Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2011 Bonus Babies raising eyebrows in Vermont







Following the splurge upon Renato Nuñez ($2.2M) and Vicmal De La Cruz ($800K) from the Latin ranks for a cumulative $3M, Oakland's encore through 2011 following their historic 2010 romp through the Caribbean was far less publicized despite yielding two relatively noticeable assets between Yairo Muñoz and Seongmin Kim. Inking for $790,000 between the duo, Muñoz and Kim have finally begun to ascend through the system and dominate after their first couple stints producing within the rookie league academies and have embarked upon a mission to reward the International scouting squad for the A's for their additions into the organization. Two of the better offensive prospects within the short season ranks, the pair has crushed inferior pitching thus far after tedious grooming over the previous few offseasons en route to probable Beloit and Stockton assignments come 2015. Soaring up to accompany Renato Nuñez, Michael Ynoa, and Raul Alcantara as international standouts under ownership of the green and gold, Seongmin and Yairo now hope to provide legitimate talent at premium defensive posts as their path through the organization has begun to be paved. 







Inked for a $280,000 sum within the 2011 signing period after being plucked from the Dominican, Yairo Muñoz has finally begun to establish himself as a noticeable farmhand amongst the A's crop with a marvelous initial entry through into Vermont with a squad leading ISO (.184), wRC+ (132) and wOBA (.371) through his first 131 NYPL plate appearances. The teenage asset initially burst onto radars with his performance within Chicago for the Under Armour All-American showcase that had scouts salivating over his plus defensive intangibles and aggressive, projectable offensive approach and had Oakland acquire the sought after six figure middle infielder. Essentially hinging upon his potential as most Carribean farmhands do, Muñoz emerged initially within the DSL and went .229/.297/.352 through his organizational orientation with a 10:23 BB/K and 10 XBH through 119 PAs in a performance worthy enough to see Muñoz ascend to the United States for a brief American entry within Papago with a 77 plate appearance sample size before this most recent offseason. Indicating Oakland's confidence in the youngster, Yairo participated within the advanced Stockton spring training camp instead of the Beloit caliber of backfield contests with his fellow short season companions and was immediately assigned to Vermont as opposed to a secondary attempt within Arizona to compete amongst a league composed of primarily collegiate assets. Thus far, despite being 19 and 2.1 years below the average NYPL age within the league, Muñoz has blossomed through July as Vermont's standout offensive cog in replacement of the previously promoted Justin Higley as Muñoz has amassed a .304/.328/.488 slash. There are obviously indicators as to flaws within Yairo's sample size, with a .328 BABIP and 4:22 BB/K, but as is the case his farmhands his potential demomstrated and positive attributes as an incredibly youthful and frankly inexperienced prospect bode extraordinarily well for Muñoz' future ongoing into Beloit and Stockton. While inconsistent, his arm strength and flashes of outstanding footwork have him with the upside of a plus defensive, speed and offensive oriented farmhand for Oakland having finally fallen into his first materialized stretch with remarkable production for the Lake Monsters. 











Having recently accompanied Yairo Muñoz within New England, Seongmin Kim additionally has partaken in his first successful campaign as scouts have finally started to witness the offensive potential of the South Korean backstop begin to materialize following his $510,000 signing. A seldom seem lofty Pacific Rim bonus distributed from Oakland in the most expensive signing inbetween the three year duration from Renato Nuñez to Jesus Lopez (2013/$950K), the large 6'1", 200 pound backstop was one of the most highly sought after offensive international assets during the 2011 stint and easily the quintessential Asian power commodity available during the period.  This attracted Oakland towards their peculiar Pacific addition, joining Chih Fang-Pan as the A's lone amateur Asian signees over the previous decade. After a pitstop within Austrailia to prepare for Arizona, Seongmin was kept upon an extraordinarily short leash through his initial couple AZL campaigns to improve upon his overall capabilities with extremely minimal in-game opportunities, only appearing with 22 contests between 55 plate appearances between 2012 and 2013 while going 10-49 with 2 2Bs and a 5:13 BB/K. Finally, the now 21 year old was given a legitimate AZL stint now emerging as the approximate age of a usual collegiate draftee, rampaging through the Phoenix schedule by going 15-34 with a 7:13 BB/K and 6 XBH (3 HR) to amass a .441/.537/.824 slash to see Seongmin bumped forth to Vermont. After a brief acclimation period, Kim's most recent outing saw the Korean go 1-2 with a double, 2 BBs and a HBP to have his NYPL résumé now inflated up to 5-21 with 3 doubles thus far. Despite holes dotting Seongmin's swing, his plus power has salvaged him at numerous instances this season with a decent amount of pitch recognition displayed thus far. His arm strength has also been showcased through Vermont and Arizona, gunning 9 of 23 potential basestealers with a mere one passed ball through his 18 contests behind the plate this season. He'll likely commence within Beloit for the 2015 stint, having now established himself as one of the top offensive farmhands within Oakland's clutches. 

