Tag Archive for Oakland Athletics

Catching Up With a Pair of the Ports’ Top Hitters: James Harris & Joe Bennie

spstockton-ports-logoThe A’s affiliate in the California League, the Stockton Ports, has struggled for much of this season, putting up a .408 winning percentage through the team’s first 98 games. But a couple of Stockton’s biggest standouts in the batter’s box so far this season have been outfielder James Harris and second baseman/outfielder Joe Bennie.

Harris is the team leader in hits, runs, total bases, stolen bases, batting average and on-base percentage, while Bennie leads the team in doubles, extra-base hits and RBIs. We took the opportunity to talk with the pair earlier this week in Stockton.



jh605266bAs a 17-year-old high school outfielder, Oakland native James Harris was a 1st-round pick for Tampa Bay in the 2011 amateur draft. But after struggling through four seasons in the Tampa system, never rising above Class-A, the former top prospect was released towards the end of spring training in 2015. Within a couple of weeks though, Harris was signed by his hometown team and sent to Beloit, where he had a solid season as the Snappers’ leadoff hitter, putting up a .359 on-base percentage over 86 games in the Midwest League. And he’s taken things up another notch this season with the Ports, putting up an impressive .312/.390/.442 slash line and stealing 20 bases through 96 games while also being named a California League All-Star…

AF:  You’ve been having a good year here in Stockton and you’ve been very consistent. So what’s been working for you here this season?

JH:  Pretty much just going out there and having fun. I put in a lot of work in the offseason to be able to just come out here and play and not have to worry about trying to make too many major adjustments throughout the season. I’m just trying to stay consistent with an approach and attitude and make little minor adjustments within the season. So I think that’s helped with consistency.

AF:  What was your offseason program like and what were you really focused on in the offseason?

JH:  This offseason was a lot of skill work – so hitting, first steps, speed, jumps. Just trying to stay consistent with the short swing and be able to repeat that swing over and over again regardless of pitch and location. And then obviously being able to steal some more bases, being able to get a good first step. And then just kind of working out to be a little stronger, to be able to drive the ball to all fields, and be able to do things I need to do to stay healthy for a full season.

AF:  When you came over to the A’s organization last season, things really seemed to start clicking for you right away. It seems like you started having a lot of success right off the bat. So is there anything in particular that accounts for that?

JH:  Change of scenery and maturity. You know, when Tampa drafted me, I was young – 17 years old. And after a few years over there, I was still learning and adjusting to the game. And by the time I got over here, it was a good change of scenery. I’ve had an opportunity to go out there and play every day, so I’ve just tried to make the most of it. I just kind of went back into a position where nothing was going to be given, so I didn’t want to back down or let down or anything. And also, the energy and the vibes over here with the coaches and the coordinators have all been good. And I think I’ve been able to communicate with them and be pretty open with them about things that I want to work on, and also feel comfortable with asking questions about things that they feel I could do better and take the criticism for what it is and work to be better at it.

AF:  Well, I guess sometimes it’s just nice to be able to make a fresh start!

JH:  It is, it is – and just an opportunity to play for a team I grew up watching and was my favorite team. It made the game fun again. It’s almost like the beginning of a dream all over again.

AF:  I was going to ask you about that. Being from Oakland, when you first found out that you were going to have the chance to join the A’s, what was your first reaction to that?

JH:  My first reaction was just thankful that another team was going to give me an opportunity. And the second thing was just, you know, that’s something I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve played in the Coliseum a few times with my high school team and been to a ton of games there. And when I told my family, they were really excited. So I just want to make the most of the opportunity and do the best I can to be able to play at home in my backyard.

AF:  So when you were growing up and following the A’s, who were some of the players you liked and had your eye on?

JH:  Well, the teams when I was younger that I remember, Jermaine Dye was a big guy, and then Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada – you know, that whole team with the big three [Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito] – Terrence Long, Scott Hatteberg, Mark Ellis, Huston Street had just got there…

AF:  The classic Moneyball days!

JH:  Yeah, that was what I knew. And tickets were $5 on hot dog day. I’d go with my family or I’d go on summer field trips with programs and stuff. I think I still have a deck of cards at home with a bunch of A’s players from growing up. Those was the guys that I remember being able to watch. And Rickey Henderson has always been my favorite player.

AF:  I was wondering about that. I had a feeling that might be the case.

JH:  Yeah, Rickey’s always been my favorite player. I met him in high school, because he went to my high school [Oakland Technical High School]. And they ended up naming our high school field after him, so I met him then. I talked to him a little bit when I was with Tampa in the offseason. And then this year, I’ve had a chance to work with him more.

AF:  I imagine you must have spent some time with him in Arizona in spring training.

JH:  Yeah, I talked to him there. And then he’s come here two or three times and I’ve had a chance to talk to him here.

AF:  Well, I imagine when a guy like Rickey has something to say to you, you probably listen!

JH:  100 percent – I guarantee you he’s not trying to steer me wrong!

AF:  You can’t go wrong listening to Rickey!

JH:  Exactly!

AF:  Have you seen Moneyball and, if you have, what did you think about it?

JH:  I have. I thought it was a pretty good film. I didn’t know much about the whole Moneyball scheme and what they were doing at the time. I just learned of it once I saw it what the whole idea of it was. And it makes more sense now being in the middle of it and seeing how organizations work when it comes to players. I thought it was a real good movie though.

AF:  Then finally, is there anything that you’re particularly focused on at this point in the season?

JH:  Everything. I think the main thing is just staying focused. It’s so easy at the end of the season to start kind of losing focus and start shutting it down a little bit. So just trying to stay locked in on every game – we’ve got somewhere close to 50 games left – to lock it in for every pitch, or on the bases, or out in the field. And then just constantly working on jumps, reads, you know, little stuff, footwork in the outfield, staying consistent with the swing and getting good pitches to hit, not trying to do too much, just trying to keep everything simple and just staying focused through the end of the season. I don’t want to let up early. Letting up early creates a bad habit, and they see that stuff. They want to see you finish all the way through. You know, if you get to the big leagues, even if you’re not in the playoff chase, they want you still going hard all the way to the end of the season.

AF:  That’s right, you can’t let up till the last game!



jb643218bTaken by the A’s in the 28th round of the 2013 draft, Bennie has done a great job of getting on base ever since joining the A’s organization, and he currently sports a .370 on-base percentage over parts of four minor league seasons. Bennie started out primarily playing second base, while seeing a little time at third base, but he shifted to the outfield last season, and has split his time between the outfield and second base this year. Bennie has been one of Stockton’s best hitters this season and is currently boasting the best on-base percentage (.380) and slugging percentage (.448) in his time in the A’s system. And his brother Robert, an outfielder, was just taken by the A’s in the 24th round of this year’s draft…

AF:  You’ve been having a really solid year here at Stockton. You’ve been getting on base and showing a little pop. So what’s been clicking for you here this season?

JB:  I just think it’s a product of having a lot of at-bats over the past couple years and just all the hard work in the offseason. I showed up to spring training early just trying to get some extra at-bats. And I just think it’s starting to click with my approach and just my confidence out there. So I’m happy the results are coming as part of that.

AF:  And how do you feel about hitting here in Stockton as opposed to Beloit, where you were last year? How’s it been different for you?

JB:  You can mis-hit some balls and they’ll travel a little bit more here. But I try not to let that stuff get to me or get me off my approach. It’s the same game, so I just try to stick with what I can do.

AF:  What are some of the differences in the kind of pitching you’ve had to face here in High-A in the California League?

JB:  I just think they have more of an idea of how to pitch. So they’re really going to attack your weaknesses until you prove you can fix them. In rookie ball, pitchers kind of just throw the ball as hard as they can and they don’t know where it’s going. Last year, they kind of had more of an idea. But this year, it’s been challenging at times because they know what they’re doing. But I just stick to the same approach each day and try not to let that get in my way.

AF:  In your time in the organization, you’ve played a few different positions – second base, third base, the outfield. Is there anywhere in particular that you feel most comfortable at this stage of the game?

JB:  Yeah, I guess they’re searching for a position for me. And they like that I can kind of fill the utility role, which I don’t mind at all because it keeps me in the lineup every day – it doesn’t matter where I’m playing. Personally, I really like second base. I got drafted as a second baseman. I played there for the first two years of pro ball. That’s somewhere I’m really comfortable. But after last year going to instructs to work on the outfield, I’m really comfortable out there now too. So wherever they put me, it doesn’t bother me. I’m pretty comfortable everywhere now.

AF:  Are there many guys on this team you’ve had the chance to spend a lot of time playing with since you were drafted?

JB:  Lana Akau since rookie ball, our first year when we got drafted. Jose Brizuela the last two or three seasons. James Harris the last two years. So there’s been a couple guys I’ve been with pretty much every step of the way.

AF:  Now I know you’re from the east coast. So, prior to this year, had you had the chance to spend much time out in California before and how do you like living and playing out here on the west coast?

