Results tagged ‘ Shane Peterson ’
It appears that most of the A’s off-season work is done. The team has found capable replacements for departing free agents Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour and Chris Young and filled a few other holes as well. It’s possible that someone like Alberto Callaspo, who’s set to earn close to $5 million and doesn’t have a full-time position, could still end up being traded before spring training is through. It’s possible that a few younger players with major league experience who are out of options like outfielder Michael Taylor or reliever Evan Scribner could be dealt as well. But for the most part, barring any unforeseen injury issues, it looks like the A’s are now holding most of the cards they’ll be playing to start the 2014 season. And it’s becoming increasingly clear who most of the players are that Sacramento River Cats fans can expect to be seeing at Raley Field in 2014 as well.
2014 OAKLAND A’S
One area that seems to be most clearly set for the team is the outfield, with Josh Reddick in right, Coco Crisp in center, Yoenis Cespedes in left and newcomer Craig Gentry serving as the fourth outfielder. The left side of the infield will also remain in place for the A’s, with the team’s most valuable player in 2014, Josh Donaldson, manning the hot corner and the team’s best-hitting shortstop in recent memory, Jed Lowrie, returning to shortstop.
The other four positions in the lineup – second base, first base, catcher and designated hitter – are the areas where the A’s will deploy their patented platoons. Free agent infielder Nick Punto is likely to take over for Adam Rosales and Callaspo as Eric Sogard’s platoon partner at second base. And based on manager Bob Melvin’s comments, it seems like that might push Callaspo into the role of Brandon Moss’s platoon partner at first base, which would then push Nate Freiman to Sacramento along with fellow first baseman Daric Barton.
Melvin’s recent comments also make it sound like John Jaso is likely to get most of the DH at-bats, replacing the departed Seth Smith in that position, while against left-handers, Craig Gentry would join the lineup in left field with Yoenis Cespedes moving into the DH spot. With Jaso getting most of the DH at-bats, that requires the A’s to carry a third catcher, and that’s most likely to be Stephen Vogt, who got plenty of valuable experience last year down the stretch and in the postseason for the A’s. And his left-handed bat is the perfect complement to righty-swinging backstop Derek Norris, who hit just .149 against right-handed pitching last year.
Basically, Vogt would be replacing Jaso in the catching platoon, just as he did late last year, with Jaso moving out from behind the plate to replace Seth Smith in the DH platoon, while Punto replaces Callaspo in the second base platoon, Callaspo replaces Freiman in the first place platoon and Craig Gentry takes Chris Young’s place in the lineup against left-handers.
As far as the pitching staff goes, the plan seems pretty clear. Free agent lefty Scott Kazmir will take over for Bartolo Colon as the veteran presence in the team’s starting rotation, while young righty Sonny Gray appears set to take lefty Tommy Milone’s spot in the rotation, just as he did late last season, with Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily rounding out the starting five.
Meanwhile, in the bullpen, Jim Johnson will take over for Grant Balfour as the team’s closer, while top-notch setup man Luke Gregerson will take the roster spot that Pat Neshek occupied most of last season and lefty Fernando Abad is likely to take Jerry Blevins’ spot on the left side of the bullpen, with fellow lefty Sean Doolittle and righties Ryan Cook, Jesse Chavez and Dan Otero rounding out the rest of the A’s bullpen – though it’s possible that, since he’s out of options, the team could also decide to have Evan Scribner take Otero’s spot to start the season. The A’s will also likely start the season with two relievers who are both recovering from Tommy John surgery on the disabled list – recently-signed free agent lefty Eric O’Flaherty and righty Fernando Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Astros in the Jed Lowrie deal.
2014 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS
If we make the preceding assumptions about the major league roster, then the River Cats roster starts to fall pretty clearly into place. Of course, there are a few players who are out of options, and it’s quite possible that at least one of them won’t end up clearing waivers.
The A’s have two veteran minor league catchers to handle the River Cats pitching staff, returning backstop Luke Montz along with Chris Gimenez, who was recently claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the team looks to be overloaded with first basemen, with Daric Barton, Nate Freiman and Anthony Aliotti all looking for playing time – unless the A’s end up trading Callaspo and opening up a roster spot for Freiman as Brandon Moss’s platoon partner. If not, there could still be plenty of playing time to be found for all three between the first base and the designated hitter spot.
Returning River Cat Andy Parrino appears to be set at shortstop. Hiro Nakajima is likely to get the majority of starts at third base while also picking up at-bats at other positions around the infield, while free agent signees Jose Martinez and Alden Carrithers should get most of the playing time at second base. Shane Peterson is set to return to Sacramento’s outfield, along with Jake Goebbert and, if they clear waivers, veteran minor leaguers Michael Taylor and Corey Brown (who was recently designated for assignment).
The River Cats should have plenty of worthy contenders for their starting rotation. If the A’s other five starters are all healthy to start the season, then Tommy Milone is likely to anchor Sacramento’s starting five, along with recently-acquired righty Josh Lindblom and lefty Drew Pomeranz. Returning River Cats Andrew Werner and Arnold Leon will also be competing for a spot as well as free agent signees Phil Humber and Matt Buschmann, with those don’t make the rotation starting the season in the River Cats bullpen. If he clears waivers, they’re likely to be joined there by Evan Scribner, along with returning River Cats Paul Smyth and Fernando Nieve and free agent signees Deryk Hooker and Jose Flores as well as Triple-A Rule 5 draftee Tim Atherton.
So that’s how things seem to be shaping up for both the A’s and the River Cats, assuming everyone clears waivers and Billy Beane doesn’t have any last-minute surprises up his sleeve!
