Tag Archive for Matt Olson

A’s Farm Report for Week of April 27-May 3: Pitching Prospects in the Spotlight

LHP Dillon Overton

LHP Dillon Overton

With lots of pitchers on the move in the A’s system last week, it might be a good time to take a quick look at the pitching staffs of all four of the A’s affiliates. The pitching depth is definitely not what it’s been in past years. In pre-season prospect polls, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Dillon Overton were the most common names to top the lists of the A’s pitching prospects. Graveman opened the season with the A’s before being sent to Nashville, while Nolin has been injured but just recently joined the Sounds to begin a rehab assignment, and Overton has been pitching well so far for Stockton. You can always check out the latest A’s affiliate rosters here – Rosters. And you can catch up on how the A’s top minor league hurlers have been doing below. This weekly minor league report by Athletics Farm originally appeared on Athletics Nation

 

Click here for updates on Nashville, Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Monday, April 27th: Matt Olson Slugs 6th HR & Drives in Game-Winner as Hounds Win in a Walk-Off and Kyle Finnegan Picks up 1st Win for Ports

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 2 RBIs / GWRBI)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 2 RBIs / GWRBI)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Corpus Christi Hooks     8

Midland RockHounds  9

WP – Joseph 1-0 /3.00

HR – Olson (6), Pinder (4), Brugman (1), Blair (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(Home Run / 2 RBIs / GWRBI)

In a game that went back and forth many times on Monday night, it was first baseman Matt Olson’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th that provided the RockHounds with their second walk-off win in as many nights on Monday. Olson also hit his league-leading 6th home run in the 4th inning to bring the Hounds within three. Shortstop Chad Pinder hit his 4th home run in the 2nd and also singled in the game, while right fielder Jaycob Brugman hit a 3-run homer to tie the game in the 5th. Designated hitter Carson Blair homered in the 9th to tie the game once again, and center fielder Matt Angle and left fielder Chad Oberacker had 3 hits apiece for the Hounds. Starter Nate Long allowed 5 runs, 2 earned, over 6 innings of work, while RHP Kris Hall surrendered 2 runs in 1 inning of relief, and RHP Jonathan Joseph gave up 1 run in 2 innings of work to pick up his 1st win for the Hounds. In other news, RHP Tim Atherton, who had a 1.17 ERA over his first four starts for Stockton, and RHP Joey Wagman were both reassigned to the RockHounds.

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A’s Farm Report for Week of April 20-26: Busy Week In Nashville

1B Max Muncy

1B Max Muncy

 

Well, once we hit the third week of the season, the roster shuffling began in earnest. And no affiliate was busier in the past week than the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, who had at least 14 transactions affecting their roster this week. You can check out the latest rosters here – Rosters – and catch up on all the past week’s highlights below. This weekly minor league report by Athletics Farm originally appeared on Athletics Nation

 

Click here for weekly updates on Nashville, Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Saturday, April 25th: Matt Olson Hits 5th HR in Hounds Loss while Sounds Fall despite Barry Zito’s Best Efforts and Snappers Stage Comeback Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 2 RBIs / Walk)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 2 RBIs / Walk)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

San Antonio Missions    8

Midland RockHounds  7

LP – Lamb 0-3 /19.00

HR – Olson (5)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(Home Run / 2 RBIs / Walk)

With the RockHounds down by three runs in the bottom of the 7th inning on Saturday, first baseman Matt Olson slugged a 2-run homer, his second in the last two nights and his 5th home run on the year, to bring Midland within a run. Unfortunately, that’s as close as the Hounds would get on Saturday. Olson also drew his 15th walk in the game, and the 21-year-old is now tied for the Texas League lead in both home runs and walks. Right fielder Jaycob Brugman had a pair of singles, a walk and drove in a run, while left fielder Chad Oberacker singled, walked and scored twice, and designated hitter Josh Whitaker singled, walked and drove in a run for the RockHounds. Starter Chris Lamb had another rough outing, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits over just 4 innings of work to take his 3rd loss. RHP Ryan Doolittle gave up 2 runs in 2 innings of relief, while RHP Jonathan Joseph tossed 1 scoreless frame in his debut for Midland, and RHP Tucker Healy threw 2 shutout innings in the loss. Joseph was called up from Stockton and added to the RockHounds’ roster before the game.