JB:  Oh, it’s definitely the first time I’ve been out here for a long period of time. I was out here for like three days my junior year of college when we played the University of San Diego. But other than that, it’s my first time in Cali…I like it a lot. California is nice. We get to travel to nice places. You know the weather is always going to be sunny and a little hot. So I’m enjoying this lifestyle.

AF:  So who have you been living with out here?

JB:  I live with Heath Fillmyer and Brett Graves – two pitchers.

AF:  Have you been getting the pitchers’ perspective on things now?

JB:  Oh, yeah. Sometimes I’ll ask them how they would pitch me. Maybe other teams have that same approach against me, so I use that to my advantage.

AF:  Getting into the mind of the enemy!

JB:  Exactly!

AF:  So is there anything that’s been particularly memorable for you about this season?

JB:  I love every day just coming to the locker room, just getting ready to go. I don’t take a day for granted in pro ball.

AF:  Is there anything in particular you’re focused on or working on at this point in the season?

JB:  Yeah, I try to make progress every day. Right now, I’m sticking to my routine hitting, just trying to stick with that so I’m consistent. And defensively, that’s probably where I put in the most work. In B.P., I really take my reps seriously. But for the most part, just trying to stay healthy and take care of my body.

AF:  And finally, how did you feel about your brother getting drafted by the A’s and the two of you being together here in the same organization now?

JB:  Oh, it was a dream come true. He had a lot of looks from a couple teams. And I was really hoping it was the A’s all the way, just because I love this organization and I’ve seen the opportunities I’ve gotten and I just think this is a great place for him to be. We’ve only been teammates once, and that was in varsity baseball, and I was a senior and he was a freshman. So it’ll be fun to go to spring training with him and hopefully we get to the big leagues together!

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A’s Rookies Ryon Healy & Daniel Mengden Talk about Life in the Majors

Due to a seemingly never-ending wave of injuries, the A’s have truly been a team in flux this season. But the resulting roster turmoil has provided plenty of opportunities for some of the team’s top prospects, including starting pitcher Daniel Mengden and corner infielder Ryon Healy, both of whom we took the opportunity to talk to earlier this week. We last spoke with Mengden in this May interview, shortly after he made his first start for Nashville. And we hadn’t spoken with Healy since his time in Stockton in 2014, when we talked to the big batch of A’s prospects who were then playing for the Ports in this piece.

Both players started this season with Double-A Midland, but their impressive performances brought them all the way to the big leagues within a matter of months. And we wanted to check in and see how the adjustment to the majors was going. We spoke with both of them earlier this week, shortly before Oakland’s 10th-inning walk-off win against the Astros, in which Healy drove in a pair of key runs for the A’s.



rh592387cAfter finishing last season with a strong second half for Midland, Ryon Healy found himself starting 2016 back in Double-A due to an abundance of corner infielders on this year’s Nashville team. But the 24-year-old immediately began tearing up the Texas League and quickly earned a May promotion to Nashville, where he didn’t miss a beat. Healy had the best batting average and slugging percentage among all A’s minor leaguers when he was called up by the A’s a week ago. And he’s shown some real pop as well as an ability to hit with runners in scoring position during his brief time in Oakland. Originally drafted as a first baseman in the third round of the 2013 draft, the southern California native mostly split time between first base and third base in the minors, but the A’s have made it clear that they’d like to see if Healy can handle the hot corner in the majors. And so far, with the help of A’s infield coach Ron Washington, the audition’s been going well… 

AF:  So how have your first few days in the big leagues been going for you so far?

RH:  You know, it’s been awesome. All the players and the coaching staff have done a great job of helping me get into a good routine between the cage and the weight room and then early defense and B.P. So I can’t thank all the guys enough for making me feel comfortable and at home here so far.

AF:  Well it must be nice for you to see a few guys here you’ve actually played with before.

RH:  Definitely. The day I showed up here, I recognized at least half the clubhouse. The other half I’ve seen, so I made sure I introduced myself. I’m just trying to show all the respect I can for the veterans here.

AF:  So were you out working in the field with Ron Washington earlier today?

RH:  Every single day I’m out there with Wash before the game.

AF:  How useful and instructive has that experience been for you?

RH:  He probably has way more knowledge than I’ll ever be able to absorb, but I’m going to be out there every day just trying to learn anything and everything I can from him just because of how much experience he has. But even in the short time that I’ve been here, he’s done a lot for my confidence as a defender.

AF:  Now you haven’t been here that long yet, but is there anything different about the way that major league pitchers approach you that’s caused you to have to make any adjustments in your approach at the plate?

RH:  I think just being ready to hit in every count. A lot of these pitchers don’t know me, but these guys aren’t afraid of me. Obviously, they look at me and I’m a few days into the big leagues, so they’re going to come right after me with heaters. I made the mistake the other night when I faced Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays of out-thinking my at-bat and I got four or five straight heaters and all of a sudden I was struck out. Some of the veterans in here have helped me with that kind of mental stuff. So I’ll be more prepared next time.

AF:  Is there anything else that’s been different for you either on or off the field when it comes to major league life compared to things in Nashville or Midland?

RH:  It’s still baseball, at a very high level – the very highest level. And you need to make sure that your body and your mind are prepared every day to perform at the highest level. But at the end of the day, it’s still a game and everyone’s here to enjoy it. But it’s also a business, and you need to prove every day that you can be here and want to stay here.

AF:  You started out the season at Double-A Midland and you’ve come a long way in a few months and now you’re here. You probably were the best overall hitter in the A’s minor league system this year, so what accounts for the big leap forward you seemed to take this season?

rhDSC04459bRH:  I think it was just a mindset honestly. I didn’t really enjoy the way that I finished the season last year. I know my numbers looked good but, the way that I viewed it, I wasn’t satisfied at all with what I did. I thought the second half of my season last year was a big improvement over the first half, but I still wasn’t very happy with the way that I finished the season. So I knew I had to go home and make some big adjustments. So I watched a lot of video and talked to a lot of people with a lot of experience and absorbed what I could and applied what I did. And fortunately for me, I walked into spring training with a positive mindset, understanding that Double-A was probably going to be my starting point. But I also know it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. I’m definitely not anywhere near the finish, and I never will consider myself near the finish line, but I’ll always just continue to work harder and get better.

AF:  So you started out with a positive approach about trying to prove yourself and letting them know what you could do?

RH:  That was definitely the mindset going in – it was chip on your shoulder, prove everyone wrong, and try and shock the world.

AF:  Rather than mope about it, just go out and show them.

RH:  It was one or the other. It was pretty much a make or break year for me. And fortunately for me, I picked the right mindset and went from there.

AF:  What are some of the adjustments you’ve made at the plate that have helped you get to where you’re at now?

RH:  I think a lot of it’s my mental approach at the plate – just being able to decide which pitches I can do damage with and which pitches I should take, whether they’re balls or strikes. So I’ve taken a lot more strikes this year, and it’s allowed me to get more mistakes, because I’m ready for a pitch in my zone. Rather than hitting a pitcher’s pitch, I’m hitting a pitch I want to hit – which is probably why my strikeouts have gone up, but my walks have also increased. I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes. I’m not afraid to take a strike earlier in the count if it means that I’ll get a pitch in my zone later in the count.

AF:  It sounds like you’ve really become very intelligently selective, looking for that pitch that you can handle and just trying to lay off of everything else.

RH:  Exactly, I think that’s been a big factor in it right now.

AF:  Now you’re from California, and I know your family’s had a chance to come out and see you play. So how has it been for you to be able to have the chance to play here in California?

RH:  It’s incredible. The best part for me is being in the same time zone. I can text my siblings and my parents, instead of having to time our phone calls, so that’s been nice.

AF:  So now that you’ve been here for a few days, is there anything that you’re really trying to focus on every day when you step out on the field here?

RH:  I think it’s just staying in tune with every single pitch and making sure I’m prepared for every play at third base. I think there’s only been one play so far where I’ve really been caught off guard – the potential interference with Carlos Correa and I. But besides that, I feel like I’ve done a good job understanding every scenario that could happen. That was just the one that snuck up on me, but it’s something that I’ll put in the memory bank and it won’t happen again.

AF:  I know you hadn’t really been spending that much time at third base this year, so how has it felt being over there at third base every day? Has it been a bit of an adjustment for you?

RH:  The game is all about adjustments. But yeah, it’s definitely something that I can now put all my time and effort into now that they’re showing that they want me to play there. So instead of having to take reps at first and third, I’m just going to take them at third right now. Until they tell me otherwise, that’s where I’m going to put all my time and effort.

AF:  So I guess they’ve made it clear that that’s where they see you at this point.

RH:  Yeah, for right now.

AF:  Well we all know that anything could change tomorrow.

RH:  Exactly!



dmusa-today-9368808.0bRight-hander Daniel Mendgen was acquired by the A’s last summer, along with catcher Jacob Nottingham, in the trade that sent left-hander Scott Kazmir to Houston, and the former fourth-round draft pick ended up posting a 4.25 ERA over eight starts for Stockton last season. Mengden then came roaring out of the gate this season, putting up a 1.19 ERA in eleven starts for Nashville and Midland before being called up to Oakland in early June. The 23-year-old allowed eight earned runs over his first four major league starts in June and has allowed nineteen earned runs over his last four starts in July. Mengden’s distinctive windup on the mound has attracted a lot of attention, as has his handlebar mustache, which is reminiscent of legendary A’s reliever Rollie Fingers…

AF:  So how did you feel when you first got the call to the big leagues last month? Were you surprised at all?

