Tag: Barry Zito

Monday, August 29th: Wendle & Boyd Lead Sounds to 4th Straight Victory while Terrell Helps AZL A’s Finish Season on a Winning Note

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Second Baseman Joey Wendle (3 for 5 / Double / Stolen Base / 2 Runs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Second Baseman Joey Wendle (3 for 5 / Double / Stolen Base / 2 Runs)



Iowa Cubs               2

Nashville Sounds  3

WP – Santos 2-2 / 2.95

Prospect Of The Game:

Second Baseman Joey Wendle

(3 for 5 / Double / Stolen Base / 2 Runs)

Right fielder B.J. Boyd may have had the big hit, but second baseman Joey Wendle had the big night for Nashville on Monday. He collected 3 hits, including a double, and scored 2 runs, including the winning run in extra innings for the Sounds, and Wendle is now batting an even .500 over his last 8 games. With one out in the bottom of the 11th on Monday, Wendle singled then stole second and eventually came around to score the game-winner when Boyd lined a single to left-center as the Sounds won their fourth straight in a walk-off. It was Boyd’s only hit in 4 at-bats, but he also drew a walk, while left fielder Rangel Ravelo doubled in a run to put Nashville on the board, and shortstop Josh Rodriguez singled in the tying run for the Sounds. RHP Raul Alcantara turned in another solid start, allowing 2 runs over 5 innings of work. And after his exit, RHP Angel Castro pitched 3 perfect innings in relief, while RHP Bobby Wahl threw 1 scoreless frame, and RHP Eduard Santos got the final six outs to earn his 2nd win for the Sounds. It was Barry Zito bobblehead night at First Tennessee Park, with new Nashville native Zito on hand to sign autographs. And it’s worth noting that A’s Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane was also in attendance at the ballpark on Monday. In roster news, Sounds RHP Chris Jensen was reassigned to the RockHounds, while Midland RHP Daniel Gossett was promoted to Nashville. Gossett, who was Oakland’s 2nd-round draft pick in 2014, had a 2.49 ERA in 16 starts for the Hounds and is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut on Tuesday.

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

Barry Zito signing autographs on Barry Zito bobblehead day at First Tennessee Park in Nashville on Monday (photo: Nashville Sounds)

Barry Zito signing autographs on Barry Zito bobblehead day at First Tennessee Park in Nashville on Monday (photo: Nashville Sounds)

Sunday, September 6th: Renato Nunez’s 2nd Grand Slam in 2 Days Helps Hounds Win Again while Barry Zito Makes Last Appearance in Sounds Victory

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Designated Hitter Renato Nunez (3 for 4 / Grand Slam / 5 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Designated Hitter Renato Nunez (3 for 4 / Grand Slam / 5 RBIs)



Midland RockHounds  7

Frisco RoughRiders       1

WP – Overton 5-2 / 3.06

HR – Nunez (18)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Renato Nunez

(3 for 4 / Grand Slam / 5 RBIs)

For the second night in a row, designated hitter Renato Nunez slugged a grand slam to help the RockHounds rout the RoughRiders. While Nunez collected 5 hits and 6 RBIs on Saturday, he tallied 3 hits and 5 RBIs on Sunday, with his big 4-run blow coming with two outs in the top of the 3rd to give the RockHounds an early lead that they would never relinquish. Center fielder Chad Oberacker singled in a pair of runs with 2 outs in the 4th, while second baseman Colin Walsh doubled and drew 3 walks to bring his league-leading total to 123 on the season. LHP Dillon Overton turned in his fourth straight scoreless start for Midland, striking out 5 over 5 shutout innings to earn his 5th win for the RockHounds. And Overton has failed to allow a run while striking out 19 in 19 2/3 innings over his last 4 starts for the Hounds.

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

A’s Farm Report for Week of August 17-23: A’s Affiliate Update

2B Joey Wendle

Hot-hitting 2B prospect Joey Wendle


Well, with the end of August arriving, there’s now just about two weeks left in the minor league season. So let’s take a quick look at what’s been happening with each of the A’s six affiliates over the past month.

