Tag: Nolan Blackwood

Talking Ports Prospects with Stockton Skipper Rick Magnante

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

rmMGR_Magnante_dervlq1cStockton manager Rick Magnante originally began his professional baseball career as a 13th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians out of the University of Santa Barbara back in 1969. He first joined the A’s organization in 1995 as an area scout covering southern California. He also began managing short-season teams for the A’s in 2006 after his duties prepping for each year’s draft were through.

After spending five seasons in Vancouver and three seasons in Vermont, Magnante gave up his scouting duties and began managing full-time. He spent the 2014 season in Beloit and is now in his third season with Stockton.

Just before left-hander A.J. Puk’s impressive performance on Saturday, in which he allowed just one infield single and struck out 9 over 5 scoreless innings, we had the chance to chat with the Stockton skipper about the recent changes to team’s tandem-pitching rotation and well as many of the Ports’ most promising prospects…

 

AF:  First things first, you’re switching up the starting rotation a bit. You’re getting away from the eight-man tandem rotation and are stretching out a few of the guys now. Is that right?

RM:  Well, it’s a little bit of a hybrid now. There will be a couple of guys that piggyback. There will be three guys that get their own start: [A.J.] Puk, [Logan] Shore, and [Evan] Manarino. Those will be the three that will be on their own, and they’ll match up with what’s in the bullpen on that given day.

AF:  Do you have a pitch count for Puk, Shore and Manarino as they get stretched out? What could we expect from an innings standpoint?

RM:  I think we’re going to gradually increase them to where they can get back to 75-85 [pitches], and toward the halfway mark of the season, toward 100 and back on a starter’s number as it relates to what’s expected in the big leagues.

A.J. Puk

A.J. Puk

AF:  Puk’s previous three starts [prior to Saturday] were a little different than his first three. His BABIP was .522, everyone was making good contact against him, and he had three consecutive losses in those appearances. Was he trying something new?

RM:  I don’t necessarily think that he’s trying anything new. I think he’s just understanding that he’s in a professional environment now facing professional hitters. And when he’s making the pitches he’s capable of making, he’s pretty untouchable. But when he doesn’t make those pitches and falls behind or gets deep into counts, these guys – you have to give them credit – they can hit a little bit and it’s what they’ve been doing.

AF:  Back to the tandem-pitching experiment. How do you feel about it?

RM:  I think as far as getting guys more appearances, I get that, but I think we should mirror the model of what’s going on in the big leagues. If the big leagues are going to go to this same format, then I fully understand it. If they’re not, then I’m not sure if the Petri dish experiment is truly working. So, we’ve already amended it.

AF:  Let’s talk about some of the bullpen arms. Between Nolan Blackwood, Carlos Navas, Jared Lyons and Matt Sergey, they’ve managed to allow just 4 runs in their 41 innings of work. Everyone knows some of those names in the rotation, but for those who might not know much about the arms in the pen, tell me about a few of them.

Nolan Blackwood

Nolan Blackwood

RM:  Blackwood can pitch. They [the A’s] like him. He’s a down-under guy and it sinks at 91-92. He’s got the frisbee slider going the other way. He’s hard to pick up with a lot of deception.

AF:  Do you think Brad Ziegler with a slightly better fastball would be a good comparison for Blackwood?

RM:  Probably. This is really my first look at Nolan. I didn’t have him last year. He’s had a few appearances here and, like anybody, he’s probably a little nervous or anxious and maybe sometimes tries to do a little too much. On certain days, there’s one pitch that works. He’s got a sinking fastball at 90-92 – you don’t need to go to the frisbee slider if they’re not swinging at that. And if you don’t have the slider, then you’ve got to go with whatever your best pitch is. So he’s learning.

AF:  I wanted to ask you about Carlos Navas. He pitched very briefly in Triple-A last season, he’s 24 and he pitched extremely well in the Venezuelan Winter League to guys who are bit older than him, and he hasn’t given up a run yet this year here in Stockton. What’s his ceiling?

