Tag Archive for Nolan Sanburn

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.

Sunday, June 22nd: Justin Higley’s Inside-The-Park Grand Slam Leads Vermont to Victory, While Matt Olson’s 2 HRs Help Stockton Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Vermont Lake Monsters Designated Hitter Justin Higley (Inside-The-Park Grand Slam)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Vermont Lake Monsters Designated Hitter Justin Higley (Inside-The-Park Grand Slam)

 

NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE  (Class-A Short-Season)

Connecticut Tigers                 7

Vermont Lake Monsters  10

WP – Cruzado 1-0 / 2.70

HR – Higley (3)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Justin Higley

(Inside-The-Park Grand Slam)

Lake Monsters designated hitter Justin Higley pulled off a rare feat on Sunday – an inside-the-park grand slam. And to make things even better, it came with the game tied in the bottom of the 8th inning and provided Vermont with the margin of victory on Sunday. Higley also doubled, walked and scored 3 runs in the game, and he now has 9 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in his first 10 games this season. Second baseman Joe Bennie had 3 hits and drove in a run, while first baseman Ryan Huck singled, doubled and drove in a pair. Starter Cristhian Perez allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, over 5 innings of work, while RHP Fernando Cruzado picked up the win despite giving up a run in the 9th.

See Justin Higley’s inside-the-park grand slam for yourself…

 

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

Thursday, June 19th: Ports Win in a Walk-Off Behind Matt Olson’s Big Bat as Dan Straily Gets Shelled in Cats Loss

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports First Baseman Matt Olson (5 for 6 / 2 Home Runs / Double / 5 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports First Baseman Matt Olson (5 for 6 / 2 Home Runs / Double / 5 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Bakersfield Blaze  7

Stockton Ports    8

WP – Sanburn 2-1 / 3.18

HR – Olson 2 (17), Nunez (10)

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Matt Olson

(5 for 6 / 2 Home Runs / Double / 5 RBIs)

First baseman Matt Olson had a huge night in Stockton’s 11-inning victory on Thursday. The A’s third overall pick in 2012 draft collected 5 hits, including a double in the 1st inning, a home run in the 6th to tie the game and another homer in the bottom of the 11th to provide the walk-off win for the Ports. Olson drove in 5 runs and scored 3 times on the night, and his 17 home runs currently lead all California League hitters. Third baseman Renato Nunez tagged his 10th home run, while outfielder Dusty Robinson, designated hitter Ryon Healy and second baseman Chad Pinder had a pair of hits apiece for the Ports. Starter Tim Atherton surrendered 4 runs in the 1st inning on a 2-out grand slam but held Bakersfield scoreless over the next 5 frames, and he ended up allowing 4 runs on 5 hits over 6 innings of work. RHP Michael Ynoa gave up 3 runs on 3 hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief, while RHP Nolan Sanburn tossed a scoreless 9th, 10th and 11th to pick up his 2nd win. In other news, the A’s signed 25-year-old Venezulean minor league free agent RHP Yeiper Castillo and assigned him to Stockton. The former Red Sox, Cubs and Angels prospect has compiled a 3.71 ERA over 152 career minor league games. He’ll join RHP Jake Sanchez, acquired in the Michael Taylor trade, as the two newest members of the Ports pitching staff.

See what Matt Olson had to say after his big night here…

 

Click here for more on Sacramento, Midland & Vermont…

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…

Thursday, April 17th: Ports Fall despite Streich’s Stellar Start while Snappers Win behind Finnegan and Cats & Hounds Come up Short

 

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Stockton Ports Pitcher Seth Streich (6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 9 K)

 Stockton Ports Pitcher Seth Streich      (6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 9 K)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports        3

Inland Empire 66ers  4

LP – Sanburn 0-1 / 5.00

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Seth Streich

(6 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 9 K)

RHP Seth Streich turned in an impressive start for Stockton, allowing just 3 hits while walking none and striking out 9 over 6 scoreless innings, and he left the game with a 3-run lead. In his first appearance for the Ports, RHP Hunter Adkins came on to give up 2 runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief, and RHP Nolan Sanburn surrendered 2 more runs – the tying run in the 9th and the winning run in the 10th – to take the loss. Designated hitter Renato Nunez singled, walked twice and drove in a run, while second baseman Chad Pinder also singled in a run, and shortstop Daniel Robertson singled and scored twice for the Ports. Meanwhile, Stockton starter Shawn Haviland was promoted to Midland and Hunter Adkins is expected to join RHPs Seth Streich, Josh Bowman, Manny Correa and Tim Atherton as the newest member of Stockton’s starting rotation.