You can always check out the latest A’s affiliate rosters here – Rosters. A version of this weekly minor league report by Athletics Farm originally appeared on Athletics Nation


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


A’s Top 5 Minor League Performers of 2015

With just about three weeks left in the minor league season, it seems like a good time to take a look at some of the players in the A’s system who’ve been having true standout seasons on the field this year. Many minor league players can dazzle with an amazing week, or even an amazing month, but being able to perform at a high level over the course of a sometimes grueling minor league season, where travel can be torturous and days off are rare, is another thing altogether. So let’s take a look at some of the top performers in the A’s system this year. And remember, we’re not ranking top prospects here, just taking a look at the top performers on the field…


mcChapman, Matt3Matt Chapman

Third Baseman – Stockton (A+)

(293 AB / 23 HR / 39 BB / 77 K / .259 AVG / .353 OBP / .587 SLG / .940 OPS)

The A’s 1st-round draft pick just last year, Chapman leads all A’s minor leaguers in home runs with 23 after playing only three months this year. The Orange County native missed the first month of the season with a knee injury and has been out since the first week of August with a wrist injury. The 22-year-old also leads the A’s minor league system in slugging percentage (.587), thanks not only to his 23 home runs but also his 21 doubles and 3 triples in just 293 at-bats. When he was drafted, A’s front office personnel raved about Chapman’s power potential, and it seems to be coming to fruition in the hitter-friendly California League. And in the field, he possesses an elite throwing arm at third. The hope is that he’ll be able to make it back on the field over the next few weeks before the end of the minor league season. But either way, expect him to see him manning the hot corner and facing the more challenging hitting environment at Midland next season. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson told me about Chapman last month: “There’s no doubt about the power – the power’s going to be there. It’s all going to depend on how good a hitter he ends up becoming.”


cwWalsh, Colin3Colin Walsh

Second Baseman – Midland (AA)

(424 AB / 12 HR / 88 BB / 114 K / .309 AVG / .432 OBP / .481 SLG / .914 OPS)

Walsh has been having perhaps the best overall season in the A’s minor league system this year. The Stanford alum  was a 13th-round draft pick for the Cardinals back in 2010 and was signed by the A’s to a minor league deal early last year. Walsh has played in all but five games for Midland this season and has been the Rockhounds’ best all-around hitter this year. His .432 on-base percentage is the best in the A’s minor league system by a mile. The 25-year-old switch-hitter also leads all A’s minor leaguers in doubles with 35 and in extra-base hits with 48. And his .309 batting average trails only his double-play partner, Chad Pinder. He’s also the RockHounds’ team leader in hits (131), runs (76) and total bases (204). Walsh has plenty of experience at third base and in the outfield as well, and his versatility could help make him a potential option as a utility man for the A’s at some point. Expect to see him playing some second base and doing a bit of moving around the diamond next season at Nashville.


cpPinder, Chad3Chad Pinder

Shortstop – Midland (AA)

(411 AB / 14 HR / 26 BB / 91 K / .316 AVG / .362 OBP / .489 SLG / .851 OPS)

After having a solid season while playing second base for Stockton last year, Pinder is having an even better season while playing shortstop for Midland this year. The 23-year-old has the best batting average (.316) in the A’s minor league system and also has more RBIs (77) than any other A’s minor leaguer. Pinder possesses a little pop too, and he’s put up 14 home runs and 25 doubles in the notoriously difficult hitting environment at Midland. He’s also improved his walk-rate a bit, but his plate discipline could still stand a little more improvement. Meanwhile, Pinder seems to be doing a dependable job of playing shortstop, while also having some experience and second and third, which only increases his value. Expect to see him playing shortstop at Nashville next season, where he’ll be just a step away from breaking into Oakland’s infield mix. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson told me about Pinder last month: “He’s been great on both sides. He’s played a very solid short…When it comes to his numbers, across the board, the arrows are pointing up.”


bzZito, Barry3Barry Zito

Starting Pitcher – Nashville (AAA)

(137 IP / 121 H / 53 ER / 60 BB / 90 K / 3.48 ERA / 1.32 WHIP)

The A’s 1st-round draft pick back in 1999, Zito has come full circle. After pitching for the A’s Triple-A team in 2000, he’s twirling for the team’s Triple-A affiliate again in 2015. In 2000, it was Sacramento but, in 2015, it’s Nashville. And the 37-year-old has been the Sounds’ most consistent starter this season. Zito leads the team in innings pitched with 137, in wins with 8 and in strikeouts with 90. He also has the best ERA (3.48) and batting-average-against (.235) among all A’s minor league starters. He’s proven to be a solid presence while starting 22 games for the Sounds. So, some A’s fans may wonder why Zito hasn’t yet been called up to make an appearance with the A’s. Well, there are likely two main things that have been holding Zito back – a fastball that lingers in the mid-80s and a $1 million guarantee if he makes the major league roster. The feeling seems to be that, while the wily veteran may still be able to fool minor league hitters with his curveball and his changeup, that the velocity is not where it needs to be to be able to sustain success in the majors. But for now, Zito’s been making the most of the opportunity to show minor league hitters, and pitchers, just how it’s done. He’s currently serving a stint on the 7-day disabled list but is expected to be back in action for the Sounds this weekend.