DM:  I was kind of surprised. I figured I might be a September call-up. I thought they might let me sit in Triple-A. Even though I was doing well, I didn’t think it really mattered. I thought I was just going to mature down there and get my feet under me and then be a September call-up, maybe in the bullpen.

AF:  I guess you weren’t really feeling too much pressure down there at that point anyway.

DM:  Yeah, so I was kind of just doing my thing, just going about my business, taking it one game at a time. And then there were injuries and it was good timing and they gave me a chance. And I’m trying to do the best I can to run with it and trying to put us in the best position to win.

AF:  So how did they tell you that you were going up to the big leagues?

DM:  It was our manager Steve Scarsone and our pitching coach Rick Rodriguez. We were in Oklahoma City for a doubleheader. And after the second game, I came in to give them the chart. And he was like, “Hey, you messed up the chart. You missed two hitters. You missed like 10 pitches.” And I said, “I didn’t miss any pitches.” He goes, “You’ll get fined for each batter you miss the next game.” And then he said, “Do you like doing charts?” And I was like, “No, who likes doing charts?” And he says, “Good, you’re going to the big leagues. You don’t have to do charts anymore.”

AF:  You’re off the hook! Well, I guess they called Ryon Healy in and started telling him that he wasn’t hustling before they told him he was going up.

DM:  Yeah, same type of thing. Scar’s a great manager down there. He just tries to keep it loose and have fun.

AF:  Did Bob Melvin or Curt Young have any words of advice for you when you first got here?

DM:  Curt was just like, “Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re throwing well. Don’t change anything. Nothing changes from Triple-A to the big leagues except the jersey. So just keep doing your thing and don’t worry about the excess stuff going on with being in the big leagues and the fans and all the mumbo jumbo around us.”

AF:  Have any of the big league pitchers up here had any particular advice to offer you yet?

DM:  Rich Hill is really a good veteran guy who’s talked to me a little bit and helped me out when he can. I’ve asked him if I’m doing things right and asked him how it goes for rookies and stuff like that. Most of our guys are pretty good. I was talking to Ryan Madson one day when we were in the bullpen and we were talking about changeups and grips and how we throw it. They know I’m a rookie and I’m going to try and pick their brain and learn as much as I can while I can from the veteran guys.

AF:  Since you’ve been here, is there anything in particular you’ve been working on or focused on trying to do?

DM:  Well, we’re always working on things. We’re trying to better every day no matter what. We always have room to get better. But just the general things like keeping the fastball down and executing two-strike pitches – just the general stuff, nothing too fancy.

AF:  So at this stage of the game, what pitches are really working for you and which ones are you still working on refining?

DM:  It kind of depends on the day. Some days I have all four, and some days you have two or three. But I guess the most consistent would probably be the fastball and the changeup – and the cutter most of the time. But my last start, the curveball was a little off. I couldn’t throw it very well, but I kept throwing it because you’ve got to throw it to show it to them. But I’d probably say the curveball is one of the more work-in-progress pitches I have that kind of varies more from start to start. But most of the time, I have the fastball, the cutter and the changeup almost every outing.

AF:  And what’s your velocity been like lately?

DM:  It’s probably normal – 90-95 mph, in that range. It’s weird, its like big league innings are way harder than Triple-A innings. Some of those innings just suck the life out of you. It’s a lot harder having to actually get outs in certain situations, and it takes that much more energy out of you at this level compared to Triple-A.

AF:  You don’t have quite as much left in the tank after a few of those innings.

dmDaniel+Mengden+Oakland+Athletics+v+Houston+NKSYO9ZVIWMl2DM:  Exactly!

AF:  Is there anything you find different about the way major league hitters approach you that’s caused you to have to make any adjustments to the way you pitch?

DM:  Yeah, everyone’s approach here is a lot better – that’s why they’re here. They have a good approach, they’re a good hitter and they have a good eye. You have to really throw good pitches. You can’t get away with bouncing a curveball or throwing a pitch way outside or up. Hitters are a lot more disciplined. I have to make good pitches. I can’t just hope they’re going to swing. Sometimes they’ll swing at pitches out of the zone. But most of the time, if it’s out of the zone, they’ll take it. They see everything way better than most guys and their overall approach is just better.

AF:  So is there anything in your game you’ve really had to focus on – maybe just trying to be more precise with your pitches?

DM:  Yeah, just fastball command – fastball command is number one. If you have that, then you can go from there. You’ve got to keep the ball down and throw strikes. The thing of it here is, if you make a mistake, it’s either a double or a home run. In Triple-A, if you make a mistake, you still could get an out possibly. But here, if you make the tiniest mistake, the ball’s going a long way.

AF:  Now I know one of your starts was in your hometown of Houston. So how was that for you?

DM:  Oh, it was great – just being able to see my family and friends, college friends, people I played ball with, coaches, teachers. Anybody you could think of came out and supported me, and it was great having that support and fan base behind me. And it was great being able to pitch in front of all of my family, besides just my parents, my girlfriend and my siblings. But yeah, it was exhilarating. It’s one of those feelings that’s really hard to explain…After the game was over, I had probably at least 100 people just waiting to take pictures and stuff – people from when I was on the swim team when I was like 9 or 10 to college teammates and boosters and friends I’ve made through high school and college…so it was pretty cool.

AF:  So what’s the major league routine been like for you?

DM:  With a lot of day games here, it’s kind of hard to really go out and do much. Basically just hitting the field every day, get our stuff done early and get out for the game. And usually by the time we get home, we’re tired and we just kind of watch some TV and go to sleep. So it’s not a very extravagant life. But on the road, you might want to go out and explore and eat dinner somewhere.

AF:  Where are you living now that you’re here in the Bay Area?

DM:  Right now I’m living with Josh Reddick. I moved into his house. I had been living at a team hotel for a while…It’s been fun. He’s a great guy. He’s a real fiery cat. He likes to have a lot of fun. So he’s a good guy to be around.

AF:  So is there anything in particular you’re focused on heading into your next start?

DM:  Just executing my pitches – trying to make the best pitch I can in any given situation. Every hitter’s just a hitter – you don’t have to try and over-think it. Sometimes you’ll say, “Oh my gosh, that’s Jose Altuve.” You just kind of have to go after them like they’re a normal hitter. You can’t think about their name. You think that they’re the enemy and you’re trying to beat them. So if I execute my pitches and do what I need to do, if me and [Stephen] Vogt stick to our plan, most of the time, we’ll win – if I execute everything. It’s all just about executing.

AF:  And finally, have you been getting a lot of attention for the mustache since you’ve been up in the big leagues now?

DM:  Oh, yeah! Some guy in the stands actually handed me mustache wax and told me, “Hey, this is what I use. Why don’t you try this?” People always say they love it. On the road, people either hate it or they love it. There’s no in between – you either love it or you hate it.

AF:  So, just for the record, what mustache wax do you use?

DM:  It’s called Bonafide.

AF:  You haven’t had the chance to meet the owner of the A’s original handlebar mustache, Rollie Fingers, yet, have you?

DM:  No, but I actually did a conference call interview with him maybe two weeks ago before the All-Star break. So it was nice to be able to talk to him and pick his brain…He said he hadn’t seen me throw, but he said he’d heard a lot about me. He said that all of a sudden people were telling him, “This kid has the same mustache as you.” So he said he had to look me up.

AF:  Well, at least the two of you ought to be able to compare notes on mustache waxes when you meet!

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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 Mid-Season Minor League Leaders

With the major league All-Star break almost upon us, it’s a good time to take a look at the A’s minor league leaders in a few key hitting and pitching categories – as we did last summer, which you can revisit here. A minimum of 150 at-bats is required for the hitting categories and a minimum of 50 innings is required for the ERA and WHIP categories for pitchers. Players from all four of the A’s full-season affiliates – Nashville, Midland, Stockton and Beloit – are included and the stats are complete through games of Friday, July 8. Some of the names you might expect to see atop the lists, while others may come as a bit of a surprise!


Ryon Healy

Ryon Healy


1) Ryon Healy .325

2) James Harris .305

3) B.J. Boyd .304

After hitting .302 last season at Midland, infielder Ryon Healy started the year back at Double-A, but he earned a promotion to Triple-A Nashville in mid-May by being the best hitter in the A’s system, and he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s played nearly every day this season, appearing in 84 games, and has already accumulated 108 hits, which is the most among A’s minor leaguers, while primarily playing first base but also occasionally appearing across the diamond at the hot corner. Meanwhile, outfielders James Harris and B.J. Boyd have both really been batting the ball around the yard at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton all season.