RM:  There’s no telling. He may move quickly through this organization as the need arises and he’s seasoned. He’s been able to combine a 2-seamer and a 4-seamer, and if he can keep himself on line – that would be his biggest Achilles heal – he doesn’t always work down the slope. He can get left-to-right and that’s when he starts to yank the stuff. This year, his mechanics have been better, he’s been more on line, he’s got two-plane action and he’s got a very good slider. He’s durable, he’s strong, he competes, and he’s got great character, so we all pull for him.

AF:  Casey Meisner has looked much better recently. He hasn’t allowed a run in a couple of his recent appearances. How do you view his development?

RM:  He’s just kind of working through it. You know, he’s a big, tall, rangy guy and sometimes those guys have a more difficult time repeating [their delivery]. It’s confidence as well. In his mind and in the mind of the organization, he probably had a very disappointing season [last year]. He’s a high school draft guy without a lot of experience, but he had a real solid season in the South Atlantic League and in the Florida State League when we traded for him. He came here and stepped right into a role and competed. And then last year was a hiccup for him.

AF:  Although Brett Graves has moved on to Midland, both he and Evan Manarino have done such a great job this year in Stockton. Both pitchers have had their finest strikeout-to-walk ratios of their careers. What are you doing with two guys like that to help them develop?

Evan Manarino

Evan Manarino

RM:  You have two guys who really have a feel to pitch. And they really treat this as an opportunity. They’re students of the game. They assess their performances and they write things down to remind them of what they did right or wrong in their previous outings in terms of how they attacked the hitters. For me, Manarino is Tommy Milone. That’s who he is. He’s unflappable out there. His fastball wouldn’t bust your lip, but he never throws it in the same place twice. It’s the same with the changeup. He mixes his pitches and keeps hitters off balance. He has to be very control-and-command oriented because, the fastball, if it’s not located, is hittable. He’s a pitcher. Graves, on the other hand, he’s got 92-94 in the tank, so he’s got a litmus-test fastball. So with him, it’s commanding the breaking ball and attacking hitters and knowing how to get people out.

AF:  Logan Shore, I believe, at Florida topped out at about 92 mph. Is he getting a little more on his fastball, and how is the development coming along on his slider?

RM:  Yeah, I think his velocity has been somewhere between 91-94 – he’s probably sitting somewhere around 92. I think that’s probably his comfort level. Right now, it’s basically fastball, change and a developing slider. I actually talked to him before we came out today and he’s really working hard to figure out a grip and get comfortable, and he really believes he’s got a slider when he throws it right. It’s a good pitch, but just doesn’t have the consistency yet.

AF:  Offensively, we’ve seen a few guys really hitting well of late – outfielders Skye Bolt and Tyler Ramirez, shortstop Eli White and, despite his slow start, infielder Mikey White has shown some power of late. Is there anyone you’ve been particularly impressed with?

RM:  I think the guy that really had a terrific April and was pushed a little bit in terms of his matriculation through the system has been Eli White. I think he got off to a great start, and I think he’s a guy who has the tools and the skill set and, with some development – maybe a season under his belt – could be a guy that will really surprise.

AF:  Skye Bolt is a guy we’ve all been focused on because of his tools, and he’s currently in the top ten in the California League in on-base percentage. What is he doing differently this season?

RM:  I think he has just made some strides in his basic approach to hitting. He just seems to be more on time, his pitch recognition is better, his path is more consistent. He’s got a lean, sinewy kind of body that doesn’t really say “power,” but when the ball comes off the bat, it can be electric at times. I would kind of liken him a little bit to [Josh] Reddick in terms of that kind of profile or prototype.

AF:  About the injuries to first baseman Sandber Pimentel and catcher Sean Murphy, how long should we expect that they’ll be out?

Sandber Pimentel

Sandber Pimentel

RM:  Pimie…I don’t know. We got him here kind of hoping we could rehab him to begin the year. And we got him back on the field, but then he swung a couple of times and he had to shut it down. It’s a back issue. I’m not an orthopod, so I can’t tell you, but we all thought it’d be better to send him back to Arizona and give him more hands-on treatment to see what happens. Certainly we’d love to have him here because he’s an impact guy for us. If we have him and we have [Chris] Iriart—a lefty/righty combo at first-base and DH—we’ve got some thump and some dangerous guys in the lineup. So, we certainly hope he’ll be fine. With Murph, it’s just a little wrist problem and those are quirky. Those are things that can be hard to work through.

