Tag: Gil Patterson

A’s 2018 Minor League Staff

 

Nashville Sounds manager Fran Riordan

Nashville Sounds manager
Fran Riordan

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (Triple-A)

Manager: Fran Riordan

Pitching Coach: Rick Rodriguez

Hitting Coach: Eric Martins

Fran Riordan, 42, will manage at the Triple-A level for the first time after leading the Double-A Midland RockHounds to a Texas League title in 2017. It was the fourth consecutive championship for Oakland’s Double-A affiliate. The 2018 season will be Riordan’s fourth in the Athletics organization. Prior to 2017 with Midland, he managed Single-A Beloit in 2015 and 2016 after a 14-year career managing in the independent Frontier and Northern Leagues. Riordan sports a career managerial mark of 869-857 (.503) over 17 seasons dating back to 2000. He takes over the manager role vacated by Ryan Christenson who was hired as the bench coach for Oakland. Rick Rodriguez, 57, returns to Nashville for a third season as pitching coach for the Sounds. He helped lead the Sounds to the 2016 American Southern Division Championship and has helped 14 Sounds pitchers make their Major League debut over the last two years. Prior to Nashville, Rodriguez spent one season serving in the same role with Advanced-A Stockton. He was Triple-A Sacramento’s pitching coach for 12 seasons, including his most recent stint in 2013-14. Rodriguez also served as the A’s bullpen coach from 2011-12 and as the manager of Advanced-A Modesto in 2003. Eric Martins, 46, returns to Nashville for a third season as the Sounds’ hitting coach. He has helped develop hitters such as Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chad Pinder and Franklin Barreto over the last two seasons. Martins served in the same role with Double-A Midland in 2015. Prior to his one season in Midland, he was a scout for the A’s since 2007. During his time as a scout, Martins was responsible for signing A.J. Griffin, Daniel Robertson and Chapman. Athletic trainer Brad LaRosa and strength and conditioning coach Henry Torres also return to Nashville after being with the Sounds in 2017.

 

Midland RockHounds manager Scott Steinmann

Midland RockHounds manager
Scott Steinmann

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (Double-A)

Manager: Scott Steinmann

Pitching Coach: Steve Connelly

Hitting Coach: Tommy Everidge

Scott Steinmann takes over at Midland after joining the Oakland organization as manager at Single-A Beloit in 2017. Prior to joining the A’s organization, he spent 17 seasons on various coaching staffs in the Seattle Mariners farm system, including nine seasons as a manager. Steve Connelly and Tommy Everidge move from Single-A Stockton to Midland in 2017 to take over as pitching and hitting coaches respectively. Justin Whitehouse returns as athletic trainer and Omar Aguilar joins the club from Beloit as strength and conditioning coach.

 

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

Stockton Ports manager
Rick Magnante

STOCKTON PORTS (High-A)

Manager: Rick Magnante

Pitching Coach: Bryan Corey

Hitting Coach: Brian McArn

Rick Magnante returns as manager at Single-A Stockton for the fourth consecutive season and is in his 22nd season in the A’s organization. Prior to Stockton, Magnante served as the manager of Class-A Beloit in 2014 after spending eight seasons with the A’s short-season teams in Vermont (2011-2013) and Vancouver (2006-2010). Pitching coach Bryan Corey moves up from Short-Season Vermont and hitting coach Brian McArn joins the club from Midland. Shane Zdebiak returns as athletic trainer and Matt Mosiman joins the A’s organization as the Ports strength and conditioning coach.

 

Beloit Snappers manager Webster Garrison

Beloit Snappers manager
Webster Garrison

BELOIT SNAPPERS (Class-A)

Manager: Webster Garrison

Pitching Coach: Don Schulze

Hitting Coach: Juan Dilone

Webster Garrison is the new manager at Beloit after helming the A’s Arizona Rookie League club in 2017. It will be his 20th season as a coach or manager in the A’s farm system. Don Schulze moves from Midland to take over as pitching coach, Juan Dilone returns for his third consecutive season as hitting coach and Brian Thorson returns for his 35th season in the A’s organization as an athletic trainer.

 

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

Vermont Lake Monsters manager
Aaron Nieckula

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS (Class-A Short-Season)

Manager: Aaron Nieckula

Pitching Coach: Carlos Chavez

Hitting Coach: Lloyd Turner

Aaron Nieckula returns for his fourth season as manager at Vermont and his 12th season managing in the A’s farm system. He also serves as spring training and instructional league coordinator. Carlos Chavez takes over as pitching coach after spending 2017 at Beloit, while hitting coach Lloyd Turner and athletic trainer Toshiaki Nagahara also return to Vermont.

 

AZL A's pitching coach Gabriel Ozuna

AZL A’s pitching coach
Gabriel Ozuna

ARIZONA LEAGUE A’S (Rookie Short-Season)

Manager: Eddie Menchaca

Pitching Coach: Gabriel Ozuna

Hitting Coach: Ruben Escalera

Eddie Menchaca will manage the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League after spending nine seasons in the Seattle Mariners organization. He compiled a 441-460 record in seven seasons as a manager, most recently at Single-A Bakersfield in 2016. Pitching coach Gabriel Ozuna, hitting coach Ruben Escalera, coach Gabe Ortiz and athletic trainer Chris Lessner all return in 2018. Matt Rutledge takes over as strength and conditioning coach.

 

Traveling instructor  Steve Scarsone

Traveling instructor
Steve Scarsone

Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Gil Patterson

Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Jim Eppard

Minor League Defensive Coordinator: Juan Navarette

Minor League Instruction Coordinator: Ed Sprague

Minor League Traveling Instructor: Steve Scarsone

Minor League Traveling Instructor: Hiram Bocachica

Minor League Field Coordinator: Aaron Nieckula

Minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, minor league hitting coordinator Jim Eppard, minor league defensive coordinator Juan Navarette, minor league instruction coordinator Ed Sprague, minor league field coordinator Aaron Nieckula and traveling instructor Steve Scarsone all return in their same player development roles. In addition, the A’s have hired Hiram Bocachica as a traveling instructor.

