Tag Archive for Shane Peterson

Exclusive: Talking Top Prospects with A’s Special Assistant Grady Fuson

gfDSC01787-1[2c]Long-time baseball man Grady Fuson served as the A’s scouting director from 1995 until 2001, when the team drafted such talented players as Eric ChavezTim HudsonMark MulderBarry Zito and Rich Harden. He left the A’s at the end of 2001 to become the assistant general manager of the Texas Rangers and, after moving on to head up the Padres scouting department, Fuson eventually returned to the A’s a little over four years ago to serve as a special assistant to general manager Billy Beane.

Of course, many know Fuson as the scout in the cinematic version of Moneyball who has a dramatic confrontation with the A’s general manager – though that’s not quite how it happened (which we chronicled here), and he and Beane are both back on the same team and rowing in the same direction.

Prior to the amateur draft in early-June, Fuson’s duties primarily consist of scouting amateur prospects in preparation for the draft. But once the draft is complete, he begins a tour around the A’s minor league system, checking in on teams from Sacramento and Stockton to Midland and Beloit.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Fuson in Stockton just before the major league All-Star break, and prior to Ports catcher Bruce Maxwell’s promotion to Midland. We took the opportunity to pick the brain of one of baseball’s top talent evaluators and get the lowdown on some of the A’s top prospects at Stockton, as well as a few other promising players from throughout the system…

 

AF:  So let me just start off by asking you, as a guy with a long background in both scouting and development, how does it feel to lose a couple of top-quality prospects like Addison Russell and Billy McKinney?

GF:  Well, it hurts, but I’m in this business for the same reason as the people I work for, and I know everything we do is about that big league club. As good as our club has been the last two years, to me, this is what you’ve got to do. And I think Billy [Beane] worked through this thing magically – the timing, the quality of the players we got. We didn’t just add pitching, we added aces, and this could end up being the difference in us possibly putting a ring on our finger or not. And when it’s all said and done, that’s a big part of development – drafting and developing these prospects to be at that level of interest so that they could be a part of a deal like that.

AF:  Well, this year, most of the A’s top prospects are right here in Stockton. Of course, shortstop Daniel Robertson was probably more affected by the Addison Russell trade than anyone. So what do you see for Daniel Robertson’s baseball future at this point?

drrobertson480_szmaxxpi_ibplc2rl2GF:  He’s on time with his progression. He has many talents. Maybe he’s not as “sexy,” if that’s the word, as Addison, but probably more consistent in some areas. But he’s taken another step in his maturity as a baseball player. You can’t out-work him – he’s here every day. He wants to get better, and he’s shown he’s better this year than he was a year ago. He’s becoming more consistent. The biggest thing – the thing we were all counting on when he signed – was coming into some power, and it’s starting to come. You can see it in his numbers, you can see it in BP – it’s starting to come. Everything else is in his hands, and he’s playing great baseball.

AF:  Did his development this year make it any easier for the organization to make the deal and trade away someone like Addison Russell?

GF:  Maybe to some hidden degree. But Billy’s come out on the record and said that we’re going to worry about 2015 and 2016 when we get to them. And it’s really no different down here in the system. You know, we’re not as deep as we were a couple years ago. We’ve made a lot of trades, we’ve made a lot of moves. But one good move is we do have a Daniel Robertson at a key position. Maybe he’s not on as a quick a path as Addison could be on, but Danny’s not far behind Addison in any category, trust me.

AF:  Another guy who looked to be really affected by the trade, particularly by Billy McKinney’s departure, was center fielder Herschel Powell. He had a great first half at Beloit before getting called up to Stockton and then was hit with the 50-game suspension after just a couple of weeks here. So what’s your take on his performance this year and the recent developments with him as well?

GF:  Well, he’s gone crazy a little bit this year. He really had a great first half at Beloit. He’s learning the little things a little better. He’s always been a runner, and he’s always had the tools to play center. He’s always been an aggressive hitter, and now he’s learning the strike zone. He’s getting on base more. His instincts stealing bases still need some work but are starting to come. He came here and had a quick two weeks, and it didn’t look like the Cal League was prepared to stop him. And now we got the “oopsie,” so we got to wait 50 [games].

AF:  With Powell out for a while, another outfielder who was hitting well at Beloit and is now getting a chance here in Stockton is Jaycob Brugman. I remember you telling me to keep an eye on him in spring training, and he’s gotten off to a pretty good start here in the California League so far.

