Tag Archive for Max Muncy

Meet Your 2016 Nashville Sounds!


Of course, we’ve still got just a little ways to go until the opening of the 2016 season. And, of course, there will certainly be some trades, some free agent signings (both major league and minor league), some releases, some injuries and, knowing the A’s, some totally unexpected developments during the offseason as well as in spring training.

Considering the way the 2015 season has played out for the A’s, there could certainly be some considerable changes to come. But, just for fun, let’s take a look at the players currently in the A’s organization who will most likely find themselves in the running for a roster spot in Nashville next season…



Carson Blair

Carson Blair

Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley appear likely to return as the catching corps for the A’s in 2016. And with Carson Blair the only other catcher currently on the A’s 40-man roster, it seems reasonably safe to assume that he could be making a return trip to Nashville next season. The Sounds primary receiver this season, Bryan Anderson, can become a minor league free agent in the offseason if he’s not added to the A’s 40-man roster. And the A’s could replace him by signing another experienced minor league backstop, as they seem fond of doing. But if they don’t, then Midland’s Bruce Maxwell would probably be the most likely suspect to join Blair as part of the catching combo at Nashville next season.



Rangel Ravelo

Rangel Ravelo

It’s questionable whether the A’s will choose to offer Ike Davis arbitration in the offseason. And if they don’t, that makes it much more likely that Max Muncy will find a spot somewhere on Oakland’s roster next season. The left-handed hitter could serve as a great option to get some playing time at first base, third base and designated hitter, especially if right-handed hitters Brett Lawrie, Danny Valencia, Mark Canha and Billy Butler remain as the primary options at those positions. If he’s not added to the A’s 40-man roster, first baseman Nate Freiman can become a minor league free agent in the offseason. And Midland first baseman Matt Olson has been spending more time in right field than at first base during the second half of the season. So if Muncy finds a spot on the A’s opening day roster, Freiman departs for potentially greener pastures and Olson does indeed spend more time in the outfield – all of which seem likely – then Rangel Ravelo could find himself getting most of the starts at first base for Nashville next season. The situation at third base seems considerably less complicated. One of the organization’s top hitting prospects, Midland third baseman Renato Nunez, will be ready to make the jump to Triple-A next year, while his Midland teammate, Ryon Healy, who has been splitting time between third base and first base the past couple seasons, seems set to join Nashville as well, splitting time with Nunez at third and Ravelo at first in 2016.



Chad Pinder

Chad Pinder

One thing seems clear. After putting together an impressive season at Midland this year, it’s Chad Pinder’s turn to be the starting shortstop for Nashville next season. If he’s not added to the A’s 40-man roster, Andy Parrino can become a minor league free agent in the offseason, which will just help clear the path for Pinder. If Joey Wendle doesn’t win a starting job with the A’s in spring training, which seems less and less likely as Brett Lawrie spends more and more time at second base, then he’ll end up returning as Nashville’s starting second baseman again next season and serve as Pinder’s double-play partner. And if Tyler Ladendorf doesn’t land a roster spot as a utility man for the A’s, then he’ll also figure into the Sounds’ middle infield picture, along with Midland infielder Colin Walsh. If those two both end up on the Nashville roster, then expect to see them playing all over the diamond. While they’re both primarily suited to play second base, they’ve both got plenty of experience playing elsewhere. Ladendorf would most likely spend time at second base, shortstop and in the outfield, while Walsh would probably find time at second base, third base and in the outfield.



Matt Olson

Matt Olson

Craig Gentry and Jason Pridie were both staples of the Sounds outfield for most of 2015, but it’s quite possible that neither will be back in 2016. It would be surprising if the A’s chose to offer Gentry arbitration in the offseason, and it seems unlikely that Pridie would retain a 40-man roster spot throughout the offseason, though it is possible that he’ll manage to hang on. As mentioned earlier, top prospect Matt Olson has spent more time in right field than at first base during the second half of the season. And with Canha, Muncy and Ravelo all in the A’s first base picture and a lack of top-quality outfield prospects in the system, it seems likely that Olson will continue to see more time in the outfield at Nashville next season. Midland’s other primary outfielders – Chad Oberacker, Josh Whitaker and Jaycob Brugman – all seem ready to take the next step and could join Olson in the Sounds’ outfield picture next year. Jake Smolinski could land a spot with the A’s, sharing time with Coco Crisp in left field or giving Josh Reddick a break in right field against lefties. But if he doesn’t, possibly because the A’s acquire another outfielder, then he’ll be right in the middle of Nashville’s outfield mix next season as well.



Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks

A number of potential starting pitching candidates for the A’s will be out of options next season, including LHPs Sean Nolin, Felix Doubront and Drew Pomeranz as well as RHP Jesse Chavez – as noted by Jeremy F. Koo on Athletics Nation – so it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing any of them doing time at Nashville in 2016. In addition, RHPs Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman seem to have earned spots in the A’s major league rotation. So who does that leave as the likely starters in Nashville next season? Well, Aaron Brooks seems as likely as anyone to start the season in the Triple-A rotation. When it comes to current Sounds starters, unless they’re added to the A’s 40-man roster, Brad Mills and Nate Long will both become minor league free agents in the offseason. And if RHP Cody Martin remains on the A’s 40-man roster through all the offseason’s wheelings and dealings, then he’s likely to land a starting spot, as is reliable RHP Zach Neal. A.J. Griffin, who’s still working his way back from injury issues following last year’s Tommy John surgery, seems unlikely to be a leading candidate for the A’s starting rotation next spring and could end up starting the year as one of Nashville’s starting five. Jarrod Parker is also working his way back from injuries after his Tommy John surgery. It’s not clear whether or not he’ll return to a starting role but, if he does, then he could pose another potential Triple-A rotation option. And a few Midland starters could factor into the picture as well. RHP Jake Sanchez has already been called up to finish the season with the Sounds, while LHPs Sean Manaea and Dillon Overton are two of the team’s most promising pitching prospects who could be pushed up to Nashville in 2016.



