Tag: Jake Smolinski

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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Meet Your 2017 Oakland A’s

0IMG_2486cAs the 2016 season came to an end and the A’s headed into the offseason, there were an awful lot of questions regarding the team’s roster for the coming season, and many of those questions still remained unanswered as the calendar turned to 2017. But a quartet of January free agent signings, along with a number of other minor moves, seems to have solidified the shape of the A’s roster for 2017.

At one time, it appeared that a number of rookie hitters might stand a good chance of making the 2017 opening day roster, including players such as catcher Bruce Maxwell and infielders Chad Pinder and Joey Wendle. But the way things are now shaping up, barring injuries, it looks like the A’s are likely to start the season with no rookie position players on the roster and perhaps just one or two rookie pitchers on the opening day squad.

Of course, the A’s being the A’s, it’s entirely possible that the front office could still have a few unexpected tricks up its sleeve before opening day. But after the flurry of roster moves over the past month, here’s how things are now shaping up for your 2017 Oakland A’s…

 

CATCHERS

Stephen Vogt

Stephen Vogt

Stephen Vogt was named to the American League All-Star squad for the second straight season last year, and the A’s current clubhouse leader is set to return as the team’s primary catcher again this season. Josh Phegley, who appeared in 73 games for Oakland in 2015, made it into just 25 games for the A’s last year due to injuries. Phegley has apparently recovered from last summer’s knee surgery and, as long as he’s healthy, is expected to serve as Vogt’s platoon partner in 2017. Rookie receiver Bruce Maxwell had an impressive Triple-A campaign and looked solid in 33 late-season games with the A’s last year. So if there are any health issues with Phegley or Vogt to start the year or at any point during the season, then Maxwell should be poised to step right in and pick up the slack.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Marcus Semien

Marcus Semien

Slugging shortstop Marcus Semien hit 27 home runs while appearing in a total of 159 games for Oakland in 2016. The iron-man infielder played in more games than any other member of the A’s squad for the second straight season, and we can probably expect to see more of the same kind of endurance from Semien again this year. Meanwhile, second baseman Jed Lowrie, in his second stint with the A’s, missed the final two months last season while undergoing foot surgery. The team expects him to be recovered from the procedure and has anointed him as its starting second baseman for the coming season, as long as he remains healthy. The A’s also signed infielder Adam Rosales as a free agent in late January, and one would expect that the versatile veteran could fill in fairly regularly for Lowrie at second base while also giving Semien a few more days off at shortstop over the course of the season. With Semien, Lowrie and Rosales in the picture, it doesn’t leave much room for other middle infielders like Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder, who are likely to be available at Nashville if any infield replacements are needed. Also waiting in the wings at Nashville will be shortstop (and possible future second baseman) Franklin Barreto, who’s considered the A’s top hitting prospect.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

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Ryon Healy

Another one of the A’s January free agent signings was former Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe, whom the team made clear would serve as its starting third baseman, shifting young slugger Ryon Healy to first base and the designated hitter spot. Last year’s primary first baseman Yonder Alonso has been retained and the left-handed hitter is expected to man the position while righties are on the mound. Healy, who proved himself at the plate last year, is expected to be a regular in the lineup, likely serving as the designated hitter much of the time while possibly shifting back to his natural position at first base when Alonso sits against lefties. That would open up the designated hitter spot against lefties. Mark Canha missed most of last season after undergoing hip surgery but is expected to be at full strength come spring training. A’s general manager David Forst has frequently spoken favorably of Canha over the course of the offseason, and he would seem to be the most likely candidate for the role, while also being available to fill in at first base as well as in the outfield. If reinforcements are needed at the corner spots, the A’s top power-hitting prospect, third baseman Matt Chapman, will be just one step away at Nashville, as will other young sluggers like Renato Nunez and first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Khris Davis