GF:  Brugman’s a good player. He’s one of our better defenders on the corner. He reads balls well, and he’s a good thrower. He’s got the best release. There are not a lot of things he does that are way off the charts, but there’s nothing that he does below average. He does a lot of good things on all sides of the game.

AF:  Now first baseman Matt OIson’s been having a good year here – he’s been leading the California League in home runs and it looks like his plate discipline has improved as well.

GF:  As far as his strikeout percentage, he’s cutting that back a little bit. But the good thing is he’s walking. So there are times when he’s going to swing through pitches, but he’s also swinging at strikes, and that’s a big key for him going forward.

AF:  What kind of improvements have you seen Renato Nunez make this year at the plate but also in the field at third base?

rnrenato-nunez-2013cGF:  It’s a work in progress. It’s repetition, repetition, repetition. He’s not perfect, but he’s working on it. He’s getting there. There’s no reason not to think he’ll be fine there when it’s all said and done. The more offensive he becomes, the better at third he becomes! He’s gotten stronger. He’s a lot more physical this year. Last year, he tapered his body and thinned out at 19. This year at 20, he’s starting to add some good weight. His hands are quicker. He’s got another 10 yards to the ball when he hits it. He’s got a chance to be a beast when he’s done.

AF:  What about Chad Pinder? It was a big leap for him to skip the Midwest League and come right up to the California League this year, but he got off to a great start here.

GF:  First of all, we’ve got to go back to spring training when he showed up 25 pounds stronger, and it was good weight. He had a whole different look in his eye. He looked a little bit more confident. I thought last year he was kind of frozen a little bit in the pro game. It looked like he was out of sorts and uncomfortable, plus he got hurt and lost a lot of time. But after Instructional League, he got his feet on the ground and worked his tail off in the winter in our strength program. And in spring training, he was one of the more impressive young guys in the whole camp. So we pushed him a little bit and sent him here. He’s playing a new position – 80% of the time at second base. Back in his amateur days, it was more short and third. So he’s still learning a lot of the nuances at second. But offensively, he’s been aggressive. He needs to learn how to control the strike zone a little bit more as he continues to grow, but he’s really putting a charge into the baseball when he squares it.

AF:  The other guy you guys bumped up here to Stockton with Pinder, Ryon Healy, started off the season slow, but he’s really been turning it on here of late.

GF:  For me personally, that would be my most improved guy. From last summer to Instructional League and even into spring training, things were a little rough. He himself is learning a new spot at third base. But I can tell things are more comfortable. He’s moving his feet better, he’s got better angles and lines. But offensively, he’s got much more timing and rhythm, and his true hand-speed strength is starting to show up.

AF:  How do you feel Bruce Maxwell’s been doing both at the plate and behind the plate, and how has he been in terms of learning to work with the pitching staff and that whole aspect of the game?

GF:  That bat’s fine. There are still some things we’re working on as far as the pull side, but his discipline’s been good. His receiving’s better and he’s been throwing real well…One thing that’s been impressive in talking to the staff here is that he’s really taken a big leap in leadership. He runs our meetings before every series. We have a meeting with all the pitchers and go over the opposing club. And he’s basically taken charge of that meeting, so that’s a step in the right direction. He’s in there, pitchers are digging him, everything’s good.

AF:  Speaking of pitchers, Seth Streich has been having one of the best seasons of any guy in the system. What’s he been doing right, what’s been working for him and what’s allowed him to have the success he’s been having?

ssStreich2bGF:  The changeup. That’s been our plan of attack with him for a year now. He’s had one, but it wasn’t a pitch that he really used. It wasn’t a pitch that he thought he had to use. He’s been predominantly a fastball/curveball guy. His changeup’s been hard, it’s been flat. So all the guys have been working to soften up his change and get some bottom to it. And I think it’s really been an added weapon for him. I’ve always loved the way he throws his fastball. He’s one of our best as far as locating it down and away.

AF:  How is his overall fastball command at this point and how hard does he throw it?

GF:  He’s really good with his fastball – he’s always been able to nail his fastball. He’s 90-93 mph, in that area…but I’ll say the same thing now that I said two years ago, he’s a changeup away from being a really good pitcher.

AF:  Nolan Sanburn has finally been healthy all year and has been out there pitching on a regular basis. So how do you see him coming along at this point?

GF:  Good. I think he’s prepared to pitch at the next level if needed. The biggest thing is getting back on the field for a full year, staying healthy and getting the innings he needs instead of being hampered by low innings. You don’t get better not being on the mound, and now he’s getting on the mound consistently and he’s been solid.

AF:  Do you see him sticking in the bullpen in the foreseeable future?