(Information provided by A’s Media Relations, Sounds Media Relations and Ports Media Relations)

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s 2017 Minor League Staff

 

Nashville Sounds manager Ryan Christenson

Nashville Sounds manager Ryan Christenson

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (Triple-A)

Manager: Ryan Christenson

Pitching Coach: Rick Rodriguez

Hitting Coach: Eric Martins

Ryan Christenson was named manager at Triple-A Nashville after guiding Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League Championships in 2015-16.  He began his managerial career in the A’s farm system in 2013 and has a 323-236 (.578) record while leading his clubs to postseason appearances in all four of his seasons.  Christenson is currently managing the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.  Rick Rodriguez (pitching coach), Eric Martins (hitting coach) and Brad LaRosa (athletic trainer) return to the Nashville staff while Henry Torres joins the club as strength and conditioning coach.

 

 

Midland RockHounds manager Fran Riordan

Midland RockHounds manager Fran Riordan

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (Double-A)

Manager: Fran Riordan

Pitching Coach: John Wasdin

Hitting Coach: Brian McArn

Fran Riordan replaces Christensen at the helm of Midland after managing at Single-A Beloit the previous two seasons.  Prior to that, he managed for 14 season in independent leagues.  John Wasdin (pitching coach), Brian McArn (hitting coach) and Justin Whitehouse (athletic trainer) return to Midland and Matt Rutledge joins the staff as strength and conditioning coach. [UPDATE: Pitching coach John Wasdin has joined the Baltimore organization as pitching coordinator, and Beloit pitching coach Don Schulze will now move up to serve as Midland’s pitching coach.]

 

 

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

STOCKTON PORTS (High-A)

Manager: Rick Magnante

Pitching Coach: Steve Connelly

Hitting Coach: Tommy Everidge

Rick Magnante returns as manager at Single-A Stockton for the third consecutive season and is in his 21st season in the A’s organization.  Steve Connelly (pitching coach), Tommy Everidge (hitting coach) and Sean Doran (strength and conditioning coach) also return to Stockton.  An athletic trainer to replace Travis Tims will be determined at a later date.

 

 

Beloit Snappers pitching coach Don Schulze

Beloit Snappers pitching coach Don Schulze

BELOIT SNAPPERS (Class-A)

Manager: Scott Steinmann

Pitching Coach: Don Schulze

Hitting Coach: Juan Dilone

Scott Steinmann joins the Oakland organization as manager of the Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League.  Steinmann had spent his entire professional baseball career, which began in 1996 as a player, in the Seattle organization.  His first coaching assignment came in 1999 at Everett of the Northwest League and he spent 17 seasons on various coaching staffs in the Mariners farm system, including nine seasons as a manager.  His most recent assignment was in 2015 at the helm of Single-A Clinton.  Don Schulze (pitching coach), Juan Dilone (hitting coach) and Brian Thorson (athletic trainer) return to Beloit and Omar Aguilar takes over as strength and conditioning coach. [UPDATE: With Midland pitching coach John Wasdin joining the Baltimore organization as pitching coordinator, Beloit pitching coach Don Schulze will now move up to serve as Midland’s pitching coach. And Carlos Chavez has been promoted from Vermont to take over as Beloit’s new pitching coach.]

 

 

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS (Class-A Short-Season)

Manager: Aaron Nieckula

Pitching Coach: Carlos Chavez

Hitting Coach: Lloyd Turner

The coaching staff at Short Season Single-A Vermont remains the same with Aaron Nieckula as manager, Carlos Chavez as pitching coach and Lloyd Turner as hitting coach.  Toshi Nagahara returns as athletic trainer and J.D. Howell will be the new strength and conditioning coach. [UPDATE: With Carlos Chavez moving up to serve as Beloit’s pitching coach, Bryan Corey will now take over as Vermont’s new pitching coach.]

 

 

Arizona League A's manager Webster Garrison

Arizona League A’s manager Webster Garrison

ARIZONA LEAGUE A’S (Rookie Short-Season)

Manager: Webster Garrison

Pitching Coach: Gabriel Ozuna

Hitting Coach: Ruben Escalera

The A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League will also have the same staff, including manager Webster Garrison, pitching coach Gabriel Ozuna, hitting coach Ruben Escalera, coach Gabe Ortiz, athletic trainer Chris Lessner and strength and conditioning coach Terence Brannic.

 

 

Traveling instructor Steve Scarsone

Traveling instructor Steve Scarsone

Minor League Instruction Coordinator: Ed Sprague

Minor League Traveling Instructor: Steve Scarsone

Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Jim Eppard

Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Gil Patterson

Minor League Pitching Rehab Coordinator: Craig Lefferts

Minor League Defensive Coordinator: Juan Navarrette

Minor League Field Coordinator: Aaron Nieckula

Ed Sprague was named coordinator of instruction after serving as a consultant for the A’s player development department in 2016.  He hit .247 with 152 home runs and 558 RBI in 1203 games over 11 seasons in the majors, including part of one season with Oakland in 1998.  Following his playing career, the Stockton native was the head coach at the University of the Pacific for 12 seasons from 2004-15.  Steve Scarsone, who has spent the last eight seasons managing in the A’s farm system, was named traveling instructor.  Gil Patterson, Jim Eppard, Juan Navarrette and Craig Lefferts return in their roles as pitching coordinator, hitting coordinator, defensive coordinator and pitching rehab coordinator, respectively. Nate Brooks was named medical coordinator after 12 seasons with the A’s as a minor league athletic trainer and rehab coordinator.  Travis Tims, who begins his 10th season in the Oakland organization, replaces Brooks as rehab coordinator.  A.J. Selliger will take over as strength and conditioning coordinator in his fourth season in A’s system.  Brooks and Selliger replace Jeff Collins and Josh Cuffe, who have joined the Major League staff in Oakland.