A’s general manager Billy Beane has had a busy week – and it ain’t over yet! On Monday, the team signed free agent left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a two-year $22 million deal. And later that same day, the A’s acquired right-handed closer Jim Johnson from Baltimore in return for second baseman Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.
Then on Tuesday, the team traded two of its top minor league prospects, outfielder Michael Choice and second baseman Chris Bostick, to Texas for outfielder Craig Gentry and right-handed starter Josh Lindblom. The A’s then followed that up just hours later by sending outfielder Seth Smith to San Diego for right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson.
Just the previous week, the team dealt minor league outfielder John Wooten to Washington for left-handed reliever Fernando Abad. And two weeks prior to that, the A’s signed utility infielder Nick Punto as a free agent.
The A’s new outfielder, Craig Gentry – who was nicknamed “Kitten Face” in Texas – is a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. He brings excellent defense and speed and hits lefties well, so he figures to take Chris Young’s place as a right-handed platoon player and fourth outfielder who could take over full time in center field for the A’s when Coco Crisp becomes a free agent after next season.
In order to acquire Gentry, the A’s gave up their top outfield prospect, who also happened to be the team’s top major-league-ready hitting prospect, former 1st-round draft pick Michael Choice. After hitting .302 at Triple-A Sacramento in 2013, many had hoped that Choice would be given the chance to fill Young’s role on the A’s roster in 2014. But instead, he’ll get the chance to battle for a starting spot in the Rangers’ outfield this season.
Top talent evaluators are divided on Choice’s chances for success as a major league slugger. But the A’s have a history of undervaluing and trading away talented young outfielders who’ve gone on to become successful major league hitters elsewhere. And A’s fans have to hope that Choice doesn’t turn out to be the next Andre Ethier, Nelson Cruz or Carlos Gonzalez in Texas.
With Choice now gone, Shane Peterson and Michael Taylor are now the most major-league-ready outfielders at the upper levels of the A’s minor league system, while 20-year-old B.J. Boyd and 19-year-old Billy McKinney are the team’s top outfield prospects at the lower levels of the system.
The A’s also traded away their top second base prospect, Chris Bostick, in the deal. And it looks increasingly likely that shortstop Daniel Robertson might have to try to make the move to second base to provide a future double play partner for top shortstop prospect Addison Russell. With fellow second baseman Jemile Weeks now gone as well, Sacramento’s 2014 infield could be comprised of Daric Barton or Anthony Aliotti at first base, minor league free agent signee Jose Martinez at second base, Andy Parrino at shortstop, Hiro Nakajima at third base and Dusty Coleman as the utility infielder filling in at second, short and third.
Meanwhile, RHP Josh Lindblom is likely to start the season in Sacramento’s starting rotation, along with River Cats returnees Arnold Leon and Andrew Werner as well as recent minor league free agent signees Phil Humber and Matt Buschmann.
At the major league level, new acquisitions Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson are clearly intended to take the place of free agents Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour on the A’s pitching staff. With Kazmir guaranteed $11 million this season, Johnson expected to net $10-11 million in arbitration and seven starting pitchers currently on the staff, the A’s second-highest-paid starter, Brett Anderson at $8 million, is expected to be the A’s most appetizing bit of a trade bait to be dangled at next week’s Winter Meetings. And rumors already have the Blue Jays, Twins, Royals, Yankees, Indians and Mariners licking their lips over the left-hander.
Assuming the A’s are able to complete a deal for Anderson, the team’s 2014 rotation would then be comprised of five of the following six starters: Scott Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Sonny Gray. Given the general health of starting pitchers, it wouldn’t be surprising if one out of any group of six starters wasn’t 100% healthy to start the season, so I wouldn’t bother spending too much time worrying about which five of the six will end up making the opening day cut – it’ll surely sort itself out by the end of spring.
As far as the A’s bullpen goes, new closer Jim Johnson, who has saved at least 50 games in each of the last two seasons, and new RHP Luke Gregerson, who has been one of the best setup men in the National League over the past couple of years, are set to join LHPs Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins and RHPs Ryan Cook and Jesse Chavez, who is out options and whom the A’s value as a long man and spot starter.
Since the team typically likes to carry seven relievers, there’s room for one more arm in the A’s pen, and RHP Dan Otero is clearly the most deserving candidate for the final spot. But since Fernando Abad, Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa and Fernando Rodriguez are all out of options, it’s possible that Otero could start the season being stashed at Sacramento, waiting for someone to hit the DL while one of the others is given a shot.
Over the past week and a half, the A’s farm system has suffered the loss of outfielder Michael Choice, second baseman Jemile Weeks, second baseman Chris Bostick and outfielder John Wooten. And in the last six months, the team lost its 2007 #1 draft pick James Simmons as a minor league free agent and traded away 2008’s #1 pick Jemile Weeks, 2009’s #1 pick Grant Green and 2010’s #1 pick Michael Choice. 2011’s #1 pick Sonny Gray has already made it to the majors, while 2012’s #1 pick Addison Russell should be starting the season at Double-A Midland and 2013’s #1 pick Billy McKinney is expected to start the year at Class-A Beloit.
As previously mentioned, LHP Brett Anderson is the most likely member of the A’s roster to be the next one to find himself on Billy Beane’s trading block, with infielder Alberto Callaspo not far behind. With six other starters on the staff, a long injury history and an $8 million salary attached to his name, Anderson is clearly expendable. And with a salary close to $5 million and no definite spot in the A’s lineup, Callaspo seems to just be taking up roster and salary space at this point.