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Friday, April 24th: Zach Neal Wins Sounds Debut with Help from Max Muncy’s HR while Matt Olson’s HR Propels Hounds to Victory

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Zach Neal (5 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Zach Neal (5 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Oklahoma City Dodgers  1

Nashville Sounds          8

WP – Neal 1-0 / 1.80

HR – Muncy (1), Carrithers (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Zach Neal

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

Called up from Midland earlier in the day, RHP Zach Neal made an impressive debut for Nashville on Friday night, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits while walking none over 5 innings of work to earn his 1st win for the Sounds. Neal posted a 3.10 ERA while playing at three levels of the A’s system last season, and the spot in the Sounds’ rotation opened up for him with the recall of RHP Chris Bassitt by the A’s. After Neal’s departure, Nashville’s bullpen kept Oklahoma City in check. LHP Eury De La Rosa tossed a scoreless 6th, RHP Chad Smith threw 2 shutout innings in relief, and RHP Ryan Cook got the final three outs for the Sounds. First baseman Max Muncy had a big night at the plate, collecting 3 hits, including a 2-run homer in the 1st inning to stake Nashville to an early lead. Third baseman Alden Carrithers singled, homered, walked and drove in 2 runs, while catcher Luke Carlin walked and doubled in a pair for the Sounds.

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Thursday, April 16th: Michael Soto & Matt Olson HRs Help Ports & Hounds Win while Nashville Comes Up Short and Snappers Drop a Pair

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Third Baseman Michael Soto (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Third Baseman Michael Soto (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Visalia Rawhide   3

Stockton Ports   4

WP – Seddon 1-1 / 3.38

HR – Soto (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Third Baseman Michael Soto

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Third baseman Michael Soto smacked a 2-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 1st to put the Ports on the board. Then, with the game tied in the 6th, he singled in the go-ahead run for Stockton. Right fielder Tyler Marincov doubled in a run, while first baseman John Nogowski singled, walked and scored a run, and left fielder B.J. Boyd had a pair of hits for the Ports. Starter Tim Atherton turned in another solid effort, allowing 2 runs, just 1 earned, while striking out 5 over 5 innings of work, but he left with the game tied. RHP Joel Seddon gave up 1 run in 2 1/3 innings of relief to pick up the win, while RHP Sam Bragg tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn his 1st save for Stockton.

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Monday, April 13th: Tyler Marincov Drives in 5 in Ports’ Victory while Hounds Come Up Short Despite Matt Olson’s Big Day

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Outfielder Tyler Marincov (3 for 4 / Triple / 5 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Outfielder Tyler Marincov (3 for 4 / Triple / 5 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports       13

Lancaster JetHawks  4

WP – Trivino 1-0 / 5.06

HR – Higley (1), Sportman (1), Barreto (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Tyler Marincov

(3 for 4 / Triple / 5 RBIs)

After scoring just 8 runs over their first 4 games, the Ports managed to push 13 runs across the plate on Monday. Outfielder Tyler Marincov had 3 hits, including a triple, and drove in 5 runs, including 4 of Stockton’s first 6 runs to help build the Ports’ lead. J.P. Sportman, getting the start at second base, homered, had a pair of singles and drove in 3, while first baseman John Nogowski collected 4 hits, including a double. Third baseman Michael Soto reached base 4 times on a double, a pair of singles and a walk, and shortstop Franklin Barreto and outfielder Justin Higley both hit their 1st home runs for the Ports. Starter Lou Trivino was in command early on, allowing just 1 unearned run through the first 5 innings. He was charged with 3 runs in the 6th though, but was still able to walk away with the win in his debut for Stockton.