rdDull, Ryan3Ryan Dull

Relief Pitcher – Midland/Nashville (AA/AAA)

(53 2/3 IP / 35 H / 4 ER / 15 BB / 64 K / 0.67 ERA / 0.93 WHIP)

Ryan Dull has had one of the best seasons of any A’s minor league reliever in recent memory. The 25-year-old didn’t allow a run until the seventh week of the season in late May, then didn’t give up another run until July, and has still allowed only 4 runs all season. And he hasn’t missed a beat since his promotion to Nashville a few weeks ago. The former 32nd-round draft pick has regularly been fooling minor league hitters, striking out 64 over 53 2/3 innings this season. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson told me about Dull last month: “He’s been 90-92 mph, his ball has a little sink and dive to it, and he pitches at the bottom of the zone fabulously. He’s got a hard little slider and he’s got a nice little changeup. He’s one of the better pitchers in our system when it comes to really pitching down in the zone consistently, and that’s the biggest attribute he has, plus he pounds the strike zone.” And he concluded about Dull, “If he continues to do that at every level, he will pitch in the big leagues.”



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Sunday, August 9th: Kirkland’s Big Bat Helps Hounds Win while Stalcup Leads Ports to Shutout Win and Barry Zito & Matt Chapman Land on DL

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Wade Kirkland (3 for 4 / Home Run / 4 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Wade Kirkland (3 for 4 / Home Run / 4 RBIs)



Midland RockHounds  8

Corpus Christi Hooks     3

WP – Hall 3-0 / 2.97

HR – Kirkland (3)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Shortstop Wade Kirkland

(3 for 4 / Home Run / 4 RBIs)

Midland utility man Wade Kirkland, getting the start at shortstop, turned out to be the hero for the Hounds on Sunday. With the game tied in the top of the 8th, Kirkland singled in the go-ahead run for the RockHounds then followed that up by hitting a 3-run homer in the 9th. Kirkland also singled in the 3rd, while catcher Bruce Maxwell had 3 hits, including a double, and drove in a run, and outfielders Josh Whitaker and Jaycob Brugman had a pair of hits apiece. LHP Dillon Overton turned in a solid start, allowing just 1 run over 5 innings of work, but he left the game with his team down by a run, and RHP Kris Hall picked up the win despite giving up 1 run in 1 2/3 innings of relief for the RockHounds.

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

Thursday, August 6th: Sounds Win Behind Barry Zito’s 6 Shutout Innings while Chad Pinder’s 4th HR in 3 Days & 5 RBIs Help Hounds Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Barry Zito (6 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 3 BB / 3 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Barry Zito (6 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 3 BB / 3 K / Win)




Memphis Redbirds   3

Nashville Sounds   8

WP – Zito 8-7 / 3.48

HR – Gentry (4)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Barry Zito

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

In the completion of Wednesday’s suspended game, LHP Barry Zito took the mound with Nashville down by 3 runs and gave up just 1 hit over 6 shutout innings to keep the lid on Memphis and allow the Sounds to overcome a 3-run deficit, and the veteran ended up earning his 8th win for Nashville. Center fielder Craig Gentry singled and homered, while second baseman Joey Wendle doubled, tripled and scored twice. Right fielder Jason Pridie singled, doubled, walked and drove in 2 runs, including the tying run, and first baseman Max Muncy singled, doubled, walked and drove in the winning run for the Sounds.

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

A’s Minor League Leaders – August 2015 Update

The calendar has turned the page to August and, with just about a month left in the minor league season, it’s a good time to take a look at the A’s minor league leaders in a few key hitting and pitching categories. A minimum of 200 at-bats is required for the hitting categories and a minimum of 90 innings is required for the pitching categories, with the exception of saves, of course.

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. Some of the names you might expect to see atop the lists, while others may come as a bit of a surprise!


