Tag: Oakland A’s

Meet Your 2018 Oakland A’s!

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

Third Baseman Matt Chapman

Back in May, we took a look at what a young, rebuilding A’s team might look like. But now that we’ve passed the July 31st trade deadline and the A’s have made a number of deadline deals, and even some post-deadline deals, to add players like Blake Treinen, Dustin Fowler, Boog Powell, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse, James Kaprielian and Jesus Luzardo to the system, it’s a good time to take another look at what the near future might look like for the A’s.

Of course, one never knows what the A’s might do in the offseason, but the fact that they don’t really have many veteran trade chips left to deal will definitely limit their ability to barter. And, as usual, it seems unlikely that they will splurge too much on the free agent market at this stage of the game. The team could dip its toe in the water to fill a few holes on a short-term basis, particularly on the pitching staff, but there aren’t likely to be any terribly significant commitments in the near term, at least not until a new stadium is within view.

Two players who’ve played significant roles this year seem likely to depart after the season – center fielder Rajai Davis, who’s set to become a free agent, and second baseman Jed Lowrie, whom the A’s hold a $6 million option on for next year. With the A’s now fully committed to a youth movement and with both Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder capable of playing second base, it seems unlikely that the A’s will opt to bring back Lowrie. But is there still any chance that they might be able to get something for either of them before the season’s through the way they did with Yonder Alonso? It’s possible, but it seems like any deal that would have been possible probably would have happened by now. And looking ahead, there are only two significant players on the current roster who are due to become free agents after the 2018 season – outfielder Matt Joyce and reliever Santiago Casilla. Could the A’s possibly get anything for either player in the offseason? Anything’s possible but, if they can, it’s not likely to amount to much.

When looking at next season on the position player front, eleven guys seem to be pretty solid bets for the major league roster, leaving a number of others left to battle for one or two remaining spots, depending on whether the A’s choose to go with twelve or thirteen position players in 2018. The eleven most likely to lay claim to a roster spot include catchers Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley, infielders Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Ryon Healy, outfielders Khris Davis, Matt Joyce and Dustin Fowler, and super utility infielder/outfielder Chad Pinder. That leaves guys like Boog Powell, Jaycob Brugman, Mark Canha, Jake Smolinski and Renato Nunez fighting for the one or two remaining roster spots. When it comes to the pitching staff, things could be a little more up in the air, and one would have to suspect that’s where any offseason additions might be most likely to occur.

So, setting aside any possible offseason deals or free-agent signings, and adding in a fresh batch of summer arrivals, let’s take a position-by-position look at how things might stack up for the 2018 Oakland A’s…

 

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

CATCHERS

With Stephen Vogt’s departure and Bruce Maxwell making the move to the major league roster in June, the catching corps could prove to be one of the more predictable parts of next season’s roster. Maxwell and Josh Phegley seem set to split time behind the plate for the 2018 A’s, though the team could always give recently-acquired catcher Dustin Garneau the opportunity to compete with Phegley for the chance to serve as Maxwell’s platoon partner. The team’s top minor league catching prospect, former 3rd-round pick Sean Murphy, has played in just 39 games at the Double-A level and is probably another year away from factoring into the catching conversation.

 

INFIELDERS

Matt Olson

Matt Olson

With the departures of Trevor Plouffe and Yonder Alonso, and the likely departure of Jed Lowrie in the offseason, the A’s infield looks to be right at the heart of the youth movement in 2018. Young slugger Matt Chapman is set to anchor the infield at the hot corner, while Marcus Semien is expected to be back at shortstop. It seems likely that top prospect Franklin Barreto will get every opportunity to take over at second base, where he’s probably best-suited defensively and where he’s most likely to remain since the A’s acquired promising shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal. The team seems ready to make Matt Olson its primary first baseman, though his consistent platoon splits make it likely that, like Yonder Alonso, he’ll frequently sit against lefties while Ryon Healy moves from the designated hitter spot to take over at first. Meanwhile, with Olson at first and Chapman at third, Healy looks likely to get the bulk of his at-bats in the DH slot once again, serving in that role against righties while seeing some time in the field against lefties. And with Olson likely to sit out against most lefties, that could give super-utility man Chad Pinder, who’s sure to make the squad, a good chance to get some regular at-bats against lefties while stepping into the field in any number of positions and giving various A’s regulars a bit of a breather by sliding into the DH spot for the day. And, of course, Pinder also has the ability to spell Semien and Barreto in the middle infield any time either of them is slumping or could just use a day off. The A’s could also decide to give a player who’s probably best-suited for the designated hitter role a shot to see what he can do as the regular DH against lefties. Right-handed slugger Renato Nunez may be limited defensively, but he’s currently leading the Pacific Coast League with 31 home runs while slashing an impressive .309/.387/.630 against Triple-A lefties this season. So, Nunez clearly could have the ability to do some damage from the DH spot when Healy makes the move to first against lefties. Behind Chapman, Semien, Barreto, Olson, Healy, Pinder and Nunez, other infield options down on the farm could include second basemen Joey Wendle and Max Schrock, shortstop Jorge Mateo, third baseman Sheldon Neuse and Yairo Munoz, who’s been increasing his versatility by playing third base, shortstop and center field for Triple-A Nashville this season.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Dustin Fowler

Dustin Fowler

With a couple of the team’s most veteran position players still in the outfield picture, the youth movement may have a slightly less dramatic effect on the A’s outfield alignment in 2018. The team still has control of its top home run hitter, Khris Davis, for two more seasons. So, assuming he sticks around for at least one more campaign, he’s likely to see most of his time in left field once again. And assuming Matt Joyce is back for the final year of his contract, then he’s likely to wind up back in right field against right-hander hurlers anyway. As for center field, the A’s clearly acquired Dustin Fowler from the Yankees to be their center fielder of the future, and that future is likely to start in 2018. Super-utility man Chad Pinder is capable of putting in time in the outfield. And since Joyce and Fowler are both left-handed hitters, he could well serve as an outfield platoon partner, particularly for Joyce in right. And if things line up as expected, then that would leave one or two more roster spots available for outfielders depending on if the A’s choose to go with twelve or thirteen position players and whether or not they decide to make room for Renato Nunez on the roster in 2018. Lefty-swinging outfielders Boog Powell and Jaycob Brugman, who’ve been the main men in center field over these past couple of months, will clearly move behind Fowler on the depth chart as soon as he returns from the disabled list. Though Powell and Brugman are both capable of playing all three outfield positions, the fact that they both hit from the left side severely limits their ability to serve in any sort of platoon role in the A’s outfield as it’s currently configured. And we all know how much the A’s value those platoon matchups. That could help the cause of a couple of other outfield options who happen to be right-handed hitters – Mark Canha, who still possesses some intriguing power potential, and Jake Smolinski, who’s always put up strong numbers against lefties, is capable of playing all three outfield spots, and is currently on a minor league rehab assignment after sitting out most of the season due to shoulder surgery. One thing that seems certain is that the one of the most interesting roster battles next season should be for the A’s last one or two remaining outfield spots.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

What once looked like a strong suit for the A’s, thanks to trades, injuries and poor performance, now appears to be a little more up in the air. Twelve different pitchers have made starts for the A’s this season. LHP Sean Manaea is the only A’s hurler to make it to the mound for more than 20 starts so far this season, and he also leads the teams in wins and strikeouts. RHP Kendall Graveman was looked at as the team’s ace-in-waiting behind Sonny Gray and was the A’s opening day starter this year, but injuries have limited him to 11 starts this season. Manaea and Graveman look to be locks to top the A’s rotation again in 2018. But don’t forget about a guy who put up better numbers than either of those pitchers have this season before undergoing hip surgery this summer – RHP Andrew Triggs. If he returns healthy and regains his form, then Triggs would also be in line to claim a rotation spot next season. A pair of rookies would appear to be the best bets to round out the rotation – RHP Paul Blackburn, who’s been solid in 9 starts for the A’s, and RHP Daniel Gossett, a former 2nd-round pick who’s shown plenty of promising potential. Behind those five (none of whom is currently over the age of 28), there are a number of arms who could be in waiting at Nashville but who also come with a number of questions marks. RHPs Jharel Cotton and Jesse Hahn have combined to make 31 starts for the A’s this season, and while both have shown great promise at times, they can both be wildly inconsistent as well. RHP Daniel Mengden, who showed such potential at times last season, is still in the picture and has recently returned to action for Nashville after missing much of the season due to injuries. Veteran RHP Chris Smith also remains in the mix and could serve as valuable rotation depth at Triple-A. Other potential starting options in the system include RHP Chris Bassitt (who’s been working out of the bullpen at Nashville while making his way back from Tommy John surgery), RHP Frankie Montas (who had been serving in a starting role at Triple-A before landing on the disabled list), RHP Raul Alcantara (who started the season on the A’s roster), RHP Corey Walter (who’s made 11 starts for the Sounds this season), and LHP A.J. Puk (the A’s top draft pick last year who’s put up an ERA of 5.36 and struck out 61 in 45 1/3 frames since joining Double-A Midland in June). Puk may not be ready to be a real rotation option for the A’s to start the season but, depending on how things play out, he could prove to be a legitimate option for the team before next season is through.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Blake Treinen

Blake Treinen

The bullpen could be the biggest question mark for the A’s heading into 2018. There aren’t too many locks here, nor too many talented young hurlers who look to be ready to bloom into superstar status. This could be an area the A’s seek to fill in with a few shrewd free-agent pickups, or the organization might just decide to make the best with what they’ve got and wait until the team looks like it might be ready to contend before investing in outside help for the bullpen. But looking at what’s in-house at the moment, RHP Blake Treinen seems to be the best option for the closer’s role. Of course, RHP Santiago Casilla is still under contract for next season, while the A’s will also maintain control of a couple of other familiar faces from the bullpen – RHPs Liam Hendriks and Ryan Dull. Two hard-throwing RHPs will remain in the mix as well – Frankie Montas, who’s still working to harness his potential, and Simon Castro, who has shown some promise in 13 appearances for the A’s this season. RHP Bobby Wahl will be returning from thoracic outlet surgery, while RHP J.B. Wendelken will be coming back from Tommy John surgery. And there are a number of possible long-relief options to consider as well, including RHP Chris Hatcher (who was recently acquired from the Dodgers), RHP Chris Smith (who could be well-suited for such a role), RHP Chris Bassitt (who’s been throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen at Nashville), RHPs Michael Brady and Josh Smith (both of whom have served in that role at times this season), and RHP Raul Alcantara (who started the season in that role for the A’s). On the left side of the bullpen, the A’s current options look to be fairly limited. Of course, LHP Daniel Coulombe, who’s made 53 relief appearances for the A’s this season, clearly stands atop the pack. LHP Felix Doubront has been serving in a relief role for Nashville since returning from Tommy John surgery, and the A’s recently acquired LHP Sam Moll, who’s made 139 relief appearances in the Rockies system over the last five years. But beyond that, there aren’t many more southpaws to be seen in the bullpen picture at this point anyway, so stay tuned.

