Results tagged ‘ Oakland Athletics ’
by James Ham / A’s Farm Correspondent
Rumors broke last week that the Oakland A’s 2011 1st-round draft pick Sonny Gray might be in line to make his major league debut if Jarrod Parker couldn’t make his scheduled start. It turned out to be a false alarm, but Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily better bring their A-game, because Gray is coming.
The 23-year old right-hander out of Vanderbilt is now 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in his 6 starts at Triple-A Sacramento this season. More importantly, in his last 3 starts, he’s been lighting the Pacific Coast League on fire, allowing just 2 runs in 21 innings while striking out 19 over that stretch.
“Being in my second year and understanding professional baseball a little bit better and being able to get in a little bit better routine, it’s something that I’m feeling a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident this year than I did early last year,” Gray told Athletics Farm last week.
In just his third season in professional baseball, Gray is turning heads with his array of pitches. He throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, as well as a curveball and a changeup.
“(My) fast ball command has gotten a lot better, and that’s something we’ve been working on,” Gray said. “Not only fastball command, (but) throwing it. You know, starting the two-seam where I want it for a strike and a ball. That’s just something that’s come with a little more experience and a little more routine. The changeup is getting better, I’m really confident in that right now. It’s gotten me out of big jams already this year. And the curveball is still there.”
After posting a complete game victory last week and facing just two batters in a game that was called due to rain earlier this week, Gray pitched a gem on Saturday night. In 6 innings of action, he struck out 8 and gave up only 3 hits. While it’s still early, he seems to be getting better every time out.
The A’s farm system has become a factory for major league starting pitching and Gray looks to be the next big prospect ready to make the jump.
“As soon as I got drafted by Oakland, I knew the accomplishments in pitching that this organization has been a part of in the history of baseball,” Gray said. “(It’s) a great pitching organization (with) a lot of good people around us that we can learn from.”
Like Michael Choice, the Athletics will give Gray as much time as he needs in Sacramento, but don’t be shocked if he is the first one to get the call this year if one of the A’s starters begins to stumble.
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Believe it or not, baseball’s amateur draft is only five weeks away, and hard-core A’s fans will soon have a fresh batch of hot prospects to ponder. With this in mind, it seems like a good time to take a look back at last year’s draft class and see where things stand. And it’d be hard to find anyone better-suited to help us do that than the A’s director of player personnel Billy Owens.
Owens originally joined the A’s organization in 1999, working as an area scout and coaching short-season baseball over the next five years. He was promoted to his current position in 2004, where he’s been able to put his knowledge of the game and its players to much more thorough use. Owens spoke with us earlier this week from an undisclosed location, where he was secretly scouting prospects for the draft. We talked about the A’s draft picks from last year’s first five rounds as well as a couple of top international prospects who are currently making their mark in the A’s system…
#1 (1st Round)
Shortstop / Age: 19
The A’s top draft pick in 2012, Russell got off to a blazing start last season. Just 19, the A’s invited him to big league camp this spring and aggressively started him off this year at Stockton in the High-A California League. He got off to a slow start and then had a brief stint on the DL, but he seems to have started heating up a bit over the past week or so.
BILLY OWENS: He had a sensational debut (last season), and we couldn’t be more excited. And seeing him in major league spring training – how he handled himself, the professionalism that he showed, just the constant energy that he plays with everyday – he has a maturity beyond his years. It’s obvious that he’s had tremendous parenting, and he’s got a lot of talent. It’s a pretty advanced assignment going to High-A ball, but we feel he’s going to be up for the challenge. We feel pretty confident that he can go there and handle himself. It’s a long year. We’re going to see how the season goes all the way through the end of the minor league championship season. And we’re pretty confident that he’s going to be able to catch up to the league, stay mature, show his tools, and be an exciting part of our system going forward.
#2 (1st Round)
Shortstop / Age: 19
Robertson got off to a great start in the Arizona League last year but then struggled a bit with short-season Vermont in the NY-Penn League. He injured his knee in the instructional league. The ensuing surgery kept him out of competitive action this spring and delayed the start of his season. But he arrived in Beloit last week with a hot bat, blasting a home run in his first game.