Click here for more on Sacramento, Midland & Beloit…

A’s Farm’s Consensus Top 10 Prospect List for 2014

Former top pitching prospect Sonny Gray - who will be the next to make it big?

Former top pitching prospect Sonny Gray – who will be the next to make it big?

With the first A’s players set to report to spring training camp in just a couple of weeks, it’s time to present A’s Farm’s Consensus Top 10 Prospect List for 2014. We’ve combined half a dozen different A’s prospect lists to come up with a consensus list that reflects a broad base of wisdom where A’s prospects are concerned.

You can find the prospect lists that we used to compile our consensus list at the very end of this piece. Some of the lists we’ve included are from better known sources and some are from lesser known sources, but they’ve all been chosen because they represent intelligent and informed opinions about the A’s system. For the purposes of this list, we’ve looked at the top ten picks from each list and assigned points to each player as follows: 10 points for each first place finish, 9 points for second, 8 for third, all the way on down to 1 point for each tenth place finish.

It’s interesting to note that the A’s 2012 top draft pick, shortstop Addison Russell, was the unanimous choice as the A’s top prospect, and the top five picks on our consensus list – Russell, McKinney, Alcantara, Ynoa and Nunez – were each included on all six lists. Six of the top ten are position players, while only four are pitchers. Half are products of the 2012 draft class. Half will also be 20 years old or younger to start the season, and only two are certain to start out above Class-A (Russell and Muncy, who are both expected to start the year at Midland), with none of the top ten starting out at Triple-A. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at A’s Farm’s Consensus Top 10 Prospect List for 2014…

 

A’S FARM’S CONSENSUS TOP 10 PROSPECT LIST

#1 – Addison Russell (SS) – 60 points / 6 lists

#2 – Billy McKinney (OF) – 41 points / 6 lists

#3-4 (tie) – Raul Alcantara (RHP) – 40 points / 6 lists

#3-4 (tie) – Michael Ynoa (RHP) – 40 points / 6 lists

#5 – Renato Nunez (3B) – 37 points / 6 lists

#6-7 (tie) – Daniel Robertson (SS) – 26 points / 5 lists

#6-7 (tie) – Matt Olson (1B) – 26 points / 5 lists

#8 – Bobby Wahl (RHP) – 21 points / 4 lists

#9 – Nolan Sanburn (RHP) – 12 points / 6 lists

#10 – Max Muncy (1B) – 10 points / 3 lists

 

arDSC02922dx#1 ADDISON RUSSELL

(60 points / 6 lists)

Right-Handed Hitting Shortstop

Age On Opening Day: 20

Drafted 2012 – 1st Round

The unanimous pick as the A’s top prospect, Russell got off to a slow start at Stockton in 2013 as the youngest player in the California League. But the then-19-year-old eventually settled in and put together a solid season both at the plate and in the field. The young shortstop slugged 29 doubles, 10 triples and 17 home runs and committed just 15 errors while playing on some pretty rocky California League fields. Russell’s attitude and his ability to learn and adapt has helped to fuel his fast rise. He’s scheduled to start the season at Double-A Midland but, if he gets off to faster start there than he did last year at Stockton, he could find himself in Sacramento before long. And with A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie set to hit free agency after the 2014 season, Russell could be just a year away from landing in Oakland.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

bmc320x#2 BILLY MCKINNEY

(41 points / 6 lists)

Left-Handed Hitting Outfielder

Age On Opening Day: 19

Drafted 2013 – 1st Round

The A’s most recent 1st-round draft pick, the team went after McKinney because of his sweet swing. And the Texas native lived up to his reputation at the plate, hitting .326 in 215 at-bats in 2013. Though he might not flash a lot of power, his ability to make contact seems solid. The center fielder looked strong in the outfield as well. And a full season facing slightly more advanced pitchers in the Midwest League should tell us a lot more about how fast McKinney will rise in the future.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Beloit Snappers (A)