Oakland splurges on MiLB free agents





With the recent upheaval within the A's organization between Bruce Maxwell having ascended to Midland and Dylan Covey being bumped to Stockton in correspondence to that as well as Beau Taylor and Santiago Chavez demotions, Oakland has opted to acquire a gaggle of Independent League and MiLB free agent  assets with a trio of former top 10 round draftees in Tim Alderson, Ezekiel DeVoss, and Josh Ludy alongside the what is essentially the equivalent of a NDFA in Ben Bracewell. Headlining the class is Josh Ludy, a backstop hailing from Baylor and a former collegiate teammate of Max Muncy for the entirety of Muncy's three year campaign while housed in Waco, TX. Ludy was a offensive juggernaut for the Baylor squad during his senior stint after going undrafted in 2011, demolishing inferior repetiores to outshine fellow teammates and well respected 2012 draftees between the afforementioned Muncy, Logan Vick and Cal Towey with an eyepopping and jarring .362/.455/.634 slash through 63 contests with 16 HRs to spearhead his conference and challenge for the overall collegiate dinger title plus a staggering 15 doubles, 11 HBP and a respectable 32:41 BB/K. Benefitting from his first legitimate starting opportunity and focusing purely upon batting right handed after an attempt at switch hitting, the performance was enough to merit a selection from Philadelphia in the 8th round, in the same round as Oakland's Kris Hall, en route to a $15,000 contract an immediate Lakewood assignment as Ludy bypassed the short season gauntlet entirely. Ludy impressed initially with a .271/.365/.421 line alongside a 14:19 BB/K and 13 XBH in approximately 120 plate appearances in a performance that figured to vault the then 22 year old forth to Clearwater as their starting backstop in the Florida State League to commence his initial entire professional campaign. After a mere four contests however, including a 2-4 bout with a HR within his final Clearwater contest, Ludy was peculiarly demoted to Lakewood once more where the backstop then was slotted with replacement duties and mustered a meager .246/.306/.360 résumé through just 37 contests and 124 PAs before Philadelphia released the Fort Wayne native. Already demonstrating that he functioned far better within a starting capacity, Ludy turned towards the Independent Frontier League and latched on with the River City ballclub while acquiring starting duties in hopes of reaching the plateau of affiliated baseball once more. Ludy then proceeded to rampage through Independent League arsenals in the most awe inspring non-affiliated league offensive performance of 2014 with a .362/.450/.714 between his 218 plate appearances with a startling 33 XBH (16 HR), .352 ISO and 24:26 BB/K that had suitors flocking to the 24 year old catching prospect. Oakland ultimately was successful in nabbing the backstop from the clutches of River City as Ludy has since been assigned to Beloit at the unfortunate expense of Santiago Chavez, as Ludy now hopes to make Philadelphia think twice about their blunder. He expects to be slotted over Phil Pohl upon the Snapper depth chart initially.






The battery mate of Josh Ludy at River City, Oakland additionally poached Ben Bracewell from the Independent franchise  following Bracewell's senior stint at Mississippi State this spring. A fifth year senior after shoulder issues squandered his sophomore campaign, Bracewell was expected to be plucked during the 2014 Draft proceedings following a phenomenal 61 2/3 IP as Mississippi State's frontlining rotation member with a 62:23 BB/K and a mere 8 XBH allowed with a lone HR versus respected SEC competion after vacillating between closing and starting duties for the Bulldogs. Nonetheless, even after an exceptional Junior stint in which he also went undrafted, Bracewell went undiscovered and opted to ink within the Frontier League for four outings and a cumulative 16 2/3 IP with a less than brilliant 18 H, 14 R (1 HR), 10 BB, 13 K that still was enough to find him unearthed by the Athletics as the 6'0", 195 pound righty has been assigned to the AZL before what could be a rapid movement through the system due to his age. 





Joining Stockton's bunch, Oakland lassoed in Zeke DeVoss formally from the Chicago organization after a $500,000 third round payday in 2011 from Miami as Oakland hopes to see DeVoss' noticeable athleticism which prompted his draft selection pay dividends. The speedster joins Billy Burns, Justin Higley and Rodolfo Peñalo as one of the most rapid farmhands within the system with a cumulative 102 stolen bases in 138 attempts over his four campaigns and a professional line of .239/.379/.342 slash through 1,557 PAs and more career triples than HRs. Having made his AA debut this season, DeVoss floundered with a .120/.245/.227 slash with Tennessee (10:19 BB/K, 88 PAs) and primarily had played with Daytona, including a brief stint with Billy McKinney following the blockbusting Samardzija swap prior to his release and consequent Stockton assignment. Thus far, DeVoss has gone 2-7 with a BB and K through two outings for the Ports. 






Finally, Oakland provided what could be a final opportunity for the former first rounder of Tim Alderson with a Stockton assignment from Norfolk. The former acquisition by San Francisco in 2007, Alderson dominated within the Cal League before some snags in AA Connecticut before being dealt to Pittsburgh for Freddy Sanchez. Since then, the imposing 6'6"righty has bounced through the MiLB ranks and amassed a cumulative 721 2/3 IP within 224 appearances and 91 starts prior to being plopped into the possession of Oakland, his fourth career organization. Serving as Norfolk's long relief asset during this campaign, Alderson went through 50 frames and 28 appearances with a 37:19 BB/K and 6 HR permitted before his Oakland debut in relief of Josh Bowman in San Bernardino, going 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 HR), 0 BB, 5 K in his reacclimation to the California League. Likely a career MiLB cog, the sand within Alderson's hourglass seems to be dwindling rapidly with zero signs of being flipped in the foreseeable future. Essentially representing a bullpen piece before an inevitable offseason release for the Ports, Alderson represents the sombering route most minor leaguers head down as opposed to MLB stardom. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Matt Olson's Historic Dinger Quest






When Matt Olson was assigned to Stockton via Beloit, most presumed the monsterous slugging youngster would easily launch some dingers in the cozy and intimate confines of Banner Island Ballpark. Boasting a short porch and minuscule dimensions to the left and right field corners, the complex ranks amongst the most offensively charged throughout the northern division of the California League yet slightly less absurd than the bandboxes of Lancaster and High Desert. Even so, phenoms such as Michael Choice, Corey Brown and Max Muncy who left unforgettable power marks while housed within the Central Valley have been surpassed by the 20 year Olson with an entire five weeks remaining upon the 2014 schedule for Stockton as Matt Olson features as the lone legitimate contender to topple Chris Carter's seemingly and previously unapproachable 39 HRs through the 2008 campaign for the Ports. Thus far, the Georgian breakthrough prospect is currently slotted in front of Carter's pace with Olson resting at 28 blasts through July 24th while Trogdor obliterating 27 at this instance six seasons ago with seperate durations of three consecutive days with HRs that highlighted his August still awaiting Olson to grapple with. Albeit, through developmental means, Olson shall as he has through the entirety of this stint not stress for dingers and certainly not attempt to topple Carter's organizational and Stockton HR mark on purpose. Still, with the absurd strength Olson possesses coupled with favorable venues remaining upon the August docket, the possibility of twelve pitches being capitalized on by the lefty and launched over Cal League fences is still extraordinarily likely as Matt Olson has the opportunity to surge forth and claim his place as the first 40 HR campaign in Oakland MiLB history. 






