Tag: Michael Ynoa

Wednesday, September 3rd: Tim Alderson & Michael Ynoa Struggle in Stockton’s Loss while Nate Long & Hiro Nakajima Have a Rough Time as RockHounds Lose

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Catcher Beau Taylor (2 for 2 / 2 Walks / Home Run)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Catcher Beau Taylor (2 for 2 / 2 Walks / Home Run)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

California League North Division Miniseries – Game #1

Stockton Ports    3

Visalia Rawhide  13

LP – Alderson 0-1 / 16.20

HR – Taylor (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Catcher Beau Taylor

(2 for 2 / 2 Walks / Home Run)

A pair of 5-run innings did in the Ports in the first game of their best-of-three California League playoff series on Wednesday night. Starter Tim Alderson allowed a total of 6 runs, 5 in the 4th inning, to take the loss. RHP Michael Ynoa gave up another 4 runs in the 6th on a hit batter, a single, a double, a walk and an errant pickoff throw. Ynoa apparently injured himself on the throw and walked off the field with the trainer after the attempted pickoff. RHP Bobby Wahl replaced him and immediately surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, while RHP Josh Bowman gave up 2 more runs in the 8th. Catcher Beau Taylor reached base 5 times, on a single, a pair of walks, a hit-by-pitch and a 2nd inning home run which briefly gave Stockton the lead. First baseman Matt Olson doubled twice, singled, walked and drove in a run, while shortstop Daniel Robertson singled twice, walked twice and scored a run, and designated hitter Renato Nunez singled in a run in the loss. The series moves to Stockton on Thursday with LHP Chris Lamb taking the mound for the Ports.

Click here for more on the Midland RockHounds’ Game #1 Result…

Tuesday, August 19th: Matt Stalcup Tosses Complete-Game Shutout for Snappers while Shane Peterson Homers in Sacramento Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Matt Stalcup (9 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 8 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Matt Stalcup (9 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 8 K / Win)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Beloit Snappers  3

Peoria Chiefs        0

WP – Stalcup 5-4 / 4.02

HR – Soto (4)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Matt Stalcup

(9 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 8 K / Win)

Beloit starter Matt Stalcup tossed a complete-game shutout on Tuesday, allowing just 3 hits while walking none and striking out 8 to earn his 5th win for the Snappers. And last year’s 9th-round draft pick for the A’s has now walked just 18 batters over 80 2/3 innings of work this season. First baseman Michael Soto hit his 4th home run, while second baseman Melvin Mercedes drove in a pair of runs, and outfielder Justin Higley singled, stole a base and scored a run for the Snappers.

Click here for more on Sacramento, Midland & Stockton…

Exclusive: Talking Top Prospects with A’s Special Assistant Grady Fuson

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

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

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

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Fuson in Stockton just before the major league All-Star break, and prior to Ports catcher Bruce Maxwell’s promotion to Midland. We took the opportunity to pick the brain of one of baseball’s top talent evaluators and get the lowdown on some of the A’s top prospects at Stockton, as well as a few other promising players from throughout the system…

 

AF:  So let me just start off by asking you, as a guy with a long background in both scouting and development, how does it feel to lose a couple of top-quality prospects like Addison Russell and Billy McKinney?

GF:  Well, it hurts, but I’m in this business for the same reason as the people I work for, and I know everything we do is about that big league club. As good as our club has been the last two years, to me, this is what you’ve got to do. And I think Billy [Beane] worked through this thing magically – the timing, the quality of the players we got. We didn’t just add pitching, we added aces, and this could end up being the difference in us possibly putting a ring on our finger or not. And when it’s all said and done, that’s a big part of development – drafting and developing these prospects to be at that level of interest so that they could be a part of a deal like that.

AF:  Well, this year, most of the A’s top prospects are right here in Stockton. Of course, shortstop Daniel Robertson was probably more affected by the Addison Russell trade than anyone. So what do you see for Daniel Robertson’s baseball future at this point?

drrobertson480_szmaxxpi_ibplc2rl2GF:  He’s on time with his progression. He has many talents. Maybe he’s not as “sexy,” if that’s the word, as Addison, but probably more consistent in some areas. But he’s taken another step in his maturity as a baseball player. You can’t out-work him – he’s here every day. He wants to get better, and he’s shown he’s better this year than he was a year ago. He’s becoming more consistent. The biggest thing – the thing we were all counting on when he signed – was coming into some power, and it’s starting to come. You can see it in his numbers, you can see it in BP – it’s starting to come. Everything else is in his hands, and he’s playing great baseball.

AF:  Did his development this year make it any easier for the organization to make the deal and trade away someone like Addison Russell?

GF:  Maybe to some hidden degree. But Billy’s come out on the record and said that we’re going to worry about 2015 and 2016 when we get to them. And it’s really no different down here in the system. You know, we’re not as deep as we were a couple years ago. We’ve made a lot of trades, we’ve made a lot of moves. But one good move is we do have a Daniel Robertson at a key position. Maybe he’s not on as a quick a path as Addison could be on, but Danny’s not far behind Addison in any category, trust me.

