Tag: AJ Puk

A’s Farm’s 2017 Top 10 Prospects List

Former top prospect Sean Manaea – who will be the next A’s prospect to make it big?

Former top prospect Sean Manaea – who will be the next A’s prospect to make it big?

Now that spring training is officially underway, it’s time to present A’s Farm’s 2017 Top 10 Prospects List.

It’s interesting to note that only four players from last year’s list have made a return to this year’s list, including familiar names like Franklin Barreto, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder. New to this year’s list are five pitchers – A.J. Puk, Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Daniel Gossett – along with catcher Bruce Maxwell.

Dropping off last year’s list were pitcher Sean Manaea, who’s successfully joined the ranks of the majors, pitcher Dillon Overton and catcher Jacob Nottingham, both of whom left the organization via trades, and shortstop Richie Martin, infielder Yairo Munoz and third baseman Renato Nunez, who fell off due to some declines in performance last year. Though, having said that, Nunez easily could have found his way on to the bottom part of this year’s list, as could young right-handers Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore and Dakota Chalmers, all of whom just barely missed out on making this year’s top 10.

Unlike last year, when eight of our top 10 picks were position players, things are evenly divided with five pitchers and five position players this year. And a sign of just how close most of the A’s top prospects really are at this point is the fact that a full seven of this year’s top 10 prospects are expected to start the season at Triple-A Nashville, just one step away from the majors.

Of all the various top 10 lists of A’s prospects that are currently out there, it’s our feeling that Baseball America and John Sickels, as well as the readers of Athletics Nation in their Community Prospect List, have come the closest to getting it right this year. But without any further ado, let’s take a look at A’s Farm’s 2017 Top 10 Prospects List

 

A’S FARM’S 2017 TOP 10 PROSPECTS LIST

#1 – Franklin Barreto (SS)

#2 – Matt Chapman (3B)

#3 – A.J. Puk (LHP)

#4 – Jharel Cotton (RHP)

#5 – Frankie Montas (RHP)

#6 – Grant Holmes (RHP)

#7 – Daniel Gossett (RHP)

#8 – Bruce Maxwell (C)

#9 – Matt Olson (1B-OF)

#10 – Chad Pinder (SS-2B)

Honorable Mention – Renato Nunez, Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore, Dakota Chalmers

 

fb620439b#1 FRANKLIN BARRETO

Right-Handed-Hitting Shortstop

Age on Opening Day: 21

Signed as International Free Agent

Still just 21, Barreto is the youngest position player on this year’s top 10 list and is already universally recognized as the top prospect in the A’s minor league system. For the second consecutive season, the young Venezuelan got off to a bit of a slow start in the first half but then really caught fire during the second half. He posted a disappointing .236/.296/.350 slash line in the first half for Midland, but then came back to put up an impressive .337/.393/.490 line in the second half for the RockHounds. And while Barreto’s overall power numbers dipped a bit last year, which is not totally unsurprising for someone going from the homer-happy California League to the pitchers’ paradise of the Texas League, his plate discipline, his defense, and even his threat level on the base paths all improved last season. His walk total more than doubled, while his stolen base total went from 8 in 2015 to 30 in 2016 (most among A’s minor leaguers), and his error total dropped from 34 to 19 despite appearing in 244 more innings in the field last year. Barreto still needs to improve his discipline at the plate, and while relatively small at just 5-10, the hope is that he’ll continue to develop enough strength to be able to demonstrate power beyond his size. In the best of all possible worlds, one could envision him as a Venezuelan version of Miguel Tejada – which the A’s would be more than happy with! While Barreto’s played primarily at shortstop throughout his minor league career, he did appear in 33 games at second base last season. And he’ll probably continue to see at least a little more time there this year at Nashville, since most expect that Barreto’s immediate future in Oakland will most likely lie at second base.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

mc656305c#2 MATT CHAPMAN

Right-Handed-Hitting Third Baseman

Age on Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2014 – 1st Round

The A’s top draft pick in 2014 out of Cal State Fullerton, Chapman arrived with a reputation as a rifle-armed third baseman with lots of power potential – and he’s certainly lived up to that advance billing. Most scouts currently consider the 23-year-old to be a top-tier defender at the hot corner with an elite throwing arm. Last season, he slugged 36 home runs, most of them while playing in the power-suppressing environment at Midland, and also added 27 doubles and 5 triples to his extra-base totals. And in 269 games since joining the A’s system, Chapman has clubbed a total of 64 round-trippers – nearly one every four games. There’s no question that when he makes contact, the ball is bound to go a long way – the question is how much contact he will make. In addition to his 36 home runs in 2016, Chapman also struck out 173 times last season while posting a batting average of just .237, though his walk rate did tick up just a bit last year. But the bottom line with Chapman is this – with his natural power and his prowess in the field, he should be able to bring enough to the table to make himself a valuable major league contributor, though his contact rate will determine just how valuable. He made an extremely positive impression on A’s manager Bob Melvin last spring. And along with Barreto, who will also be starting out the season in Nashville, the A’s hope that Chapman will help to form the heart of a talented and exciting young infield for Oakland beginning in 2018.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

