Tag: Tucker Healy

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 Send Down 11 Players This Week – 6 Become Free Agents

So long, Sogie - nerd power is no more.

So long, Sogie – nerd power is no more.

The A’s front office began the arduous process of paring the team’s roster down to 40 this week. With all the players on the disabled list needing to be activated in the offseason as well as a number of promising young prospects needing to be added to the roster in order to be protected in the Rule-5 draft, the task is particularly difficult this year.

The A’s begun the paring process on Wednesday when they outrighted pitcher Chris Smith and catcher Matt McBride to Nashville. The team followed that on Thursday by outrighting infielders Eric Sogard and Tyler Ladendorf, outfielder Andrew Lambo and pitchers Fernando Rodriguez, J.B. Wendelken and Donn Roach to Nashville and also announced that utility man Arismendy Alcantara was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati, then finished up by outrighting pitchers Jarrod Parker, Felix Doubront and Henderson Alvarez to Nashville on Friday.

Later on Friday, six of those players who were outrighted elected free agency – infielder Eric Sogard, catcher Matt McBride and pitchers Fernando Rodriguez, Jarrod Parker, Felix Doubront and Henderson Alvarez. Their tenure with the A’s has effectively ended, unless they choose to re-sign with the team, but they are now free to sign with any team.

With the recent subtractions, there are currently 38 players remaining on the A’s roster – 19 pitchers and 19 position players. Two of those players, outfielder Sam Fuld and pitcher Ross Detwiler, are eligible for free agency. And once they declare, as expected, the A’s roster will then stand at 36, which will enable the team to add infielder Franklin Barreto, outfielder Jaycob Brugman and relievers Bobby Wahl and Tucker Healy to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule-5 draft. All have performed well in their time at the Triple-A level and could be prime targets for other organizations if the A’s were to leave them unprotected.

Of course, this is the A’s, so further roster changes could occur at any time. But for now, you can check out the A’s current roster here.

 

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Friday, September 9th: Rosa’s Grand Slam Helps Hounds Win in a Walk-Off while Nunez Homers in Sounds Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Viosergy Rosa (2 for 4 / Grand Slam)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Midland RockHounds First Baseman Viosergy Rosa (2 for 4 / Grand Slam)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE SOUTH DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES  (Double-A)

GAME #3

Corpus Christi Hooks     5

Midland RockHounds  7

WP – Friedrichs 1-0 / 0.00

HR – Rosa (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

First Baseman Viosergy Rosa

(2 for 4 / Grand Slam)

With the bases loaded, two outs and the RockHounds down by two runs in the bottom of the 9th, first baseman Viosergy Rosa stepped to the plate and slugged a grand slam to help the Hounds win Game #3 of their Texas League playoff series in a walk-off on Friday. Center fielder Brett Vertigan collected 3 hits, while catcher Beau Taylor singled, doubled and drove in a run, and shortstop Richie Martin and right fielder Tyler Marincov had a pair of hits apiece in the win. Starter Ben Bracewell allowed 5 runs over 3 2/3 innings, but RHP Kyle Friedrichs was outstanding in relief, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win for the RockHounds, who now lead the best-of-five series 2-1 as they head to Game #4 on Saturday. Midland RockHounds Playoff Roster

Click here for more on the Nashville Sounds’ Game #3 Result…

Wednesday, September 7th: Nunez’s Big Bat Leads Sounds to Victory while Seddon’s 5 Shutout Frames Help Hounds Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Renato Nunez (2 for 3 / Home Run / Double / Walk / 5 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Third Baseman Renato Nunez (2 for 3 / Home Run / Double / Walk / Sac Fly / 5 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE AMERICAN CONFERENCE FINALS  (Triple-A)

GAME #1

Nashville Sounds         10

Oklahoma City Dodgers  7

WP – Kurcz 1-0 / 4.50

HR – Nunez (1)

Prospect Of The Game:

Third Baseman Renato Nunez

(2 for 3 / Home Run / Double / Walk / Sac Fly / 5 RBIs)