The 6'4", 240 pound previous first round acquisition has eased those distraught over Addison Russell's departure with his remarkable romp through the California League, having produced a .242/.393/.522 slash through his 460 plate appearances thus far while equally benefiting from remaining healthy through the entirety of his Ports tenure. His .280 ISO leads the California League with a minimum 400 PAs while additionally demolishing all other competition from a discipline perspective having amassed a whopping 19.3% BB% (89:102 BB/K), a ratio that has provided extraordinary optimism to the phenom's prospect status after witnessing a vast spike from his BB/K within Beloit and Arizona. His .256 BABIP has hindered his average due to Olson's extremist pull oriented approach, as Olson shall likely have to rely upon his pitch recognition capabilities to amass a sufficient on-base record. This hasn't been an issue whatsoever thus far however and likely shall not be, as Olson owns arguably the best power and discipline ranking within the organization. More flashy and appealing to the casual fan though is Olson's HR rate, now drawing nearer to becoming the next brooding Chris Carter within the A's midst, as Matt Olson established his power ability through June with a 10 HR month that has spurned this recent challenge to the 2008 squad's MVP. Matt Olson's June saw the 20 year old slug double digit blasts for the second time through the previous four months as Olson produced a 10 HR month within Wisconsin during the previous August while the previous 10+ HR month within California for Oakland was Max Muncy the previous June prior to his Midland ascent. Olson brokethrough with a .298/.459/.726 résumé with his second straight month of a plus discipline ratio (24:20 BB/K) for the Ports to emerge through into July with 23 HRs and establish himself on a 40 HR pace once more. 











Having slowed through July to an extent, Olson's July ironically enough has boded his second worst single month ISO outside of April thus far with the month primarily associated with inflated statistics due to humid temperatures. With a homestand to conclude the portion of the schedule though, the sturdy southpaw still could breach the 30 HR threshold by the conclusion of July onward towards August, especially with his Banner Island splits blatantly assisting Olson with him frequently targeting the Stockton short porch:





Banner Island -  218 PAs, .256/.399/.619, 17 HR, 13 2B, 42 BB, 50 BB




Away -   242 PAs, .229/.388/.432, 11 HR, 6 2B, 47 BB, 52 K







This indicates that the rates to which Olson has produced are fabricated to a certain extent heading forth to Midland and Sacramento, as this could be the lone instance of 30 HR total in which Olson shall likely churn out while housed within the Athletics system. But his youth still is quite promising with being nearly an average three years below the California League average age and having tackled a High A caliber of competion a entire year below that of Chris Carter in 2008, who embarked upon his quest as a 21 year old. Still garnering potential power grades of anywhere to 60-65 from scouts, remarkable discipline and the bonus of being one of the best defensive first basemen in minor league baseball, Olson is far more complete and concrete pf a prospect than Carter ever was with even greater youth and upside to capitalize upon. While exciting to follow through the remainder of the 2014 campaign, just realize that Olson is thankfully more than just dingers and therefore an outstanding prospect heading onward through the Oakland system. 
  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Ballad of Rodolfo Peñalo





With the departure of JP Sportman towards Vermont and the AZL squad having been consequently deprived of their bonafide leadoff threat, Oakland has opted to promote one of the undisputed most intriguing prospects throughout the entirety of the Athletics system in Rodolfo Penalo to partake in his unofficial American debut following his initial instructional league gauntlet during the previous offseason. Despite a shift within the midst of his 5th Dominican campaign and thus eliminating any significant veneer from his prospect status, Penalo still boasts a large amount of buzz for his remarkable discipline and stolen base capability competing in La Victoria. Essentially a reiteration of Billy Burns, the 21 year old arrives as the lightest player in professional baseball; weighing in at a staggering 130 pounds and standing a towering 5'7" while balancing his physical dimensions with the ability to switch hit and play LF, CF, and 2B. The concept of positional versitily may be an extremely well known and infamous tactic associated with the A's organization, but Rodolfo's comical size, absurd speed tool and unbelievable statistical résumé easily slot the Dominican 2009 signee as the most peculiar farmhand within the A's clutches. Finally, the Dominican academy's vital weapon shall be unleashed upon the AZL ballclubs with a probable full season 2015 assignment awaiting Penalo given a smooth transition. 





Arriving for a modest sum prior to 2010, Rodolfo initially rambled through his first three stints as a professional while developing physically (To the extent in which his genetics could allow him to) en route to his standout 2013 breakthrough, as the diminutive center of the diamond prospect spearheaded the entirety of A's farmhands in stolen base totals with 29 swiped through 39 attempts. None within the full season affiliates came within challenging the speedster aside from Chris Bostick who clocked in with 25 successfully burgralized off of opposing batteries. Penalo amassed a 55:58 BB/K with 37 SBs (21 CS) through 2012 with but a mere 18 XBH between his 428 plate appearances that prevented Rodolfo from being escorted to the United States alongside Ronald Herrera and Jonesy Zarraga despite outstanding discipline totals and a plus speed tool, thus being forced to undergo a fourth go-around through the Dominican Summer series as a 20 year old. Usually interpreted as the precursor towards an international release, Rodolfo's senior romp collectively cut whispers of his probable release and rather raised eyebrows within the organization with a .311/.424/.404 slash produced alongside a 25:21 BB/K and his afforementioned 29 stolen bases. 