Chad Pinder

Chad Pinder


1) Chad Pinder .317

2) Colin Walsh .306

3) Chad Oberacker .305

After having a breakthrough season last year by batting .288 at Stockton, shortstop Chad Pinder has taken things to another level this year by batting .317 in a much tougher hitting environment at Midland. He’s currently second in the Texas League batting race and has also upped his on-base percentage .29 points from last season to .365. Pinder’s double-play partner for the RockHounds, second baseman Colin Walsh, is second on the list, and the pair has formed quite a productive combo at the plate for Midland. RockHounds center fielder Chad Oberacker has also had a very solid season with the bat, but keep in mind that this is the 26-year-old’s third season with Midland.


Colin Walsh

Colin Walsh


1) Colin Walsh .431

2) Matt Olson .376

3) Carson Blair .370

Midland second baseman Colin Walsh has done an incredible job of getting on base for the RockHounds this season, with his 116 hits and 80 walks. The 25-year-old switch-hitter leads both the Texas League and the A’s minor league system in on-base percentage as well as in doubles with 32. And Walsh and Midland first baseman Matt Olson, who is second on our organizational OBP list, are tied for both the Texas League lead and the A’s organizational lead in walks with 80. Olson may be batting just .237 but his 80 walks still make him a major on-base threat. Catcher Carson Blair started the season with Midland but has since moved on to Nashville. The 25-year-old backstop has been a bit of a surprise since signing as a minor league free agent in the offseason. After playing just 17 games above Class-A prior to 2015, his .370 on-base percentage and his .474 slugging percentage while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A this season have proven to be a pleasant surprise.


Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman


1) Matt Chapman .587

2) Jason Pridie .497

3) Franklin Barreto .492

After Stockton third baseman Matt Chapman was taken as the A’s top draft pick last year, many in the A’s organization raved about his power potential, and his .587 slugging percentage this season certainly attests to that. Chapman has 21 doubles to go along with 23 home runs in his first 77 games for Stockton. Meanwhile, 31-year-old Nashville outfielder Jason Pridie has wielded the big bat for the Sounds all season and currently boasts 40 extra-base hits. Before being sidelined with a wrist injury a couple of weeks ago, Stockton shortstop Franklin Barreto was on a tear, with a .700 slugging percentage in the month of July. And the 19-year-old has shown some real pop, collecting 22 doubles to go along with 12 home runs over 88 games for the Ports.


Jason Pridie

Jason Pridie


1) Matt Chapman 23

2) Jason Pridie 16

3) Renato Nunez 14

Despite missing the first month of the season due to an offseason knee injury, Stockton third baseman Matt Chapman still has more home runs than any other A’s minor leaguer and is currently tied for second in the California League home run race. In Nashville, not only does Sounds outfielder Jason Pridie lead his team in home runs, but he actually has 10 more than his nearest teammate. Like Chapman, Midland third baseman Renato Nunez missed the first month of the season due to injury. He got off to a somewhat slow start but warmed up with the weather and now leads the RockHounds with 14 home runs in just 78 games so far this season.


Joey Wendle

Joey Wendle


1) Joey Wendle 118

2) Brett Vertigan 117

3) Colin Walsh 116

Nashville second baseman Joey Wendle has been an incredibly steady presence in the Sounds lineup this season, playing in 103 of the team’s 109 games and batting second much of that time. Wendle doesn’t walk much but he has more hits than all A’s minor leaguers and he’s currently batting .274 on the season. Stockton center fielder Brett Vertigan started the season with Beloit but, after getting off to a hot start there, quickly made the move up to Stockton, where he’s been a spark plug in the leadoff spot, and he’s currently batting .283 with a .361 on-base percentage this season. Meanwhile, Midland second baseman Colin Walsh has been the most consistent hitter for the RockHounds all season.


Barry Zito

Barry Zito


1) Joel Seddon 3.47

2) Barry Zito 3.64

3) Dylan Covey 3.69

Stockton RHP Joel Seddon has started 14 games for the Ports after starting out the season in the bullpen. And after settling into the starting rotation, Seddon quickly became one of the most effective starters in the A’s system while pitching in the hitter-friendly California League. Nashville LHP Barry Zito had a rough start to the season, putting up a 5.96 ERA in April, but the veteran soon settled in and has become a consistent and dependable presence in the Sounds starting rotation this season. Stockton RHP Dylan Covey, though not overpowering, has been very effective at getting groundball outs and keeping too many runners from crossing the plate for the Ports.