(Information provided by A’s Media Relations)

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Exclusive: Down On The Farm with A’s Special Assistant Grady Fuson

gfDSC01787-1[2c]Long-time baseball man Grady Fuson served as the A’s scouting director from 1995 until 2001, when the team drafted such talented players as Eric ChavezTim HudsonMark MulderBarry Zito and Rich Harden. He left the A’s at the end of 2001 to become the assistant general manager of the Texas Rangers and, after moving on to head up the Padres scouting department, Fuson eventually returned to the A’s a little over six years ago to serve as a special assistant to the front office.

Of course, many know Fuson as the scout in the cinematic version of Moneyball who has a dramatic confrontation with Billy Beane and ends up getting fired – though that’s not quite how it happened (which we chronicled here).

During spring training, Fuson can most frequently be found patrolling the A’s minor league fields, now located at Fitch Park in Mesa, while keeping a close eye on the team’s most prized prospects. And it was there that we took the opportunity to pick the brain of one of baseball’s top talent evaluators to get the scoop on some of the A’s top hitting and pitching prospects…

 

AF:  The A’s have had a big crop of talented young players passing through the major league camp this year. So is it exciting to have a bunch of young guys like that around who are right on the cusp of breaking through?

GF:  Well the good thing is, after the trades last year, there’s a different look to the system now that there’s been some trades and we’ve brought some talent back. And last year’s draft looks looks like it’s panning out. So, within one year, you’ve seen the talent base come back pretty strong…That whole crew that was in Double-A last year – Nunez and Pinder and Olson – it’s a good group. And now there’s more depth coming in from behind.

AF:  Well, let me ask you about some of those guys in particular. Chad Pinder, whom I know you’ve always been high on, had a big year in the Texas League last year, which isn’t easy for anyone to do. And he’s had the chance to spend a lot of time in the big league camp. So what have you been seeing out of him this spring?

cp640461bGF:  He’s had a great camp. And the most impressive thing is all the early work and side work that [A’s infield coach] Ron Washington does in the backfields. Wash really didn’t know him, and Wash has been really, really impressed. And he agrees with me – there’s no reason why this guy can’t play a major league shortstop. He’s had a good camp. His at-bats have been good – they’ve been quality. I think he’s made a very positive impression on everybody.

AF:  It looks like he’ll be the primary shortstop at Nashville this year. But do you think he’ll be seeing a little time at other spots as well just to continue developing his versatility?

GF:  Yeah, it’s important to keep his versatility, for when he’s ready to make the next jump. So he’s going to play some second base, maybe he goes and plays third a little bit, but he’ll be a primary shortstop – he’s earned it.

AF:  Now what about Renato Nunez? He was able to keep his power numbers up at Midland last year, which is no small feat. But what does he still need to be working on at this point?

rn600524dGF: He’s working much better as far as his practice time, his B.P. time, his drill work. He’s trying to stay centered, trying to hit the ball to the middle of the field and to the opposite field. His natural move is to the pull side of the field, so there’s that deep count, breaking ball thing that kind of gets him in trouble. And his footwork with his throwing, his hands and his actions – his reactions have really improved over the years. He’s getting better with his feet, but there’s still some things with his throwing, getting his legs underneath him and his stride and tempo and pace, to improve his accuracy.

AF:  So do you think we’re still primarily going to be seeing him at third base this year? Or do you think he’s going end up getting much time at first base?

GF:  Probably mostly third. But everybody has to be versatile to some degree, so he’s probably going to have to go over there from time to time. If [Max] Muncy’s in Triple-A, we’ll see how that whole thing works itself out.

AF:  Matt Olson has gotten a good amount of time in the big league camp this spring, and he’s set to start out the year at Nashville. I’d like to know what you’ve been seeing out him lately and what you think he’s got to do to take things to the next level?

mo621566bGF:  Nothing’s really different – you know, defending, doing all the things he does well. And he’s showed some power. At the same time, the swing-and-miss, sometimes that catches up to him a little bit. But the bottom line is, he goes over there and some of those things get exposed and it just reminds us all what needs to happen to make this guy complete. He’s still young, he’s still learning, and he’s at a higher level of baseball now. But he comes to play, he does all the right things, and he never takes his offense to his defense. So he just needs to get his at-bats and get things going.

AF:  He played a lot of right field, particularly in the second half, at Midland last season. Do you think we’re going to end up seeing as much of him in the outfield as first base at Nashville this year?

GF: Yeah, I think that’ll take place as the season goes on. He’s an above average first baseman. He can play the outfield, but his defense lies at first. So it’s all going to depend on the depth of that club in the outfield and what’s needed out there. It’s certainly not a bad idea that he continues to go out there from time to time. But nobody’s trying to make him a full-time outfielder.

AF:  Now second baseman Joey Wendle was at Nashville all last season, but he never got a September call-up. So what does he need to do this year to try to move up the ladder?

jw621563dGF:  If you’re asking me personally, I think he’s a very gifted instinctual hitter. This guy can square up a baseball anywhere in the strike zone. He’s jumpy, he’s aggressive. If there’s anything I would like to see him do is kind of back down and become a hair more patient. I know he loves to swing it, and he can hit it. There’s a lot of things he can hit, but he can’t hit it all with quality. There’s still some polish on some pivots that I think he can take another move with. But this guy’s a gamer, and he plays hard – he plays with his hair on fire. He had a very solid year when it was all said and done in Triple-A. So he’s waiting in the wings and trying to make some improvements on some things that he needs to work on.

AF:  So far, he’s only played exclusively at second base here. Is there any thought to trying to increase his versatility at all?

GF:  No, he’s not the kind of guy that you would see moving to short or third.

AF:  Well, I guess second base it is then! I wanted to ask you about Max Muncy, whom you mentioned earlier. Are you expecting him to basically be splitting time between first base and third base again this year at Nashville?

GF:  Yeah, we haven’t had that discussion yet, but Bob [Melvin] has used him at both in big league camp. And when you think about the personnel that’s going to Nashville, if he goes back, it’s going to have to be creative – some time at first, some time at third, some time at DH.