Unfortunately, despite his instructional league introduction due to his breakthrough, Rodolfo was sanctioned out for another stint within the Dominican academy for an unprecedented and nearly unheard of 5th attempt versus DSL caliber of competition. Predictably, Penalo overpowered repetiores and arsenals of a league which he had already proved himself to be vastly superior to, amassing an absurd .274/.464/.398 slash thanks to arguably the most ludicrous discipline rate seen over the past few decades within the Athletics MiLB system over an approximate 150 PAs sample that concluded with a 38:18 BB/K and a 24.7% BB%. Penalo feasted upon the amount of on-base opportunities as well, swiping his previous total of 29 bases within a ridiculous 35 attempts, rapidly approaching the cumulative total of Billy Burns in Midland (45) despite having his schedule commence on May 31st and equally missing 10 days due to injury. His career best 158 wRC+ and .124 ISO finally convinced Oakland to bump Rodolfo to Papago as JP Sportman departs and assimilates with the remaining Lake Monsters, as Penalo shall likely partake primarily at CF duties with Edwin Diaz and Jesus Lopez already in the AZL infield and Trent Gilbert, Joe Bennie, and Max Kuhn awaiting in the northeast. 






There is significant skepticism associated with Rodolfo Penalo however as one could easily assume, with his statistics partially inflated attributed to him being an approximate 2.8 years above the average DSL age. Additionally, he'll have to successfully combat collegiate arms and experienced backstops as he didn't exactly match with Austin Hedges while within the Carribean. At the very least, Rodolfo has proven himself to be blatantly ahead of the teenage counterparts he has previously been tossed in against over the past half decade, and his inticing intangibles surely at very least will be extraordinarily intriguing to finally witness versus non-Latin farmhands. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Luis Baez defying odds in Wisconsin




Luis Baez has scrapped together one of the oddest single seasons in the A's organization over the past decade with Beloit. 





After a staggering five campaigns encased within the Oakland rookie leagues, three as a Dominican participant and two playing in Papago, Luis Baez now has emerged in the Midwest League as an elderly farmhand given the average age within the MWL being an approximate 1 1/2 years younger than the 23 year old versatile Latin middle infielder. Having garnered Midwest League All-Star recognition through his initial romp amongst the Low A caliber of competition, Baez has received praise amongst his counterparts for his production as a Snapper thus far while rubbing elbows with first round acquisition, Matt Chapman, at third base and the trio of Chih Fang-Pan, Melvin Mercedes and Branden Cogswell amongst the middle infield contingent on the ballclub. The previously anonymous Dominican 2007 signee has raised eyebrows however not for his batting average or doubles total which placed him upon the All-Star roster, but rather for blossoming as one of the most uttlerly peculiar prospects in the A's organization with arguably the most stalwart swing first mentality in the organization and quite possibly the worst plate discipline coupled alongside that. Baez has also managed to lead the A's system in cumulative errors committed with 25 while standing with a .914 FLD% between shortstop and third base for Beloit which have given him the reputation for the most inconsistent Oakland defensive prospect this season, following in the steed of Yordy Cabrera in 2012 and Renato Nuñez in 2013. 






Amongst the negatives, Luis Baez has vaulted up to stand deadlocked for 5th place within the Midwest League for amassed doubles with 22 for the Snappers while producing a remarkable and absurd .309/.304/.456 slash line versus southpaws with Beloit, going 21-68 with 8 XBH, a lone sacrifice fly and a 0:16 BB/K to churn out a seldom seen output though 70 plate appearances. More odd, Baez evidently participated in one game for Beloit in which he hit left handed for the first time during his seven year professional career due to seemingly random circumstance, going 1-3 with a run scoring double nonetheless. The 6'2", 200 pounder has compiled a .260/.280/.381 slash line throughout his 342 PAs during his initial full season stint, accompanying that with a plus .121 ISO, .300 wOBA and a less than desirable 83 wRC+ heavily attributed to his 2.3% BB% (8 BB in 342 PAs) that places his fate amongst the A's into question as his contract shall expire this offseason. Regardless, Baez' brief glimpses of brilliance may spur forth the organization to re-sign the impending 24 year old en route to Stockton for the 2015 campaign similarly as was opted with Jonathan Joseph this offseason. The California League could bode even more ludicrous statistical production from the Carribean prospect, but his ability to gradually acquire professional opportunities hinges upon his success on being utilized in platoon situations and whether discipline can be instilled to the often impatient Baez, whose 2B% of 6.43% this season nearly triples his walk percentage. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Oakland Athletics Midseason Top 100 Prospects








With July having already arrived and a significant amount of upheaval having taken place within the A's farm system, including the losses of Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily coupled with suspensions of Tyler Ladendorf and Boogie Powell, another ranking of the premier farmhands still remaining within the organization seems necessary as a blueprint to sufficiently cope with the post-Addison Russell era. Amidst the blockbusting swap that snagged Oakland Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, Stockton continues to teem with an undeniable and copious prospect bounty between breakthrough campaigns for the 20 year old trio of Renato Nuñez, Matt Olson and Daniel Robertson alongside flashes of brilliance demonstrated by Ryon Healy and Chad Pinder. Michael Ynoa, Nolan Sanburn and the upstart Seth Streich also bolster the pitching contingent of a Ports ballclub that single handedly has provided optimism for saddened and disgruntled A's prospect enthusiasts. Matt Chapman's selection within the 2014 Draft also alleviates the losses to an extent as well, with Brett Graves, Tyler Willman, Branden Cogswell and Branden Kelliher assisting the draft class in boosting the profile of the Athletics' farm. Listed below are the 100 prospects within the Oakland Athletics organization through July prior to an official ranking come Winter, as this initial shuffling is fluid and shall likely be shifted tremendously as the July and August performances unfold. Still providing a glance towards the 2015 campaign, here are the 100 highest ranked prospects for Oakland (2008 draftees were not noted due to their free agency this offseason; thus explaining absences of Jeremy Barfield, Tyler Ladendorf, Shawn Haviland, Dusty Coleman, and Ryan Doolittle)