Joel Seddon

Joel Seddon


1) Joel Seddon 1.13

2) Dillon Overton 1.26

3) Zach Neal 1.27

One of the things that’s helped Stockton RHP Joel Seddon be so effective for the Ports this year is his incredibly low walk rate. Seddon has walked just 14 batters over 96 innings so far this season. And when you don’t give yourself any more base runners to worry about than you have to, then life becomes an awful lot easier for you as a pitcher. RockHounds LHP Dillon Overton spent most of the season at Stockton with Seddon before moving up to Midland and, like Seddon, has done a good job of not making trouble for himself by keeping runners off base, and Overton has issued just 18 walks in 91 1/3 innings so far this season. Nashville RHP Zach Neal started the season at Midland before joining the Sounds but, wherever he’s been, Neal has always done a good job of keeping the walks to a minimum. And so far this season, he’s walked 27 over 124 1/3 innings of work.


Nate Long

Nate Long


1) Nate Long 99

2) Daniel Gossett 90

3) Barry Zito 87

The A’s unlikely strikeout leader this season is Nashville’s 29-year-old RHP Nate Long. The A’s 26th-round draft pick in 2009 spent most of the season at Midland before getting his first extended stay in Triple-A. Long has struck out 99 over 120 innings at two levels this season, which should help him get some looks when he becomes a minor league free agent in the offseason. 22-year-old Beloit RHP Daniel Gossett was the A’s 2nd-round draft pick last year. As an experienced college pitcher, his fastball/slider combo has enabled him to get some swings-and-misses for the Snappers this year and, as his command improves, he should hopefully be able to increase those totals. Meanwhile, in Nashville, veteran LHP Barry Zito has been able to fool a lot of Triple-A hitters with that old familiar curveball.


Zach Neal

Zach Neal


1) Zach Neal 10

2) Brett Graves 9

3) Jonathan Joseph 9

Nashville Starter Zach Neal currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in wins with 10. The 26-year-old posted 3 wins with Midland before notching 7 more with Nashville. His control has been his biggest asset, and Neal has walked an average of just 2 batters per 9 innings this season. 22-year-old Beloit RHP Brett Graves was the A’s 3rd-round draft pick last year, and a good fastball and solid command have enabled him to be a steady winner for the Snappers this season. Midland RHP Jonathan Joseph started the season in the Stockton bullpen before moving up to Midland and getting a shot in the RockHounds rotation. The 27-year-old took to it like a duck to water and, between the bullpen and the rotation, the veteran minor leaguer has managed to put up 9 wins so far this season.


Brendan McCurry

Brendan McCurry


1) Brendan McCurry 21

2) Ryan Dull 12

3) Ryan Cook 8

RockHounds RHP Brendan McCurry spent most of the season serving as the closer at Stockton before recently moving up to Midland but still remains the California League saves leader. The 23-year-old has struck out 60 batters over 49 1/3 innings while posting a 1.82 ERA in 38 games this season. Nashville RHP Ryan Dull spent most of the season as Midland’s closer before recently being promoted to Nashville. The 25-year-old was almost unhittable at Double-A, allowing just 3 runs in 45 innings of relief for the RockHounds. Meanwhile, at Nashville, former A’s RHP Ryan Cook accumulated 8 saves for the Sounds before being shipped off to Boston.

*          *          *

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Saturday, August 1st: Barry Zito Earns 7th Win for Sounds while HRs by Matt Olson & Matt Chapman Help Hounds & Ports Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Barry Zito (6 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 2 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Barry Zito (6 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 2 K / Win)



Nashville Sounds         9

Omaha Storm Chasers  4

WP – Zito 7-7 / 3.64

HR – Roberts (5)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Barry Zito

(6 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 2 K / Win)

LHP Barry Zito turned in another strong start for the Sounds, allowing just 1 run over 6 innings of work to earn his 7th win on Saturday. The veteran starter has been very consistent for Nashville over the past five weeks, posting an ERA of 3.00 in his last seven starts for the Sounds. RHP Taylor Thompson gave up 2 unearned runs on just 1 hit over 1 1/3 innings in his first rehab appearance for Nashville, while switch-pitcher Pat Venditte allowed no runs in 2/3 of an inning in what could be his last rehab game for the Sounds. Left fielder Ryan Roberts ripped a 3-run homer in the top of the 1st to give the Sounds a lead they would never relinquish on Saturday, while first baseman Nate Freiman collected 3 doubles and drove in a run, and designated hitter Anthony Aliotti had 2 hits and drove in a pair for Nashville.

