Tag Archive for Bruce Maxwell

Sunday, June 19th: Marincov’s Double Helps Hounds Win in a Walk-Off while Sounds Drop Doubleheader and Walsh & Lambo Land on DL

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Outfielder Tyler Marincov (2 for 6 / Double / GWRBI / Stolen Base)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Outfielder Tyler Marincov (2 for 6 / Double / GWRBI / Stolen Base)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Frisco RoughRiders       4

Midland RockHounds  5

WP – Sanchez 3-3 / 3.16

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Tyler Marincov

(2 for 6 / Double / GWRBI / Stolen Base)

With one out, a man on first and the game tied in the bottom of the 12th inning, right fielder Tyler Marincov doubled to right field to bring home the winning run as the RockHounds won in a walk-off on Sunday. Marincov also singled and stole a base to get into scoring position in the 10th but was left stranded, and he’s now hitting .407 with 10 RBIs over his last 8 games for Midland. Shortstop Wade Kirkland singled, doubled and scored a run, while designated hitter Danny Oh had 2 hits and drove in the tying run in the bottom of the 6th, and catcher Beau Taylor doubled, walked twice and scored a run for the RockHounds. Starter Joel Seddon allowed 4 runs over 7 innings of work and left with the game a 4-4 tie, while RHP Sam Bragg tossed 3 scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Jake Sanchez pitched 2 perfect frames in the 11th and 12th to pick up his 3rd win for Midland.

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

Friday, June 10th: Overton Tosses 6 Shutout Innings and Pinder, Brugman & Maxwell Homer to Help Sounds Win while Hounds Prevail in Extras

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Dillon Overton (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 4 BB / 3 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Dillon Overton (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 4 BB / 3 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds         10

Oklahoma City Dodgers  0

WP – Overton 6-4 / 3.63

HR – Pinder (5), Brugman (3), Maxwell (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Dillon Overton

(6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 4 BB / 3 K / Win)

LHP Dillon Overton delivered another solid start for the Sounds, throwing 6 shutout innings to earn his 6th win on Friday. And the former 2nd-round draft pick has now notched a nifty 2.05 ERA over his last 5 starts for Nashville. After appearing for Stockton on Tuesday, RHP Liam Hendriks tossed 1 scoreless inning of relief in his first rehab appearance for the Sounds, and RHP Ryan Doolittle got the final six outs to complete the 5-hit shutout. Center fielder Jaycob Brugman had a big night at the plate, belting his 3rd home run for the Sounds while also collecting a pair of doubles and driving in 3 runs. Catcher Bruce Maxwell and shortstop Chad Pinder both homered, doubled and drove in a pair to help Nashville maintain its 5-game lead in the Pacific Coast League American Southern division over rival Round Rock. In other news, Nashville’s Zach Neal and Max Muncy were both recalled by the A’s on Friday, while Oakland starter Jesse Hahn was optioned back to the Sounds. And Beloit starter James Naile was reassigned to Nashville to make Saturday’s start for Daniel Mengden, who is expected to make his major league debut for the A’s on Saturday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Thursday, June 2nd: Alcantara & Barreto Combine to Help Hounds Win while Pinder Has 3 Hits & Maxwell Homers in Sounds Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Raul Alcantara (7 2/3 IP / 8 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Raul Alcantara (7 2/3 IP / 8 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / Win)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Springfield Cardinals     3

Midland RockHounds  5

WP – Alcantara 5-3 / 3.90

HR – Barreto (5)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Raul Alcantara

(7 2/3 IP / 8 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 4 K / Win)

RHP Raul Alcantara turned in an impressive start for the RockHounds on Thursday. The 23-year-old held Springfield scoreless through the first 5 innings and ended up allowing just 1 run while walking none over 7 2/3 innings to earn his 5th win. Alcantara’s command was on point as he threw 72 strikes and just 21 balls on Thursday. Shortstop Franklin Barreto had a big night at the plate, collecting a single, a double and an inside-the-park home run while driving in 3 runs for the RockHounds. Catcher Beau Taylor, second baseman Wade Kirkland and designated hitter Danny Oh had a pair of hits apiece for Midland.

