Tag: Bobby Wahl

Meet Your 2018 Oakland A’s!

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

Back in May, we took a look at what a young, rebuilding A’s team might look like. But now that we’ve passed the July 31st trade deadline and the A’s have made a number of deadline deals, and even some post-deadline deals, to add players like Blake Treinen, Dustin Fowler, Boog Powell, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse, James Kaprielian and Jesus Luzardo to the system, it’s a good time to take another look at what the near future might look like for the A’s.

Of course, one never knows what the A’s might do in the offseason, but the fact that they don’t really have many veteran trade chips left to deal will definitely limit their ability to barter. And, as usual, it seems unlikely that they will splurge too much on the free agent market at this stage of the game. The team could dip its toe in the water to fill a few holes on a short-term basis, particularly on the pitching staff, but there aren’t likely to be any terribly significant commitments in the near term, at least not until a new stadium is within view.

Two players who’ve played significant roles this year seem likely to depart after the season – center fielder Rajai Davis, who’s set to become a free agent, and second baseman Jed Lowrie, whom the A’s hold a $6 million option on for next year. With the A’s now fully committed to a youth movement and with both Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder capable of playing second base, it seems unlikely that the A’s will opt to bring back Lowrie. But is there still any chance that they might be able to get something for either of them before the season’s through the way they did with Yonder Alonso? It’s possible, but it seems like any deal that would have been possible probably would have happened by now. And looking ahead, there are only two significant players on the current roster who are due to become free agents after the 2018 season – outfielder Matt Joyce and reliever Santiago Casilla. Could the A’s possibly get anything for either player in the offseason? Anything’s possible but, if they can, it’s not likely to amount to much.

When looking at next season on the position player front, eleven guys seem to be pretty solid bets for the major league roster, leaving a number of others left to battle for one or two remaining spots, depending on whether the A’s choose to go with twelve or thirteen position players in 2018. The eleven most likely to lay claim to a roster spot include catchers Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley, infielders Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Ryon Healy, outfielders Khris Davis, Matt Joyce and Dustin Fowler, and super utility infielder/outfielder Chad Pinder. That leaves guys like Boog Powell, Jaycob Brugman, Mark Canha, Jake Smolinski and Renato Nunez fighting for the one or two remaining roster spots. When it comes to the pitching staff, things could be a little more up in the air, and one would have to suspect that’s where any offseason additions might be most likely to occur.

So, setting aside any possible offseason deals or free-agent signings, and adding in a fresh batch of summer arrivals, let’s take a position-by-position look at how things might stack up for the 2018 Oakland A’s…

 

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

CATCHERS

With Stephen Vogt’s departure and Bruce Maxwell making the move to the major league roster in June, the catching corps could prove to be one of the more predictable parts of next season’s roster. Maxwell and Josh Phegley seem set to split time behind the plate for the 2018 A’s, though the team could always give recently-acquired catcher Dustin Garneau the opportunity to compete with Phegley for the chance to serve as Maxwell’s platoon partner. The team’s top minor league catching prospect, former 3rd-round pick Sean Murphy, has played in just 39 games at the Double-A level and is probably another year away from factoring into the catching conversation.

 