Outfielders Seth Smith, Chris Young and Michael Choice have all recently departed, with Craig Gentry being the only outfielder the A’s have acquired to take their place. So it certainly seems like there could be room for one more big OF/DH bat to be added to the A’s lineup to help boost the team’s offensive output, possibly as the result of an Anderson deal.
It’s also been reported that the A’s have been inquiring about middle infielders and catchers in trade talks for Anderson. So the team could be looking for a second baseman to take the place of Eric Sogard, or a shortstop who would then enable Jed Lowrie to make the move to second, or possibly a catcher who would allow John Jaso to take over for Seth Smith in the designated hitter role.
The A’s major league roster currently shapes up with Jaso and Norris as the catching platoon, Donaldson, Lowrie, Sogard, Punto, Moss and Freiman serving around the infield, and Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick and Gentry making up the outfield. Since the team typically likes to carry thirteen position players, that leaves one last roster spot open. At this point, it would most likely be filled by Callaspo. But if he ends up being traded, then it would be Barton, unless, of course, the A’s acquire another big bat who would end up pushing Barton back to Sacramento.
With all the current question marks, one thing seems certain – Beane and company aren’t done dealing just yet, and the A’s roster is far from set. There are surely more changes to come. But for the time being, here’s how things are shaping up for the 2014 A’s and River Cats, assuming everyone who’s out of options can clear waivers.
With the 2013 minor league season now complete, it’s a good time to take a step back and determine who the true standouts on the field really were in the A’s system in 2013. And with that in mind, we’re naming A’s Farm’s 2013 Post-Season Organizational All-Star Team!
Below you’ll find the primary starting players at each position for Triple-A Sacramento, Double-A Midland, High-A Stockton, Class-A Beloit, Class-A Short-Season Vermont and the Rookie League Short-Season AZL A’s in 2013. Offensive starters were selected from the players who had the most games played at each position for each team, with notable players not leading in games played at a particular position listed in the designated hitter category, and players no longer with the organization were not included. Starting pitchers were selected from hurlers who had at least 20 starts for each full-season team or at least 10 starts for short season teams, while closers were selected from each team’s season saves leader. The asterisks denote players with combined statistics from multiple minor league teams within the A’s system, but players’ major league statistics were not included.
Below the list of contenders, you’ll find A’s Farm’s selection of Organizational All-Stars at each position. The winners were determined based purely on performance, not potential. Remember, we’re not selecting the top prospects here, we’re choosing the top performers on the field this season. So take a good look at the candidates for yourself and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and selections!
A’s Farm’s Organizational All-Star Team – The Contenders
Sacto – Stephen Vogt (13 HR / .324 AVG / .398 OBP / .547 SLG / .945 OPS)
Midland – Beau Taylor (3 HR / .191 AVG / .282 OBP / .266 SLG / .548 OPS)
Stockton – Phil Pohl (9 HR / .228 AVG / .288 OBP / .398 SLG / .686 OPS) *
Beloit – Nick Rickles (7 HR / .261 AVG / .291 OBP / .390 SLG / .682 OPS) *
Vermont – Josh Miller (0 HR / .176 AVG / .239 OBP / .214 SLG / .453 OPS)
AZL A’s – Andy Paz (2 HR / .228 AVG / .304 OBP / .337 SLG / .641 OPS)
Sacto – Daric Barton (7 HR / .297 AVG / .423 OBP / .430 SLG / .853 OPS)
Midland – Anthony Aliotti (14 HR / .324 AVG / .416 OBP / .480 SLG / .896 OPS) *
Stockton – Max Muncy (25 HR / .273 AVG / .381 OBP / .476 SLG / .857 OPS) *
Beloit – Matt Olson (23 HR / .225 AVG / .326 OBP / .435 SLG / .761 OPS)
Vermont – Ryan Huck (5 HR / .285 AVG / .378 OBP / .465 SLG / .843 OPS) *
AZL A’s – Gabriel Santana (1 HR / .267 AVG / .305 OBP / .342 SLG / .646 OPS)
Sacto – Jemile Weeks (4 HR / .271 AVG / .376 OBP / .369 SLG / .745 OPS)
Midland – Dusty Coleman (3 HR / .255 AVG / .338 OBP / .382 SLG / .720 OPS) *
Stockton – Antonio Lamas (12 HR / .255 AVG / .304 OBP / .381 SLG / .685 OPS)
Beloit – Chris Bostick (14 HR / .282 AVG / .354 OBP / .452 SLG / .806 OPS)
Vermont – Melvin Mercedes (0 HR / .228 AVG / .331 OBP / .248 SLG / .580 OPS)
AZL A’s – Joe Bennie (1 HR / .246 AVG / .380 OBP / .369 SLG / .749 OPS)