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Friday, May 20th: Daniel Gossett Pitches Ports to Shutout Victory while Daniel Mengden Twirls Another Gem as Sounds Win 6th Straight

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Daniel Gossett (7 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 9 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Pitcher Daniel Gossett (7 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 9 K / Win)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Visalia Rawhide   0

Stockton Ports   7

WP – Gossett 3-1 / 3.18

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Daniel Gossett

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

2014’s 2nd-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Daniel Gossett, delivered his best start so far this season, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 over 7 scoreless innings as Stockton shut out Visalia on Friday to snap a 3-game losing streak. Gossett allowed just one baserunner in the 1st, 4th, 5th and 7th innings and never let a runner past second base in his 7 innings of work. LHP Cody Stull came on to get the final six outs for the Ports. Left fielder James Harris reached base 5 times, on 3 singles, a double and a walk, and drove in a pair, while center fielder Seth Brown had a pair of doubles, a single and a walk and drove in a run for the Ports.

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Thursday, May 19th: Jake Smolinski’s Late HR Helps Sounds Win while Matt Chapman & Franklin Barreto Both Homer for Hounds

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Outfielder Jake Smolinski (3 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Outfielder Jake Smolinski (3 for 4 / HR / Double / 2 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  5

Nashville Sounds         6

WP – Kurcz 2-0 / 11.25

HR – Smolinski (3)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Jake Smolinski

(3 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

With the game tied 5-5, center fielder Jake Smolinski led off the bottom of the 8th inning by slugging his 3rd home run of the season to provide the winning run for the Sounds on Thursday. Smolinski also doubled in a run in the 3rd and singled but was caught trying to steal home in the 6th. Shortstop Chad Pinder drove in 2 runs, including the go-ahead run in the 7th, and collected 4 hits in 4 at-bats. The 24-year-old had been 2 for 17 in 5 games through last Friday but has now gone 10 for 18 in his last 5 games since then. Third baseman Renato Nunez doubled in a pair to briefly give Nashville the lead in the 3rd, while first baseman Rangel Ravelo walked twice and scored twice, and second baseman Joey Wendle singled, doubled, scored a run and was picked off first base in the 1st. Starter Eric Surkamp allowed 3 runs over 5 innings of work in his first start since being optioned back to Nashville, while RHP Aaron Kurcz vultured his 2nd win for the Sounds after giving up 2 runs in the 8th to surrender the lead, and RHP Tucker Healy pitched a perfect 9th to pick up his 2nd save. In other news, catcher Bruce Maxwell was activated from the disabled list on Thursday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Thursday, May 12th: Renato Nunez Notches Inside-The-Park Grand Slam in Nashville Victory while Midland & Beloit Both Prevail in Extras

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Renato Nunez (3 for 4 / Grand Slam / Double)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds 3B Renato Nunez (3 for 4 / Grand Slam / Double)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds  7

Iowa Cubs               2

WP – Hahn 1-1 / 1.93

HR – Nunez (7)

Prospect Of The Game:

Third Baseman Renato Nunez

(3 for 4 / Grand Slam / Double)

Thrid baseman Renato Nunez hit a rare inside-the-park grand slam for the Sounds on Thursday. In the top of the 6th inning, Nunez drove a ball off the left field wall that Iowa left fielder John Andreoli claimed was lodged under the wall, but Nunez and the other Sounds runners just kept going. And when the umpire ruled that the ball was playable, Nunez was credited with the grand slam. The 22-year-old also doubled, singled and walked in the game and lifted his batting average to an even .300. Left fielder Max Muncy singled, doubled, drew a pair of walks and scored 3 times. RHP Jesse Hahn turned in a strong start in his return to the Sounds, allowing just 1 run while striking out 5 over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. Meanwhile, catcher Bruce Maxwell, who was placed on the 7-day disabled list after an awkward slide last weekend led to some shoulder irritation, is expected to return to action early next week.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Wednesday, May 11th: Angel Duno’s 6 Shutout Frames Help Snappers Salvage Doubleheader Split while Renato Nunez Hits 6th HR in Sounds Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Angel Duno (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 6 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Angel Duno (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 6 K / Win)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