 

raraul-alcantara01b#3-4 (tie) RAUL ALCANTARA

(40 points / 6 lists)

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 21

Undrafted – Signed as International Free Agent

Acquired from Boston with Josh Reddick and Miles Head in the Andrew Bailey/Ryan Sweeney deal, with Sonny Gray and Dan Straily now in the majors, Alcantara has emerged as the top pitching prospect in the A’s minor league system. Splitting the season between Stockton and Beloit, the right-hander posted a 3.11 ERA and led all A’s minor league starters with a 1.16 WHIP. Alcantara flashed an impressive changeup and showed solid control – walking just 24 batters over 156 1/3 innings. The A’s might start Alcantara at Midland but, since he just turned 21, they could still take it slow and have him start the season at Stockton.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

myspringtraining22_4599LI-401x600#3-4 (tie) MICHAEL YNOA

(40 points / 6 lists)

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 22

Undrafted – Signed as International Free Agent

The biggest bonus baby in A’s history, the team reportedly paid Ynoa $4.25 million when they signed him as a flame-throwing teenager out of the Dominican Republic back in 2008. Many injury issues later, Ynoa made it back onto the mound to throw 75 2/3 innings in 2013. The 6’7” right-hander looked impressive at Beloit, posting a 2.14 ERA in 15 starts, but he put up a 7.71 ERA in just 21 innings at Stockton. Ynoa is capable of flashing a mid-90s fastball and possesses tremendous potential, but he still needs to prove that he can command his repertoire and endure a full season on the mound. Ynoa might get the chance to do that at Midland, but he’s more likely to start the season at Stockton.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

rnNunez_480_copy_rvisuyh3_iun9o7x5c#5 RENATO NUNEZ

(37 points / 6 lists)

Right-Handed Hitting Third Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 20

Undrafted – Signed as International Free Agent

Another international bonus baby like Ynoa, the A’s reportedly signed Nunez for $2.2 million out of Venezuela in 2010. Nunez turned 19 on opening day last year and celebrated by hitting a 3-run homer. His raw power is what originally attracted the A’s to the young Venezuelan, and he notched 19 homers and 27 doubles for Beloit in 2013. Nunez could improve his plate discipline a bit though – he struck out 136 times while drawing just 28 walks last season. The third baseman also led all A’s minor leaguers with 39 errors in 114 games at the hot corner in 2013. But Nunez should get the chance to show off his bat with Stockton in the hitter-friendly California League in 2014. And as long as he continues to hit, the A’s will find a way to work around his glove.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

drdanielrobertson_mlb_display_image2#6-7 (tie) DANIEL ROBERTSON

(26 points / 5 lists)

Right-Handed Hitting Shortstop

Age On Opening Day: 20

Drafted 2012 – 1st Round

Drafted by the A’s with their next pick after Russell in 2012, Robertson is currently the second-best shortstop prospect in the A’s system. There was originally some question about his ability to play the position, but Robertson played solely at short last season and showed some ability to stick there. While being able to play short clearly increases his value, with Russell penciled in as the A’s shortstop of the future, Robertson should also start seeing some time at second and third to increase his versatility. The California native hit .277 with 9 home runs and a .353 OBP for Beloit in 2013. He spent part of the year hitting near the top of the lineup and showed some ability to get on base, but it’s hoped that Robertson can also develop a little more pop as his bat matures.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

mo15095_4110106706138_1463379083_n4#6-7 (tie) MATT OLSON

(26 points / 5 lists)

Left-Handed Hitting First Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 20

