Tag Archive for Max Muncy

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)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

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.

 

MAX MUNCY

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.

 

JOEY WENDLE

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)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

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)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

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.

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

Tuesday, June 30th: Daniel Gossett Pitches Snappers to Victory while Matt Chapman Hits 12th HR in Ports Loss & A’s Come to Terms with Top Pick Richie Martin

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Daniel Gossett (7 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 4 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Daniel Gossett (7 IP / 4 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 4 K / Win)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

GAME #2

Beloit Snappers                4

Quad Cities River Bandits  1

WP – Gossett 3-7 / 5.42

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Daniel Gossett

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

In one of his best starts so far this season for the Snappers, last year’s 2nd-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Daniel Gossett, allowed just 1 run over 7 innings of work to earn his 3rd win on Tuesday. Shortstop Yairo Munoz doubled in 2 runs in the top of the 2nd and singled and scored in the 6th, while outfielder James Harris singled, doubled and walked twice. Third baseman Jose Brizuela singled, tripled and scored, and outfielder Justin Higley and designated hitter Sandber Pimentel had a pair of hits apiece for the Snappers.

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

Talking Top Prospects with A’s Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens

bo1151079bNow that we’re almost a third of the way into the minor league season, it seems like a good time to take a step back and take a look at how some of the A’s top prospects have been doing so far this season. And there’s no one better to help us do that than the A’s director of player personnel, Billy Owens.

Owens originally joined the A’s organization back in 1999, working as an area scout and coaching short-season baseball over the next five years. He was promoted to his current position in 2004, where he’s been able to put his knowledge of the game and its players to much more thorough use. Owens spoke with us earlier this week while he was out on the road scouting prospects for next month’s amateur draft. And as always, his enthusiasm for the A’s top young prospects is obvious…

 

AF:  Well, let’s start out in Nashville. You guys obviously have an awful lot of veteran players there this year. But the one guy down there who genuinely qualifies as a legitimate prospect is the guy you got from the Indians for Brandon Moss, and that’s second baseman Joey Wendle. He’s been showing some pop with the bat, getting lots of doubles and extra-base hits, and he’s looked pretty good in the field too. He might still need to refine his plate discipline and pitch selection a bit, but what have you been seeing out of him?

jwWendle, Joey2BO:  I think he’s off to a good start. Joey’s a guy we saw extensively in the Arizona Fall League two years ago, and then he had an injury in 2014 with the Indians. Then we followed him after he came back from his injury in August, and we were definitely intrigued by the player. Then we were able to acquire him in the offseason in a good deal for both sides with Brandon Moss. And he definitely had a strong spring training. He’s got a very short, consistent stroke. He’s got some power in there, the production’s been solid the first two months, and he’s got strong intangibles. The glove’s steady. He didn’t have that much Double-A tutelage, so it’s not surprising that his numbers aren’t tremendous from a plate discipline standpoint now. But with his character, good eye and power potential, we think that’s going to get better as time goes by this season. And talking to his college coaches over the years, the Indians personnel and our guys in Triple-A this year and in major league spring training, everyone extols his character and his work ethic. His intangibles are off the charts, and we like his bat too.

AF:  Okay, let’s move down to Midland, where most of the team’s top young hitting prospects are this year. Of course, your top prospect there is first baseman Matt Olson, who’s also been getting some time in the outfield this year. As usual, he’s been taking his walks and getting on base. He’s hit 6 home runs there so far in what is typically a very tough place for guys to hit. But what do you think about what you’ve seen out of Matt Olson so far at the Double-A level?

moOlson, Matt2BO:  Matt’s an exciting player. He’s 21 years old. He has 6 homers in a notoriously tough park, especially for a left-handed batter. The walk numbers are like 37 walks and 44 strikeouts. He’s been playing a really good outfield. He can play corner outfield fine – his arm’s strong. At first base, his talent level’s elite from a defensive perspective. I don’t think there’s a better defensive first baseman in all of professional baseball. With his strong throwing arm, it translates well to the outfield – and it increases his versatility. Seeing Matt over the years since Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia outside of Atlanta, he can get streaky with the home runs. His raw power is off the charts – he hit 37 homers last year at Stockton. But I can definitely see him, once he’s totally acclimated and has his swing plane down, going on one of those notorious hot streaks, and he can pop you 10 or 15 homers in a 30-game stretch. And I like the fact that he’s increased his defensive versatility. The walk and power numbers are good and I think he’s due for an explosion at the plate.