AF:  Another guy who looked to be really affected by the trade, particularly by Billy McKinney’s departure, was center fielder Herschel Powell. He had a great first half at Beloit before getting called up to Stockton and then was hit with the 50-game suspension after just a couple of weeks here. So what’s your take on his performance this year and the recent developments with him as well?

GF:  Well, he’s gone crazy a little bit this year. He really had a great first half at Beloit. He’s learning the little things a little better. He’s always been a runner, and he’s always had the tools to play center. He’s always been an aggressive hitter, and now he’s learning the strike zone. He’s getting on base more. His instincts stealing bases still need some work but are starting to come. He came here and had a quick two weeks, and it didn’t look like the Cal League was prepared to stop him. And now we got the “oopsie,” so we got to wait 50 [games].

AF:  With Powell out for a while, another outfielder who was hitting well at Beloit and is now getting a chance here in Stockton is Jaycob Brugman. I remember you telling me to keep an eye on him in spring training, and he’s gotten off to a pretty good start here in the California League so far.

GF:  Brugman’s a good player. He’s one of our better defenders on the corner. He reads balls well, and he’s a good thrower. He’s got the best release. There are not a lot of things he does that are way off the charts, but there’s nothing that he does below average. He does a lot of good things on all sides of the game.

AF:  Now first baseman Matt OIson’s been having a good year here – he’s been leading the California League in home runs and it looks like his plate discipline has improved as well.

GF:  As far as his strikeout percentage, he’s cutting that back a little bit. But the good thing is he’s walking. So there are times when he’s going to swing through pitches, but he’s also swinging at strikes, and that’s a big key for him going forward.

AF:  What kind of improvements have you seen Renato Nunez make this year at the plate but also in the field at third base?

rnrenato-nunez-2013cGF:  It’s a work in progress. It’s repetition, repetition, repetition. He’s not perfect, but he’s working on it. He’s getting there. There’s no reason not to think he’ll be fine there when it’s all said and done. The more offensive he becomes, the better at third he becomes! He’s gotten stronger. He’s a lot more physical this year. Last year, he tapered his body and thinned out at 19. This year at 20, he’s starting to add some good weight. His hands are quicker. He’s got another 10 yards to the ball when he hits it. He’s got a chance to be a beast when he’s done.

AF:  What about Chad Pinder? It was a big leap for him to skip the Midwest League and come right up to the California League this year, but he got off to a great start here.

GF:  First of all, we’ve got to go back to spring training when he showed up 25 pounds stronger, and it was good weight. He had a whole different look in his eye. He looked a little bit more confident. I thought last year he was kind of frozen a little bit in the pro game. It looked like he was out of sorts and uncomfortable, plus he got hurt and lost a lot of time. But after Instructional League, he got his feet on the ground and worked his tail off in the winter in our strength program. And in spring training, he was one of the more impressive young guys in the whole camp. So we pushed him a little bit and sent him here. He’s playing a new position – 80% of the time at second base. Back in his amateur days, it was more short and third. So he’s still learning a lot of the nuances at second. But offensively, he’s been aggressive. He needs to learn how to control the strike zone a little bit more as he continues to grow, but he’s really putting a charge into the baseball when he squares it.

AF:  The other guy you guys bumped up here to Stockton with Pinder, Ryon Healy, started off the season slow, but he’s really been turning it on here of late.

GF:  For me personally, that would be my most improved guy. From last summer to Instructional League and even into spring training, things were a little rough. He himself is learning a new spot at third base. But I can tell things are more comfortable. He’s moving his feet better, he’s got better angles and lines. But offensively, he’s got much more timing and rhythm, and his true hand-speed strength is starting to show up.

AF:  How do you feel Bruce Maxwell’s been doing both at the plate and behind the plate, and how has he been in terms of learning to work with the pitching staff and that whole aspect of the game?

GF:  That bat’s fine. There are still some things we’re working on as far as the pull side, but his discipline’s been good. His receiving’s better and he’s been throwing real well…One thing that’s been impressive in talking to the staff here is that he’s really taken a big leap in leadership. He runs our meetings before every series. We have a meeting with all the pitchers and go over the opposing club. And he’s basically taken charge of that meeting, so that’s a step in the right direction. He’s in there, pitchers are digging him, everything’s good.

AF:  Speaking of pitchers, Seth Streich has been having one of the best seasons of any guy in the system. What’s he been doing right, what’s been working for him and what’s allowed him to have the success he’s been having?

ssStreich2bGF:  The changeup. That’s been our plan of attack with him for a year now. He’s had one, but it wasn’t a pitch that he really used. It wasn’t a pitch that he thought he had to use. He’s been predominantly a fastball/curveball guy. His changeup’s been hard, it’s been flat. So all the guys have been working to soften up his change and get some bottom to it. And I think it’s really been an added weapon for him. I’ve always loved the way he throws his fastball. He’s one of our best as far as locating it down and away.