BILLY OWENS: His make-up is outstanding. He’s a very coachable kid – talented, mature. He got dinged up a little bit, but he’s gone straight to Low-A (this season). I think his first night, he was a triple short of a cycle, and he got another hit yesterday, and he’s playing a solid shortstop. This kid definitely likes to play baseball and has been well-coached. His skill level is outstanding. He’s a solid shortstop prospect. He can definitely play the position. His hands are solid. He’s got a strong arm. He’s fundamentally sound.
#3 (1st Round)
First Baseman / Age: 19
Another one of the A’s top draft picks who got off to a great start in Arizona last year, Olson began the season with Beloit in the Midwest League. His bat remained cold through most of a very cold April in Wisconsin, but he’s begun heating up over the past week, homering in two consecutive games over the past few days.
BILLY OWENS: Matt Olson comes from a baseball family. His father played college ball. His brother plays at Harvard currently. And he’s a baseball rat. He can play first base, and he could even dabble in the outfield if need be. He’s got a short, efficient swing. I think initially he had such a strong debut – he hit a home run in his first at bat last year in Arizona rookie ball – he might have gotten a little too pull-confident and tried to force the issue with power. But we think that Matt Olson’s going to be a very good all-around hitter, be able to use the field line-to-line, and the power will just develop over time. He’s just a natural hitter. We like his hands – his hands are fluid, they’re strong, they’re direct. He had a couple of doubles the other night and hit his first home run. He’s using all the field again and squaring up multiple pitches. He’s got a very good eye – he walked 3 times the other night. I’m seeing the trends, and I’m more excited seeing the all-fields approach and the walks start to pick up versus the power. The power’s going to be there ‘cause this kid’s 6’4”, 230 pounds and just naturally strong. So it should be exciting.
#4 (2nd Round)
Catcher / Age: 22
Maxwell appeared to be a dependable hitter in his debut last year and has continued to look like a solid hitter this year at Beloit. He specializes in getting on base, but some have wondered about his ability to stick behind the plate.
BILLY OWENS: His numbers at Birmingham Southern were just ridiculous. They were pretty amazing when you look at the extra-base hits versus the little amount of strikeouts. This kid’s got a tremendous eye, discerning at the plate. His swing path is fluid – it’s very compact, direct to the baseball. He’s strong, he’s going to have power, he’s going to be a high-walk guy. His catching is improving. Just at first glance, he reminds me of ex-Athletic Mickey Tettleton. He can catch, he’s probably going to mix in some first base down the road and get involved every now and then as a designated hitter. But first and foremost, he’s a slugger who’ll be an essential part of the Oakland Athletics organization.
#5 (2nd Round)
RHP / Age: 21
The first pitcher the A’s selected in last year’s draft, Sanburn appears to be a talented young hurler with an arsenal of pitches, but he spent a lot of his college career pitching out of the bullpen. So without a lot of innings under his belt, he still needs to build his stamina as a starter.
BILLY OWENS: We were excited to get Nolan when we got him. With his arm and his variety of pitches, it was a coup where we got him in the draft last year. When he went to rookie ball in short-season (Class-A), he was 96 mph+. His curveball broke off the table, and he’s got a solid changeup. He’s a very athletic kid. Just being predominantly a reliever in college last year, we’re starting to get him prepared him for X amount of innings. We’re kind of taking baby steps initially, but he’s raring to go and ready to unleash that arsenal out there.
#6 (4th Round)
Outfielder / Age: 19
Boyd was best known as a big Bay Area high school football prospect when the A’s drafted him last year. He’s loaded with talent and got off to a great start last year, but he’s young and his baseball skills will need a little refinement.
BILLY OWENS: He’s got a dynamic skill set. Last year, he was by far the fastest player in our draft class. And then he went straight out to rookie ball and showed that speed. He’s just explosive. He was an accomplished football player, had multiple Division I offers, but we were able to draft him. And all that carried over to rookie ball last year. That was a fun team that lost the final to the Rangers’ rookie ball squad, but B.J. was a catalyst for that team. He hit a few home runs, he walked, he hit for a high average, he stole bases, he played a good center field. The Midwest League is a great league, we’re proud to be there, but it’s a little bit cold initially, so we held a couple guys back. We’ve got him back there in extended (spring training), but at some point, I think he’ll be ready for the Midwest League this year. And I honestly believe that he’ll make a positive impression once he gets there. Right now he’s chomping at the bit, working hard in extended, shedding a few pounds, and getting ready to hopefully take the Midwest League by storm later on.