ap640462b#3 A.J. PUK

Left-Handed Pitcher

Age on Opening Day: 21

Drafted 2016 – 1st Round

The A’s took Puk with the 6th overall selection in last year’s draft after he’d previously been considered a possible #1 pick. He came to the A’s system as a flame-throwing lefty out of Florida with top-of-the-rotation potential whose fastball had been clocked as high as 99 mph in college. There have been some questions about the 6-7 southpaw’s mechanics and athleticism, as well as whether or not his slider really has the potential to play in a big way at the major league level. But the Iowa native struck out an average of 11 batters per 9 innings while allowing an average of just 6 hits and putting up an ERA of 3.03 during his inaugural season with Vermont in the New York-Penn League. He did turn in just 32 2/3 innings during his pro debut last year though, so our sample size of his work since joining the A’s system has been rather limited. Puk struck out the side in order in his first major league spring training game against Cleveland, but then allowed a home run and a pair of walks in his next appearance before being reassigned to the A’s minor league camp. The question is where the A’s, who’ve been fairly aggressive in the assignment of their high draft picks lately, will choose to have Puk start the 2017 season. It’s anybody’s guess, but the informed speculation thus far has seemed to center on Stockton. His ability to show consistency and maintain his mechanics throughout spring training, and how much work the A’s staff still feels needs to be done in that regard, may have a lot to do with where Puk ultimately winds up to start 2017.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Stockton Ports (A+)

 

jc605194c#4 JHAREL COTTON

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age on Opening Day: 25

Drafted 2012 – 20th Round

Of all the players on our top 10 list this year, Cotton is the only one to have been drafted lower than the 2nd round in the amateur draft; he wasn’t selected until the 20th round by the Dodgers in 2012. The 25-year-old over-achiever is also the most likely member of our top 10 list to open the season on the A’s roster in 2017. Cotton arrived last summer, along with fellow right-handers Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes, from the Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill deal. And in just his second start in the A’s system, he came within one out of pitching a perfect game for Nashville. Cotton ended up earning the Pacific Coast League strikeout crown with 155 K’s in 135 2/3 innings of work. And his strong showing at Nashville earned Cotton 5 late-season starts with the A’s, where he impressed by striking out 23 in 29 1/3 innings while posting a stingy 2.15 ERA. Cotton’s currently expected to open the 2017 season as Oakland’s #4 starter. And the A’s hope that the mid-90s fastball and solid changeup that have enabled Cotton to fool hitters at the minor league level will allow him to experience continued success at the major league level as well.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Oakland A’s (MLB)

 

fm593423c#5 FRANKIE MONTAS

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age on Opening Day: 24

Signed as International Free Agent

The only member of the trio of arms the A’s acquired from Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill deal last summer to have actual major league experience at the time, Montas made 7 appearances for the White Sox in 2015 before being dealt to the Dodgers prior to the 2016 season. Injuries sidelined Montas for all but 7 games last season, but he appeared plenty healthy just a few months ago when he returned to action in the Arizona Fall League and allowed just 1 earned run over 17 innings of work for the Mesa Solar Sox. The Dominican flame-thrower boasts a 100+ mph fastball and has struck out an average of 9.3 batters per 9 innings over his minor league career, though his command can occasionally be an issue. In the past, he’s appeared as both a starter and a reliever, but the A’s are planning on utilizing Montas in a starting role this season. The thinking is that if he can harness his talent, his stuff could make him an intimidating starter. He’ll get the chance to show what he can do every fifth day at Nashville and, if Montas can just learn to master his potentially overpowering stuff, it might not be long before he gets a long look in Oakland.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

gh656550#6 GRANT HOLMES

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age on Opening Day: 21

Drafted 2014 – 1st Round

The Dodgers 1st-round pick in the 2014 draft, Holmes was the youngest arm the A’s received from the Dodgers last summer in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill deal and, at just a month younger than Barreto, is also the youngest player on our prospect list this year. Holmes was a highly-coveted high school hurler out of South Carolina who reportedly received a $2.5 million signing bonus in 2014. He got off to a good start in the Dodgers system, putting up a 3.32 ERA while striking out 10.4 batters per 9 innings over his first two seasons in the minors. He was a little less impressive while pitching in the hitter-friendly confines of the California League last year, posting a 4.63 ERA while his strikeout rate fell to 8.3 per 9. But it’s important to keep in mind that, at the age of 20, Holmes was one of the youngest hurlers in the Cal League last season. There’s no question that Holmes is a big, strong kid with tremendous upside whom many evaluators consider to be the top pitching prospect in the A’s system behind Puk. And Baseball Prospectus currently considers him the A’s top pitching prospect and second-best overall prospect behind Barreto. Holmes will likely start his age-21 season pitching in Midland, which is a much more friendly environment for pitchers to perform in than the homer-happy California League. And if, while there, he can manage to improve his command and make some progress when it comes to developing his secondary pitches, then it could be a quick ascent up the ladder for the talented young righty.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

dg605254c#7 DANIEL GOSSETT

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age on Opening Day: 24

Drafted 2014 – 2nd Round

The A’s 2nd-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett made as much progress as any pitcher in the A’s system in 2016. His first full season at Beloit wasn’t particularly impressive, but after putting up a 4.73 ERA for the Snappers back in 2015, Gossett started off 2016 strong at High-A Stockton, then performed even better at Double-A Midland, before finally finishing up the season in impressive fashion at Triple-A Nashville. In 27 starts across three stops, Gossett put up a 2.69 ERA, while his 151 strikeouts led all A’s minor leaguers last season. The South Carolina native had always shown solid command as well as a reluctance to surrender the long ball, but a slight uptick in velocity as well as the addition of a cutter really boosted the young right-hander’s performance to another level in 2016. Last year, Gossett really started showing the A’s what they hoped they had when they made him their second overall pick in 2014, and he should have the chance to keep showing the organization just what he’s got to offer while pitching every fifth day at Nashville this season.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