Aaron Kurcz

Aaron Kurcz

Well, it should be noted that in recent years the A’s have tended to sign a big batch of minor league free agent relievers to stock their Triple-A bullpen. So if that ends up being the strategy again this offseason, then the Sounds bullpen is likely to be comprised of a bunch of guys we’ve yet to meet! But there certainly are plenty of arms currently in the organization who could fill the relief role in Nashville next season. First of all, if not added to the 40-man roster, then familiar names like Angel Castro, Brock Huntzinger, Jim Fuller, Taylor Thompson and Ryan Doolittle could all become minor league free agents in the offseason. When it comes to arms currently on the A’s 40-man roster, if he doesn’t find a spot in the A’s bullpen, then Ryan Dull will certainly be returning to the Sounds, as will Dan Otero, R.J. Alvarez and Pat Venditte. Aaron Kurcz also seems highly likely to be making a return appearance in 2016. Arnold Leon is out of options but, if the A’s can manage to sneak him through waivers, then he could find himself back in Nashville as well. Jarrod Parker could also be a candidate to start the season in the Sounds bullpen as he makes his way back from a serious arm injury incurred after his Tommy John surgery. And then there are a number of RockHounds relievers who’ve all earned the opportunity to see time at Triple-A, most notably Seth Frankoff and Tucker Healy (who’ve both had a taste of the PCL), Kris Hall (who’ll be showcasing in the Arizona Fall League starting next month) and Brendan McCurry (who’ll also be in the AFL and has been one of the most impressive relievers in the A’s system over the past two seasons). Add in the inevitable minor league free agent signees, and there shouldn’t be any shortage of available relief arms to stock the bullpen at First Tennessee Park in 2016.

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Friday, August 28th: AZL A’s Win Behind Jean Carlo Rodriguez’s Big Bat while Vermont Scores Second Straight Walk-Off Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: AZL A’s Third Baseman Jean Carlo Rodriguez (4 for 5 / Triple / Double / 4 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: AZL A’s Third Baseman Jean Carlo Rodriguez (4 for 5 / Triple / Double / 4 RBIs)


ARIZONA LEAGUE  (Rookie Short-Season)

AZL Cubs  1

AZL A’s    9

WP – Brasier 1-1 / 3.60

Farmhand Of The Game:

Third Baseman Jean Carlo Rodriguez

(4 for 5 / Triple / Double / 4 RBIs)

19-year-old Venezuelan third baseman Jean Carlo Rodriguez had a big day at the plate for the Arizona League A’s on Friday. Rodriguez had 4 hits, including a triple and a double, and drove in 4 runs, including the go-ahead run for the A’s in the bottom of the 3rd. First baseman Miguel Guzman singled, doubled and drove in 3, while left fielder Shane Conlon walked and doubled in a run in the win. This year’s 3rd-round draft pick for the A’s, 18-year-old RHP Dakota Chalmers, allowed 1 unearned run and struck out 3 in 1 2/3 innings to start things off on Friday, while rehabbing RHP Ryan Brasier tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his 1st win, and 19-year-old Venezuelan RHP Argenis Blanco contributed 4 scoreless frames in relief for the A’s.

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

A’s Farmhands Who Could Play A Role For Oakland In 2016

Billy Burns: Who will be the next A's farmhand to break through with Oakland?

Billy Burns: Who will be the next A’s farmhand to break through for Oakland?

With the 2015 season turning out to be such a big disappointment for the A’s, the team’s plans heading into this offseason are probably just about as unclear as they’ve been in quite some time. General manager Billy Beane and the A’s front office could choose to head in many different directions and there are very few players currently on the roster who are certain to still be around come 2016.

The only two players with multi-million-dollar guaranteed contracts for next season are also two of this season’s biggest disappointments – outfielder Coco Crisp and designated hitter Billy Butler. Reliever Sean Doolittle also has a guaranteed contract for next season but, with this season’s injury, there are still some question marks surrounding his reliability at this point. And there are three players currently on the 40-man roster – first baseman Ike Davis and outfielders Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry – whom it seems the A’s would be highly unlikely to offer arbitration to in the offseason.

So there certainly could be quite a few openings on the A’s roster heading into next season. And, though the A’s minor league system may not be rich in top prospects at the moment, there are plenty of players at the upper levels of the system who could potentially play useful roles for Oakland in 2016. So let’s take a look at some of the most likely suspects to be appearing in the green and gold next year…


mmMuncy, Max3Max Muncy (1B-3B)

Muncy has had 82 at-bats with the A’s this season, almost all against right-handed pitching. And while he may not have hit up a storm in his brief time in Oakland, he’s been a solid minor league hitter since being drafted in the 5th round back in 2012, particularly when it comes to his ability to get on base. The 25-year-old has a career minor league on-base percentage of .379 and has posted a .351 OBP in 179 at-bats for Nashville this season. Since it seems unlikely that the A’s will offer first baseman Ike Davis arbitration this offseason, that could leave an opening for the lefty-hitting Muncy to potentially share time with Mark Canha at first base next year. If the A’s decide to give Canha more playing time in the outfield, that could also open up more opportunities for Muncy at first. And if the A’s decide to move Brett Lawrie, either to second base or to another team in an offseason trade, Muncy also has experience at third base and could potentially form a platoon at the hot corner with righty-swinging Danny Valencia. Whatever happens in the offseason, it seems likely that there could be an opening on the A’s roster for a left-handed hitter with a track record of getting on base and who can play both first and third.