1. Daniel Robertson



2. Renato Nuñez



3. Raul Alcantara



4. Matt Olson



5. Matt Chapman



6. Michael Ynoa



7. Dillon Overton



8. Bobby Wahl



9. Max Muncy



10. Nolan Sanburn



11. Dylan Covey

12. Chad Pinder

13. Seth Streich

14. Justin Higley

15. Chris Kohler

16. Jesus Zambrano

17. Kyle Finnegan

18. Ryon Healy

19. Bijon Boyd

20. Brett Graves

21. Branden Kelliher

22. Bruce Maxwell

23. Branden Cogswell

24. Tucker Healy

25. Tyler Willman





26. Arnold Leon
27. Jefry Marte
28. Carlos Hiciano
29. Dustin Driver
30. Billy Burns
31. Trace Loehr 
32. Aaron Shipman
33. Daniel Gossett
34. Boogie Powell
35. Miles Head
36. Austin House
37. Tanner Peters
38. Edwin Diaz
39. Sam Bragg
40. Anthony Aliotti
41. Kris Hall
42. Jesus Lopez
43. Iolana Akau
44. Sean Murphy
45. Josh Whitaker
46. Seongmin Kim
47. Heath Fillmyer
48. Junior Mendez
49. Drew Granier
50. Jose Torres
51. Omar Duran
52. Bobby Crocker
53. Jose Brizuela
54. Lee Sosa
55. Rodolfo Penalo
56. Vicmal De La Cruz
57. Seth Frankoff
58. Blake Hassebrock
59. Jake Sanchez
60. Yairo Muñoz
61. Trent Gilbert
62. Robert Martinez
63. Lou Trivino
64. Conner Crumbliss
65. Ryan Dull
66. Jaycob Brugman
67. Jordan Schwartz
68. Chris Jensen
69. Corey Miller
70. Tyler Marincov
71. Beau Taylor
72. Jean Carlo Rodriguez
73. Jerad Grundy
74. Paul Smyth
75. Joe Bennie
76. Matt Stalcup
77. Shawn Duinkerk
78. Joe Michaud
79. Melvin Mercedes
80. Max Kuhn
81. Derek DeYoung
82. Joel Seddon
83. Luis Barrera
84. JP Sportman
85. Dakota Freese
86. Ryan Huck
87. Chih Fang-Pan
88. Hunter Adkins
89. AJ Burke
90. Brendan McCurry
91. Cody Kurz
92. Kyle Wheeler
93. Andres Avila
94. Luis Baez
95. Santiago Chavez
96. Sandber Pimentel
97. Robbie Mullen
98. Cody Stull
99. Ivan Andueza
100. Sam Roberts




Still considered: 



Nick Rickles
Ryan Mathews
Blake McMullen
Scott Masik
Ben McQuown
Tyler Hollstegge
Andys Silva
Argenis Blanco
Victor Veliz
Tyler Vail
Jonathan Joseph
Jeff Urlaub
Josh Bowman
Ryan Gorton
BA Vollmuth
Jesus Rivas
Phil Ortiz
Mike Fagan
Koby Guana
John Nogowski

Monday, June 30, 2014

Jeremy Barfield going out swinging





Announced personally via his twitter, Jeremy Barfield has concluded his experimental bout upon the mound and shall adopt a bat to close his tenure within the Athletics organization; knowledgeable of his contract expiration come the offseason. For Jeremy, this likely signifies that any probability of a prolonging of his contract is mostly obsolete as his future offensively is more so limited than his potential upon the mound, with a plus strikeout percentage featuring as an optimistic beacon amidst understandable control and command issues for an individual who had just transitioned towards the hill 10 months prior. His output within the Stockton bullpen was initially sensational, constructing a 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 13 K line through his first couple appearances with zero visible roadbumps in a cumulative effort that had some speculating that Barfield could in fact partake in a Doolittle-esque ascent accomplished during the 2012 campaign. However, issues arose rapidly with the newly crowned relieving Ports set-up man, as he struggled with command of his four pitch repertoire to wind up settling for a ghastly 35 IP, 29 H, 18 ER (5 HR), 28 BB, 39 K résumé with a 23.9% K% and a 6.15 FIP within his first three competitive months following his announced shift. Even though it was anticipated the hulking right hander would encounter difficulties expected for a farmhand attempting to drastically adapt to another post, Barfield blindsided most with an unseen re-conversion towards the outfield: 





(Via @BarfieldRage): "Thankfully no more of those 'you should try pitching' suggestions. I gave it a year so just shut up and let me do what I do best... So grateful to be a part of an organization that genuinely cares about my well being. If this is it I'm gonna go out doing what I love."






Seemingly, the desicion was a personal one opposed towards an organizational suggestion, as Barfield was evidently never entirely comfortable and/or pleased on the rubber. Despite a route to Oakland clearly being more viable through a bullpen position, the former 8th rounder seems content with departing the Oakland organization offensively, with an affiliate assignment having yet to be announced. Equipped with freakish amount of engrained arm strength, Barfield also amazed with his propensity for the longball, launching 64 HRs through an accumulated 2,462 MiLB plate appearances (1 HR per every 41.8 PAs) since his 2008 initiation with Vancouver to establish himself as a prominent power threat for Oakland while registering transferable 50-55 grade ratings. His most successful stint came while housed within Midland for the 2013 campaign, producing a 135 wRC+, .273 ISO, .369 wOBA and a 12.3% BB% (14:17 BB/K) between his 114 PAs, all of which were career bests for the corner outfielder and spurned the Athletics to bump him forth to California for his Sacramento Rivercats debut. Similarly to Anthony Aliotti, Barfield struggled mightily upon arrival following his midseason Texas departure, conversely amassing anemic career worsts within wRC+ (52), wOBA (.268), and K% (23.1%) categories before his highly publicized transition and reacclimation with Stockton. It'll be a matter of what the now veteran prospect enjoys however, as he'll shift once more and grapple with Texas League or Pacific Coast League as a batter to smash a few more dingers before a offseason of questions arises for the 27 year old. Sam Roberts and Jesus Rivas now are the lone positional outcasts left to grace mounds within the organization, with the Barfield saga serving as a reminder towards the even more so improbability of Sean Doolittle's mindboggling success. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sam Roberts transitions towards the mound