AF:  Last year, Tyler Ladendorf broke camp with the A’s. Then he got hurt and was sidelined for much of the season. He’s been playing a lot of center field in camp this spring…

tl502285bGF:  Yeah, and he’s shined!

AF:  Do you expect we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him in center field this year at Nashville?

GF:  Yeah, ever since a year and a half ago, that’s what we’re trying to create out of him is maybe that super utility type guy. But he’s done an absolutely fabulous job in center. They hit these balls deep in gaps, and you’ve really seen him run down some balls and be instinctual. So it’s been a positive, positive thing for him.

AF:  So, with his ability to play second base and shortstop as well, it looks like he could really be a legitimate option up the middle for you across the board.

GF:  Sure, yeah.

AF:  You don’t really have that many true center fielders at the top of the system right now, so I guess that’s a good spot to have him in. Speaking of which, do you see Jaycob Brugman spending more time in center field than in the corners this season? Where do you see him spending most of his time this year?

GF:  Probably more center this year – he plays it well. He’s one of the best we’ve got, so he’ll probably spend a lot of time there. He’ll move from time to time but right now, the way it looks, mostly center.

AF:  Okay, let’s touch on some of the younger guys. I know you always talked about Matt Chapman’s power potential, and he’s really been showing it. He had a good season at Stockton last year. And he’s spent a lot of time in the big league camp this year and he’s really been having a great spring here.

mc656305cGF:  Yeah, he’s probably been the talk of this camp. You know, every year there’s a new kid who’s fortunate enough to have a very high-performance camp, and Chapman’s been the guy. And it’s putting pressure on some of the other infielders – they’re all wanting to change positions! But he’s done well. His B.P.’s have been electric, he’s driving the ball to right-center like nobody else, and he’s just had a very, very impressive camp all around.

AF:  What kind of challenges to do you see him facing in Double-A at Midland this year?

GF:  First of all, health. Let’s just find a way to stay on the field. He’s been with us a year and a half now. The year we signed him, he kind of broke down in Beloit. Then he broke down coming in last year and missed a lot of time early and got a late start, and then broke down with the wrist. So he needs to get 500 at-bats and 140 games. But he’s doing great things. He’s starting to get a little more rhythmic with his swing – not being so rigid – and you’re starting to see the results of that. I mean, who knows what the competition’s like? With his limited amount of experience, he could have some struggles early. But hopefully he’s the kind of guy who starts to figure some things out. So, a learning first-half and a performance second-half.

AF:  Well, we’ve certainly seen that happen before.

GF:  He’s been having a performance big league camp!

AF:  Another top prospect who’ll be at Midland this season is shortstop Franklin Barreto. I remember when you were first seeing him here last spring after you guys acquired him and he ended up getting into camp late and got off to a bit of a slow start. What kind of progress have you seen out of him since then over this past year?

fb620439bGF:  Amazing. Either I was completely blind or…this guy’s not anything like it looked when he first got here a year ago. He’s got an instinct for the baseball defensively – he’s not polished yet, but that’s the least of our worries. I mean, footwork, technique – we can do a great job cleaning that stuff up. But there’s a lot of life in his bat – the ball jumps. And he’s actually throwing it a little bit better in my opinion this spring. I mean, the whole package – it’s there.

AF:  So does he maybe remind you a little bit of Miguel Tejada at this point?

GF:  Yeah, that’s a good call.

AF:  Are we going to be seeing him at any positions other than shortstop this year? Is he going to get looks at second base or in center field at all?

GF:  Yeah, depending on the health of Yairo Munoz. Munoz has kind of been tender [dealing with a lingering quad injury]. He hasn’t done much early in camp. But if they both go to Midland, then they’re both going to have some time at second at short – if that’s the way it ends up.

AF:  Yeah, David Forst had mentioned a couple months ago that maybe they both might go to Midland and end up sharing time at second and short there. But what about Munoz’s progress last year? He started out the season not so hot at Beloit, then he gets bumped up to Stockton, and suddenly he looks like a whole different guy.

ym622168bGF:  Well you know…he can be a live wire one minute and he can kind of be a downer the next. It’s just about waiting for him to grow into being a man – getting some maturity mentally. And I think that was the big change, once he left Beloit and went to a higher level of competition. You talk to [Stockton manager] Rick Magnante, and he was a model citizen in the time he was at Stockton. And it showed up in his performance – he played better in Stockton than he played in Beloit. He’s always a guy that there’s some maintenance to, but that’s what we do here. Their character, their work ethic, their maturity is as big in the coaching arena as taking B.P. and doing all the drill work. He’s an extremely talented kid, and he does things different than a lot of people. He’s strong, he’s physical – he and Chapman probably have the two best arms you’re going to see in this system.

AF:  Well, given the challenge last year, he seemed to rise to the occasion anyway.

GF: Oh, definitely.

rm621006cAF:  Another top shortstop prospect who’s been in camp this spring is your #1 pick from last year, Richie Martin. He was over in the big league camp for a while. So what have you been seeing out of him in his first spring with the organization?

GF:  We didn’t do a lot with him last summer offensively, which is what we do with most of them for a while. If we’re going to start to tinker, it usually starts in instructional league. And the only thing we did in instructional league was just tried to build some rhythm moves into his swing. And it’s coming, it’s looking better – it’s certainly coming off his bat better. He’s not cutting his swing off. Defensively, you know, this guy’s not far off. He’s got to learn the pace of the game, so that he doesn’t overcharge and things like that. But as far as the skill set, no issues.