GAME #2

Peoria Chiefs        0

Beloit Snappers  4

WP – Duno 3-1 / 1.80

HR – Iriart (6)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Angel Duno

(6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 6 K / Win)

RHP Angel Duno delivered another impressive start for the Snappers to help his team salvage a split of Wednesday’s doubleheader in Beloit. The 22-year-old Venezuelan allowed 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 6 over 6 shutout innings to earn his 3rd win on Wednesday. Duno has now allowed just 7 earned runs over 7 appearances while walking just 4 and striking out 32 in 35 innings of work. RHP Cody Kurz tossed a scoreless 7th to complete the 7-inning shutout. Designated hitter Jesus Lopez tripled with two outs in the 2nd to clear the bases and give Beloit an early 3-run lead, and first baseman Chris Iriart slugged his 6th home run for the Snappers.

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Saturday, April 9th: Daniel Mengden’s 6 Shutout Innings, Ryon Healy’s 3 RBIs & Matt Chapman’s HR Help Hounds Win while Sounds Break up No-Hit Bid

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Daniel Mengden (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 3 BB / 8 K)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Daniel Mengden (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 3 BB / 8 K)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  4

Arkansas Travelers        1

WP – Kurcz 1-0 / 0.00

HR – Chapman (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Daniel Mengden

(6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 3 BB / 8 K)

RHP Daniel Mengden was impressive in his Double-A debut for Midland on Saturday. The 23-year-old Texas native, acquired from Houston in the Scott Kazmir deal, struck out 8 while tossing 6 scoreless frames and left the game with a one-run lead. Third baseman Matt Chapman smacked his 1st home run of the season in the top of the 6th inning to give the RockHounds the edge. But RHP Corey Walter surrendered a run in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game. And the match remained knotted until the top of the 9th when the RockHounds loaded the bases. Then, with two outs and the game tied, first baseman Ryon Healy doubled to left field to clear the bases and give the Hounds a solid 3-run advantage. RHP Aaron Kurcz pitched a perfect 8th and 9th to keep Arkansas in check and pick up the win for Midland. Meanwhile, RHP Joel Seddon is set to make the start for the RockHounds in his Double-A debut on Sunday.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton & Beloit…

Catching Up With The M Squad: Sean Manaea, Max Muncy & Bruce Maxwell

sm640455cSean Manaea was acquired from Kansas City last summer in the Ben Zobrist trade and immediately became the A’s top pitching prospect. He posted a 1.90 ERA in 7 starts for Double-A Midland last season and is expected to start the year atop Triple-A Nashville’s starting rotation. The big lefty has looked impressive in the major league camp this spring and it may not be long before Manaea ends up making his debut in the green and gold.

AF:  This is your first time pitching in big league camp with the A’s. So how’s the experience been for you so far?

SM:  It’s awesome. It’s really, really cool seeing all these guys on TV and then being here with them – that blows my mind everyday. It really is awesome, expecially when you have great pitchers like Sean Doolittle, Sonny Gray and Jesse Hahn – it’s unreal. I’m just trying to figure out as much as I can and pick their brains as much as I can while I’m here, so I can take it into the season and hopefully make it to the big leagues. That’s the ultimate goal is just to make it to the big leagues. But right now, it’s really awesome. I’m just trying to have a good time and have fun.

AF:  Well, it sounds like you’re definitely not taking it for granted anyway!

SM:  Yeah, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. You don’t know how long you’re going to be here or what could happen. So I enjoy soaking up all I can every single day.

AF:  Is there anything in particular you’ve picked up here this spring that you know you’ll be able to carry forward with you into the coming season?