GF:  Yeah, I see that. It’s probably up for future discussion though.

AF:  What about the guy everyone’s always interested in, Michael Ynoa? He’s had some good outings and some not-so-good outings here in Stockton this year. So where do you see things are at with him right now?

Michael YnoaGF:  He’s healthy. He’s throwing hard. Like you said, it’s been 50/50 success. The boys have been giving him a little bit more of a slider look instead of a curveball. Last night was the first time I’ve gotten to see this new little slider. And even though I saw his breaking ball a year ago in spring training as good as I’ve ever seen it, the bottom line is he just doesn’t repeat it enough to be effective with it. The slider that I saw last night on numerous occasions might be a very, very helpful pitch for him. When he threw it right, it had the perfect depth and angle for a slider to get some swings-and-misses. And that’s what Michael needs right now – he needs a pitch that he can get some more swings-and-misses with.

AF:  Now you were just in Sacramento, so is there anyone in particular there you could see helping the big club in the near future if needed?

GF:  Yes. Andy Parrino could go up there and play defense all day long. He’s swinging it a lot better than he did a year ago. He had a unique down year offensively last year, but Andy could be on anybody’s big league team in the right role. Shane Peterson continues to do everything you want to see out of a guy. He could be a fourth or fifth outfielder for anybody – thankfully, we haven’t needed that because of the job that Craig Gentry’s done. But he’s talented – he can play all three outfield spots, he gives you quality at-bats. There’s a flash of thunder in there, there’s a flash of speed in there. So there are a lot of things that could be attractive.

AF:  Have you had the chance to see much of Max Muncy or Billy Burns at Midland this year and, if so, where do you feel they’re at?

GF:  I think they’re both in good spots. Muncy has some hot streaks and has some cold streaks, but I think overall he’s been pretty consistent this year…I think he’s right on track – his patience, his ability to defend. We’ve toyed with him at third and that looks like a very playable option. Billy can steal a base on call and he’s played well in center field. You’ve got to remember, he’s a singles guy – and the higher up you play, the more they shorten the field, so he’s having to figure that out a little bit. You know, in spring training, everything’s opened up and nobody really cares. But once the season starts and guys start putting hitting charts against you and know where you hit it, they defend you a little bit different. So he’s kind of in the middle of that part of the learning curve.

AF:  And have you had a chance to see last year’s 2nd-round draft pick Dillon Overton, who’s been working his way back from Tommy John surgery down in Arizona?

dospringstate10weatherford4-3cGF:  Yeah, I saw his first rehab. He was at 90 mph. The curveball was there – it just wasn’t consistent. But he threw easy. He attacked the strike zone at 90 mph. He’s been throwing 3 innings.

AF:  Do you think there’s any chance of seeing him outside of Arizona this year?

GF:  Yeah, I think the plan is once we get him up to around a 5-inning-type pitch count, we’ll probably send him somewhere, but we’re not going to pitch him a ton.

AF:  Now what about a couple of young pitchers from the 2013 draft who’ve been on the sidelines, Chris Kohler and Dustin Driver? What’s the latest with the two of them?

GF:  Driver’s got a back issue, so he’s been out. I don’t think it’s too bad. Before that, he had an infectious disease for a while – it wasn’t anything major – but he was basically quarantined from the complex. Then when he came back from that, he threw a couple times and then that’s when the back thing popped up, right around the time of the draft.

AF:  And what’s the latest with Kohler?

GF:  Kohler’s elbow is just a slow go. It’s still biting him. They’ve gone back in and taken another look. I think he was going back in to have another MRI. But he’s not currently in any legitimate throwing program as we speak. I don’t see him see pitching a whole lot the rest of this season.

AF:  And finally, how much of this year’s 1st-round draft pick, Matt Chapman, did you get a chance to see prior to the draft and what’s your take on him?

mcimg_6735bGF:  I’ve seen parts of him for two years…He’s a very talented defensive kid. I can’t believe he didn’t play shortstop in college. He’s got a gifted arm. He’s got gifted hands. He reacts well. He’s very polished defensively. He’s got some raw power in there and very impressive strength. There are some things we’ve got to clean up a little bit in his approach and his moves. But he’s got a chance to be a complete guy – you know, hit, hit with some power. This guy’s got a chance to be a Gold Glover.

AF:  Well, let’s hope so! That’s great, thanks a lot.