Beau Taylor

Beau Taylor


1) Beau Taylor .386

1) James Harris .386

3) Ryon Healy .382

Catcher Beau Taylor has now spent parts of five seasons with Double-A Midland and he’s apparently learned plenty of patience in that time, as he’s been drawing a walk about once every six and a half plate appearances this season. After washing out as a former 1st-round draft pick for Tampa Bay, the A’s brought outfielder James Harris aboard last year. He did a terrific job as the table-setter atop Beloit’s lineup last season, and he’s taken it up a notch as a California League All-Star for Stockton this season.


Ryon Healy

Ryon Healy


1) Ryon Healy .560

2) Matt Chapman .485

3) Tyler Marincov .473

Nashville infielder Ryon Healy has simply been the best overall hitter in the A’s minor league system this season. His 28 doubles, 46 extra-base hits and 186 total bases are all tops in the A’s system by a safe margin and show what a threat he’s been in the batter’s box all season. Meanwhile, Midland third baseman Matt Chapman has 15 doubles and 2 triples to go with his league-leading 20 home runs, and his teammate, outfielder Tyler Marincov, has put 18 doubles and 1 triple to match his 14 home runs while splitting time between Midland and Stockton this season.


Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman


1) Matt Chapman 20

2) Ryon Healy 14

2) Tyler Marincov 14

After leading the A’s minor league system in home runs with 23 while playing in the hitter-friendly California League last season, Midland third baseman Matt Chapman already has smashed 20 in the far less hitter-friendly confines of the Texas League, where he currently leads the league in round-trippers. It’s worth noting that infielder Ryon Healy and outfielder Tyler Marincov have both spent parts of their seasons in the Texas League as well. Neither has ever hit 20 home runs in a season before, but both are currently on pace to sail past that mark this season.


Angel Duno

Angel Duno


1) Angel Duno 2.22

2) Evan Manarino 2.33

3) Corey Walter 2.55

22-year-old Venezuelan RHP Angel Duno has been a key member of an extremely solid Beloit Snappers starting rotation this season. His control has been particularly impressive, and he’s only walked 9 batters over 69 innings, which has really helped keep him out of trouble for the Snappers this year. His teammate, LHP Evan Manarino, has probably been the team’s best starter, allowing just 1 home run all season while walking 15 and striking out 83 over 96 2/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, Midland RHP Corey Walter started the season in the bullpen before moving into the RockHounds starting rotation. He’s started 12 games while coming out of the bullpen in 7. And he’s looked strong in both roles, allowing just 1 home run while walking 11 over 67 solid innings this season.


Kyle Friedrichs

Kyle Friedrichs


1) Kyle Friedrichs 1.04

2) James Naile 1.06

2) Zach Neal 1.06

Last year’s 7th-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Kyle Friedrichs, has been one of the best pitchers in the A’s minor league system this season. Friedrichs started out the year dominating the Midwest League with Beloit and has done a solid job since moving up to Stockton. He’s allowed just 10 walks over 95 innings of work and has been doing a better job of keeping runners off base than any other hurler in the A’s system. Friedrichs’ former Snappers teammate James Naile has been another dependable member of Beloit’s starting staff. After doing some fill-in work at both Nashville and Midland, Naile is now back with the Snappers and is looking as solid as ever. Nashville RHP Zach Neal has always done a really good job of keeping runners off base with his low walk rate, and he’s only walked 6 batters for the Sounds all season.


Chris Smith

Chris Smith


1) Chris Smith 99

2) Daniel Gossett 90

3) Heath Fillmyer 83

3) Evan Manarino 83

Many A’s fans might not realize that Nashville RHP Chris Smith is currently tied for the Pacific Coast league strikeout lead. The 35-year-old, who was signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason, has struck out nearly a batter per inning, notching 99 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings for the Sounds. 2014’s 2nd-round draft pick for the A’s, RHP Daniel Gossett, has always put up solid strikeout numbers, but he’s taken things up a notch this season, and he’s now struck out more than a batter per inning with 90 strikeouts in just 83 innings while splitting time between Stockton and Midland. 2014’s 5th-round pick, RHP Heath Fillmyer, has struck out 83 in 85 innings for Stockton this season, while LHP Evan Manarino has whiffed 83 while walking just 15 in 96 2/3 innings of work for the Snappers.


Dillon Overton

Dillon Overton


1) Dillon Overton 9

2) Aaron Kurcz 8

3) Evan Manarino 7

Though he made a couple of starts for the A’s recently, LHP Dillon Overton has probably been the most  dependable member of the Nashville Sounds starting staff this season, giving his team a solid chance to win almost every time out, and his 3.01 ERA is currently fourth best among Pacific Coast League starters. Meanwhile, reliever Aaron Kurcz has somehow managed to accumulate 8 wins while pitching out of the bullpen for both Nashville and Midland, with his victories evenly split – 4 apiece for the Sounds and the Hounds. Kurcz has notched 4 saves as well and has been effective with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP over 30 appearances. And Beloit LHP Evan Manarino has been the best among an extremely solid starting staff for the Snappers this season.

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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 Report for Week of June 27-July 3: Taking a Look at Each Affiliate’s Top Performers

Nashville's Ryon Healy will soon be headed to the All-Star Futures Game

Nashville’s Ryon Healy will soon be headed to the All-Star Futures Game.

With the draft taking up a lot of our attention over the past few weeks, it’s been a month since we last did an around-the-horn roundup of all the A’s affiliates. So it seems like a good time to take a look at who the prospects are who’ve really been leading the way for their teams so far this season. Of course, Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman have been wielding big bats both before and after their promotions to Nashville, while Matt Chapman and Tyler Marincov have been lighting up the scoreboard for Midland lately. Joe Bennie has been a big surprise at the plate for Stockton, and Beloit’s pitching staff has certainly  been a pleasant surprise for the Snappers. In addition, there are plenty of new prospects who are now starting to make their mark in Vermont and Arizona as well. A version of this weekly minor league report was originally prepared by Athletics Farm for Athletics Nation


Click here for this week’s update on Nashville, Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

A’s Farm’s 2016 Mid-Season Organizational All-Star Team

Nashville's Ryon Healy has been one of the A's best minor league hitters this season.

Nashville’s Ryon Healy has been one of the A’s best minor league hitters so far this season.

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 2016. And with that in mind, it’s time to name A’s Farm’s 2016 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 starters were selected from the players who’ve had the most games played 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 hurlers who’ve had at least ten starts for their team, while closers were selected from each team’s saves leader.

Statistics listed are through games of Tuesday, June 21. And asterisks denote players with combined statistics from multiple minor league teams within the A’s system. Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman both moved up from Midland to Nashville in mid-May, while Tyler Marincov was reassigned from Stockton to Midland right around the same time.

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!





Nashville – Bruce Maxwell (142 PA / 2 HR / .276 AVG / .373 OBP / .382 SLG / .755 OPS)

Midland – Beau Taylor (183 PA / 2 HR / .280 AVG / .401 OBP / .393 SLG / .794 OPS)

Stockton – Argenis Raga (174 PA / 0 HR / .252 AVG / .329 OBP / .338 SLG / .667 OPS)

Beloit – Jose Chavez (120 PA / 0 HR / .214 AVG / .252 OBP / .232 SLG / .484 OPS)



Nashville – Rangel Ravelo (208 PA / 4 HR / .257 AVG / .322 OBP / .380 SLG / .702 OPS)

Midland – Viosergy Rosa (269 PA / 4 HR / .282 AVG / .394 OBP / .410 SLG / .804 OPS)

Stockton – Sandber Pimentel (242 PA / 11 HR / .264 AVG / .364 OBP / .481 SLG / .844 OPS)

Beloit – Chris Iriart (206 PA / 9 HR / .240 AVG / .335 OBP / .447 SLG / .782 OPS)



Nashville – Joey Wendle (277 PA / 6 HR / .253 AVG / .292 OBP / .410 SLG / .702 OPS)

Midland – Wade Kirkland (170 PA / 1 HR / .271 AVG / .313 OBP / .361 SLG / .675 OPS)

Stockton – Joe Bennie (303 PA / 6 HR / .296 AVG / .374 OBP / .442 SLG / .816 OPS)

Beloit – Trent Gilbert (234 PA / 1 HR / .276 AVG / .333 OBP / .379 SLG / .712 OPS)



Nashville – Chad Pinder (281 PA / 9 HR / .276 AVG / .321 OBP / .455 SLG / .777 OPS)

Midland – Franklin Barreto (281 PA / 7 HR / .237 AVG / .299 OBP / .362 SLG / .661 OPS)

Stockton – Mikey White (242 PA / 1 HR / .215 AVG / .282 OBP / .292 SLG / .574 OPS)

Beloit – Trace Loehr (188 PA / 0 HR / .211 AVG / .241 OBP / .283 SLG / .524 OPS)



Nashville – Renato Nunez (282 PA / 11 HR / .243 AVG / .291 OBP / .440 SLG / .731 OPS)

Midland – Matt Chapman (298 PA / 16 HR / .230 AVG / .322 OBP / .460 SLG / .782 OPS)