AF:  Another guy who moved up to Midland along with Olson this year is Chad Pinder, whom you guys have moved back over to shortstop. He’s now got as many home runs as Olson does and has been hitting well at Midland which, again, is a tough place to hit. So tell me what you think of Pinder’s offensive performance as well as how he’s looked at shortstop so far this year.

cpPinder, Chad2BO:  He actually played a lot of shortstop and third base in college. And at the time we drafted Chad, we had two prominent players who are no longer with us at the shortstop position [Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson], so Chad was able to increase his versatility and play second base, play some third base and play some games at shortstop. He’s definitely got solid hands, the footwork is improving and he’s got enough range for the position. His arm’s strong enough to play either shortstop or third base. He’s progressing very well. The biggest thing with him was I think he only had about 22 walks last year…and pitchers at the upper levels can exploit the fact that you’re going to be that impatient. So he’s improved his walk numbers dramatically. I think he already has almost as many walks this year as he had all of last season. He’s got the 6 homers, and the ball comes off his bat well. For the left side of the infield, he’s got a lot of potential. In a dream world, the guy I’d to compare him to would be J.J. Hardy. What he’s doing is exciting and he’s definitely a legitimate prospect.

AF:  Well, speaking of the left side of the infield at Midland, another top prospect over there who just came back recently is third baseman Renato Nunez. He got a late start to the season due to some nagging injuries, but he’s been heating up and has hit a few homers there recently. So what do you think of his progress at this point?

rnNunez, Renato2BO:  Renato is an exciting player. He’s probably got as good a chance to hit for average and power as anybody in our organization. He’s a kid I personally scouted since he was 14 years old, and he’s really maturing as a hitter. If you look at the numbers right now, he’s really holding his own. He’s got like 13 walks and about 17 strikeouts and he’s got a few home runs already. So from where he was as a 19-year-old player in the Midwest League who had some power…to how he developed last year to hit the 29 homers in Stockton…to see where he is now really tightening that zone at 21 years old in Double-A is very encouraging, because the swing’s as pure as you’ll see from the right side of the plate and the power is real. So if he can just tone it down to where he’s just swinging at strikes and taking the balls, he can be an explosive hitter.

AF:  The A’s other big third base prospect, last year’s #1 pick Matt Chapman, also got off to a late start this year due to a knee injury. But now he seems to be heating up a bit too at Stockton. So what are your impressions of Matt Chapman at this point?

mcChapman, Matt2BO:  Matt Chapman is exciting. He’s probably got as strong a throwing arm as anybody playing baseball. On a scouting scale of 2 to 8, he’s got a legitimate 8 throwing arm. And defensively at third base, he’s got a chance to probably be a 7 defensively. He went to the Double-A playoffs last year and hit a couple home runs in the Texas League championship series. He’s got real power. The ball goes off his bat well. Plate discipline is always a thing we really encourage. It was impressive for him to do what he did last year in the Texas League playoffs, but we definitely want to improve that plate discipline from the numbers at Beloit last year. We worked on that down in the instructional league and in the time that he was healthy in spring training, and now we’re starting to see the fruits of that labor and he’s starting to heat up in the California League.

AF:  Another top prospect at Stockton is the kid you got in the offseason from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson deal, shortstop Franklin Barreto. Just like Addison Russell was when he was there, he’s either the youngest or at least one of the youngest players in the California League at just 19. So what are you seeing out of Franklin Barreto and what are you expecting to see out of him?

fbBarreto, Franklin2BO:  Franklin’s starting to percolate now. What Franklin did last year at Vancouver, which is a notorious pitcher’s park, to go there and hit .311 and hit 6 home runs and put up almost 30 steals, it was exciting. We did an extensive scouting job on him, not only in the Northwest League last year, but he’s another kid, like Renato Nunez, who I go back to when he was 14 years old. So we’ve seen him a lot over the years. And just like Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, he’s skipping Low-A as a teenager and going straight to the California League. And actually, between those three players, at this point of the season, he probably has the highest batting average out of all three of those guys during that period. They’re all three talented, and they were able to survey the California League in April and May and make adjustments. And hopefully, like those other two guys, he’ll really flourish in High-A ball the rest of the season.