Third baseman Renato Nunez put up a big night at the plate to help the Sounds prevail in the first game of their PCL playoff series on Wednesday. Nunez hit a 3-run homer off starter Scott Kazmir in the top of the 1st inning to give the Sounds an early lead, then doubled in another run in the 4th, and drove in his final run of the night with a sacrifice fly in the 6th. Second baseman Colin Walsh singled in a pair in the 2nd, while shortstop Franklin Barreto singled, doubled, walked and drove in a run, and outfielders Jaycob Brugman and B.J. Boyd had 3 hits apiece in the win. RHP Jesse Hahn was charged with 6 runs over 4 1/3 innings of work, while RHP Aaron Kurcz picked up the win despite allowing 1 run in 2 innings of relief, and RHP Tucker Healy tossed a scoreless 9th to notch the save for Nashville. In roster news, Sounds RHP Jharel Cotton was promoted to Oakland on Wednesday while RHP Bobby Wahl was placed on the disabled list. Nashville Sounds Playoff Roster

Click here for more on the Midland RockHounds’ Game #1 Result…

Friday, August 19th: Biegalski’s 7 Solid Innings Lead Snappers to Victory while Gossett K’s 7 to Help Hounds Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Boomer Biegalski (7 IP / 6 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Beloit Snappers Pitcher Boomer Biegalski (7 IP / 6 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 4 K)

 

MIDWEST LEAGUE  (Class-A)

Beloit Snappers                5

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers  1

WP – Biegalski 8-7 / 3.50

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Boomer Biegalski

(7 IP / 6 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / Win)

RHP Boomer Biegalski turned in his second straight impressive start for the Snappers on Friday, allowing just 1 run over 7 innings of work to earn his 8th win for Beloit. And Biegalski has now posted a 2.35 ERA while striking out 21 over 23 innings in his 4 starts in August. RHPs Rob Huber and Nolan Blackwood both pitched 1 perfect inning in relief for Beloit. Second baseman Trace Loehr had 3 hits, including 2 doubles, and drove in a pair, while first baseman Ryan Howell also doubled twice, and center fielder Skye Bolt walked and doubled in a run for the Snappers.

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

Tuesday, August 16th: Hahn Returns to Hill to Help Sounds Win while Chapman, Pinder & Iriart Are All on the Move

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jesse Hahn (4 IP / 2 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 6 K)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Jesse Hahn (4 IP / 2 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 6 K)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Tacoma Rainiers     1

Nashville Sounds  2

WP – Castro 1-7 / 4.91

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Jesse Hahn

(4 IP / 2 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 6 K)

It was a day filled with lots of intriguing roster news for Nashville fans. But on the field, it was the first chance for Jesse Hahn to return to the mound since he landed on the disabled list after his last start for Oakland. Hahn allowed just 1 run while striking out 6 over 4 innings of work on Tuesday. He left the game with a one-run lead and turned the game over to the Sounds bullpen, which held Tacoma scoreless over the next 5 frames. RHP Angel Castro earned his 1st win of the season, while RHP Tucker Healy got the final three outs to notch his 8th save for Nashville. The Sounds managed just 3 hits in the win. Catcher Matt McBride singled in a run, while right fielder Jaycob Brugman walked, singled and scored a run when designated hitter Rangel Ravelo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Renato Nunez made his second start in the last three days in left field and went 0 for 4 in the game. Meanwhile, the Texas League’s top home run hitter, third baseman Matt Chapman, was added to the Sounds roster on Tuesday. And with Chapman’s addition to the squad, there’s a need for Nunez to increase his versatility. The San Francisco Chronicle and other sources also reported on Tuesday that Nashville shortstop Chad Pinder was set to join the A’s on Wednesday, and Josh Rodriguez made the start at shortstop for the Sounds on Tuesday. And in other news, Nashville reliever Ryan Doolittle was sent to the Arizona League A’s.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Wednesday, August 3rd: Joe Bennie’s Pair of HRs Aren’t Enough to Help Ports Prevail but Rob Bennie’s 4 RBIs Lead AZL A’s to Victory

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Outfielder Joe Bennie (3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs / Double / 2 RBIs)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Stockton Ports Outfielder Joe Bennie (3 for 4 / 2 HRs / Double / 2 RBIs)

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE  (High-A)

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes  10

Stockton Ports                        6

LP – Friedrichs 3-5 / 4.71

HR – Pimentel (19), Bennie 2 (11), Nogowski (5)

Prospect Of The Game:

Outfielder Joe Bennie

(3 for 4 / 2 Home Runs / Double / 2 RBIs)

Right fielder Joe Bennie, who’s been one of Stockton’s best hitters this season, had a big night at the plate on Wednesday, belting a double and a pair of home runs for the Ports. Bennie’s 11 home runs are the second most on the team, while his 31 doubles are the most among all A’s minor leaguers. First baseman Sandber Pimentel notched his 19th home run, which is second only to Matt Chapman in the A’s minor league system, while designated hitter John Nogowski singled and slugged his 5th home run. RHP Kyle Friedrichs had his fourth straight shaky start for Stockton on Wednesday, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits, including 3 home runs, over 5 innings of work to take his 5th loss for the Ports.