bm622194b#8 BRUCE MAXWELL

Left-Handed-Hitting Catcher

Age on Opening Day: 26

Drafted 2012 – 2nd Round

While Maxwell has continued to make steady progress behind the plate ever since he was drafted by the A’s, the burly backstop took a massive leap forward at the plate last year. After putting up a meager .243/.321/.308 slash line at Double-A Midland in 2015, Maxwell turned out to be one of Triple-A Nashville’s hottest hitters last year, posting an impressive .321/.393/.539 line before his elevation to Oakland last July. And he managed to hold his own in the big leagues too, putting together a solid .283/.337/.402 line in 92 late-season at-bats with the A’s. Maxwell didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time catching in college, so he had a lot to learn behind the dish and, fortunately, he proved to be a prized pupil and impressed A’s manager, and former catcher, Bob Melvin with his work behind the plate last spring. Now that his bat seems to be coming around as well, the left-handed hitter could prove to be a valuable asset with both his offense and his defense. He’s currently third on the A’s catching depth chart, so if anything should happen with either Stephen Vogt or Josh Phegley at any point, Maxwell would be the first man up to step in. And as we all know, nothing remains the same in Oakland for too long. So whenever the A’s decide that the time has come to make a change in their catching corps, then Maxwell could find himself getting the bulk of the at-bats behind the plate for the green and gold.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

mo621566b#9 MATT OLSON

Left-Handed-Hitting First Baseman/Outfielder

Age on Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2012 – 1st Round

Along with Maxwell, Olson’s been in the A’s organization as long as any player on this year’s list, and he’s made an appearance on our annual top 10 prospects list ever since his first full season in the system. With the trades of Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson, Olson is the lone remaining member of the highly-touted trio of top high school prospects the A’s selected with their first three picks in the 2012 draft. The big, left-handed slugger had a monster year with High-A Stockton in 2014, putting up an impressive .262/.404/.543 slash line, but his numbers have declined in each of the past two seasons and he posted a more pedestrian .235/.335/.422 line at Triple-A Nashville last year, though he did have a very solid .263/.345/.475 line over his last 47 games for the Sounds. Olson’s profile as a hitter has always been the same ever since he joined the system – lots of walks, lots of strikeouts and lots of power. Since slugging 37 home runs at Stockton in 2014 though, his home run numbers have decreased, while his doubles have increased. The Georgia native totaled 17 homers at Midland in 2015 and at Nashville last season, while he put up 37 and 34 doubles, respectively. Olson’s power potential and plate discipline are clearly the qualities that will help grease his path to the big leagues. And while still just 22, he did get a quick look with the A’s during the final month of the season last year, getting into 11 games while seeing time at first base, where he’s a defensive standout, and in right field, where he’s more than capable. And with his increasing platoon splits in recent years, Olson could find himself getting a shot as the left-handed half of either a first base or right field platoon in Oakland sometime in the fairly near future.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

cp640461b#10 CHAD PINDER

Right-Handed-Hitting Shortstop/Second Baseman

Age on Opening Day: 25

Drafted 2013 – 2nd Round

The A’s third overall pick in the 2013 draft, Pinder was named the Texas League MVP after putting up an impressive .317/.361/.486 slash line for Double-A Midland in the pitcher-friendly Texas League in 2015, but slipped a bit to a more ordinary .258/.310/.425 line last year for Triple-A Nashville. Pinder has some pop for a middle infielder, collecting 42 home runs and 87 doubles over his last three minor league seasons, and his potent bat has helped him push his way through the system fairly expeditiously. Pinder could still stand to improve his plate discipline though, as he’s struck out over 100 times in each of his last two campaigns and has yet to total more than 28 walks in any single season. While also playing some second base, Pinder has spent most of his time the past couple seasons at shortstop, but he led all A’s minor leaguers with 29 errors – most of them throwing errors – while serving as Nashville’s starting shortstop last season. He spent the last month and a half of the 2016 season in Oakland, playing primarily at second base, which is probably the most likely spot for him to find major league at-bats. But Pinder’s ability to play shortstop and second base, as well as third base, may make him well-suited to fill a utility role for the A’s, possibly starting in 2018.

Likely To Start 2017 With: Nashville Sounds (AAA)

 

Honorable Mention: Renato Nunez, Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore, Dakota Chalmers

It would have been easy to swap Renato Nunez with Maxwell, Olson or Pinder in any of the final three spots on this year’s top 10 list. But the main thing that kept Nunez just a notch behind the rest was his lack of a discernible defensive position to call home. Maxwell has continued to show great improvement behind the plate, while Olson is a talented defensive first baseman as well as a capable corner outfielder, and Pinder’s versatility makes it possible for him to appear at shortstop, second base and third base. But while Nunez’s power potential is very real, it’s hard to imagine him getting many major league at-bats from anywhere other than the designated hitter spot at this point. Young right-handers Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore and Dakota Chalmers, all drafted in the top three rounds within the last two years, also came very close to making our top 10 list this year. All three are clearly talented young hurlers who could rapidly move up the ranks. None has yet to throw 100 innings in the system though, so we’ve still got a lot more to see of them, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see some of their names popping up on next year’s list.