 

One never really knows what the A’s might decide to do in any given offseason, and this one’s certainly no different. But one thing’s clear – the team is committed to rebuilding with this current crop of young players. There aren’t many veterans left to deal away at this point, so any significant additions would most likely have to come from the free agent market, though it seems unlikely that the A’s would be ready to make too much of a splash in the free agent pool at this stage of the game. Once plans for the A’s new ballpark are announced, we should start to get a much better sense of what the team’s long-term and short-term player personnel plans are. But for now, this is how the current crop of young players who are likely to make the squad next season is shaping up. And hopefully, A’s fans can look forward to watching this promising pack of prospects develop into a winning team that will be able to carry its winnings ways into a new ballpark somewhere in Oakland in the not-too-distant future.

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A’s Top 11 Draft Picks Mid-Season Progress Report

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

00DSC04060xThe A’s were fortunate enough to be able to sign all of their 11 picks from the first 10 rounds of this year’s amateur draft.

It’s been almost two months since the first of those players signed by the A’s began playing with the Class-A Vermont Lake Monsters or the rookie-ball Arizona League A’s. So, it seems like a good time to take a look at how some the A’s newest prospects have been performing down on the farm.

You’ll find the A’s top 11 picks from the first 10 rounds of the 2017 draft along with their current statistics through August 11 listed 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…

 

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#1 – 1st Round

Austin Beck

Age: 18 / Outfielder

AZL A’s

92 AB / 1 HR / 5 BB / 33 K / .185 AVG / .240 OBP / .272 SLG / .512 OPS

 

Beck got off to a bit of a slow start, going 1 for his first 21 with 12 strikeouts. And his 5/33 BB/K ratio on the season will still need to see quite a bit of improvement. But Beck’s bat’s been starting to warm up a bit of late, and the 18-year-old just hit the first home run of his pro career in Thursday’s game. He’s also gone 4 for 4 in steal attempts while starting 20 error-free games in center field for the AZL A’s.

 

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#2 – 1st Round Supplemental

Kevin Merrell

Age: 21 / Shortstop

Vermont Lake Monsters

107 AB / 2 HR / 8 BB / 20 K / .299 AVG / .345 OBP / .402 SLG / .746 OPS

 

Merrell’s basically been doing what was expected of him when he was drafted – making contact, getting on base and utilizing his speed to make things happen. While primarily hitting in the leadoff spot, Merrell’s .299 batting average is second-best for Vermont and his 9 stolen bases and 22 runs both lead the squad.

 

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#3 – 2nd Round

Greg Deichmann

Age: 22 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters

93 AB / 3 HR / 16 BB / 24 K / .323 AVG / .423 OBP / .559 SLG / .983 OPS

 

Thus far, Deichmann has been the best batter to come out of this year’s draft for the A’s. The slugger from LSU appears to be an advanced college hitter who’s demonstrated both power and plate discipline. He currently leads Vermont in extra-base hits, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage while also showing a good arm in right field.

 

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#4 – 3rd Round

Nick Allen

Age: 18 / Shortstop

AZL A’s

76 AB / 1 HR / 4 BB / 16 K / .250 AVG / .288 OBP / .355 SLG / .643 OPS

 

Allen got off to a slightly late start after taking a little longer to sign than most. But since the start of July, he’s been playing shortstop regularly while usually leading off. He’s been doing a decent job while still getting his feet wet as a pro, and the 18-year-old has 2 triples and stolen 3 bases so far for the AZL A’s.

 

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#5 – 4th Round

Will Toffey

Age: 22 / Third Baseman

Vermont Lake Monsters

133 AB / 0 HR / 26 BB / 27 K / .233 AVG / .356 OBP / .323 SLG / .680 OPS

 

Toffey has pretty much been serving as Vermont’s everyday third baseman since play began in the New York-Penn League. He’s done a good job of getting on base, and his 26 walks and 8 doubles both lead the team, but he’s failed to record a home run in his first 36 pro games for Vermont.

 

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#6 – 5th Round

Santis Sanchez

Age: 18 / Catcher

AZL A’s

50 AB / 0 HR / 6 BB / 16 K / .160 AVG / .250 OBP / .180 SLG / .430 OPS

 

The A’s have been bringing the 18-year-old backstop along slowly and he’s been playing sporadically for the Arizona League squad. Sanchez has mostly struggled at the plate early on, going 8 for 50 with just 1 extra-base hit for the A’s.

 

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#7 – 6th Round

Logan Salow

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

16 1/3 IP / 11 H / 3 ER / 11 BB / 22 K / 1.65 ERA / 1.35 WHIP

 

There was talk of the college closer getting a shot at serving in a starting role, but that may have to wait until next season. For now, the southpaw has been serving out of the Lake Monsters bullpen. He’s been victimized by bad defense at times, but Salow has managed to post 22 strikeouts over his first 16 1/3 innings as a pro.

 

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#8 – 7th Round

Parker Dunshee

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

29 1/3 IP / 16 H / 3 ER / 6 BB / 35 K / 0.92 ERA / 0.75 WHIP

 

Dunshee has been the most promising pitcher to come out of this year’s draft so far for the A’s. After allowing 3 runs in his first appearance for the AZL A’s, Dunshee moved to Vermont, where he’s now failed to allow a run in his first 27 1/3 innings of work for the Lake Monsters. The former Wake Forest star is an experienced college hurler, and he’s been striking out nearly 11 batters per 9 innings while notching nearly 6 times more strikeouts than walks.

 

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#9 – 8th Round

Brian Howard

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

22 1/3 IP / 20 H / 4 ER / 1 BB / 22 K / 1.61 ERA / 0.94 WHIP

 

Howard has been almost as impressive as Dunshee in the early going. The 6-foot-9 righty has demonstrated great control, walking just 1 and striking out 22 while also failing to allow a home run over his first 22 1/3 innings of work for the Lake Monsters.

 

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#10 – 9th Round

Jared Poche

Age: 22 / Left-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters

2 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0.00 ERA / 1.50 WHIP

 

Poche made his first appearance in July, throwing 2 scoreless innings for Vermont, before landing on the disabled list with a forearm strain that’s expected to end his first pro season prematurely.

 

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#11 – 10th Round

Jack Meggs

Age: 22 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters

69 AB / 3 HR / 9 BB / 14 K / .290 AVG / .370 OBP / .449 SLG / .820 OPS

 

The 10th-round draft pick out of Washington started out strong. Meggs smashed 3 home runs in his first 17 games, a number no one on the Lake Monsters squad has yet to surpass, while also boasting a .370 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging percentage before landing on the disabled list in late July.

 

–TOP HITTER–

gd656364#3 – 2nd Round

Greg Deichmann

Age: 22 / Outfielder

Vermont Lake Monsters

93 AB / 3 HR / 16 BB / 24 K / .323 AVG / .423 OBP / .559 SLG / .983 OPS

 

–TOP PITCHER–

pd670161#8 – 7th Round

Parker Dunshee

Age: 22 / Right-Handed Pitcher

Vermont Lake Monsters + AZL A’s

29 1/3 IP / 16 H / 3 ER / 6 BB / 35 K / 0.92 ERA / 0.75 WHIP

 

 

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 newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Ryan Christenson: Guiding Guys to the Big Leagues from Nashville

rc636148237120845988-ryan3by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

Originally drafted by the A’s in the 10th round in 1995, Ryan Christenson began his major league playing career as an outfielder with the A’s back in 1998. He made it to the playoffs with the A’s 2000 team before being dealt to Arizona during the 2001 season. The southern California native made his last major league appearance with Texas in 2003, and finished out his playing career by spending the 2004 season playing in the Pacific Coast League.

He then left the game for a while to go into the business world before being bitten by the baseball bug again and returning to the field in 2013 to skipper the Beloit Snappers, the A’s Class-A affiliate in the Midwest League. Christenson quickly impressed the A’s organization with his ability to work with young players and, like many of his young charges, he moved through the system quickly, taking the reins at Stockton in 2014, before moving on to manage Midland in 2015 and 2016, and then becoming the skipper of the Nashville Sounds this season.

Christenson has managed many of the A’s top young prospects as they’ve moved through the system together. He began at Beloit back in 2013 with Bruce Maxwell, Matt Olson and Renato Nunez. In 2014 at Stockton, in addition to Maxwell, Olson and Nunez, he also had Ryon Healy, Chad Pinder and Jaycob Brugman, and he managed all six players again at Midland the next season. Top prospects Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto came under his charge at Midland in 2016, and have spent time with him at Nashville this year as well.

Obviously, Christenson has had a major hand in helping to develop many members of the A’s current youth movement. He’s had the chance to watch the A’s top prospects play on a daily basis as much as any other human being alive and knows them as well as anyone. So, last weekend in Nashville, we took the opportunity to talk to the skipper about his job and also got his impressions of a few of the main members of the A’s youth movement like Bruce Maxwell, Chad Pinder, Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto…

 

AF:  As a player, you played for that 2000 A’s team that started that four-year playoff run in Oakland with guys like Giambi, Chavez, Tejada and the beginning of the Big Three with Hudson, Mulder and Zito. Those guys you played with on that 2000 team really formed the core of those winning A’s teams of the early 2000s. So, what was that whole experience like for you and what did you take from that that may be of use to you now?

