Tag: Sean Murphy

Sunday, May 21st: Cotton Leads Sounds to Shutout Win while Fillmyer Pitches Hounds to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (7 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jharel Cotton (7 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds         4

Sacramento River Cats  0

WP – Cotton 2-0 / 2.25

HR – Olson (10)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Jharel Cotton

(7 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / Win)

The Sounds shut out Sacramento for the second time in their last three games on Sunday. Starter Jharel Cotton delivered an impressive outing for Nashville, allowing just 3 hits while striking out 9 over 7 shutout innings to earn the win in his second appearance since being sent to the Sounds. RHP Michael Brady tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief to close out the 3-hit shutout on Sunday. First baseman Matt Olson had a big day at the plate, collecting 4 hits, including a home run and a double, while driving in 3 runs for Nashville. Third baseman Matt Chapman singled and doubled, while left fielder Kenny Wilson had a pair of hits and drove in a run, and center fielder Jaycob Brugman singled, walked and scored a run as the Sounds won for the third time in their last four games on Sunday.

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Wednesday, May 17th: Schrock Hits 2 HRs in Hounds’ Loss while Nashville’s 3 HRs Aren’t Enough to Help Sounds Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Second Baseman Max Schrock (3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Second Baseman Max Schrock (3 for 4 / 2 HRs)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  4

Frisco RoughRiders       7

LP – Finnegan 0-1 / 3.38

HR – Schrock 2 (5), Munoz (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Second Baseman Max Schrock

(3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs)

Despite having his team fall for the fourth time in their last five games on Wednesday, second baseman Max Schrock had a big night at the plate for Midland. The 22-year-old prospect got off to a slow start in April but has been heating up in May, and the 5-foot-8 infielder muscled up to mash a pair of solo home runs in Wednesday’s contest for the Hounds. Schrock’s first round-tripper in the 4th inning gave the RockHounds the lead and, after falling to a two-run deficit, his second solo shot tied the game in the 6th. Just before Schrock’s second big fly, shortstop Yairo Munoz homered for the second time in the last two days to give the keystone combo back-to-back jacks. Munoz also doubled, stole third and scored a run on center fielder J.P. Sportman‘s RBI single in the 1st. Starter Brett Graves had a rare rough outing, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits over 5 frames, while RHP Ben Bracewell tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief and left with the game tied, but RHP Kyle Finnegan gave up a big 3-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to suffer his 1st loss for the Hounds.

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Talking Ports Prospects with Stockton Skipper Rick Magnante

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

A.J. Puk

A.J. Puk

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

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

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

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

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

Nolan Blackwood

Nolan Blackwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evan Manarino

Evan Manarino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandber Pimentel

Sandber Pimentel

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, April 27th: Sonny Gray Impresses in Sounds’ Victory while Snappers Win 6th Straight

A’s “Prospect” Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Sonny Gray (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

A’s “Prospect” Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Sonny Gray (6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

New Orleans Baby Cakes  2

Nashville Sounds             9

WP – Gray 1-0 / 0.00

HR – Barreto (4), Lavarnway (2), Canha (2)

“Prospect” Of The Game:

Pitcher Sonny Gray

(6 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

After tossing 5 scoreless frames in a rehab appearance for Stockton last weekend, A’s starter and Nashville native Sonny Gray turned in another impressive performance, this time in front of a hometown crowd at First Tennessee Park in the heart of Music City on Thursday. Gray allowed just 2 hits while walking none and striking out 7 in 6 scoreless innings to earn the win for the Sounds. Over his two rehab starts, Gray has allowed a total of just 3 hits while walking none and striking out 13 over 11 shutout innings, and he appears ready to rejoin the A’s rotation next week. It was an easy win for Nashville on Thursday. Shortstop and leadoff batter Franklin Barreto belted his team-leading 4th home run in the bottom of the 1st inning to give the Sounds an early edge, and Nashville never lost the lead. Barreto also drew a pair of walks in the game, while right fielder Mark Canha singled and slugged a 2-run shot. Designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway homered, doubled and walked, and second baseman Joey Wendle doubled, tripled and drove in 3 runs in the win. And with the A’s activating RHP Kendall Graveman, first baseman Matt Olson was optioned back to Nashville on Thursday.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Monday, April 17th: Murphy & Iriart Homer to Help Stockton Stage Comeback Win while Chalmers K’s 10 in Snappers’ 11-Inning Loss