AF:  How is his overall fastball command at this point and how hard does he throw it?

GF:  He’s really good with his fastball – he’s always been able to nail his fastball. He’s 90-93 mph, in that area…but I’ll say the same thing now that I said two years ago, he’s a changeup away from being a really good pitcher.

AF:  Nolan Sanburn has finally been healthy all year and has been out there pitching on a regular basis. So how do you see him coming along at this point?

GF:  Good. I think he’s prepared to pitch at the next level if needed. The biggest thing is getting back on the field for a full year, staying healthy and getting the innings he needs instead of being hampered by low innings. You don’t get better not being on the mound, and now he’s getting on the mound consistently and he’s been solid.

AF:  Do you see him sticking in the bullpen in the foreseeable future?

GF:  Yeah, I see that. It’s probably up for future discussion though.

AF:  What about the guy everyone’s always interested in, Michael Ynoa? He’s had some good outings and some not-so-good outings here in Stockton this year. So where do you see things are at with him right now?

Michael YnoaGF:  He’s healthy. He’s throwing hard. Like you said, it’s been 50/50 success. The boys have been giving him a little bit more of a slider look instead of a curveball. Last night was the first time I’ve gotten to see this new little slider. And even though I saw his breaking ball a year ago in spring training as good as I’ve ever seen it, the bottom line is he just doesn’t repeat it enough to be effective with it. The slider that I saw last night on numerous occasions might be a very, very helpful pitch for him. When he threw it right, it had the perfect depth and angle for a slider to get some swings-and-misses. And that’s what Michael needs right now – he needs a pitch that he can get some more swings-and-misses with.

AF:  Now you were just in Sacramento, so is there anyone in particular there you could see helping the big club in the near future if needed?

GF:  Yes. Andy Parrino could go up there and play defense all day long. He’s swinging it a lot better than he did a year ago. He had a unique down year offensively last year, but Andy could be on anybody’s big league team in the right role. Shane Peterson continues to do everything you want to see out of a guy. He could be a fourth or fifth outfielder for anybody – thankfully, we haven’t needed that because of the job that Craig Gentry’s done. But he’s talented – he can play all three outfield spots, he gives you quality at-bats. There’s a flash of thunder in there, there’s a flash of speed in there. So there are a lot of things that could be attractive.

AF:  Have you had the chance to see much of Max Muncy or Billy Burns at Midland this year and, if so, where do you feel they’re at?

GF:  I think they’re both in good spots. Muncy has some hot streaks and has some cold streaks, but I think overall he’s been pretty consistent this year…I think he’s right on track – his patience, his ability to defend. We’ve toyed with him at third and that looks like a very playable option. Billy can steal a base on call and he’s played well in center field. You’ve got to remember, he’s a singles guy – and the higher up you play, the more they shorten the field, so he’s having to figure that out a little bit. You know, in spring training, everything’s opened up and nobody really cares. But once the season starts and guys start putting hitting charts against you and know where you hit it, they defend you a little bit different. So he’s kind of in the middle of that part of the learning curve.

AF:  And have you had a chance to see last year’s 2nd-round draft pick Dillon Overton, who’s been working his way back from Tommy John surgery down in Arizona?

dospringstate10weatherford4-3cGF:  Yeah, I saw his first rehab. He was at 90 mph. The curveball was there – it just wasn’t consistent. But he threw easy. He attacked the strike zone at 90 mph. He’s been throwing 3 innings.

AF:  Do you think there’s any chance of seeing him outside of Arizona this year?

GF:  Yeah, I think the plan is once we get him up to around a 5-inning-type pitch count, we’ll probably send him somewhere, but we’re not going to pitch him a ton.

AF:  Now what about a couple of young pitchers from the 2013 draft who’ve been on the sidelines, Chris Kohler and Dustin Driver? What’s the latest with the two of them?

GF:  Driver’s got a back issue, so he’s been out. I don’t think it’s too bad. Before that, he had an infectious disease for a while – it wasn’t anything major – but he was basically quarantined from the complex. Then when he came back from that, he threw a couple times and then that’s when the back thing popped up, right around the time of the draft.

AF:  And what’s the latest with Kohler?

GF:  Kohler’s elbow is just a slow go. It’s still biting him. They’ve gone back in and taken another look. I think he was going back in to have another MRI. But he’s not currently in any legitimate throwing program as we speak. I don’t see him see pitching a whole lot the rest of this season.

AF:  And finally, how much of this year’s 1st-round draft pick, Matt Chapman, did you get a chance to see prior to the draft and what’s your take on him?

mcimg_6735bGF:  I’ve seen parts of him for two years…He’s a very talented defensive kid. I can’t believe he didn’t play shortstop in college. He’s got a gifted arm. He’s got gifted hands. He reacts well. He’s very polished defensively. He’s got some raw power in there and very impressive strength. There are some things we’ve got to clean up a little bit in his approach and his moves. But he’s got a chance to be a complete guy – you know, hit, hit with some power. This guy’s got a chance to be a Gold Glover.