#7 (5th Round)
First Baseman / Age: 22
Drafted out Baylor, Muncy was the only member of the A’s draft class to start last season in the Class-A Midwest League, and he held his own there. This year, the A’s decided to start him out at High-A Stockton along with Addison Russell, and Muncy has flourished. He already has twice as many home runs in April, 8, as he did all of last year at Burlington, and he currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in round-trippers.
BILLY OWENS: Maxwell Muncy is a guy we’re excited about. Armann Brown, our area scout out there in Texas, pointed Max out early, always liked the make-up. Max came from a good family structure and background. He’s at the field early. He’s there late. He’s watching video. He’s just ready to play everyday, so we’re excited. He’s amongst the minor league home run leaders, and we like his skill set. He can pick it at first base – we like his range there. His swing is the type of swing that’s going to be able to hit advanced level pitching. And first and foremost, this guy’s a baseball rat. I mean, he’s a cage-wrecker. You’ve got to turn the lights off otherwise he’s going to be in that cage 24/7. He’s a fun guy to watch.
(International Amateur Free Agent)
Third Baseman / Age: 19
The A’s invested heavily in Nunez when they reportedly gave the young Venezuelan $2.2 million to sign back in 2010. He made his American debut in the Arizona Rookie League last year and didn’t disappoint, flashing the bat the A’s had hoped to see. He’s started this season wielding the biggest bat at Beloit, and he even celebrated his 19th birthday on opening night by blasting his first home run.
BILLY OWENS: He’s an exciting kid to watch. Sam Geaney, our international scouting director, and Julio Franco, our chief scout in Venezuela, they identified Renato all the way back to when he was 14 years old. And we were able to track him, follow him, and we were able to secure his services. He went to the Dominican Summer League at 16 years old and was able to get his feet wet and was able to do pretty well there. Last year, in the Arizona Rookie League, I believe he led the league in doubles. He just has that short stroke – it’s a very accurate barrel. He’s pretty advanced to send him at 19 years old to the Midwest League. This kid’s got outstanding make-up, he’s not afraid of anything. I think he’s hit 4 home runs, 5 doubles. He’s having a good start up there in Beloit. And it’ll be fun to watch him this year, because this kid likes to play a lot and his background is excellent and he’s a natural-born hitter.
(International Amateur Free Agent)
RHP / Age: 21
The A’s originally signed Ynoa for over $4 million as a 16-year old. He’s now a 21-year-old. And thanks to injuries, through last season, he’d thrown less than 40 innings. But Ynoa finally appears to be healthy and is back on the mound for Beloit this season.
BILLY OWENS: It’s definitely fun to see Michael in the box scores. The talent’s always been immense, and now it’s just a matter of him continuing to increase his workload and get out there on the diamond. He’s a fabulous athlete. He’s topped out at 96-97 mph, his breaking ball is getting better everyday, and his command is improving. So seeing him every five days in that box score is an exciting thing, and hopefully he can keep on doing that, because the talent’s there. And hopefully we’re crossing our fingers that he’s passed certain hurdles and he can be out there and enjoy a healthy season.
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A’s Farm finally cracked into the top 5 MLB blogs last month, and it looks like we managed to hang on to our top 5 spot again in March. Thanks to all you A’s fans out there who’ve made A’s Farm a regular stop to stay up to date on all the A’s top prospects!
In the past month, we’ve brought you our 2-part interview with A’s director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, our spring training video updates, as well as our spring training tour diary, and our Prospect Watch featuring commentary from Farhan, Grady Fuson and A’s manager Bob Melvin.
Make sure you stay tuned for daily updates on all the A’s minor league affiliates now that the season’s underway. And if you haven’t already, be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm to keep up to date on all the latest down on the farm!