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Catcher Sean Murphy (3 for 4 / Home Run / Double / 3 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Catcher Sean Murphy (3 for 4 / HR / Double / 3 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Stockton Ports  12

Modesto Nuts       4

WP – Duno 2-0 / 2.25

HR – Murphy (3), Iriart (2)

Prospect Of The Game:

Catcher Sean Murphy

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

After being down 4-0 heading into the 6th inning, Stockton came back to post a 12-4 win in Modesto on Monday as the Ports claimed the California League’s best record. Catcher Sean Murphy singled in the winning run in the 7th, hit a 2-run homer in the 8th, and also walked and scored a run in the 6th and doubled but was left stranded in the 4th. First baseman Chris Iriart belted a 3-run homer to tie the game in the 6th and doubled in a run in the 7th, while second baseman Josh Vidales collected 3 hits, including a double, and shortstop Eli White singled, doubled, walked twice and scored 3 times in the game. Center fielder Tyler Ramirez drove in 3 runs, and left fielder Brett Siddall singled twice and drove in a pair for the Ports. With a steady rain coming down in the 1st inning, starter Logan Shore surrendered 3 runs, but Shore settled in after that and ended up allowing 3 on 6 hits over 4 innings of work. His tandem-pitching partner, RHP Angel Duno, was solid in relief, giving the Ports a chance to come back and ultimately prevail. Duno allowed just 1 run over 4 innings and finished off his stint by retiring 11 straight batters to pick up the win as the Ports ran their record to 7-4. Meanwhile, Beloit RHP Boomer Biegalski was added to Stockton’s pitching staff on Monday, with RHP Daulton Jefferies landing on the disabled list.

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Monday, April 10th: Walter Helps Pitch Hounds to Victory while Puk Impresses in Ports Debut

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Corey Walter (4 IP/ 0 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds RHP Corey Walter (4 IP/ 0 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / Win)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Springfield Cardinals     1

Midland RockHounds  5

WP – Walter 1-0 / 1.29

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Corey Walter

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

A number of solid 4-inning performances have been delivered during the first week of the A’s minor league tandem-pitching experiment. And RockHounds RHP Corey Walter delivered one of the best on Monday, tossing 4 near-perfect, no-hit innings to earn the win for Midland. Walter faced the minimum 12 batters over 4 frames. The only base runner reached after being hit by a pitch and was then thrown out trying to steal second in the 4th inning. Starter Brandon Mann threw 3 scoreless innings to start things off and has now failed to allow a run over 7 innings of work so far this season. Designated hitter Melvin Mercedes doubled in 2 runs in the bottom of the 2nd to give the RockHounds an early lead, while catcher Andy Paz had a pair of hits and drove in a run, and first baseman Viosergy Rosa doubled, walked and scored twice to help Midland win on Monday.

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Stockton Ports 2017 Opening Day Roster Preview

by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent

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Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

10 Ports Players to Watch in 2017

1. LHP A.J. Puk

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

2. RHP Logan Shore

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

3. RHP Daulton Jefferies

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

4. C Sean Murphy

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

5. IF Mikey White

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

6. RHP Nolan Blackwood 

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

7. 1B Chris Iriart 

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

8. OF Skye Bolt

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

9. 1B Sandber Pimentel

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

10. RHP Matt Sergey

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

 

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

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Meet Your 2017 Nashville Sounds

0nsIMG_2587We recently took a look at the likely A’s opening day roster for 2017, which appears to be reasonably well set, with the exception of a couple of minor question marks. This year’s Triple-A Nashville Sounds roster is a far more complicated puzzle to try to piece together at this point though. The main reason for this is that the A’s have invited a whopping 70 players to their major league spring training camp this year, and all but a handful of them already have major league or Triple-A experience and are expected to battle for 50 roster spots with Oakland and Nashville.

Some players, like LHP Felix Doubront and RHPs Chris Bassitt and Daniel Mengden, are likely to open the season on the disabled list. But if most of the others remain healthy, then that will leave plenty of players on the outside looking in. And with the A’s major league roster seeming to be fairly well set at this point, most of that roster crunch will be occurring at Nashville, and we may be looking at a fairly significant roster purge towards the end of spring training before rosters can be finalized.

While recent draftees, like LHP A.J. Puk and catcher Sean Murphy, certainly won’t be in contention to open the season anywhere near as high as Triple-A, and others players, like infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock, appear set to start the season with Double-A Midland, there are certain players who will be guaranteed plenty of regular playing time at Nashville this season no matter what happens – top prospects like Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto and Matt Olson, as well as others.