AF:  Well, let’s hope so! That’s great, thanks a lot.

 

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

Tuesday, July 8th: Jaycob Brugman’s Big Bat Helps Ports Win in a Walk-Off while Ryan Mathews’ Grand Slam Assures Snappers’ Victory

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Outfielder Jaycob Brugman (3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 4 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Outfielder Jaycob Brugman (3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 4 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Modesto Nuts      4

Stockton Ports  5

WP – Ynoa 4-2 / 6.61

HR – Brugman (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Jaycob Brugman

(3 fo 5 / Home Run / Double / 4 RBIs)

Outfielder Jaycob Brugman had a big night in his second game since being promoted to the Ports. Brugman doubled in Stockton’s first run in the 3rd, homered in the 8th to bring the Ports within a run, then singled in the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 9th to give his new team the walk-off win on Tuesday. Shortstop Daniel Robertson had a pair of doubles, while Matt Olson went 1 for 3 with a walk in his first start in right field. Seth Streich had a rare shaky start for Stockton, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits over 5 innings of work, while RHP Jonathan Joseph struck out 4 in 2 perfect innings of relief, and RHP Michael Ynoa tossed a scoreless 8th and 9th to pick up his 4th win for the Ports. Meanwhile, infielder Colin Walsh was once again sent from Sacramento to Stockton on Tuesday.

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

Tuesday, July 1st: Jake Elmore’s 9th Inning Hit Helps Cats Win 10th Walk-Off while Michael Ynoa Picks up Win in Ports’ Victory and Dillon Overton Looks Strong Again for AZL A’s

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Second Baseman Jake Elmore (3 for 5 / RBI / Stolen Base)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Second Baseman Jake Elmore (3 for 5 / RBI / Stolen Base)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Fresno Grizzlies                 4

Sacramento River Cats  5

WP – Savery 5-0 / 2.52

Farmhand Of The Game:

Second Baseman Jake Elmore

(3 for 5 / RBI / Stolen Base)

After being down by four runs earlier in the game, the River Cats mounted a comeback and ended up celebrating their 10th walk-off win on Tuesday night. Second baseman Jake Elmore had 3 hits and scored the tying run in the bottom of the 6th and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th to provide division-leading Sacramento with its league-leading 32nd home win of the season. Center fielder Shane Peterson singled, doubled, tripled and walked, while first baseman Daric Barton had a pair of hits and drove in a run for the River Cats. Starter Josh Lindblom exited the game in the 1st inning after being hit in the ankle with a line drive. That gave the two newest members of the River Cats roster, RHPs Tucker Healy and Seth Frankoff, the opportunity to get their first appearance with Sacramento out of the way after just flying in from Midland earlier in the day. Healy struck out the first two batters he faced and ended up allowing 1 run over 2 2/3 innings, while Frankoff gave up 3 runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief. LHP Joe Savery tossed a scoreless 8th and 9th to pick up the win for Sacramento. To make room for Healy and Frankoff on the River Cats roster, RHPs Deryk Hooker and Jose Flores were reassigned to Midland.

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

Friday, May 30th: Freiman Helps Cats Win in another Walkoff while Hounds, Ports & Snappers All Fall on Friday

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats First Baseman N (3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats First Baseman Nate Freiman (3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Albuquerque Isotopes        7

Sacramento River Cats  8

WP – McBryde 3-1 / 3.33

HR – Freiman (8), Buss (3)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Nate Freiman

(3 for 5 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

The River Cats won in another walk-off on Friday, thanks to first baseman Nate Freiman’s RBI single with the game tied in the bottom of the 9th. Freiman also homered in the 2nd to put the Cats on the board, and he finished the night with a single, double, home run and 2 RBIs. Shortly after Freiman’s homer in the 2nd, outfielder Nick Buss slugged a grand slam for Sacramento. But starter Josh Lindblom surrendered 7 runs in 4 1/3 innings to allow Albuquerque to even things up in the 5th, and the game remained tied until Freiman’s single in the bottom of the 9th. Andy Parino, making his first start of the season at second base for Sacramento, collected 3 hits, while catcher Stephen Vogt singled and doubled, and shortstop Tyler Ladendorf drove in a pair of runs for the River Cats. Sacramento has now won 9 of its last 10 games. In other news, recent River Cat Sean Murphy was activated from the disabled list and reassigned to Stockton.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Monday, May 19th: Straily Pitches Cats to Victory while Ports Win in Extras and Hounds & Snappers Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Pitcher Dan Straily (7 IP / 2 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 8 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Pitcher Dan Straily (7 IP / 2 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 8 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

El Paso Chihuahuas          1

Sacramento River Cats  2

WP – Straily 1-0 / 5.25

HR – Parrino (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Dan Straily

(7 IP / 2 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 8 K / Win)