SM:  Yeah, just like the mentality stuff. Like [John] Axford, I was talking to him about his curveball, because a couple bullpens ago, I was having a hard time trying to throw it for strikes. So I was talking to him about it and just about tweaking pitches. And he told me that he was tweaking one of his pitches in the bullpen before he went in the game. And wow, that’s pretty crazy – just doing something a couple pitches before you get in the game. So that’s something that I’ve definitely thought about a lot and I could definitely be using that throughout the season.

AF:  So just learning how to make those constant adjustments.

SM:  Yeah, constant adjustments – that’s what the game’s all about.

AF:  How much time have you spent with A’s pitching coach Curt Young this spring and what has he had to impart to you?

SM:  I’ve been out here since January, and he’s pretty much been out here the whole time too. So pretty much every bullpen I’ve had and every time I’ve played catch, he’s been out there. He’s just been helping me a lot – talking about changeups, talking about pitching and stuff like that. It’s just been really, really cool what he’s had to say to me. So I’ve just been soaking up all I can about what he’s said.

AF:  Now you’re known to have a pretty good fastball and to throw pretty hard. But do you pay much attention to the actual velocity of your fastball or how hard you’re actually throwing it at any given time?

SM:  I don’t really worry about that stuff…The main focus for me is trying to minimize walks. That’s something I’ve kind of had problems with throughout my career. So just trying to minimize walks and be more consistent with my pitches, that’s what I’m really focused on. I know the velo will most likely be there.

AF:  Where do you feel you’re at with your secondary stuff at this stage in the spring?

SM:  Right now, my changeup feels really good coming out of my hand. I feel like I really have a good grip on it – a good feeling in my head and in my hand – and it’s doing what I want it to. So that’s where I want it to be, especially since I never really had a changeup before. And then the slider, it’s coming. There’ll be times when it’s good but then I feel like most of time it’s been kind of bad. So I’ve just got to worry about getting that right grip and being able to get that good feeling back in my hand. So that’s something that I have to be working on these next couple weeks before the season starts.

AF:  Is there anyone here who throws a slider who’s been able to offer any helpful advice?

SM:  Yeah, I’ve been talking to everybody and just trying to see what they have to say. With like [John] Axford and Ryan Madson, I was talking about tweaking pitches and what they would do if something’s not feeling right. And they told me maybe I’ve just got to do a completely different grip just to start things fresh. So, maybe I have to! It’s something I’ve been working on these past couple days.

AF:  You’ve gotten plenty of time in the big league camp and gotten into plenty of games. So how do you feel about getting to spend as much time on the mound here in the big league camp as you have?

SM:  I feel really great! Just being up here as long as I can, just trying to pick people’s brains and talk to them about how they go about their business – that’s something I’m really, really happy about. Just to be able to be up here and be with the big leaguers, that’s what I’m really most excited about.

AF:  Now assuming you start the season in Nashville, that’s not really all that far from where you’re from in Indiana. So are you looking forward to having some of your family being able to come see you this season?

SM:  Yeah, I think it’s only about three and a half or four hours from where my girlfriend lives. And then for my family, it’s only like a six or seven hour trip. So that’s not bad at all, especially since I’ve been playing in like Texas and Delaware and places like that. So I’m really looking forward to that and just having them be able to come and watch me play. That’s something I’m really excited about.

AF:  So is there anything in particular that you really want to work on or try to accomplish in the coming season?

SM:  I would say just keeping down the walks. I’ve had problems with that. I feel like that starts with my mechanics – maybe I have to smooth things out or maybe do something different with my arm. That’s something I’m really harping on, especially at the beginning, because if you start off well it’ll carry on through the rest of the season. So that’s the biggest focus for me is keeping down the walks and being more consistent with my off-speed stuff. So that’s what I’ve really been focused on since the beginning of the year.

AF:  Well, if you can do that, then I guess everything else probably ought to fall right into place!

 

mm571970bMax Muncy was the first member of Oakland’s 2012 draft class to reach the major leagues with the A’s when he made his big league debut last April. Muncy’s stock in trade has always been his keen eye at the plate. Originally drafted as a first baseman, the 25-year-old Texan has been learning to play third base over the past couple of seasons. And now this spring, the A’s are also trying to break him in at second base.