js519295bJake Smolinski (OF)

In just 35 at-bats with the A’s this season, Smolinski has shown the potential to be a productive righty-hitting platoon outfielder for Oakland. The former 2nd-round draft pick also put up an impressive .349/.402/.628 slash line in 86 at-bats at Nashville this season and appeared in 59 major league games for Texas between 2014 and 2015. With no clear left fielder in the picture for the A’s next season, it’s possible that Smolinski could vie with Coco Crisp for playing time in left or also serve as a possible platoon partner for lefty-swinging Josh Reddick in right. And with the A’s unlikely to offer fellow right-handed hitter Craig Gentry arbitration in the offseason and a lack of other respectable outfield options currently on the roster, there could be room for a right-handed hitter with a little bit of pop in the A’s outfield picture next year.


jwWendle, Joey3Joey Wendle (2B)

After coming over from Cleveland for Brandon Moss in the offseason, Wendle has spent this year as the starting second baseman for Triple-A Nashville. The left-handed hitter currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in hits with 151, in extra-base hits with 52 and in doubles with 37. His .428 slugging percentage is nothing to sneeze at either, and folks in Nashville have been raving about Wendle’s abilities in the field. The problems start when you catch a glimpse of his 19 walks, 100 strikeouts and .318 on-base percentage. Still, second base has been a weak spot in the A’s lineup. Last spring, before the injuries started to pile up, the plan was to have Ben Zobrist start out as the team’s primary second baseman, with Eric Sogard moving into the utility infielder role. And if the A’s decide they’d like someone with a little more pop at second base this season, they could try to slide Sogard into a back-up role once again while giving Wendle a real shot to start the season at second.


Tyler Ladendorf (2B)

Ladendorf had just 10 at-bats with the A’s earlier this season before heading to Nashville and then missing most of the season after undergoing ankle surgery. After primarily being known for his defense, the former 2nd-round draft pick had a breakthrough offensive season at Sacramento last year, posting a .297/.376/.407 slash line while playing at second base and shortstop as well as in the outfield. Ladendorf’s been back in action at Nashville since earlier this month and has already played four different positions while putting up similar numbers for the Sounds. While his versatility makes him valuable, his best position is probably second base. So, while Ladendorf could be quite useful in a utlity role, backing up at a variety of different positions, he could also serve as a possible right-handed platoon partner for either Eric Sogard or Joey Wendle at second base next season.


rrRavelo, Rangel2Rangel Ravelo (1B)

Ravelo missed most of the season after undergoing wrist surgery, but he returned to action with Double-A Midland in July before joining Triple-A Nashville in August. Before his injury, the plan had been to have the 23-year-old Cuban spend time at both first base and third base at Nashville but, since returning from his injury, he’s appeared exclusively at first base and also as a designated hitter. Like a right-handed version of Muncy, Ravelo’s always shown the ability to get on base, and he has a career minor league on-base percentage of .371 and a .353 OBP this season at Nashville. It’s possible that Muncy and Ravelo could form a potential first base platoon at some point. But since Ravelo has only appeared in two games at third base since 2012, it’s probably going to be difficult to count on him possibly being able to fill much of a role at third base at this stage of the game. And with only 17 career games at the Triple-A level at this point, it would probably take a mighty impressive spring for Ravelo to factor into the A’s plans to start the 2016 season. But with Ike Davis unlikely to be offered arbitration by the A’s in the offseason, depending on how everything else shakes out, there could be some opportunities at first base for the A’s before next season is through.


rdDull, Ryan4Ryan Dull (RP)

Dull started the season with Double-A Midland before moving up to Triple-A Nashville in July, and the right-hander hasn’t missed a beat since advancing a level. Between both levels, the 25-year-old has allowed just 4 runs while notching 68 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings of work this season. At a listed height of just 5’10”, the former 32nd-round draft pick doesn’t fit the profile of the big, intimidating, flame-throwing reliever. He’s also not currently on the A’s 40-man roster. And while Dull’s been nearly unhittable against righties, he’s been considerably less impressive against lefties. But with the effectiveness that he’s shown throughout his minor league career, along with a solid fastball, slider and changeup, and the team’s current lack of quality relievers at the major league level, it’s hard to imagine that Dull wouldn’t at least be given a very long look by the A’s in spring training in 2016.



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.

Monday, August 24th: Max Kuhn Helps Lead Snappers to Walk-Off Win in Extras while Nashville, Stockton, Vermont & AZL A’s All Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers First Baseman Max Kuhn (2 for 5 / Double / RBI / Run)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers First Baseman Max Kuhn (2 for 5 / Double / RBI / Run)



Kane County Cougars  2

Beloit Snappers          3

WP – Gauna 3-2 / 1.39

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Max Kuhn

(2 for 5 / Double / RBI / Run)

With a man on and Beloit down by a run in the bottom of the 8th on Monday, first baseman Max Kuhn stepped to the plate and singled in the tying run for the Snappers. And the game remained tied until the bottom of the 10th, when Kuhn doubled, advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and then came in to score the winning run on catcher Argenis Raga’s RBI single as Beloit won in a walk-off on Monday. Starter Daniel Gossett was solid for the Snappers, allowing just 2 unearned runs over 7 innings of work, while LHP Cody Stull tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Koby Gauna got the final four outs to pick up his 3rd win for the Snappers.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Tuesday, August 4th: Ryan Roberts’ 2 HRs Help Sounds Win in 12 while Brett Graves Leads Snappers to Shutout Victory

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Designated Hitter Ryan Roberts (2 Home Runs / Double / Walk / 4 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Designated Hitter Ryan Roberts (2 Home Runs / Double / Walk / 4 RBIs)