Recently announced; Beloit middle infielder, Sam Roberts, has officially converted from his engrained middle infield post for the Snappers to the bullpen after a whopping five appearances out of the Turtles bullpen in emergency situations after being bestowed with positional pitching duties prior to the 2014 campaign. Roberts compliments former positional transitions such as Sean Doolittle, Jeremy Barfield, the recently released Jensi Peralta and Jesus Rivas that establishes Oakland as a prominent experimental organization that will now attempt to wring any remaining potential from the 25 year old Virginian in hopes of another success story and furthermore definitively hammer down the A's "Cinderella" narrative. Unlike Doolittle however, the previous four of Barfield, Roberts, Peralta and Rivas switched due to offensive struggles and plus potential with arm strength rather than the wrist issue that significantly hampered Doolittle's swing mechanics and incited a shift to the hill where Doolittle dominated as a two way prospect at the University of Virginia en route to Brooks Wallace award nominations. Roberts, like Doolittle, pitched significantly at a Virginian institution as the VMI alumni vacillated between closing roles to Friday night rotation duties all while featuring as the Keydet's offensive juggernaut. This differentiates Roberts from Jeremy Barfield, who had absolutely zero pitching experience outside of his little league pursuits and required a thorough AZL and instructional gauntlet for Barfield to prepare for the California League. Thus far for the hulking righty former corner outfielder, predictably he has wound up struggling at times and his production has fluctuated for the Ports through his 31 2/3 IP, with a 37:27 K/BB and a cringe worthy 6.01 FIP. Wielding a promising 24.5% K% however, Barfield could very well reconcile with the organization and re-sign for another attempt in 2015 after his contract expires this offseason. Jensi Peralta, formally a middle infielder, demonstated similar qualities to Barfield within the AZL featuring bunches of strikeouts and walks, but evidently wasn't enough to convince the A's to retain him. Jesus Rivas, a DSL outfielder prior to his shift, shined as the Dominican closer during his initial campaign through 2013 and rightfully acquired an immediate American promotion and mildly shocking Vermont assignment to bypass the AZL entirely, as the Caribbean righty competes for a Midwest League post come 2015. 






Sam Roberts, unlike any of these previous examples, was the only one to have pitched within a contest as a positional player and the lone individual to have convinced the Athletics to shift him due to his output upon the mound in extra inning bouts and disparaging blowout defeats, as the versatile righty was unlikely to have ever ascended to Stockton via his offensive potential. Roberts was teetering upon the edge of release following his anemic production within the field after accumulating a .244/.307/.307 slash through 143 PAs with 6 XBHs and a 10:37 BB/K to contribute to an even more abysmal .222/.329/.302 result through a career 592 PAs between Vermont, Burlington and Beloit following his induction into the organization after inking as a 26th round 2011 draftee. Partaking in his pitching debut with Vermont, surrendering a walkoff HR, Roberts then appeared through two contests with the Snappers during the previous campaign in 2013 to amass a 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K with his lone punchout being of the unanimous #1 overall prospect in baseball, Byron Buxton. For this campaign however, Roberts was bestowed with a dual role prior to April with Ryan Mathews coupling as another cataclysmic 15th inning replacement to don the mound and amassed a 7 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K line through five appearances that culminated in a 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K appearance within a 17th inning Beloit victory in which Ryan Mathews also hurled a pair of innings to earn the victory. His final offensive appearance occurring on June 9th and his three inning effort transpiring on June 10th, Roberts has spent the previous 10 days preparing without any AZL seasoning to shift and appeared in his first outing as an exclusive pitcher on June 21st, going 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K in his most exquisite appearance as a professional while punching out Austin Wilson to conclude his outing.     





"They decided he was going to do both a while ago, probably after the second time he pitched. But it was more recently they made him just a pitcher" Said Ryan Mathews, Roberts' teammate in Beloit. "[Sam Roberts] looks really good off the mound and throws a 88-90 MPH fastball with some good movement and a good slider.... He originally through he'd be drafted as a pitcher" 





With no remaining hope for Roberts to assimilate as a positional farmhand, the 25 year old now has adopted renewed optimism upon the mound and now complements Trevor Bayless as the Snappers' newest bullpen additions following Blake McMullen and Tyler Hollstegge's transitions toward Vermont from Wisconsin. With Roberts' contract having yet to expire until the conclusion of the 2017 campaign, performances such as his previous effort may very well salvage his prospects of aspiring to a major league career, or at the very least a long awaited Stockton promotion.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oakland A's Dominican Summer League Preview





With the acquisition of several teenaged farmhands hailing from Venezuela, Columbia and Panama, the Athletics have once more bolstered their ranks at the Santo Domingo academy with inking of Santiago Rodriguez (RHP), Gerardo Vilchez (RHP), Jorge Martinez (6'0", 160 pounds, LHP/1B) and Jean Carlos Ruiz Torres (6'2", 170 pounds, RHP) as additional assets accompanying Ruber Aquino, Enmanuel Sullivan, Jesus Monserratt and Gean Rigby as organizational rookies set to debut after Miggy Mercedes, JC Rodriguez, Jhonny Rodriguez and Robert Mullen were welcomed just prior to the 2013 campaign. The additions usurp the absences of Jesus Zambrano and Victor Veliz, who have since ascended forth towards the AZL Papago facility following outstanding efforts previously while playing under the Caribbean affiliate, with Zambrano amassing a 3.16 FIP between his 14 outings (61 1/3 IP) as the youngest player in the organization by 51 weeks (Born 8/23/1996, Iolana Akau 8/31/1995). Zambrano equally produced a 48:12 K/BB as a 16 year old (18.8% K%/4.7% BB%) while permitting a mere 4 HRs (0.59 HR/9) to entrench himself within the 2014 AZL rotation. Joining shall be Victor Veliz after a sensational third campaign while participating amongst fellow Caribbean Oakland prospects, bursting through with a 2.91 FIP through his 71 frames with a 46:18 K/BB and a lone dinger allowed for the now 20 year old southpaw. Jesus Lopez, Oakland's $950,000 switch hitting second base acquisition hailing from Nicaraugua, shall debut domestically within Arizona as well, diminishing the buzz surrounding the DSL crop for the impending season. However, the ballclub still wields Carlos Hiciano, Juan Mendoza, Ivan Andueza, Robert Mullen, Eric Mariñez, and Luis Barrera as premier international farmhands represented in the Dominican this June. While not honed in upon by traditional MiLB outlets, the DSL is still a prominent league where numerous potential for the A's shall be housed through their summer crusade upon the island with recent successes such as Yairo Muñoz and Santiago Chavez and boasts a significant bounty of prospects Oakland fans ought to acquaint themselves with for upcoming years. 