RC:  Obviously, just having been in the organization at every level, I still have a feel for the philosophy that we try to teach here as a player development person with the A’s now. I think one of the things that I remember most about that group there was just the closeness that we had with the young core group of players, because it seems like we all came through the system together and kind of all arrived in the big leagues together in the late ’90s, and then started to really play better baseball and were able to win the division there in 2000. So, that’s what I see and hope for with this group as we change over now. A lot of these guys have all come through the minor leagues together and have an opportunity to do something special at the big league level with that relationship already set in place.

AF:  After you retired as a player after the 2004 season, you were out of the game for a while until you came back and started managing at Beloit in 2013. So, what led to you getting back into the game at that point?

RC:  After I was done playing, I finished up my degree. I had a business degree and kind of saw myself going into the business world. I did that for a couple years but realized pretty quickly that being behind the desk was not where I really wanted to be. I felt myself starting to miss the game and realized how much I loved the game. As a player, I didn’t think that I was going to go into coaching, but I did feel that I was missing the game. And I had some friends like A.J. Hinch, Sal Fasano and David Newhan and some guys I was talking to who were in the game and were enjoying themselves…I interviewed in 2012 and didn’t get anything, thank goodness. And I happened to land in a perfect spot with the A’s, back where I came up. And it was just a good fit. It was everything I was looking for – with a boss like [farm director] Keith Lieppman, obviously some familiarity with [Vice President of Baseball Operations] Billy Beane and [General Manager] David Forst, and [special assistant] Grady Fuson was here, and I knew [assistant general manager] Dan Feinstein from my playing days. So, that just made it feel like a good place to start my coaching career.

AF:  You’ve coached at every full-season level in the system at this point, going from Beloit up to Nashville now. So, what’s the difference for you managing guys who are just starting out their careers in Single-A and then managing guys up here in Triple-A who’ve been around a bit and who’ve maybe even spent some time in the big leagues before?

RC:  The guys here already have a feel for what they have to do on a day-to-day basis. They have a pretty good understanding of the game. At the lower levels, you’re helping these guys understand what their day-to-day routine is going to be and how they get through a day. And then up here, it’s more managing the players than managing the work day – so getting to know these guys, having that relationship, because it’s a whirlwind here. Sometimes, you have to have some tough conversations; sometimes, you get to have some real exciting conversations as far as sending guys up. But if you don’t have a pulse of where they’re all at, then this job could spiral on you in a hurry.

AF:  Yeah, you’re actually in the middle of a lot of personal drama here in Triple-A. Guys here often find themselves going through some major changes one way or another.

RC:  Yeah, they are major. And a lot of them have wives and families. At the lower levels, you don’t have to deal with that issue. Moving around is a little bit easier. But here, it can be a major uprooting.

AF:  Yeah, going back and forth between Beloit and Stockton isn’t quite as dramatic a change in life as going back and forth between Nashville and Oakland! Now you started out in Beloit with guys like Bruce Maxwell and Matt Olson, and you’ve been with them almost every year through their minor league careers. So, what’s it like for you personally to see them making it to the major league level after having started out with them back in A-ball?

rc87435-6292763FrRC:  It feels good, just because you’ve seen all the work that they’ve put in. Somebody like Maxwell, you see the transition that he’s made to turn himself into a very, very good defensive catcher. He came in as this great hitter, but the catching has continuously gotten better. So, just to see him pay attention to that and turn himself into the best catcher we have in the organization has been really neat to watch. But just the fact that I’ve been around them for four or five years and had some pretty solid relationships with these guys, just to be able to see them go up there and do it on TV at the ultimate level, which is where they all wanted to be, is pretty cool.

AF:  A guy you had at Stockton, at Midland, and for a little while here at Nashville this year is Chad Pinder. He’s an interesting player with his versatility. How do you see him profiling as a major league player?

RC:  I think he’s panning out into being the super-utility guy that we’re seeing right now. I think the throwing and the glove on the infield are probably not the quality to do it every single day at this point, not that it can’t improve. But he’s got the tools to shift around and play any of the three infield positions and play them well. So, it’s good to have a guy who can bounce around and do all three versus one position every single day. And now that he’s shown that he can go in the outfield, the fact that we can put him out there anywhere on the field is huge. The first day in spring training when I saw him go to the outfield, his instincts and his first move and his desire to want to get a good jump and go get the ball kind of impressed me that he can do it, because he’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a very strong and powerful guy, and some of the home runs that we’ve seen him hit already this year up there show the capabilities that he has. But he’s got a short swing, which allows him to get the ball deep. I think he’s still kind of coming into his own and figuring out his approach. He needs to improve to be successful at the major league level as far as working counts a little bit more and drawing a few more walks. Not going out of the zone as much as he was and being an aggressive swinger is only going to help his numbers as far as what they really want to see him improve on, which is that on-base number, and he can certainly do that.

AF:  Earlier this year, you had two guys here who are considered two of the A’s top position player prospects – Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto. Chapman’s up with the A’s now, and Barreto was up for a bit but now he’s back here in Nashville. What have you seen out of those guys, what makes them such special players, and what do they both need to do to really be able to succeed at the major league level on a long-term basis?

RC:  Well, I think both of them are right along the lines of what we were just talking about with Pinder. A refinement of their strike zone is the main thing. I think Barreto’s seen that at this level here and when he’s been in the big leagues. Somebody can be exploited that can’t lay off of that slider or that fastball that starts in the zone and by the time it gets to the hitting zone it’s dropped out of it. So, I think that’s where the improvement’s going to come offensively for all three of them – Chapman, Barreto and Pinder. Chapman is one of the best, if not the best, third basemen I’ve ever been around. The kid is absolutely electric. He’s as dynamic left and right as you can get, he’s got one of the best arms in the game at third base, and he’s got range. And especially in Oakland, he’s a perfect fit, with all that foul territory, so he’s going to be huge for them at third base. I still think they’re figuring out whether Barreto fits better at shortstop or second base. He’s a young player still kind of finding his focus. I think some of his errors that he’s made here are just a lack of focus at times, which you can see kind of drift in and out with young players. But I love what I’ve seen from him at second base. I’ve seen him make plays that remind me of Roberto Alomar. And Chapman and Barreto are both extremely powerful. Obviously, Barreto’s not as powerful as Chapman, but for a little guy, Barreto can really drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark, which is fun to watch.

AF:  Well, it sounds like he might be more of a standout player as a second baseman than as a shortstop.

RC:  I think so, I think in a perfect world. Just watching some of the young players we have in the minor leagues, I think Richie Martin is our best pure shortstop. He’s just as electric left and right as Chapman. So, I think if you can just envision those two guys on the left-hand side, that’s lock-down quality defense. Richie’s still kind of trying to figure himself out as a hitter. I’m not sure what they’re expecting or would like to see him hit, but it’s not a lot. He’s that good at shortstop. I think Barreto’s going to end up doing both. But possibly at this point in time, second base might be his better of the two.

AF:  And since you played with him, does Chapman remind you a bit of Eric Chavez?

RC:  I’m telling you, I played a lot with Chavy, and Chapman’s better than Chavez as a defender. Obviously, Chavy was a great hitter. But Chapman is better – I tell people he’s the best I’ve seen. I was always a baseball fan growing up, and I can never remember ever watching a better third baseman. He’s incredible – so much fun to watch.

AF:  So, now that you’ve had the opportunity to do this job for a few years, what’s the single best part of it for you?

RC:  My whole life I’ve just been a baseball fan. So, to be able to work in the industry of baseball has been a blessing. I was out of it and realized how much I love it and was able to get back into it. And it’s not always that easy just because you played to get back in – there’s only so many jobs to go around. But I feel very fortunate to be able to do that. And I’ve also been real fortunate to be around this young group that we’re trying to watch do something in the big leagues right now. It’s just been incredible to watch these guys play great baseball. We’ve done a lot of winning over the last four years. It’s been a great experience all around. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

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Matt Olson: Riding the Nashville-to-Oakland Express

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

mo621566Matt Olson has been one of the top power-hitting prospects in the A’s system ever since the team made him its third overall pick in the 2012 draft. Since then, the Georgia native has slowly climbed the ladder step-by-step and finally made his major league debut for the A’s as a 22-year-old last September. He’s been up and down between Nashville and Oakland multiple times in 2017, and the young slugger demonstrated his power potential by hitting 4 home runs in 18 games for the A’s this season.

Olson’s always been known for his combination of power and plate discipline. And at Nashville this year, his 21 home runs are currently the second-most on the squad, while his 44 walks are tops on the team, and his .550 slugging percentage and .913 OPS are best among current Sounds. The left-handed hitter has also struck out 80 times in 280 at-bats for Nashville this year. The 23-year-old has primarily been playing first base this season, where he’s a defensive standout, but he spent most of his time in right field last year, where he’s more than capable of doing the job.

With the A’s youth movement in full swing, we’ll surely be seeing more of Olson in Oakland before the season’s through. A’s Farm first spoke with Olson in Stockton back in 2014, and we took the opportunity to catch up with him again last weekend in Nashville…

 

AF:  Well, it’s certainly been an interesting year for you. I think you’ve probably been back and forth between here and Oakland about a dozen times now!

MO:  Right around there, yeah!

AF:  So, has it been an interesting ride for you this year? And how’s it been adapting to all the back and forth?

MO:  Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely different than what I’ve been accustomed to. These past few years, I’m in the lineup every day playing 130-135 games and I’m getting five at-bats a day. Obviously, it’s an honor that they want me up there when I can get a spot. But it’s been a little bit of a transition having to kind of get a little more sporadic at-bats…but I’ve been working with it. It’s been good, a good experience, just getting as much time as I can under my belt.

AF:  I’m sure you’re happy to hop on a red-eye flight to Oakland anytime they call, right?

MO:  Yeah, definitely.

AF:  So, how comfortable were you able to feel during your time in the big leagues this year?

MO:  This year has gone a lot different compared to last year. Last year, with getting up there the first time and it being the end of the year, it all happened quick – it was a little bit of a whirlwind. Anytime I got in a game, obviously there were some nerves. And this year’s been a lot better. It’s been more about just being able to be out there playing the game, especially when I was up there for that week or week-and-a-half span where I was playing right field a lot, almost every day, and in the lineup a lot. It was good – it was nice to get into a rhythm and get that comfort level.

AF:  Well, you put a few out of the park during that stretch, so obviously you must have been feeling pretty comfortable then! How different was the quality of the major league pitching you faced compared to what you may have been used to seeing in Triple-A?