Nashville Sounds         8

Omaha Storm Chasers  6

WP – Huntzinger 2-2 / 3.59

HR – Roberts 2 (8)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Ryan Roberts

(2 Home Runs / Double / Walk / 4 RBIs)

Designated hitter Ryan Roberts had another big night for Nashville on Tuesday. With the game tied in the top of the 12th, Roberts slugged his second home run of the game to provide the winning run for the Sounds. Roberts also hit a solo shot in the 4th and doubled in 2 runs in the 2nd, and he’s now hit 4 home runs in his last 4 games for Nashville. Starter Brad Mills allowed 6 runs over 4 1/3 innings of work, but the Sounds’ bullpen was solid. Relievers Ryan Dull, Pat Venditte, Angel Castro and Brock Huntzinger combined on 7 2/3 shutout innings, and Huntzinger picked up the win by tossing a scoreless 11th and 12th to close things out for the Sounds. Meanwhile, with Danny Valencia’s addition to the A’s roster, infielder Max Muncy was optioned back to Nashville.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Tuesday, July 28th: Parker Frazier Earns 3rd Straight Win for Hounds while Coco Crisp Hits 2 HRs in Rehab Appearance for Stockton

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Parker Frazier (6 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Parker Frazier (6 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)



Midland RockHounds  6

Frisco RoughRiders       1

WP – Frazier 3-0 / 0.34

HR – Rickles (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Parker Frazier

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

RHP Parker Frazier, who was acquired from the Arizona organization earlier in the month, turned in his third straight quality start on Tuesday, allowing just 1 unearned run while striking out 5 over 6 innings of work to earn his 3rd win for Midland. And Frazier has now failed to allow an earned run in 20 2/3 innings over his last 3 starts for the RockHounds. Catcher Nick Rickles singled and slugged a 2-run homer, while first baseman Rangel Ravelo singled, doubled and drove in a pair, and outfielder Chad Oberacker collected 2 hits and 2 walks, stole 2 bases and scored 3 times in the win. Meanwhile, Midland’s saves leader, RHP Ryan Dull, was promoted to Nashville and Stockton’s saves leader, RHP Brendan McCurry, was reassigned to the RockHounds.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Exclusive: Get the Inside Scoop on Nashville’s Top Players from Sounds Skipper Steve Scarsone

ssB9315342755Z.1_20141202162702_000_G409A1E4E.1-0cAfter spending parts of seven seasons as a big league infielder, Steve Scarsone has now spent seven seasons managing in the A’s minor league system.

He’s currently midway through his third season managing at Triple-A, though this year the California native had to head east as the A’s Pacific Coast League affiliate switched from Sacramento to Nashville.

Scarsone is handling a veteran club this year in Nashville where the average age is close to 29 and there are very few young prospects on the roster. We took the opportunity to talk with the skipper in Nashville last weekend to get his take on some of the team’s top players…


AF:  I know you spent a lot of time watching Max Muncy in the big league camp this spring, and now he’s back here with you at Nashville. I don’t know if you had the chance to see much of him playing at the major league level.

SS:  Not as much as you’d hope. A lot of times we’re playing at the same time. And by the time our game’s over, if they’re still playing, it’s like…

mmMuncy, Max2AF:  The last thing you need at that point is more baseball…

SS:  Sometimes, to be honest! But we tried to follow him as best we could. I know he wasn’t getting the consistent play, but that’s what he was brought up to do was to be that guy to help out and fill in. And it sounds like he did a pretty good job of it. It’s not easy for a guy to go up for his first time and not be in the everyday lineup and have to try to figure out not only how to compete at that level but how to compete at that level with three or four days in between games. I think it was a great experience for him. I think he’s taken a lot of positives out of it. And now, being here and playing every day, I think he’s shown a huge improvement defensively at third base, which is still somewhat of a new position for him. And his swing plays very nicely in this game – it’s a short swing. He has considerable power, very good pitch recognition, and he’s not afraid to take a walk. He’ll wait for his pitch. Right now he’s kind of struggling, but that won’t last very long. He’ll be fine. I think he’s going to be something that we’ll try to hold on to in this organization and see if we can find a spot for him.

AF:  So is there anything in particular that he needs to do to get himself into a position to get back up there?

SS:  No. From reports that I’ve heard, his return here was not due to his lack of performance. He was just kind of the odd man out up there. To be honest, with his age and experience level, getting a good half-season in Triple-A would be to his advantage – seeing some advanced pitching day in and day out and getting a chance to learn from his teammates and see how to handle himself on and off the field. He’s still relatively young. This year’s his first year in Triple-A, and getting an opportunity to play in the big leagues for a spell was icing on the cake for him. But I think he’s got a good mental outlook on what he needs to continue to try to fight towards, and I think he’ll be fine.

AF:  Like Muncy, one of the other younger position players you’ve got on this team here is Joey Wendle. So what have you seen out of him this year and where do you feel he’s at in his development?

SS:  I think the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Joey is just his love for the game. He hustles on and off the field and plays as hard as he can. I think that’s a quality that sometimes kind of gets overlooked, because we get so caught up in defining tools and stuff like that. And it’s kind of that X factor that doesn’t really come up in a scouting report, but I think it’s very important to bring up for him because that’s a huge part of the kind of player he is – he’s kind of a throwback in a sense. But he’s given us great defensive play. I think he’s improved greatly in just his knowledge and experience and anticipation of what’s going to happen and how to be in the right spot at the right time. His work habits are obviously good. I really have enjoyed watching him progress. I think playing with some of these older guys has been a huge advantage for him. As coaches, we kind of find ourselves limited at times. There’s so much we can do. We can give them the work, we can give them the information, but the criticism and encouragement that comes from his teammates go leaps and bounds above what we can do as coaches. I think he’s benefited greatly from some of the older players that he’s playing with – just in terms of how to best prepare himself and how to play the game as a professional player. I think that’s going to help him along the way as he continues, and I’m sure he’ll make the next step too.

jwWendle, Joey3AF:  I talked to A’s infield coach Mike Gallego about him in spring training. He raved about his preparation and how much he had his head into every play and he was really impressed with his whole approach. Now you were an infielder too, so do you concur with that assessment?