Headlining the attendees, Carlos Hiciano arrives as another July 2nd asset snatched by the Athletics to complement Jesus Lopez as the center field and shortstop prospect inked for $750,000 and revered for his sensational athleticism, garnering 70 grades for his speed while possessing a tremendous amount of arm strength, plus bat speed, and line drive tendencies that are projected to develop gradually into dingers as the 6'2", 175 pound 17 year old Dominican physically matures. Easily the most anticipated prospect for the A's present within the academy, Hiciano ought to star for the DSL bunch while grappling with the adversity that will accompany his initial foray into the professional ranks. Amongst this cast of DSLers however, Hiciano is undoubtedly the centerpiece for the Athletics, with the potentiality to emerge as a top 20 organizational prospect for the green and gold. 






Despite the absences of Jean Carlo Rodriguez and Miggy Mercedes with their departures to Arizona to compete within the AZL circuit, the teenage contingent still is heavily represented positionally between the thunderous might of Luis Barrera and the blooming potential of Jhonny Rodriguez who each rightfully demonstrated their raw capabilities throughout to Dominican schedule during the 2013 campaign. Luis Barrera, the hefty 6'1", 195 pound 18 year old surged forth to lead the ballclub in HRs (4) while finishing forth to Eric Mariñez and the afforementioned duo of Jean Carlo and Jhonny Rodriguez with a cumulative XBH (13) within a truncated professional debut for Barrera, who was absent for the entirety of August with a hand fracture. Still, within his 149 plate appearance sample size, the then 17 year old firmly established himself as one of the premier short season power oriented farmhands for Oakland, amassing a .198 ISO in the often oppressive DSL confines as the righty corner outfield and potential first base prospect strung together a .190/.302/.389 slash line with a 12.1% BB% (18:22 BB/K) and an additional 107 wRC+. The lackluster average was attributable to a sour .196 BABIP that wasn't the slightest bit indicative of Barrera's potentiality as the highest grossing amateur signee of the 2012 period ($450,000) and DPL alumni promises to establish himself as an offensive juggernaut and assured AZL participant for the 2015 campaign once completed with this upcoming assigmment. 






While significantly less developed than Barrera, Jhonny Rodriguez additionally inked for a six figure sum ($300,000) out of the Dominican Republic and was bestowed with the honors as the youngest positional individual within the organization (Born 7/20/1196) and proceeded to partake with his initial DSL campaign as a 16 year old, primarily manning all outfield posts while acquiring a lone and perculiar outing at second base. While severely inept for durations throughout the season, Rodriguez still was able to compile admirable stretches to offset his predictable struggles, hitting .313/.329/.450 during his final month through August (82 PAs) to boost his cumulative statistical marks to a 92 wRC+, .247/.283/.363 slash, .116 ISO and .301 BABIP despite only walking in a mere 11 instances through his 267 PA organizational opening debut. Regardless, Rodriguez still demonstrated his offensive worth despite the subpar discipline with a squad best 15 doubles and short season leading seven triples that reinforces his potential approaching his sophomore stint all prior to his 18th birthday. 






Complementing the positional headliners upon the ballclub are returning assets that drove the Caribbean bunch through their most recent attempt, including the rather stunning retainment of Rodolfo Penalo after a phenomenal breakthrough crusade during his fourth try within the island academy, producing a .311/.422/.404 slash, .415 wOBA, 151 wRC+, and 13.6% BB% (25:21 BB/K) and an organizational leading 29 stolen bases (39 attempts) despite only playing in 51 contests for the DSL Athletics. The 5'7", 130 switch hitting 2B/CF leadoff specialist is one of the most unique individuals under contract for Oakland, and seemingly established himself as an AZL applicant for the 2014 campaign. However, possibly due to injury, Penalo shall not debut instantly with Phoenix for the time being, although could ascend towards Papago at some instance during this calendar year. Joining Rodolfo, another intriguing prospect that has been restricted to the Dominican has been Sandber Pimentel, the consistent corner outfield asset that slotted second behind Penalo upon the DSL wRC+ leaderboard (129) while accumulating a .255/.353/.422 slash line, .377 wOBA and .167 ISO for the stout 6'3", 220 pound 18 year old after showcasing an outstanding amount of improvement comparatively to his initial attempt in regards to his power rate, smacking 10 XBH (2 HR) within his 119 PAs with a respectable 12.6% BB% (15:22 BB/K) that was actually worse than his 18.5% BB% rate during his 2012 go-around. Still, despite maintaining his discipline while bolstering that with a revitalized approach and definitive physical maturation at the plate, 19th round draftee from the 2012 Draft, Robert Martinez, had graduated towards Arizona in favor of Pimentel, who seemingly shall have to grapple once more with competition he is blatantly superior to. With another stellar trot through the DSL, Oakland will be unable to deny the sibling of the former Texas farmhand, Guillermo Pimentel, entry to the stateside rookie league facility. 