Sacto – Andy Parrino (4 HR / .210 AVG / .300 OBP / .302 SLG / .602 OPS)
Midland – Darwin Perez (3 HR / .237 AVG / .326 OBP / .333 SLG / .659 OPS)
Stockton – Addison Russell (17 HR / .269 AVG / .369 OBP / .495 SLG / .865 OPS) *
Beloit – Daniel Robertson (9 HR / .277 AVG / .353 OBP / .401 SLG / .754 OPS)
Vermont – Chad Pinder (3 HR / .200 AVG / .286 OBP / .293 SLG / .579 OPS)
AZL A’s – Edwin Diaz (1 HR / .239 AVG / .276 OBP / .359 SLG / .634 OPS)
Sacto – Hiro Nakajima (4 HR / .283 AVG / .331 OBP / .367 SLG / .698 OPS)
Midland – Jefry Marte (2 HR / .278 AVG / .349 OBP / .380 SLG / .729 OPS)
Stockton – B.A. Vollmuth (21 HR / .212 AVG / .301 OBP / .408 SLG / .709 OPS)
Beloit – Renato Nunez (19 HR / .258 AVG / .301 OBP / .423 SLG / .725 OPS)
Vermont – Luis Baez (1 HR / .184 AVG / .223 OBP / .230 SLG / .453 OPS)
AZL A’s – A.J. Kubala (4 HR / .147 AVG / .266 OBP / .353 SLG / .619 OPS)
Sacto – Michael Choice (14 HR / .302 AVG / .390 OBP / .445 SLG / .835 OPS)
Midland – Conner Crumbliss (13 HR / .259 AVG / .389 OBP / .421 SLG / .810 OPS) *
Stockton – Rashun Dixon (16 HR / .215 AVG / .349 OBP / .424 SLG / .772 OPS) *
Beloit – Ryan Mathews (14 HR / .260 AVG / .337 OBP / .446 SLG / .783 OPS)
Vermont – B.J. Boyd (8 HR / .285 AVG / .375 OBP / .442 SLG / .817 OPS)
AZL A’s – Justin Higley (6 HR / .275 AVG / .363 OBP / .490 SLG / .853 OPS)
Sacto – Shane Peterson (12 HR / .251 AVG / .358 OBP / .387 SLG / .745 OPS)
Midland – D’Arby Myers (5 HR / .285 AVG / .320 OBP / .388 SLG / .707 OPS)
Stockton – Bobby Crocker (11 HR / .276 AVG / .343 OBP / .454 SLG / .797 OPS)
Beloit – Brett Vertigan (0 HR / .243 AVG / .333 OBP / .321 SLG / .654 OPS)
Vermont – Herschel Powell (0 HR / .283 AVG / .364 OBP / .344 SLG / .708 OPS)
AZL A’s – Billy McKinney (3 HR / .326 AVG / .387 OBP / .437 SLG / .824 OPS) *
Sacto – Michael Taylor (18 HR / .281 AVG / .360 OBP / .474 SLG / .833 OPS)
Midland – Chad Oberacker (6 HR / .237 AVG / .305 OBP / .388 SLG / .694 OPS)
Stockton – Dusty Robinson (21 HR / .210 AVG / .279 OBP / .395 SLG / .674 OPS)
Beloit – John Wooten (20 HR / .257 AVG / .333 OBP / .430 SLG / .764 OPS)
Vermont – Tyler Marincov (3 HR / .215 AVG / .302 OBP / .313 SLG / .615 OPS)
AZL A’s – Vicmal De La Cruz (2 HR / .213 AVG / .267 OBP / .279 SLG / .546 OPS)
Sacto – Jeremy Barfield (12 HR / .213 AVG / .298 OBP / .407 SLG / .706 OPS) *
Midland – Jake Goebbert (22 HR / .262 AVG / .354 OBP / .474 SLG / .828 OPS) *
Stockton – Tony Thompson (18 HR / .250 AVG / .322 OBP / .428 SLG / .751 OPS)
Beloit – Aaron Shipman (0 HR / .289 AVG / .408 OBP / .342 SLG / .750 OPS) *
Vermont – Michael Soto (3 HR / .206 AVG / .258 OBP / .335 SLG / .593 OPS)
AZL A’s – Shawn Duinkerk (0 HR / .246 AVG / .288 OBP / .341 SLG / .628 OPS)
Sacto – Sonny Gray (118 1/3 IP / 117 H / 45 ER / 39 BB / 118 K / 3.42 ERA / 1.32 WHIP)
Midland – Carlos Hernandez (152 IP / 142 H / 45 ER / 41 BB / 106 K / 2.66 ERA / 1.20 WHIP) *
Stockton – Tanner Peters (165 2/3 IP / 167 H / 75 ER / 27 BB / 159 K / 4.07 ERA / 1.17 WHIP)
Beloit – Seth Streich (110 2/3 IP / 114 H / 47 ER / 41 BB / 82 K / 3.82 ERA / 1.40 WHIP)
Vermont – Brent Powers (95 2/3 IP / 88 H / 33 ER / 29 BB / 85 K / 3.10 ERA / 1.22 WHIP) *
AZL A’s – Ronald Herrera (78 1/3 IP / 86 H / 35 ER / 13 BB / 66 K / 4.02 ERA / 1.26 WHIP) *
Sacto – Brian Gordon (63 IP / 61 H / 25 ER / 9 BB / 66 K / 3.57 ERA / 1.11 WHIP / 23 SV)
Midland – Kyler Newby (60 IP / 57 H / 18 ER / 19 BB / 59 K / 2.70 ERA / 1.27 WHIP / 7 SV) *
Stockton – Jonathan Joseph (64 1/3 IP / 46 H / 25 ER / 28 BB / 76 K / 3.50 ERA / 1.15 WHIP / 6 SV)
Beloit – Ryan Dull (60 IP / 44 H / 16 ER / 9 BB / 78 K / 2.40 ERA / 0.88 WHIP / 19 SV) *
Vermont – Trevor Bayless (24 1/3 IP / 28 H / 10 ER / 9 BB / 29 K / 3.70 ERA / 1.52 WHIP / 7 SV) *
AZL A’s – Travis Pitcher (21 1/3 IP / 19 H / 4 ER / 13 BB / 27 K / 1.69 ERA / 1.50 WHIP / 3 SV)
A’s Farmhand Of The Day
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
Tucson Padres 7
Sacramento River Cats 6
LP – Billings 13-6 / 4.21
HR – Peterson (12), Goebbert (2)
Farmhand Of The Game:
Outfielder Shane Peterson
(Home Run / 2 Walks / 2 Runs)
Starter Bruce Billings had a rough outing for the River Cats, allowing 7 runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings to take his 6th loss on Tuesday. Outfielder Shane Peterson hit his 12th home run, walked twice and scored twice, while designated hitter Jake Goebbert slugged his 2nd home run for Sacramento, and first baseman Anthony Aliotti had 2 hits and drove in a pair of runs for the River Cats. With Derek Norris breaking his toe in Oakland on Tuesday night, it’s possible that one of Sacramento’s catchers, David Freitas or Ryan Ortiz, could soon be seeing time in Oakland.