Stockton – Jose Brizuela (214 PA / 5 HR / .226 AVG / .308 OBP / .363 SLG / .672 OPS)

Beloit – Edwin Diaz (189 PA / 3 HR / .239 AVG / .328 OBP / .337 SLG / .665 OPS)



Nashville – Andrew Lambo (240 PA / 4 HR / .255 AVG / .321 OBP / .384 SLG / .705 OPS)

Midland – J.P. Sportman (238 PA / 2 HR / .261 AVG / .307 OBP / .360 SLG / .667 OPS)

Stockton – B.J. Boyd (226 PA / 1 HR / .315 AVG / .390 OBP / .391 SLG / .781 OPS)

Beloit – Justin Higley (232 PA / 4 HR / .252 AVG / .328 OBP / .393 SLG / .721 OPS)



Nashville – Jaycob Brugman (312 PA / 8 HR / .289 AVG / .347 OBP / .484 SLG / .831 OPS) *

Midland – Brett Vertigan (249 PA / 1 HR / .248 AVG / .313 OBP / .320 SLG / .633 OPS)

Stockton – James Harris (324 PA / 2 HR / .302 AVG / .379 OBP / .393 SLG / .772 OPS)

Beloit – Skye Bolt (153 PA / 2 HR / .226 AVG / .314 OBP / .323 SLG / .637 OPS)



Nashville – Matt Olson (273 PA / 7 HR / .213 AVG / .327 OBP / .387 SLG / .714 OPS)

Midland – Tyler Marincov (302 PA / 12 HR / .275 AVG / .339 OBP / .473 SLG / .811 OPS) *

Stockton – Seth Brown (274 PA / 3 HR / .238 AVG / .344 OBP / .340 SLG / .685 OPS)

Beloit – Brett Siddall (261 PA / 3 HR / .255 AVG / .337 OBP / .355 SLG / .692 OPS)



Nashville – Ryon Healy (304 PA / 13 HR / .338 AVG / .395 OBP / .594 SLG / .990 OPS) *

Midland – Danny Oh (197 PA / 0 HR / .254 AVG / .328 OBP / .283 SLG / .611 OPS)

Stockton – Melvin Mercedes (225 PA / 1 HR / .266 AVG / .353 OBP / .328 SLG / .681 OPS)

Beloit – Ryan Howell (222 PA / 3 HR / .240 AVG / .374 OBP / .377 SLG / .751 OPS)



Nashville – Dillon Overton (83 2/3 IP / 85 H / 28 ER / 22 BB / 72 K / 3.01 ERA / 1.28 WHIP)

Midland – Corey Walter (57 IP / 53 H / 16 ER / 10 BB / 30 K / 2.53 ERA / 1.11 WHIP)

Stockton – Heath Fillmyer (76 2/3 IP / 74 H / 24 ER / 24 BB / 76 K / 2.82 ERA / 1.28 WHIP)

Beloit – Evan Manarino (74 IP / 66 H / 15 ER / 11 BB / 66 K / 1.82 ERA / 1.04 WHIP)



Nashville – Patrick Schuster (27 2/3 IP / 21 H / 5 ER / 11 BB / 28 K / 1.63 ERA / 1.16 WHIP / 5 SV)

Midland – Jake Sanchez (32 1/3 IP / 32 H / 13 ER / 11 BB / 33 K / 3.62 ERA / 1.33 WHIP / 3 SV)

Stockton – Carlos Navas (32 IP / 26 H / 13 ER / 11 BB / 42 K / 3.66 ERA / 1.16 WHIP / 4 SV)

Beloit – Cody Kurz (24 1/3 IP / 19 H / 12 ER / 20 BB / 23 K / 4.44 ERA / 1.60 WHIP / 6 SV)


Click here to see A’s Farm’s 2016 Mid-Season Organizational All-Star Team…

Get the Inside Scoop on Oakland’s Top 11 Draft Picks of 2016 from A’s Scouting Director Eric Kubota

A's scouting director Eric Kubota

A’s scouting director Eric Kubota

The A’s took a familiar path in this year’s draft, selecting college players with fifteen of their top sixteen picks. And the team took a trio of talented college pitchers with their top three selections. Top pick A.J. Puk is a flame-throwing lefty out of Florida with top-of-the-rotation potential, while second pick Daulton Jefferies is a 20-year-old righty from Cal with pinpoint control, and Logan Shore is a solid strike-throwing righty also out of Florida who possesses an advanced understanding of pitching.

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 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 and Richie Martin in 2015. And this year, we were eager to get his insights on #1 pick A.J. Puk as well as the rest of the A’s top eleven picks from the first ten rounds of the 2016 draft.

When we spoke with Kubota, three days after the conclusion of this year’s draft, the A’s had signed eight of their top eleven picks. And word has it that 4th-round pick Skylar Szynski’s signing should be official soon. But Puk and Shore will have to wait until Florida’s College World Series run is complete.


AF:  So now that the draft is in your rear-view mirror, how are you feeling about this year’s draft class overall and was there anything unique about the character of this year’s draft from your point of view?

EK:  Well, we’re certainly excited about this year’s draft class. To get the three pitchers we got at the top of the draft, we were extremely happy about it. We felt like there was depth throughout the draft which we were able to take advantage of. I’m not really sure it was unique, except I’m sure a lot of people will probably say it was kind of old school for us because there were a lot of college players from major programs that ended up falling into the spots where we picked them.

AF:  Well, I guess it must have been nice for you to have the #6 pick overall and to not have to wait until the 20s to have your first pick anyway.

EK:  Yeah, it’s nice on draft day. It’s not nice having to experience what has to happen to get you that spot though!

AF:  Exactly! Well, I know you didn’t expect to have your first pick, left-hander A.J. Puk out of Florida, fall to you with the sixth pick. How did you feel about having the chance to take him with your first pick and how would you assess his talent?

apajpuk-florida1-250x300EK:  Yeah, obviously, we were really surprised that he fell to us. As I mentioned before, we started hearing rumblings that he may be sliding, for whatever reason, but we still really did not believe it until he did get to us, so we were certainly happy about that. As far as him as a baseball talent, arguably – probably not even arguably – he was the college pitcher with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft. He’s 6’7”, we’ve seen him up to 97 mph, he’s got a wipeout slider at times, and we like the changeup. It’s just an intimidating look with intimidating stuff and a top-of-the-rotation ceiling.

AF:  Do you have any sense of why it was that he did end up falling to you? I don’t think many people were expecting him to fall to you at number six.

EK:  Right. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to know what was going on in those other draft rooms. I do know, in general, that teams are trying to maximize their draft pool. So maybe they felt there were better ways for them to do that. But I’m really not privy to why he slid – I think we were just happy that he did.

AF:  And obviously, with him and Logan Shore, we’re going to have to wait till Florida’s done playing for there to be any deals done with them.

EK:  Correct.

AF:  And with your next pick, the 37th overall in the competitive balance round, you took right-hander Daulton Jefferies out of Cal. I talked with him last week, and he seemed to have a pretty good understanding of pitching and what he needs to do to be successful. So what did you like about Daulton Jefferies that made you want to take him there?

djNCAA California Coastal Car (3)EK:  Well, first of all, I’m a Cal guy, so I’m biased – he’s obviously a smart guy! But he’s got a great idea of what he needs to do on the mound. He’s super athletic. We’ve seen him with three plus pitches, and he can really pitch. He’s competitive. There’s just so much to like about him moving forward. And he’s the kind of guy who can move quickly through the system.

AF:  He missed 8 weeks with the shoulder strain this season. But I know your medical staff had the chance to look at him both before and after the draft. So do you feel pretty confident about the shoulder issue going forward?

EK:  Yeah, we feel confident that in the long term it’ll be fine. And really, in a lot of ways, it was an opportunity for us that he did get hurt because I don’t think we thought that he would get to #37 had he been healthy all spring.

AF:  In the 2nd round, you took another right-hander and another guy out of Florida, Logan Shore. And he’s a guy, like Jefferies, who seems to be a smart pitcher who really knows how to pitch. He might not have that blazing fastball but he certainly seems to know what he’s doing on the mound and what he needs to do to succeed.

lsloganshoreuf300EK:  Well, he’s a physical right-hander. He’s been the Friday night guy at Florida for three years, which is pretty impressive when you consider the amount of pitching that they always have at Flroida. He doesn’t always go out and throw with the big velocity, but we’ve seen him up to 93-94 mph. We think it’s in there – he just doesn’t use it unless he needs it on occasion. He really knows how to pitch, he can locate, and he knows how to use his stuff – it’s not sexy, sexy stuff, but the way that he uses it is very sexy to us in a baseball way. He can really pitch and he’s competitive. He’s got a great changeup, and we do think that there’s probably more fastball in there than he shows on a weekly basis because he just hasn’t needed to use it.

AF:  So looking at this group of pitchers, is there anyone you might compare Puk to?

EK:  For Puk, as a starting pitcher, I would say James Paxton, although physically he may be more Andrew Miller-ish. But his stuff I think is similar to Paxton.

AF:  And what about Jefferies and Shore?