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Thursday, April 9th: Matt Olson Homers to Help Hounds Win while Josh Reddick Returns to Action in Ports Victory and Nashville Drops Opener

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (2 for 3 / Home Run / 2 RBIs / 2 Walks)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Matt Olson (2 for 3 / Home Run / 2 RBIs / 2 Walks)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

NW Arkansas Naturals    5

Midland RockHounds  10

WP – Neal 1-0 / 3.60

HR – Olson (1), Pinder (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(2 for 3 / Home Run / 2 RBIs / 2 Walks)

In his first at-bat for the RockHounds in the first inning on Thursday, first baseman Matt Olson deposited one over the fence, bringing home second baseman Colin Walsh who’d doubled and giving Midland an early 2-0 lead. The A’s top prospect reached base 4 times, also singling and walking twice in the game. The Hounds drew a total of 13 walks on the night. Walsh and catcher Bruce Maxwell received 3 free passes apiece. Designated hitter Carson Blair walked twice and doubled, while third baseman Ryon Healy singled and doubled in a pair. Outfielder Chad Oberacker singled, tripled and drove in 3, and shortstop Chad Pinder homered in the 8th for the Hounds’ final run of the night. Starter Zach Neal had a solid outing, allowing 2 runs over 5 innings to earn the win. RHP Ryan Doolittle surrendered home runs to the first two batters he faced in relief before completing 1 inning of work, while RHP Seth Frankoff gave up 1 run in 2 innings of relief, and RHP Ryan Dull tossed a scoreless 9th to finish off the opening night win for the RockHounds.

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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 five years ago to serve as a special assistant to general manager Billy Beane.

Of course, many know Fuson as the scout in the cinematic version of Moneyball who has a dramatic confrontation with the A’s general manager – though that’s not quite how it happened (which we chronicled here), and he and Beane are both back on the same team and rowing in the same direction.

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 during the last week of camp 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:  Well, let’s start right off with the team’s top prospect, Matt Olson. He spent some time in the big league camp this spring. And everyone’s really got their eyes on him now. So what have you been seeing out of him?

moOlson, Matt2GF:  Well, he impressed over there. He did a great job defensively. He got off to a little bit of a slow start, swinging and missing early in camp, but then it all came around. He’s a young kid, still just 20 years old when he went over there – he just had his 21st birthday. But his swings were good. His development is on track. He’s got huge power, and I think he let everybody know who he was over there. He’s what’s left of that high school group.

AF:  Yep, he had to say goodbye to his buddies Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson this past year. But what does he need to focus on or try to work on this season at Midland?

GF:  I think the same things – just trying to improve the contact, and instead of missing balls, maybe he’s got the ability to foul them off and get them out of play. He’s still got a tremendous eye. He knows the strike zone – very advanced for a young guy. It’s a little bit of new ground when you’re dealing with a young kid who’s advancing at this rate. There’s no rush, to me it’s just going to be typical development.

AF:  Pretty much just let nature take its course!

GF:  Yeah. Now’s he’s going to play where the game really starts to get real. But whatever problems happen to arise should be easily fixed. He’s had a lot of at-bats now in the minor leagues, he’s starting to grow up and become a man, and he knows more about his swing and how to fix things. So it’s going to be fun to watch.

AF:  Another guy who impressed in big league camp this year is Max Muncy. He’s been hitting well and learning a new position at third base. How close is he to being ready?

mmMuncy, Max2GF:  He’s definitely back on time from where he was late last year at Double-A. I think he got out of sorts a little bit. Midland has a way of doing that to a lot of hitters. I think they try to overpower the conditions there sometimes and it just wreaks havoc on their day-to-day approach. And I think Max and a lot of guys who’ve gone through the Texas League get caught up in that.

AF:  He actually told me that himself just the other day.