MO:  You can tell that guys have a little finer stuff. They’ll throw anything in any count. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a completely different way I’ve gotten pitched. But I faced a lot of guys I hadn’t faced before. So, I’m just kind of building a book with those guys and knowing what they like to do to me and take notes for when I face them further down the road.

AF:  Are there any things you’ve taken away or learned from your time in the majors?

MO:  Whenever I’m up there, I’m trying to learn better how to approach my day, the way I go about my routines – just finding the right thing that clicks for me. Everybody has their own things they like to do in order to get ready for the game mentally and physically. And I’ve really been able to figure out for myself what gets me ready for the game.

AF:  Has anyone on the big league squad been particularly helpful to you there?

IMG_0322bMO:  You know, everybody’s been really helpful. The guys who have been around, like Jed Lowrie and Matt Joyce and Yonder Alonso, some of the main position guys, kind of take a little extra time to explain things to the younger guys. Anytime they can offer a little bit of advice, they’ve done a really great job of helping us out. Even if it’s just a little minor thing, it’s nice to have those guys kind of helping you along. It kind of takes a little bit of the behind-the-scenes stuff off your chest and you can just go out there and play the game.

AF:  So, now that you’re back in Nashville, is there anything in particular that you’re focused on here?

MO:  Just having that same hunger that I had when I showed up at the beginning of the year. I felt like I had a tough year last year and I kind of had something to prove, and I came in ready to get after it and ready to start off strong. And I’ve just been trying to continue that all year long.

AF: You’ve had the chance to spend some time in the big league camp in spring training. How helpful has that experience been for you?

MO:  It’s very helpful. Just from having seen the guys, met them, hung out with them a little bit. It makes it a whole lot easier to make that transition. Ryon Healy last year got called up without ever having set foot in the clubhouse, except when he would come across [from minor league camp] for a couple games. So, I’m sure that was a bigger transition for him trying to meet the guys and be able perform for his first time in the big leagues. So, there is a factor to that. A lot of it, going up for the first couple times, is being able to put all the other stuff aside and just playing baseball.

AF:  Your first major league game was last September. So, what was it like for you the first time you stepped onto the field in a major league park?

MO:  It’s just one of those feelings that you can’t describe. It’s something that you’ve worked your whole life for, to be able to be out there, with my family and girlfriend up in the stands watching. It’s definitely a special moment, one I’ll never forget.

AF:  I know your family’s not that far from here in Georgia. So, do they get a chance to come see you much in Nashville?

MO:  Yeah, they’ve come up here a lot. It’s only a four-hour drive, so they’ve been up here four or five or six times already this year.

AF:  Having to go back and forth between Nashville and Oakland so many times this year, where have you been living here in Nashville and where have you been staying when you’re up in Oakland?

MO:  I’ve just been living right over here by the field. I started out as roommates with Chad Pinder, and then I was roommates with Matt Chapman, and now I’m in the place by myself right now. Luckily, Ryon Healy’s renting a house up there that has some spare bedrooms just in case guys were coming up and down. So, there’s a room there that I’ve stayed in all the times that I’ve been up there.

AF:  Well, I’m sure his spare room’s gotten plenty of use this year – I’m sure it hasn’t gone to waste! It must be nice to know that whenever you do go up to Oakland, there are plenty of familiar faces around, plenty of guys you’ve known and played with for a while.

MO:  Yeah, it goes along with that comfort level that I was talking about. It makes it a whole lot easier to be able to go out and play the game. When you’ve got guys like that you’ve played with a long time, it just makes it a smoother transition.

AF:  Speaking of familiar faces, you’ve got Ryan Christenson, whom you go all the way back to Beloit with, here as your manager in Nashville this year. So, what’s it like for you having him around this year?

MO:  It’s great. This is our fourth season together, so we know each other well. He’s awesome. I love having him as our manager. He knows the right time to get on somebody if they need it, but at the same time, he jokes around with us. He’s a good mix.

AF:  And he must know you and your game as well as anyone. He’s probably seen you play more than any other human alive!

MO:  Yeah, he definitely has!

AF:  So, as we head into the final part of the season here, what are you focused on at this point?

MO:  Just keeping that hunger. I understand there are a lot of moving parts, and this year I’ve been moving up and down those four or five times. And my goal is to just kind of block it all out and do what I have to do on the field. A lot of that stuff’s out of my control. The main thing is to go out there and keep that hunger and just perform on the field.

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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 newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Jesse Hahn: Keeping It Simple with the Sounds

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

jh534910Like every single one of his teammates in Nashville, Jesse Hahn‘s main goal is to get to the big leagues. But unlike many of them, he’s already seen the promised land and has actually spent plenty of time residing there, having started 50 major league games between the A’s and the Padres. He’s experienced some ups and downs during that time though.

This season, the A’s optioned Hahn to Nashville towards the end of spring training but, thanks to injuries, he was quickly recalled. After looking impressive in April, he tailed off a bit in May, and then did a stint on the disabled list. He struggled at times after returning to action in June, and the A’s optioned him to Nashville at the start of July, where he’s been doing his best to master Triple-A hitters as well as his own arsenal.

His Pacific Coast League performances have been improving of late, and we spoke with Hahn just a day before his best outing for Nashville this season, when he allowed 1 run on 4 hits over 6 innings of work for the Sounds. And after spending some time talking with him, it’s clear that he has one simple goal in mind…

 

AF:  I wanted to get your perspective on your experience down here. Of course, Nashville’s a nice place, but we all know you’d obviously rather be up in Oakland than here in Triple-A. And I know you’ve got some stuff to work on here. So, what’s your focus while you’re here in Nashville?

JH:  To get back to the big leagues – I mean, you have to. You’ve got to keep your head up and you’ve got to keep working hard. I have this thing where when something doesn’t go my way, I just work harder. If I get sent down or if I end up here…I mean, Nashville’s a great city, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy it when I’m here. I enjoy the clubhouse, the coaching staff, all the guys in here, but at the end of the day, the main goal is to be in the big leagues and stay there. So, it gives you that motivation to work harder and get there.

AF:  I’m sure the coaching staff has particular things they want you to focus on here. So, what specific things are you really trying to work on here?

JH:  Yeah, I’m always trying to improve my changeup. I have a good one, but I need to use it more. So, this is a time and place to use it more and work on that. So, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing lately. And you can always touch up on your fastball command, especially myself. So, those are two things for me – fastball command and working on the changeup and just throwing it more.

AF:  What do you find the differences are between the times when you’re going really well and everything’s working for you and then the times when things just aren’t going so well for you?

JH:  You know, sometimes when you do struggle, you start thinking about things. You think about, “Wow, something might be wrong. I might have to fix something.” When it might not be – it might be that I just had a bad outing, I made the wrong pitches, I threw the right pitch but I didn’t execute it, instead of getting all caught up in, “Oh, it could be my mechanics – I need to work on this and work on that.” So, I’ve found that sometimes less is more – simplify things as much as you can, because it’s a complicated game. So, that’s kind of what I do – I try to take something really small and hopefully that’s the quick fix that I need.

AF:  Rather than thinking about everything too much and letting it all spiral out of control…

JH:  Yeah, exactly!

AF:  Is there much difference for you facing hitters at this level as opposed to hitters at the major league level?

JH:  I think guys here are a little more aggressive. At the big league level, they’re patient and they have a good approach. Up there, if you’re not locating your fastball, you’ll get behind in counts easily, whereas here, you might get a couple favors with guys swinging at some stuff. I mean, it’s a tough league to pitch in, but obviously the big leagues is a tougher league to pitch in. You can’t make as many mistakes in the big leagues. They’ll make you pay a little bit more, whereas here, you might be able to get by with a couple. But there’s not a huge difference – it’s a really good league.

AF:  Well, a good percentage of the guys down here have spent time up there before too. So, how do you feel your overall command is at this point?

JH:  I think it could use a little bit of a tune-up, but I feel good. I’m still working on things. I think every day you can work on your fastball command. There’s no such thing as perfecting it. You can always get better at it, so that’s kind of where I’m at.

AF:  Now what about the personal side of things? You had been living in the Bay Area, and then suddenly you had to up and move to Nashville. So, where are you staying out here?

JH:  I just stay in a hotel when I’m down here. I still have my place in Oakland in case I get called back up. Like I said before, keep it simple! My wife’s out here now. She goes back and forth. She’s still staying in Oakland, but whenever we get a long home stand, she flies out here with the dog just to make it seem the same, like things haven’t changed too much.

AF:  So, have you been able to spend much time getting to explore Nashville while you’ve been here?

JH:  Yeah, I’m out and about every morning. I’m a big food guy. I love to explore different restaurants and find what’s out there. So, every morning I wake up early and find a new breakfast spot and eat there and find a new lunch spot. And if we have time to get dinner, I go out and do that. But other than that, I’m not a big partier. I don’t really go out much, so that’s kind of it for me.

AF:  You’re going out in the day, not the night! So, now that we’re headed into the last part of the season, what are you thinking about trying to get done here in the remainder of the season?

JH:  Just trying to finish up strong, finish healthy and end up in the big leagues again. That’s where I want to be – that’s my main goal.

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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 newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Chapman, Maxwell & Brugman: A Trio of Young A’s Players Talks about Life in the Majors

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

The A’s youth movement finally appears to be in full effect – and third baseman Matt Chapman, catcher Bruce Maxwell and outfielder Jaycob Brugman are clear evidence of that. While Maxwell has been back and forth between Oakland and Nashville multiple times over the last couple of seasons, Chapman and Brugman both were called up in June to make their major league debuts for the A’s.

We’d spoken with all three players before during stops at Stockton, Nashville, the Arizona Fall League and in spring training, but we wanted to check in and see how the trio has been adjusting to life in the majors. So, earlier this week, we took the opportunity to talk to all three of them again, but this time while wearing major league uniforms in the A’s clubhouse…

 

MATT CHAPMAN

mc656305cThe A’s top draft pick in 2014, the third baseman has been considered one of the team’s top power-hitting prospects. He hit 16 home runs in just 49 games for Nashville this season and tagged a pair of home runs in one game for Oakland. Chapman is also known as a talented defender at the hot corner and has already made a number of impressive plays in the field for the A’s. The 24-year-old went on the disabled list in late June with a knee infection, but he returned to action during the first week of July, and he’s now fully focused on making his mark in the majors.