Khris Davis

Khris Davis clubbed 42 home runs while serving as the A’s starting left fielder last season and, fortunately for A’s fans, they can expect to be seeing the big bopper back in the cleanup spot for the green and gold again this year. American League stolen-base leader Rajai Davis was signed as a free agent to man center field and bat leadoff, while veteran left-handed hitter Matt Joyce was signed to be the team’s starting right fielder against righties, with returning right-handed hitter Jake Smolinski expected to serve as his platoon partner against lefties. Mark Canha, who is likely to see some time at first base and in the designated hitter spot, could also be available to fill in in the outfield corners. Meanwhile, down on the farm, two young left-handed hitting prospects who could step in and fill outfield roles if needed, Matt Olson and Jaycob Brugman, should be back for their second seasons at Nashville. And joining them there will likely be another left-handed-hitting outfielder, this one with plenty of major league experience, 32-year-old veteran Alejandro De Aza, who was signed to a minor league contract last month.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

There really don’t seem to be too many big question marks about the A’s starting rotation at this point. Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are set to top the starting five. And since Daniel Mengden recently fractured a bone in his right foot, it’s now even more likely that the final two spots in the rotation will be filled by a pair of pitchers the A’s front office has repeatedly spoken highly of during the offseason, rookie Jharel Cotton and reliever-turned-starter Andrew Triggs. The A’s used a total of 14 different starting pitchers last year though, so we’ll probably end up seeing plenty of other names in the starting mix before the season’s through. Jesse Hahn, who made 9 starts for the A’s last season, is likely to start the year at Nashville and could be called upon if needed. A pair of pitchers who each made at least half a dozen starts for the A’s in 2017, Ross Detwiler and Zach Neal, should be available at Triple-A as well. Flame-thrower Frankie Montas, who’s on the 40-man roster, is also expected to start at Nashville, as is 2014 2nd-round pick Daniel Gossett. Raul Alcantara, who made 5 starts for the A’s late last year and is out of options, may very well end up serving as a long man out of the A’s bullpen but could always shift back into a starting role if needed. And, of course, once he recuperates from his foot injury, Mengden will be available again at some point, as will righty Chris Bassitt and lefty Felix Doubront, both of whom are returning from Tommy John surgery.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

Much like the starting rotation, the A’s bullpen picture appears to be fairly clear as well, with just a couple of key questions remaining. With the A’s surprising signing of former Giants closer Santiago Casilla in January, the big question is whether Ryan Madson will return to the closer’s role for Oakland in 2017 or if Casilla will wind up displacing him. However it ends up shaking out though, the pair should serve as two of the team’s top late-inning options. Joining them will be fellow righties John Axford, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Dull as well as southpaw Sean Doolittle. If the A’s would like to have a second lefty in the bullpen, then Daniel Coulombe, who appeared in 35 games for the A’s last year and is the only other left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster, would seem to be the obvious choice. 24-year-old right-hander Raul Alcantara is out of options though, so the A’s may want to use that final spot to protect the young starter and have him serve as the long-man out of the bullpen. But if the A’s wanted to hang on to Alcantara and have a second lefty in the bullpen as well, then they could always consider trading one of their other relievers. If they did decide to do that, then someone like Axford, who is in the final year of his contract and is owed $5.5 million this year, would seem to be the most likely candidate. And if any bullpen reinforcements are needed, one of the top options this year could be right-hander Bobby Wahl, who’s on the 40-man roster, struck out 10.8 batters per 9 innings across three minor league levels in 2017 and finished the year with 4 saves over the last month of the season at Nashville.

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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.

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Saturday, May 14th: Chris Smith Pitches Sounds to Victory while Snappers Sweep Doubleheader

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Chris Smith (7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Chris Smith (7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Fresno Grizzlies      1

Nashville Sounds  9

WP – Smith 2-5 / 4.40

HR – Smolinski (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Chris Smith

(7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

RHP Chris Smith turned in his best start of the season on Saturday, tossing 7 shutout innings to earn his 2nd win for the Sounds. Center fielder Jake Smolinski slugged a 2-run homer in the 1st inning to give Nashville an early lead and singled, walked and scored 3 times in the game. Shortstop Chad Pinder collected 4 hits, including a double, and drove in a run, while first baseman Rangel Ravelo doubled and drove in 3 for the Sounds.