INFIELDERS

Matt Olson

Matt Olson

With the departures of Trevor Plouffe and Yonder Alonso, and the likely departure of Jed Lowrie in the offseason, the A’s infield looks to be right at the heart of the youth movement in 2018. Young slugger Matt Chapman is set to anchor the infield at the hot corner, while Marcus Semien is expected to be back at shortstop. It seems likely that top prospect Franklin Barreto will get every opportunity to take over at second base, where he’s probably best-suited defensively and where he’s most likely to remain since the A’s acquired promising shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal. The team seems ready to make Matt Olson its primary first baseman, though his consistent platoon splits make it likely that, like Yonder Alonso, he’ll frequently sit against lefties while Ryon Healy moves from the designated hitter spot to take over at first. Meanwhile, with Olson at first and Chapman at third, Healy looks likely to get the bulk of his at-bats in the DH slot once again, serving in that role against righties while seeing some time in the field against lefties. And with Olson likely to sit out against most lefties, that could give super-utility man Chad Pinder, who’s sure to make the squad, a good chance to get some regular at-bats against lefties while stepping into the field in any number of positions and giving various A’s regulars a bit of a breather by sliding into the DH spot for the day. And, of course, Pinder also has the ability to spell Semien and Barreto in the middle infield any time either of them is slumping or could just use a day off. The A’s could also decide to give a player who’s probably best-suited for the designated hitter role a shot to see what he can do as the regular DH against lefties. Right-handed slugger Renato Nunez may be limited defensively, but he’s currently leading the Pacific Coast League with 31 home runs while slashing an impressive .309/.387/.630 against Triple-A lefties this season. So, Nunez clearly could have the ability to do some damage from the DH spot when Healy makes the move to first against lefties. Behind Chapman, Semien, Barreto, Olson, Healy, Pinder and Nunez, other infield options down on the farm could include second basemen Joey Wendle and Max Schrock, shortstop Jorge Mateo, third baseman Sheldon Neuse and Yairo Munoz, who’s been increasing his versatility by playing third base, shortstop and center field for Triple-A Nashville this season.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Dustin Fowler

Dustin Fowler

With a couple of the team’s most veteran position players still in the outfield picture, the youth movement may have a slightly less dramatic effect on the A’s outfield alignment in 2018. The team still has control of its top home run hitter, Khris Davis, for two more seasons. So, assuming he sticks around for at least one more campaign, he’s likely to see most of his time in left field once again. And assuming Matt Joyce is back for the final year of his contract, then he’s likely to wind up back in right field against right-hander hurlers anyway. As for center field, the A’s clearly acquired Dustin Fowler from the Yankees to be their center fielder of the future, and that future is likely to start in 2018. Super-utility man Chad Pinder is capable of putting in time in the outfield. And since Joyce and Fowler are both left-handed hitters, he could well serve as an outfield platoon partner, particularly for Joyce in right. And if things line up as expected, then that would leave one or two more roster spots available for outfielders depending on if the A’s choose to go with twelve or thirteen position players and whether or not they decide to make room for Renato Nunez on the roster in 2018. Lefty-swinging outfielders Boog Powell and Jaycob Brugman, who’ve been the main men in center field over these past couple of months, will clearly move behind Fowler on the depth chart as soon as he returns from the disabled list. Though Powell and Brugman are both capable of playing all three outfield positions, the fact that they both hit from the left side severely limits their ability to serve in any sort of platoon role in the A’s outfield as it’s currently configured. And we all know how much the A’s value those platoon matchups. That could help the cause of a couple of other outfield options who happen to be right-handed hitters – Mark Canha, who still possesses some intriguing power potential, and Jake Smolinski, who’s always put up strong numbers against lefties, is capable of playing all three outfield spots, and is currently on a minor league rehab assignment after sitting out most of the season due to shoulder surgery. One thing that seems certain is that the one of the most interesting roster battles next season should be for the A’s last one or two remaining outfield spots.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

What once looked like a strong suit for the A’s, thanks to trades, injuries and poor performance, now appears to be a little more up in the air. Twelve different pitchers have made starts for the A’s this season. LHP Sean Manaea is the only A’s hurler to make it to the mound for more than 20 starts so far this season, and he also leads the teams in wins and strikeouts. RHP Kendall Graveman was looked at as the team’s ace-in-waiting behind Sonny Gray and was the A’s opening day starter this year, but injuries have limited him to 11 starts this season. Manaea and Graveman look to be locks to top the A’s rotation again in 2018. But don’t forget about a guy who put up better numbers than either of those pitchers have this season before undergoing hip surgery this summer – RHP Andrew Triggs. If he returns healthy and regains his form, then Triggs would also be in line to claim a rotation spot next season. A pair of rookies would appear to be the best bets to round out the rotation – RHP Paul Blackburn, who’s been solid in 9 starts for the A’s, and RHP Daniel Gossett, a former 2nd-round pick who’s shown plenty of promising potential. Behind those five (none of whom is currently over the age of 28), there are a number of arms who could be in waiting at Nashville but who also come with a number of questions marks. RHPs Jharel Cotton and Jesse Hahn have combined to make 31 starts for the A’s this season, and while both have shown great promise at times, they can both be wildly inconsistent as well. RHP Daniel Mengden, who showed such potential at times last season, is still in the picture and has recently returned to action for Nashville after missing much of the season due to injuries. Veteran RHP Chris Smith also remains in the mix and could serve as valuable rotation depth at Triple-A. Other potential starting options in the system include RHP Chris Bassitt (who’s been working out of the bullpen at Nashville while making his way back from Tommy John surgery), RHP Frankie Montas (who had been serving in a starting role at Triple-A before landing on the disabled list), RHP Raul Alcantara (who started the season on the A’s roster), RHP Corey Walter (who’s made 11 starts for the Sounds this season), and LHP A.J. Puk (the A’s top draft pick last year who’s put up an ERA of 5.36 and struck out 61 in 45 1/3 frames since joining Double-A Midland in June). Puk may not be ready to be a real rotation option for the A’s to start the season but, depending on how things play out, he could prove to be a legitimate option for the team before next season is through.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Blake Treinen