GF:  Yeah, it happens. I mean, we’ve already talked to Olson and said, “Are you going to be the first guy who can go there and not come out of there crushed?” But with Muncy, he’s back on time with his swing. He’s always seen the ball very well. He’s always swung at good pitches and taken balls. He got out of sorts, but in this camp he came along great. And on top of that, he’s played more games at third base in big league camp than he’s played in the minor leagues, but he held up. We always thought this guy could go over there and do it. We just never had the flexibility to get him over there for long enough. But where things are in the system now, he’s going to get a lot more time over there.

AF:  So do you think his bat is fairly close to being able to handle major league pitching on a regular basis?

GF:  Yeah, and I think he showed that. He didn’t go to big league camp and just get five or six quick at-bats. I think he got enough of a good look-see for everybody to know that this kid’s got a sound approach. He stays in the middle of the field, he sees the baseball well, he takes good at-bats, and it’s just a matter of time before that opportunity comes for him.

bbBurns, Billy2AF:  A guy who seems to have made some big improvements this year is Billy Burns. He didn’t have a great offensive season last year, but he’s been one of the A’s best hitters this spring and has looked great. So is that just an illusion or has he made some real improvements that are going to last?

GF:  Well, it’s his second year of being the gold star spring training player, so we’re going to see! But I’ll tell you the difference. Last year, so many of his hits were ground balls and a lot of things he out-ran. This year, it seems like he’s in his legs better, using a little core, using the bottom half and driving the baseball a little bit better. That was always the goal last year. And a few of us thought, if he’s just going to be a handsy, punch hitter, they’re going to shrink the field on him the higher he goes up. But now, he’s at his second camp and he’s driving the ball a little bit better, so hopefully he stays with this part of his game. He’s another year into the switch-hitting, so he’s getting a little bit more comfortable from the left side. But he’s staying in his legs, and when you use your legs in hitting, that’s so much of your body mass and where your strength comes from.

AF:  And how to do you feel about his abilities as a center fielder?

GF:  I think he’s a keeper. There’s no issue with him in center. He’s very fundamental. Billy’s a guy who can play a little shallower and do pretty good behind him. He’s definitely a well above average center fielder.

tlLadendorf, Tyler3AF:  Another guy who’s made a great impression in big league camp this year is Tyler Ladendorf. He’s been moving on up the depth chart. He never hit that much in the system until he got to Sacramento last year. He was hitting great there and then the suspension happened. But where do you see Ladendorf’s at at this point?

GF:  Well, he’s fighting to be one of the last guy’s on that club right now. And as long as we’re an outfielder short, his versatility is holding up because he’s one of the few who can play second, third, short and get in the outfield and do some things. And obviously something started to click halfway through last year where the at-bats started to become more quality. I hand it to him, he’s put himself in a very good position. I think he’s grown up a lot in life, more importantly than just baseball. You know, the last 300 at-bats of his life so far have been pretty solid, so God bless him!

AF:  Do you think second base is his most natural position where he really fits the best?

GF:  Yeah, without a doubt.

jwWendle, Joey2AF:  Now speaking of second base, what about Joey Wendle? When the A’s traded Brandon Moss for him, a lot of A’s fans were wondering what was so great about him to justify that deal. But now that you’ve had a chance to see him here in camp, what have you seen out of Joey Wendle?

GF:  Well, he’s a player I never really knew much about until Billy [Beane] made the trade. But he seems to come as advertised. He’s athletic, he’s got quickness and he’s a tough out. He’s got a little pop in the bat and he uses the whole field. It looks like he’s got the chance to be solid at second. I don’t know how much versatility there could be to him. That’s going to take some time for us to see him some more. But he’s an offensive second baseman, he’s a gamer and it seems like he’s got some character to him as well.