Drafted 2012 – 1st Round

The next pick by the A’s after Russell and Robertson in 2012, Olson’s raw power potential was what most-impressed scouts. And in his first full season in the A’s system in 2013, he blasted 23 homers for Beloit, which was more than any A’s minor leaguer except for fellow first baseman Max Muncy. Olson also put up 32 doubles to go with 72 walks, 148 strikeouts and a .225 batting average. More than half his hits were for extra bases, putting him in that category of players who walks, strikes out and gets extra-base hits more often than he singles. The Georgia native should have the chance to put his power on display for Stockton in the hitter-friendly California league in 2014. And if the 6’4” first baseman can just cut down on the K’s and put a few more balls in play, he could be a big hit in Mudville.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

bwEP-130529103b#8 BOBBY WAHL

(21 points / 4 lists)

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 22

Drafted 2013 – 5th Round

With more college experience than most of the A’s current crop of pitching prospects, the former Ole Miss hurler could be poised to make a quick rise. Drafted last year in the 5th-round, Wahl signed later than most and only ended up getting into 10 games, all but one with Vermont. The right-hander boasts an impressive slider and clearly was able to fool a few of the NY-Penn League hitters he faced, striking out 27 of them in his 20 2/3 innings with the Lake Monsters. Expect to see him start the 2014 season in Beloit, where the typically chilly Midwest League spring temps could help Wahl put hitters there in a deep freeze.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Beloit Snappers (A)

 

nsresized_99261-5csanburn3colbw_47-15782_t728#9 NOLAN SANBURN

(12 points / 6 lists)

Right-Handed Pitcher

Age On Opening Day: 22

Drafted 2012 – 2nd Round

The first pitcher taken by the A’s in the 2012 draft, Sanburn is a hard-throwing right-hander out of the University of Arkansas. And like Wahl, he’s one of the most promising college pitchers among the A’s current crop of pitching prospects. Sanburn didn’t sign quickly after the draft and only ended up making it into 7 games with Vermont in 2012. And injury issues limited him to just 16 games last year. In his 23 appearances since being drafted, Sanburn’s posted a 2.40 ERA while striking out 45 batters in 48 2/3 innings. And with a mid-90s fastball and a solid curve, the Indiana native could move quickly if he can stay healthy and get his work in on the mound.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Stockton Ports (A)

 

mmDSC02951cx#10 MAX MUNCY

(10 points / 3 lists)

Left-Handed Hitting First Baseman

Age On Opening Day: 23

Drafted 2012 – 5th Round

Muncy led all A’s minor leaguers in home runs, RBIs, total bases and walks in 2013. The Texas native is a better-than-average defender at first base too. And his 88 walks attest to the fact that he may have the best plate discipline of any current A’s hitting prospect. 21 of his 25 home runs came in the hitter-friendly California League, which tends to exaggerate almost everyone’s power numbers, but it was still a solid season for Muncy. He struggled a bit after making the move to Midland but, after a rough first few weeks, he seemed to settle in and start having productive at-bats again. Muncy should start the 2014 season back at Midland, where he’ll be joined in the infield by shortstop Addison Russell. And of all the A’s top hitting prospects besides Russell, Muncy is probably the most advanced at this point.

Likely To Start 2014 With: Midland RockHounds (AA)

 

*          *          *

 

Last Year’s Consensus Top 10 Prospect List

 

Baseball America’s Top A’s Prospects

MLB.com’s Top A’s Prospects

Oakland Clubhouse’s Top A’s Prospects

Bleacher Report’s Top A’s Prospects

Prospect 361’s Top A’s Prospects

Grading On The Curve’s Top A’s Prospects

 

 

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

Sunday, September 8th: Snappers Win Game #2 of 2nd-Round Playoff Series Behind Bostick’s Big Bat

 

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Second Baseman Chris Bostick (3 for 4 / Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Beloit Snappers Second Baseman Chris Bostick (3 for 4 / HR / 3 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – Game #2

Quad Cities River Bandits  3

Beloit Snappers               4

WP – Nolan Sanburn

HR – Chris Bostick

cbDSC02502xxd

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Second Baseman Chris Bostick