After struggling his first time out, RHP Dan Straily was far more impressive in his second start for Sacramento on Monday, allowing 1 run on just 2 hits while striking out 8 over 7 innings to earn the win. RHP Fernando Nieve tossed a scoreless 8th inning, and RHP Evan Scribner got the final 3 outs in the 9th for his 7th save. With the River Cats down by one in the 6th, shortstop Andy Parrino hit his 1st home run to tie the game, and designated hitter Alden Carrithers singled in outfielder Nick Buss in the 7th to provide the winning run for the River Cats. Meanwhile, catcher Stephen Vogt went 2 for 4 to post his fourth-straight two-hit game for Sacramento.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Friday, May 16th: Cats, Hounds & Ports All Win while Snappers Sweep a Pair on Friday

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Kyle Finnegan (7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Kyle Finnegan (7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

GAME #1

Beloit Snappers        1

Clinton LumberKings  0

WP – Finnegan 3-1 / 2.17

HR – Marincov (4)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Kyle Finnegan

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

RHP Kyle Finnegan turned in his most impressive start of the season for the Snappers, allowing just 4 hits while striking out 5 over 7 scoreless innings to earn the win in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. Beloit’s batters managed just 6 hits in the game. 3 came courtesy of second baseman Luis Baez, but the big blow came off the bat of outfielder Tyler Marincov, whose 4th home run in the top of the 6th inning provided all the runs the Snappers would need. In other news, LHP Chris Lamb was promoted to Stockton and has been replaced in the Beloit bullpen by RHP Blake McMullen, who joined the team from extended spring training.

Click here for more on Sacramento, Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Exclusive: A’s Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens Talks Top Prospects with A’s Farm

bo1151079bWell, we’re now about a month and a half into the baseball season. And just as we’re at a point where the A’s front office typically takes a step back and evaluates where the major league roster is at, it’s also a great time to take a step back and see where some of the A’s top prospects are at. And it’d be hard to find anyone better-suited 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 in southern California scouting prospects for next month’s amateur draft. And as we talked with him about some of the team’s top young players, his genuine enthusiasm for the prospects currently stocking the A’s system was apparent…

 

AF:  Well, let’s start off with shortstop Addison Russell who’s missed the past month and a half with a hamstring injury. Do you have any sort of updates to offer on him? It must be a little disappointing for you to have him off the field for so long this season. Has it tempered your expectations for his progress over the course of this season?

BO:  We’re so excited about Addison as a person and as a player that we just want to make sure he’s totally healthy so that when he’s ready to go, he can go out there and perform. But the way he acclimated himself to spring training, being around the big league players, he was definitely in a comfort zone compared to his first spring training and he was performing very well. He was hitting the ball with authority. He was making the plays in the field. I’ve been with the Oakland A’s since November of ‘98, and I’m as excited about Addison Russell as anybody we’ve had during that time frame.

AF:  Another guy at Midland who everyone’s always interested in is outfielder Billy Burns. He hasn’t really been tearing things up down there like he was in the spring. What’s your take on what’s up with him at Midland?

bbu1275322cBO:  We’re still very excited about Billy Burns. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is very good. His stolen base percentage has been exceptional throughout his career. The speed is still an elite tool. He’s definitely putting the ball in play. So the odds are, over the course of the season, Billy Burns will definitely have his numbers. And he’s somebody to be excited about. The talent he showed in spring training was not an aberration.

AF:  Is there anything in particular that you guys have him working on or need him to be working on down there this year?

BO:  The kid only switch-hit a little bit in high school and didn’t really do it in college, then he went back to batting both ways as a professional, so he’s still getting acclimated to that. Similar to Billy Hamilton, he’s a different style hitter from the left side and the right side, but he’s always in control of the zone – more walks than strikeouts historically for his career from both sides of the plate. His makeup is off the charts, he’s a hard worker, he loves the game and he gets the utmost out of his ability – so we’re as excited about Billy Burns right now as we were the day we acquired him.

AF:  Okay, let’s talk about some of the guys at Stockton since that seems to be where so many of the top prospects are this year. Michael Ynoa was out for a bit with a bicep strain, but he’s come back and looked pretty dominant in his last few appearances. So can you tell me what you’re seeing out of him and what you’re expectations are for him at this point?

BO:  He’s just a kid who’s still 22 years old. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s up to 97 [mph], he’s got a great body and he’s got a fluid delivery. The breaking ball’s still crisp and the changeup’s improving. It’s just a matter of him being able to go out there and have a season where he’s able to accumulate innings and compete every day. And I think if he’s able to sustain time on the field, the talent will manifest itself. It’s just a fact that over his career he hasn’t been able to be on the field because of various ailments. But if he’s out there, the talent’s definitely there. Hopefully he can just be on the field here the rest of the season, and then we’ll see exactly what he can do with that 95 mph fastball and a good breaking ball and a changeup.

AF:  I guess it just boils down to him staying healthy. And if he can stay on the field, then it sounds like you have plenty of confidence in his ability to succeed as long as he stays healthy.