AF:  Catcher Jose Chavez joined the team with Murphy’s absence and hit two home runs in his first six games. Is he someone we can expect to get more and more time while Murphy is out?

RM:  I think so. I think Chavy will get the lion’s share of the catching when Murph’s not capable of playing. And everybody’s always been very complimentary of Chavy’s ability to catch and throw – that’s his forte. It’s the bat that’s always been a little suspect as he has developed through the minor league system. Now he’s getting a little better feel on how to hit. He’s a little stronger. He’s a little more mature. He’s had more experience. So, hopefully we’re starting to see that if this guy has the ability to get to the big leagues, he’ll have a serviceable bat that’ll allow him to play some.

AF:  How much of a defensive drop-off do you see between Murphy and Chavez?

RM:  I would say in the receiving end, probably not too much. I think Murphy is a prodigy. I think he’s advanced and has a baseball IQ that shows that not only can he catch, and he can really throw, but he also has an idea on how to help his pitchers attack hitters and exploit their weaknesses and take advantage of that – and that’s a thinking man’s catcher, and that’s something you can’t really grade out unless you see it every day on the field.

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Thursday, May 4th: Olson’s Early HR Leads Sounds to Victory while Bassitt Looks Strong in 2nd Rehab Start for Stockton

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds      5

Round Rock Express  4

WP – C.Smith 2-1 / 2.39

HR – Olson (4), Parmelee (3)

Prospect Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

First baseman Matt Olson slugged a 3-run homer in the top of the 1st inning to give the Sounds a lead they would never surrender on Thursday. Olson has been hot since returning from his brief stint with the A’s, hitting .320 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs over his last 6 games. Designated hitter Chris Parmelee followed up with a solo shot in the 2nd, while left fielder Jaycob Brugman collected 3 hits, including a double, and third baseman Matt Chapman singled and tripled for the Sounds. Starter Chris Smith was solid, allowing 2 runs over 5 2/3 frames to earn his 2nd win, while RHP Chris Jensen gave up 2 runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief, and LHP Ross Detwiler threw a scoreless 9th to notch his 1st save for Nashville. And with Oakland catcher Josh Phegley landing on the 7-day concussion list, Sounds catcher Bruce Maxwell rejoined the A’s roster on Thursday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Wednesday, April 26th: Mercedes Helps Snappers Win 5th Straight while Schrock Homers in Hounds’ Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers First Baseman Miguel Mercedes (3 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers First Baseman Miguel Mercedes (3 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Clinton LumberKings  4

Beloit Snappers        5

WP – Milburn 2-1 / 6.75

HR – Mercedes (5)

Prospect Of The Game:

First Baseman Miguel Mercedes

(3 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

After squandering a 4-run lead, the Snappers came back to win in a walk-off and notch the team’s fifth straight victory on Wednesday. Beloit put 4 runs on the board in the 1st inning thanks to a 2-run double from designated hitter Kyle Nowlin and a 2-run homer by first baseman Miguel Mercedes. Starter Brandon Bailey allowed just 1 run over 4 innings of work, while LHP Will Gilbert was charged with 1 unearned run in 1 inning of relief, and RHP Matt Milburn threw 3 scoreless frames before giving up 2 runs in the top of the 9th to tie the game. Mercedes then singled to lead things off in the bottom of the 9th, moved to third on second baseman Trace Loehr’s single, and then came around to score the winning run on third baseman Edwin Diaz’s RBI single to bring the game to a victorious end for Beloit. Milburn picked up the win, while Mercedes singled, doubled, homered, drove in a pair and scored the winning run for the Snappers. In other news, outfielder Mike Martin was activated from the disabled list while outfielder Luis Barrera was placed on the DL on Wednesday.