Saturday, August 17th: Peterson & Ladendorf Help Lead Cats & Hounds to Victory while Ports & Snappers Come Up Short on Saturday
A’s Farmhand Of The Day
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
Tucson Padres 5
Sacramento River Cats 11
WP – Leon 4-3 / 4.07
Farmhand Of The Game:
Designated Hitter Shane Peterson
(5 for 5 / 2 Doubles / 4 RBIs)
Designated hitter Shane Peterson had a perfect night at the plate, collecting 5 hits in 5 at-bats, and driving in 4 runs, including the tying run in the 4th inning for the River Cats. Peterson’s great game overshadowed Anthony Aliotti’s fine performance. The first baseman had 4 hits, including a triple, and drove in 3 runs in the win. LHP Brett Anderson started the game and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks over 2 1/3 innings of work, while RHP Arnold Leon allowed 3 runs in 5 innings of relief to pick up his 3rd win for the River Cats.
Saturday, August 10th: Peterson’s Big Bat Leads Cats to Victory while Ports & Snappers Win and Hounds Fall
A’s Farmhand Of The Day
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
Sacramento River Cats 10
Omaha Storm Chasers 8
WP – Billings 12-5 / 3.99
HR – Peterson 2 (11)
Farmhand Of The Game:
Outfielder Shane Peterson
(2 Home Runs / 5 RBIs)
Outfielder Shane Peterson had a big night at the plate on Saturday, hitting 2 home runs and driving in 5 runs for the River Cats. Starter Bruce Billings had a strong outing for Sacramento, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and striking out 5 over 6 innings to earn his 12th win, while RHP Paul Smyth got the final 2 outs to post his 1st save.
Thursday, August 8th: Peterson Leads Cats to Victory while Ports Win and Hounds & Snappers Both Fall
A’s Farmhand Of The Day
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
Sacramento River Cats 6
Omaha Storm Chasers 4
WP – Newby 1-1 / 3.72
HR – Peterson (9)
Farmhand Of The Game:
Outfielder Shane Peterson
(Home Run / 2 RBIs / GWRBI)
With the game tied 4-4 in the 9th inning, outfielder Shane Peterson hit a 2-run homer to drive in the go-ahead for the River Cats on Thursday. LHP Tommy Milone made his first start for Sacramento, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits and striking out 7 over 5 innings of work, while RHP Kyler Newby tossed 2/3 of an inning in relief to pick up the win, and RHP Brian Gordon got the final 3 outs for his 14th save.
One of the most popular pieces we’ve featured here on A’s Farm over the past year or so was our profile of A’s super scout (and Moneyball bad guy) Grady Fuson. He was the A’s scouting director from 1995 until 2001, when he left the A’s to become the assistant general manager of the Texas Rangers. Fuson returned to the A’s about three and a half years ago and currently serves as a special assistant to general manager Billy Beane.
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 during the last week of June, before second baseman Grant Green’s recent promotion to the A’s. 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 hitting and pitching prospects, as well as some of the fresh new talent that’s just entered the system via this year’s draft. But we started out by taking a look at some of the prospects at the top of the system at Sacramento…
AF: Let’s start off with Sonny Gray, who’s obviously been having a great year at Sacramento. I know there were a few things that you guys were working on with him, but it really seems like he’s gotten over the hump at this point.
GF: Well you know, the credit goes to him. He’s not doing everything the way we wanted it done – there’s been variations to it. But that’s the deal with players – there’s give and take – and we don’t want to put players in positions where they’re doing things that are completely uncomfortable. So it’s trial and error. But he has been much more efficient. He’s using his changeup better – he’s still got a ways to go. But the consistency of his starts has been tremendous. With the exception of maybe one early in the year, he hasn’t had a bad start. I’m proud of him. He’s put himself on the map. When you look at our depth, there’s not too many years that go by that you don’t have to dip down there to grab a starter or two, and he’s put himself in a position to at some point be considered, or at least get his first taste of it.
AF: Well at this point, he certainly appears to be first in line based on what he’s done this year. Is there any one single thing that you’d pinpoint as the key to his success this season?
GF: Yeah, effort. I think he is starting to understand pace and rhythm and tempo, to control the effort level of his delivery. And he’s understanding this thing about how to disrupt timing, instead of being hard with everything.
AF: So it’s really about varying his effort.
GF: Yeah. If you go back to all the good things about him when we drafted him, besides his stuff, this guy’s always been a bulldog, he’s always been a competitor. Do not count this guy out – you know, he’ll come back and find a way to kick your ass if you count him out. And all those things are such a big part of it, his character and mentality on the mound.
AF: Another guy at Sacramento who seems to be on a similar trajectory is outfielder Michael Choice. He also seems to have turned a corner this year. So how do you see his development at this point?