AF:  Now that you’re here in Oakland, what’s the biggest difference you find yourself encountering in the big leagues compared to what you’d experienced in the minor leagues?

MC:  I don’t know if I can put my finger on one thing. But you see good stuff every single night. Guys are consistent in what they do. They try to figure out what your weaknesses are and they try to exploit them. So, you’ve just got to keep working extra hard to stay with your approach. And every little thing counts. At this level, it’s attention to detail, and it’s a lot of work. You know, the talent’s at every level, but up here, it’s just fine-tuned, and everybody knows their role and knows what they’re doing. It’s a clean game and it’s at a fast pace. There’s always an adjustment at every level.

AF:  Are there any specific adjustments that you’ve had to make at this level so far?

MC:  Really just slowing the game down and trying to get back to what I do best. You’ve got to trust what’s gotten you to this level.

AF:  You mentioned the game being faster at this level. It seems like everyone says that. Was that one of the first things that you noticed here?

MC:  Yeah, the speed of the game just keeps getting faster and faster at each level.

AF:  What about the defensive end of things? You’ve always been known as a solid defender at third base, and you’ve already made some nice plays for the A’s in the field. Has your preparation or anything else you do in the field changed for you up here?

MC:  The preparation stays the same. I feel like I have a pretty good preparation routine defensively. I guess just kind of getting to know my pitchers and getting to know the hitters on the opposing teams, and just figuring out who bunts, who doesn’t, kind of where to position myself and what pitches the pitchers on our team throw and all those little detail-oriented things.

AF:  So, how did they break the news to you in Nashville that you were going to the big leagues?

MC:  My coach came into the cage and told me I wasn’t in the lineup, so I was kind of mad. And then he told me that I was going to the big leagues, so it was a nice surprise.

AF:  How nervous were you in your first big league game? Did it seem like you were in a dream?

MC:  Yeah, definitely. There are so many emotions going on at that time, it’s hard to really even describe it, but it was a great day. It was like I was having an out-of-body experience…you’re kind of in your own world.

AF:  Well, I know you’re from southern California, so has your family had the chance to come see you here much?

MC:  Yeah, they’ve had the chance to come up once. They came for my debut.

AF:  So, how tough was it for you having to sit out while you were on the disabled list? Were you kind of going crazy?

MC:  Yeah, definitely. I wanted to come back, and I wanted to come back as fast as possible. And when I first came back, I was fresh out of the hospital. So, there’s definitely an adjustment period with getting some strength back, but I feel totally good now. It took some time for the antibiotics to finish off and for me to feel right again, but I feel good and confident going into the rest of the year.

AF:  Is it true that you were texting Bob Melvin from the hospital quite a bit and telling him you were ready to come back?

MC:  Yeah, yeah.

AF:  So, on the personal side of things, what are your living arrangements like and where are you living at here in the Bay Area now?

MC:  I’m in Walnut Creek…I’m staying with a couple guys on the team.

AF:  Had you ever spent much time in the Bay Area before?

MC:  Not too much. I’ve just been kind of checking it out. I’ve got to make my way into San Francisco on one of our off days.

AF:  How does it feel to have a bunch of guys you’ve played with in the minors up here playing with you as well?

MC:  Yeah, it’s definitely good to know you’ve got some guys like that to lean on. And you get to go to war with those guys you feel comfortable with, and we can all help each other learn together and grow.

AF:  Have any of the guys who’ve been here a while helped you out or offered you any helpful advice?

MC:  Yeah, everybody’s kind of helped me out and tried to help me feel comfortable and make that adjustment. Yonder Alonso’s helped me out a lot and just tried to get me thinking the right way and pointing things out to me that maybe I wouldn’t notice, so it’s good.

AF:  We’ve got a couple of months left in the season at this point. So, is there anything in particular that you’re focused on trying to accomplish?

MC:  Well, from a team aspect, we want to win, and I think we feel like we can do something really special in the second half. We’ve got a good group of guys…and we feel like we can compete on a daily basis. And if you look at the records around the league, everything’s pretty tight with the wild card, so nothing’s out of the question. I think we just want to keep getting better and keep growing as a team. And then, personally for me, I just want to keep getting better and keep making that transition to the big leagues and figure out how to bring my best self every single day and how to compete at this level and take that into finishing strong this year and preparing for the next.

 

BRUCE MAXWELL

bm622194bA 2nd-round selection in Oakland’s 2012 draft class, the 26-year-old backstop has climbed his way up through the A’s system step by step and he’s now taken over as the A’s primary receiver. He’s done solid work behind the plate, and is currently boasting a .386 on-base percentage in 28 games for the A’s this season. Always known for his work ethic, Maxwell is determined to make the most of the opportunity to lay claim to the A’s catching job.

AF:  I think this is your third time back up here in Oakland this year. Do you feel like there’s something new you learn each time you come up or do you come back with a little more confidence each time?

BM:  You’re always learning stuff up here. But I feel like this time around, it’s a different feel, different mindset, different role I’m playing seeing how the departure of Stephen Vogt puts me in a more solidified position up here. So, I’m able to kind of relax a little more than I have in the past and be able to kind of trust in my game and take on a leadership role on this team, even as a rookie. But it’s a little different – everything is a little more important now, everything is more consistent now. And I’ve reached a comfort level of mine that I’ve been looking for. So, now it’s just time to play.

AF:  So, it’s made things a lot easier for you now knowing that you’ve got a defined role.

BM:  It’s made everything I do on a daily basis a lot easier and a lot more consistent for the most part – just getting the consistent at-bats now and getting the consistent looks behind the plate.

AF:  Now that you’ve been in there more regularly, has your relationship with the pitchers on the staff changed at all?

BM:  Not really. I’ve known a lot of these guys for the past couple years. So, they treat me just like they did when I was up here for a week or when I was up here for three days. Now it’s just they get to work with me a little more consistently, so they get a little more comfortable.

AF:  And how much time do you spend studying the scouting reports and working with the pitching staff prior to a game, prior to a series?

BM:  It’s our job, we do it all the time. It’s just about the feel, the relationship between you and the pitcher and making sure you guys are on the same page…I’ve gotten more comfortable with the meetings, with the knowledge and the information. Now I’m seeing these teams consistently, so the knowledge is more polished. And we just continue to learn about these hitters and try to dominate them the best we can.

AF:  What about at the plate? Are the opposing pitchers at this level approaching you any differently than the pitchers in Triple-A did?

BM:  Yeah, up here, their execution’s a lot better than it is at Triple-A, so it’s a little different. But up here, guys who’ve been around the game for a while already know their own scouting report. So, it’s our job to make the adjustment before the other team does. They know my scouting report, and I know my own scouting report. So, it’s just about minimizing their execution and then taking advantage of it when they don’t execute.

AF:  I know when you were first drafted, you didn’t have a lot of catching experience under your belt, and that was a big focus for you early on. So, where do you feel you’re at defensively at this point, and are there any little things you’re working on right now?

BM:  Yeah, behind the plate, everything is so small. So, it’s about staying on your work and being able to perfect everything that you do. I’m constantly adjusting my stances and my receiving skills and all that kind of stuff, because there’s always room for improvement back there. I’m pretty quiet as a catcher in general, and I get compliments from umpires and coaches and stuff but, at the same time, I could be that much better. So, never a day goes by that we don’t work on what I do behind the plate.

AF:  You mentioned Stephen Vogt earlier, so what did you pick up from him while you were both here?

BM:  I’ve been with Stephen the last four years. I’ve been in big league camp every year, and you learn little things from guys in your position every year. He’s taught me so much – the mental side of it, the physical side of it, the catching side of it. I continue to apply all that in my everyday work and my everyday game play. So, I couldn’t be more grateful for a teammate like him, and I wish him all the success over in Milwaukee.

AF: Whether it’s on the field or off the field, what are the key differences between playing here at this level and playing in Triple-A?

BM:  Everybody wants to win up here. Triple-A is still a developmental process. You know, we won everywhere we’ve been for the most part, this core group of young guys. But up here, it’s more of a team-based evaluation. It’s all about wins up here, however you’ve got to do it. It’s about getting those “W”s in the column. Up here, it’s easier to kind of put yourself on the back burner and just kind of do what you need to do for the team.

AF:  You don’t need to worry about getting to the next level because there is no next level! But you’ve been up and down between here and Nashville a few times this year. So, on the personal side of things, where are you staying at now, and who are you living with up here?

BM:  Well, me and a couple of the other young guys are about to bunk up out in Walnut Creek on the next home stand. We’ve found a place for a couple months. We’ve just been kind of trying to figure it out. So, moves to be made soon.

AF:  I know you moved around a bit as an Army brat. So how do you find living in the Bay Area?

BM:  It’s all right. We don’t really have time to do much out here. I’m here for work, and then when work’s over, I go back home. The fans out here are great. There’s a lot of history out here in the Bay Area, but we don’t get much time to go and explore those things in general. I get to the field pretty early to take care of my job, because this is the reason why I’m here.

AF:  Well, I guess the part of the Bay Area you know the best is the Coliseum!

BM:  Pretty much!

 

JAYCOB BRUGMAN

jb595144bThe lefty-swinging outfielder was the A’s 17th-round draft pick in 2013. A bit of an underdog who wasn’t always prominently placed on prospect lists, Brugman has consistently out-performed expectations and over-achieved at every level. The 25-year-old has often hit near the top of the order during his minor league career and has always done a good job of getting on base. He was sporting a .373 on-base percentage in 33 games for Nashville this season, and has hit a pair of home runs in his first 33 games for the A’s. Always known as a hard worker, his enthusiasm for succeeding at the major league level is apparent.

AF:  Well, we’ve talked to you when you were at Stockton and Nashville, and now you’re here in Oakland. So, what are the biggest differences you find in the game at this level?

JB:  Everyone’s good! The pitchers are really good every day. And they’re going to adjust to you, so it’s a constant battle between you and the pitcher – and you’ve got to make those adjustments quicker.

AF:  Have you found yourself having to make many adjustments already?

JB:  Yeah, just working with the hitting coach [Darren Bush]. They know how it is up here and have got some good insights. I’ve just been making some small adjustments with my swing here and there that’s allowing me to see the ball a little better and drive the balls a little better and get into my legs a little more.