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Saturday, April 15th: Butler Leads Beloit to Shutout Victory while Graves Shines in Stockton’s Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Brendan Butler (4 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Brendan Butler (4 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Peoria Chiefs         0

Beloit Snappers  12

WP – Gilbert 2-0 / 4.50

HR – Diaz (3), Mercedes (3), Shelby (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Brendan Butler

(4 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K)

Three pitchers combined to throw a 5-hit shutout for the Snappers on Saturday. Starter Brendan Butler, who threw 4 1/3 no-hit innings in his last appearance, allowed just 2 hits while walking none and striking out 5 over 4 shutout frames on Saturday. LHP Will Gilbert then pitched a perfect 5th to pick up the win, while Butler’s tandem-pitching partner, LHP Ty Damron, tossed 4 scoreless innings in relief to earn the save for the Snappers. Third baseman Edwin Diaz had 3 hits, including a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 3rd to put Beloit on the board, and ended up driving in a total of 3 runs on the day. Second baseman Nate Mondou singled, doubled and also drove in 3, while center fielder JaVon Shelby singled, scored twice and slugged a 3-run homer in the 6th, and first baseman Miguel Mercedes smacked a 2-run shot later in the same inning to wrap up the Snappers 12-run outburst on Saturday.

Click here for more on Nashville, Midland & Stockton…

Saturday, April 8th: Barreto’s Big Bat Helps Sounds Win while Shore & Duno Pitch Ports to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (3 for 4 / Home Run / 2 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (3 for 4 / Home Run / 2 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds      8

Round Rock Express  3

WP – Valdez 1-0 / 3.60

HR – Barreto (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Franklin Barreto

(3 for 4 / Home Run / 2 RBIs)

The A’s top hitting prospect, shortstop Franklin Barreto, has been busy living up to the hype during the first few days of the minor league season, and Saturday was no exception. For the second straight game, the 21-year-old collected 3 hits and clubbed a 2-run homer for the Sounds, and he’s now 8 for 14 with 2 home runs and a triple in the season’s first three games. Right fielder Jaff Decker had another big night at the plate as well, collecting 3 hits, including a double, while driving in a run, and he’s now 8 for 13 with a pair of doubles to start the season. Second baseman Chad Pinder reached base 4 times, on 3 hits and a walk, and is now batting .400 on the season, while designated hitter Chris Parmelee had a pair of singles and drove in a run, and Renato Nunez, starting at third base in place of the injured Matt Chapman, singled in the Sounds’ first 2 runs of the game in the top of the 1st inning. Chapman is suffering from left wrist soreness and is currently considered day-to-day, according to Sounds play-by-play man Jeff Hem’s report on Nashville’s pre-game show. RHP Cesar Valdez, signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason, was solid in his first start for the Sounds, allowing 2 runs and striking out 5 over 5 innings of work to earn the win, while RHP Tyler Sturdevant, another recent minor league free agent signee, allowed 1 run in 2 innings of relief in his Nashville debut, and RHP Tucker Healy got the final six outs to close out the win for the Sounds on Saturday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Stockton Ports 2017 Opening Day Roster Preview

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

spRoFg4u4Y

Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark

This year, Stockton has the pleasure of welcoming Oakland’s first four selections from last year’s draft onto its 25-man opening day roster, as the Ports add a total of 13 new players to the 2017 squad.

The main cause for excitement in Stockton this year revolves around the team’s retooled pitching staff, which will feature last year’s top three draft picks for the A’s: LHP A.J. Puk (#6 overall, Florida), RHP Daulton Jefferies (#37, Cal) and RHP Logan Shore (#47, Florida).

Of the 13 pitchers currently on the Ports pitching staff, eight of them are expected to work as part of four two-man starting pitching tandems, at least to start the season. In addition to top picks Puk, Jefferies and Shore, a couple of 2016 Snappers starters, RHPs Angel Duno (7-7, 2.68) and Dustin Hurlbutt (3-6, 2.57), will be joining a pair of Ports hold-overs, RHPs Casey Meisner (1-14, 4.85) and Brett Graves (7-10, 4.60), along with LHP Evan Manarino (10-6, 2.58), who split time between Beloit and Stockton last year. And this octet of promising young pitchers certainly has the potential to shape up as the California League’s most talented starting staff in 2017.