AF:  Okay, let’s talk about a couple of pitchers. First off, Sean Manaea – everyone’s been pretty excited about him here this spring. He’s set to start the year at Triple-A Nashville. So what does he need to do to get himself to the next level?

sm640455cGF:  Right now, it looks like just stay healthy. I mean, he’s been pretty dominant since we got him. Last year in the Texas League, he had 3-4-5 dominant starts. In the [Arizona] Fall League, he had a couple of dominant starts. And he’s been dominant for the most part down here in camp as well. You know, some command issues here and there – maybe a little violent move there. When he gets the adrenaline flowing, he gets a little off line and it wreaks a little havoc sometimes with his command – but that’s part of the growing curve. But the bottom line is, this guy’s been facing big leaguers up there. It’s not like he’s been pitching in the seventh inning against non-roster call-ups. He’s faced people’s big league names, and he’s had some dominant innings.

AF:  So it sounds like it won’t be long before he’s ready.

GF:  Yeah, I wouldn’t think so.

AF:  Another left-hander who got some time in big league camp is Dillon Overton. He’s been on that post-Tommy John recovery curve for a while, but he’s looked good here in camp this spring. So where is he at now and what have you been seeing out of him?

do592614cGF:  He’s healthy. He came in and you could tell he was prepared. He was a tick firmer – a lot of 88-92s. He pitched well – he put up zeroes. I think he had 6 innings with zeroes across the board – good changeups, his breaker was working.

AF:  I was going to ask you if his velocity was up a bit, and it sounds like it is.

GF:  Yeah, it is. It’s not what some people saw prior to him being hurt, but I don’t think he needs to get all that back to be a major league guy. And this is going to be the first year when he’s going to be opened up – there’s no restrictions.

AF:  So are there any other guys you’re feeling particularly good about this year that we ought to be keeping an eye on?

GF:  Yeah, two pitchers – Daniel Gossett and Brett Graves. Graves, when we drafted him, we thought he was a 90-95ish type guy. And from day one, the velocity’s been light. Last year was not a very good year. His breaking ball comes and goes. But this guy seemed really smart, he seemed like he was really into making himself a better pitcher. Late last year, we were trying to find out, “What’s missing, why do you think your velocity’s light?” “I don’t know, I haven’t changed anything.” I said, “Something’s had to change.” “I haven’t changed anything.” Well, come to find out, he stopped long-tossing. So he went back on a long-toss program for the last month or month and a half there and stayed on it all winter. And he’s been 92-96 every time out down here – good delivery, breaker’s harder and sharper, he’s throwing tremendous. And Gossett has slowed down his pace a little bit and he’s come back firmer. And he cut his hair, so he’s got better aerodynamics coming down the mound. [Laughter]

AF:  I’d heard Gossett had maybe added a cutter too.

GF:  Well, [minor league pitching coordinator] Gil Patterson is back, so Gil gives everybody a cutter. He’s the cutter master!

AF:  So I’m assuming we’re most likely to be seeing those two guys at Stockton this year.

GF:  Yeah, most likely.

AF:  Okay great, well we’ll definitely be sure to keep an eye on the two of them this year then. Thanks!

*          *          *

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A’s 2016 Minor League Staff

 

Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone

Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (Triple-A)

Manager: Steve Scarsone

Pitching Coach: Rick Rodriguez

Hitting Coach: Eric Martins

Steve Scarsone returns to Triple-A Nashville for the second consecutive season after the Sounds finished 66-78 in 2015. This will be his fourth consecutive season as manager of the A’s Triple-A club and he now has a 634-632 record in nine seasons as a minor league manager, including stints in the A’s system with Midland from 2011-12, Stockton in 2010 and Kane County in 2009. Rick Rodriguez will be the pitching coach after holding that role with Single-A Stockton last year. This is his 32nd season in the A’s organization, which includes seven seasons as a player and two years as bullpen coach in Oakland (2011-12). Eric Martins takes over as hitting coach after making his minor league coaching debut as hitting coach at Midland in 2015. Brad LaRosa returns as the athletic trainer and AJ Seeliger was named strength and conditioning coach.

 

Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson

Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (Double-A)

Manager: Ryan Christenson

Pitching Coach: John Wasdin

Hitting Coach: Brian McArn

Ryan Christenson returns to Double-A Midland after guiding the RockHounds to their second consecutive Texas League championship last year. He is now 245-174 in three seasons as a manager and has led his club to the playoffs all three seasons. John Wasdin returns as Christenson’s pitching coach for the fourth consecutive season and Brian McArn moves up from Stockton to take over as hitting coach. This is McArn’s 19th season as hitting coach in the A’s farm system, which includes a stop at Midland in 2004. Justin Whitehouse returns as the athletic trainer and Henry Torres will be the strength and conditioning coach.

 

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

Stockton Ports manager Rick Magnante

STOCKTON PORTS (High-A)

Manager: Rick Magnante

Pitching Coach: Steve Connelly

Hitting Coach: Tommy Everidge

Rick Magnante will manage at Stockton for the second consecutive season following a 74-66 showing in 2015. He is now 531-563 in 13 seasons as a manager in the minors. Steve Connelly is in his first season as the Ports pitching coach after holding that job with Short Season Single-A Vermont in 2014 and Single-A Beloit in 2015. Tommy Everidge joins Stockton as hitting coach after serving in that capacity for Vermont in 2014 and 2015. Travis Tims returns as athletic trainer and Sean Doran takes over as strength and conditioning coach.

 

Beloit Snappers manager Fran Riordan

Beloit Snappers manager Fran Riordan

BELOIT SNAPPERS (Class-A)

Manager: Fran Riordan

Pitching Coach: Don Schulze

Hitting Coach: Juan Dilone

Fran Riordan returns to manage Beloit for the second consecutive season after the Snappers finished 55-84 in 2015. He spent the previous 14 years managing in independent leagues. Don Schulze is in his first season as pitching coach at Beloit after spending last year at Nashville. This is 11th season as pitching coach in the A’s farm system. Juan Dilone will be the hitting coach after spending the previous seven years with the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League. Brian Thorson returns as athletic trainer and Matt Rutledge will serve as strength and conditioning coach.