EK:  Yeah, Jefferies I always kind of likened to Mike Leake. And then Shore, I don’t have a great one, but he reminds me of Jake Peavy a little bit.

AF:  Well, all he has to do is be a little bit like Jake Peavy and he’ll be all right! I guess the development staff is probably looking forward to getting those three arms into the system.

EK:  I would think so. I’d think they’d be pretty happy to get those guys.

AF:  In the 3rd round, you took your first position player, catcher Sean Murphy from Wright State. He has a reputation as a strong-armed catcher. Tell me how you view his abilities behind the plate and what you expect to see out of him offensively.

smZMUNWMNGCNTJJNX.20150502043215bEK:  We think that the catching has really come along. We think he has a chance to be a really good receiver. He’s obviously got plenty of arm strength. And with the bat, there’s strength. We think that there’s more development left with the bat. We think he’s going to hit with some power and he’s going to hit for enough of an average that, when you combine it with his defensive skills, you’ve got a front-line major league catcher.

AF:  He seems to be one of those guys that everyone agrees ought to stick at catcher.

EK:  Right, he’s definitely a catcher. We think the bat may be behind the defense at this point. But we do see development there and we think he’s going to be able to play the game on both sides.

AF:  Any comparisons for him?

EK:  Murphy, I kind of thought of him as like a Mike Matheny type possibly.

AF:  Now in the 4th round, you took your only high school pick in the top 15 rounds, right-hander Skylar Szynski from Indiana. So tell me what you liked so much about him that made you want to make him your first high school pick in the 4th round.

ss100598937EK:  He’s a guy we liked. We had people who liked him as high as the 2nd round or the competitive balance round. He’s an athletic kid. He’s got a good body to build on. We’ve seen him up to 95 mph. He’s got a good breaking ball and the changeup is advanced for a high school guy. There’s a lot to like. Those are the traits that the industry likes in high school pitchers. You get them into your system and hope to develop them, but there’s a lot of physical skill to like.

AF:  Were you a little surprised that he was still available to you at that point?

EK:  Yeah, we were and we were definitely happy that he was.

AF:  Did you have a comp for Szynski?

EK:  I honestly didn’t have a great one, but one of my scouts said Collin McHugh.

AF:  In the 5th round, you went with former major leaguer John Shelby’s son, JaVon Shelby, a third baseman out of Kentucky. He’s considered a very toolsy guy, but I know he under-performed a bit with the bat last year.

jshttps-%2F%2Fkty-platform-secure-prod.silverchaliceEK:  Yeah, he certainly didn’t have the year offensively that he wanted. But we saw him a lot this spring and we liked the approach and we liked his aggressiveness at the plate. We think there’s strength in there for power. Like you said, he’s very toolsy. He’s a plus runner with a plus arm. And he did a good job at third base. He’s played second base in the past. We think his skills line up in center field as well. That versatility is something that we value, and we think he’s got a chance to play a lot of positions well. And we think he’s got a chance to hit and hit with some power.

AF:  So you think there are some real positional options for him going forward.

EK:  Definitely, definitely.

AF:  Did you have a comp for Shelby?

EK:  Maybe kind of a Josh Harrison. He’s bigger than Josh Harrison, but maybe a Josh Harrison type of player.

AF:  Well, Harrison definitely moves around the field like you mentioned. In the 6th round, you went back to pitching with right-hander Brandon Bailey from Gonzaga. He looks a bit like a Bowdien Derby clone from last year’s draft to me. How do you see him?

bbmaxresdefault2EK:  Yeah, we made those comparsions with Derby as well. He’s obviously a shorter right-handed pitcher. But we’ve seen him up to 93-94 mph. We think he can really pitch. He’s got a good changeup. He just has a really good feel for what he’s doing and he’s obviously performed at a high level.

AF:  He had some really nice strikeout numbers.

EK:  Yep, he’s got a changeup that he gets swings and misses with and he’s got a slider that he gets swings and misses with. I think he had 17 strikeouts in the West Coast Conference tournament a couple of weeks ago.

AF:  And is there anyone you’d compare him to, besides Bowdien Derby?

EK:  I thought maybe Kris Medlen potentially.

AF:  In the 7th round, you went back to a position player, center fielder Tyler Ramirez out of North Carolina. I know some scouts seemed to be a little divided on him, but he certainly seemed to put the numbers on the board. So what did you really like about him?

trNSATKSHRAIYJQGE.20150115212753EK:  Yeah, we think he can hit. That’s the thing that he can do. He can really hit. He’s an above-average runner, and we think he’s got a chance to stay in center field. But the thing that he brings is the bat, for sure.

AF:  So you think he’s got the skills to possibly stick in center field though?

EK:  We do. Yeah, we do.

AF:  And who would you compare him to?

EK:  Ramirez reminds me of David DeJesus.

AF:  Well, you closed out the last few rounds with more pitching. In the 8th round, you took left-handed reliever Will Gilbert who was the closer at North Carolina State. What did you like about him?

wggilbertside.0.0bEK:  He’s a left-hander with three average-to-better pitches and a feel to use them. He’s performed at a high level. He’s the kind of guy, coming in out of the bullpen, who could move quickly in an organization.

AF:  So it sounds like he’s going to stay in the bullpen then.

EK: Yeah, I would say so.

AF:  In the 9th round, you went with another left-hander, Dalton Sawyer out of Minnesota. I know I’ve heard some people think he might ultimately profile better as a reliever, but what’s your view of him?

dsMinnesotaDaltonSawyer1bEK:  Well, he’s another tall lefty. We’ve seen him up to 93-94 mph. He definitely had a good year as a starter this year and he’s going to go out as a starter. He’s a left-handed pitcher who’s physically imposing with velocity and a good changeup, so we’ll see where that takes him. One of my scouts said Sawyer reminded him of Jim Kaat. So if any of your readers remember Jim Kaat…

AF:  Well I do anyway!

EK:  I do too!

AF:  In the 10th round, you took right-hander Mitchell Jordan from Stetson. I can’t honestly say that I know a whole lot about him, so I’ll leave it to you to tell me what I ought to know about Mitchell Jordan.

mjSU_JordanMitchell2EK:  Yeah, he can really pitch. He’s got kind of average stuff, but he can really pitch. In a lot of ways, he’s kind of a poor man’s Logan Shore. If you look at his Cape Cod League last summer, he had an incredible summer on the Cape. I saw him over a month into the season, maybe five weeks in, and I saw him give up his first earned run, and he’d been starting the whole time I was up there. So he can really pitch.

AF:  So he sounds like one of those guys whose Cape Cod League performance really helped put him on the map.

EK:  It really helped, yeah.

AF:  Well, I guess at this point, you’ve signed 28 of your 41 picks. So you’ve been moving pretty fast, and I think you might even be a little bit ahead of last year’s pace.

EK:  Yeah, I think we’re in a good spot, and it’s worked out so far so good in that regard.

AF:  I wanted to ask you about your last two 1st-round picks. Last year was shortstop Richie Martin and the year before that was third baseman Matt Chapman. As a scouting director, how are you feeling about where those two guys are at at this stage of the game?

EK:  Yeah, we’re really happy with both of them. They both had to endure some injury issues. Matt had some injuries last year, and Richie got hurt in spring training, which has slowed their development a little bit. But I think, where we sit now, they’ve basically done what he expected. In fact, they’ve probably exceeded what we expected in certain cases. Chapman has certainly hit with the power we expected and he’s shown flashes of the defense that we expected, and he’s performing in a high-level league now. And Richie, having just gotten started after being hurt in spring training, is off to a good start. And everything that those guys have brought, as far as character, makeup and work ethic, has only made us happier to have them. They’re just great kids and they’re both going to make the most of their ability.

AF:  And now that the draft is finally over and you’re down to maybe just a dozen or so picks left to get in the fold, what’s next up on your agenda?

EK:  Our scouts are already out getting ready for next year. There’s events that happen this week, national events, and then next week. So we just get back on the horse and start working for next year.

AF:  Back out beating the bushes!

EK:  Yep!