SS:  Definitely. And what we’ve tried to do this year with him is to take that attention to what’s going on, his first step and his movements and everything, and try to smooth everything out so it’s a little bit more fluid through the play. Early on, he was getting himself into trouble kind of being a little bit too forceful to the ball instead of really reading the ball and getting the hop that’s going to be best for him. As a second baseman, you don’t have to be as aggressive as on the other side. So I’ve seen a great improvement on that in terms of taking the game in a little bit more and not trying to force yourself down the game’s throat.

AF:  So letting things come to him as opposed to maybe trying a little too hard and trying to force things all the time.

SS:  Exactly! And he’s taken to it very well – he’s got a very nice rhythm about him right now.

AF:  Now what about at the plate? Obviously, he could be a little more selective. But what have you seen in terms of the evolution of his approach at the plate over the course of the year, and what does he need to be thinking about doing up there right now?

SS:  I think that’s the key. The key for him is to get good pitches to hit, because he can handle just about any pitcher he sees. He has just as much success against left-handers as he does against right-handers. He’s shown some power. He’s able to hit the ball to all fields. I think, at times, he just gets a little too aggressive. So that’s been the process with him, to try to smooth out his offense just liked we’re trying to do on the defensive side. We have him hitting in the two hole, so there’s some more things that can happen up there. He’s willing to bunt and he tries to hit the hole when he has that opportunity. So there are a lot of good things that we’re seeing, and we know that the mentality is there. It’s just a matter of more and more reps. I think we’re going to see where it’s going to start to click for him more and more as this season finishes up. And I’d like to see how he comes back next season after having an offseason to just kind of rethink everything, because in the heat of the season, you just grind and grind and grind. Sometimes that offseason of reflection can be very useful. I really do look forward to seeing how he plays out.

AF:  So it sounds like you think he knows what he needs to do and he’s headed in the right direction and it’s just a matter of executing.

SS:  By all means, yes.

AF:  A guy who was a big hitter for you last year at Sacramento is Nate Freiman, but he’s really been struggling this year. So what’s been going on with him and what’s been holding him back?

nfNate+Freiman+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+CFUGtYuCl4Ll2bSS:  Well, Nate showed up in spring and hurt his back. He was down all spring, and he was left in Arizona. He ended up joining us almost six weeks after the season started. And then, at that point, we were using him kind of sparingly to keep him from a relapse.So it took him seven or eight weeks into our season before he was kind of starting to play every day. He didn’t have a spring training. He found himself not getting off to a start, and he’s been kind of pressing, trying to contribute. He feels like he’s letting the team down. He’s a very selfless guy – he’s a great teammate. For him not to hit the ball and drive people in, it’s been very frustrating for him, and we’ve had several talks. Of course, he went through the situation where they took him off the 40-man roster, and he was stressed about that. We’ve all had to go through that at some point. It’s been a learning year for him. If you think about it, he went from Double-A to the big leagues. And then last year, he kind of went up and down. So he hasn’t had a 400+ at-bat season since 2012 when he was in Double-A with the Padres. He’s just now kind of getting a chance to get some more regular playing time. He’s working on it, he’s trying a bunch of different things and it’s frustrating. It’s tough to pull yourself out of the hole, but he’s got a good attitude and he works hard and he plays hard.

AF:  Is the back still an issue at all? Are there any lingering physical issues with him?

SS:  No, he’s 100% percent. That’s all fine. He’s just trying to get on some kind of a roll at the plate and start feeling like Nate again.

AF:  I wanted to ask you about a couple of pitchers here. The most interesting story on your pitching staff this year has to be Barry Zito. So what have you seen out of Barry and what he’s been doing here?

bzZito, Barry3SS:  Well, on the field, he’s pitched phenomenally. The numbers speak for themselves. He’s going deep into games, he’s controlling the games and he’s doing very well now. I would have loved to have been around when he was at the top of his game. He’s not an imposing pitcher like he was in terms of his velocity – there’s onbviously been a drop-off. But the curveball and the changeup are still there. He makes hitters look silly still. He sets them up and puts them down. And it’s just that experience and knowledge of pitching and the ability to make a pitch when he needs it that really has been impressive. No, not every pitch has been right where he wants it, and you can see that there’s some struggle there, but he never lets that bother him to where he can’t go back and make the pitch he needs when he needs it. And off the field, in the clubhouse, he’s been outstanding. He’s been a great source for these other guys. They look up to him, and he takes it with a ceratin modesty and grace. It’s actually fun to have him on the club.

AF:  Well, there aren’t too many minor league clubhouses with Cy Young winners in them.

SS:  But you know what what? He doesn’t wear that on his sleeve. He’s very humble. And I’m enjoying the fact that I got the chance to spend the summer with him.

AF:  So where’s his velocity been at lately?

SS:  He’s mid-80s with the fastball. When you just look at the fastball, that’s not very hard. But when you play it off of that changeup, which is arguably Tom-Glavine-like at times, and then the breaking ball, which is purely Barry-Zito-like, the velocity of the fastball probably looks about 92 to some of these hitters when he uses it at the proper time. On the scouting side, you’d probably say it’s not quite there. But in terms of effectiveness, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to get people out.