AF:  Now you were up and down between Nashville and the major leagues a few times last season. Was there anything in particular that you learned from that experience?

MM:  There’s always something that you can learn. For the most part, I was still relatively young in my career at the major league level, so there’s little things I can learn all the time. Last year, I was really trying to learn how to kind of prepare myself for games and how to get ready to come off the bench and how to be a guy who’s not going to be in the lineup everyday. That was something I’d never done before, so I had to learn how to do it. And I think every time I went up, I had to learn more and more about how to take care of that problem. And there’s always stuff that you can learn from those big guys up there, even if it’s not from your own teammates, guys you’re playing against on the road. One of the times I was up last year, we were in Arizona and I got to see [Paul] Goldschmidt go about his business, and he’s one of the best out there. So there’s always things you can  take from guys, whether it’s your own team or the other team.

AF:  You spent a lot of time learning to play third base last season. Are you still learning things there and are you starting to feel a little more comfortable over there now?

MM:  I’m still learning things there but, now that I’ve had some time to actually really work at it, I feel probably about a hundred times more comfortable than I did last year. And I think it’s showing a little bit this spring. It feels more like a natural position now. It doesn’t feel like it’s still something I’m learning – now it feels likes it’s there. It’s just one of those things that takes time and takes reps, and it takes game reps sometimes for that.

AF:  Well, they’ve been starting to stick you out there at second base now. So how’s that been going?

MM:  Well, you know, we’re still learning that one. But I think hopefully I’ve proven that, if you give me enough time to work on something, I can get good at it. So, second base is just one of those things that I’m going to need some time to work at it – I’m going to need some reps – but I feel it’s something that I can really pick up. It’s not a completely foreign position to me, having played it in high school, I know somewhat what I’m doing there. It’s just getting reps back at that position, having someone slide into you when you’re turning a double play – those kind of things.

AF:  Have you been spending much time working with Ron Washington in the field this spring?

MM:  Yeah, every morning. We actually split it up – we do one morning at second, one morning at third. We go back and forth every single morning. And it’s been a lot of fun working with him. He really knows what he’s talking about.

AF:  Is there anything in particular that he’s been focusing on with you?

MM:  Really just focus on the basic fundamentals – that’s something that he teaches evey single morning. A lot of coaches like to go out there and try to teach the advanced stuff, how to do certain plays. He really reiterates doing the basic fundamentals every single morning – just fielding a ground ball right at you, using your hands, just getting your feet involved. He tries to really ingrain that in your head. And that’s the kind of the thing I take away from him is to really focus on the fundamentals. And if you can do that, then the more advanced stuff just kind of comes on its own.

AF:  So what have you been focused on trying to do at the plate this spring?

MM:  Staying short and quick. The last couple years, I feel like I’ve kind of gotten away from my swing being real short and quick, with quick hands. I feel like I’ve gotten a little too big, and so I’m trying to get back to that this spring. And I feel like I’ve been doing a really good job of it. I’ve had a lot of hard contact…balls aren’t falling for me, but I’m just saving that for the season.

AF:  Well, just give it time. It all evens out, right?

MM:  Yep!

AF:  Is there anything in particular the coaching staff has been working on with you or trying to get you to do this spring?

MM:  We’re always working on that outside pitch – that’s something I’ve always struggled with. We started working on it last year – me and [A’s hitting coach Darren] Bush. And this year we’re still working on it – just being able to drive that low and outside pitch and not pull off of it and get a little more power to the opposite field.

AF:  Going forward, is there anything in particular that you’re really looking to focus on this season?

MM:  Well, my defense obviously. That’s something that’s been a work in progress over the last year or so, so obviously I’m going to be working on that. But I think one thing I really want to get back to is cutting down my strikeouts and getting back to a high walk rate, which I feel like last year, just getting out of rhythm, might have gotten away from me a little bit. And I want to get back to that this year – not chasing bad pitches. I got into a problem last year chasing some off-speed pitches down in the dirt, and hopefully I can get away from that this year.