 

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Tuesday, July 22nd: Shane Peterson Singles in Winning Run in 13th for River Cats as Drew Pomeranz Is Solid in His Third Start for Sacramento

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Outfielder Shane Peterson (3 for 6 / RBI)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Outfielder Shane Peterson (3 for 6 / RBI)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  3

El Paso Chihuahuas          2

WP – Savery 6-1 / 2.51

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Shane Peterson

(3 for 6 / RBI)

With two outs, the bases loaded and the game tied in the top of the 13th inning, outfielder Shane Peterson stepped to the plate and singled home the winning run for the River Cats on Tuesday. It was the third hit of the night for Peterson, who was last week’s Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. Second baseman Jose Martinez singled, doubled and drove in 2 runs, while first baseman Anthony Aliotti had a pair of doubles and scored twice. Starter Drew Pomeranz was solid, allowing just 1 run and striking out 5 over 6 innings of work, while RHP Evan Scribner gave up the tying run in the bottom of the 9th. LHP Joe Savery pitched 2 perfect innings in relief to pick up the win, and RHP Seth Frankoff tossed a scoreless frame in the bottom of the 13th to earn his 1st save for Sacramento.

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

Monday, July 21st: Zach Neal Pitches Sacramento to Victory as Andy Parrino Returns to River Cats and Renato Nunez Homers to Help Stockton Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Pitcher Zach Neal (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Pitcher Zach Neal (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  6

El Paso Chihuahuas          1

WP – Neal 3-5 / 4.48

HR – Whitaker (3)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Zach Neal

(5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / Win)

RHP Zach Neal delivered an impressive start for Sacramento on Monday, allowing just 2 baserunners on a pair of singles while walking none and striking out 3 over 5 innings of work to earn his 3rd win for the River Cats. Neal also had to endure a 67-minute rain delay in the middle of the 4th inning before returning to the mound. RHP Tucker Healy gave up 1 run in 1 inning of relief, while RHP Paul Smyth pitched 2 perfect innings, and RHP Jeremy McBryde tossed a scoreless 9th for Sacramento. Designated hitter Josh Whitaker homered for the second straight night, while third baseman Jose Martinez had 3 hits, and first baseman Daric Barton drove in 3 runs for the River Cats. Meanwhile, shortstop Andy Parrino was optioned back to Sacramento, while infielder Colin Walsh was placed on the disabled list. And River Cats outfielder Shane Peterson was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week.

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

Saturday, July 19th: Snappers Win Behind Marincov’s Big Bat while Tommy Milone Struggles for Cats and Josh Reddick Goes 0 for 4 for Ports

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Tyler Marincov (3 for 4 / Home Run / Triple / 2 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Outfielder Tyler Marincov (3 for 4 / Home Run / Triple / 2 RBIs)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Bowling Green Hot Rods  4

Beloit Snappers              5

WP – Adkins 1-3 / 5.40

HR – Marincov (12), Vollmuth (8)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Tyler Marincov

(3 for 4 / Home Run / Triple / 2 RBIs)

Outfielder Tyler Marincov had a big night for Beloit on Saturday. Last year’s 8th-round draft pick for the A’s singled, tripled, homered and drove in 2 runs, including the tying run in the bottom of the 6th to help the Snappers snap their 3-game losing streak. First baseman B.A. Vollmuth singled, homered and drove in a pair, including the winning run in the 6th, while second baseman Melvin Mercedes, outfielder Justin Higley and designated hitter Ryan Mathews had a pair of hits apiece. Starter Hunter Adkins allowed 4 runs and struck out 6 in 6 innings of work to pick up his 1st win, while RHP Brendan McCurry struck out 4 in 2 scoreless innings of relief, and RHP Bobby Wahl pitched a perfect 9th to post his 4th save.

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

Friday, July 18th: Hounds Win in a Walk-Off Thanks to Kent Matthes Grand Slam while Josh Reddick Homers in 9th to Help Ports Win

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Designated Hitter Kent Matthes (Grand Slam)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Designated Hitter Kent Matthes (Grand Slam)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

San Antonio Missions     3

Midland RockHounds  5

WP – Hassebrock 4-0 / 6.32

HR – Matthes (5)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Kent Matthes

(Grand Slam)

With the bases loaded and Midland down by two runs in the bottom of the 9th, designated hitter Kent Matthes slugged a grand slam to give the RockHounds the walk-off win on Friday night, and the Hounds have now won 13 of their last 15 games. Catcher Beau Taylor and third baseman Jefry Marte had a pair of hits apiece in the game. Starter Shawn Haviland had a solid outing, allowing 2 runs and striking out 6 in 6 innings of work, while LHP Frank Gailey tossed 2 scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Blake Hassebrock picked up the win after giving up an unearned run in the top of the 9th.