AF:  Another guy at Stockton who’s been putting himself on the map with his performance there lately is outfielder Brett Vertigan. He got off to a great start at Beloit and got moved up to Stockton and has been getting the job done there as well. People might not have been watching him quite as closely earlier on, but he’s certainly been opening some eyes this year. So tell me a little bit about what you’ve seen out of Brett Vertigan.

bvVertigan, Brett2BO:  He’s been swinging the bat really well. It’s good to see he’s having success. He’s an outstanding kid, a hard worker. He’s probably similar to Sam Fuld. The guy’s a ball hawk in the outfield and he can be a slap hitter at the plate, has pretty good plate discipline and does things aggressively with his legs. So for a player to take a step forward, grind away and take advantage of an opportunity, we’re definitely excited to see what Brett’s doing this year.

AF:  He seems to be doing a pretty good impression of Boog Powell from last year.

BO:  Yeah, definitely. Maybe they didn’t start with all the accolades, but they were good players and our outstanding player development people were able to get the most out of their ability.

AF:  One pitcher of particular interest at Stockton is Dillon Overton, who was the A’s 2nd-round pick in 2013 and is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery after coming back in the second half of last season. They’re obviously still being a little cautious with his pitch count, but what’s your impression of his progress this year?

doOverton, Dillon2BO:  His strikeout-to-walk ratio has been amazing. But we’re still taking baby steps with him coming back from the Tommy John surgery. And honestly, before the surgery, he was a guy who could probably pitch comfortably in that 90-91 mph range and get up to 92-93 mph, where he could be a lights-out pitcher and a quick mover. So far, after the surgery, he’s been pretty much around 87-89 mph and will touch 90 mph. He’s still very effective and has a solid chance to be a good major league pitcher. But if he can continue to make progress and get a little bit more velocity over the course of the next couple years, along with that pinpoint control, he’s got a chance to be a rotation piece.

AF:  We were speaking about Franklin Barreto, but the A’s have another promising young shortstop at Beloit, Yairo Munoz, who’s just 20. He’s had some big games lately and has been heating up a bit. Tell me what you’ve seen out of Munoz so far.

ymMunoz, Yario2BO:  Yeah, last year at 19 years old in the New York-Penn League, he popped 5 home runs, hit .298 and made the All-Star team. Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz both have the potential to be five-tool players at their position. Along with Matt Chapman, they have the two best infield throwing arms in the organization. Yairo’s got legitimate power to all fields – he’s got a chance to be a 15-20 home run guy. I could definitely see a similarity to Tony Batista when he played for the A’s in the mid-‘90s as a middle infielder and a third baseman who could pop 15-20 home runs and play solid defense. And just the energy and the enthusiasm he brings everyday is exciting. He’s definitely an underrated talent.

AF:  A guy who’s been a bit of a surprise this year at Beloit is first baseman Sandber Pimentel, who’s just been hitting great and showing a lot of pop this year. He wasn’t really on a lot of people’s radar before this season, so tell me a little bit about him.

sp552fd147046a1.image2BO:  Yeah, he’s an exciting kid. He’s like a miniature “Big Papi.” There’s only one, but being from the Dominican Republic and kind of the way he carries himself, you can tell he models himself after David Ortiz. But he’s a kid who controls the zone, the swing is real and the ball comes off his bat. He’s got legitimate power potential and he’s got a nice glove at first base. He’s taken to the United States – the kid’s improved his English immensely in the last year and a half. The coaches rave about his day-to-day work ethic and his personality. And he’s definitely emerging as a legitimate prospect for us.

AF:  So is he another one of those guys you’ve been watching since he was a kid?

BO:  Yeah, for sure. I’ve seen Sandber since he was 14 or 15 years old out there scouting Latin America. Our guys are so good. Raymond Abreu in the Dominican Republic has been with us for twenty years. He’s a guy who goes back to the Miguel Tejada days and all the way back to Luis Polonia. He runs a tremendous camp down there in La Victoria in the Dominican Republic. Julio Franco is out there in Venezuela, and he’s been able to mine for talent over there for years. Those guys are in the trenches and working every day. And it’s kind of nice to see guys like Nunez and Barreto, Sandber Pimentel and Yairo Munoz really emerge this year. It’s definitely a credit to Raymond and Julio.