AF:  Have many of the guys who’ve been around a while also been helping you out or offering you any advice since you’ve been here?

JB:  Yeah, definitely, all the older guys – I talk to them every day. Mainly the outfielders because I’m out there with them a lot – so Khris Davis and Matt Joyce and Rajai Davis. They’ve seen everyone, so it’s nice to be able to say, “Hey, what kind of approach do you have on this guy?” Especially Joyce, because he’s left-handed like I am, so we talk a lot about that stuff. Every little bit helps.

AF:  Is there anything different about playing center field in the majors, or playing it here at the Coliseum?

JB:  Yeah, guys hit a little harder and a little farther! It’s just small adjustments. There’s certain stadiums where you’ve got to really make sure you can see the ball well. It just takes a little getting used to. But you work every day and things come.

AF:  Do you find it’s really even more important here in the majors to get that first step right in center field?

JB:  Yeah, you know, I’ve been working on that a lot. That whole first-step thing, I’ve been trying to get that right. And not necessarily getting the first step quickly, but going in the right direction. It’s not a matter of how quick you can move, but how efficient the routes are that you can make.

AF:  Do you enjoy playing out there in center field as opposed to playing in the corners?

JB:  Oh yeah, I love it. It is fun! I like to be out there and have the whole field in front of me – it’s kind of cool.

AF:  You’ve got the best seat in the house out there! So, how did they break the news to you that you were going up to Oakland when you were at Nashville?

JB:  They kind of just faked a hitters’ meeting. My hitting coach [Eric Martins] said before the game, “Hey, we’re going to go over some stuff and look at some video.” So, after the game, I went in there and thought we were going to have a normal meeting. And then the other coaches and the manager [Ryan Christenson] came in and told me, and I was like, “What? No way!”

AF:  What did your first game in the majors feel like? Were you nervous or excited? Was it all just a blur?

JB:  It could have easily been like that. But I really had to focus and make sure I wasn’t too riled up. I knew I had a job to do, and I knew I had to control my emotions. So, I really worked hard on just trying to focus in and narrow my scope and not be overwhelmed.

AF:  Now I know you’re married and have a couple of kids. So, were they able to be out here for your first game?

JB:  They were! They were at the first debut week, and they live here now with me.

AF:  I was going to ask you what your living situation here in the Bay Area was like now.

JB:  We’re in Walnut Creek.

AF:  So, you’re all back together here now in a nice, normal situation.

JB:  As normal as baseball can be!

AF:  Were you with your family in Nashville or were you rooming with other guys there?

JB:  No, I didn’t see them for a while. I roomed with Daniel Gossett, and I didn’t know when I would see my family next. So, it’s nice to be with them.

AF:  So, how does it feel to have a bunch of guys you’ve played with for a while in the minors up here with you?

JB:  It’s fun – it’s awesome! You know them, you play with them throughout the system, so it’s just a good, comfortable situation, and it’s nice to see them all have that success too.

AF:  Well, I guess it’s probably something you guys have all sat around talking about before, and now it’s actually happening.

JB:  Yeah, that’s right!

AF:  We’ve got a couple of months left in the season at this point. So, what are you focused on trying to accomplish the rest of the way?

JB:  Just to put together some wins as a team. My goal is just to help the team win as much as I can. I want to be able to end the season with an impact and have people talking about how this team is going to be next year and kind of have that sense about us that we’re going to be trouble next year. I think that’s all we can do right now is just finish hard.

AF:  Put a little fear into people!

JB:  Yeah, that’s right!

*          *          *

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A’s Farm’s 2017 Mid-Season Organizational All-Star Team

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

Third baseman Matt Chapman

Third baseman Matt Chapman

With the California League and the Midwest League All-Star breaks taking place this week and all the minor league affiliates right around the halfway points of their seasons, it’s the perfect time to take a step back and determine who the true standouts on the field have been in the A’s system in the first half of 2017. And with that in mind, it’s time to name A’s Farm’s 2017 Mid-Season Organizational All-Star Team!

Below you’ll find the primary starting players at each position for Triple-A Nashville, Double-A Midland, High-A Stockton and Class-A Beloit. Offensive players were selected from the primary starters at each position for each team, with notable players not leading in games played at a particular position listed in the designated hitter category. Starting pitchers for each club were selected from among the top starters for each team, while closers were selected from each team’s saves leader. Statistics listed are through games of Wednesday, June 21. And asterisks denote players with combined statistics from multiple minor league teams within the A’s system, but players’ major league statistics have not been included.

Outfielder Ryan LaMarre, who was recently released from the Nashville roster after being designated for assignment, is not included here since he is no longer in the A’s system. But Matt Chapman and Jaycob Brugman, who were recently promoted to the big leagues, are included since they were primary starters for Nashville and are still in the organization. Bruce Maxwell doesn’t appear here since, due to stints on the disabled list and with the A’s this season, he’s only started 19 games at catcher for Nashville this year. LHP A.J. Puk was recently promoted to Midland but spent most of his season with Stockton, while LHP Dalton Sawyer was recently promoted to Stockton but spent most of his season with Beloit, and RHP Corey Walter is currently with Nashville but made most of his starts with Midland and, consequently, all three pitchers are listed with the teams that they’ve made most of their appearances with this year.

Check out our list of All-Star candidates at each position. Then click on the link just below the list of contenders to find A’s Farm’s winning Organizational All-Stars at each position. The winners were determined based purely on performance, not potential. Remember, we’re not selecting the top prospects here, we’re choosing the top performers on the field so far this season. So take a good look at the candidates for yourself and then cast your vote in our poll for the top A’s Organizational All-Star!

 

–THE CANDIDATES–

 

CATCHER

Nashville – Ryan Lavarnway (158 AB / 4 HR / .266 AVG / .368 OBP / .392 SLG / .760 OPS)

Midland – Andy Paz (120 AB / 0 HR / .258 AVG / .323 OBP / .275 SLG / .598 OPS)

Stockton – Sean Murphy (145 AB / 8 HR / .297 AVG / .344 OBP / .524 SLG / .868 OPS)

Beloit – Collin Theroux (135 AB / 10 HR / .200 AVG / .294 OBP / .467 SLG / .761 OPS)

 

FIRST BASE

Nashville – Matt Olson (214 AB / 17 HR / .271 AVG / .365 OBP / .561 SLG / .926 OPS)

Midland – Viosergy Rosa (260 AB / 10 HR / .250 AVG / .327 OBP / .431 SLG / .757 OPS)

Stockton – Chris Iriart (189 AB / 8 HR / .206 AVG / .274 OBP / .370 SLG / .644 OPS)

Beloit – Miguel Mercedes (239 AB / 11 HR / .243 AVG / .300 OBP / .448 SLG / .748 OPS)

 

SECOND BASE

Nashville – Joey Wendle (212 AB / 6 HR / .274 AVG / .313 OBP / .453 SLG / .765 OPS)

Midland – Max Schrock (184 AB / 5 HR / .304 AVG / .340 OBP / .435 SLG / .775 OPS)

Stockton – Branden Cogswell (185 AB / 0 HR / .254 AVG / .325 OBP / .314 SLG / .639 OPS)

Beloit – Nate Mondou (228 AB / 0 HR / .289 AVG / .371 OBP / .377 SLG / .748 OPS)

 

SHORTSTOP

Nashville – Franklin Barreto (276 AB / 8 HR / .279 AVG / .321 OBP / .431 SLG / .752 OPS)

Midland – Richie Martin (163 AB / 3 HR / .233 AVG / .324 OBP / .344 SLG / .668 OPS)

Stockton – Eli White (245 AB / 1 HR / .265 AVG / .354 OBP / .363 SLG / .717 OPS)

Beloit – Eric Marinez (189 AB / 1 HR / .270 AVG / .347 OBP / .349 SLG / .697 OPS)

 

THIRD BASE

Nashville – Matt Chapman (175 AB / 16 HR / .257 AVG / .348 OBP / .589 SLG / .937 OPS)

Midland – Yairo Munoz (182 AB / 6 HR / .308 AVG / .338 OBP / .522 SLG / .860 OPS)

Stockton – Mikey White (200 AB / 7 HR / .235 AVG / .323 OBP / .420 SLG / .743 OPS)

Beloit – Trace Loehr (206 AB / 0 HR / .243 AVG / .286 OBP / .277 SLG / .563 OPS)

 

LEFT FIELD

Nashville – Renato Nunez (242 AB / 18 HR / .252 AVG / .315 OBP / .541 SLG / .856 OPS)

Midland – B.J. Boyd (256 AB / 1 HR / .316 AVG / .366 OBP / .430 SLG / .795 OPS)

Stockton – Tyler Ramirez (246 AB / 5 HR / .297 AVG / .394 OBP / .411 SLG / .805 OPS)

Beloit – Luke Persico (220 AB / 3 HR / .264 AVG / .329 OBP / .382 SLG / .711 OPS)

 

CENTER FIELD

Nashville – Jaycob Brugman (132 AB / 1 HR / .288 AVG / .373 OBP / .364 SLG / .737 OPS)

Midland – Brett Vertigan (239 AB / 1 HR / .280 AVG / .371 OBP / .381 SLG / .752 OPS)

Stockton – Skye Bolt (190 AB / 6 HR / .242 AVG / .344 OBP / .432 SLG / .775 OPS)

Beloit – JaVon Shelby (218 AB / 5 HR / .216 AVG / .304 OBP / .326 SLG / .629 OPS)

 

RIGHT FIELD

Nashville – Mark Canha (104 AB / 6 HR / .212 AVG / .339 OBP / .423 SLG / .762 OPS)

Midland – Tyler Marincov (247 AB / 9 HR / .275 AVG / .353 OBP / .470 SLG / .823 OPS)

Stockton – Seth Brown (260 AB / 11 HR / .238 AVG / .307 OBP / .412 SLG / .718 OPS)

Beloit – Luis Barrera (211 AB / 2 HR / .289 AVG / .332 OBP / .417 SLG / .749 OPS)

 

DESIGNATED HITTER

Nashville – Matt McBride (119 AB / 4 HR / .202 AVG / .263 OBP / .387 SLG / .650 OPS)