A’s 2016 Draft Class

1st LHP A.J. Puk (Florida), 1st Lottery RHP Daulton Jefferies (UC Berkeley), 2nd RHP Logan Shore (Florida), 3rd C Sean Murphy (Wright State), 4th RHP Skylar Szynski (Penn HS-IN), 5th 3B JaVon Shelby (Kentucky), 6th RHP Brandon Bailey (Gonzaga), 7th OF Tyler Ramirez (North Carolina), 8th LHP Will Gilbert (North Carolina St), 9th LHP Dalton Sawyer (Minnesota), 10th RHP Mitchell Jordan (Stetson)

11th SS Eli White (Clemson), 12th OF Luke Persico (UCLA), 13th 2B Nathan Mondou (Wake Forest), 14th RHP Nolan Blackwood (Memphis), 15th LHP Ty Damron (Texas Tech), 16th OF Anthony Churlin (Island Coast HS-FL), 17th RHP Seth Martinez (Arizona St), 18th C Skyler Weber (Georgia), 19th RHP Sam Gilbert (Kansas), 20th RHP Brigham Hill (Texas A&M)

21st OF Kyle Nowlin (Eastern Kentucky), 22nd C Roger Gonzalez (Winthrop), 23rd RHP Christian Lindsay-Young (Niagara CC), 24th OF Robert Bennie (East Stroudsburg), 25th OF Jeramiah McCray (Martin Luther King HS-CA), 26th 1B Charley Gould (William & Mary), 27th OF Cole Gruber (Nebraska-Omaha), 28th 2B Josh Vidales (Houston), 29th RHP Matt Milburn (Wofford), 30th RHP Nick Highberger (Creighton)

31st RHP Sam Sheehan (Westmont), 32nd C Collin Theroux (Oklahoma State), 33rd C Jarrett Costa (Westmont), 34th SS Casey Thomas (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), 35th LHP Daniel Rafferty (Bucknell), 36th RHP Brady Schanuel (Parkland), 37th OF Michael Farley (Chico HS-CA), 38th OF Matthew Frazier (Clovis North HS-CA), 39th SS Shane Martinez (John W North HS-CA), 40th SS Brett Bittiger (Pace)

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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.

Local Boy Daulton Jefferies Makes Good as A’s 2nd Pick in This Year’s Draft

dj12805924_1071818282936327_5742636123770923759_n.0.0bThe A’s didn’t have to look far to find their second pick in this year’s amateur draft. With the 37th overall selection, the team took Daulton Jefferies, a 20-year-old right-hander who’s spent the past three years pitching right in their own backyard at UC Berkeley for the California Golden Bears.

While Jefferies’ fastball reportedly has been clocked as high as 95 mph, he also works with a changeup and a slider and possesses excellent command. He went 7-0 and posted a stellar 1.08 ERA while striking out 53 and walking just 8 over 50 innings of work in his junior year at Cal this season. But he missed about 8 weeks of the season due to calf and shoulder injuries. He was once considered a potential top 20 pick in the draft, but those injury issues may have caused him to tumble into the lap of the A’s, who were more than happy to have the opportunity to nab another top-tier talent.

Jefferies, who went to high school in Atwater, just a few miles north of Merced, says that he’s modeled himself a bit after A’s right-hander Sonny Gray. So the northern California native was clearly happy to find himself selected by the local team. An added plus to being taken by the A’s is the fact that he’s also friends with the other two young pitchers the team took on the first day of the draft, Florida’s A.J. Puk and Logan Shore. The trio had the chance to play together last summer on the USA Collegiate National Team and have been fast friends ever since.

We took the opportunity to talk with Jefferies on the morning after the draft and found him eager and excited to be part of a pack of promising young pitching prospects who will hopefully help guide the green and gold back to glory before long…


AF:  Well, congratulations on being selected by the A’s on the first day of the draft. So how did it feel waking up today knowing you were one of the top 40 picks in the major league draft?

DJ:  To be honest with you, it hasn’t really hit me yet! As soon as I got drafted, I ran to get an A’s hat…and when I woke up, it was the first thing I put on. But it hasn’t hit me yet – it’s pretty surreal.

AF:  So are you going to go to sleep with it on tonight too?

DJ:  I wouldn’t doubt it to be honest with you.

AF:  I know you’re from around the Merced area. So did you grow up as an A’s fan or a Giants fan or both?

DJ:  My family is a mix between Dodgers, Giants and A’s. I have a big family so it’s spread out a bit. But going to Berkeley certainly helps – going to see Sonny Gray pitch, going to see Marcus Semien, Mark Canha and Bob Melvin, who are Cal graduates. I grew up going to Giants games and A’s games.

AF:  It sounds like you grew up being pretty well acquainted with the A’s anyway. So have you seen or read Moneyball yet?

DJ:  Yes, I watched Moneyball. It was actually a really good movie. I didn’t get a chance to meet Billy Beane. But I’m sure I will, so I’m pretty excited.

AF:  Oh, I’m sure you will very soon! So did you have a favorite A’s player growing up?

DJ:  Not really. I remember watching Scott Hatteberg and that whole story. And then, Sonny Gray…I kind of try to model my game after him. He’s had a lot of success there. He plays the game the right way and plays it for the right reasons.

AF:  So are you looking forward to wearing those white cleats?

DJ:  Yeah, my uncles were teasing me about that, and the stirrups and everything. I’m pretty excited. As long as I’m a professional baseball player, I could wear a clown outfit and I wouldn’t care!

AF:  Can you tell me a little bit about your repertoire and how confident you are in each of your pitches and where they’re at at this point?

djNCAA California Coastal Car (3)DJ:  My fastball’s 90-94 mph and touches 95-96 mph. I can control both sides of the plate. Both 4-seam and 2-seam – the 2-seam more going in to righties and away to lefties. And then I build off my fastball and I build off my changeup. My favorite pitch to throw is my changeup. It probably goes from 84 to 88 or 89 mph. I like to throw it a lot to lefties and get hitters off balance, and then going to righties away and getting them to kind of reach and roll over and build off of that with a fastball inside and jam them. And then I just developed a slider this year, and it became one of those big out pitches for me. It usually goes from about 82 to 86 or 87 mph. I learned about myself a lot building off my off-speed. I don’t have a huge, over-powering fastball, like 96-98 mph range. So I just developed into what I think I am. I hit my spots and I can control both sides of the plate. And I don’t really care about strikeouts, as long as I get guys out and miss barrels. I don’t try to strike anyone out. But as long as I execute my pitches, everything will work out. But professional ball is a whole different animal, and I’m ready for it.

AF:  I was going to ask you about what you kind of touched on there. What’s your mentality like when you take the mound? Is there anything in particular you’re trying to remember to do or thinking about trying to accomplish whenever you take the mound for a start?

DJ:  First pitch strike and getting ahead of guys, and getting the leadoff guy out – that’s a big momentum shift. As a pitcher, you’re trying to get your offense back in the dugout so they can score some runs for you. So anything I can do to help speed up that process and get them back grabbing their bats is good.

AF:  You’ve had a good career at Cal over the three years you’ve been there, but you really had a great year this season. You went 7-0 with an ERA of 1.08, and it’s hard to do much better than that. So what was really working for you this season and was there anything different you were doing this year?

DJ:  You know, I think the summer helped me a lot with confidence. Being on the USA Collegiate National Team and playing against other national teams – it was kind of weird playing against 35-year-old Cubans – but it was a great experience, and it kind of opened my eyes to finding out what kind of pitcher I really am. The big thing for me was getting ahead and kind of attacking the hitter. I’m going to make the hitter earn his way on base, I’m not going to walk the guy – I hate walks with a passion!

AF:  You got off to a great start at Cal this year, and then you had a couple of injuries involving your calf and your shoulder and ended up missing about 8 weeks of the season. So can you tell me a little bit more about what happened there?

DJ:  The calf started first after facing Oregon State. And then my arm started to kind of stiffen up. I thought it was just normal soreness from throwing a complete game against Oregon State, but it didn’t really go away. And I just decided to shut it down. So I got the rest I needed. And I was extremely fortunate to be able to get back out there and play with my guys the last two games.

AF:  Did the A’s want to talk to you about the shoulder injury and look into the situation a little further before the draft?

DJ:  Yeah, I went to the workout [for draft prospects at the Coliseum] last week. And I got to see their doctor. He took me through some tasks, strengthening stuff and mobility with my shoulder. And guys in the big leagues get over this injury and I did too. And I’m just glad they had faith in me and I can’t wait to get out there. Jermaine Clark was my scout, and he had some nice things to say to me when I went there.

AF:  I guess you actually played together on the USA Collegiate National Team last summer with the A’s other top two picks from the first day of the draft, Florida pitchers A.J. Puk and Logan Shore.

DJ:  Yeah, we did. We’ve gotten to be pretty good friends. I text Logan and A.J. all the time. They’re a great group of guys. And just being around those guys with those repertoires and getting to see A.J. Puk pitch – when it looks like it’s 86 mph but, when you look up, it’s 97 mph, just because he makes it look so easy. But I couldn’t be more happy. I facetimed them this morning and we all had our A’s hats on, so it’s a pretty exciting time for us!

AF:  Well, I guess it must be nice to be starting your pro career with a couple of guys you already know and like and have played with before.

DJ:  Absolutely, it’s awesome!

AF:  So being a northern California guy yourself, is there anything else you’d like A’s fans to know as you embark on your career in the green and gold?

DJ:  I’m just so thankful for the opportunity. And I can’t wait to get out there and start the uprising of the Oakland A’s! And not just me, but Logan Shore and A.J. Puk and everyone else, we’re going to get this thing going and we’re extremely excited!

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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.

Getting to Know the A’s 2016 Top 11 Draft Picks

A's #1 pick A.J. Puk

A’s #1 pick A.J. Puk

After finishing poorly last season, Oakland earned the sixth overall pick in this year’s amateur draft. The A’s also had the 37th overall pick in the Competitive Balance Lottery Round A, which meant the team would pick eleven players in the first ten rounds of the draft. And with the tenth round concluding at the end of the second day of the draft on Friday, it’s now time to take a look at the A’s top eleven picks of the 2016 draft.