 

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

Vermont Lake Monsters manager Aaron Nieckula

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS (Class-A Short-Season)

Manager: Aaron Nieckula

Pitching Coach: Carlos Chavez

Hitting Coach: Lloyd Turner

In addition to his duties as the A’s minor league field coordinator, Aaron Nieckula will manage the A’s Short Season club at Vermont for the second consecutive season. It is his 11th year as a manager in the A’s farm system and he has a 649-679 record over the previous 10 seasons. Carlos Chavez returns as pitching coach for the second consecutive year and Lloyd Turner takes over as hitting coach after spending the previous two seasons at Beloit. Toshi Nagahara returns as the athletic trainer and Omar Aguilar is the strength and conditioning coach.

 

Arizona League A's manager Webster Garrison

Arizona League A’s manager Webster Garrison

ARIZONA LEAGUE A’S (Rookie Short-Season)

Manager: Webster Garrison

Pitching Coach: TBA

Hitting Coach: Ruben Escalera

Webster Garrison will be the manager of the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League, his ninth season as manager. He last managed at Stockton in 2013 and has a 534-522 record over his previous eight seasons. This is his 24th season in the A’s organization, which includes 17 years as a minor league manager or coach and seven years as a player. Ruben Escalera will be the hitting coach after managing the club the previous two seasons and Gabe Ortiz will be a coach. Chris Lessner returns as the athletic trainer and Terence Brannic is the strength and conditioning coach.

 

Minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson

Minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson

Minor League Field Coordinator: Aaron Nieckula

Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Jim Eppard

Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Gil Patterson

Minor League Rehab Pitching Coordinator: Craig Lefferts

Minor League Defensive Coordinator: Juan Navarrette

Gil Patterson returns to the A’s organization as minor league pitching coordinator after spending the previous three years in the Yankees organization in a similar role. Patterson was the A’s minor league roving pitching instructor in 1996 and from 2008-12 and also coached in the A’s farm system from 1991-95. Jim Eppard was named minor league hitting coordinator after spending 13 seasons in the Angels organization. He spent the last two years as assistant hitting coordinator after a two-year stint as the Angels major league hitting coach. Juan Navarrete is in his 22nd season with the A’s and will be the minor league defensive coordinator and Craig Lefferts and Aaron Nieckula return for their second consecutive season as minor league rehab pitching coordinator and minor league field coordinator, respectively.

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Exclusive: A’s Super Scout Grady Fuson Talks Top Prospects with A’s Farm

Grady Fuson: on the clock in Stockton

One of the most popular pieces we’ve featured here on A’s Farm over the past few months was our profile of A’s super scout (and Moneyball bad guy) Grady Fuson. He was the A’s scouting director from 1995 until 2001, when he left the A’s to become the assistant general manager of the Texas Rangers. Fuson returned to the A’s about two and a half years ago and currently serves as the special assistant to the general manager.

Prior to the amateur draft in early-June, Fuson’s duties primarily consist of scouting amateur prospects in preparation for the draft. But once the draft is complete, he begins a tour around the A’s minor league system, checking in on teams from Sacramento to Midland and Stockton to Burlington.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Fuson in Stockton about a week before the All-Star break, after he’d just visited Sacramento and had spent the better part of a week with Stockton as well. We took the opportunity to pick the brain of one of baseball’s top talent evaluators and get the lowdown on some of the A’s top hitting and pitching prospects, as well as some of the fresh new talent that’s just entered the system via this year’s draft. But we started out by taking a look at some of the guys at the top of the system at Sacramento…

 

AF:  I know you’ve been out checking in on some of the minor league teams, and I guess your first stop was in Sacramento. I know Grant Green has been moving all over the field and playing a lot of different positions there lately – left, center, short, third, even second. So what’s the current situation with him?

GF:  Well, everybody’s asked me a little bit about why is he here, why is he there. We’re just trying to increase his versatility. A lot of kids, when they break in the big leagues, if you’re not a bona-fide position guy, it’s hard to break in and get at-bats if you don’t have that versatility. Obviously, we moved him out to center and we know what that looks like now – we know he can play it a little to some degree. We’ve got a little bit of a third base issue still with Sizemore going down early. So now we’re giving him some more time at third, and he’s still playing a little short. And when that time comes when he’s needed in the big leagues, when the powers that be want to give him a little look, at least Bob Melvin’s got a little versatility to where he can play him, and then we’ll see where the bat settles in in the big leagues.

AF:  And how do you feel about his bat at this point?

GF:  Well, I still feel strong that he’s hitter-ish. He’s going to be a hitter. How much power will really come out up there? I think he’s going to be one of those guys where ballparks could play a role. If he plays in a place like Texas, he could probably hit some. If he plays in a place like Petco Park, he’s probably not going to hit too many. But we’ve been working with him for a year and a half now about trying to make some adjustments on pitches middle to middle-in – just trying to change bat head positions so that he can pull more of those balls. He’s been shooting those balls up the middle. If he’s ever going to hit the ball out, those are the pitches he’s got to get the head out and get it over the shorter parts of the ballpark. And he’s made that adjustment.

AF:  So the greater his versatility, the more opportunity there’s going to be for him to get to the big leagues and then, once he’s there’s, the more opportunity there’ll be for him to stay there.

GF:  Exactly.

AF:  Anybody else stand out in Sacramento?

GF:  Everybody else there was about as expected. Michael Taylor is still very improved with his aggressiveness. He’s just not getting the ball out much on the pull side of the field, but he’s squaring it up and hitting it hard a lot. A.J. Griffin – you know he’s dealing again tonight (in Oakland). Griffin’s always good for me. I’m glad he got this opportunity. He’s making the most of it right now.

AF:  Give me your take on Griffin.

GF:  I’ve always been a Griffin guy. I saw him in college. I thought I helped us get him in the draft a little bit. But he’s big, he’s physical. It’s not an overpowering fastball, but I just always liked his ability to get down and away with his fastball, which to me is golden for a pitcher – a guy that can just locate his 4–seam fastball down and away. He’s got a good changeup. He’s got a good breaking ball. We’ve added a little cutter to his game that’s helped. He’s always been aggressive. He throws it down, and he’s a strike-thrower. He’s a competitor.