 

Last Year’s Top 10 Prospects List

 

 

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Meet Your 2017 Nashville Sounds

0nsIMG_2587We recently took a look at the likely A’s opening day roster for 2017, which appears to be reasonably well set, with the exception of a couple of minor question marks. This year’s Triple-A Nashville Sounds roster is a far more complicated puzzle to try to piece together at this point though. The main reason for this is that the A’s have invited a whopping 70 players to their major league spring training camp this year, and all but a handful of them already have major league or Triple-A experience and are expected to battle for 50 roster spots with Oakland and Nashville.

Some players, like LHP Felix Doubront and RHPs Chris Bassitt and Daniel Mengden, are likely to open the season on the disabled list. But if most of the others remain healthy, then that will leave plenty of players on the outside looking in. And with the A’s major league roster seeming to be fairly well set at this point, most of that roster crunch will be occurring at Nashville, and we may be looking at a fairly significant roster purge towards the end of spring training before rosters can be finalized.

While recent draftees, like LHP A.J. Puk and catcher Sean Murphy, certainly won’t be in contention to open the season anywhere near as high as Triple-A, and others players, like infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock, appear set to start the season with Double-A Midland, there are certain players who will be guaranteed plenty of regular playing time at Nashville this season no matter what happens – top prospects like Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto and Matt Olson, as well as others.

The A’s usually like to start the season with 13 pitchers and 12 position players at the Triple-A level. And while some recent trades and injuries have helped to relieve the pitching logjam at Nashville a bit, there currently appear to be about 18 position players jockeying for 12 Triple-A roster spots at this point, so something’s definitely going to have to give there. So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up for your 2017 Nashville Sounds…

 

CATCHERS

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

The catching corps appears to be one of the clearer areas when it comes to the Nashville roster. If Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley are both healthy to start the season, then it looks looks likely that Bruce Maxwell will start the year back at Nashville, getting most of the starts behind the plate for the Sounds. Matt McBride, who shared time with Maxwell at Nashville last season, appears set to do the same again this year. The A’s signed catcher Ryan Lavarnway as a minor league free agent in the offseason. But just as there doesn’t appear to be room for three catchers on Oakland’s roster, there doesn’t seem to be room for three catchers on Nashville’s roster either. And since Lavarnway spent most of last season at Double-A and Midland catcher Beau Taylor is set to spend the first 50 games of the season on the suspended list, Lavarnway may need to start the year on the Double-A RockHounds roster until an opening develops in the catching corps.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Franklin Barreto

Franklin Barreto

There’s no doubt that top prospect Franklin Barreto will have the chance to get plenty of at-bats as Nashville’s starting shortstop this season. And since it appears unlikely that either Joey Wendle or Chad Pinder will be able to crack Oakland’s opening day roster at this point, then Wendle should end up seeing the majority of the starts at second base for the Sounds, just as he has for the past two seasons, with Pinder splitting time between both second and short while possibly increasing his versatility by spending some time at other spots around the diamond as well. The A’s re-signed minor league free agent Josh Rodriguez, who’s spent most of his time at second and short of late, and also signed minor league free agent Jermaine Curtis, who’s spent most of his time at second and third. But if all the top prospects are healthy, it’s awfully hard to see where the at-bats are to be found for these two veteran minor leaguers. Meanwhile, infielders Yairo Munoz, Max Schrock and Richie Martin are likely to find themselves starting the season on the Double-A RockHounds roster.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman

Top power prospect Matt Chapman should find himself firmly entrenched at the hot corner for the Sounds in 2017. Renato Nunez clearly will get his share of at-bats too but, with Chapman viewed as the A’s third baseman of the future, most of them aren’t likely to be coming at third this year. Matt Olson has split time the past couple seasons between first base and right field, while minor league free agent signee Chris Parmelee, a former 1st-round pick with plenty of major league service time under his belt, is also experienced at first and in right, and he and Olson should end up sharing most of the at-bats at first and in right for the Sounds. But let’s not forget that first baseman Rangel Ravelo is still in the picture as well, though he was optioned off the 40-man roster in the offseason. The same is true of utility man Max Muncy, who has spent most of his time at first and third. The A’s signed minor league free agent infielder Jermaine Curtis, who’s spent the bulk of his time at the hot corner, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll steal many at-bats from Matt Chapman so, if he can crack the Triple-A roster, most of his at-bats would be more likely to come from his secondary position at second base. The A’s also re-signed minor free agent Josh Rodriguez, who’s also far more likely to find at-bats at second than at third, if he can find a way to make it onto the Sounds roster.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Jaycob Brugman

Jaycob Brugman

The Sounds outfield picture is another complicated one to try to piece together at this point, with far more players than spots on the roster. Starting at the top, Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski seem to have the inside track for the final two major league roster spots with Oakland. And if things play out just that way, then major league veteran Alejandro De Aza, who signed a minor league contract in the offseason, would find himself back in Triple-A. However, if De Aza should manage to beat out either Canha or Smolinski, then the odd man out in that competition could be headed back to Nashville. Of course, Smolinksi and De Aza both have plenty of experience in center field, as does Jaycob Brugman, who is ikely to get plenty of at-bats for the Sounds this season, whether he’s starting in center or in either one of the corner spots. The A’s re-signed outfielder Andrew Lambo to a minor league contract, and added minor league free agent outfielder Jaff Decker, as well as Chris Parmelee who, like returning prospect Matt Olson, has spent plenty of time both in right field and at first base. Max Muncy, who will also be in the roster mix, saw significant time in the outfield last year as well. And it’s worth noting that, De Aza, Brugman, Lambo, Decker, Parmelee, Olson and Muncy give the organization a total of 7 left-handed hitters in the Triple-A outfield mix, and that’s on a team that’s only expected to carry 12 position players – of course, catcher Matt McBride spent plenty of time in the outfield last year as well – so something’s definitely going to have to give here one way or another!