Last season, Stockton’s hitters struck out a total of 1,226 times (second worst in the California League), and the Ports were league-average or below in nearly all offensive categories. With a pair of last year’s more productive hitters, Joe Bennie (.302/.376/.449) and B.J. Boyd (.288/.346/.395), joining Midland this season, the Ports hope that some of the newcomers will step up to help replace their production.

Among the new arrivals are a number of 2016 draft picks who just got a chance to get their feet wet last year, including catcher Sean Murphy (3rd round, Wright State), outfielder Tyler Ramirez (7th round, North Carolina), shortstop Eli White (11th round, Clemson) and second baseman Josh Vidales (28th round, Houston). Joining them will be some more experienced prospects who spent all of last season with Beloit, including outfielders Skye Bolt (.231/.318/.345) and Brett Siddall (.241/.321/.356) as well as second baseman Trent Gilbert (.269/.327/.380).

The key to success for Stockton this season, however, will be the performance of its talented young pitching staff. It will surely need to improve on a 2016 staff that underwhelmed last year, even after adding highly-touted RHP Grant Holmes, who joined the Ports in August after arriving from the Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill deal. Among the five teams in the California League North Division last season, Stockton had the highest ERA (4.56) and WHIP (1.44) as well as the fewest saves (20), so there’s definitely plenty of room for improvement in 2017.

 

10 Ports Players to Watch in 2017

1. LHP A.J. Puk

ap640462bIf there was any doubt who to note first on this list, witnessing Puk’s performance in Stockton’s exhibition game versus Cal State East Bay on Tuesday evening erased all doubt. The big lefty will undoubtedly be the big attraction at Banner Island Ballpark this season. And he possesses a unique set of skills that will be dearly missed whenever he is inevitably sent to Midland, whether it be midseason or next season, so that he can terrorize Texas League hitters. Sporting a 6’7″ frame and long, reddish-blonde hair, Puk is a dominant figure on the mound. His unique ability to hurl a 98-mph fastball on a downward plane results in a distinct POP audible a quarter mile down Fremont Street. Though he was facing collegiate competition on Tuesday, Puk was absolutely a man amongst boys. Brought into the game in relief of starter Dustin Hurlbutt, Puk struck out 8 batters in 4 innings while allowing just two base runners. Puk made his spring training debut in major league camp for the A’s, striking out the side in the first of his two appearances in big league camp. In 10 starts at Vermont in 2016, Puk pitched to a 3.03 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP while striking out 40 in 32 2/3 innings, and he was most proficient against right-handed hitters, allowing a stingy .157/.232/.202 line against righties. At his best in 2016, Puk combined to allow just 3 hits and 2 walks over 8 2/3 innings while striking out 13 and allowing no runs in back-to-back August starts. Like many larger-framed pitchers, however, Puk is also prone to a wild, difficult-to-repeat delivery and occasionally lacks control because of it. In both his freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida, Puk averaged more than 4 walks per 9 innings and allowed 3.3 free passes per 9 frames at Vermont. For Ports fans, the news of Puk’s arrival could be bittersweet. As one of the most potentially electrifying pitchers in the California League, he might not end up staying in the league for long.

2. RHP Logan Shore

ls624519Dating back to their days together at Florida when Shore and A.J. Puk dominated SEC lineups together, and despite what’s been written above, the better pitcher statistically has actually been Shore. Logan didn’t feature a mid-to-high 90s fastball or double-digit K/9 numbers at Florida, but he walked only a fraction of the batters that Puk did (1.90 to 4.04 BB/9), showed off an ERA in the mid-2s compared to Puk’s in the mid-3s, and won 30 games over three seasons as opposed to Puk’s 16 victories. Shore’s best asset is probably his ability to control the strike zone, which he typically pounds with a plus changeup, slider and a fastball that sits in the low 90s with excellent command. In his brief stint in Vermont last season, lefties struggled to the tune of a .306 OPS while Shore pitched to an overall 2.57 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, striking out 21 in as many innings for the Lake Monsters. He really impressed in a surprise spring training start in major league camp against the Angels, where he struck out 5 (including Mike Trout) over 5 solid innings and allowed just a single run thanks to some unusual spring training base-running shenanigans.

