Tag: Bobby Wahl

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.

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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.

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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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Tuesday, April 18th: Neal’s Solid Start Helps Sounds Snap Skid while Ports Come up Short in Extras

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Zach Neal (5 2/3 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Zach Neal (5 2/3 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds          5

Oklahoma City Dodgers  3

WP – Neal 1-1 / 3.77

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Zach Neal

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

RHP Zach Neal turned in a strong start for Nashville on Tuesday, allowing 2 runs while walking none and striking out 5 over 5 2/3 frames to earn his 1st win and help the Sounds snap their five-game skid. Despite surrendering a home run in the 9th, RHP Bobby Wahl got the final three outs to pick up his 2nd save. After scoring a total of just five runs over the last five games, Nashville managed to push five runs across the plate in Tuesday’s win. And it was the first time that Sounds’ batters had put more than four runs on the board since the third game of the season back on April 8. Right fielder Mark Canha had 2 hits and drove in 2 runs, while third baseman Renato Nunez notched a pair of singles for Nashville. First baseman Matt Olson walked and singled in his team’s first run in the 2nd inning, and shortstop Franklin Barreto drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and also stole a base for the Sounds. Meanwhile, with A’s starter Kendall Graveman on the disabled list, Nashville RHP Cesar Valdez is scheduled to join Oakland and make the start for the A’s on Thursday. RockHounds RHP Corey Walter is expected to be added to the Sounds roster to replace Valdez, and second baseman Joey Wendle is set to begin a rehab assignment with the Sounds on Wednesday as he returns from a right shoulder injury.

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Friday, April 14th: Snappers Snap Skid behind Theroux’s Big Bat while Puk Impresses in Ports’ Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Catcher Collin Theroux (3 for 3 / 2 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Catcher Collin Theroux (3 for 3 / 2 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Peoria Chiefs        4

Beloit Snappers  5

WP – Sawyer 1-1 / 2.35

HR – Theroux 2 (2), Mercedes (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Catcher Collin Theroux

(3 for 3 / 2 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

After going 0 for 12 to start the season, catcher Collin Theroux came through in a big way for the Snappers on Friday. Last year’s 32nd-round draft pick for the A’s hit a 2-run homer to tie the game in the 2nd inning, then tagged another 2-run shot to tie the game again in the 7th. Designated hitter Miguel Mercedes then slugged a solo shot in the 8th to provide the winning run and help the Snappers snap their five-game losing streak on Friday. Starter Boomer Biegalski allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, in 4 innings of work, while his tandem-pitching partner, LHP Dalton Sawyer, was outstanding in relief, striking out 7 over 4 scoreless frames to earn his 1st win for the Snappers.

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Friday, April 7th: Decker’s Big Night Helps Sounds Prevail in Extras while Graves Is Perfect in Ports’ Dramatic Doubleheader Split

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Outfielder Jaff Decker (4 for 4 / Double / RBI / 2 Walks / 2 Runs / 2 Stolen Bases)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Outfielder Jaff Decker (4 for 4 / Double / RBI / 2 Walks / 2 Runs / 2 Stolen Bases)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds      8

Round Rock Express  6

WP – Kurcz 1-0 / 4.50

HR – Barreto (1), Parmelee (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Jaff Decker

(4 for 4 / Double / RBI / 2 Walks / 2 Runs / 2 Stolen Bases)

Center fielder Jaff Decker had a big night at the plate to help Nashville come back from a 5-run deficit and win in 11 innings on Friday. Decker reached base in all 6 of his trips to the plate, going 4 for 4 with a double and 2 walks, while also swiping a pair of bases, driving in a run and scoring twice. His biggest hit was a two-out double in the 9th to tie things up and send the game to extra innings. He also walked and scored the Sounds’ second run in the 11th. Chris Parmelee singled in Decker in the 11th, homered to lead off the top of the 10th and also singled in another run in the 5th. Renato Nunez singled in the winning run in the 11th with his only hit of the game, while second baseman Franklin Barreto had 3 hits, including a 2-run homer in the 5th. Third baseman Matt Chapman exited the game after the 4th inning for unknown reasons. RHP Michael Brady, signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason, was shaky in his first start for the Sounds, lasting just 3 innings after surrendering 5 runs in the 1st, but RHP Zach Neal was impressive in relief, tossing 4 scoreless frames to help keep his team in the hunt. RHP Aaron Kurcz picked up the win despite allowing the tying run in the bottom of the 10th, while RHP Bobby Wahl got the final three outs in the 11th to earn the save for the Sounds. In other news, reliever Tyler Sturdevant was added to the roster on Friday to replace Jesse Hahn, who was recalled by the A’s on Wednesday.

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A’s Option Barreto, Pinder & Olson to Nashville

A's top prospect Franklin Barreto

A’s top prospect Franklin Barreto

The A’s optioned three prospects, including the player widely considered to be their top prospect, infielder Franklin Barreto, to Triple-A Nashville after the team’s spring training loss to Arizona on Friday. Infielder Chad Pinder and first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson were also optioned to the Sounds. The team now has 45 players in big league camp, including 32 players on the 40-man roster and 13 non-roster invitees.

In the past week, the A’s have optioned a total of eight players to Triple-A Nashville. In addition to Barreto, Pinder and Olson, infielders Renato Nunez and Yairo Munoz, outfielder Jaycob Brugman, and RHPs Paul Blackburn and Bobby Wahl were optioned to the Sounds earlier.

The sweet-swinging Barreto turned in an impressive .481/.500/.667 slash line in 27 at-bats this spring. He’s set to see time at shortstop as well as at second base at Nashville this season. And with A’s incumbent second baseman Jed Lowrie in the final year of his contract, Barreto eventually is expected to take over at second for the A’s, perhaps later this season.

Pinder, who already has plenty of experience at shortstop, second base and third base, is expected to see some time in the outfield as well at Nashville this season since the A’s see him as a potentially valuable, versatile utility man who could be deployed as a bit of a super sub on next year’s squad. He posted a .158/.261/.474 line in 19 spring at-bats. And Olson could contend for a left-handed-hitting platoon role at first base or in the outfield for the A’s next season. He had a .167/.286/.467 line in 30 at-bats this spring.

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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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