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

Exclusive: Get the Inside Scoop on Sacramento’s Top Players from River Cats Manager Steve Scarsone and Pitching Coach Rick Rodriguez

After spending two seasons mentoring A’s minor leaguers as the manager at Midland, Steve Scarsone is now midway through his second season as the skipper in Sacramento. Meanwhile, Rick Rodriguez is the long-time River Cats pitching coach, though he also served a brief stint as the A’s bullpen coach, and he’s had a hand in developing many of the A’s most talented young pitchers. We spoke with both of them last week in Sacramento, just a day before one of the River Cats’ top players, shortstop Andy Parrino (who was the first player we’d asked the skipper about), was recalled by the A’s…

 

STEVE SCARSONE

ssscarsone_steve_river_cats_n-304bAF:  I wanted to start off by asking you about a couple of guys who’ve been real staples for you here this year in Sacramento. First off, Andy Parrino. What is it that you like about him, what does he bring to your team and what can you see him bringing to a major league team as well?

SS:  Well, right off the bat, we’re talking about a guy who plays solid defense. He’s a top caliber shortstop, and I believe he can help any major league team defensively. He’s also shown that he can have some flexibility at second base and third base, and I know that last spring we used him in the outfield a little bit as Bob Melvin was trying to get an idea of how he could fit in with that club up there. What Andy does here is give us great stability in the infield. I think the pitchers are better when he’s back there. And I think the rest of the fielders rise a little bit to try to stay at his level because of his knowledge of the game, his preparation and the way he anticipates what’s going to happen. As a former infielder myself, he’s just a joy to watch, to talk with and strategize with, and he will apply what we want to do. That I think is his biggest asset to this club or to a major league club. Now this year, he’s swinging the bat much better than last year. Last year, he had a little off year. So this year, he’s back on track with that. He’s currently leading our club in home runs, which isn’t a lot, but someone’s got to do it! And he’s just a guy who works hard every day, goes out and plays hard every night and really cares about his performance, the team’s performance and winning – and that’s a great combination.

AF:  The other guy who’s been a real lock for you in the lineup every day this year is Shane Peterson. What does he bring to your team and what skill set could he have to offer in the majors at some point?

SS:  Well, just like Andy, Shane spends a lot of time preparing himself for the game defensively and offensively. He’s shown that he’s able to play all three outfield positions. He’s done most of his time in center field this year, mostly because of the other personnel we’ve had on the club, but it’s given him an opportunity to showcase himself as a center fielder. He’s kind of been trying to beef up his stolen bases to show that he can steal some bags, so he’s brought that to our club. I think he’s been a much smarter hitter than in the past years that we’ve been together in terms of his planning and staying with his plan. And he’s just a very likeable guy. The club follows him naturally and he goes out there and plays hard every night, just like Andy. The two of those guys are really examples of why we’ve had success this year. It’s guys like Andy and Shane and their approach to every game and that never-quit mentality that’s pushed us over the top in so many close games.

AF:  A couple of new guys here I wanted to get your impression of. Josh Whitaker came up not too long after he was pretty seriously beaned in the head at Midland, which was a little scary. Now that he’s up here with you, what have you seen out of him and what are your impressions so far of Josh Whitaker?

jw53436225e2696.preview-300bSS:  I’ve gotten a chance to see Josh a little bit through the years…I was initially concerned that he was pushed up here a little quick after coming off the concussion stuff. But be that as it may, it looks like he’s taken a little bit of time to get himself acclimated. I know he’s just trying to get himself going again after the injury, and then at a higher level. So I’ve taken that into account when I’m making my evaluations or observations. What I’ve seen over the last two series is a guy who’s starting to feel a little bit more comfortable at the plate. He’s starting to become more aggressive. For a bigger guy, he plays a very good outfield. He’s made a couple of really nice catches, and his arm has proven to be something that people are going to have to take note of. He’s had a couple of outfield assists already, and he’s not afraid to let it loose. So, I think we’ve got something here.

AF:  Now what about one of your newest additions, who was claimed off waivers from Toronto, outfielder Kenny Wilson? A lot of people don’t really know that much about him, so tell me what you can about Kenny Wilson at this point.

SS:  He’s a guy who’s kind of been bouncing around a bit, A-Ball, Double-A. He spent a couple years as a switch-hitter. I think if you go back and look at his numbers a few years ago, you’re going to think he wasn’t doing much. But he was attempting to switch hit. He’s since abandoned that and he’s just a right-handed hitter now. He’s got some speed, he’s going to steal some bases, which I know will fit in well here, as well as up above. It’s going to be fun to see how he develops.