3. RHP Daulton Jefferies

djPFKSDMUFQUWSOHH.20151029180443Oakland’s second pitching selection in 2016 out of UC Berkeley, Jefferies was nearly as dominant as Shore against lefties in his first taste of pro action, holding them to a .167/.250/.222 slash line in the Arizona League in what was admittedly a very small sample size. Overall, in 11 1/3 innings, he pitched to a 2.38 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP while notching 17 strikeouts for the AZL A’s. Like Shore, Jefferies’ consistency and control are a large part of what makes him so good. He walked only 8 in 50 innings while putting up a 1.08 ERA in his final season at Cal. And in limited action in the Arizona League last year, he issued just 2 walks in his 11 1/3 innings of work. A rocky spring training outing in his only action in major league camp saw him yield 8 hits and 6 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of work for the A’s, but Jefferies is certainly a prospect who has the potential to move through the A’s system quickly.

4. C Sean Murphy

sm669221Although Murphy is a defensive-oriented backstop with a laser for an arm, he hit .298 at Vermont before an 0-for-23 stretch cut his batting average to .237 last year. He finished last season on a high note, however, going 3-for-3 with a home run, 3 RBIs and a walk in his final game. He also caught both A.J. Puk and Logan Shore in each of their final starts last season. Murphy showed off his plus arm with a 1st inning laser beam to second base to nail the runner on a stolen base attempt in Stockton’s exhibition game on Tuesday, but the backstop appeared to be a little over-matched at the plate at times.

5. IF Mikey White

mw608383bWith the release of last year’s starting third baseman for Stockton, Jose Brizuela, White looks to take over the bulk of the third base duties for the Ports in 2017. The former Alabama standout was drafted by the A’s in the second round in 2015, just one round after the team selected fellow SEC infielder Richie Martin. And last year, he ended up hitting .247/.315/.352 in his first season with the Ports. Hitting in the seventh spot in the order behind Sean Murphy in Stockton’s exhibition game on Tuesday, White showed signs of improving his performance this year, drilling a 2-run homer to left, singling to left, and walking in his first 3 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.

6. RHP Nolan Blackwood 

nb670154A 14th-round selection out of Memphis, Blackwood projects to be Stockton’s primary closer in 2017. He’s a submarine-style pitcher similar to former A’s Chad Bradford and Brad Ziegler, but with a better fastball that reaches the low 90s. Blackwood began last season with Vermont, appearing 5 times in relief, allowing 2 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings (2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) before being promoted to Beloit. Blackwood got off to a rocky start for the Snappers, where he allowed 9 earned runs in his first 8 2/3 innings while opposing batters crushed his pitches to the tune of a .415 batting average and an OPS of 1.020. In his final 6 appearances, however, the 6’5” righty managed to right the ship, holding opposing batters to a .114/.162/.114 slash line while allowing just 6 base runners in 11 1/3 innings. Blackwood continued his scoreless streak during two brief appearances in major league spring training camp for the A’s, throwing 1 1/3 shutout innings versus Milwaukee and Chicago, which will hopefully help provide him with an added boost of confidence heading into his debut season in Stockton.

7. 1B Chris Iriart 

ci664872bDefensive limitations aside, Iriart can swing it with power, as he combined to hit 22 home runs last season between Beloit and Stockton. His impressive .689 slugging percentage in 61 at-bats at Stockton last season more closely resembled most other Ports hitters’ OPS. Besides Iriart, only fellow first baseman Sandber Pimentel (.779) and outfielder Seth Brown (.702) return to the club with an OPS that was better than .700 last season, and the young slugger promises to provide the Ports will plenty of power in 2017.