AF:  What about another pitcher who’s been looking great since he got to Sacramento, Dan Straily?

GF:  Straily’s awesome. He’s been great. I’m proud of that kid.

AF:  What’s been the key to his success this year?

GF:  I just think better command. But if you go back and look at his numbers, I think he was one or two in the California League last year in strikeouts. And he’s come a long way with his changeup. He’s always had a good breaking ball. He throws hard. He’s a 90-94 mph guy. He’s got a good arm. He’s been great.

AF:  One guy at Sacramento who’s been struggling a bit is Brad Peacock. What’s up with him?

GF:  Brad’s just having a hard time backing up quality pitches in the strike zone – executing. It has nothing to do with his stuff. He’s still throwing 90-94 mph. He’s got a good bite to his breaking ball when it’s right. But he’s just been scattered. (Minor league pitching coordinator) Gil Patterson was in there with him and we did some side work. We thought maybe he’s got a little bit of an uphill move that’s kind of wreaking havoc with him trying to get down the mound a little bit. He’s leaving a lot of fastballs up and elevated. And the biggest thing is just his pitch count is not getting him very deep in the game right now.

AF:  It seemed like he started out the season pretty well.

GF:  Yeah, his first few starts were pretty solid. He’s just in a rut right now, but he’s young and he’s got good enough stuff. He’ll come out of it.

AF:  Well, you’ve been here with the Stockton team for a while now. Can you tell me a little bit about the pitching staff here at Stockton?

GF:  The pitching’s been impressive. Blake Treinen, as good as his stuff is, I’m a little disappointed that his performance numbers aren’t a little better. Something’s missing – I’m not smart enough to tell you what it is, but something’s not right. Jake Brown, even though he’s a little bit of a soft-tossing left-hander, he knows how to pitch. He stays away from guys. He knows when to come in. He’s got a real good changeup.

AF:  What about Sean Murphy? He’s been looking really good both at Burlington and here at Stockton this year.

GF:  He’s by far one of the most improved young pitchers we’ve got in the system. I patted him on the ass after the game and told him, “Do you know how much better you are than you were a year ago?” He’s really cleaned his whole mental game up. He’s just taking things more seriously. He’s gotten focused. He’s pounding his down-and-away fastball. He’s always had a good changeup. He’s getting his breaking ball over in the strike zone.

AF:  Well, he’s had a big change from last year. Batters were hitting over .300 against him last season, and this season they’ve been hitting around .200 against him – that’s a big difference!

GF:  You know, he’s growing up. He’s turning into a pro. I mean, this kid a year ago was from a dinky little school. I remember talking to him last year in Burlington, and he goes “I’ve never been coached.” And he was like a little kid, an amateur. And this year, this guy’s turning into a man. I could see it coming in spring training too. He started to get super serious about his sides. He got his body in great shape. He’s doing good.

AF:  When I talked to him earlier about what accounted for his success this year, he seemed to say it was primarily just about focus and commitment.

GF:  It’s nice to see, because that’s what you’re looking for. Hey, this guy wants it, and this guy doesn’t. Some of them don’t know how to want it. But that’s our job to just keep pounding it into them.

AF:  Have you had a chance to see much of left-hander Ian Krol yet?

GF:  I’m actually going to miss him – they set him back a day. But I’ve been with him on two of his sides. You know, it’s all about his finish – just staying on line and being directed. He wants to cut his finish off and spin out, and he loses his line of command. And when you do those things, there’s usually not a lot of good things that are going to happen. The two sides I’ve been here, we’ve been working with him a lot on that.

AF:  What about Blake Hassebrock who was great at Burlington last year but has been struggling a bit since coming back off the disabled list here?

GF:  I don’t think he’s going any more than three innings tonight. He’s definitely a prospect. He’s big, he’s physical. He throws it downhill and he throws it hard. It’s all the secondary things. We’re trying to get him to use the cutter a little bit more than the slider, because his slider’s never been a great slider.

AF:  T.J. Walz got off to a good start here, but then he was moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen. What was behind that?

GF:  It’s not that we’re walking away from him as a starter forever. He’s just had this history that he told us about – when he starts a lot, his arm starts barking. And for some reason, his arm never barks when he throws out of the pen. He’s a guy who we had to watch his innings this year anyway because of his college pitch count and things like that. But he’s still throwing good.

AF:  Another guy who started the year here at Stockton was A.J. Cole. He really struggled here, but he’s been pitching great since he was sent down to Burlington. I guess you really haven’t had a chance to see him since the spring though, right?

GF:  No, I’ve seen a lot of him on video though. When he was going through these issues when he was here, I happened to be in Arizona one day, where me and (director of player development) Keith Lieppman got all the video we could get and we got on the phone with Gil Patterson. Gil had video and we were breaking things apart a little bit. He was dong some things that were different than when he was with Washington. And so Gil got on those and came in here and tried to settle some things down and get things back to where they needed to be. I don’t know if it’s the change to a different league, but it shouldn’t be that big a discrepancy. It was more location and sequences – it wasn’t stuff. The guys who saw him pitch here said it was 93-95 mph. The one thing that we were looking at was to see if his arm was on time with his foot stride. We looked at the timing and his arm was late and just missing.

AF:  Well, sending him to Burlington certainly seemed to be the answer.

GF:  Sometimes that in itself is the answer – a little wake-up call.

AF:  I know you probably haven’t seen him since the spring, but what’s your take on Sonny Gray?

GF:  I think he’s just struggling with his overall command. He’s working on it. I think he’s starting to understand what few concerns we had about him – those are the things that come and go.

AF:  The last I heard, the big thing he was working on was the changeup.

GF:  The changeup, and his direction and the way he lands – helping him stay on line to help him with his command. Those are the two big things.

AF:  Is there anyone on the offensive side of things who’s been opening your eyes since you’ve been here in Stockton?