AF:  Do you have any update on a guy who was pitching here for you before landing back on the disabled list, A.J. Griffin?

ag456167SS:  He’s back in Arizona. I’m not positive where he’s at. It’s just one of those situations where trying to compensate for one injury kind of created a little bit of another. So it was decided not to push this. Obviously, I can’t talk too much about the medical side of it. He just needs to get himself feeling right.

AF:  And was it basically right shoulder soreness?

SS:  Basically.

AF:  And what about Sean Nolin, who recently went back on the disabled list again?

SS:  Sean’s still here with us. He started for us for four or five starts and he started feeling some stuff, so we slowed him down. He’s currently on the DL trying to regain some strength and ability to really get after it. But he’s on the mend and we’ll probably look to see him start to get himself into a rehab situation over the next week or so. And then hopefully over the next couple weeks we should see him back active. I don’t know if we’ll use him as a starter or in the bullpen. We’d have to build him up as a starter again, and I don’t know if we have enough time left in the season to get him built up.

AF:  Well, I guess it’s a good sign that he’s still here with you guys rather than being down in Arizona.

SS:  Yeah, it was just some small stuff. After coming off all the stuff he’s had to battle through the last year, everybody agreed that it was best for him to stay on a little bit of a slower pace rather than trying to push him into something and make things worse.

AF:  Another guy you’ve got here with quite a bit of major league experience is Ryan Cook. He’s been struggling a bit lately. But where’s he at, what’s been going on with him and what does he need to figure out to get back to where he used to be?

rc5l64jcRW2SS:  He went up and down early. Obviously, he started the season here. And I know he was frustrated. I think it was kind of a shock to him. He handled it pretty well, but you could tell he was struggling with the situation and all. And he didn’t really get off to a great start. Then he got called up and you thought, “Okay, he’ll back in a groove and he’ll stay there.” Then they did so many quick moves so soon with all those relievers. Since he’s been here, his attitude has greatly improved. He’s all about trying to get himself back on track and get himself back to the big leagues, which is a good sign. He’s an emotional guy. He’s high-strung. We’ve all seen him in Oakland – he’s out there giving it everything he’s got. He’s a hard charger. He’s just been kind of getting knocked around a little bit, so he’s getting a little bit of humility. And that sometimes can be a good thing. So he’ll continue to pitch and he’ll continue to give it everything he’s got. And I think that, at some point or another, Oakland will need him again and he’ll go up and step right back into where he left off.

AF:  Is there anything in particular that he’s been working on here?

SS:  No, no, he’s pretty much the same pitcher. He’s just trying to get a little bit more consistent with his control, trying to pitch a little bit more ahead in the count. He’s finding himself kind of getting behind and having to come across the plate with a little bit more of a hitter’s pitch. Two years ago when he was dominating in the big leagues, he was getting ahead, he was using both sides of the plate. He had late movement that was giving him opportunities for missing the barrel. But now I think he’s just trying to aim a little too much and probably losing a little bit of that late movement, and it’s being knocked around a little bit more than he’s used to. You know, sometimes that just comes from the pressure and from trying to be too fine and trying to take that next step to prove that he’s able and ready to go back up. But his velocity’s there and the pitches are getting stronger. So he’s still a valuable part of this organization.

AF:  Great, thanks!

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Catching Up With A Couple Of A’s Infield Prospects: Max Muncy & Joey Wendle

DSC04192On a veteran Nashville club where the average age is almost 29, only two position players on the team were born in the ‘90s – infielders Max Muncy and Joey Wendle.

As the youngest hitting prospects on the squad, the two are more likely to find themselves playing significant roles in Oakland in the future than just about any other position players currently at the Triple-A level.

Muncy has already seen time with the A’s this season, and Wendle may very well end up spending time in Oakland next season. We took the opportunity to speak with both of them last weekend in Nashville as the Sounds were wrapping up a 4-game home stand against Omaha.



mmMuncy, Max224-year-old first baseman-third baseman Max Muncy became the first member of the A’s 2012 draft class to make it to Oakland’s major league roster when he was called up by the A’s in late April. The team’s top pick in 2012, Addison Russell, got the call from the Cubs just a few days earlier. Originally a first baseman, Muncy’s been learning to play third base over the past year. He made 4 errors in 12 games at the position while with Oakland, but he’s yet to make an error at third since returning to Nashville. Muncy’s .385 on-base percentage at Midland in 2014 was one of the best in the A’s minor league system last season, but he managed to post just a .273 OBP in 34 games with the A’s. Back at Nashville though, he’s put up a much more Muncy-like slash line of .252/.351/.433 in 34 games at Triple-A. Everyone at Nashville, including Muncy himself, claims that he looks much more comfortable now that he’s been getting the chance to man the hot corner on a daily basis.

AF:  The last time we touched base with you was during spring training when in you were in the big league camp with the A’s. You ended up spending a good amount of time with the big league club since then, and now you’re back here at Nashville. So what kind of experience was it for you to get the chance to be playing at the big league level for the first time?

MM:  It was a lot of fun. It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s as good as everyone says it is. Once the glamour wears off a little bit, you realize it’s still just baseball. It’s not like it’s a completely different sport – it’s the same sport you’ve been playing your whole life. But the biggest thing for me was realizing it’s still just baseball.

AF:  In terms of actually hitting at the major league level, did you feel the pitchers there were approaching you any differently, and were there any changes you needed to make to adapt to what you found yourself encountering there?

MM:  Yeah, there were a lot of things I needed to change. One of the biggest things for me was just my timing. I was struggling to figure out how to make sure I was in a good rhythm when I wasn’t playing every day. I didn’t do it properly, and that’s why I didn’t hit as good as I should have up there. I’ve just been trying to get back into that rhythm and that timing. It’s been a little tough doing that. But I haven’t been in this league [the Pacific Coast League] too long. One of the things everyone tells you about this league is that all the pitchers live off their off-speed. And I’d definitely say that the difference between up there and down here is that up there those guys live off their fastballs – they’re not afraid to throw those fastballs. So that’s been a huge difference for me. You go up there and you see fastballs and you come down here and suddenly you don’t see fastballs. It’s an adjustment, but it’s one you’ve got to make.