Blake Treinen

The bullpen could be the biggest question mark for the A’s heading into 2018. There aren’t too many locks here, nor too many talented young hurlers who look to be ready to bloom into superstar status. This could be an area the A’s seek to fill in with a few shrewd free-agent pickups, or the organization might just decide to make the best with what they’ve got and wait until the team looks like it might be ready to contend before investing in outside help for the bullpen. But looking at what’s in-house at the moment, RHP Blake Treinen seems to be the best option for the closer’s role. Of course, RHP Santiago Casilla is still under contract for next season, while the A’s will also maintain control of a couple of other familiar faces from the bullpen – RHPs Liam Hendriks and Ryan Dull. Two hard-throwing RHPs will remain in the mix as well – Frankie Montas, who’s still working to harness his potential, and Simon Castro, who has shown some promise in 13 appearances for the A’s this season. RHP Bobby Wahl will be returning from thoracic outlet surgery, while RHP J.B. Wendelken will be coming back from Tommy John surgery. And there are a number of possible long-relief options to consider as well, including RHP Chris Hatcher (who was recently acquired from the Dodgers), RHP Chris Smith (who could be well-suited for such a role), RHP Chris Bassitt (who’s been throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen at Nashville), RHPs Michael Brady and Josh Smith (both of whom have served in that role at times this season), and RHP Raul Alcantara (who started the season in that role for the A’s). On the left side of the bullpen, the A’s current options look to be fairly limited. Of course, LHP Daniel Coulombe, who’s made 53 relief appearances for the A’s this season, clearly stands atop the pack. LHP Felix Doubront has been serving in a relief role for Nashville since returning from Tommy John surgery, and the A’s recently acquired LHP Sam Moll, who’s made 139 relief appearances in the Rockies system over the last five years. But beyond that, there aren’t many more southpaws to be seen in the bullpen picture at this point anyway, so stay tuned.

 

One never really knows what the A’s might decide to do in any given offseason, and this one’s certainly no different. But one thing’s clear – the team is committed to rebuilding with this current crop of young players. There aren’t many veterans left to deal away at this point, so any significant additions would most likely have to come from the free agent market, though it seems unlikely that the A’s would be ready to make too much of a splash in the free agent pool at this stage of the game. Once plans for the A’s new ballpark are announced, we should start to get a much better sense of what the team’s long-term and short-term player personnel plans are. But for now, this is how the current crop of young players who are likely to make the squad next season is shaping up. And hopefully, A’s fans can look forward to watching this promising pack of prospects develop into a winning team that will be able to carry its winnings ways into a new ballpark somewhere in Oakland in the not-too-distant future.