 

bm622194bBruce Maxwell was a 2nd-round pick for the A’s in the 2012 draft. In his first few years in the A’s system, the focus was primarily on developing his catching skills. But this spring, Maxwell has impressed both at the plate and behind the plate while in major league camp with the A’s.

AF:  So how’s it been for you getting some time in big league camp this year?

BM:  It’s been going great, man. It’s the best year I’ve had, health-wise, performance-wise. I just feel very confident rolling into this season.

AF:  You’ve obviously made some big strides defensively behind the plate, and you’ve impressed the coaching staff here this spring. Bob Melvin has had lots of nice things to say about you lately. So how are you feeling about your work behind the plate these days?

BM:  I feel amazing. I feel better than ever. It’s a big confidence booster. And now I can try to channel a little more of my focus on my hitting, since my catching is more natural, more comfortable.

AF:  So you don’t have to spend as much time thinking about it now – you can just do it.

BM:  Correct.

AF:  So have you learned a lot from being around the big league veterans in camp and have you spent a lot of time with catching coach Marcus Jensen this spring?

BM:  Marcus is always with me. I tell people that Marcus is my creator. Ever since day one, I’ve been with Marcus. He always makes sure that I’m really sharp behind the plate and makes sure that everything’s refined. And honestly, just being around these guys and just kind of learning how to be a big leaguer – the consistency, the work ethic, the routines every morning. And over time, the more and more time I get behind the plate, the better I’ve gotten.

AF:  Have you spent much time talking with the big league catchers here, Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley? Have they had much to offer you?

BM:  Yeah, they’re very open individuals. If they see something, they give us a suggestion. If you ever have a question, they’re always open to answer it. Whether we’re at the field or not, their phones are always on and they’re always willing to help us younger guys.

AF:  What’s the difference between the kind of pitching you’re used to seeing in the minor leagues and the kind of pitching you’ve been facing here in the major league camp?

BM:  Besides the name on the back of the jersey, not much. Yes, they execute a little more and their stuff is a little sharper, a little tighter, a little more accurate. But, at the same time, it’s still the same game. I faced a few really good guys with the Cubs, and they get paid a lot of money to be that good…that time they got me, next time I’ll get them.

AF:  You spent the season at Midland last year, which isn’t exactly known as a hitter’s paradise. What kind of challenges does a hitter face playing there at Midland?

BM:  Every one you can possibly find! Between the wind blowing in, the ball not flying anywhere, it teaches you how to become a very good hitter, very accurate hitter, very efficient hitter. When it comes to fly balls, a lot of them don’t get out. It just teaches you a different way of hitting. It almost trains you to be a complete hitter, in all aspects, because that’s about the only way you’re going to put up the numbers there.

AF:  I guess if you can hit there, you can hit anywhere!

BM:  Correct.

AF:  I know you caught Sean Manaea in Midland last year. I’m not sure if you’ve caught him or had the chance to see much of him here in camp this spring. But I’m curious to know, as a catcher, what you feel his greatest strengths are and what impresses you most about him.

BM:  His confidence…he goes on the mound knowing he’s better than whoever he faces. And he lets his ball work. He’s got life on his fastball. He’s just very efficient. The ball jumps out of his hand – it really does. He’s got a wipeout slider and a very good changeup. He just has confidence, and he just goes out on the mound and does his job. And he’s the first person to pick you up. He doesn’t really take it too serious but, at the same time, it is his job and he’s very, very good at it.

AF:  And it seems like he has fun along the way too!

BM:  Oh yeah, he’s a live character – that’s for sure, that’s for sure!

AF:  Well, it’s always good to have a few of those around – it’s a long season.

BM:  Exactly. And he’s been like that since college.

AF:  Now going forward into the season, what are you thinking about heading into the year ahead?

BM:  Progressing – being that guy. I want to continue what I’m doing here in spring and carry that over into the season, and keep progressing behind the plate and keep progressing at the plate. My bat’s going to play a little better this year. That’s the goal – that’s what I’ve worked on. And I know my catching’s always going to play if I keep it as consistent as it has been.