GF: I don’t know what clicked over the winter, but something really clicked and he came into camp a little bit of a changed man in his whole approach. He’s slowed some things down like we’ve been asking him to do and has bought into a couple of other things. I think he’s developing a whole awareness of how guys pitch him and what they try to do. This is his third full year now, and I think it’s just maturity. But I’m proud of him. He hasn’t made people walk him off of center field yet. And the only reason we’re playing him in left more right now is if there is a time that he has to go up, with Crisp, with Young, with Cespedes, he probably wouldn’t play center over those guys. So he needs to learn a little bit about some corners, because the ball comes off differently.
AF: Is there any one thing that’s been the key for him?
GF: Maturity. He’s growing up. He’s maturing into that major league mentality you’re waiting to see. You know, most of these guys are kids. And sometimes, as frustrated as we get, you’ve got to remind yourself, “God, he’s just a kid!” But you can tell when they start to speak smart – you can tell by the things they’re saying back to you. That’s when the maturity thing kicks in and they start to give you the right answers – and bingo! But everything else with Michael is the same. He’s healthy, he’s playing every day, he’s having good at-bats, he’s staying consistent.
AF: Is there anything else that you’d like to see him working on at this point that he needs to do to make himself a complete player?
GF: Long term, to stay in center so that we don’t need a center fielder better than him for a long time, I think he’s going to have to be a guy who diligently works on his reads and his routes because he’s going to have to do it with a lot of instinctual things. He’s always had a weakness closing in on the wall. He’s gotten better – he’s working at it. So I think he’s the kind of guy who’s eventually going to have to do certain drills that are going to keep all that really sharp.
AF: What about another outfielder in Sacramento who everyone was so excited about in spring training, Shane Peterson? He started out well but it looks like he’s been struggling a bit lately.
GF: I don’t know that he’s struggling. He’s just not putting up crazy numbers. He’s doing what he does. He had such a tremendous spring, and almost made the damn club. I just think he’s in that mode where it’s not coming out big every night. But the way he goes about playing the game, there’s no issues there.
AF: So you think the impression he made in the spring still lingers with the A’s front office.
GF: Oh, without a doubt.
AF: Now what about Grant Green? Where do you see him with his hitting and with his development at second base at this point?
GF: At second base, he’s still learning the nuances. This is actually his first full year of playing one spot, and there are a lot of little nuances, so he’s still learning that. His errors have been a combination of a lot of different things, maybe some throws on pivots and things. But as far as what he’s doing at the plate, it’s what he does. He hits .300, he’s starting come up a little bit now with the homers, and as he’s seeing it better his walks are going up. He’s right where he needs to be.
AF: Do you see his future more likely as a second baseman or as more of a multi-purpose type of guy?
GF: It just depends on when he goes up and what the need is. But the great thing about him is he can go up and, if Bob Melvin had to use him in three or four different spots, he can do that. But I do think that second base is the one spot that, since the time we started it, he’s gotten a lot better. Center wasn’t that good a look, we questioned whether he was going to be a true everyday shortstop – the growth there just kind of fizzled. But second base, he’s gotten better at it every step of the way.
AF: So you really feel that you’ve seen more discernible progress at second base than any other spot you’ve had him at so far.
AF: Another infielder at Sacramento is Hiro Nakajima. He’s been bouncing all over the place lately – short, second, third…
GF: Well, they had to make him more versatile. He had the rough spring. He got hurt. We open up the year and Donaldson’s killing it and Lowrie’s playing great. You know, he’s in a tough spot right now. So if he’s going to come up, he’s got to learn all three spots. And he has not spent a lot of time at second or third in his whole career. The good thing is he’s obviously playing better and doing things better than what we saw in spring training.
AF: Well, the other piece of the infield puzzle in Sacramento is Jemile Weeks, who’s been playing a little shortstop this year…
GF: He’s played a great shortstop – he’s played very well.
AF: So if he remains in the A’s system in the future, would you see him having to take on more of a utility role, perhaps?
GF: Yeah, possibly, unless he gets a chance to go in there and do something in a spot and play every day and regain something. You know, this is what having depth is all about. I mean, Billy’s sitting back there right now with a ton of chips. We’ve got guys to bring up if somebody goes down who we feel pretty good about, and he’s got some players he can discuss with people if the need arises.
AF: Now in Stockton, the A’s top draft pick last year, 19-year-old Addison Russell, got off a rough start, but he’s been picking it up over the past month or so. So where do you see his development’s at at this point?
GF: He’s way on target. What he went through was everything we somewhat predicted coming out of camp. You’ve got to remember, there’s not too many 19-year-olds in the California League. You know, you go to a level where there’s more guys who throw breaking balls for strikes, there’s more guys who have little cutters, little two-seamers – things he’s never really seen. It’s different. But you’re hoping that he grows and he learns and, by the second half, things start to turn and he has a quality second half. And his attitude’s great, he’s working at it, he’s not getting fatigued. He’s smart enough to start to understand where he’s getting exposed and how we’re going to fix it. So to me, his development is right on target.
AF: So you think it’s pretty much been the natural progression of events – it took him a little while to get used to things, and now he’s gotten used to it…
GF: You know, we could have done it the other way. We could have kicked him off at Beloit and let him somewhat dominate again. But he wouldn’t have gotten as much out of it as he’s getting out of this learning experience.
AF: The bigger challenge. Well, he is still the youngest guy in the league. How has he looked to you in the field?
GF: Super. Look, he’s got 9-10 errors for a high school kid playing on these fields in the Cal League. You know, I’ve been around a lot of shortstops we developed who came through here who’d have 30 at this time. Tejada, Batista, those guys made 40-50 errors in this league. And he’s got 9-10 tops. I think he’s doing pretty good.