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

Monday, July 27th: Matt Olson’s 2 HRs Help Hounds Win while Barry Zito Struggles in Sounds Loss and Yairo Munoz & Trent Gilbert Make Debuts for Ports

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)



Midland RockHounds  12

Frisco RoughRiders         9

WP – Joseph 7-4 / 4.20

HR – Olson 2 (12), Walsh (12), Ravelo (2)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(2 Home Runs / 5 RBI)

First baseman Matt Olson has definitely been heating up again as we approach the final month of the minor league season. On Monday, he hit a pair of home runs, a 2-run shot to give his team the lead in the top of the 4th as well as a 3-run drive in the 5th, to give Olson a total of 4 home runs over his last 5 games. Designated hitter Rangel Ravelo doubled and hit a 2-run homer, while second baseman Colin Walsh homered in the 1st and singled in a run in the 8th, and shortstop Chad Pinder and outfielder Chad Oberacker had a pair of hits apiece for the Hounds. Starter Jonathan Joseph allowed 5 runs over 5 1/3 innings of work to pick up his 7th win, while LHP Omar Duran was charged with 4 runs in just 1/3 of an inning in relief, and RHP Ryan Dull got the final two outs in the 9th to notch his 12th save for Midland.

Click here for more on Nashville & Stockton…

Exclusive: Get the Inside Scoop on Nashville’s Top Players from Sounds Skipper Steve Scarsone

ssB9315342755Z.1_20141202162702_000_G409A1E4E.1-0cAfter spending parts of seven seasons as a big league infielder, Steve Scarsone has now spent seven seasons managing in the A’s minor league system.

He’s currently midway through his third season managing at Triple-A, though this year the California native had to head east as the A’s Pacific Coast League affiliate switched from Sacramento to Nashville.

Scarsone is handling a veteran club this year in Nashville where the average age is close to 29 and there are very few young prospects on the roster. We took the opportunity to talk with the skipper in Nashville last weekend to get his take on some of the team’s top players…


AF:  I know you spent a lot of time watching Max Muncy in the big league camp this spring, and now he’s back here with you at Nashville. I don’t know if you had the chance to see much of him playing at the major league level.

SS:  Not as much as you’d hope. A lot of times we’re playing at the same time. And by the time our game’s over, if they’re still playing, it’s like…

mmMuncy, Max2AF:  The last thing you need at that point is more baseball…

SS:  Sometimes, to be honest! But we tried to follow him as best we could. I know he wasn’t getting the consistent play, but that’s what he was brought up to do was to be that guy to help out and fill in. And it sounds like he did a pretty good job of it. It’s not easy for a guy to go up for his first time and not be in the everyday lineup and have to try to figure out not only how to compete at that level but how to compete at that level with three or four days in between games. I think it was a great experience for him. I think he’s taken a lot of positives out of it. And now, being here and playing every day, I think he’s shown a huge improvement defensively at third base, which is still somewhat of a new position for him. And his swing plays very nicely in this game – it’s a short swing. He has considerable power, very good pitch recognition, and he’s not afraid to take a walk. He’ll wait for his pitch. Right now he’s kind of struggling, but that won’t last very long. He’ll be fine. I think he’s going to be something that we’ll try to hold on to in this organization and see if we can find a spot for him.

AF:  So is there anything in particular that he needs to do to get himself into a position to get back up there?

SS:  No. From reports that I’ve heard, his return here was not due to his lack of performance. He was just kind of the odd man out up there. To be honest, with his age and experience level, getting a good half-season in Triple-A would be to his advantage – seeing some advanced pitching day in and day out and getting a chance to learn from his teammates and see how to handle himself on and off the field. He’s still relatively young. This year’s his first year in Triple-A, and getting an opportunity to play in the big leagues for a spell was icing on the cake for him. But I think he’s got a good mental outlook on what he needs to continue to try to fight towards, and I think he’ll be fine.

AF:  Like Muncy, one of the other younger position players you’ve got on this team here is Joey Wendle. So what have you seen out of him this year and where do you feel he’s at in his development?

SS:  I think the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Joey is just his love for the game. He hustles on and off the field and plays as hard as he can. I think that’s a quality that sometimes kind of gets overlooked, because we get so caught up in defining tools and stuff like that. And it’s kind of that X factor that doesn’t really come up in a scouting report, but I think it’s very important to bring up for him because that’s a huge part of the kind of player he is – he’s kind of a throwback in a sense. But he’s given us great defensive play. I think he’s improved greatly in just his knowledge and experience and anticipation of what’s going to happen and how to be in the right spot at the right time. His work habits are obviously good. I really have enjoyed watching him progress. I think playing with some of these older guys has been a huge advantage for him. As coaches, we kind of find ourselves limited at times. There’s so much we can do. We can give them the work, we can give them the information, but the criticism and encouragement that comes from his teammates go leaps and bounds above what we can do as coaches. I think he’s benefited greatly from some of the older players that he’s playing with – just in terms of how to best prepare himself and how to play the game as a professional player. I think that’s going to help him along the way as he continues, and I’m sure he’ll make the next step too.

jwWendle, Joey3AF:  I talked to A’s infield coach Mike Gallego about him in spring training. He raved about his preparation and how much he had his head into every play and he was really impressed with his whole approach. Now you were an infielder too, so do you concur with that assessment?