Michael YnoaBO:  Yeah, he’s got to stay healthy. It’s been one of those freak things over the years. Last year, for the first half of the season in Beloit, he was able to make about 15 successful starts in a row, and the results were very positive. Then he came to the California League last year, and then he was shut down for the season. This year early, he was a little bit rocky. But he’s come back and he’s been topping out at 97 [mph] and the breaking ball’s been good. So the talent’s there, but from an experience standpoint, he’s had less than 200 innings in his whole professional career. So he’s just got to be on the mound and get the experience and from there the talent will manifest.

AF:  Another arm at Stockton who’s probably been the most impressive pitching prospect in the system this year is Seth Streich. So can you tell me what you’ve been seeing out of him and what’s accounted for him being able to kick it up a notch, particularly pitching in the California League?

BO:  Last year, his stuff was really good. He was up around 94-95 mph, but the results weren’t totally there the first half of the season. But Scott Emerson, our pitching coordinator, was able to work with him and, all of a sudden, the results started to change halfway through last year. The stuff’s definitely there – good movement on the fastball, he’s got a solid slider and he’s got a good changeup. And the reports from Rich Sparks, the area scout who signed him initially, are coming to fruition. Seth’s a very good competitor, the stuff’s there and really since last year, probably the middle of July, he’s pitched very well.

AF:  A young guy at Stockton whom you guys moved there as a 19-year-old this year, just like you did with Addison Russell last year, is your top draft pick from last year, outfielder Billy McKinney. He’s been showing some power and taking his walks even if his batting average has been a little low. But tell me what you think of Billy McKinney as a 19-year-old in the California League so far this season?

Billy McKinneyBO:  I’ve been very impressed, to be honest. I mean, the kid has 6 home runs, he’s got an abundant amount of walks already, he’s having really good at-bats and the game reports are pretty positive every night. I mean, that’s definitely an aggressive assignment. And we know, through the course of the season, he’s going to be able to excel. And for me, for May 14th, he’s doing very well. To have 6 home runs at 19 years old and have the walk numbers he’s been able to accumulate, it’s been a very positive assessment of his abilities so far.

AF:  I know it’s the California League, but have you been a little surprised by the early power numbers he put up?

BO:  Billy had an outstanding spring training. He had about 25 at-bats in major league camp. He definitely had a handful of extra-base hits in big league camp. Armann Brown, our scout out there in Texas, identified Billy early. He’s somebody who Eric Kubota, our scouting director, identified early. And he can hit, he’s a natural hitter, he’s hit all through the pros and he’s going to have power. I would say with Billy, Mark Kotsay, who played here for a long time, that would probably be the ceiling and David Murphy, who plays for the Indians now, that would kind of be the floor of what I would project Billy McKinney to be as a major league baseball player. But all signs are positive, the kid’s a great makeup kid, he’s having tremendous at-bats, and the average will heighten during the course of the season.

AF:  One guy at Stockton who maybe has a little more experience than some of the guys there is Bruce Maxwell. Can you tell me where you see him at in his development both at the plate and behind the plate as a catcher?

bmDSC02921bxBO:  Yeah, Bruce (Wayne) Maxwell has definitely made tremendous strides since he signed. We signed him out of Birmingham-Southern. He was definitely an offensive-first player. His numbers were tremendous in college – the strikeout-to-walk ratio, the homers, the base hits. And I think when Bruce joined the organization, he worked so hard on improving his catching abilities that his offense took a back seat. And he went from being a guy who was kind of a catcher initially, now he’s a strong defensive catcher. He’s got a tremendous throwing arm and his numbers are solid as far as throwing runners out. He’s always been a good hitter, and now that he’s a tremendous backstop as well, that bodes well for him being a positive prospect going forward. And like so many of our guys in that Stockton crew, those guys are such hard workers. Those players, they love the game and have a tremendous zest and energy for baseball. The Matt Olsons, the Daniel Robertsons, the Billy McKinneys, Addison Russell – I mean, that crew has a love of the game 24/7, so that’s a fun group.

AF:  I guess you don’t have to teach them how to be motivated anyway!

BO:  Yeah, and that’s half the battle to be honest. I mean, those guys are very motivated. You see Matt Olson, who had a big night the other night – 2 home runs and a double – 30 walks on the season, 9 homers, 20 years old, tremendous defender, great attitude. Just seeing these kids when they first signed up and how they jelled with each other right away, I think that’s helped their performance out.

AF:  I was just about to ask you to talk about Matt Olson, as well as Max Muncy, so is there anything else you had to offer?

BO:  I think that Matt Olson as well as Max Muncy have both proven that they’re really good defenders at first base. And with Muncy, we’ve been able to dabble with him playing a little bit at third base, and Matt Olson’s a tremendous defender as well.

AF:  Can you talk a little bit more about what you saw out of Max Muncy earlier this year at Midland before he broke his finger?

mmDSC02925bxBO:  Yeah, he was controlling the zone as usual. I think last year, by the time he got to Double-A and the [Arizona] Fall League – his first full season – he’s such a hard worker, that maybe he got a little bit fatigued. But it also gave him a taste of what he had to do against higher level competition. He came back and got a little bit stronger, his eyes got cleaner and he was having tremendous at-bats. His strikeout-to-walk ratio improved considerably from last year at Double-A and the extra-base hits were coming in bunches. He played an outstanding first base and he was actually playing a pretty solid third base as well. He’s just a baseball rat. And the kids who compete every day and have that enthusiasm, when they have talent, they get the most out of their abilities. And Max Muncy is definitely going to get the most out of his abilities and we’re definitely encouraged by what he’s done so far in the Double-A season.