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Jesse Hahn

Jesse Hahn

Until recently, the shape of the Sounds starting rotation was looking fairly clear. But the trade of Dillon Overton and Daniel Mengden’s recent foot injury have left things a little less clear. What is clear is that if RHP Jesse Hahn can’t beat out RHPs Andrew Triggs or Jharel Cotton, the favorites to fill the final two spots in the A’s rotation, then Hahn will wind up heading up the Sounds starting five. Two other apparent certainties to join him there are flame-throwing RHP Frankie Montas and former 2nd-round draft pick Daniel Gossett, who finished out the season strong for the Sounds. Beyond those three, the pitching picture starts to get a little murkier, though that’s certainly not for a dearth of viable candidates. LHP Ross Detwiler signed a minor league contract to remain with the organization, but since he has an opt-out clause, he could depart if not guaranteed a spot on the major league roster. But should he decide to stay, then he would likely garner a spot in the Sounds rotation. RHP Raul Alcantara could also be in the mix, but he’s out of options, and it seems unlikely that the A’s would try to sneak him through waivers to get him back on the Nashville roster. RHPs Zach Neal and Chris Smith were two of Nashville’s top starters last season, so they would represent a couple of experienced options, but both primarily shifted to working out of the bullpen during the latter part of last season. Meanwhile, a pair of RHPs the A’s signed as minor league free agents could represent two of the team’s top options – Cesar Valdez, who posted an impressive 1-to-9 walk-to-strikeout ratio for Triple-A Fresno last year, and Michael Brady, who put up a solid 2.89 ERA between Triple-A and Double-A last season. RHP Paul Blackburn, who spent all of last season at Double-A, could fight his way into the competition, as could RHP Heath Fillmyer, but both may be more likely to kick off the year at Midland. RHP Daniel Mengden, who recently underwent foot surgery, and RHP Chris Bassitt and LHP Felix Doubront, both of whom are returning from Tommy John surgery, will all prominently factor into the Sounds pitching picture as soon as they’re ready to return to action as well.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Bobby Wahl

Bobby Wahl

There should be no shortage of candidates to fill out the 8 spots in the Sounds bullpen this season. If the A’s should decide to keep RHP Raul Alcantara on the major league roster, since he’s out of options, and there are no further pitching injuries or trades at the major league level, then LHP Daniel Coulombe is likely to find himself starting the year back at Nashville. RHP Bobby Wahl, who posted a 2.65 ERA and 14 saves across three levels last year, RHP Tucker Healy, who struck out 76 in 52 1/3 innings for Nashville in 2016, and RHP Aaron Kurcz all seem likely to return to Music City as well. The A’s also signed minor league free agent RHPs Josh Smith, Tyler Sturdevant and Simon Castro, all of whom have some degree of major league experience under their belts and seem destined to be a part of Nashville’s relief corps this year. The final spots in the Sounds bullpen are likely to be filled by whoever among Zach Neal, Chris Smith, Michael Brady and Cesar Valdez don’t end up finding spots in the Sounds starting rotation. And unless injuries strike, it doesn’t appear that there will be any room for RHPs Trey Cochran-Gill or Sam Bragg, both of whom had solid seasons for Midland last year, to make the move up to Triple-A to start the season.

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A’s Set Fall Instructional League Roster

0dsc04060xThe A’s released their Fall Instructional League roster on Monday morning. Camp is set to open at the A’s minor league facilities in Arizona next week and will run for a month.

22 pitchers and 27 position players are currently scheduled to attend. And some high-profile prospects like recently-acquired pitcher Grant Holmes, last year’s 1st-round draft pick Richie Martin and 17-year-old Dominican prospect Lazaro Armenteros will be participating.

Also attending will be the A’s top five picks from this year’s draft – promising pitchers A.J. Puk, Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore and Skylar Szynski as well as catcher Sean Murphy. You can see the full list of A’s prospects who are set to appear in camp below…

 

–PITCHERS–

ap640462

A.J. Puk

Nolan Blackwood

Argenis Blanco

Brendan Butler

Dakota Chalmers

Ty Damron

Dustin Driver

Angel Duno

Will Gilbert

Nick Highberger

Grant Holmes

Dustin Hurlbutt

Daulton Jefferies

Casey Meisner

Abdiel Mendoza

A.J. Puk

Miguel Sanchez

Dalton Sawyer

Logan Shore

Skylar Szynski

Andrew Tomasovich

Oscar Tovar

Tyler Willman

 

sm669221

Sean Murphy

–CATCHERS–

Jarrett Costa

Roger Gonzalez

Sean Murphy

Collin Theroux

Skyler Weber

 

–INFIELDERS–

rm621006c

Richie Martin

George Bell

Marcos Brito

Chris Iriart

Eric Marinez

Richie Martin

Miguel Mercedes

Nate Mondou

Christopher Quintin

JaVon Shelby

Yerdel Vargas

Josh Vidales

Eli White

 