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

Exclusive: Get an Inside Look at Nashville’s Top Prospects from Sounds Pitching Coach Rick Rodriguez & Hitting Coach Eric Martins

nstumblr_nn6zzrPnCN1qedy4lo1_500bRick Rodriguez served as the long-time pitching coach for the Sacramento River Cats, where he had a hand in developing a number of the A’s most talented pitchers over the past many years. When the A’s Triple-A affiliate moved to Nashville last season, the northern California native remained on the west coast with the Single-A Stockton Ports. But this year, he’s back in Triple-A with the Sounds helping to develop another crop of talented young arms for the A’s.

Eric Martins was the A’s 17th-round draft pick in 1994 and spent parts of seven seasons as an infielder in the A’s minor league system. After his playing career came to an end, the southern California native signed on as a scout for the A’s. He made the move to coaching last year, when he served as the hitting coach for the A’s Double-A affiliate in Midland, and he’s now handling some of the team’s top young hitters this year at Nashville.

We took the opportunity to talk with both of them about some of the A’s most promising prospects last week in Nashville…

 

RICK RODRIGUEZ

rrRodriguez, Rick2AF:  Well, we’ve checked in with you each of the past four seasons, but this is the first time you haven’t been in California. You’ve been a coach with Oakland, Stockton and the Sacramento River Cats, and you pitched for both the A’s and Giants, so when’s the last time in your career that you actually spent a full season outside of California?

RR:  It might have been back twenty-something years when I was with the Cleveland Indians back in 1988. That might have been the last time. But yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve been out of the state.

AF:  Okay, let’s talk about a few of the arms you’ve got here at Nashville this year, some of whom you actually had for part of the year with Stockton last year too. Let’s start with Dillon Overton, who came back from Tommy John surgery. He’s had a great year here at Nashville and he’s been up and down a bit with Oakland. So what have you seen out of him here at Nashville this year and what does he need to do to get over the hump to become a long-term major league pitcher?

do592614dRR:  When he first started here, I think he was trying to feel himself out in the league. Now that he’s had some innings in, he feels comfortable here. He knows he can pitch at this level and at the next. Basically, the same as last year – he has good command of his fastball and a great changeup. He’s still working on his curveball, and he’s added a cut fastball – and I think that’s kind of helped him. And once he gets that cut fastball and maybe a little bit more consistency on his curveball, then he’ll be ready to handle all the big league hitters up there.

AF:  Is his velocity about where it was last year when you had him at Stcokton or has it changed it all?

RR:  It’s probably about the same. On any given start, sometimes it’s a little higher or maybe a little lower, but it’s roughly about the same. But his location has been very consistent.

AF:  Well, his command is obviously the thing for him. Another guy you had for a bit at Stockton last year is Daniel Mengden. He obviously got off to a great start this year, both at Midland and here at Nashville. And his first four starts for Oakland were really solid as well. So what really enabled him to make that leap this year and what does he need to do to get back to that level again?

dm596043bRR:  One thing that he was doing here was he was very consistent at getting ahead of hitters and, when he was ahead of hitters, he was able to put them away. I think that’s what he needs to get back to, and I think that’s what he needs to do to get over that hump in Oakland. He was doing that really, really well for the first few starts. Then it kind of got away from him and he was getting deeper into counts. So getting him back to where he was here – like I said, he was being able to put hitters away early in the count with his pitches. He’s another guy who has tremendous stuff and tremendous command. You know, sometimes you might get a little off-kilter, so we’re just trying to get him back on line.

AF:  It seemed like he had a lot more first-pitch strikes down here and in his first few starts with Oakland than in his last few starts there anyway.

RR:  Yeah, that’s what he was telling me when he came in and I talked to him for a little bit. I just told him, “Hey, we’re going to get you back right where you were and you’re going to be back up there.”

AF:  So I guess he knows what he needs to work on then – no one needs to tell him.

RR:  He knows what he needs to work on. He’s well aware of it and he’s ready to do it.

ra593417cAF:  Now a guy who’s had a couple of great starts since coming up here is Raul Alcantara. He was a little hot and cold this year at Midland, but he comes up here and he doesn’t seem to want to walk anyone or give up a run or anything. So what do you think of what you’ve seen out of him here at Nashville so far?