After taking three collegiate pitchers with their top three picks on Thursday, the A’s continued to focus on college arms again on Friday. Overall, the team selected seven college pitchers, one high school hurler and three college position players with its top eleven picks.

The three position players include third-rounder Sean Murphy, a strong-armed catcher from Wright State, fifth-rounder JaVon Shelby, a power-hitting third baseman out of Kentucky, and seventh-rounder Tyler Ramirez, a solid-hitting center fielder out of North Carolina.

The only high school player taken by the A’s in the top ten rounds was fourth-rounder Skylar Szynski, who pitched a perfect game in his sophomore season. Szynski has committed to Indiana, but the A’s are hopeful of signing him.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s day one draft recap, top pick A.J. Puk is a flame-throwing lefty out of Florida with top-of-the-rotation potential, while second pick Daulton Jefferies is a 20-year-old righty from UC Berkeley (Cal) with pinpoint control, and Logan Shore is a solid strike-thrower also out of Florida who possesses an advanced understanding of pitching. And all three played together as members of 2015’s USA Collegiate National Team last summer.

Most of the remaining pitchers taken on Friday tend to be big strikeout guys. And sixth-rounder Brandon Bailey out of Gonzaga is remarkably reminiscent of last year’s sixth-round pick, right-hander Bowdien Derby, who’s since been dealt to the Brewers. Both are under-sized west coast righties with gaudy strikeout totals whom the A’s selected in the sixth round.

We’ll be learning a lot more about all the A’s top picks in the coming days and can look forward to getting the chance to see much more of them at Vermont or Arizona, or possibly even Beloit, before the month is through.


apajpuk-florida1-250x300#1 – 1st Round

A.J. Puk

Left-Handed Pitcher


Age: 21 / 6’7” – 230 lbs.

Bats: Left / Throws: Left

2016 College Stats: 70 IP / 50 H / 25 ER / 31 BB / 95 K / 3.21 ERA / 1.16 WHIP


djNCAA California Coastal Car (3)#2 – 1st Round Lottery

Daulton Jefferies

Right-Handed Pitcher

UC Berkeley (Cal)

Age: 20 / 6’0” – 185 lbs.

Bats: Left / Throws: Right

2016 College Stats: 50 IP / 34 H / 6 ER / 8 BB / 53 K / 1.08 ERA / 0.84 WHIP


lsloganshoreuf300#3 – 2nd Round

Logan Shore

Right-Handed Pitcher


Age: 21 / 6’2” – 215 lbs.

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2016 College Stats: 92 1/3 IP / 75 H / 25 ER / 15 BB / 80 K / 2.44 ERA / 0.97 WHIP


smZMUNWMNGCNTJJNX.20150502043215b#4 – 3rd Round

Sean Murphy


Wright State

Age: 21 / 6’3” – 215 lbs.

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2016 College Stats: 121 AB / 6 HR / 23 BB / 16 K / .281 AVG / .408 OBP / .504 SLG


ss100598937#5 – 4th Round

Skylar Szynski

Right-Handed Pitcher

Penn High School (Indiana)

Age: 18 / 6’2” – 195 lbs.

Bats: Left / Throws: Right

2016 High School Stats: 59 2/3 IP / 29 H / 12 ER / 18 BB / 78 K / 1.41 ERA / 0.79 WHIP


jshttps-%2F%2Fkty-platform-secure-prod.silverchalice#6 – 5th Round

JaVon Shelby

Third Baseman


Age: 21 / 5’11” – 175 lbs.

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2016 College Stats: 198 AB / 12 HR / 29 BB / 67 K / .212 AVG / .335 OBP / .470 SLG


bbmaxresdefault2#7 – 6th Round

Brandon Bailey

Right-Handed Pitcher


Age: 21 / 5’10” – 175 lbs.

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2016 College Stats: 100 1/3 IP / 80 H / 27 ER / 31 BB / 125 K / 2.42 ERA / 1.11 WHIP


trNSATKSHRAIYJQGE.20150115212753#8 – 7th Round

Tyler Ramirez

Center Fielder

North Carolina

Age: 21 / 5’9” – 185 lbs.

Bats: Left / Throws: Left

2016 College Stats: 189 AB / 8 HR / 50 BB / 54 K / .333 AVG / .482 OBP / .540 SLG


wggilbertside.0.0b#9 – 8th Round

Will Gilbert

Left-Handed Pitcher

North Carolina State

Age: 22 / 5’11” – 165 lbs.

Bats: Left / Throws: Left

2016 College Stats: 44 2/3 IP / 43 H / 12 ER / 10 BB / 53 K / 2.42 ERA / 1.19 WHIP


dsMinnesotaDaltonSawyer1b#10 – 9th Round

Dalton Sawyer

Left-Handed Pitcher


Age: 22 / 6’4” – 190 lbs.

Bats: Left / Throws: Left

2016 College Stats: 94 2/3 IP / 79 H / 35 ER / 42 BB / 112 K / 3.33 ERA / 1.28 WHIP


mjSU_JordanMitchell2#11 – 10th Round

Mitchell Jordan

Right-Handed Pitcher


Age: 21 / 6’2” – 205 lbs.

Bats: Right / Throws: Right

2016 College Stats: 80 IP / 73 H / 35 ER / 32 BB / 75 K / 3.94 ERA / 1.31 WHIP


11th SS Eli White (Clemson), 12th OF Luke Persico (UCLA), 13th 2B Nathan Mondou (Wake Forest), 14th RHP Nolan Blackwood (Memphis), 15th LHP Ty Damron (Texas Tech), 16th OF Anthony Churlin (Island Coast HS-FL), 17th RHP Seth Martinez (Arizona St), 18th C Skyler Weber (Georgia), 19th RHP Sam Gilbert (Kansas), 20th RHP Brigham Hill (Texas A&M)

21st OF Kyle Nowlin (Eastern Kentucky), 22nd C Roger Gonzalez (Winthrop), 23rd RHP Christian Lindsay-Young (Niagara CC), 24th OF Robert Bennie (East Stroudsburg), 25th OF Jeramiah McCray (Martin Luther King HS-CA), 26th 1B Charley Gould (William & Mary), 27th OF Cole Gruber (Nebraska-Omaha), 28th 2B Josh Vidales (Houston), 29th RHP Matt Milburn (Wofford), 30th RHP Nick Highberger (Creighton)

31st RHP Sam Sheehan (Westmont), 32nd C Collin Theroux (Oklahoma State), 33rd C Jarrett Costa (Westmont), 34th SS Casey Thomas (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), 35th LHP Daniel Rafferty (Bucknell), 36th RHP Brady Schanuel (Parkland), 37th OF Michael Farley (Chico HS-CA), 38th OF Matthew Frazier (Clovis North HS-CA), 39th SS Shane Martinez (John W North HS-CA), 40th SS Brett Bittiger (Pace)


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 Take Talented Lefty A.J. Puk with Top Pick in the Amateur Draft

A's #1 pick LHP A.J. Puk

A’s #1 pick LHP A.J. Puk

With their #1 pick in the 2016 amateur draft, the A’s selected a University of Florida junior for the second year in a row. Last year, it was Gators shortstop Richie Martin, and this year it was LHP A.J. Puk. Baseball America had recently ranked the big lefty as the top overall pick in the draft, so the A’s have to consider themselves fortunate to still find him available to them with the 6th overall pick in the draft.

Puk is a 6-foot-7, 230 lb., 21-year-old power pitcher whose fastball has been clocked as high as 99 mph. He pairs it with a solid slider, but his changeup is still considered to be something of a work in progress. His command has also been spotty at times, and the Iowa native walked a total of 84 batters in 188 innings during his 3-year collegiate career. This season, Puk walked 31 and struck out 95 while posting a 3.21 ERA over 70 innings of work for Florida.

The last time the A’s took a pitcher with their top pick in the draft was 2011 when the team took RHP Sonny Gray. Like Gray, Puk is considered to have the talent to be a potential top-of-the-rotation starter. And if he develops as hoped, along with Gray and fellow lefty Sean Manaea, Puk could be a part of a talented trio atop the A’s starting rotation in years to come.

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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 Report for Week of May 30-June 5: Nashville Prospects Are Hot, Hot, Hot!

Nashville's hot-hitting Ryon Healy

Nashville’s hot-hitting Ryon Healy

Nashville has been the hottest team in the Pacific Coast League over the past few weeks, winning 18 of its last 21 games. The team’s rise has been fueled by impressive performances from some of the system’s top prospects – players like Renato Nunez, Matt Olson, Chad Pinder, Ryon Healy, Jaycob Brugman, Joey Wendle, Max Muncy, Daniel Mengden and Dillon Overton. Fortunately for the struggling A’s, things have been looking up down on the farm lately! A version of this weekly minor league report by Athletics Farm originally appeared on Athletics Nation


Click here for this week’s update on Nashville, Midland, Stockton & Beloit…