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Monday, April 25th: Matt Chapman Homers in 14th to Help Hounds Win while Sounds Fall in 10th

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Third Baseman Matt Chapman (2 for 6 / Home Run / Walk / GWRBI)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Third Baseman Matt Chapman (2 for 6 / Home Run / Walk / GWRBI)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  8

Corpus Christi Hooks     7

WP – Kurcz 4-0 / 2.00

HR – Chapman (5), Barreto (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

(2 for 6 / Home Run / Walk / GWRBI)

Third baseman Matt Chapman delivered the big blow for Midland on Monday, smacking his 5th home run to lead off the top of the 14th inning and send the RockHounds to victory in a game in which the Hounds came back to overcome an early 7-run deficit. With Monday’s round-tripper, Oakland’s top draft pick in 2014 became the first A’s minor leaguer to make it to 5 home runs this season. Chapman also walked and scored in the 5th inning and singled in the 6th. Shortstop Franklin Barreto slugged his 2nd home run of the season to tie the game in the top of the 8th, while first baseman Ryon Healy and left fielder Danny Oh both collected 3 hits and drove in a pair, and designated hitter Viosergy Rosa, right fielder Brett Vertigan and second baseman Wade Kirkland had a pair of hits apiece. Starter Raul Alcantara put the RockHounds in a big hole early, allowing 7 earned runs over the first 2 innings. RHP Sam Bragg relieved Alcantara in the 3rd and began a streak of 12 shutout innings that would be thrown by the Hounds bullpen on Monday night. RHP Aaron Kurcz earned the win by tossing a scoreless 12th and 13th, and infielder Kirkland took the mound in the bottom of the 14th and got the final three outs to register the save for the RockHounds.

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Monday, April 18th: Brett Siddall Has 3 Hits & 3 RBIs and Evan Manarino & James Naile Combine for 8 Shutout Innings to Help Snappers Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Brett Siddall (3 for 4 / 2 Doubles / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Brett Siddall (3 for 4 / 2 Doubles / 3 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Beloit Snappers          6

Kane County Cougars  1

WP – Naile 1-2 / 4.15

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Brett Siddall

(3 for 4 / 2 Doubles / 3 RBIs)

Right fielder Brett Siddall collected 3 hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in 3 runs for the Snappers, and his team-leading batting average on the season now stands at .361. Second baseman Trent Gilbert and designated hitter Skye Bolt each singled, doubled and drove in a run. Starter Evan Manarino tossed 4 shutout innings, and RHP James Naile followed by striking out 5 over 4 scoreless innings of his own to earn the victory on Monday.

Click here for more on Nashville, Midland & Stockton…

Thursday, April 14th: Hounds Win Behind Ryon Healy’s Big Bat while Sounds, Ports & Snappers Fall

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Ryon Healy (3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Ryon Healy (3 for 5 / HR / Double / 5 RBIs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Arkansas Travelers        3

Midland RockHounds  9

WP – Avila 1-0 / 4.50

HR – Healy (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

First Baseman Ryon Healy

(3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 5 RBIs)

First baseman Ryon Healy had a big night at the plate for the RockHounds on Thursday, singling, doubling, homering and driving in 5 runs to help the Hounds take the opener in their 3-game series against Arkansas. Healy doubled in the tying run then came around to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 3rd, he singled in a pair of runs in the 4th, and he then hit a 2-run homer for the Hounds in the 8th. Catcher Carson Blair singled in a pair of runs in the 3rd, and center fielder Jaycob Brugman singled, doubled, walked, drove in a run and stole a base. The RockHounds swiped 5 bases on the night – 1 each by Brugman, left fielder J.P. Sportman and third baseman Matt Chapman and a pair by shortstop Franklin Barreto. Starter Raul Alcantara gave up 2 runs over 4 innings of work, throwing 82 pitches in the process, while RHP Andres Avila allowed 1 run in 2 innings of relief to pick up the win for Midland. RHP Daniel Mengden is set to make the start for the RockHounds in game two of the series on Friday.