AF:  A guy I know you were very high on last year in camp is Chad Pinder. What have you seen out of him this spring and what are you expecting out of him this year?

cpIMG_0155x2cGF:  I go back to last year when he went home and put on some strength. You know, he’s really come into himself as a baseball player, not only defensively but offensively. He’s got a good, pure swing. The only thing with him right now is just his patience at the plate. He’s been a very low walk-rate guy, and I think when it’s all said and done, that needs to improve. But when you think about where his career is, he hasn’t played that much baseball professionally. It’s really just a year and a half. We’re going to have him at shortstop, probably open the year at Midland. But he’s going to get his opportunity every day at shortstop to begin this year and we’ll see where it goes.

AF:  Another guy I wanted to ask you about who was in big league camp for a while is Renato Nunez. So where’s he at in his learning curve?

GF:  Yeah, he’s a guy we started with at 16 or 17, and how many changes have been made to his body and size and strength? He’s an improving third baseman. The accuracy of his throwing continues to be on the bubble – that’s one thing he’s going to have to step up. You know, the one place that we’re starting to get some depth right now, even with the trades, is third base and short. When you think about, you know, if Matt Chapman was out here, and Nunez and Ryon Healy, and Pinder actually looks more third base-ish than he does second base or short. The young kid Edwin Diaz is becoming very physical and very big. So we have all this depth. And depending on how they’re moving up together and getting them time…Nunez got some at-bats in big league camp and wasn’t overly productive. He’s been hurt since he’s been down here [in minor league camp]. He’s got some nagging little things, but he shouldn’t be out too long. You know, he’s still got to get a little firmer with his body, get a little tougher and stronger as far as his commitment to how he’s taking care of himself. But he certainly comes with a ton of impact if everything really hits. You know, he’s got time on his side.

rnNunez, Renato2AF:  Well, I guess Midland will be a big challenge for him this year. He’ll either have to rise to the occasion or not. So for now, he’s staying at third though?

GF:  Yeah, that’s going to be an organizational discussion. If we move him – when, where? Obviously, you’re not loaded with options. But depending on the movement of a Chapman or a Healy or him, who stays at third? Healy’s a first baseman by trade. Chapman has the edge defensively on all of them, but he’s behind Healy and Nunez and even Pinder on the depth chart right now. And he’s hurt – he’s missed the whole camp so far. Get them healthy and get them out and playing, and then we’ll go from there.

AF:  So do you think Healy’s going to end up in a similar situation to last year, maybe playing first and third at Midland with Olson also at first and Nunez also at third?

GF:  Well, if Nunez doesn’t break camp, then Healy’s got the nod.

AF:  Since you mentioned Chapman, it’s his knee he tore up, right?

GF:  The day before he showed up. He was running some stairs.

AF:  So he’ll miss the start of the season then.

GF:  The odds are he’ll miss April.

ym-bur0824racineaward1.jpg20140824bAF:  You mentioned the left side of the infield and you’ve got a couple of particularly interesting guys over there now. The young shortstop Yairo Munoz really came on strong last year. What have you been seeing out of him this spring?

GF:  He’s taken this camp by storm. He’s come in stronger and smarter. He’s been showing more patience at the plate, playing hard, playing aggressively, playing smart. He’s done everything right in this camp. He’s good to go. Electric tools – there’s power in the bat, super arm strength. There’s life in his body, and he plays the game with vigor and enthusiasm.

AF:  And how do you see him in the field as a shortstop?

GF:  Good – I mean, typical young mistakes here and there. But skill-set-wise, he’s solid. This guy runs, he throws, he’s got life, he’s got actions, he’s got pop in the bat. He’s got everything you’re looking for.

AF:  So you think he’s got the ability to stick there at the shortstop position long-term?

GF:  Yeah.

AF:  The A’s also got another shortstop from Toronto this offseason, Franklin Barreto. I know he was late to camp, but he’s another highly-touted shortstop. So what have you been able to see out of him in the time that he’s been here?

fbDSC04083bGF:  Definitely seen the bat. It’s quick, it’s short and it’s direct to the ball. He impacts the ball well. It seems like he’s got a clue at the dish. He’s got good actions in the field. We haven’t seen a lot of arm strength yet at this point, so we don’t know if he’s a little tired. I’ve checked, and he’s not hurting. And again, he’s kind of behind physically…so we’re just waiting to see that one out.