8. OF Skye Bolt

sb621450A quick, switch-hitting center fielder, Bolt will instantly become Stockton’s best defensive outfielder. After electing not to sign with the Nationals after being drafted out of high school, he showed promise as a freshman at North Carolina, hitting .321/.418/.491, but he never saw his production match those numbers again over his next two collegiate seasons. Oakland selected the speedy center fielder in the 4th round in 2015, but he’s yet to come on strong at the plate in Vermont or Beloit during first two professional seasons, hitting a combined .233/.321/.358 while grounding into more double plays (14) than he has stolen bases (12). Bolt went 0-3 in Tuesday’s exhibition, striking out once, though his first two at-bats were loud outs, resulting in his counterpart in center field having to make two spectacular plays to keep him off the basepaths.

9. 1B Sandber Pimentel

sp622698Though Pimentel will open the season on the 7-day disabled list, he returns to Stockton for a second season after leading the Ports in home runs (21) and notching the second-most RBIs (66) and walks (60) on the team. 18 of the left-handed slugger’s 21 home runs came in 317 at-bats versus right-handed pitchers in 2016. Pimentel cooled off in the latter half of the season, doing most of his damage between May and July, when he slashed .257/.349/.530 and belted 17 home runs. Pimentel hit fifth in the order in Tuesday’s exhibition game and once again went yard to right-center.

10. RHP Matt Sergey

ms519270Finally, if you’re a fan of the classic underdog, I’ll try to sell you on Matt Sergey, even if just for this season. Once a 45th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers way back in 2007, the 27-year old Sergey has spent much of his time bouncing around the independent leagues. Despite an obvious lack of tools, and with a fastball that tops out in the low-90s and barely fringe-to-average secondary pitches, Sergey seems to pick his spots well and has a knack for missing bats. Matt spent parts of 2016 with Laredo in the independent American Association, where he pitched to a 4-0 record in 7 starts over 44 innings, allowing only 4 runs with a WHIP of just 0.93. His first attempt at A-level ball was last year at Stockton, where he made 12 appearances with mixed results. Despite Sergey’s success as a starter in Laredo, he’s probably not cut out to be starting pitcher, but his 13.7K/9 ratio in his 27 innings with Stockton last year indicate that he can indeed produce outs in limited stints. He made an appearance in Tuesday’s exhibition game, retiring the only four batters he faced. In 2016, 6 of Sergey’s 9 relief appearances for Stockton were in similar three-to-four-out situations; and in them, he didn’t allow a single run and struck out 12 in just 6 1/3 innings of work.

 

You can find the complete Stockton Ports opening day roster here.

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Monday, September 5th: Nogowski Drives in Game-Winner to Earn the Win for Stockton while Beloit & Vermont Are Victorious in Season Finales

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter-Pitcher John Nogowski (3 for 6 / Double / GWRBI - 1 IP / 0 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter-Pitcher John Nogowski (3 for 6 / Double / GWRBI – 1 IP / 0 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / Win)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Bakersfield Blaze  10

Stockton Ports    11

WP – Nogowski 2-0 / 3.00

HR – Iriart (6)

Prospect Of The Game:

Designated Hitter – Pitcher John Nogowski

(3 for 6 / Double / GWRBI – 1 IP / 0 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / Win)

John Nogowski accomplished something fairly rare in Stockton’s season finale on Monday night. He drove in the winning run to make himself the winning pitcher for the Ports. Nogowski threw a scoreless frame in the top of the 12th inning, then came up with two outs and two men on in the bottom of the 12th and singled in the winning run to make himself the winning pitcher on Monday. Nogowski had also singled, doubled and scored twice in the game, while first baseman Chris Iriart singled, doubled, homered, walked and drove in 3 runs to help the Ports finish the season on a high note. This year’s 10th-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Mitchell Jordan, was charged with 4 runs in 3 innings of work in his first start for Stockton. And with the win, the Ports finished the season with a 60-80 record.