The A’s usually like to start the season with 13 pitchers and 12 position players at the Triple-A level. And while some recent trades and injuries have helped to relieve the pitching logjam at Nashville a bit, there currently appear to be about 18 position players jockeying for 12 Triple-A roster spots at this point, so something’s definitely going to have to give there. So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up for your 2017 Nashville Sounds…

 

CATCHERS

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

The catching corps appears to be one of the clearer areas when it comes to the Nashville roster. If Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley are both healthy to start the season, then it looks looks likely that Bruce Maxwell will start the year back at Nashville, getting most of the starts behind the plate for the Sounds. Matt McBride, who shared time with Maxwell at Nashville last season, appears set to do the same again this year. The A’s signed catcher Ryan Lavarnway as a minor league free agent in the offseason. But just as there doesn’t appear to be room for three catchers on Oakland’s roster, there doesn’t seem to be room for three catchers on Nashville’s roster either. And since Lavarnway spent most of last season at Double-A and Midland catcher Beau Taylor is set to spend the first 50 games of the season on the suspended list, Lavarnway may need to start the year on the Double-A RockHounds roster until an opening develops in the catching corps.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Franklin Barreto

Franklin Barreto

There’s no doubt that top prospect Franklin Barreto will have the chance to get plenty of at-bats as Nashville’s starting shortstop this season. And since it appears unlikely that either Joey Wendle or Chad Pinder will be able to crack Oakland’s opening day roster at this point, then Wendle should end up seeing the majority of the starts at second base for the Sounds, just as he has for the past two seasons, with Pinder splitting time between both second and short while possibly increasing his versatility by spending some time at other spots around the diamond as well. The A’s re-signed minor league free agent Josh Rodriguez, who’s spent most of his time at second and short of late, and also signed minor league free agent Jermaine Curtis, who’s spent most of his time at second and third. But if all the top prospects are healthy, it’s awfully hard to see where the at-bats are to be found for these two veteran minor leaguers. Meanwhile, infielders Yairo Munoz, Max Schrock and Richie Martin are likely to find themselves starting the season on the Double-A RockHounds roster.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman

Top power prospect Matt Chapman should find himself firmly entrenched at the hot corner for the Sounds in 2017. Renato Nunez clearly will get his share of at-bats too but, with Chapman viewed as the A’s third baseman of the future, most of them aren’t likely to be coming at third this year. Matt Olson has split time the past couple seasons between first base and right field, while minor league free agent signee Chris Parmelee, a former 1st-round pick with plenty of major league service time under his belt, is also experienced at first and in right, and he and Olson should end up sharing most of the at-bats at first and in right for the Sounds. But let’s not forget that first baseman Rangel Ravelo is still in the picture as well, though he was optioned off the 40-man roster in the offseason. The same is true of utility man Max Muncy, who has spent most of his time at first and third. The A’s signed minor league free agent infielder Jermaine Curtis, who’s spent the bulk of his time at the hot corner, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll steal many at-bats from Matt Chapman so, if he can crack the Triple-A roster, most of his at-bats would be more likely to come from his secondary position at second base. The A’s also re-signed minor free agent Josh Rodriguez, who’s also far more likely to find at-bats at second than at third, if he can find a way to make it onto the Sounds roster.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Jaycob Brugman

Jaycob Brugman

The Sounds outfield picture is another complicated one to try to piece together at this point, with far more players than spots on the roster. Starting at the top, Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski seem to have the inside track for the final two major league roster spots with Oakland. And if things play out just that way, then major league veteran Alejandro De Aza, who signed a minor league contract in the offseason, would find himself back in Triple-A. However, if De Aza should manage to beat out either Canha or Smolinski, then the odd man out in that competition could be headed back to Nashville. Of course, Smolinksi and De Aza both have plenty of experience in center field, as does Jaycob Brugman, who is ikely to get plenty of at-bats for the Sounds this season, whether he’s starting in center or in either one of the corner spots. The A’s re-signed outfielder Andrew Lambo to a minor league contract, and added minor league free agent outfielder Jaff Decker, as well as Chris Parmelee who, like returning prospect Matt Olson, has spent plenty of time both in right field and at first base. Max Muncy, who will also be in the roster mix, saw significant time in the outfield last year as well. And it’s worth noting that, De Aza, Brugman, Lambo, Decker, Parmelee, Olson and Muncy give the organization a total of 7 left-handed hitters in the Triple-A outfield mix, and that’s on a team that’s only expected to carry 12 position players – of course, catcher Matt McBride spent plenty of time in the outfield last year as well – so something’s definitely going to have to give here one way or another!