AF:  Another guy I want to ask you about is Tommy Milone. For you, as the manager here, what’s your approach when someone who’s clearly major league talent ends up on your roster here?

tm140238643_display_imageSS:  I’ve gotten to know Tommy over the last couple of years, so there’s already a familiarity there and a mutual respect I would hope. So when you have a guy like Tommy coming down and he’s done everything that they’ve asked him to do in Oakland and yet here he is, it is a little different situation. I think all of us who’ve been in the game for any number of years, you’re going to be asked to do things that maybe don’t make sense in your head but it’s for a bigger cause. I think Tommy’s pretty grounded as an individual and he understands some of the business end of it. I’m sure he wasn’t happy, and I’m not going to be the one to make it worse for him. So it’s an open-arms type of situation. It’s how can we help you transition. And you kind of give a guy like that a little bit more leeway.

AF:  I know you’re in touch with the minor league operations staff all the time, but how much communication do you have with the major league staff about the players here?

SS:  It’s not a daily thing. It’s more as situations present themselves. Most of my communication on that end is from [A’s assistant general manager] David Forst bringing down ideas or suggestions on where he would like things to go. We try to facilitate what they want done here. But I don’t expect Bob Melvin to be calling to see how things are going or if I’m doing okay. I’d be worried if he did. He’s got his hands full…We make nightly reports, so most of the information is there. And every once in a while, there might be a question. Like maybe I’ll get a call about Tommy and how he’s doing transitioning, and I’ll try to be as honest as possible.

AF:  Well, you’ve got another winning team here this year in Sacramento. But not only is it a winning team, but you seem to be having an awful lot of big, dramatic wins – a lot of walk-off wins. So how much fun has it been for you to manage this team this year?

SS:  First of all, it’s been a great time. It’s a great bunch. We’ve had some fun games. We’ve had some late-inning heroics and stuff. Those are always exciting and help fuel the grind of a season. But I’ve also been doing this for a while, so I’m not hanging on every single win or loss. I’m looking at the bigger picture – we’ve got to keep moving them forward, keep moving them forward. They’re a great bunch because they work hard and they really do kind of just go with the flow and there’s no sense of panic – and it’s evident in as many late-inning wins that we’ve had. If we fall behind, we don’t panic. And I think that’s a huge thing. When you think about a minor league game and a major league game, what’s the difference? The difference in a major league game is that you have to win. Winning that game is the only thing that they’re concerned with. Down here, we do strive to win, but we’re not going to jeopardize a player for a win…But you get in the tight games late, now the heat’s up. It simulates more of what an everyday major league game is going to be like. So the more games that we have that are tight like that, the better-suited these guys are going to be when they get into a big league game. So the more we can create a game intensity here, I think it’ll be a greater benefit to these guys moving up…That’s kind of what’s happening in our whole organization. I mean, you see them up there and they’re not phased by the pressure – and we’re trying to be the same way.

 

RICK RODRIGUEZ

rrrick_rodriguez_2011_05_24bAF:  Having an experienced guy like Tommy Milone back here in Sacramento, for you as a pitching coach, what’s your role with him like at this point?

RR:  Well, just to kind of find out exactly what he’s done in Oakland. I know from talking to Curt Young, our big league pitching coach, that they had done some things. So I want to get on the same page and kind of find out exactly from him what they’ve been doing and just try to continue it, because he has been throwing the ball very, very well. So that’s kind of what I have planned for him.

AF:  So basically just trying to continue through with the program that he’s been on.

RR:  Yeah, he knows how to pitch. He knows what he’s doing. It’s just kind of looking for things that he wants me to look for in his delivery.

AF:  Now a guy here who got a long look in spring training and looked really good down there in Arizona is Arnold Leon. The other night, he struck out 13 guys over 6 innings but gave up a couple of home runs, which did him in. But tell me where Arnold Leon’s at, what you like about him and what he needs to work on.

RR:  Lately, Arnold’s been doing a really good job of using his fastball more. I think that’s what he needed to do. He’s been more aggressive moving it in and out of the zone. His curveball was kind of a little bit loopy in the beginning of the year. He changed his grip and got a little bit tighter, so I think that’s helped him. His command’s always been pretty decent. His changeup was okay in the beginning, but it’s getting better now – it has a little bit later sink. So everything I think is starting to hit now and come together for him.

al628x471eAF:  Would you say that sometimes Mexican League pitchers try to be a little too fine and aren’t always as aggressive with their fastball as they ought to be?