We’re now less than a week away from opening day, and Jemile Weeks has been optioned to Sacramento, Adam Rosales has been placed on the disabled list, and Hiro Nakajima has been struggling and is now dealing with a strained hamstring. And thanks to these recent developments, it looks like the A’s opening day roster may now be rounding into shape – and along with it, the Sacramento River Cats’ and Midland RockHounds’ rosters too. Of course, plenty can still change and nothing is etched in stone. There haven’t been any official announcements from the team yet and there probably won’t be until about 24 hours before opening day, but below are our projected opening day rosters for the A’s and their Triple-A and Double-A affiliates based on what we think we know at this point…
PROJECTED 2013 OAKLAND A’S ROSTER
Brandon Moss 1B
Nate Freiman 1B
Eric Sogard 2B
Jed Lowrie SS
Coco Crisp OF
Josh Reddick OF
Chris Young OF
Seth Smith OF
Brett Anderson LHP
Jarrod Parker RHP
Tommy Milone LHP
A.J. Griffin RHP
Dan Straily RHP
Grant Balfour RHP
Ryan Cook RHP
Pat Neshek RHP
Chris Resop RHP
Sean Doolittle LHP
Jerry Blevins LHP
Travis Blackley LHP
(Bartolo Colon – SUSPENDED)
(Fernando Rodriguez – DL)
(Adam Rosales – DL)
PROJECTED 2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS ROSTER
Jemile Weeks 2B
Andy Parrino SS-3B-OF
Grant Green 2B-3B-OF
Josh Horton 3B-SS-2B
Scott Moore 1B-3B-DH
Shane Peterson OF-1B
Conner Crumbliss OF-2B
Sonny Gray RHP
Andrew Werner LHP
Jesse Chavez RHP
Bruce Billings RHP
Travis Banwart RHP
Evan Scribner RHP
Mike Ekstrom RHP
James Simmons RHP
Arnold Leon RHP
Hideki Okajima LHP
Jordan Norberto LHP
Pedro Figueroa LHP
Justin Thomas LHP
PROJECTED 2013 MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS ROSTER
Anthony Aliotti 1B-DH
Tommy Mendonca 3B-DH
Miles Head 3B-1B
Jefry Marte 3B-1B
Darwin Perez 2B-SS
Tyler Ladendorf 2B-SS-OF
D’Arby Myers OF
Carlos Hernandez LHP
Murphy Smith RHP
Josh Bowman RHP
Sean Murphy RHP
Jacob Brown LHP
Brian Gordon RHP
Carlos Fisher RHP
Kyler Newby RHP
Darren Byrd RHP
Paul Smyth RHP
Nate Long RHP
Sergio Perez RHP
Frank Gailey LHP
***UPDATE: In something of a surprise, the A’s have designated LHP Travis Blackley for assignment. This opens a spot in the A’s bullpen for either Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa, Mike Ekstrom or Hideki Okajima. Their spot in the River Cats bullpen will be filled by RHP Danny Otero, who was claimed off waivers.
Minor League Camp at Papago Park
Major League Camp at Phoenix Municipal Stadium
Stay tuned for more from spring training in Phoenix, including interesting insights from Bob Melvin, Grady Fuson, Derek Norris and more…
Well, we’re a little over three weeks into spring training now, and we’ve had the chance to get a good look at a number of the A’s most promising young hitters. There are 13 hitters who are likely to start the season in the A’s minor league system who’ve gotten into anywhere between 4 and 21 major league spring training games thus far – and most of them have performed pretty well!
However, only 3 of the 13 still remain in major league camp – outfielder Shane Peterson along with infielders Andy Parrino and Eric Sogard. They aren’t the only ones to make their mark though. Catcher David Freitas, infielders Jefry Marte, Grant Green and Darwin Perez as well as outfielder Michael Choice all hit the ball well during their time with the major league team.