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Jesse Hahn

Jesse Hahn

Until recently, the shape of the Sounds starting rotation was looking fairly clear. But the trade of Dillon Overton and Daniel Mengden’s recent foot injury have left things a little less clear. What is clear is that if RHP Jesse Hahn can’t beat out RHPs Andrew Triggs or Jharel Cotton, the favorites to fill the final two spots in the A’s rotation, then Hahn will wind up heading up the Sounds starting five. Two other apparent certainties to join him there are flame-throwing RHP Frankie Montas and former 2nd-round draft pick Daniel Gossett, who finished out the season strong for the Sounds. Beyond those three, the pitching picture starts to get a little murkier, though that’s certainly not for a dearth of viable candidates. LHP Ross Detwiler signed a minor league contract to remain with the organization, but since he has an opt-out clause, he could depart if not guaranteed a spot on the major league roster. But should he decide to stay, then he would likely garner a spot in the Sounds rotation. RHP Raul Alcantara could also be in the mix, but he’s out of options, and it seems unlikely that the A’s would try to sneak him through waivers to get him back on the Nashville roster. RHPs Zach Neal and Chris Smith were two of Nashville’s top starters last season, so they would represent a couple of experienced options, but both primarily shifted to working out of the bullpen during the latter part of last season. Meanwhile, a pair of RHPs the A’s signed as minor league free agents could represent two of the team’s top options – Cesar Valdez, who posted an impressive 1-to-9 walk-to-strikeout ratio for Triple-A Fresno last year, and Michael Brady, who put up a solid 2.89 ERA between Triple-A and Double-A last season. RHP Paul Blackburn, who spent all of last season at Double-A, could fight his way into the competition, as could RHP Heath Fillmyer, but both may be more likely to kick off the year at Midland. RHP Daniel Mengden, who recently underwent foot surgery, and RHP Chris Bassitt and LHP Felix Doubront, both of whom are returning from Tommy John surgery, will all prominently factor into the Sounds pitching picture as soon as they’re ready to return to action as well.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Bobby Wahl

Bobby Wahl

There should be no shortage of candidates to fill out the 8 spots in the Sounds bullpen this season. If the A’s should decide to keep RHP Raul Alcantara on the major league roster, since he’s out of options, and there are no further pitching injuries or trades at the major league level, then LHP Daniel Coulombe is likely to find himself starting the year back at Nashville. RHP Bobby Wahl, who posted a 2.65 ERA and 14 saves across three levels last year, RHP Tucker Healy, who struck out 76 in 52 1/3 innings for Nashville in 2016, and RHP Aaron Kurcz all seem likely to return to Music City as well. The A’s also signed minor league free agent RHPs Josh Smith, Tyler Sturdevant and Simon Castro, all of whom have some degree of major league experience under their belts and seem destined to be a part of Nashville’s relief corps this year. The final spots in the Sounds bullpen are likely to be filled by whoever among Zach Neal, Chris Smith, Michael Brady and Cesar Valdez don’t end up finding spots in the Sounds starting rotation. And unless injuries strike, it doesn’t appear that there will be any room for RHPs Trey Cochran-Gill or Sam Bragg, both of whom had solid seasons for Midland last year, to make the move up to Triple-A to start the season.

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A’s 2017 Non-Roster Invitees

The A’s announced their list of non-roster invitees to major league spring training camp on Thursday. A number of them are recently-signed minor league free agents, but many spent last season with the organization as well.

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

–New Position Players–

rl543432C Ryan Lavarnway

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 21 after playing in the Atlanta and Toronto farm systems in 2016. He combined to hit .266 with six home runs and 48 RBI in 91 games with Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A New Hampshire.

3B-2B Jermaine Curtis

Signed as a minor league free agent after hitting .291 with nine home runs and 50 RBI in 89 games with Triple-A Louisville in the Reds organization. He added 42 walks for a .404 on-base percentage.

OF-1B Chris Parmelee

Went 4-for-8 with two home runs and four RBI in six games with New York (AL) last year and is a .248 career hitter with 30 home runs and 98 RBI in 311 games over six seasons in the majors. He spent most of 2016 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he hit .248 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI in 64 games. He signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 19.