AF: Another guy who’s had a really good year in Stockton is first baseman Max Muncy. I remember talking to you about him in the spring and you said you guys were working on developing his power a bit more. So, with 20 home runs under his belt now, it looks like that’s worked out pretty well.
GF: When we took him, a lot of people questioned how much power’s in there. He only hit 6-7 home runs at Baylor. But you watch him in BP in college prior to the draft and you can tell there’s power in there – he just didn’t know how to get to it yet. Last summer, we just kind of let him go play. But then in instructional league, we got started with getting him to feel what it’s like to get some pitches middle-in and how that works to get the head out. We had the same story when we talked about Grant Green a year or so ago, and look what he’s doing now. But the great thing is he’s got great balance, he’s got good rhythm in his swing, and he’s got a tremendous eye, so he sees the baseball well. He swings at strikes and he takes balls – and that makes hitting so much easier. But from a power standpoint, I think he’s growing on everybody.
AF: Yeah, I would imagine you couldn’t be happier with the progress he’s made at this point. A guy who’s had a rougher time of it this year at Stockton though is 2011’s 3rd-round draft pick, third baseman B.A. Vollmuth. So what’s the source of the problem with him?
GF: It’s funny you bring him up, I was just talking to him the other day. He’s just not adjusting well in the strike zone. And I think he’s trying to be too big of a master. He’s trying to hit outer-half pitches the other way and pitches in the middle up the middle – he’s just trying to do too much that he’s not really capable of doing yet. So we talked about staying with his strength. Just look middle/middle-in and if they throw you away, just spit on it and let it go. But look middle/middle-in, and when you get them, hammer them. And just avoid the outer half of the strike zone right now until you get two strikes. But quit trying to be a master all over the strike zone right now. So we’ll see – he’s had a rough go of it.
AF: Now in terms of pitchers, what about right-hander Raul Alcantara? He recently came up to Stockton and I know you had a chance to see his first start.
GF: Yeah, good first one. He didn’t try to do anything different. He commanded his fastball well, both sides of the plate. He’s got a good changeup, and his breaking ball’s starting to show some promise. The breaking ball was always the iffy pitch. His slurve is now turning into somewhat of a legit curveball, and he’s getting some depth to it so he’s getting some swings and misses. And he’s got tempo, he’s got clean moves in his delivery. He’s still young, he’s only 20. He’s doing really good. A good second half here and you never know where it puts him for next year.
AF: Yeah, he could be a fast riser. Another guy who’s been doing a pretty good job at Stockton is Tanner Peters. What’s your take on him at this point?
GF: He’s doing good. We’ve been playing with the breaking ball for a couple of years. He’s always had a good changeup. His velocity is starting to hold. He’s a guy who maybe touches 91-92 mph but pitches at 87-88 mph, but now he’s pitching at 90 mph. We’ve talked about him using his sinker more instead of the four-seamer. He’s got a tendency with his delivery style to have a lot of misses, and misses in bad places, with his four-seamer. So we’ve been talking to him a lot about throwing his sinkers more, which will make him be more efficient, because he can get up with his pitch counts too real easy. But he’s had a very good first half, and we expect it to keep going.
AF: Well, it seems like, as a young pitcher, if you can just keep it together and make it through the Cal League without too much damage, you ought to be all right!
GF: Every ballpark here is a unique experience. You know, you go to High Desert and Lancaster and it’s like a pinball game.
AF: Well the guy who really started out great in Stockton this year and moved up to Midland is Drew Granier. He was dominant last season in the Midwest League and had a great first half in the Cal League this year. Now I know he wasn’t a high draft pick or a top prospect to start out, but what do you think about what he’s doing right now?
GF: Well, he’s been great. It’s hard to pick out negatives when your numbers look the way his do. But there are still some things we’re trying to get from him that he’s fighting a little bit. He’s not as efficient as he needs to be – he gets a little scattered. He’s not using his changeup to the level we need him to use it. But when you win a bunch of games last year and then you come in and win another half a dozen here, it’s kind of hard for him to go, “Okay, let me do it your way.” But the good thing was in his first start in Double-A, if I remember right, he threw 99 pitches and 66 strikes. That’s as efficient a game chart as I’ve seen this year from him, and he also threw 12% changeups, and it’s usually about 6%. But let me tell you, this guy grinds, this guy competes. His breaking ball is getting sharper – guys do not see it, they don’t get good swings. That’s why his strikeouts are so high. When you look at guys in this league who have high strikeout rates, it’s usually a college guy like him who’s getting it done with his breaking ball. But the next level is when all the other stuff starts to come into play. So I’m glad we’ve challenged him. He deserved being moved up. And hopefully he runs with everything we’ve been trying to pound into him.
AF: So he could be a guy who, with the right approach, could really come from the back of the pack to the top of the pack.
GF: Without a doubt. You get this guy between the white lines and he’s something. He fights you out there.
AF: Does anybody else on Midland’s pitching staff jump out at you right now?
GF: You know, Murphy Smith made a nice adjustment. (Minor league pitching coordinator) Scott Emerson picked up on something in spring training and got him closing up a little bit more on his load and it has helped him keep that fastball in the strike zone more, and that’s really what’s helped him a ton. And Sean Murphy continues to compete. We talked about him last year, and I thought he was one of the most improved pitchers in the system a year ago, and he continues to do what he’s doing.
AF: A guy who’s been having a great season at Midland is first baseman Anthony Aliotti. He’s been leading all A’s minor leaguers in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all year. I know he hasn’t been considered a top prospect, but is there anything more that he can do to put himself on the map?
GF: No, he’s just waiting for an opportunity to get to the next level – in fact, a couple of guys are. It just depends on what’s going on at Sacramento to get these guys moving.