AF:  Speaking of third base, back at Stockton, Renato Nunez has certainly looked a whole lot better in the field so far this season after leading the organization in errors last year, but he still seems to have a little work to do in terms of his plate discipline. Can you talk a little bit about where he’s at both offensively and defensively at this point?

BO:  Renato, he’s a natural hitter. He’s 19 years old, he’s a smart kid. He’s a good enough hitter where he’s able to barrel pretty much any pitch in the strike zone. But with that, you become so fearless that you’re able to swing at more pitches. So as he matures, I think he’s going to get smarter and realize that for him to drive the ball more successfully, he’s got to just concentrate on swinging within the strike zone. But Renato’s smart enough and he’s a good enough baseball player to make those adjustments. And in the field, he’s another kid who’s a worker. We signed Renato when he was 16 years old. We scouted him since he was 14. His bat was always his forte and we signed him because of his bat, but he’s improved his defensive abilities. He gives you a lot of heart and a lot of effort and he’s making the plays more routinely this year, so that’s definitely an arrow pointing forward. But Renato’s a hitter, and he will improve his plate discipline. He’s got a gorgeous swing and the power will be there. But that’s his forte when he’s got that Louisville Slugger in his hands.

drrobertson480_szmaxxpi_ibplc2rl2AF:  Going around the Stockton infield, Daniel Robertson has been pretty solid. He’s been taking his walks, getting his doubles and has had a good average playing shortstop every day. What are your thoughts on him at this stage of the game?

BO:  He’s an outstanding prospect. He can definitely play shortstop – he’s got great instincts, tremendous hands, his arm’s accurate. His plate discipline this year has gotten better. And he’s such a sharp kid that he recognized what he needed to improve upon from the Midwest League. Plate discipline was definitely at the top of the list. And he’s definitely tackled that so far this year – taking his walks, hitting the ball in the gaps for extra bases. He’s had a nice swing. He’s probably the first guy at the field every day and the last guy to leave. I couldn’t be more excited. And it’s funny, Daniel Robertson is definitely playing good shortstop. But the fact that Daniel Robertson and Addison Russell came up together, you look at them almost like an Alan Trammell and a Lou Whitaker. But honestly, being able to play short, he could play anywhere in the infield.

AF:  So my understanding is that as long as he can play shortstop and Addison’s not in the major leagues, you guys are content to have him continue to stay at short and you feel confident that he can eventually make the move at some point without too much trouble.

BO:  Yeah, he can definitely play shortstop, and there’s value in keeping him at shortstop. But in a dream scenario, with guys staying healthy going forward and coming to fruition, I always envisioned those guys – Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson – being the Oakland version of Trammell and Whitaker.

AF:  And they might even share an apartment together too! A couple of other guys you were pretty aggressive putting at Stockton this year were two of your 2013 draftees, infielders Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy. So can you tell me a little bit about the A’s decision to start both those guys at Stockton and what you’ve seen out of both of them so far this year?

cpDSC03243dBO:  Chad Pinder’s a kid whose father played some pro ball, so he had an idea what to expect. He started three years in college at Virginia Tech. I think he had an injury last year that bothered him initially in short-season ball and was never totally able to get comfortable there, but we always liked the ability. He had a strong Instructional League and carried over to spring training, and he definitely gained some strength. So it was pretty easy to let him go to the California League. And he’s done pretty well so far – 6 homers to start, his average is high. But I’d still like to look at that strikeout-to-walk ratio and tighten that up – you know, swing at strikes and take the balls and have that good strikeout-to-walk ratio. That’s something that Chad can definitely improve on, but I’m definitely encouraged by the 6 homers, the high average and playing solid defense as well. Ryon Healy’s a kid from California who went to the University of Oregon. He always hit in college and had a tremendous last year before we drafted him. He’s another kid who unfortunately had a few injuries initially to start his career, but now he’s starting to get acclimated. He’ll hit. He’s definitely got a nice swing, he’s got power potential. It’s early in the year and he’s creeping up there towards the Mendoza Line. Once he passes that and keeps on moving forward and improving that strikeout-to-walk ratio, the talent will be there and he’ll hit this year.

AF:  As far as Pinder goes position-wise, do you envision him sticking at second base at this point, or what are your thoughts on where he ends up playing in the long-term?

BO:  I think he could play all three. You’ve got to play certain guys at certain places because we’ve got other players there. But he definitely could play second, he could play third – he’s got the arm to handle anywhere in the infield. I look at Chad Pinder in a dream scenario as a J.J. Hardy type of player who’s got some sock for a middle infielder and does a lot of different things well. So he could definitely play anywhere in the infield.

