Max Schrock singled twice and drove in the tying run in the 6th. Starter Ben Bracewell had another rocky outing for the Hounds, allowing 3 runs over 3 1/3 innings and exiting with his team down by a run. His tandem-starting mate, RHP Kyle Friedrichs, allowed just 1 run in 3 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the win as the RockHounds moved into a tie for first place in their division on Friday.

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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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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…

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