RR:  Well, he’s another guy I had in Stockton last year! He’s shown very good command of his fastball. Last year the velocity was there, the command was okay. His command of his fastball is a lot better. His changeup is kind of what I remember. It’s almost like a split-action type – it’s late, it’s hard, it goes down, hitters swing at it. He’s still working on his curveball to get that a little more consistent break – and I’ve seen more consistency in the action on the curveball. It still needs to be a little bit more improved but, other than that, he’s dominating so far. I hope it keeps going, especially the no walks!

AF:  Yeah, I’m sure that makes a pitching coach’s life a whole lot easier! Now Jesse Hahn has been up and down this season, but his last start in Oakland was really on point. But why do you feel he’s had the struggles he’s had this year, where do you think he’s at right now and what’s he got to do to get back to where he was?

jh534910bRR:  I think he’s right where he wants to be. Right when he was called up, he was working all his mechanical issues out and he was in a rhythm and it showed up there in Oakland. And we’re just going to continue the work that we’ve been doing here with his rhythm and tempo and mechanics. The one thing that I think he needs to do is just be consistent in his outings, pitch by pitch, just be consistent – that’s a big thing for him.

AF:  One guy out of the bullpen it seems has been overlooked a bit this year is Tucker Healy. He’s certainly been racking up the strikeouts at a good pace. What have you seen out of him here this year?

RR:  I had Tucker a couple years ago his first time in Sacramento, and now here. And the big difference is he’s matured in that he knows how to handle the hitters. He’s very aggressive, he goes right after them. He’s got command of his fastball to both sides of the plate, and he’s got that nasty slider that he throws. He just comes right at you – and that’s the biggest thing. I told him, “You look more confident in that you know what you want to do up here.”

AF:  Is there anyone else on the staff who you feel has really made significant progress over the course of the year here?

RR:  Oh man, everybody! Patrick Schuster is a guy who got off to a tremendous start. He’s a left-handed guy who’s more than a left-handed specialist. He did very well here and got a promotion up to Oakland. He’s back down here now, but I look forward to him going back up. Ryan Brasier has been throwing the ball very well. He’s got a power fastball and a good hard slider, and I’m looking for good things out of him.

 

ERIC MARTINS

emMartins, Eric2AF:  Let’s start out by talking about a couple of guys you had here this year who are now in Oakland. Catcher Bruce Maxwell really went on quite a tear here in Nashville before he went up and something really seemed to click for him here lately.

EM:  Well, that’s one of my special ones. They’re all special to me, but Bruce and I had a really good relationship. We tried to change him in the past to make him more of a pull power guy. And I came in last year and said, “Hey, let’s make you the hitter that you are and we’ll work on our pull side home runs.” And he’s really grinded it out and really gotten after it and set up a good routine and got back to being the hitter that he was comfortable being in college. Now everything’s kind of clicking on all cyclinders. Starting in spring training, he made some adjustments to his stance and his swing, and he really took off with it. Things just started to come together for him and he went on an impressive run. He’s one of the hardest-working guys around. He’s usually here before everybody – he’s here at 11 o’clock, he’s out stretching, he’s doing his routine – and we’ll just talk hitting. He’s one of those guys who’s real receptive and real into what he’s trying to do and takes instruction and suggestions well and runs with it. And it’s good to see him doing what he did finally.

AF:  Another guy you had here for a brief period of time before he went up to Oakland is infielder Ryon Healy, who was hot from day one this season. So what was working for Ryon Healy and what was he doing right this season?

rh592387bEM:  Well, we all know Healy can hit. I had him last year too and he had a great season in Double-A. The power numbers weren’t there and I just kept preaching to him, “Be a hitter first, your power’s going to come.” And I got to see him this offseason out in southern California. I got to work with him and Matt Chapman and couple other guys a lot during the offseason. And, of course, he was disappointed with spring training, not coming into big league camp, and having to go back to Midland. And he used that as fuel for his fire to prove people wrong. We’d have some conversations and I said, “Hey, just use that against them, force their hand.” And he did it. He came here and he was with his buddies, and there was a comfort level with his teammates and with myself, and we just kept him on track. He’s special hitter, and he understands his swing. And he’s another that I’m proud of. Just seeing him going up and having success and doing well up there, we all know what he can do.