AF:  So how would you compare Barreto and Munoz?

GF:  Well, there’s two ways to look at it. When you compare their numbers from a year ago, Barreto’s numbers were better than Yairo’s at the same level of play. But at the same time, Yairo’s got some impact skills that might be ahead of him. Obviously, it’ll take time to find out who delivers the consistency. One of them can have the bigger upside, but who’s going to be the guy who develops the consistency and becomes a true player?

AF:  What other positions could you see each of them most naturally slotting into?

GF:  Munoz could go to third because he’s probably got the bigger upside power, whereas Barreto would go to second. But I’m reserving judgment on that, because we just haven’t seen enough.

AF:  All right, let’s talk about some young pitchers with some upside. What about Bobby Wahl? There’s obviously a lot of promise there, but he struggled a bit last year. What are you seeing out of him at this point?

WahlGF:  Biggest stuff we’ve got in the system – I mean, when you just break down a breaking ball and a fastball. He can throw it real hard and he can drop a breaking ball that’ll buckle you. The whole thing is he’s so talented and he’s got such good stuff that in the real scheme of development, you’d want him on the mound more often. But trying to protect some of his past injuries and keep him healthy, we have to try to develop him as a 1-2 inning type of guy. Sometimes that slows down development, which is evident with him going to Stockton and not doing very well and then walking into a big league camp and punching out the side. You know, when you’ve got that kind of stuff, you just never know when it’s going to show up in the right spots. I will give him this – he pitched down a lot better in these big league games than he has historically in the minor leagues. So that’s been his biggest thing. He’s always had the stuff. It’s just his location and elevation that’s gotten him in trouble in the minor leagues. You know, he was throwing some fastballs 97 mph at the knees in big league camp. Well, that’s pretty much going to beat anybody. So it’s about him bringing that here.

AF:  So he’ll be pitching out of the bullpen this year then.

GF:  Yeah.

doDillon-Overton-2014-bm-300x225cAF:  Now Dillon Overton looked good coming back from Tommy John surgery in the second half of last season. What have you seen out of him this spring?

GF:  There have been flashes of who he really is, and then there have been flashes of him getting out of rhythm a little bit, but his stuff is back. I thought his breaking ball and his changeup were back at the end of last year. The only thing that kind of deteriorated through the rehab was his velocity. So the velocity’s back to somewhere between 87-90 mph. And I think that’s going to increase the more that he goes out there and feels confident.

AF:  So far he’s topped out around 90 mph then?

GF:  Yeah, but he’s the kind of guy that, even if it never climbs over 90 mph, this guy’s got a good chance of getting people out. He’s got a chance to really locate. He’s got feel and deception with his breaking ball, he’s got a quality changeup, and he’s got an idea what he’s doing. So this isn’t a guy whose success is going to rely on how hard he throws. This kid’s got a clue. I see some dominance coming out of him.

AF:  Is there going to be an innings limit on him this season?

GF:  Oh, yeah.

raAlcantara, Raul3bAF:  Let me ask you about Raul Alcantara, who had Tommy John surgery last May. I believe he’s been throwing some bullpens lately. How’s he looking?

GF:  He’s been good, very good. He threw a side the other day.

AF:  So you think he’s still got a few months before he’ll be back out there later in the season?

GF:  Yeah, he’s a June guy probably.

AF:  A young guy who missed last season with various issues but is back in action this spring is Dustin Driver. He pitched well here the other day. What have you been seeing out of him now that he’s back on the mound?

GF:  He’s healthy. He had a good instructional league. He’s stronger, his body’s in better shape, and he’s got a more mature awareness of the sport. He’s got a changeup that he didn’t have when he arrived. So it’s about commanding the baseball, pure and simple. It’s about him throwing fastballs in the strike zone. And when he can prove that he can be efficient enough to go out some place and start filling up that zone with strikes, then he’s on his way. His breaking ball’s not quality for a guy who throws as hard as he can throw, so that’s a work in progress. But he’s come a long way with his changeup.

ckDSC04067x2AF:  Another young guy who missed last season is Chris Kohler. So what have you been seeing out of him now that he’s back on the mound again?