(3 for 4 / Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

After losing the opener of the best-of-three series, the Snappers came back to beat the River Bandits by a score of 4-3 in the second game of the series on Sunday. Second baseman Chris Bostick kicked off the scoring in the 1st inning with a 2-run homer, and the Snappers added another run in the inning after outfielder Brett Vertigan singled in third baseman Renato Nunez. Starter Kyle Finnegan allowed 2 runs in the top of the 2nd, but Bostick singled home another run in the bottom of the 2nd for the Snappers. RHP Deyvi Jimenez surrendered 1 run in the 4th to make it a 1-run game, but Beloit’s bullpen took care of business the rest of the way, with 4 pitchers combining to throw 5 1/3 scoreless innings. LHP Chris Lamb went 1 1/3, while RHP Kris Hall struck out 3 in 1 inning of relief, RHP Nolan Sanburn went 2 innings to pick up the win, and RHP Austin House got the final 3 outs for the save. On another note, Snappers shortstop Daniel Robertson has missed both games of the series with the passing of his father this weekend. The rubber game of the match is scheduled to take place on Monday at Beloit with RHP Derek De Young the scheduled starter for the Snappers.

 

Monday’s Game:

Quad Cities @ Beloit – 4:30pm PT / 6:30pm CT

 

 

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A’s 2012 Draft Picks Mid-Season Progress Report

arfPCk2bFI5Last week we offered a progress report on the A’s top 12 picks from the 2013 amateur draft. And it seemed like it might be interesting to take a similar look at the A’s top 12 picks from the 2012 amateur draft. Of course, that draft class featured some of the A’s most high-profile prospects like Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson and Matt Olson.

The A’s chose to be aggressive with shortstop Russell’s development this season and assigned him to Stockton, making the 19-year-old the youngest player in the High-A California League. Last year’s top pick for the A’s struggled over the first couple months of the season, but then he began to turn things around in June, and he ended up posting an impressive .344/.440/.609 slash line in July.

The A’s 7th overall pick last season, outfielder B.J. Boyd, started the year with Vermont of the Class-A short-season New York-Penn League, so he didn’t get going until June – but ever since he got going, there’s been no stopping him, and the outfielder’s currently sporting a .321/.406/.506 slash line after a month and a half of play.

The fastest-riser of last year’s draft class has been the A’s 8th overall pick, first baseman Max Muncy, who started the season with Russell at Stockton but made it all the way up to Double-A Midland just a little over a year after first being drafted by Oakland. And Muncy currently tops all A’s minor leaguers in home runs with 21 and RBIs with 83.

A couple of the top pitching picks from last year’s draft, right-handers Seth Streich and Dakota Bacus, have proven to be the two most reliable members of the Beloit Snappers starting rotation this season. Unfortunately, fellow right-hander Cody Kurz, last year’s 10th pick, has spent the season rehabbing from knee surgery and has yet to make an appearance on the mound.

You’ll find the A’s top 12 draft picks from the 2012 draft along with their current statistics through August 5 below. The teams they’ve played for so far this season are noted, with the team they’ve appeared in the most games with listed first and their current team in bold. So let’s take a look at the top picks of the A’s 2012 farm crop…

 

arDSC02744d#1 – 1st Round

Addison Russell

Age: 19 / Shortstop

Stockton

12 HR / 39 BB / 97 K / .271 AVG / .350 OBP / .507 SLG / .857 OPS

 

drdanielrobertson_mlb_display_image#2 – 1st Round

Daniel Robertson

Age: 19 / Shortstop

Beloit

4 HR / 32 BB / 64 K / .264 AVG / .342 OBP / .365 SLG / .707 OPS

 

mo15095_4110106706138_1463379083_n4#3 – 1st Round

Matt Olson

Age: 19 / First Baseman

Beloit

15 HR / 62 BB / 110 K / .223 AVG / .331 OBP / .407 SLG / .738 OPS

 

bmBruce Maxwell#4 – 2nd Round

Bruce Maxwell

Age: 22 / Catcher

Beloit + Stockton

4 HR / 36 BB / 52 K / .271 AVG / .347 OBP / .373 SLG / .720 OPS

 

nsresized_99261-5csanburn3colbw_47-15782_t728#5 – 2nd Round

Nolan Sanburn

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Beloit + AZL A’s

16 IP / 11 H / 4 ER / 8 BB / 14 K / 2.25 ERA / 1.19 WHIP

 

kt11CALUDG19#6 – 3rd Round

Kyle Twomey

Age: 19 / Left-Handed Pitcher

DID NOT SIGN

 

