By Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent
The Beloit Snappers started a 6-game home stand this week with a 3-game series against Cincinnati’s Midwest League affiliate, the Dayton Dragons, at Pohlman Field in Beloit. It was the Snappers’ first series of the season against a Midwest League Eastern Division opponent.
The Dragons have built a reputation this season for being very aggressive on the base paths and entered the series leading the Midwest League with 42 stolen bases in just 24 games. The Snappers, on the other hand, are currently last in the league with just 11 stolen bases in their first 22 games.
The Dragons also have the Reds’ # 5 prospect, outfielder Taylor Trammell, along with the Reds’ #8 prospect, catcher Tyler Stephenson (according to MLB Pipeline). The Snappers lost two of the three games in the series. Beloit won Game #2 by a score of 9-2, while Dayton won Game #1 and Game #3 by scores of 4-1 and 7-2, respectively.
Game #1: Dayton 4 – Beloit 1
*First baseman Miguel Mercedes entered the game with 0 walks in 91 plate appearances. So, of course, Mercedes took 3 walks in his first 3 plate appearances of the game! Let this be yet another reminder that you can’t predict baseball.
*Snappers’ hitters struck out an unsightly 13 times in the loss.
*Catcher Jason Goldstein, acquired in the offseason trade that sent A’s pitcher Dillon Overton to the Mariners, threw out 2 of the 3 runners who tried to steal against him.
*Last year’s 5th-round pick for the A’s, right fielder JaVon Shelby, was credited with 2 outfield assists in the game.
*With a game-time temperature of 48 degrees, Snappers pitchers knew coming in it was going to be a battle to control their pitches. And between four Beloit pitchers, they combined to walk 8 batters.
*The A’s #13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, RHP Dakota Chalmers, allowed just 1 hit but walked 4 batters in 3 innings of work. He threw just 26 strikes in 54 pitches.
*RHP Michael Murray, the A’s 32nd-round pick in 2015, battled through a strenuous 3 innings of work. He threw 33 of his 60 pitches for strikes, with a line of 3 IP/5 H/3 R/2 ER/2 BB/3 K
*Both Chalmers and Murray were bouncing many of their breaking pitches in the dirt, a clear sign that they were having trouble with their grip in the less-than-ideal Wisconsin weather.
Game #2: Beloit 9 – Dayton 2
*Last year’s 21st-round pick for the A’s, Kyle Nowlin, had a big game at the plate to help the Snappers win. The designated hitter went 3 for 5 with his 3rd home run of the year and 3 RBIs.
*Catcher Collin Theroux also homered in the game and currently leads all catchers in the A’s system with 4 home runs. And while the 32nd-round pick in 2016 has shown some good pop, he still needs to work on making more contact at the plate.
*After striking out 13 times in their previous game, the Snappers did a better job of battling through their at-bats in this one, resulting in 10 hits while striking out just 6 times and drawing 5 walks.
*The Snappers recorded 3 outfield assists in the game, one by last year’s 12th-round pick, right fielder Luke Persico, and a pair by last year’s 27th-round pick, left fielder Cole Gruber.
*Listed at 5’10” and 175 lbs., Oakland’s 2016 6th-round pick, RHP Brandon Bailey, doesn’t possess the kind of size that scouts usually look for in a starting pitcher. But what Bailey does have is a great fastball-changeup combination that resulted in 8 of his 12 recorded outs in this game coming on either a strikeout or a groundout.
Game #3: Dayton 7 – Beloit 2
*I have to admit that I have so far failed to properly spotlight the contributions of Nate Mondou this season. Simply put, this guy has been playing great baseball, and I’ve hardly even mentioned him. Well, that’s about to change. After turning in a 3-for-3 night with a pair of walks in Thursday’s loss, the left-handed-hitting second baseman, who was taken by the A’s in the 13th round of the 2016 draft, made it into the top five in the Midwest League batting race with a .354 average. He also has excellent numbers across the board, boasting a .432 OBP, a .443 SLG and an .875 OPS.
*And after his impressive performance on Thursday, Mondou had managed to reach base in 20 straight games for the Snappers.
*Last but not least is his defense. Mondou has impressed with the leather quite a bit this season, notably making two jump-throw outs as well as a leaping catch that turned into a double play in this series.
*Center fielder Mike Martin, fresh off the DL last week, recorded 2 outfield assists in the game.
*It was an excellent pitching matchup, with two 6’5” lefties with great stuff on the mound for this one. For Dayton, it was one of the Midwest League’s best strikeout artists in Scott Moss. For Beloit, it was one of the Midwest League’s ERA leaders in Dalton Sawyer.
*Sawyer had his scoreless-inning streak snapped at 21 frames. The 23-year-old, 9th-round pick from last season finished with a respectable line of 4 ⅓ IP/4 H/2 ER/1 BB/6 K but still ended up suffering the loss.
*Dayton runners made an astonishing 14 outs on the base paths in the 3-game series. The outs were recorded on 7 outfield assists, 4 failed base-stealing attempts, 1 pickoff by the pitcher, 1 pickoff by the catcher, and 1 runner who was doubled off first after a leaping catch by second baseman Nate Mondou.
*In the second game of the series, Nate Mondou played third base for the first time in his professional career. It’s unclear whether that was just a one-time thing or possibly something we’ll be seeing more of in order to help increase Mondou’s versatility.
*Word around Pohlman Field is that both LHP Dalton Sawyer and RHP Brendan Butler are going to be stretched out and allowed to be stand-alone starters. The Snappers have been using an 8-man tandem rotation this season, as have a pair of other A’s affiliates, the Stockton Ports and the Midland Rockhounds. But with Sawyer and Butler performing so well this season, it seems to make sense to stretch them out and allow them to pitch deeper into games as starting pitchers would normally do.
*Fun fact: Dayton Dragons pitching coach Derrin Ebert played the role of former Oakland A’s relief pitcher Mike Magnante in the movie “Moneyball.”
A’s Prospect of the Series:
Second Baseman Nate Mondou
(5 for 11 / 3 Walks / 2 RBIs + 3 great defensive plays)
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