GF:  Yeah, number one, it’s really good to see Max Stassi on the field everyday. And when he’s on the field everyday, you can see what he’s got a chance to do. He’s a really polished receiver. His arm’s working and feeling great right now. He’s throwing well. He’s hitting balls to all fields. He’s working on his pitch selection. He’s a nice-looking player. This is B.A. Vollmuth’s first time here. He’s still getting used to it a little bit, but doing about what’s expected from him – squaring a lot of balls up, playing solid at third. Yordy Cabrera’s a young kid – you know, things come and go with Yordy. Last night, he swings at a first pitch slider that’s five feet out of the strike zone, and you’re kind of going, “Oh my God!” And then two at-bats in a row were solid – he squared one up to the biggest part of the ballpark and thought he got his first homer. In San Jose (earlier in the week), his footwork was better. Last night, he sat back on groundballs and groundballs ate him up. That comes and goes with young kids. But the reality is that night after night, even though his numbers don’t look like it, I think he’s holding his own.

AF:  Speaking of some of these very young prospects, what’s up with Aaron Shipman at Burlington?

GF:  I’m heading there. I haven’t seen Shipman since I left spring training. Obviously he’s having a rough go just with contact. He’s down in the low .200s again. At one time, he got it up in the .250s. He’s back to doing some swinging and missing. But we’ll see.

AF:  What about another guy here at Stockton who came up from Burlington earlier in the year and has been playing well, and that’s outfielder Dusty Robinson?

GF:  Dusty’s a guy who plays the game with his hair on fire. He’s got some good skills. Dusty can throw, Dusty can run, and Dusty can flat square up a ball at times that makes your jaw drop at how hard he can hit it. It’s a non-stop work in progress about how he handles pitches on the outer half. Sometimes he looks good, and sometimes he looks like he’s never seen one. But he’s doing good. He’s second in our whole organization in homers.

AF:  I know you haven’t seen Michael Choice at Midland yet, but is there anything you can offer on his situation this year?

GF:  I think he’s still fighting his day-to-day approach – it comes and goes. There’s no regression in his tools and his ability. He’s got a very unique set up and approach, and when he’s not on time, there’s issues depending on how a guy can pitch him. You know, that’s the biggest jump you make in this game, besides the big leagues. Getting out of all the A-ball stuff – whether it’s rookie ball, High-A, Low-A – Double-A is where the true pro game really starts. The athletes who can’t hit, they’re still in A-ball. The pitchers who throw hard but can’t throw it over or don’t have some type of off-speed, they’re still in A-ball. So what you’ve got at Double-A is you’ve got the first collection of some ability with understanding performance. And so there’s more pitchers up there who know how to change speeds, really locate more.

AF:  Guys who know how to fool you and know how to exploit your weaknesses…

GF:  Exactly. And the pitching in Triple-A – there’s so many veteran AAAA-type guys. They’re usually older, they’re not as crisp as they used to be, so they pitch ass backwards at AAA – cutter, cutter, cutter, backdoor breaking ball. There’s not a lot of velocity, a lot of hard fastballs, coming at you night after night, unless you’ve got some young kid on their way up. Everybody else is some 30-year-old guy – they trick you. So that becomes a lesson on hitting off-speed. Then when kids first go to the big leagues, they forget how to hit a fastball.

AF:  Speaking of guys who are trying to make that transition to Double-A, have you had a chance to see Miles Head at any point?

GF:  Yeah, in spring training. But you know, what a half! I don’t know that I’ve seen a guy have that kind of half. And if you talk to these guys here (in Stockton), they’ve never been around a guy that hot. They just said nobody could get him out. There were never more than two or three at-bats that went by without him crushing one. You know, another guy I’ve always liked since the day we signed him is Chad Oberacker. He’s got the simplest approach of anybody here. And he just squares it up every at bat. He’s playing a very good center field. He’s a plus runner. He’s a nice-looking kid.

AF:  He’s even hit a few homers this year. I don’t think he’d shown much power before.

GF:  He’s got 6 this year, but one of them was an inside-the-parker.

AF:  What about Josh Whitaker who hit three home runs in a game here one night?

GF:  He’s been playing great. His body’s in great shape. You can see more life out of his body every year. He’s getting tighter and stronger. This kid’s putting himself on the map. He runs, he throws, he’s a better defender, and he’s a threat to hit it out.

AF:  Well, he had a good year at Burlington last year, but I guess the thing with him is there’s always a lot of strikeouts.

GF:  That’s the one thing we tried to set our eye on in the draft. We put more of an emphasis on making that hitting skill a little purer than we’ve had in the past – making that the number one thing, because as an organization the last couple of years, we have had a lot of swing-and-missers. We had 7 guys in Stockton who struck out 100 times last year – Aliotti, Gilmartin, Coleman, Gil, Dixon, Choice and LeVier.

AF:  Well I know when I talked to scouting director Eric Kubota after the draft, it seemed like he kept saying about everyone you drafted, “We really like the way this guy handles the bat.”

GF:  Well, that was a little bit of the change in direction you could see in the draft. Getting high school versus college wasn’t by design, but getting hitters, hitters first, was.

AF:  Was there anyone in this year’s draft you scouted who you were particularly high on?

GF:  Yeah, all of them! The only guy I didn’t see up high was Matt Olson, but Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson, all those guys.

AF:  Was there anybody you were maybe a little higher on than other people?

GF:  Yeah, maybe Robertson. I don’t know if I was higher, but higher than a couple. We took him where I’d like to take him. I love B.J. Boyd, the Bay Area kid. This guy’s crude – he may run to the wrong dugout – but let me tell you, he’s got some kind of life in his hands, some kind of life in his legs. He’s electric.

AF:  So, I guess it’s just going to be a matter of refining him then.

GF:  Oh yeah, it’s going to be fun – but what a project! This is what young Carl Crawfords look like when they’re 18!

AF:  Well, that’s always a good thing to hear! Thanks a lot for taking the time to clue us in!

 

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