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Monday, April 11th: Sean Manaea Wins in Nashville Debut while Chris Iriart’s Hot Hitting Helps Beloit Win Again

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds LHP Sean Manaea (5 1/3 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 6 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Colorado Springs Sky Sox  1

Nashville Sounds              7

WP – Manaea 1-0 / 1.69

HR – Ladendorf (1), Smolinski (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Sean Manaea

(5 1/3 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 6 K / Win)

The A’s top pitching prospect, LHP Sean Manaea, made an impressive Nashville debut on Monday night. Manaea gave up just 2 singles and no runs through the first 5 innings and ended up allowing 1 run on 4 hits while walking none and striking out 6 over 5 1/3 innings to earn the win. Center fielder Tyler Ladendorf homered to lead things off for the Sounds in the bottom of the 1st inning and then doubled and scored Nashville’s second run in the 3rd. Left fielder Jake Smolinski homered in the 6th and also singled and walked twice in the game, while designated hitter Andrew Lambo singled, tripled and drove in 4 runs, and catcher Bruce Maxwell singled and doubled in a run in the 4th. RHP Andrew Triggs closed out the victory by striking out the side for the Sounds in the 9th.

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A’s Top 5 Replacement Players for 2016

A's top pitching prospect - and America's next top hair model - Sean Manaea

A’s top pitching prospect – and America’s next top hair model – Sean Manaea

When it comes to the look of the A’s opening day roster this year, there aren’t really that many question marks at this point. Of course, that original 25-man roster will end up going through plenty of permutations once the season gets underway. And unexpected injuries are bound to pop up and open the door for deserving minor leaguers who are looking to land a spot on the major league roster.

We all know that the A’s will have plenty of top prospects at Triple-A Nashville this year – players like Matt Olson, Chad Pinder, Renato Nunez and Sean Manaea. But when injuries arise during the season and a replacement is needed, it’s not always the team’s top young prospects that will be the first to get the call. There are a couple of other important factors that will often come into play when a team is looking for replacements at the major league level. One is a player’s status on the 40-man roster and the other is a player’s previous major league experience.

More often than not, a player who’s already on the team’s 40-man roster will be the first to get the call, since adding a player who’s not on the 40-man roster will require making an additonal roster move that could expose another player who might end up being lost to another organization. And all things being equal, most teams, including the A’s, usually prefer to be able to add a player who’s already gotten his feet wet in the majors before. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the players who could be the first to get the call should reinforcements be needed from Nashville this season.

 

rd623430Ryan Dull (RP)

Dull impressed in 13 late-season relief appearances for the A’s last year, and many thought he’d shown enough to earn himself a spot in the A’s bullpen this year. But with the offseason additions of right-handed relievers Ryan Madson, John Axford and Liam Hendriks and the return of right-hander Fernando Rodriguez, who’s out of options, if everyone stays healthy through the spring, there doesn’t appear to be any room on the right side for Dull to break camp with the big league team. So it looks like the 26-year-old North Carolina native could open the season as the top right-handed relief arm at Nashville. In 16 innings in the second half of last season with the Sounds, Dull posted a 1.12 ERA while striking out 21. And if he can even come close to replicating those kind numbers next year, then he’s likely to be in the front of the line if and when bullpen reinforcements are needed in Oakland. Behind Dull, other right-handed relief options currently on the 40-man roster include R.J. Alvarez and J.B. Wendelken.