AF:  And in terms of jumping those guys to Stockton, is part of the thinking that the hitting environment in Beloit, particularly early in the year when it’s so cold up there, is not necessarily the best thing for some of your top hitting prospects?

BO:  Obviously, the California League is a little bit warmer than it is in the Midwest League, but you’ve got to hit anywhere. And that’s probably one of the best things about our organization is that we reward performance. So wherever you got drafted and whatever amount of money you signed for, if you perform, we will reward you. So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Pinder had a good enough spring training and a strong Instructional League. And the other guys were younger for the most part in Beloit and that’s the way it broke down this year.

tlLadendorf, Tyler2AF:  Just to skip up to Sacramento for a minute, one guy who’s impressed up there this year after being stuck at Midland for the past few years is Tyler Ladendorf. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve seen out of him this year and what your expectations are for him at this point?

BO:  I just think the more and more we watch baseball in 2014, guys who have versatility and can still hit for a decent average and have some extra-base hits, if they can play the infield and outfield well, they can make themselves assets to an organization. So Tyler’s always been able to play short, been able to play third, been able to play second, put him in the outfield. And he came to spring training and had a couple little cameos in big league camp and did pretty well and he started off pretty hot there at Sacramento. So you’ve got somebody you can put out at short, you can put out at third, you can put out in center field and really not miss a beat offensively or defensively. Ben Zobrist is kind of a guy that’s popular in today’s game, but I remember Tony Phillips for the A’s back in the day who could get on base, hit some homers and pretty much play anywhere on the field. So when you’ve got a player like Ladendorf who can do so many things defensively and then starts swinging the bat more positively, he’s answered the call this year.

AF:  The A’s have a lot of interesting young pitching prospects up at Beloit this year. Is there anyone up there on that staff who you’ve really got your eye on right now?

BO:  Well, I think Ronald Herrera is a kid who had a tremendous rookie league last year. He’s 19 years old, he’s up to 93 [mph] – he’ll touch 94 [mph] – tremendous delivery. His breaking ball’s solid, he can back you up a little bit with the changeup, he’s aggressive and he’s got a tremendous demeanor. In a lot of ways, he’s what Raul Alcantara was 2-3-4 years ago. So Ronald Herrera is definitely somebody to watch up there at Beloit.

AF:  And finally, is there anyone else we haven’t talked who you’ve got your eye on who’s made their way on to your radar this year?

PowellBO:  Yeah, the kid [Herschel] “Boog” Powell. I saw him last year in rookie ball and he played very well, put the bat on the ball, got on base, stole bases. He went up to the New York-Penn League last year and put the bat on the ball, got on base, stole bases and played good center field. And lo and behold, here we are again and he’s putting the ball in play, getting on base, stealing bases and playing outstanding defense again. He’s tenacious, he’s a worker, he believes in his abilities, and he’s definitely putting himself more and more on the radar. And like I said, from Billy Beane on down, we reward performance. And if you look at our big league team, if they play well, they’ll get opportunities. So a kid like “Boog” Powell, he’s definitely put himself on the radar.

AF:  Well, I’d imagine that having the best on-base perecentage in the A’s system probably doesn’t hurt.

BO:  No, it doesn’t hurt a bit. And it’s been becoming a trend with him.

AF:  Great, thanks a lot for all the info, Billy.

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Tuesday, May 13th: Olson Powers Ports to Victory while Cats & Snappers Win and Hounds Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports First Baseman Matt Olson (2 Home Runs / Double / 3 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports First Baseman Matt Olson (2 Home Runs / Double / 3 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

San Jose Giants    5

Stockton Ports  10

WP – Streich 4-2 / 2.85

HR – Olson 2 (9), Robinson (7)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(2 Home Runs / Double / 3 RBIs)

First baseman Matt Olson had a big night for the Ports, hitting a pair of home runs and a double while driving in 3 runs for Stockton. The A’s third overall draft pick in 2012 walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 1st inning to bring around the Ports’ first run, hit his 8th home run to tie the game in the 3rd, then doubled and came around to score in the 4th, and wrapped things up by blasting his 9th round-tripper in the 6th to give him more home runs than any A’s minor leaguer so far this season and tie him for the California League lead. Outfielder Dusty Robinson hit his 7th home run and his 8th double and drove in 2, while designated hitter Ryon Healy had 2 hits and drove in a pair, outfielder Aaron Shipman singled, walked 3 times and scored twice, and second baseman Chad Pinder had a pair of singles and drove in a run in his first game back after sitting out 9 days with a groin injury. Starter Seth Streich allowed 4 runs, just 1 earned, while striking out 7 over 5 innings to earn his 4th win, while RHP Nolan Sanburn tossed 2 scoreless innings, and RHP Michael Ynoa allowed 2 singles, a home run, no walks and struck out 2 in 2 innings of relief for the Ports. In his last 3 appearances, Ynoa has allowed 1 run on 4 hits while walking none and and striking out 10 over 6 innings of work.

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