–OUTFIELDERS–

sb621450

Skye Bolt

Lazaro Armenteros

Rob Bennie

Skye Bolt

Anthony Churlin

Jeramiah McCray

Kyle Nowlin

Luke Persico

Tyler Ramirez

Kevin Richards

James Terrell

 

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Thursday, September 1st: Barreto Has Big Hit in Sounds’ Walk-Off Win while Manarino Pitches Ports to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (3 for 5 / Triple / GWRBI)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (3 for 5 / Triple / GWRBI)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Iowa Cubs               5

Nashville Sounds  6

WP – Santos 3-2 / 3.03

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Franklin Barreto

(3 for 5 / Triple / GWRBI)

With one out, a man on and the game tied in the bottom of the 9th, shortstop Franklin Barreto lined a triple to right-center field to bring home the winning run as the Sounds won in a walk-off in their final home game on Thursday. Including his big 9th-inning triple, Barreto had 3 hits in just his second game for the Sounds. Left fielder Colin Walsh singled, doubled, walked and drove in 2 runs, while catcher Bryan Anderson tripled in a pair, and first baseman Matt Olson singled and walked twice in the win. RHP Jharel Cotton turned in his second straight strong start, striking out 6 over 5 2/3 shutout innings, and he left with the game a scoreless tie on Thursday. But RHP Bobby Wahl walked 4 and was charged with 2 runs in just 2/3 of an inning in relief, while RHP Ryan Brasier gave up 2 runs over 1 1/3 innings of work, and RHP Eduard Santos picked up the win despite giving up the tying run in the top of the 9th for Nashville. The Sounds have already clinched the division title and are set to begin playoff play in Oklahoma City next Wednesday, September 7. On Thursday afternoon, A’s general manager David Forst told 95.7 The Game’s Damon Bruce that the A’s first September call-ups from Nashville will primarily be starting pitchers, and he mentioned RHPs Daniel Mengden, Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara as the most likely candidates. He also suggested that recent Sounds Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder are likely to split time at second base for the A’s the rest of the way this season.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit & Vermont…

Friday, August 26th: Cotton Earns Win & McBride Delivers Big Blow to Help Sounds Clinch Division Title while Murray Leads Snappers to Shutout Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (7 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (7 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds   5

Memphis Redbirds   3

WP – Cotton 11-6 / 4.50

HR – McBride (7), Rodriguez (5)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Jharel Cotton

(7 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / Win)

RHP Jharel Cotton turned in a strong start for the Sounds, allowing 2 runs over 7 innings of work to earn the win as Nashville clinched the Pacific Coast League American Southern Division title on Friday. And the team’s 78-56 record is currently the best in the PCL. After Cotton exited with a 3-run lead, RHP Eduard Santos pitched a perfect 8th. RHP Bobby Wahl then came on to close things out. He made things close by surrendering a run while also putting the tying run on base, but he managed to escape the jam to notch his 4th save for Nashville. Catcher Matt McBride had the big blow, belting a 3-run homer in the 4th inning to give the Sounds the lead. Shortstop Josh Rodriguez added a solo shot in the 5th, while second baseman Joey Wendle singled and doubled, and designated hitter Renato Nunez singled in a run in the win. The team’s last regular season game will be against New Orleans on Monday, September 5, with the Pacific Coast League playoffs set to begin on Wednesday, September 7. And in roster news, LHP Cody Stull, who posted a 1.46 ERA in 36 relief appearances for Stockton this season, was reassigned to the Sounds on Friday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit & Vermont…

The division-winning Nashville Sounds

The division-winning Nashville Sounds (photo:milb.com)

Saturday, August 20th: Hounds Win Behind Bennie’s Big Bat while Brugman Leads Sounds to Victory & Puk Is Impressive for Vermont

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Outfielder Joe Bennie (2 for 4 / 2 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Outfielder Joe Bennie (2 for 4 / 2 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Springfield Cardinals       3

Midland RockHounds  11

WP – Mann 2-2 / 4.57

HR – Bennie 2 (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Joe Bennie

(2 for 4 / 2 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

After going 4 for 34 in his first 9 games since his promotion to Double-A, right fielder Joe Bennie had a big night at the plate on Saturday, belting a pair of home runs and driving in 4 runs for the RockHounds. With the game tied in the bottom of the 5th inning, Bennie blasted a solo shot to give the Hounds the lead and he then added a 3-run drive in Midland’s 9-run 8th. Left fielder J.P. Sportman had 2 hits and drove in a pair of runs for the RockHounds, while LHP Brandon Mann delivered an outstanding start on Saturday, allowing just 1 run over 6 innings of work to earn his 2nd win for Midland.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

A’s Top 20 Draft Picks Mid-Season Progress Report

A's top pick A.J. Puk

A’s top draft pick A.J. Puk

It’s been about ten weeks since this year’s amateur draft and about two months since the first of the players picked by the A’s began playing with either the Class-A Vermont Lake Monsters or the rookie-ball Arizona League A’s.

The A’s managed to sign all of their top 20 picks this year. The highest-drafted player Oakland’s front office wasn’t able to sign was 21-year-old right-hander Brigham Hill out of Texas A&M, whom the team took with its 21st pick in the 20th round. But the A’s were fortunate that they were able to ink all 20 of the players they picked before him and get those prospects into the system. And with about two months of play now in the books, it seems like a good time to take a look at how some the A’s newest prospects have been performing down on the farm.