AF: So people do see and appreciate what he’s been doing at Midland this year?
GF: Without a doubt.
AF: Now I wanted to ask you about a guy who was blowing everybody’s mind with his hitting in the first half of last year but who’s really struggled this season. Do you have any insight into what’s been going on with Miles Head this year?
GF: Well, he’s just had a bad 2013. He showed up to camp extremely heavy. And we got him started doing something about it. And then, for whatever reason, he was swinging at air down there in Midland for a while before he got hurt. He’s just been hurt – his shoulder’s barking again, and we had to sit him again. So he’s just had a bad 2013.
AF: So I guess the first thing that needs to happen is that he needs to get healthy…
GF: He needs to get healthy, and in shape. And then we can get his mind right and get this thing going.
AF: Now what about all the young guys at Beloit? That team’s really been having a great season this year.
GF: Yeah, it’s great. They’re having a blast. Ryan Christenson is a hall-of-fame first-year manager. He’s doing a great job. He’s picked up on so many important things. He’s been a great leader for those kids. Just go around the lineup – Maxwell, Olson, Bostick, Robertson, Nunez – they’re all on target. They’re all playing super.
AF: I was going to ask you about the decision to hire Ryan Christenson as the manager at Beloit with all those top prospects there. He’s a former A’s outfielder, but he really didn’t have any previous managing experience.
GF: We were going to hire him just to be the hitting coach, but we had some things happen that kind of forced our hand a little bit. But as we sit here now, there’s not a person in the organization who isn’t just pleased as hell that he’s stepped up and done the job he’s done.
AF: Now what about the job that former top prospect Michael Ynoa has done in Beloit this year?
GF: He’s going 5 innings now routinely, throwing 75-85 pitches, and throwing hard. And the breaking ball’s really getting good. The breaking ball’s now getting a little bit closer to the projection breaking ball that they all thought he might have. I don’t know what his velocity is every night, but I know he’s been up to 97 mph numerous times and pitching 92-95 mph – so you can’t throw it a whole lot harder than that. And he’s healthy – he hasn’t missed a start.
AF: Taking a look at the draft for a minute, what about the A’s top draft pick this year, center fielder Billy McKinney? What did you see when you were scouting him?
GF: I just thought he was one of those special hitters – very instinctual, great swing, balance, aggressiveness, knows the strike zone for an 18-year-old kid. He’s not raw, he runs, he throws, he’s got all the equipment. There’s going to be some power. And where we were in the draft, if this kind of guy got to us in this draft, I’m in!
AF: So did you fall in love with him the first time you scouted him in high school?
GF: Yeah, but he walked five times. They walked him five times, all intentional. I had to come back four days later.
AF: Well at least you knew they were giving him plenty of respect anyway! So did you get a chance to see much of the second hitter the A’s took this year, infielder Chad Pinder?
GF: Yeah, Pinder’s a slender 6’2” who’s got room to grow. He’s got good feet, he throws, he’s a good defender. He ended up playing a lot of shortstop in college this year, but I think down the road he’s probably a third baseman. There’s a chance for some power in there. There’s some things that have to get cleaned up in his approach a bit, but I think he’s a solid pick for where he got him.
AF: Was there anybody else in this year’s draft class who really jumped out at you?
GF: Yeah, Chris Kohler, the high school lefty we got in the compensation round. I liked him a lot and thought he was a great pick where we got him. He’s a 90 mph guy with a good curveball. He’s got fair location now for an 18-year-old. He’s a real baseball guy.
AF: Well, going back to the big league club, with people talking about all the guys down at Sacramento – Grant Green, Jemile Weeks, Hiro Nakajima – do you feel that the A’s have the best defensive middle infielders in the organization up in Oakland on the A’s roster right now?
GF: The most consistent, yes. You know, Sogie’s dynamite. Rosie’s a very good shortstop. Lowrie is playing solid, but the difference is what he’s bringing to us offensively, which we haven’t had out of that position in a while. And that’s the reason we’re winning – we’re winning because we’re a much more offensive club than we have been. We’re on base more, we walk more, and we homer – and our defense is still really, really good. You know, people forget, we’ve got a nice club right now. It’s hard to pick a hole on that club.
AF: Well, that’s always good to hear. Thanks a lot!
* * *
A’s Farmhand Of The Day
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
Sacramento River Cats 2
Fresno Grizzlies 5
LP – Figueroa 2-1 / 4.62
Farmhand Of The Game:
Pitcher Bruce Billings
(5 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 6 K)
Starter Bruce Billings had a solid outing for Sacramento on Saturday, allowing 2 runs and striking out 6 over 5 innings of work, while LHP Pedro Figueroa gave up a run in the 6th inning to take the loss, and RHP Kyler Newby surrendered 2 more runs in the 7th. Outfielder Shane Peterson had a pair of hits and drove in both the River Cats’ runs on the night.
Friday, June 28th: Bacus Pitches Snappers to Victory while Ports Win and Cats & Hounds Both Fall on Friday
A’s Farmhand Of The Day
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
Reno Aces 8
Sacramento River Cats 1
LP – Straily 3-1 / 1.46
HR – Peterson (6)
Farmhand Of The Game:
Outfielder Shane Peterson
Third baseman Andy Parrino’s fielding error opened the door to 4 unearned runs in the 4th inning, and starter Dan Straily ended up allowing 6 runs, just 2 earned, on 9 hits while striking out 6 over 6 innings to take his 1st loss for Sacramento. Outfielder Shane Peterson hit his 6th home run in the 2nd inning to account for the River Cats’ only run of the game.