GF:  He’s been good. He’s fully confident in his fastball. He’s extending, he’s getting out front and he’s letting it go. He’s got plenty of 92s coming out of his hand. The biggest thing that he’s been going through is he’s lost the feel for his breaker a little bit. So this camp has kind of been more geared to him getting his breaking ball back. I think our intent was to have him ready to go out, but that’s still under discussion what’s going to happen. That breaking ball that he has is a weapon for him, and we’ve got to make sure he’s got it. But he’ll get it back.

AF:  Before we’re through, let me ask you about one last position player I know you like who had a big year last year, and that’s outfielder Jaycob Brugman. What do you like about him?

jb595144GF:  He’s a baseball guy, he comes to play and he’s well-rounded on all sides of the game. To me, I think he’s our best fundamentally sound outfielder – not only his routes and his reads, but crow hops and his technique in throwing. I think he’s got instincts for the game. He’s always been a listener and he’s learned quick. He doesn’t do anything over the top – there’s not a lot of big things you see out of him. But you’re talking about a guy who hits, he’ll hit it out, he’ll steal a base, he’ll throw you out. He just does everything well. And last year, between Beloit and Stockton, this guy put up a super year. So let’s just keep it going!

AF:  Well, let’s hope they all do! Thanks.

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Talking Propsects with A’s Minor League Manager Steve Scarsone

ssB9315342755Z.1_20141202162702_000_G409A1E4E.1-0cAfter spending parts of seven seasons as a big league infielder, Steve Scarsone has now spent six seasons managing in the A’s minor league system, the past two as the skipper of the A’s Triple-A affiliate at Sacramento.

This year, the California native will be heading east as the A’s Pacific Coast League affiliate switches to Nashville. Scarsone also spends much of spring training in the big league camp with the A’s. So we took the opportunity to get his take on a few hot young prospects who’ve been making their mark in the A’s big league camp this spring…

 

AF:  There are a few guys here in the big league camp this year you had last year at Sacramento I’d like to ask you about. Tyler Ladendorf was having a great year at Sacramento before his suspension. He’s been doing great here in camp. I know you’ve seen a lot of him over the years. Can you talk about the evolution you’ve seen with him and how he’s looked here this spring?

tlLadendorf, Tyler3SS:  Well, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve spent several years with Tyler coming up through the system. We were both together back in 2009 when he came over from the Twins in short-season A-ball. So I’ve been able to be around him ever since. He’s a guy who I think a couple of years ago was kind of wondering what direction he wanted to go. Fortunately, he dove in 100% into being a ballplayer. And he is reaching within himself and it’s shown on the field. It’s great to see a guy who had talent, had a lot of good things going for him but he just wasn’t quite focused yet. He became focused, he became a man, and now you see on the field he’s getting all the little things done. He’s shown Bob Melvin and the rest of the staff here that he can play infield, outfield and get quality at-bats. He’s doing things on the bases that they’re liking, and he’s just putting himself in a nice situation where, whether or not he makes the club out of spring, he can be that guy who can be that first call-up if somebody were to go down in either the infield or the outfield.

AF:  So you think getting the mental aspect of the game together was really the key for him?

SS:  Yeah, I definitely do. I think a lot of us, as players, get caught in a crossroads, where you get to a certain point in your development in your career where you have to commit 100% to this game and this job. And I think that’s what he did, and it’s shown quite well with the way he’s performed and the way he’s been focused. It’s a very good story.

AF:  He’s obviously very versatile, but where do you feel he’s best-suited in the field?