The A’s focused on pitching with their top 20 picks this year, taking 12 pitchers in the top 20 and 7 in the top 10. The team’s top pick, LHP A.J. Puk, has been the standout among the pitching prospects so far this season. The 6-foot-7 21-year-old has looked dominant at times for Vermont, posting a 2.70 ERA while striking out 27 over 20 innings of work for the Lake Monsters.

The A’s second overall pick, RHP Daulton Jefferies, just started seeing some action in Arizona and, in 3 brief appearances, the 21-year-old has shown off his pinpoint control by allowing just 1 run while walking none and striking out 10 over 5 2/3 frames for the AZL A’s. Oakland’s third overall pick taken in the 2nd round was Puk’s teammate at Florida, RHP Logan Shore, who recently joined his friend and former college teammate at Vermont. And in his first 4 appearances, the 21-year-old has allowed 2 earned runs and struck out 8 over 9 innings of work.

The team’s top high school pick was RHP Skylar Szynski, who was taken in the 4th round. Though he’s currently sporting a 8.10 ERA, the 19-year-old’s numbers aren’t really that bad, having allowed 16 hits and just 4 walks while striking out 8 in 13 1/3 innings for the AZL A’s. Three other pitchers from the top 10 rounds who are currently at Vermont have all been perfoming well. 6th-round RHP Brandon Bailey, who’s primarily been used as a starter, has posted a 3.41 ERA over 29 innings since joining the system. LHPs Will Gilbert and Dalton Sawyer have both been working out of the bullpen, where 8th-rounder Gilbert has notched 23 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings while 9th-rounder Sawyer has struck out 20 over 15 2/3 frames for the Lake Monsters.

Meanwhile, 10th-round pick Mitchell Jordan has been solid while serving in a starting role in Arizona, putting up a 3.24 ERA while walking just 7 and striking out 30 in 33 1/3 innings of work for the AZL A’s. The fastest riser of this year’s draft class has been the A’s 14th-round pick, RHP Nolan Blackwood out of the University of Memphis, who is the only member of this year’s crop to make it all the way up to the Beloit Snappers of the Class-A Midwest League. After looking solid in 5 relief appearances for Vermont, the 21-year-old has struggled a bit since joining Beloit’s bullpen, allowing 9 runs in his first 8 appearances for the Snappers.

When it comes to position players, the team’s three top 10 selections – 3rd-round catcher Sean Murphy, 5th-round third baseman JaVon Shelby and 7th-round outfielder Tyler Ramirez – all did a brief stint in Arizona before joining Vermont. Murphy’s power has yet to show itself as he has just 2 extra-base hits over his first 70 at-bats, while Shelby’s shown himself to be a bit of a free swinger, striking out 39 times in 144 at-bats while putting up a .188 batting average. Ramirez has fared a little better, with a .248/.348/.376 slash line over his first 39 games since joining the system.

The two standouts among the team’s position player picks have been shortstop Eli White and second baseman Nate Mondou, who’ve formed a productive double-play combo for Vermont and who were both recently named New York-Penn League All-Stars. 11th-rounder White has 10 doubles to go along with a .303/.365/.406 slash line, while 13th-rounder Mondou’s impressive .401 on-base percentage is among the five best in the league.

You’ll find the A’s top 20 picks of the 2016 draft along with their current statistics through August 19 listed below. The teams they’ve played for so far this season are noted, with the team they’ve appeared in the most games with listed first and their current team in bold…

 

ap6404621st Round

A.J. Puk

Age: 21 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

20 IP / 13 H / 6 ER / 6 BB / 27 K / 2.70 ERA / 0.95 WHIP

 

djPFKSDMUFQUWSOHH.201510291804431st Round Supplemental

Daulton Jefferies

Age: 21 / Right-Handed Pitcher

AZL A’s

5 2/3 IP / 7 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 10 K / 1.59 ERA / 1.24 WHIP

 

ls6245192nd Round

Logan Shore

Age: 21 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

9 IP / 9 H / 2 ER / 3 BB / 8 K / 2.00 ERA / 1.33 WHIP

 

sm6692213rd Round

Sean Murphy

Age: 21 / Catcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

70 AB / 1 HR / 7 BB / 9 K / .200 AVG / .273 OBP / .257 SLG / .530 OPS

 

ss1005989374th Round

Skylar Szynski

Age: 19 / Right-Handed Pitcher

AZL A’s

13 1/3 IP / 16 H / 12 ER / 4 BB / 8 K / 8.10 ERA / 1.50 WHIP

 

js6420695th Round

JaVon Shelby

Age: 21 / Third Baseman

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

144 AB / 2 HR / 16 BB / 39 K / .188 AVG / .269 OBP / .271 SLG / .540 OPS

 

bb6690646th Round

Brandon Bailey

Age: 21 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

29 IP / 25 H / 10 ER / 9 BB / 27 K / 3.41 ERA / 1.17 WHIP

 

tr6692627th Round

Tyler Ramirez

Age: 21 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

117 AB / 1 HR / 15 BB / 35 K / .248 AVG / .348 OBP / .376 SLG / .724 OPS

 

wg6693358th Round

Will Gilbert

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

19 1/3 IP / 15 H / 7 ER / 9 BB / 23 K / 3.26 ERA / 1.24 WHIP

 