Below is a list of the 13 players who we’re likely to see starting the year at Sacramento, Midland or Stockton who got at least 10 at-bats in major league games this spring, followed by a profile of a few particular over-achievers…
Shane Peterson (OF-1B) 18-for-42 / 6 2B / 1 HR / .429 AVG / .489 OBP / .690 SLG
Michael Choice (OF) 13-for-42 / 2 2B / 1 HR / .310 AVG / .333 OBP / .476 SLG
Eric Sogard (IF) 16-for-31 / 7 2B / 0 HR / .516 AVG / .559 OBP / .742 SLG
Andy Parrino (IF) 12-for-31 / 5 2B / 1 HR / .387 AVG / .457 OBP / .645 SLG
Michael Taylor (OF) 5-for-23 / 2 2B / 0 HR / .217 AVG / .250 OBP / .304 SLG
Grant Green (IF-OF) 9-for-22 / 5 2B / 0 HR / .409 AVG / .409 OBP / .636 SLG
Scott Moore (IF-OF) 4-for-20 / 0 2B / 1 HR / .200 AVG / .304 OBP / .350 SLG
David Freitas (C) 8-for-17 / 1 2B / 1 HR / .471 AVG / .471 OBP / .706 SLG
Luke Montz (C) 1-for-17 / 0 2B / 1 HR / .059 AVG / .105 OBP / .235 SLG
Addison Russell (SS) 4-for-16 / 1 2B / 0 HR / .250 AVG / .294 OBP / .313 SLG
Darwin Perez (IF) 5-for-15 / 1 2B / 0 HR / .333 AVG / .412 OBP / .400 SLG
Jefry Marte (3B) 4-for-10 / 2 2B / 0 HR / .400 AVG / .455 OBP / .600 SLG
Miles Head (3B) 1-for-10 / 0 2B / 0 HR / .100 AVG / .091 OBP / .100 SLG
With Hiro Nakajima and Jed Lowrie added to the roster in the off-season and Adam Rosales both out of options and carrying a guaranteed contract, Sogard’s likely to start the season bouncing around Sacramento’s infield. But his spring performance has certainly helped to keep his name in play anyway. In his first 31 at-bats, Sogard is hitting over .500 and leads the team with 7 doubles. He also has just 1 strikeout. And with that kind of performance at the plate, if another infielder is needed in Oakland at some point, Sogard’s name should be quick to come to mind.
At 25, Peterson has yet to see time in the majors. But let’s not forget that he was a 2nd-round draft pick for the Cardinals in 2008 before coming over to the A’s in the Matt Holliday deal. With five outfielders already on the A’s roster, there doesn’t appear to be much room for Peterson. But after posting an impressive .460 OBP last season between Sacramento and Midland, he’s definitely opened some eyes this spring by batting .429 in 42 at-bats while bashing 6 doubles. He’s likely to start the season in the Sacramento outfield, along with Michael Choice and Michael Taylor. But Peterson can also play first base, and he’ll undoubtedly see some time there as well, which could help offer him another route to the big leagues.
No one seemed to pay too much attention to Freitas when he came over from the Nationals last summer in the Kurt Suzuki deal. But they’re certainly noticing him now after he went 8-for-17 this spring, hitting .471 with a home run, a double and just 1 strikeout. Freitas has never played above Double-A though, and he’s likely to start the season at either Midland or Sacramento. But at this point, with the departure of Max Stassi, Freitas appears to be the most promising young catcher in the A’s minor league system.
Parrino came to the A’s this off-season along with LHP Andrew Werner in the Tyson Ross trade. And much like Sogard, Parrino is another infielder whose chances of making the roster are greatly hindered by the presence of Lowrie, Nakajima and Rosales. He’s likely to start the season playing shortstop at Sacramento, though the A’s have been giving him some time in the outfield this spring as well. But Parrino has put himself on the map with his consistent hot-hitting this spring, going 12-for-31 and hitting .387 with 5 doubles and a home run. And if the shortstop spot proves troublesome for the A’s this season, Parrino could end up earning a shot.
A’s Farm’s update on the third week of spring training and the A’s big round of roster cuts…
Well, we’d made it as high as #6 before, but last month, for the first time, A’s Farm finally cracked into the top 5 as the 5th-ranked MLB blog for the month of February!
Thanks to all you A’s fans out there who’ve made A’s Farm a regular stop to stay up to date on all the A’s top prospects.
Stay tuned for more spring training updates and interviews as well as daily updates on all the A’s minor league affiliates once the season gets underway.