AF:  Throughout your minor league career, you’ve always played pretty much every day. So do you feel that keeping your rhythm and timing while not playing every day was the biggest adjustment for you?

MM: Yeah, I definitely think for me that was the hardest adjustment because, like you said, I’ve never done that before. And it wasn’t just hitting, it was defensive rhythm. I went out there and I worked hard on every single day on defense with Ron Washington and I did everything that I could. I just couldn’t figure out how to translate that into a game and that really hurt me – and really hurt the team in a couple games. So that was an adjustment I needed to make and, unfortunately, I didn’t. But getting back down here and getting playing time again, I feel like everything’s starting to come back. You know, I don’t blame them for that, I blame myself entirely. I just wasn’t able to make that adjustment and it cost.

mmDSC02925bxAF:  Well, you’ve primarily been playing third base down here. So has it been helpful to you to be playing over there pretty much every day?

MM: Yeah, it’s been really helpful. Like I said, I worked with Wash every single day up there. And there were a lot of things that he was trying to teach me that, at the time, when you’re not seeing it in a game, you can’t exactly see what he’s trying to get going for you. But now that I’m in the games, I can see exactly what he’s talking about and how it’s translating to me. It’s a night-and-day difference from how I was playing third in spring training to how I’m playing third now. Everything is so much smoother and so much more natural, and that’s due to all the work I’ve been putting in.

AF:  So is there anything specific that you’re working on or anything you’re mentally focused on trying to improve right now?

MM:  The biggest thing I’m trying to work on is getting my swing back. My swing has gotten away from me and it just kind of feels foreign to me right now. And I’m trying to get it back to where I’m used to having it. I believe in myself and I believe that it won’t take too long, but it’s just a process right now. And I’ve got to keep going out every day and harding work. I can’t get too frustrated with it. But that’s just been the biggest thing is trying to get my swing back.

AF:  It sounds like you’re just trying to find that comfort zone again where everything feels right.

MM:  Exactly!

AF:  So how is Nashville as a place to play in and a place to live in?

MM:  I haven’t had too many home games yet, but the town’s great from what I’ve seen. It’s a big town, it’s up and coming. There are a lot of people here, and the country music scene’s outrageous. So many people are out here, and the games I’ve been in we’ve had sold-out crowds almost every night. It’s been pretty crazy. They’ve got that thing out in right field called “The Band Box.” It’s almost like a nightclub out there. They’ve got music playing during the game. It’s just a completely different experience. As far as the field goes, it’s a tough field to hit at. I’ve seen some guys absolutely crush balls that just go nowhere here. I’m kind of used to that coming from Midland. But the situation’s different in Midland because you hit a ball and it gets caught up in the wind. Here, you hit a ball and it just doesn’t go anywhere. If you look at the field, the dimensions are actually pretty fair – they’re almost on the small side. So you think there’d be a lot of home runs being hit there, but there’s just none. I haven’t seen one ball go out to dead center field in batting practice or in a game here. It plays really big.

AF:  So, on a day-to-day basis, what’s the best thing about playing in the majors as opposed to the minors?

MM:  You know, on the road, it’s definitely the hotels. When you’re up there, you get your own room. You’re staying in 5-star hotels. Down here, we still stay in pretty nice hotels, but you’ve got a roommate. Being a young guy, it’s a little different up there. You’ve got to be at the field early. You’ve got to find your own way there. That’s not a rule, but it’s kind of like an unwritten rule. If you’re a young guy, you probably need to find your own way to the field – you probably shouldn’t ride the bus. But the biggest thing for me is just the living situation up there is just a lot different. You get treated pretty well up there.



jwWendle, Joey325-year-old second baseman Joey Wendle joined the A’s this past offseason in one of the more surprising deals for A’s fans, when the team traded popular first baseman Brandon Moss to the Indians for the Double-A infielder whom most A’s followers had never heard of. He’s played in 95 of Nashville’s 100 games so far this season, appearing at second base in all of them. Everyone at Nashville raves about Wendle’s work ethic and his hustle in the field and claims that he’s been as solid as can be at second base this season. He also leads the team in doubles with 27, but the one critique most frequently raised about Wendle concerns his plate discipline. He’s walked just 17 times in 425 plate appearances, but he says that he knows what he needs to work on to get where he wants to go.

AF:  We last spoke in the early part of May and now here we are in late July. So how have things been going for you here over the past few months?

JW:  It’s been good, both from a personal standpoint and a baseball standpoint. It’s been a really fun summer. It’s been enjoyable for me and my wife, as we’ve moved out here for a couple of months. Baseball season’s been going well. It’s been full of adjustments, full of ups and downs, but overall it’s been good. I’ve been playing well here lately. It was nice having the All-Star break for three days just to get your mind off of baseball for a couple days, and I think that’s good for most of the players. We were just able to kind of hang around Nashville and really explore it.

AF:  So what do you feel are the main things you’ve learned so far this year?

JW:  I think, at this level, players are able to highlight your limitations faster than maybe at other levels. So it’s been a little eye-opening for me. Pitchers realize if they don’t have to throw me strikes, they’re not going to. So that’s been a challenge for me – staying within myself and learning the pitches that I can and can’t hit. So it’s been constant adjustments and constantly trying to improve in that area.

AF:  Do you feel that you’ve made some progress over the past few months in terms of learning to be more selective?