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

Thursday, September 1st: Barreto Has Big Hit in Sounds’ Walk-Off Win while Manarino Pitches Ports to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (3 for 5 / Triple / GWRBI)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Shortstop Franklin Barreto (3 for 5 / Triple / GWRBI)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Iowa Cubs               5

Nashville Sounds  6

WP – Santos 3-2 / 3.03

Prospect Of The Game:

Shortstop Franklin Barreto

(3 for 5 / Triple / GWRBI)

With one out, a man on and the game tied in the bottom of the 9th, shortstop Franklin Barreto lined a triple to right-center field to bring home the winning run as the Sounds won in a walk-off in their final home game on Thursday. Including his big 9th-inning triple, Barreto had 3 hits in just his second game for the Sounds. Left fielder Colin Walsh singled, doubled, walked and drove in 2 runs, while catcher Bryan Anderson tripled in a pair, and first baseman Matt Olson singled and walked twice in the win. RHP Jharel Cotton turned in his second straight strong start, striking out 6 over 5 2/3 shutout innings, and he left with the game a scoreless tie on Thursday. But RHP Bobby Wahl walked 4 and was charged with 2 runs in just 2/3 of an inning in relief, while RHP Ryan Brasier gave up 2 runs over 1 1/3 innings of work, and RHP Eduard Santos picked up the win despite giving up the tying run in the top of the 9th for Nashville. The Sounds have already clinched the division title and are set to begin playoff play in Oklahoma City next Wednesday, September 7. On Thursday afternoon, A’s general manager David Forst told 95.7 The Game’s Damon Bruce that the A’s first September call-ups from Nashville will primarily be starting pitchers, and he mentioned RHPs Daniel Mengden, Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara as the most likely candidates. He also suggested that recent Sounds Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder are likely to split time at second base for the A’s the rest of the way this season.

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

Saturday, August 27th: Bolt’s 2 HRs Help Snappers Win 4th Straight while Overton Pitches Sounds to Victory & Henderson Alvarez Returns to Action in Arizona

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Skye Bolt (2 for 3 / 2 Home Runs / Walk)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Skye Bolt (2 for 3 / 2 Home Runs / Walk)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Beloit Snappers          5

Kane County Cougars  2

WP – Duno 7-6 / 2.64

HR – Siddall (9), Bolt 2 (5)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Skye Bolt

(2 for 3 / 2 Home Runs / Walk)

After going 0 for 16 over his last 6 games, center fielder Skye Bolt broke out in a big way for Beloit on Saturday, belting a pair of home runs to help the Snappers win their fourth straight. Both were solo shots, with the first coming in the 4th inning to give his team a 1-run advantage and the second coming in the 6th to add to the lead. Right fielder Brett Siddall slugged a 2-run homer, while third baseman Trace Loehr had 4 hits, including a double, stole a base and scored twice, and second baseman Trent Gilbert singled, doubled and drove in a run for Beloit. After a couple of rough starts, RHP Angel Duno was outstanding on Saturday, allowing just 1 run while striking out 5 over 5 innings of work to earn his 7th win, while RHP Nolan Blackwood got the final four outs to post his 1st save for the Snappers.

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

Wednesday, August 24th: Alcantara Leads Sounds to 2nd Straight Shutout Win while Bailey K’s 9 in Vermont Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Raul Alcantara (5 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Raul Alcantara (5 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds   3

Memphis Redbirds   0

WP – Alcantara 4-0 / 0.89

HR – Nunez (23)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Raul Alcantara

(5 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

After RHP Daniel Mengden threw 5 scoreless innings to lead Nashville to a shutout victory on Tuesday, RHP Raul Alcantara tossed 5 scoreless frames to lead the Sounds to their second straight shutout win on Wednesday. Alcantara allowed just 4 hits without allowing a walk, while RHPs Ryan Brasier, Eduard Santos and Bobby Wahl combined to throw 4 scoreless innings in relief to complete the 6-hit shutout, with Wahl picking up his 3rd save for the Sounds. Left fielder Renato Nunez homered for the second straight day, ripping his 23rd round-tripper, while catcher Matt McBride and center fielder Jaycob Brugman both walked and doubled in runs to help the Sounds win their fifth straight. And with Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien going on paternity leave, Nashville RHP J.B. Wendelken was recalled by the A’s on Wednesday.

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

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