SS:  Definitely. And what we’ve tried to do this year with him is to take that attention to what’s going on, his first step and his movements and everything, and try to smooth everything out so it’s a little bit more fluid through the play. Early on, he was getting himself into trouble kind of being a little bit too forceful to the ball instead of really reading the ball and getting the hop that’s going to be best for him. As a second baseman, you don’t have to be as aggressive as on the other side. So I’ve seen a great improvement on that in terms of taking the game in a little bit more and not trying to force yourself down the game’s throat.

AF:  So letting things come to him as opposed to maybe trying a little too hard and trying to force things all the time.

SS:  Exactly! And he’s taken to it very well – he’s got a very nice rhythm about him right now.

AF:  Now what about at the plate? Obviously, he could be a little more selective. But what have you seen in terms of the evolution of his approach at the plate over the course of the year, and what does he need to be thinking about doing up there right now?

SS:  I think that’s the key. The key for him is to get good pitches to hit, because he can handle just about any pitcher he sees. He has just as much success against left-handers as he does against right-handers. He’s shown some power. He’s able to hit the ball to all fields. I think, at times, he just gets a little too aggressive. So that’s been the process with him, to try to smooth out his offense just liked we’re trying to do on the defensive side. We have him hitting in the two hole, so there’s some more things that can happen up there. He’s willing to bunt and he tries to hit the hole when he has that opportunity. So there are a lot of good things that we’re seeing, and we know that the mentality is there. It’s just a matter of more and more reps. I think we’re going to see where it’s going to start to click for him more and more as this season finishes up. And I’d like to see how he comes back next season after having an offseason to just kind of rethink everything, because in the heat of the season, you just grind and grind and grind. Sometimes that offseason of reflection can be very useful. I really do look forward to seeing how he plays out.

AF:  So it sounds like you think he knows what he needs to do and he’s headed in the right direction and it’s just a matter of executing.

SS:  By all means, yes.

AF:  A guy who was a big hitter for you last year at Sacramento is Nate Freiman, but he’s really been struggling this year. So what’s been going on with him and what’s been holding him back?

nfNate+Freiman+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+CFUGtYuCl4Ll2bSS:  Well, Nate showed up in spring and hurt his back. He was down all spring, and he was left in Arizona. He ended up joining us almost six weeks after the season started. And then, at that point, we were using him kind of sparingly to keep him from a relapse.So it took him seven or eight weeks into our season before he was kind of starting to play every day. He didn’t have a spring training. He found himself not getting off to a start, and he’s been kind of pressing, trying to contribute. He feels like he’s letting the team down. He’s a very selfless guy – he’s a great teammate. For him not to hit the ball and drive people in, it’s been very frustrating for him, and we’ve had several talks. Of course, he went through the situation where they took him off the 40-man roster, and he was stressed about that. We’ve all had to go through that at some point. It’s been a learning year for him. If you think about it, he went from Double-A to the big leagues. And then last year, he kind of went up and down. So he hasn’t had a 400+ at-bat season since 2012 when he was in Double-A with the Padres. He’s just now kind of getting a chance to get some more regular playing time. He’s working on it, he’s trying a bunch of different things and it’s frustrating. It’s tough to pull yourself out of the hole, but he’s got a good attitude and he works hard and he plays hard.

AF:  Is the back still an issue at all? Are there any lingering physical issues with him?

SS:  No, he’s 100% percent. That’s all fine. He’s just trying to get on some kind of a roll at the plate and start feeling like Nate again.