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Monday, July 31st: Milburn Impresses in Snappers’ Walk-Off Win while Hahn Is Solid in Sounds’ Loss & A’s Add 4 Prospects in Deadline Deals

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Matt Milburn (7 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Matt Milburn (7 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Burlington Bees    3

Beloit Snappers  4

WP – Alejo 4-3 / 4.03

HR – Nowlin (10)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Matt Milburn

(7 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

RHP Matt Milburn turned in another outstanding start to help the Snappers win their fifth straight. Last year’s 29th-round draft pick for the A’s allowed 2 runs on just 5 hits over 7 innings of work but left with the game a 2-2 tie on Monday. The 24-year-old has now compiled an impressive 1.85 ERA in 8 starts for the Snappers in the second half. RHP Joseph Camacho gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the 8th, but first baseman Kyle Nowlin belted a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 8th. And the game remained tied until the bottom of the 12th, when right fielder Mike Martin beat out a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to bring home second baseman Trace Loehr as the Snappers won in a walk-off. RHP Yordys Alejo tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win as Beloit notched its ninth victory in its last ten games on Monday.

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

Friday, July 28th: Stockton Wins behind Neuse’s Big Bat while Nashville Notches Shutout Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Shortstop Sheldon Neuse (3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Shortstop Sheldon Neuse (3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports  11

Modesto Nuts       5

WP – Butler 3-3 / 5.12

HR – Neuse 2 (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Sheldon Neuse

(3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)

Shortstop Sheldon Neuse, recently acquired from the Nationals in the Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle deal, had a big night at the plate for the Ports on Friday. The 22-year-old collected 3 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 1st inning and a 2-run shot in the 9th. First baseman Mikey White doubled and singled twice, while left fielder Brett Siddall had 2 hits, including a double, and drove in 2 runs, and right fielder Seth Brown walked and doubled in a pair for the Ports. Stockton starter Kyle Friedrichs gave up 3 runs over 3 2/3 innings of work, while RHP Brendan Butler allowed 1 run in 4 innings of relief to earn his 3rd win on Friday. In other news, RHP James Naile is set to be activated from the disabled list and make the start for Stockton on Saturday.

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

Tuesday, July 25th: Cotton & Canha Combine to Help Sounds Win while Fillmyer & Duno Pitch Hounds & Ports to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Las Vegas 51s          4

Nashville Sounds  10

WP – Cotton 3-0 / 2.95

HR – Nunez (26), Olson (20), Canha 2 (11)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Jharel Cotton

(6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

RHP Jharel Cotton made an impressive rehab start for the Sounds on Tuesday, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 9 over 6 shutout innings to notch his 3rd win of the season for Nashville. After making a pair of rehab appearances for Stockton, RHP Bobby Wahl made his first rehab appearance for the Sounds on Tuesday and gave up 1 run in 2/3 of an inning of relief. Right fielder Mark Canha had a huge night at the plate, collecting 5 hits, including a pair of home runs, while driving in 4 runs. First baseman Matt Olson belted his 20th home run, a 2-run blast, while left fielder Renato Nunez, slugged his league-leading 26th home run, a solo shot, and shortstop Franklin Barreto had 3 hits and drove in a run for Nashville. Meanwhile, A’s RHP Chris Bassitt was activated from the disabled list and assigned to the Sounds on Tuesday.

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

Sunday, July 23rd: Schrock’s Big Bat Helps Hounds Sweep Twinbill while Ports Win in a Walk-Off

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Second Baseman Max Schrock (5 for 7 / Home Run / Double / 2 Walks / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Second Baseman Max Schrock (5 for 7 / HR / Double / 2 Walks / 5 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

GAME #1

Corpus Christi Hooks       2

Midland RockHounds  12

WP – Hurlbutt 3-1 / 2.20

HR – Schrock (6)

Prospect Of The Game:

Second Baseman Max Schrock

(4 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 3 RBIs)

Second baseman Max Schrock had a big game in the first of Midland’s two matches on Sunday. The 22-year-old had 4 hits, including a home run and a double, and drove in 3 runs, and he went 5 for 7 with a pair of walks and 5 RBIs overall in the doubleheader. Catcher Andy Paz had 2 hits, including a double, and drove in a pair, while shortstop Richie Martin singled, doubled and drove in a run for the RockHounds. RHP Dustin Hurlbutt delivered his second straight quality start, allowing 2 runs on just 3 hits over 6 innings of work to earn his 3rd win for Midland.