 

bb2011-10-14.boyd#7 – 4th Round

B.J. Boyd

Age: 20 / Outfielder

Vermont

5 HR / 20 BB / 37 K / .321 AVG / .406 OBP / .506 SLG / .912 OPS

 

mm165457_10151385210931662_1498946120_n5#8 – 5th Round

Max Muncy

Age: 22 / First Baseman

Stockton + Midland

21 HR / 73 BB / 85 K / .273 AVG / .381 OBP / .462 SLG / .843 OPS

 

ssStreich_480_copy_hjr49a6f_3nfc3gb7b#9 – 6th Round

Seth Streich

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Beloit

110 2/3 IP / 114 H / 47 ER / 41 BB / 82 K / 3.82 ERA / 1.40 WHIP

 

ck348641_t607#10 – 7th Round

Cody Kurz

Age: 20 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Disabled List

Has Not Played

 

khKris Hall#11 – 8th Round

Kris Hall

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Beloit

40 IP / 45 H / 26 ER / 25 BB / 39 K / 5.85 ERA / 1.75 WHIP

 

dbGDANVEKZHIQAYID.20120227195554#12 – 9th Round

Dakota Bacus

Age 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Beloit

103 2/3 IP / 113 H / 44 ER / 32 BB / 74 K / 3.82 ERA / 1.40 WHIP

 

 

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

Sunday, June 30th: Streich’s Stellar Outing Leads Snappers to Victory while Cats & Hounds Win and Ports Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

 Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich      (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Reno Aces                         3

Sacramento River Cats  5

WP – Figueroa 2-0 / 4.75

HR – Barton (5)

bb530c87329ccf4df68b8d70d5e7f73166_i3

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Bruce Billings

(7 IP / 4 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

 

Starter Bruce Billings had a strong outing for Sacramento on Sunday, allowing 2 runs on just 4 hits while striking out 5 over 7 innings of work and left the game with a 1-run lead. LHP Pedro Figueroa gave up the tying run in the top of the 8th inning, but first baseman Daric Barton homered in the bottom of the 8th to give the River Cats the lead and hand Figueroa his 2nd win. RHP Brian Gordon got the final 3 outs for his 5th save, while Jemile Weeks made his second straight start in center field.

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

Exclusive: A’s Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens Talks 2012 Draft Class with A’s Farm

bo1151079bBelieve it or not, baseball’s amateur draft is only five weeks away, and hard-core A’s fans will soon have a fresh batch of hot prospects to ponder. With this in mind, it seems like a good time to take a look back at last year’s draft class and see where things stand. 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 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 from an undisclosed location, where he was secretly scouting prospects for the draft. We talked about the A’s draft picks from last year’s first five rounds as well as a couple of top international prospects who are currently making their mark in the A’s system…

 

arfPCk2bFI5#1  (1st Round)

ADDISON RUSSELL

Shortstop / Age: 19

The A’s top draft pick in 2012, Russell got off to a blazing start last season. Just 19, the A’s invited him to big league camp this spring and aggressively started him off this year at Stockton in the High-A California League. He got off to a slow start and then had a brief stint on the DL, but he seems to have started heating up a bit over the past week or so.

BILLY OWENS: He had a sensational debut (last season), and we couldn’t be more excited. And seeing him in major league spring training – how he handled himself, the professionalism that he showed, just the constant energy that he plays with everyday – he has a maturity beyond his years. It’s obvious that he’s had tremendous parenting, and he’s got a lot of talent. It’s a pretty advanced assignment going to High-A ball, but we feel he’s going to be up for the challenge. We feel pretty confident that he can go there and handle himself. It’s a long year. We’re going to see how the season goes all the way through the end of the minor league championship season. And we’re pretty confident that he’s going to be able to catch up to the league, stay mature, show his tools, and be an exciting part of our system going forward.

 

drdanielrobertson_mlb_display_image#2  (1st Round)

DANIEL ROBERTSON

Shortstop / Age: 19

Robertson got off to a great start in the Arizona League last year but then struggled a bit with short-season Vermont in the NY-Penn League. He injured his knee in the instructional league. The ensuing surgery kept him out of competitive action this spring and delayed the start of his season. But he arrived in Beloit last week with a hot bat, blasting a home run in his first game.