Midland – J.P. Sportman (264 AB / 6 HR / .284 AVG / .338 OBP / .417 SLG / .755 OPS)

Stockton – Brett Siddall (178 AB / 7 HR / .264 AVG / .328 OBP / .427 SLG / .755 OPS)

Beloit – Edwin Diaz (174 AB / 7 HR / .282 AVG / .371 OBP / .466 SLG / .837 OPS)

 

STARTING PITCHER

Nashville – Paul Blackburn (74 1/3 IP / 64 H / 25 ER / 25 BB / 54 K / 3.03 ERA / 1.20 WHIP)

Midland – Corey Walter (78 2/3 IP / 78 H / 24 ER / 21 BB / 52 K / 2.75 ERA / 1.26 WHIP) *

Stockton – A.J. Puk (68 IP / 48 H / 28 ER / 25 BB / 105 K / 3.71 ERA / 1.07 WHIP) *

Beloit – Dalton Sawyer (67 2/3 IP / 41 H / 17 ER / 26 BB / 72 K / 2.26 ERA / 0.99 WHIP) *

 

CLOSER

Nashville – Simon Castro (28 IP / 19 H / 14 ER / 20 BB / 48 K / 4.50 ERA / 1.39 WHIP / 3 SV)

Midland – Kyle Finnegan (29 IP / 29 H / 10 ER / 7 BB / 27 K / 3.10 ERA / 1.24 WHIP / 8 SV)

Stockton – Nolan Blackwood (28 2/3 IP / 24 H / 11 ER / 11 BB / 24 K / 3.45 ERA / 1.22 WHIP / 8 SV)

Beloit – Sam Sheehan (16 1/3 IP / 10 H / 5 ER / 9 BB / 21 K / 2.76 ERA / 1.16 WHIP / 3 SV)

 

Click here to see A’s Farm’s 2017 Mid-Season Organizational All-Star Team…

A’s Scouting Director Eric Kubota Offers the Inside Scoop on Oakland’s Top 11 Draft Picks of 2017

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

A's scouting director Eric Kubota

A’s scouting director Eric Kubota

The man responsible for overseeing the A’s efforts in the amateur draft is scouting director Eric Kubota. Kubota started out his career in the baseball world by interning for the A’s in the mid-‘80s, and he eventually served as the assistant director of scouting and the supervisor of international scouting before succeeding Grady Fuson as scouting director following his departure after the 2001 season.

In past years, we’ve talked with Kubota about top picks like Addison Russell in 2012, Billy McKinney in 2013, Matt Chapman in 2014, Richie Martin in 2015 and A.J. Puk in 2016. And this year, we were eager to get his insights on #1 pick Austin Beck as well as the rest of the A’s top eleven picks from the first ten rounds of the 2017 draft.

We spoke with Kubota the week after the draft, just hours before the A’s were set to announce that they’d come to terms with 31 of their 41 draft selections, including 7 of their top 11 picks and, most notably, the team’s top pick, outfielder Austin Beck…

 

AF:  We wanted to get your take on your top 11 picks from the first 10 rounds of the draft this year. So let’s start out with your top pick. I know you guys were kind of surprised last year when pitcher A.J. Puk was available to you with the sixth overall pick. How confident were you that outfielder Austin Beck was going to be available to you with the sixth pick this year, how much did his workout at the Coliseum the week before the draft really impress you, and what was the one thing about him that really most grabbed you?

abAustin_Beck_t1u2zolz_rloc5a7f130EK:  Well, as far as whether we thought he would get to us, we did think there was a club or two ahead of us that really liked Austin…but we thought probably somewhere between #3 and #8 was where he was going to go, so we thought we did have a fair chance of getting him. And the workout itself, more than anything, was the culmination of the spring spent scouting Austin. Austin was a guy our scouts in that area liked a lot. Earlier in the season, we all went in and saw him and liked him. I mean, he’s hard not to like. What he does jumps out at you almost immediately. But having him come out to Oakland prior to the draft and having him working out on the field and being able to be around him, it was like the cherry on top of the sundae – it was kind of a finishing touch. And the thing that jumps out at me with Austin is just his natural ability to whistle the bat. I mean, what he can do as far as generating bat speed is something that we don’t get to see very often. So that ability really kind of jumps up and slaps you in the face when you see him.

AF:  Is there anyone you might compare him to?

EK:  As far as what he can do with the bat, he kind of reminds me of Andrew McCutchen, but physically, he reminds me a little bit of Kevin McReynolds.

AF:  Moving on to your second pick in the competitive balance round, shortstop Kevin Merrell out of South Florida. He’s really known for his speed, and some people think he was the fastest guy in the draft, but how confident are you that his bat will play at the major league level? And even though he played shortstop last year, it seems like there’s been a lot of talk about him possibly ending up as a center fielder. How do you feel things are going to end up shaking out for him in the field?

EK:  First and foremost, we love his bat. We think Kevin can really hit. That was all a part of the reason that we valued him and took him. It wasn’t just because he could run, which he can really do. But we really think he can hit. We think there’s a natural ability to put the barrel on the baseball. We think strength and power are developing there. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a power hitter per se, but he’s definitely going to hit some home runs. He’s strong enough to hit extra-base hits. As far as shortstop, probably coming into the year, we were less sure that he could go out and play shortstop in professional baseball, but he did a good job of it at USF this spring, and we’ll certainly give him every chance to stay there as he begins his professional career. Obviously, he has the kind of athletic ability where he could probably play at a number of different defensive positions.

AF:  Did you have any comps in mind for him?

EK:  Merrell – it’s kind of easy to go with the Brett Gardner comp.

AF:  Your 2nd-round pick was outfielder Greg Deichmann out of LSU. He’s a big lefty slugger who has that same combination of power and plate discipline as a guy like Matt Olson. How do you view him and how would you compare the two?

gdOYKFWSKEPIIKZWI.20161127154043cEK:  There’s definitely some similarities to Matt. I think one thing is that Greg is probably a little bit better athlete. Greg started his college career as a middle infielder, so there’s probably a little more athleticism there. But he’s certainly got a combination, like you said, of power and plate discipline. We had some guys go in there who really fell in love with the bat and the power potential.

AF:  I compared him to Olson, but did you have any other comps in mind for him?

EK:  Deichmann has some similarities to Seth Smith, whom A’s fans are familiar with.

AF:  Then your 3rd-round pick was high school shortstop Nick Allen. He’s got a combination of speed and defense that it seems everyone’s in love with. He kind made me think about Richie Martin in terms of that speed and defense combination. How would you feel about that comparison, and how do you feel about the ability of his bat to play out over the long run?

EK:  I think Richie’s probably a little bit more physical than Nick is. There’s certainly some similarities with the athleticism and defense. Anybody who’s ever scouted Nick just loves to watch this kid play. He’s a tremendous defender with tremendous defensive instincts. He’s got athletic ability, and we think he’s got a chance to hit. He’s not big as far as physical stature, but I think he knows what his game is, and we really believe in his ability to hit. We think he’s going to have a chance to be a premium shortstop who is going to have some offensive contribution as well.

AF:  I threw Martin out there, but did you have any other comps in mind for him?

EK:  On the older side of things, he kind of reminds me of like a Freddie Patek – they’re probably of the same stature. As far as the more modern game, you have some similarities to a Jimmy Rollins, although I’m not sure he’s going to come with the power that Jimmy had. But as far as physical stature and playing shortstop and just their baseball instincts, I think there are a lot of similarities.

AF:  In the 4th round, you guys took third baseman Will Toffey out of Vanderbilt. He’s not known as a real toolsy guy, but he gets the job done on the field and puts up the numbers. I know there was some talk that he’s the kind of guy that maybe the analytics guys like more than the old school scouts do. So what’s your take on him and how much do you like his bat?

EK:  There’s a lot of things to like about Will. And Will is a perfect example of analytics and scouting kind of coming together. We liked him from both an analytical standpoint and a scouting standpoint. He’s a deceptive athlete. I would probably argue with the fact that people say he doesn’t have tools, because he’s probably got a plus arm, he can really play defense, and he’s displayed the ability to hit. We do think the power’s coming along – that’s probably what’s going to develop last for Will. But as far as defense and being able to swing the bat, those are all things we really like about him.

AF:  Did you have any comps to offer on him?

EK:  Toffey, I kind of get a Bill Mueller out of him. I think there’s a lot of similarities there.

AF:  In the 5th round, you took high school catcher Santis Sanchez out of Puerto Rico who, for most of us, is probably the biggest unknown quantity among your top ten picks. He seems to be a strong-armed young catcher with some power potential. How many looks were you able to get at him and what are the key things you like about him?

0ss4403-6-White-19EK:  Well, the key tools are just what you said – arm strength and power. We do think he’s got a feel for the barrel as well. He’s a guy we saw a lot of actually as far as Puerto Rico goes. We had our national cross-checker [Michael Holmes] go in there in January and really love him. We had some other guys go in through the spring, and then [assistant general manager] Billy Owens went in late in April and loved him as well. So he was a guy we had consistent reports on, and we just think there’s a lot of upside to him. There’s been a pretty strong track record of really good catchers coming from Puerto Rico, and we’re hoping that Santis is the next in that line.

AF:  Well, I guess whenever you find a strong-armed catcher with power potential, that’s pretty much all you need to know!

EK:  Yeah, that’s a good place to start! And if they have the desire to be back there and work at it, those are all strong building blocks.

AF:  Did you have any comps to offer on Sanchez?

EK:  Sanchez, I’d just take the easy route and go with one of the Molina brothers – I might go with Bengie to be honest.

AF:  Don’t want to put too much pressure on him! Now in the 6th round, you took lefty reliever Logan Salow out of Kentucky, whom we just had a nice chat with on our A’s Farm Podcast. I know he’s got three pitches, with that slider that everyone loves, so do you think he’s going to get a chance to get looked at as a starter in your system?

EK:  I think we do think he can start. I know the role he filled at Kentucky, but we did see three pitches. The fastball and slider are both above-average pitches for our guys. We felt very fortunate that Logan was available to us in that spot, and I’m sure we’re going to give him every chance to start.

AF:  And continuing into the experienced-college-pitcher phase of the draft for you with RHP Parker Dunshee out of Wake Forest, whom you took in the 7th round. I imagine you looked at him as a solid, experienced, strike-throwing college pitcher, and that was basically what you liked about him.