RR:  When he got here last year, his fastball was very good, but his curveball was a little bit sharper. So I think he started to use his curveball a little bit more early and got away from using the fastball. So we were talking and we just decided he needed to use his fastball. He has a very good fastball with very good velocity and very good movement on it – use it, get ahead with it. And use that breaking ball a little bit later in the count instead of maybe over-exposing it too early in the game.

AF:  So it sounds like being aggressive with the fastball is really the key to his success at this point. Now I wanted to ask you about a new guy here who you probably haven’t had the chance to see whole lot of yet, and that’s Tucker Healy. He’s put up amazing strikeout numbers in the A’s system pitching out of the bullpen. He got into a couple of rough games here to start. But what have you been able to see out of him so far here?

RR:  I’m really just starting to get to know him and assess his strengths and what he needs to work on. From what I’ve seen, it looks like he has a good aggressive fastball and a nice little breaking ball. He’s not afraid to go after hitters. But it’s just more observation right now and just kind of seeing what he does and not give him too much instruction.

AF:  Is there anyone on the staff who you feel has made a big improvement or come a long way over the first half of the year?

jlJosh+Lindblom+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+GzH80HnKvQXl2RR:  Well, Josh Lindblom. He didn’t have the best start in the world. And lately, his starts have been a lot more consistent in terms of having quality pitches and quality location. Unfortunately, he was just starting to get in that groove and he got hit in the ankle, so now he’s out for however many weeks. He was a guy who was really coming along. And hopefully, maybe it’s not as bad and he can come back and still pitch towards the end of the year with a few weeks left and then see what happens.

AF:  What’s the status of his ankle at this point?

RR:  I think he’s just going to go in a boot right now and just kind of rest it for a couple three weeks and then maybe just get another X-ray and see where it is…but it’s unfortunate that had to happen because he was making some good progress.

AF:  Is there anyone else you’ve seen make some real progress this year?

RR:  Well, Paul Smyth. He’s had quality outings against both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters. He’s spotting his fastball. He doesn’t have that 95 mph fastball, but he’s in that 89-91 mph range with tremendous movement. He’s got a great slider. I think when he got here last year, left-handed hitters were hitting him a little bit better. But he’s made a great improvement on getting left-handed hitters out. He’s throwing strikes. He’s not afraid to come in in any situation. He’s very versatile – he’s pitched in the beginning of the game, he’s pitched late in the game. If you call down there, he’s ready to go. But he’s made tremendous improvement.

AF:  You’ve had a few experienced guys in your bullpen this year. Can you tell me a little bit about the guys you’ve been counting on down there this year?

RR:  Yeah, like Evan Scribner. He’s been very professional. He’s a very good pitcher. He’s been around. I had him when I was up in Oakland in the bullpen. He was very good up there. Fernando Rodriguez has been throwing the ball well. He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. His velocity is up there now. His curveball is very sharp. I think the more times he gets out there, obviously the better off he’s going to be. So he just needs to pitch. Those two guys have been the mainstays of our bullpen. Jeremy McBryde has come a long way. Starting the year off, we really didn’t know where he was going to pitch. He kind of did a little bit of long relief, in the middle, some other stuff. And lately, he’s kind of been in a closing role with Scribner. And he’s excelled, he’s done very well, especially against right-handed hitters, and even against left-handed hitters. But he’s a guy who definitely can close a game just as well as Scribner can, or even Fernando coming in too. And then you’ve got Joe Savery from the left side, who has a very good fastball and breaking ball. Since he’s our only lefty, we’re trying to put him in situations where he can be used like he would be used in Oakland. And he’s been throwing the ball well. All in all, it’s been a good year. And I think guys are now starting to hit their stride, so that’s a good thing!

 

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Thursday, July 17th: Shane Peterson’s 3 HRs Help River Cats Win Drew Pomeranz’s Second Start for Sacramento while Olson & Nunez HRs in 9th Aren’t Enough for Ports

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Outfielder Shane Peterson (3 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Outfielder Shane Peterson (3 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  10

Albuquerque Isotopes          9

WP – Scribner 4-1 / 3.19

HR – Peterson 3 (8)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Shane Peterson

(3 Home Runs / 4 RBIs)

Triple-A All-Star outfielder Shane Peterson had a big night for the River Cats, slugging 3 home runs to help the Cats come out the winners in a 10-inning contest on Thursday. His first home run put Sacramento on the board in the 3rd, his second brought the River Cats within 2 runs in the 5th and his third gave his team a 3-run lead in the 6th. Second baseman Jose Martinez collected 4 hits, including a double, and drove in the winning run in the 10th, while outfielder Nick Buss had a double and a pair of singles and also drove in a run. First baseman Daric Barton singled, tripled, walked and scored the winning run, and third baseman Alden Carrithers and designated hitter Anthony Aliotti had a pair of hits apiece and both drove in a run for the River Cats. Starter Drew Pomeranz had a rough outing, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, including a pair of home runs, over 4 innings of work, while RHP Evan Scribner picked up the win despite giving up the tying run in the 9th, and RHP Jeremy McBryde tossed a scoreless 10th to notch his 9th save.