BILLY OWENS: His make-up is outstanding. He’s a very coachable kid – talented, mature. He got dinged up a little bit, but he’s gone straight to Low-A (this season). I think his first night, he was a triple short of a cycle, and he got another hit yesterday, and he’s playing a solid shortstop. This kid definitely likes to play baseball and has been well-coached. His skill level is outstanding. He’s a solid shortstop prospect. He can definitely play the position. His hands are solid. He’s got a strong arm. He’s fundamentally sound.

 

mo15095_4110106706138_1463379083_n4#3  (1st Round)

MATT OLSON

First Baseman / Age: 19

Another one of the A’s top draft picks who got off to a great start in Arizona last year, Olson began the season with Beloit in the Midwest League. His bat remained cold through most of a very cold April in Wisconsin, but he’s begun heating up over the past week, homering in two consecutive games over the past few days.

BILLY OWENS: Matt Olson comes from a baseball family. His father played college ball. His brother plays at Harvard currently. And he’s a baseball rat. He can play first base, and he could even dabble in the outfield if need be. He’s got a short, efficient swing. I think initially he had such a strong debut – he hit a home run in his first at bat last year in Arizona rookie ball – he might have gotten a little too pull-confident and tried to force the issue with power. But we think that Matt Olson’s going to be a very good all-around hitter, be able to use the field line-to-line, and the power will just develop over time. He’s just a natural hitter. We like his hands – his hands are fluid, they’re strong, they’re direct. He had a couple of doubles the other night and hit his first home run. He’s using all the field again and squaring up multiple pitches. He’s got a very good eye – he walked 3 times the other night. I’m seeing the trends, and I’m more excited seeing the all-fields approach and the walks start to pick up versus the power. The power’s going to be there ‘cause this kid’s 6’4”, 230 pounds and just naturally strong. So it should be exciting.

 

bmBruce Maxwell#4  (2nd Round)

BRUCE MAXWELL

Catcher / Age: 22

Maxwell appeared to be a dependable hitter in his debut last year and has continued to look like a solid hitter this year at Beloit. He specializes in getting on base, but some have wondered about his ability to stick behind the plate. 

BILLY OWENS: His numbers at Birmingham Southern were just ridiculous. They were pretty amazing when you look at the extra-base hits versus the little amount of strikeouts. This kid’s got a tremendous eye, discerning at the plate. His swing path is fluid – it’s very compact, direct to the baseball. He’s strong, he’s going to have power, he’s going to be a high-walk guy. His catching is improving. Just at first glance, he reminds me of ex-Athletic Mickey Tettleton. He can catch, he’s probably going to mix in some first base down the road and get involved every now and then as a designated hitter. But first and foremost, he’s a slugger who’ll be an essential part of the Oakland Athletics organization.

 

nsresized_99261-5csanburn3colbw_47-15782_t728#5  (2nd Round)

NOLAN SANBURN

RHP / Age: 21

The first pitcher the A’s selected in last year’s draft, Sanburn appears to be a talented young hurler with an arsenal of pitches, but he spent a lot of his college career pitching out of the bullpen. So without a lot of innings under his belt, he still needs to build his stamina as a starter.

BILLY OWENS: We were excited to get Nolan when we got him. With his arm and his variety of pitches, it was a coup where we got him in the draft last year. When he went to rookie ball in short-season (Class-A), he was 96 mph+. His curveball broke off the table, and he’s got a solid changeup. He’s a very athletic kid. Just being predominantly a reliever in college last year, we’re starting to get him prepared him for X amount of innings. We’re kind of taking baby steps initially, but he’s raring to go and ready to unleash that arsenal out there.

 

bbmce_052312_0222B#6  (4th Round)

B.J. BOYD

Outfielder / Age: 19

Boyd was best known as a big Bay Area high school football prospect when the A’s drafted him last year. He’s loaded with talent and got off to a great start last year, but he’s young and his baseball skills will need a little refinement.