AF:  Now your top two pitching picks from last year’s draft, Daniel Gossett and Brett Graves, are both in the rotation at Beloit this year. So how have they been progressing from your point of view?

dgGossett, Daniel2BO:  Yeah, Daniel Gossett was a winner at Clemson. In the New York-Penn League last year, he had a tremendous strikeout-to-walk ratio. And now in the Midwest League, we’re seeing his numbers gradually improving. He’s around 90-92 mph with a solid breaking ball and we’re working on incorporating the changeup into his arsenal. He’s a strike thrower and he’s definitely aggressive in the zone. Brett Graves kind of has a tick more velocity – he’s up to 94-95 mph. He sinks the ball really well. We’re just trying to tighten those off-speed pitches so we can increase those strikeouts, but the groundball rate’s been pretty good.

AF:  And finally, there are a couple of guys who’ve been in the A’s minor league system who are now making contributions at the major league level and doing well this year. I’m talking about Max Muncy and Billy Burns. I’m just curious to know how satisfying it is for you to see those guys making contributions on the major league roster and what you think about what they’ve been doing so far?

mmMuncy, Max2BO:  Yeah, so far it’s been exciting to watch. Max Muncy was a player who went to Baylor and played all over the infield initially and eventually settled in at first base in college. Armann Brown, our outstanding scout in Texas, was always pushing and letting us know that Max could play multiple positions. And Max was outstanding at first base. We’ve been blessed with tremendous defensive first basemen, from Matt Olson to Max Muncy to Anthony Aliotti. And Max Muncy was just so good defensively, his feet worked well and he showed the arm strength, so we allowed him to play about 25 games last year defensively at third base in Double-A. And he really worked at third base in the offseason and came to major league camp and made a favorable impression. And when he was able to get the opportunity, he showed a tremendous batting eye. He led the Texas League last year in on-base percentage and walks, and he’s got sneaky power – he hit 25 home runs between Stockton and Midland a couple years ago. And when we needed another third and first baseman who could give you quality at-bats at the big league level, Max Muncy definitely answered the call and he’s playing well. That advanced eye and those innate baseball skills that he has will translate to the top level and he’ll give you a quality, professional at-bat every day. And Billy Burns, he was able to make adjustments. Billy was a right-handed hitter exclusively at Mercer University out there in Macon, Georgia. The Nationals made him a switch-hitter right away in his professional career. So by the time we got Billy, he was able to really sting the ball as a right-handed hitter, but as a left-handed hitter at the upper levels, he was more of a guy who controlled the zone and kind of poked at the baseball. Last year, Billy got a taste of the major leagues and he saw where the fielders were playing him as a left-handed hitter and he realized he needed to make an adjustment. So when he went down to Triple-A, he got a bigger bat and he worked with Greg Sparks, our hitting coordinator for the organization who was at Triple-A last year. And when he came to spring training this season, we were able to see the adjustments he made and we realized that it was going to translate to the top level much more realistically. It’s a long season and hopefully the tide turns for us but, with Max Muncy and Billy Burns, their contributions so far the first two months of the season have been great.

AF:  Well, I know you’re out scouting for the draft right now. So are you able to disclose your current location or is that top secret?

BO:  No, I never can do that. I just finished with a conference tournament and getting ready for the regionals before we go hunker down in Oakland for the week prior to the draft. It’ll be fun. We pick #20. I think our second pick is around #63. And it’s a deep draft – maybe you don’t have the guy who’s the guaranteed superstar at the top, but at 20-100, there are a lot of really good players.

AF:  Well, I’m sure you’ll have you’ll have your finger on the pulse of all of them!

BO:  Well, you know, it’s fun, but the thing is, not only do you want to draft really good players, but over the years, guys we’ve discussed at the draft, Billy Beane and David Forst will turn around and try to trade for guys we liked during the draft process down the road. So it’s not only the guys you get, but it’s also other guys you’ve evaluated you might have a chance to get in the future. It’s always a puzzle. You never really finish the puzzle, but you’re always trying to add another piece to it!

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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.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton & Beloit…

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.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…