OF Jaff Decker

Hit .154 in 19 games with Tampa Bay last year and is a .162 career hitter in 60 games over four seasons in the majors. He also batted .255 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 99 games with Triple-A Durham. He signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 22.

OF Kenny Wilson

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 15. He combined to hit .255 with three home runs, 32 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 125 games with Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans in the Miami organization.

UPDATE:

OF Alejandro De Aza

Free agent outfielder Alejandro De Aza signed a minor league contract, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He spent the entire 2016 season with the New York Mets and hit .205 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 130 games.  He is a .261 career hitter in 810 games in nine Major League seasons with Florida (2007, 09), Chicago-AL (2010-14), Baltimore (2014-15), Boston (2015), San Francisco (2015) and New York-NL (2016).

 

–Returning Position Players–

mm473724bC-OF Matt McBride

Hit .209 with two RBI in 20 games with Oakland last year. He also batted .267 with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 70 games with Nashville.

C Sean Murphy

Was the A’s third round selection in the 2016 draft and batted .228 with two home runs and seven RBI in 23 games in his professional debut with short-season Vermont and the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League.

2B-SS Josh Rodriguez

Returns for his second straight camp with the A’s as a non-roster invitee. He played for Midland and Nashville in 2016 and hit .263 with nine home runs and 53 RBI in 88 games.

3B Matt Chapman

The A’s first round pick in the 2014 draft returns for his second straight big league camp. He combined to hit .237 with 36 home runs and 96 RBI in 135 games with Double-A Midland and Nashville. He ranked third in all of minor league baseball in home runs and tied for 10th in RBI.

SS Richie Martin

The A’s first round pick in the 2015 draft returns for his second consecutive big league camp. He combined for a .235 average, three home runs, 38 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 91 games with Stockton and Midland.

2B Max Schrock

Was acquired from Washington for Marc Rzepczynski Aug. 25. He led all of minor league baseball with 177 hits after batting .331 with 32 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 71 RBI in 129 games with Stockton, Midland, Single-A Potomac and Single-A Hagerstown.

OF Andrew Lambo

Appeared in one game with Oakland and also hit .255 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 56 games with Nashville before missing the last half of the season following a diagnosis of testicular cancer.

UPDATES:

1B Rangel Ravelo

First baseman Rangel Ravelo cleared waivers, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He spent the entire 2016 season at Nashville, where he batted .262 with eight home runs and 54 RBI in 106 games.

1B-3B Max Muncy

Infielder Max Muncy cleared waivers, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He appeared in 51 games for Oakland and 64 games at Nashville in 2016.

 

–New Pitchers–

mb572728RHP Michael Brady

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 15. He combined for a 3-6 record and a 2.89 ERA in 18 games (12 starts) with Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in the Washington organization in 2016.

RHP Cesar Valdez

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 17 after going 12-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 30 games (18 starts) with Triple-A Fresno in the Houston organization. He ranked third in the Pacific Coast League in ERA and tied for fourth in wins. He walked 13 and struck out 114 in 138 1/3 innings.

RHP Josh Smith

Was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati Nov. 4 and outrighted to Nashville Nov. 18. He went 3-3 with a 4.68 ERA in 32 games (two starts) with the Reds. He was also 4-4 with a 3.80 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with Triple-A Louisville.

RHP Tyler Sturdevant

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 11. He went 0-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 16 relief appearances in his major league debut with Tampa Bay last year. He was also 3-2 with four saves and a 3.66 ERA in 34 games with Durham.

RHP Simon Castro

Signed as a minor league free agent after going 0-5 with 10 saves and a 3.38 ERA in 50 relief appearances with Triple-A Albuquerque in the Colorado farm system.

 

–Returning Pitchers–

fd467094LHP Felix Doubront

Missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing UCL reconstruction surgery April 12.

RHP Chris Smith

Was a non-roster invitee with the A’s last year. He went 6-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 22 starts at Nashville before joining Oakland Aug. 7. He had no decisions, a 2.92 ERA and .165 opponents batting average in 13 relief appearances with the A’s.

RHP Daniel Gossett

The A’s second round pick in the 2014 draft pitched for Stockton, Midland and Nashville in 2016 and combined for a 10-6 record and a 2.69 ERA in 27 appearances, all starts. He led the A’s farm system with 151 strikeouts.