SS:  I’ve always liked him in the middle infield, either second base or shortstop, but he’s able to play third and he can play all the outfield positions. I bet you could throw him behind the plate! He has enough athletic ability to be able to do that. But I like him in the middle because there’s so much action going on there and I like a guy who’s capable of being in the middle of the action.

AF:  Another guy who’s been doing well here in camp whom you had for a bit at the end of last year at Sacramento is Billy Burns. What kind of development have you seen out of him thus far?

bbBurns, Billy2SS:  Yeah, he joined us in August of last year. He’s a guy who’s a leadoff, speed guy, and I think he’s been taught in the past to just slap the ball, put it in play and see what happens. I think what we saw in Sacramento last year was a concentrated effort to try to drive the ball a little bit – I’m not saying drive the ball over the fence, but let’s hit balls hard through the infield, let’s make the infielders have to move side to side, instead of coming in on the ball. That’s going to help his opportunities to get on base. And it seems like he’s carried that into the spring. He’s been taking good swings, he’s got numerous doubles, and he’s having a great spring.

AF:  Well, he certainly seems to be having much better results from the left side of the plate this spring.

SS:  Yeah, from the right side, he shows more power – a little bit more of a comfortable swing. From the left side, it was always slappier. So he seems to be sitting back a little better and having quality at-bats from both sides.

AF:  And how do you feel about his capabilities as a center fielder?

SS:  Well, I don’t think I’ve seen any kind of bad reads. He’s making good reads. Obviously, speed can get him to some areas that maybe other guys can’t get to. But the thing that I’m probably most impressed with is he’s charging the ball, coming up and making good, hard, quality throws. He’s not just flipping it in. He’s looking to throw somebody out or to stop a runner from advancing. But if that’s a reputation he gets as a center fielder, that could be a huge asset for him and help the club as well.

AF:  A guy I wanted to ask you about you haven’t had on any of your clubs yet but I’m sure you’ve gotten a good look at here is Max Muncy. What have you seen out of him as a hitter so far this spring?

mmMuncy, Max2SS:  He just has a nice, quiet, real compact swing. There’s not a lot of movement there to where his timing’s going to get messed up. So from what I’ve seen, it looks like he’s near or on time with every at-bat. When you’re kind of filling in every other day and your at-bats are kind of spread out, for him to step in the box and actually get something done, I like that. As a young player trying to get some exposure with the club, that’s a huge thing that the coaches are looking for – a guy who can come up with a quality at-bat. Now he’s transitioning over to third. It’s a different type of reaction. He’s putting in the work. He’s looking better all the time. If he comes with us to Nashville, he’ll get a lot of work and he’ll clean up a whole bunch. He’s a smart guy, so he’ll learn quick.

AF:  And you were an infielder, so you might have a thing or two tell him.

SS:  Yeah, that’s why I’m going to take it personally!

AF:  Another guy who was here earlier in the spring, Matt Olson, got off to a good start. He’s obviously a very talented young hitter. What did you see out of him while he was here in big league camp?

moOlson, Matt2SS:  Well, he’s a potential everyday major league player. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb on that one. Obviously, the eye test is awesome – he looks great, he’s good sized, his swing is pure, there’s power, there’s recognition of what he’s trying to do at the plate. I think he might be trying a little bit harder than he needs to this spring. Obviously, he’s not in camp anymore. He wasn’t in a situation to make this team, but I think the impression that he gave everybody here is that he can play. And it’s just a matter of time before the organization feels he’s ready.

AF:  And finally, about you, I know you’re a California guy. And with the A’s changing their Triple-A affiliate this year, you’ll be making the switch from Sacramento to Nashville. Any thoughts you have about making that big move?

SS:  You know, in the minor leagues, you don’t want to be stuck in the same city for too long. So still having the same job as Triple-A manager but getting to go to a new city kind of gives you a fresh take on it. They’re building a new stadium, so we’re going to enjoy that. And being the new kid in town, we should get a little honeymoon period there. So hopefully we come in and play well so that they receive us well, and it’ll be a good set up for hopefully a long time there.

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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.