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

Thursday, July 20th: Nunez’s Big Blow Leads Sounds to Victory while Ports Win in a Walk-Off

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Renato Nunez (2 for 5 / Home Run / 3 RBIs / Stolen Base)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Renato Nunez (2 for 5 / Home Run / 3 RBIs / Stolen Base)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds  7

Iowa Cubs               5

WP – J.Smith 4-1 / 3.62

HR – Nunez (25), Barreto (10)

Prospect Of The Game:

Third Baseman Renato Nunez

(2 for 5 / Home Run / 3 RBIs / Stolen Base)

With the game tied in the top of the 9th, third baseman Renato Nunez hit his league-leading 25th home run to provide the margin of victory for the Sounds on Thursday. Nunez also singled in a run in the 5th, while center fielder Yairo Munoz collected 4 hits, including a double, and drove in the tying run in the top of the 8th. Second baseman Joey Wendle had 3 hits, including a triple, and shortstop Franklin Barreto walked, stole a base and belted his 10th home run for the Sounds. Starter Jesse Hahn allowed 5 runs over 5 innings of work, while RHP Josh Smith was solid in relief, throwing 4 scoreless frames to notch his 4th win for Nashville. And in other news, Sounds RHP Frankie Montas is set to rejoin the A’s on Friday.

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

Wednesday, May 24th: Blackburn Leads Sounds to 2nd Straight Shutout Win while Meisner Pitches Ports to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Paul Blackburn (7 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 6 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Paul Blackburn (7 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 6 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Omaha Storm Chasers  0

Nashville Sounds         4

WP – Blackburn 3-4 / 3.33

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Paul Blackburn

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

Another day, another great performance by a Sounds starter – and on Wednesday, it was RHP Paul Blackburn’s turn. The 23-year-old struck out 6 over 7 scoreless innings to earn the win and help Nashville notch its second consecutive shutout and its fourth straight win. Blackburn has now failed to allow a run over his last 13 frames, while Tuesday’s starter, RHP Daniel Mengden, is currently riding a 10-inning scoreless streak, and RHPs Daniel Gossett and Jharel Cotton failed to allow any runs in their last starts as well. RHPs Tucker Healy and Simon Castro each contributed 1 scoreless inning in relief to close out Wednesday’s 6-hit shutout for the Sounds. First baseman Matt Olson singled, doubled, walked and drove in a run, while second baseman Franklin Barreto doubled and scored a run, and center fielder Jaycob Brugman drew 3 walks, included a bases-loaded walk to bring home a run for the Sounds in the bottom of the 2nd. And with A’s RHP Bobby Wahl landing on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, Nashville RHP Zach Neal rejoined Oakland’s roster on Wednesday.

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

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

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

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Corpus Christi Hooks      3

Midland RockHounds  12

WP – Holmes 2-1 / 5.16

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

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Tyler Marincov

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

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

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton & Beloit…

Saturday, April 22nd: Beloit Wins behind Nowlin’s Big Bat while Sonny Gray Impresses in Rehab Start for Stockton

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Designated Hitter Kyle Nowlin (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Designated Hitter Kyle Nowlin (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Burlington Bees    3

Beloit Snappers  8

WP – Altamirano 1-1 / 1.54

HR – Mercedes (4), Nowlin (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Kyle Nowlin

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

With two men on and his team down by a run in the bottom of the 5th inning, designated hitter Kyle Nowlin stepped to the plate and slugged a 3-run homer to provide the margin of victory for the Snappers on Saturday. Center fielder JaVon Shelby doubled in a run in the previous at-bat to bring Beloit within a run, while left fielder Luke Persico doubled in 3 runs in the 8th, and first baseman Miguel Mercedes hit his team-leading 4th home run in the 2nd. After three rocky outings, starter Matt Milburn was outstanding for the Snappers on Saturday. The 23-year-old allowed just 2 hits over 4 scoreless innings, and he left the game with a 1-run lead. A string of errors by third baseman Eric Marinez, center fielder Shelby and shortstop Edwin Diaz allowed 3 unearned runs to score off of RHP Xavier Altamirano in the top of the 5th inning, but he still picked up the win after Beloit took back the lead in the bottom of the 5th, and RHP Brandon Bailey threw 3 scoreless innings in relief to hold Burlington in check as the Snappers snapped their 3-game skid on Saturday.

Click here for a complete report on Sonny Gray’s Rehab Start in Stockton…  

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