AF:  A guy who was on kind of a similar path as Healy this year is outfielder Jaycob Brugman. He started out the year back at Midland, hit well there and came up here to Nashville and has continued to hit well here. So what kind of improvements have you seen out of Brugman this year?

jb595144bEM:  Brugman is just a great baseball player. He can go out and play all three outfield positions and play them well. He made some tweaks with his hands in the Arizona Fall League. When I saw him in spring training, that obviously was noticeable. And he really liked it – it got him into a better position to be able to drive balls a little bit more. He’s just a smart hitter, he really studies the pitchers. He has a real solid approach, he doesn’t stray away from his approach, and he’s going to give you a quality at-bat every time he’s up there. He’s done a great job. He went on a tear when he first got here where he was carrying the team, and it was unbelievable. I had Bruggy last year, and seeing him carry us through the playoffs was outstanding – and the year before, when he hit like ten home runs in ten games at Stockton. So he’s got that capability in him. Like I said, he’s going to give you a quality at-bat, he’s not going to back down lefty or righty, he studies the pitchers and he stays true to his approach.

AF:  Now Matt Olson started out the season kind of slow, but it seems like maybe things are starting to click a bit for him lately. Can you tell me about some of the challenges he faced early on and where you feel he’s at now?

mo621566EM:  You know, people seem to forget how young this team is. He’s only 22 years old playing in Triple-A, facing guys who have been up and down in the big leagues probably for the last five or six years, even when he was still in high school. I think the biggest adjustment for him was just understanding how pitchers were going to pitch him. They started playing him in the shift a little bit early in the year, which took away a lot of hits. Once again, he’s in another non-hitter-friendly ballpark. So all that taken into consideration, he’s handled it well and he’s stayed true to form. And we’ve made some adjustments with his approach. There’s a couple of little mechanical things with him. He was kind of coming off balls, and teams were trying to pound him in, and he was probably going out of the zone inside. So we kind of changed him staying over the ball a little bit and working on driving the ball to left-center field, and he’s kind of run with it. He’s finally taken it and stuck with it for a while and not given in to what the pitcher’s trying to do to him, but getting a good pitch for him to hit. And the last three weeks or whatever, he’s stayed true to form. He’s staying in there and having really good at-bats, and now he’s starting to show what he can do.

AF:  A guy who was on a bit of a similar track as Olson is shortstop Chad Pinder. He started out the season a little slow as well but wound up being a Triple-A All-Star. So tell me about some of the challenges he faced early on and where you feel he’s at at this point.

EM:  Like I said with Olson, just being young in this league and understanding how pitchers are going to pitch him. He’s coming off a Texas League MVP, so pitchers and other teams know about Pinder. So he’s just going to have to go out and really understand what they’re going to try to do to him. Probably about a month or a month and a half into the season, we did a little mechanical change where we spread him out a little bit to get him to a strong part of the field, which is right-center field. And he really took off then, had a real good June, carried the team, and started hitting some home runs and started driving the ball the other way. And now we’ve kind of stood him back up to where he normally is because now he’s sound on those balls out over the plate. You know, Pinder’s another one of those guys who’s just a hard-nosed player – he wants to win, he doesn’t care too much about his stats, he’s a baseball player, he’s a gamer, he’s a guy who’s going to go out and give you 110% each day. And it’s fun to see him develop into the hitter that he is. He’s a smart guy, he understands what he wants to do. He’ll go through his little spurts every once in a while, but he easily corrects himself. And if I see something, I can tell him, and he’s quick to make an adjustment. And he’s another guy, this core that we have, that’s special.

cp640461cAF:  As a former infielder yourself, I don’t know how much time you’ve spent with him in the field. But he had a lot of throwing errors, especially early in the season. So is there anything you noticed that was casuing him to be off with his throwing this year?

EM:  Yeah, he worked a lot with Ron Washington during spring training, which was outstanding – Wash is the best that there is. Pinder’s more of a rhythmic infielder, and a lot of the stuff that he did with Wash was hand work and stuff like that. But he kind of forgot how to be in rhythm with his feet, so that’s why his hands and his feet weren’t working and he was losing his arm slot a little bit. And you know, it was really bothering him. And me having him last year and getting to work with him in the infield, I kind of started noticing some stuff and we kind of got him back into being a little bit more rhythmic and doing the stuff that Wash has and incorporating his footwork on top of that with his throws. And I think he made like thirteen errors in the first month of the season, and in the last two months it’s only been like eight or nine. So he’s on top of it. We seem to forget that last year was his first full year playing shortstop too, so he’s still kind of learning some things. He’s picked up a lot from Wash, which has been outstanding. His hands are…I can’t say enough about Wash and what he does with the infielders!