ds6621219th Round

Dalton Sawyer

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

15 2/3 IP / 13 H / 6 ER / 9 BB / 20 K / 3.45 ERA / 1.40 WHIP

 

mjOWLLPIGUVDSSBTJ.2015091521152810th Round

Mitchell Jordan

Age: 21 / Right-Handed Pitcher

AZL A’s

33 1/3 IP / 34 H / 12 ER / 7 BB / 30 K / 3.24 ERA / 1.23 WHIP

 

ew64220111th Round

Eli White

Age: 22 / Shortstop

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

175 AB / 2 HR / 18 BB / 44 K / .303 AVG / .365 OBP / .406 SLG / .771 OPS

 

lp64197112th Round

Luke Persico

Age: 20 / Outfielder-Third Baseman

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

141 AB / 2 HR / 16 BB / 31 K / .220 AVG / .297 OBP / .312 SLG / .610 OPS

 

nm67014813th Round

Nate Mondou

Age: 21 / Second Baseman

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

164 AB / 0 HR / 17 BB / 26 K / .329 AVG / .402 OBP / .372 SLG / .774 OPS

 

nb67015414th Round

Nolan Blackwood

Age: 21 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Beloit Snappers + Vermont Lake Monsters

18 IP / 23 H / 11 ER / 6 BB / 15 K / 5.50 ERA / 1.61 WHIP

 

td64149915th Round

Ty Damron

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

7 2/3 IP / 10 H / 5 ER / 6 BB / 9 K / 5.87 ERA / 2.09 WHIP

 

acanthony-churlin16th Round

Anthony Churlin

Age: 19 / Outfielder

AZL A’s

69 AB / 0 HR / 9 BB / 23 K / .217 AVG / .316 OBP / .232 SLG / .548 OPS

 

sm160122917th Round

Seth Martinez

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

AZL A’s

2 1/3 IP / 3 H / 1 ER / 2 BB / 2 K / 3.86 ERA / 2.14 WHIP

 

sw0612Weber218th Round

Skyler Weber

Age: 21 / Catcher

AZL A’s

70 AB / 0 HR / 6 BB / 13 K / .171 AVG / .237 OBP / .200 SLG / .437 OPS

 

sgddyl6r89unolb91o19th Round

Sam Gilbert

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

(Signed – Has Not Yet Played)

 

 

 

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A’s Farm Report for Week of August 8-14: Chapman, Nunez & Young Hurlers Heating Up in August

A's minor league home run leader Matt Chapman

A’s minor league home run leader Matt Chapman

 

As things heat up in August, some of the organization’s top sluggers like Matt Chapman and Renato Nunez have really been starting to get hot lately as well. In addition, the team’s top three draft picks – pitchers A.J. Puk, Daulton Jefferies and Logan Shore – all appear to be finding a groove as they settle into the system. A version of this weekly minor league report was originally prepared by Athletics Farm for Athletics Nation

 

Click here for this week’s update on Nashville, Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Sunday, August 14th: Biegalski Pitches Beloit to Victory while Top Draft Picks Puk, Logan & Jefferies Are All Solid on Sunday

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Boomer Biegalski (6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Boomer Biegalski (6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers  1

Beloit Snappers                 3

WP – Biegalski 7-7 / 3.62

HR – Siddall (8)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Boomer Biegalski

(6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

Last year’s 14th-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Boomer Biegalski, turned in an outstanding start for the Snappers, allowing just 3 hits while striking out 5 over 6 shutout innings to earn his 7th win on Sunday. LHP Andrew Tomasovich got the final out in the 9th to notch his 1st save for the Snappers. First baseman Chris Iriart singled in a run in the bottom of the 1st to put Beloit on the board, while designated hitter Brett Siddall homered in the 4th, and left fielder Luis Barrera doubled and scored in the 1st and tripled in a run in the 7th for the Snappers.

Click here for more on Nashville, Midland, Stockton, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Monday, August 8th: Terrell Leads AZL A’s to Victory while Nunez Homers & Wahl Makes AAA Debut in Sounds Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: AZL A’s Outfielder James Terrell (2 for 5 / Triple / Double / 2 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: AZL A’s Outfielder James Terrell (2 for 5 / Triple / Double / 2 RBIs)

 

ARIZONA LEAGUE  (Rookie Short-Season)

AZL Cubs  6

AZL A’s     7

WP – Sheehan 2-1 / 3.00

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder James Terrell

(2 for 5 / Triple / Double / 2 RBIs)

With the game tied in the bottom of the 8th inning, center fielder James Terrell stepped to the plate and tripled in 2 runs to provide the margin of victory for the AZL A’s on Monday. The 19-year-old northern California native also doubled and scored in the 4th inning in his second game since returning to the Arizona League from Vermont, while second baseman Josh Vidales singled, doubled twice and drove in a run, and designated hitter Charley Gould had 3 hits and drove in a pair. This year’s second overall draft pick for the A’s, RHP Daulton Jefferies, allowed 1 run on 4 hits while walking none and striking out 3 over 2 innings in his professional debut on Monday. Rehabbing RHP Kris Hall tossed 2 scoreless frames in relief, while 18-year-old Venezuelan RHP Oscar Tovar surrendered 4 runs over 3 innings, and RHP Sam Sheehan gave up 1 run in 2 innings of work to pick up the win for the A’s.

Click here for more on Nashville, Beloit & Vermont…

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