EK:  We’ve seen a lot of Parker over the years. A couple of our scouts are Wake Forest alums and they still live in the area, so they see Wake a lot, and we’ve all seen Parker a lot over the years. Sometimes, there are guys you need to see over a period of time to really appreciate what they can do, and I think Parker’s one of those guys. He has major league caliber pitches, and he can really pitch. He’s probably more substance than style, but we do think there’s some upside to him. We think he’s the kind of guy who can move quickly in the organization.

AF:  In the 8th round, you took RHP Brian Howard out of TCU. The thing that most intrigues people about him is his height – he’s 6’9″. I know with those really tall guys, there are often problems and issues with their delivery. So how do you feel about his delivery, and do you feel there’s much work to be done there in terms of cleaning it up at all?

0bhHoward LebEK:  That’s probably his strength. His strength is his delivery, his ability to repeat his delivery, his ability to command the baseball. Those are all things he does very well, especially for his size. It’s funny you mention the height – it would be easy to assume that those flaws would be there, but for him, it’s kind of the opposite. He really commands the baseball well and controls his delivery well.

AF:  Well that’s good. If you’ve got a guy who’s 6’9″ with a repeatable delivery, that ought to make your life a lot easier! Did you have any comps on him?

EK:  Howard, I’d just go with the tall guy – he kind of reminds me of Mike Witt from back in the day.

AF:  In the 9th round, you went with LHP Jared Poche out of LSU. I know he was a consistent winner there at LSU, but what did you really like about him and what are his strengths as far as you’re concerned?

EK:  Well, Jared’s a guy we’ve seen since his high school showcase time, so we’ve seen him for many, many years. And the thing that he’s always done consistently is just compete and fight and find a way to get batters out. And for a left-hander who’s actually shown success in one of the finest college baseball programs in the country, we think that trait will take him a long way.

AF:  And then with your 10th-round pick, you took outfielder Jack Meggs out of Washington. Looking at his numbers, nothing really jumps out at you, so I’m curious to know what really put him on your radar?

EK:  Our scouts did like the baseball player there. Obviously, he did not have his greatest year statistically, but we really, really believe in his instincts. He’s a coach’s son, and he’s been around the game his whole life. We think he’s going to play above whatever his physical tools are, and he’s the kind of guy you can imagine over-achieving and finding his way into a role on a big league team.

AF:  And just one final question about your top pick from last year, LHP A.J. Puk. I don’t think you expected him to be available at #6 last year, and I know you were pretty excited to get him there. Now that you’ve had him in your system for a year, what are your impressions of last year’s top pick, A.J. Puk, at this point?

EK:  I would say that as excited as we were to be able to draft him a year ago, we’re even more excited about his progress that he’s made in that year. He’s really refined his delivery and his command. He’s shown the ability to miss bats. In a short sample in the minor leagues, he’s been really impressive. And he went out in his first start in Double-A the other night and pitched pretty well for a young kid who’s basically a year out of the draft.

AF:  Yeah, it looks like you might have a fast mover on your hands there!

EK:  Yeah, he’s big, he’s left-handed, he throws hard and he’s got a good breaking ball. As long as he keeps progressing like this, it’s a good combination to have!

 

A’s 2017 Draft Class

1st OF Austin Beck (North Davidson HS-NC), 1st Comp SS Kevin Merrell (South Florida), 2nd OF Greg Deichmann (LSU), 3rd SS Nick Allen (Francis Parker HS-CA), 4th 3B Will Toffey (Vanderbilt), 5th C Santis Sanchez (Intl Baseball Academy HS-PR), 6th LHP Logan Salow (Kentucky), 7th RHP Parker Dunshee (Wake Forest), 8th RHP Brian Howard (TCU), 9th LHP Jared Poche (LSU), 10th OF Jack Meggs (Washington)

11th SS Ryan Gridley (Mississippi St), 12th 1B Aaron Arruda (Fresno St), 13th RHP Wyatt Marks (Louisiana Lafayette), 14th OF Garrett Mitchell (Orange Lutheran HS-CA), 15th LHP Josh Reagan (South Carolina), 16th OF Payton Squier (UNLV), 17th RHP Josh Falk (Pittsburgh), 18th OF Raymond McDonald (Illinois-Chicago), 19th RHP Michael Danielak (Dartmouth), 20th RHP Osvaldo Berrios (PR Baseball Academy HS-PR)

21st RHP Heath Donica (Sam Houston), 22nd RHP Bryce Conley (Georgia St), 23rd RHP Malik Jones (Missouri Baptist), 24th RHP Slater Lee (Cal Poly SLO), 25th 1B Hunter Hargrove (Texas Tech), 26th C Nate Webb (Martin Luther King HS-CA), 27th OF Ben Spitznagel (UNC Greensboro), 28th LHP Pat Krall (Clemson), 29th RHP Adam Reuss (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), 30th LHP Cody Puckett (Middle Tennessee)

31st RHP Brandon Withers (James Madison), 32nd RHP Caleb Evans (Liberty), 33rd 2B Jake Lumley (Canisius), 34th 2B Justin Jones (UNLV), 35th C Cooper Golby (Lewis-Clark), 36th OF Logan Farrar (VCU), 37th 3B Raymond Gill (Gulliver Prep HS-FL), 38th 2B Wil Hoyle (Charles Jordan HS-NC), 39th LHP Haydn King (Archbishop Mitty HS-CA), 40th SS Jacob Hoffman (Stanford)

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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 newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Farm Podcast Debuts with Draft Recap Special

It’s time for the 2017 Draft Recap Special on the debut episode of the A’s Farm Podcast. A’s Farm Editor-in-Chief Bill Moriarity and A’s Farm & A’s Nation contributor Josh Moore break down the A’s top picks from the first 10 rounds of the draft and also talk with A’s 6th-round draft pick, lefty Logan Salow from Kentucky. So don’t miss the chance to get the inside scoop on some of the top new prospects set to join the A’s system! The draft breakdown starts at the top of the show, and LHP Logan Salow joins the conversation at 37:00…

A’s Farm Podcast: 2017 Draft Recap Special
with hosts Bill Moriarity & Josh Moore and special guest pitcher Logan Salow

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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 newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Top 10 A’s Prospects of the Week (6/4-10)

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Contributor

A brief look at some of the top performers in the A’s minor league system over the past week…

gh6565501) RHP Grant Holmes (Midland – AA)

(14 IP/9 H/2 ER/1 BB/17 K/1.29 ERA/0.71 WHIP)

Coming in to the week, Holmes had allowed 43 base runners and 18 earned runs in his previous 25 1/3 innings. The right-hander turned it around in a big way with two gems this week, including Saturday’s 8-inning, 2-hit, 8-strikeout performance where he held the opposition hitless until the 7th inning.

 

rn6005242) 3B-OF Renato Nunez (Nashville – AAA)

(25 AB/2 HR/4 BB/7 K/.400 AVG/.483 OBP/.800 SLG)

Nunez is the last remaining member of Stockton’s 2014 infield not currently playing in the big leagues. But with the tear he’s on now, it might not be long before he joins Chad Pinder, Matt Olson and Ryon Healy in Oakland. Nunez has hit 5 home runs and 5 doubles over his last 12 games for the Sounds.

 

mm4737243) C-OF Matt McBride (Nashville – AAA)

(22 AB/3 HR/2 BB/4 K/.318 AVG/.375 OBP/.773 SLG)

The 2nd-round draft pick of the Indians back in 2006, McBride had hit 1 home run all season for Nashville before belting 3 in 3 straight games to start the week off with a bang for the Sounds.

 

mc6563054) 3B Matt Chapman (Sounds – AAA)

(28 AB/3 HR/2 BB/11 K/.286 AVG/.333 OBP/.643 SLG)

Chapman has the organization’s longest current hitting streak at 10 games and has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, while also hitting 5 home runs over his last 9 games for the Sounds.

 

pb6211125) RHP Paul Blackburn (Nashville – AAA)

(13 IP/5 H/1 ER/4 BB/9 K/0.69 ERA/0.69 WHIP)

The 1st-round supplemental draft pick for the Cubs in 2012, Blackburn has allowed 1 earned run or less in 4 of his last 5 starts since May 19. And last week, opposing hitters had a .114/.188/.182 slash line against the right-hander.

 

ew6422016) SS Eli White (Stockton – A+)

(20 AB/0 HR/1 BB/5 K/.400 AVG/.429 OBP/.500 SLG)

White came into the week on a 2-for-19 skid, but then managed to put together 3 multi-hit games in a row for the Ports. And Stockton skipper Rick Magnante told us last month that White is a guy who has the potential to really surprise people.

 

ed6415217) SS-3B Edwin Diaz (Beloit – A)

(20 AB/1 HR/3 BB/3 K/.300 AVG/.391 OBP/.550 SLG)

NOT the Seattle Mariners reliever, the 21-year-old Puerto Rico native has compiled a total of 7 multi-hit performances in his last 14 games for Beloit, and he belted a big 3-run blast in the first inning for the Snappers on Saturday.

 

em6427148) SS-3B Eric Marinez (Beloit – A)

(18 AB/0 HR/0 BB/4 K/.444 AVG/.444 OBP/.444 SLG)

Marinez started the week strong, slapping 8 singles in his first 11 at-bats. He might have placed even higher on the list if he hadn’t gone 0 for 7 in Thursday’s and Friday’s games. Since May 1, though, he’s put up a .317/.398/.404 slash line for the Snappers.

 

bs6157029) OF Brett Siddall (Stockton – A+)

(18 AB/1 HR/1 BB/4 K/.333 AVG/.368 OBP/.556 SLG) 924/1292/2216

Before Saturday’s 0-for-3 performance versus Modesto, Siddall had a 9-game hitting streak for Stockton, with 3 consecutive multi-hit games and a total of 5 extra-base hits over that span.

 

js60708010) RHP Joel Seddon (Midland – AA)

(10 IP/8 H/1 ER/2 BB/4 K/0.90 ERA/1.00 WHIP)

After making a 4-inning spot start for Nashville on May 30, the former 11th-round selection out of South Carolina returned to the RockHounds and picked up a 3-inning save before turning in a 7-inning, 1-run start to earn his 3rd win of the season last week.

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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 newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

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