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Thursday, July 3rd: Chris Jensen, Billy Burns and Addison Russell Help Hounds Snap Losing Streak while Cats Fall Despite Zach Neal’s Best Efforts

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Chris Jensen (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Pitcher Chris Jensen (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

Midland RockHounds  3

NW Arkansas Naturals    1

WP – Jensen 5-7 / 3.80

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Chris Jensen

(6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 2 BB / 5 K / Win)

The RockHounds put together some strong pitching, hitting and defensive performances to snap the team’s 6-game losing streak on Thursday night. Starter Chris Jensen set the tone by turning in a strong outing, allowing just 4 hits while striking out 5 over 6 shutout innings to earn his 5th win, while RHP Ryan Dull got the final four outs for his 1st save. Center fielder Billy Burns had 3 hits, swiped a pair of bases, scored 3 times and made a couple of diving catches in the outfield, while shortstop Addison Russell doubled in a run and walked 3 times, and designated hitter Kent Matthes went 0 for 4 in his return from the disabled list. Burns now has a league-leading 42 stolen bases, while Russell is now 7 for 16 over his last 5 games. Meanwhile, Midland infielder Miles Head was reassigned to the AZL A’s to make room for Matthes on the RockHounds roster.

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Friday, June 27th: Ben McQuown’s HR Gives Vermont Walk-Off Win in 11th while Matt Olson Slugs His 23rd HR for Stockton

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Vermont Lake Monsters Outfielder Ben McQuown (3 for 5 / Home Run)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Vermont Lake Monsters Outfielder Ben McQuown (3 for 5 / Home Run)

 

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

Lowell Spinners                    7

Vermont Lake Monsters  8

WP – McMullen 1-0 / 0.00

HR – McQuown (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Ben McQuown

(3 for 5 / Home Run)

With the game tied in the bottom of the 11th, center fielder Ben McQuown stepped to the plate and, on the the first pitch he saw, slugged his first professional home run to win the game in a walk-off for Vermont on Friday. McQuown also walked, singled twice, scored twice and stole his 3rd base for the Lake Monsters. Left fielder Justin Higley doubled, tripled and drove in 3 runs, while right fielder Dayton Alexander singled doubled and drove in a run, and this year’s 16th-round draft pick for the A’s, third baseman Jose Brizuela, went 0 for 5 in his debut for Vermont. Starter Cristhian Perez allowed 5 runs over 4 innings of work. 2nd-round pick RHP Daniel Gossett gave up 1 run in 2 innings of relief in his first appearance for the Lake Monsters, while 9th-round pick LHP Mike Fagan pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings in his Vermont debut, and RHP Blake McMullen tossed a scoreless 10th and 11th to pick up the win.

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Friday, June 20th: Nunez’s Big Bat Leads Ports to Victory while Cats Win and A’s Top Draft Pick Matt Chapman Makes Pro Debut

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter Renato Nunez (3 for 5 / Home Run / 4 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Stockton Ports Designated Hitter Renato Nunez (3 for 5 / Home Run / 4 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Bakersfield Blaze  5

Stockton Ports    9

WP – Duran 1-2 / 3.21

HR – Nunez (11)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Designated Hitter Renato Nunez

(3 for 5 / Home Run / 4 RBIs)

A big night from designated hitter Renato Nunez helped Stockton overcome an early 4-run deficit and best Bakersfield on Friday. Nunez collected 3 hits in the game, and he homered for the second straight night to put the Ports on the board in the 4th. He then singled in the tying run in the 5th, and also drove in a pair of runs in Stockton’s 5-run 6th. Thursday night’s hitting star, first baseman Matt Olson, drew 3 walks, while outfielders Dusty Robinson and Billy McKinney and second baseman Chad Pinder had a pair of hits apiece and each drove in a run for the Ports. Starter Chris Lamb had a rare rough outing, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits over 4 innings of work, while LHP Omar Duran struck out 5 in 2 innings of scoreless relief to pick up his 1st win for Stockton.

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