JW:  Yeah, I do feel that way. Any hitter will tell you that they’re constantly working on something and constantly looking to improve. In a game where you fail 70% of the time, I think there’s always going to be some of that where guys are always looking to hone their skills and make them as polished as possible.

AF:  Well, there’s a reason they say it’s a game of adjustments.

JW:  Yes, it definitely is!

AF:  But going back to what you were saying earlier, you feel that pitchers at this level have a much greater ability to exploit any weakness that you may have in your game.

JW:  Yeah, I think that’s true. They get the scouting report on you and they’ve seen you once or twice before – and obviously it’s magnified at the next level too.

AF:  So how do you feel about your defense? Is it steady as she goes or is there anything you’re working on out there?

jwOakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+HJZsfVURAAbl2JW:  We do a pretty good job as a team staying on top of our defense, especially when we’re at home, we’re able to get into a nice routine. We go out before batting practice and take groundballs for about half an hour and then take balls off the bat live during batting practice. So I think that really helps me just kind of stay fresh. But I’ve felt pretty good, pretty comfortable over there at second base. I had one week in particular where I played poorly over there and had kind of a defensive slump I guess. But other than that week, I’ve been feeling pretty good over there.

AF:  Well, your manager, Steve Scarsone, was a major league infielder. So has he been much help to you here?

JW:  Yeah, he’s been great. He’s the one I’ve been working with almost every day, especially when we’re at home. And he knows what he’s doing out there so, when he talks, you definitely want to listen to him and take any advice that he has and really think about it and try to work on that. It’s been very helpful. I know he was a great defensive player. So being around someone like that and just seeing how they talk about different positions they played and how they did it is something that you definitely want to tap into and learn from.

AF:  You’ve played all your games this season at second base. Has there been any talk at all of having you maybe sample some other positions to increase your versatility? Has anyone said anything about that at all?

JW:  Not that I’m aware of, no. But I have played a little bit of third, actually right when I got drafted in short-season. But, as far as I know, it’s just second.

AF:  This is the first year that the A’s Triple-A affiliate has been here in Nashville. So how’s it been for you playing here in Nashville?

JW:  Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s really up and coming. It’s really grown at this point. It’s fun to be a part of and see new people coming in. A guy told me the city bird is a crane, with so many buildings going up. But it’s been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed it here.

AF:  This is a pretty veteran team here in Nashville. And at 25, you’re actually one of the younger guys on this team. So has it been useful for you to have some of these more experienced guys around? Is there much that you’ve picked up from your teammates here this year?

JW:  Definitely! I mean, having that kind of advice and having those eyes in the dugout for mechanical issues and stuff like that is huge. But more so for me even, just them having been around the game for such a long time and being able to learn from them about how to deal with the failures and successes of this game and just seeing how they handle themselves and seeing what it really means to be a professional is really what I take away from them. But it is nice. The coaches that we have our great, but it’s almost like we have 25 coaches down the bench.

AF:  Well, it must be interesting to see some of your teammates, like Max Muncy and Billy Burns, going up and playing for the big club. It must give you the sense that that opportunity really isn’t that far away.

JW:  Yeah, it does. And it’s real exciting for them. Playing alongside Billy Burns, and now he’s been up most all season. Seeing the success they have here and then up there is really encouraging for everybody down here. And it’s just really fun to watch. Anytime you turn on the TV and you see somebody you know, it’s just pretty cool. So we’re definitely really happy for all the guys that get called up here, and I hope to be one of them!

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Sunday, July 12th: Jake Sanchez Leads Hounds to Second Straight Shutout Victory while #1 Picks Matt Chapman & Richie Martin Homer for Stockton & Vermont

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Jake Sanchez (6 2/3 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 6 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Jake Sanchez (6 2/3 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 6 K)



Midland RockHounds   2

NW Arkansas Naturals   0

WP – Sanchez 7-5 / 4.70

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Jake Sanchez

(6 2/3 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 6 K / Win)

The RockHounds shut out the Naturals for the second straight night on Sunday. RHP Jake Sanchez turned in an impressive start, striking out 6 over 6 2/3 shutout innings to earn his 7th win. RHP Tucker Healy got the final out in the 7th, then RHP Bobby Wahl tossed a scoreless 8th, and RHP Ryan Dull pitched a perfect 9th to notch his 9th save and complete the 6-hit shutout on Sunday. Shortstop Chad Pinder doubled in the RockHounds’ first run in the 3rd, while first baseman Rangel Ravelo had 3 hits and drove in a run in his second game since joining Midland.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Saturday, July 11th: Jonathan Joseph Leads Hounds to Shutout Victory while Jason Pridie Hits 12th Home Run in Sounds Loss

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Jonathan Joseph (7 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Jonathan Joseph (7 IP / 5 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)



Midland RockHounds   2

NW Arkansas Naturals   0

WP – Joseph 6-3 / 2.45

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Jonathan Joseph

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

RHP Jonathan Joseph turned in his second straight strong start on Saturday, allowing 5 hits while striking out 5 over 7 shutout innings to earn his 6th win for the RockHounds. Since reaching the Double-A level for the first time this season, the 27-year-old minor league veteran has been impressive. And in 14 innings over his last 2 starts, Joseph has allowed just 1 earned run. After Joseph exited, RHP Tucker Healy pitched a perfect 8th, and RHP Ryan Dull got the final three outs in the 9th to notch his 8th save and complete the 5-hit shutout on Saturday. Outfielder Matt Angle singled, stole a base and scored Midland’s first run in the top of the 1st, while second baseman Colin Walsh singled in a run for the Hounds. And with Matt Olson and Renato Nunez set to participate in the Futures Game, infielder Rangel Ravelo was assigned to Midland on Saturday and went 0 for 3 with a walk in his RockHounds debut.

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