BILLY OWENS: He’s got a dynamic skill set. Last year, he was by far the fastest player in our draft class. And then he went straight out to rookie ball and showed that speed. He’s just explosive. He was an accomplished football player, had multiple Division I offers, but we were able to draft him. And all that carried over to rookie ball last year. That was a fun team that lost the final to the Rangers’ rookie ball squad, but B.J. was a catalyst for that team. He hit a few home runs, he walked, he hit for a high average, he stole bases, he played a good center field. The Midwest League is a great league, we’re proud to be there, but it’s a little bit cold initially, so we held a couple guys back. We’ve got him back there in extended (spring training), but at some point, I think he’ll be ready for the Midwest League this year. And I honestly believe that he’ll make a positive impression once he gets there. Right now he’s chomping at the bit, working hard in extended, shedding a few pounds, and getting ready to hopefully take the Midwest League by storm later on.

 

mm628x471b#7  (5th Round)

MAX MUNCY

First Baseman / Age: 22

Drafted out Baylor, Muncy was the only member of the A’s draft class to start last season in the Class-A Midwest League, and he held his own there. This year, the A’s decided to start him out at High-A Stockton along with Addison Russell, and Muncy has flourished. He already has twice as many home runs in April, 8, as he did all of last year at Burlington, and he currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in round-trippers.

BILLY OWENS: Maxwell Muncy is a guy we’re excited about. Armann Brown, our area scout out there in Texas, pointed Max out early, always liked the make-up. Max came from a good family structure and background. He’s at the field early. He’s there late. He’s watching video. He’s just ready to play everyday, so we’re excited. He’s amongst the minor league home run leaders, and we like his skill set. He can pick it at first base – we like his range there. His swing is the type of swing that’s going to be able to hit advanced level pitching. And first and foremost, this guy’s a baseball rat. I mean, he’s a cage-wrecker. You’ve got to turn the lights off otherwise he’s going to be in that cage 24/7. He’s a fun guy to watch.

 

rnnc3bac3b1ez-renato3(International Amateur Free Agent)

RENATO NUNEZ

Third Baseman / Age: 19

The A’s invested heavily in Nunez when they reportedly gave the young Venezuelan $2.2 million to sign back in 2010. He made his American debut in the Arizona Rookie League last year and didn’t disappoint, flashing the bat the A’s had hoped to see. He’s started this season wielding the biggest bat at Beloit, and he even celebrated his 19th birthday on opening night by blasting his first home run.

BILLY OWENS: He’s an exciting kid to watch. Sam Geaney, our international scouting director, and Julio Franco, our chief scout in Venezuela, they identified Renato all the way back to when he was 14 years old. And we were able to track him, follow him, and we were able to secure his services. He went to the Dominican Summer League at 16 years old and was able to get his feet wet and was able to do pretty well there. Last year, in the Arizona Rookie League, I believe he led the league in doubles. He just has that short stroke – it’s a very accurate barrel. He’s pretty advanced to send him at 19 years old to the Midwest League. This kid’s got outstanding make-up, he’s not afraid of anything. I think he’s hit 4 home runs, 5 doubles. He’s having a good start up there in Beloit. And it’ll be fun to watch him this year, because this kid likes to play a lot and his background is excellent and he’s a natural-born hitter.

 

mymichael-ynoa.p1(International Amateur Free Agent)

MICHAEL YNOA

RHP / Age: 21

The A’s originally signed Ynoa for over $4 million as a 16-year old. He’s now a 21-year-old. And thanks to injuries, through last season, he’d thrown less than 40 innings. But Ynoa finally appears to be healthy and is back on the mound for Beloit this season.

BILLY OWENS: It’s definitely fun to see Michael in the box scores. The talent’s always been immense, and now it’s just a matter of him continuing to increase his workload and get out there on the diamond. He’s a fabulous athlete. He’s topped out at 96-97 mph, his breaking ball is getting better everyday, and his command is improving. So seeing him every five days in that box score is an exciting thing, and hopefully he can keep on doing that, because the talent’s there. And hopefully we’re crossing our fingers that he’s passed certain hurdles and he can be out there and enjoy a healthy season.

*     *     *

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