 

mm571970bMax Muncy (1B-3B)

A 5th-round pick for the A’s in the 2012 draft, Muncy moved through the system as fast as anyone from that draft class and made his debut with the A’s last April, ultimately making it into 45 major league games by the time the season was through. But there just doesn’t appear to be room for Muncy on the opening day roster this year. His ability to play both first base and third base makes him a valuable asset though, and he’s currently the only player in the A’s minor league system who can play both corner infield positions and has major league experience. Muncy’s posted a .378 on-base percentage in 386 games over his minor league career. And the A’s value his approach at the plate, knowing that he’s not prone to wasting at-bats by hacking at pitches he can’t handle. Top slugging prospect Matt Olson isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, but corner infielders Rangel Ravelo and Renato Nunez are. Neither has major league experience though, and Ravelo is primarily a first baseman who hasn’t seen more than two games at the hot corner since 2012, while Nunez is primarily a third baseman who’s only seen 16 games at first base in his minor league career and is considered a defensive liability at both positions. So if another corner infielder is needed this season, Muncy’s versatility and dependability should put him at the front of the pack.

 

tl502285bTyler Ladendorf (2B-SS-CF)

Ladendorf impressed in major league camp last spring and opened the season on the A’s roster before being sent down and then suffering an ankle injury that left him laid up for much of the season. If Ladendorf had any shot at earning an opening day roster spot this year, the acquisition of versatile infielder-outfielder Chris Coghlan quickly put an end to that. But that’s not to say that the A’s don’t still value Ladendorf’s versatility. In his minor league career, he’s started over 200 games at both second base and shortstop and has appeared in at least 50 games at third base and in center field, where he’s expected to see plenty of time this season at Nashville. If Sam Fuld doesn’t end up making the opening day roster, he may very well be lost to the organization since he’s out of options. And that would leave Ladendorf as the only A’s minor leaguer currently on the 40-man roster capable of stepping in in center field. If Eric Sogard doesn’t make the opening day roster and still ends up in the organization when the season starts (which may or not turn out to be the case), then he could be the go-to guy if the team needs another middle infielder. But if Sogard ends up elsewhere, then Ladendorf could be the clear choice if a middle infield need develops. Second baseman Joey Wendle also has a spot on the 40-man roster, but he hasn’t spent one inning at a position other than second base in the last three seasons, so his lack of versatility could hinder him. Meanwhile, infield prospect Chad Pinder has spent time at shortsop, second base and third base but isn’t on the 40-man roster and hasn’t yet seen time above Double-A, let alone in the majors.

 

js519295cJake Smolinski (LF-RF)

Smolinski appeared in 41 games for the A’s in the second half of last season after being acquired off waivers from the Rangers. And the former 2nd-round draft pick did a solid job, showing plenty of pop while primarily playing in left field against left-handers. But with outfielders Josh Reddick, Khris Davis, Billy Burns, Mark Canha, Coco Crisp, Chris Coghlan and Sam Fuld all currently ahead of him on the depth chart, Smolinski seems set to start the season back at Nashville. He hit like a house afire in his brief time at Nashville last season, posting an impressive .349/.402/.628 slash line in 25 games with the Sounds. Smolinski appears set to open the season as Nashville’s starting left fielder but can play either corner outfield position. At the plate, his specialty is crushing left-handed pitching. So if the A’s should end up needing a right-handed hitting corner outfielder at some point this season, Smolinski should be the obvious call.

 

al518911bAndrew Lambo (RF-LF)

Acquired off waivers from Pittsburgh in the offseason, the 27-year-old Lambo was once considered a top power-hitting prospect, and some believe he could prove to be a bit of a late bloomer like Brandon Moss. Lambo is a left-handed hitter who’s slugged 100 home runs while putting up a .280/.347/.467 slash line over his minor league career. He’s also made appearances with the Pirates in each of the last three seasons. While he’s split most of his time between the two corner outfield spots, Lambo has seen some action at first base as well. And the California native has been one of the hottest hitters in the A’s camp so far this spring, notching a pair of home runs and a pair of doubles in his first 19 at-bats while while posting an impressive .421/.476/.842 slash line. With so many other outfielders ahead of him in the A’s camp though, Lambo’s likely to end up seeing lots of time in right field for Nashville this season, at least until an opening for a left-handed hitting corner outfielder pops up for the A’s.

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