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Bob Melvin Gives the Lowdown on the A’s Top Prospects

DSC04403bIn his pre-game press conferences in recent days, A’s manager Bob Melvin has had plenty of opportunities to offer his perspective on the plethora of A’s prospects who’ve appeared in the big league camp with the team this spring. No one has had as good a view of the current crop of prospects as the A’s skipper, and it’s clear that he’s liked what he’s seen…

 

On what’s impressed him most about young prospects Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto this spring…

Everything! Really. As comfortable as they are playing in games – usually for younger players…just to be in big league camp should be an honor for them – but to be able to play as much as they have and produce like that? I remember when I was that age, I was just happy to be around, let alone playing in games like that. You can tell when they’re out there in the field, they’re not in awe of anything. They’re very respectful of who they’re playing with and the opportunities that they’re given here this spring, but they’re not scared of it. And both of them have really impressed – they’ve both swung the bat very well. It’s about as impressive a swing out of Barreto as I’ve seen all camp, whether it’s in batting practice or in the game. So they come as advertised. When we talk about younger prospects who are some of the better ones in the game, both these guys definitely are.

 

On Franklin Barreto’s future defensive prospects…

I think he’s a shortstop. He does like to play the outfield too. But one of the things that we wanted to do was keep him at one position in big league camp. I know he likes center field a little bit. We’ll see where it goes, but once you have a guy you feel can play shortstop, he’d have to play his way off there, and it doesn’t look like he will.

 

On Chad Pinder’s future defensive prospects…

Pinder’s already played different positions for us and has the ability to play second, short and third. So we look at him to be more versatile than we do Barreto right now. And Pinder even told me that he could play the outfield too. We don’t need him to do it right now. But he’s tried to do everything he can to impress us this camp. You’re talking about the Texas League player of the year. He had a great year last year. I would say he’s someone we’ll move around more than we will Barreto.

 

On Tyler Ladendorf

The injuries last year kind of set him back…and then at the end when he came back, he still wasn’t fully healthy yet. I’ve not seen him play better than he’s playing right now. He gives you great versatility. There are guys who give you versatility where they’re maybe not so great at certain positions – that is not the case with him. He can play short, he can play second very well, he can play center field, he can play any of the outfield spots. He’s one of those guys, when you talk about versatility, he does it all very well.

 

On catcher Bruce Maxwell’s performance this spring…

I was a little worried about him going [to play for Germany in the World Baseball Classic]. He was getting an opportunity to play here and was taking advantage of it. And you know, sometimes when you go away and you’re not here, other guys get some opportunities. But he did well, so we’re looking forward to getting him back and getting him some more opportunities, because he’s another guy who’s taken advantage of the opportunities that he’s had here this camp…He is a guy who has made us look at this thing differently based on what he’s done this camp. You’re always looking to add whatever depth you can at certain positions, and it looked like we were a little short at the catching position. But now we look at him differently, as a potential option for us, which is good to see. He’s a left-hander, he’s got some power, he does a nice job behind the plate, he uses the whole field. So it’s good to know that we have somebody we feel the potential is there, if something happened injury-wise or whatever, that we’d have a guy to draw from – he and Carson Blair.

 

On pitcher Sean Manaeas performance this spring…

He’s been pitching well, and making adjustments. Like in the last game, he really didn’t have a breaking ball at all. He came in in relief, which he’s not used to doing, and he basically pitched on fastball/changeup and had success doing it. You find out a lot about yourself when you’re a young kid getting your first taste of big league camp and one of your pitches isn’t working and you’re able to get by and have some success with what is maybe your third-best pitch. Each and every time he’s out there, we get to take a longer look at him and evaluate him and form an opinion on him. And to this point, it’s a very high opinion…He just needs to pitch. He’s very aware of what works for him and what doesn’t. He takes instruction well…and in an organization that’s had a lot of great heads of hair, he’s right up there!

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