RHP Heath Fillmyer

Oakland’s fifth round pick in the 2014 draft combined for a 7-6 record and a 3.29 ERA in 26 games, including 24 starts, with Single-A Stockton and Midland.

RHP Tucker Healy

A 23rd round selection in the 2012 draft, he spent the entire 2016 season at Nashville where he went 4-3 with eight saves, a 3.61 ERA and .202 opponents batting average in 44 relief appearances. He struck out 76 in 52 1/3 innings.

RHP Ryan Brasier (sold to Hiroshima Carp)

Second straight season as a non-roster invitee with the A’s. He was 5-3 with a save, a 3.56 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings over 46 relief appearances with Triple-A Nashville. (UPDATE: Ryan Brasier has been sold by the A’s to the Hiroshima Carp of the Japanese Central League.)

RHP Aaron Kurcz

Combined for a 9-1 record, five saves, a 3.03 ERA and .211 opponents batting average in 46 appearances with Midland and Nashville. He was acquired by the A’s from Atlanta for international bonus slot 4 on July 6, 2015.

RHP Trey Cochran-Gill

Was acquired from Seattle for Evan Scribner following the 2015 season and went 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 42 relief appearances with Midland in 2016. He added a 1.84 ERA in 10 relief appearances with Mesa in the Arizona Fall League.

LHP A.J. Puk

Was the A’s first round choice in the 2016 draft and went 0-4 with a 3.03 ERA and .185 opponents batting average in 10 starts with Vermont in his professional debut. He struck out 40 in 32 2/3 innings.

UPDATE:

LHP Ross Detwiler

Left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler signed a minor league contract, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He was acquired by the A’s from Cleveland in a minor league deal July 17 and combined for a 2-4 record and a 6.10 ERA in 16 major league games, including seven starts.  He was also 6-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts, with Triple-A Columbus and Nashville. Detwiler appeared in 9 games for Oakland and 4 games at Nashville in 2016.

RHP Zach Neal

Pitcher Zach Neal cleared waivers, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He made his Major League debut with Oakland last year and went 2-4 with two saves and a 4.24 ERA in 24 games, including six starts, over four stints with the A’s.  He allowed a .265 opponents batting average but issued just six walks in 70.0 innings for a .281 on-base percentage.  Neal was also 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA in 11 starts with Triple-A Nashville where he walked just eight batters in 61.2 innings.

(Information provided by A’s Media Relations)

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A’s Set Fall Instructional League Roster

0dsc04060xThe A’s released their Fall Instructional League roster on Monday morning. Camp is set to open at the A’s minor league facilities in Arizona next week and will run for a month.

22 pitchers and 27 position players are currently scheduled to attend. And some high-profile prospects like recently-acquired pitcher Grant Holmes, last year’s 1st-round draft pick Richie Martin and 17-year-old Dominican prospect Lazaro Armenteros will be participating.

Also attending will be the A’s top five picks from this year’s draft – promising pitchers A.J. Puk, Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore and Skylar Szynski as well as catcher Sean Murphy. You can see the full list of A’s prospects who are set to appear in camp below…

 

–PITCHERS–

ap640462

A.J. Puk

Nolan Blackwood

Argenis Blanco

Brendan Butler

Dakota Chalmers

Ty Damron

Dustin Driver

Angel Duno

Will Gilbert

Nick Highberger

Grant Holmes

Dustin Hurlbutt

Daulton Jefferies

Casey Meisner

Abdiel Mendoza

A.J. Puk

Miguel Sanchez

Dalton Sawyer

Logan Shore

Skylar Szynski

Andrew Tomasovich

Oscar Tovar

Tyler Willman

 

sm669221

Sean Murphy

–CATCHERS–

Jarrett Costa

Roger Gonzalez

Sean Murphy

Collin Theroux

Skyler Weber

 

–INFIELDERS–

rm621006c

Richie Martin

George Bell

Marcos Brito

Chris Iriart

Eric Marinez

Richie Martin

Miguel Mercedes

Nate Mondou

Christopher Quintin

JaVon Shelby

Yerdel Vargas

Josh Vidales

Eli White

 

–OUTFIELDERS–

sb621450

Skye Bolt

Lazaro Armenteros

Rob Bennie

Skye Bolt

Anthony Churlin

Jeramiah McCray

Kyle Nowlin

Luke Persico

Tyler Ramirez

Kevin Richards

James Terrell

 

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