AF:  I wanted to ask you about a couple of pitchers here. The most interesting story on your pitching staff this year has to be Barry Zito. So what have you seen out of Barry and what he’s been doing here?

bzZito, Barry3SS:  Well, on the field, he’s pitched phenomenally. The numbers speak for themselves. He’s going deep into games, he’s controlling the games and he’s doing very well now. I would have loved to have been around when he was at the top of his game. He’s not an imposing pitcher like he was in terms of his velocity – there’s onbviously been a drop-off. But the curveball and the changeup are still there. He makes hitters look silly still. He sets them up and puts them down. And it’s just that experience and knowledge of pitching and the ability to make a pitch when he needs it that really has been impressive. No, not every pitch has been right where he wants it, and you can see that there’s some struggle there, but he never lets that bother him to where he can’t go back and make the pitch he needs when he needs it. And off the field, in the clubhouse, he’s been outstanding. He’s been a great source for these other guys. They look up to him, and he takes it with a ceratin modesty and grace. It’s actually fun to have him on the club.

AF:  Well, there aren’t too many minor league clubhouses with Cy Young winners in them.

SS:  But you know what what? He doesn’t wear that on his sleeve. He’s very humble. And I’m enjoying the fact that I got the chance to spend the summer with him.

AF:  So where’s his velocity been at lately?

SS:  He’s mid-80s with the fastball. When you just look at the fastball, that’s not very hard. But when you play it off of that changeup, which is arguably Tom-Glavine-like at times, and then the breaking ball, which is purely Barry-Zito-like, the velocity of the fastball probably looks about 92 to some of these hitters when he uses it at the proper time. On the scouting side, you’d probably say it’s not quite there. But in terms of effectiveness, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to get people out.

AF:  Do you have any update on a guy who was pitching here for you before landing back on the disabled list, A.J. Griffin?

ag456167SS:  He’s back in Arizona. I’m not positive where he’s at. It’s just one of those situations where trying to compensate for one injury kind of created a little bit of another. So it was decided not to push this. Obviously, I can’t talk too much about the medical side of it. He just needs to get himself feeling right.

AF:  And was it basically right shoulder soreness?

SS:  Basically.

AF:  And what about Sean Nolin, who recently went back on the disabled list again?

SS:  Sean’s still here with us. He started for us for four or five starts and he started feeling some stuff, so we slowed him down. He’s currently on the DL trying to regain some strength and ability to really get after it. But he’s on the mend and we’ll probably look to see him start to get himself into a rehab situation over the next week or so. And then hopefully over the next couple weeks we should see him back active. I don’t know if we’ll use him as a starter or in the bullpen. We’d have to build him up as a starter again, and I don’t know if we have enough time left in the season to get him built up.

AF:  Well, I guess it’s a good sign that he’s still here with you guys rather than being down in Arizona.

SS:  Yeah, it was just some small stuff. After coming off all the stuff he’s had to battle through the last year, everybody agreed that it was best for him to stay on a little bit of a slower pace rather than trying to push him into something and make things worse.

AF:  Another guy you’ve got here with quite a bit of major league experience is Ryan Cook. He’s been struggling a bit lately. But where’s he at, what’s been going on with him and what does he need to figure out to get back to where he used to be?

rc5l64jcRW2SS:  He went up and down early. Obviously, he started the season here. And I know he was frustrated. I think it was kind of a shock to him. He handled it pretty well, but you could tell he was struggling with the situation and all. And he didn’t really get off to a great start. Then he got called up and you thought, “Okay, he’ll back in a groove and he’ll stay there.” Then they did so many quick moves so soon with all those relievers. Since he’s been here, his attitude has greatly improved. He’s all about trying to get himself back on track and get himself back to the big leagues, which is a good sign. He’s an emotional guy. He’s high-strung. We’ve all seen him in Oakland – he’s out there giving it everything he’s got. He’s a hard charger. He’s just been kind of getting knocked around a little bit, so he’s getting a little bit of humility. And that sometimes can be a good thing. So he’ll continue to pitch and he’ll continue to give it everything he’s got. And I think that, at some point or another, Oakland will need him again and he’ll go up and step right back into where he left off.

AF:  Is there anything in particular that he’s been working on here?

SS:  No, no, he’s pretty much the same pitcher. He’s just trying to get a little bit more consistent with his control, trying to pitch a little bit more ahead in the count. He’s finding himself kind of getting behind and having to come across the plate with a little bit more of a hitter’s pitch. Two years ago when he was dominating in the big leagues, he was getting ahead, he was using both sides of the plate. He had late movement that was giving him opportunities for missing the barrel. But now I think he’s just trying to aim a little too much and probably losing a little bit of that late movement, and it’s being knocked around a little bit more than he’s used to. You know, sometimes that just comes from the pressure and from trying to be too fine and trying to take that next step to prove that he’s able and ready to go back up. But his velocity’s there and the pitches are getting stronger. So he’s still a valuable part of this organization.

AF:  Great, thanks!

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