AF:  So I guess you can definitely see the difference between pre-Wash Pinder and post-Wash Pinder!

EM:  Absolutely! So now he’s started incorporating his feet and his arm slot has gotten in a better throwing position, and now he’s right where he needs to be.

AF:  And one last guy to ask you about, third baseman Renato Nunez. He started out the season as probably this team’s best hitter. He still leads the team in home runs, but he’s had some struggles of late. So what’s been going on with him and what kind of challenges is he facing at this stage of the game?

EM:  I think Renato’s the same way – he’s 22 years old. Early in the year, he was just one of those guys who was locked in, and then the league figured him out a little bit. And he started having some at-bats where he was kind of chasing some balls and started looking for some pitches they wanted to get him out with instead of looking for pitches that he wanted to hit. So it was an ongoing struggle with an approach with him – nothing too mechanical – I think with him it was just trying to do a little bit too much. He started on fire, and I think he felt that if he just kept it going he could be there instead of Healy.

rn600524eAF:  Hey, this is going to be easy!

EM:  But you know what, this game humbled him real quick. But he’s a hard worker. I don’t really worry about him because he can hit – he’s a hitter, he has power, he’s got a chance to be a special guy in the middle of the lineup, hopefully for us. But he’s getting back now. His last week’s at-bats have been outstanding. Yesterday he had four quality at-bats and barreled up four baseballs and had one hit to show for it, but he had a sac fly. So it’s just him getting used to looking for his pitch and not trying to hit the pitch that he thinks the pitcher’s going to try to get him out with.

AF:  Now I know you started out as a scout for the A’s. So what made you want to switch over to coaching?

EM:  Well, I love scouting, I can’t thank [A’s scouting director] Erick Kubota enough for giving me an opportunity when I was done playing. I’d always done instructional league, which I love – I love being on the field, I love being around the players. And [A’s director of player development] Keith Lieppman called me a couple offseasons ago. I had drafted Daniel Robertson, and he was going to be in Midland last year – I’m not saying he was the reason why I took the coaching job but it was a good opportunity for me to be around him and that core group of guys that he came up with and see him flourish and help those guys. It was a situation where I thought I was ready to get back on the field. And I love the fact that I did it. Like I said, I love scouting and I love the scouting department. But now, having done both, it’s just opened up my eyes a lot. The scouting has helped me help these hitters on top of it, and I just really enjoy being around these guys.

AF:  So have you found it more fulfilling to have the opportunity to work a little more hands-on with these guys?

EM:  You know, both work. But now that I have an opportunity to work with these kids in Double-A and Triple-A and see them get to the big leagues and see that you have a little bit of a part in it…but with these guys, it’s all their ability. We just kind of keep guiding them in the right direction and give them some suggestions to help them out and that’s fulfilling. You see Bruce Maxwell and Ryon Healy up there, having had them the last couple years, it really is fulfilling seeing those guys up there performing.

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Saturday, July 30th: Detwiler Leads Sounds to Shutout Victory while Key HRs by Marincov & Nogowski Help Hounds & Ports Win

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds Pitcher Ross Detwiler (6 1/3 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

A’s Prospect Of The Day: Nashville Sounds LHP Ross Detwiler (6 1/3 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Nashville Sounds       2

New Orleans Zephyrs  0

WP – Detwiler 3-0 / 2.60

HR – Nunez (17), Pinder (14)

Prospect Of The Game:

Pitcher Ross Detwiler

(6 1/3 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 7 K / Win)

LHP Ross Detwiler turned in an impressive start for the Sounds on Saturday, allowing just 4 hits while walking none and striking out 7 over 6 1/3 shutout innings to earn his 3rd win for Nashville. RHP Ryan Brasier tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, and RHP Tucker Healy got the final three outs in the 9th to complete the 6-hit shutout and notch his 7th save for the Sounds. Third baseman Renato Nunez belted his team-leading 17th home run, while shortstop Chad Pinder ripped his 14th round-tripper, and he’s second only to Nunez in that category for the Sounds this season. LHP Dillon Overton was promoted to the A’s to make Saturday’s start for Oakland, while the A’s traded Nashville outfielder Billy Burns to Kansas City in return for outfielder Brett Eibner, who was assigned to the Sounds on Saturday.

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

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