Rounding out the offensive contingent, Robert Mullen, Barry Hernandez, Andys Silva, Eric Mariñez, and Raymond Rivas shall undoubtedly be stalwart contributors for the bunch through the 2014 campaign, with none above the age of 20. Mitchell Martes, Javier Godard and Miguel Guzman additionally reacclimate to the competition as now practical veterans to the facility, with each unfortunately struggling through their previous attempts. For Robert Mullen however, the 6'0" Panaminian backstop who shall usurp starting duties following the triumphant departure of Santiago Chavez, the soon-to-be 18 year old's sophomore campaign could very well propel him to the forefront of international prospects within the Athletics organization, after his sterling defensive exploits coupled with plus contributions at the plate for a newly acquainted teenager find him in a similar position to the now notable Santiago Chavez, who has graduated the DSL academy and found himself assigned directly to Midland to momentarily serve as a cog for the ailing Ryan Lipkin after sustaining a knee injury and has since been rewarded for his brilliant performance with a permanent post within Wisconsin. Mullen, the Panaminian brotherin of Jean Carlo Rodriguez, shined with his .267/.340/.367 slash and 115 wRC+ while bursting through August with a feverish 13-39 stretch with 5 XBH to close his campaign after finally settling into a groove. Now on the verge of a breakthrough, Mullen is assuredly a pivotal asset to the ballclub now having been bestowed with catching duties the the entirety of 2014 while occasionally divvying opportunities with Miguel Guzman, Barry Hernandez, and newly inked Jesus Monserratt. Eric Yoel Mariñez, the switch hitting DPL bred middle infield plug lassoed in for $95,000 by Oakland, additionally flashed promising performances for the Dominican cast to finish with a .246/.293/.351 mark (12:53 BB/K) while bashing 12 doubles and three triples to make him one of the more prominent offensive threats throughout the academy. While originally being pronounced as the switch hitting asset, Yoelie Mariñez floundered against lefties while batting right handed, going 3-43 with 18 strikeouts and a lone walk while batting .305/.354/.430 versus righties as a left-hander thus possibly prompting the organization to shift him should the trend be prolonged. Luis "Barry" Hernandez, nicknamed after Barry Bonds for his awe inspiring batting practice shows while participating with the Columbian national squad, and Andys Silva each impressed with their discipline capabilities through their initial stint for Oakland, with each amassing BB% rates north of 13.0% that didn't necessarily salvage their overall statistical measures thanks to BABIP percentages each below .270. Andys Silva, the Venezuelan middle infield asset, was far superior against southpaws during his debut romp last summer and features primarily as a defensive and utility specialist with line drive capabilities at the plate. Raymond Rivas, another Venezuelan infielder, possesses greater physical potential than Silva, standing 6'1", 185 pounds compared to Silva's modest 5'11", 160 pound frame and equally weilds an entirely different approach, rather opting for a swing first mentality as opposed to Andys' patience with beneficial results as Rivas amassed a .323 BABIP to rank fourth upon the entire club despite his horrendous eight cumulative walks drawn through his 194 plate appearances. Miguel Guzman and Mitchell Martes, both humongous teenage farmhands (6'2", 210 and 6'5", 215) have each struggled thus far offensively for the DSL bunch, with Martes featuring as an intriguing asset hailing from the Netherlands after inking for $50,000 from Aruba to coincide with Shawn Duinkerk as another Aruban pressence for Oakland. 







Alongside these shall be debuting rookie acquisitions such as Yhoelnys Gonzalez, Jesus Monserratt and Gean Rigby, with Rigby and Momserratt being the first individuals signed by Oakland to have been born in 1997. Yhoelnys, inked on July 25th, was the corresponding transaction following the splash of Carlos Hiciano and Jesus Lopez for a cumulative $1.7M. Yhoelnys, the 6'1", 170 pound center field prospect deviously participated in Miami showcases with his travel ballclub out of Venezuela and has recieved acclaim for his smooth swing mechanics and athleticism. Gean Rigby, another center field asset and the second Nicaraguan addition following Jesus Lopez, bolsters a potent outfield cast as a 6'1", 180 pound developing offensive weapon with current gap power for the teenager having just recently turned 17. Another 17 year old, the Venezeulan backstop of Jesus Monserratt complements a solid catching contingent and shall shadow Guzman, Hernandez and Mullen behind the plate as he gradually garners professional experience within the academy. 







Upon the mound, losses of the remarkable sensation of Jesus Zambrano and outstandingly consistent southpaw, Victor Veliz, still don't squander the potential upon the ballclub with sophomores Ivan Andueza and Juan Mendoza figuring to anchor the rotation after once more following admirable initial stints within the starting bunch for the Venezuelan lefty in Andueza and the Dominican All-Star representative in Mendoza. Andueza, formally a teenage injury replacement option upon the VWL Lara squad, is hardly an imposing pressence upon the mound as he conjures comparisons to another diminutive Venezuelan arm in Ronnie Herrera; despite Andueza actually being older than the Snappers rotation staple (2/7/1995). Andueza, standing at 5'11", 175 pounds, neutralized opposing offenses with a 2.93 FIP amassed between his 67 IP with a 49:23 BB/K (17.2% K%/7.7% BB%) to coincide with a lone HR permitted and a 1.39 GB/FB produced thanks in part to a plus changeup. It was a stellar performance that firmly places the lefty in consideration for Arizona duties even prior to the opening of the Papago schedule for 2014 should he dominate initially, attempting to become the first mid-season promotion from the DSL academy since Gregory Paulino. Juan Mendoza surprisingly enough even exceeded the southpaw's output himself: 





"Want an international sleeper that's even more so hidden than Ronald Herrera or Jesus Zambrano? Look no further. Mendoza, also born in 1996, was 17 throughout the previous DSL campaign in what was his debut professional season as well. In the process of his debut, he received a DSL All-Star game berth alongside Jean Carlo Rodriguez and featured as one of the more reliable producers of a developing Dominican bunch. As he accumlulated his 71 2/3 IP, he would amass one of the most outstanding groundball rates of any rookie league Oakland prospect while walking 21 (7.1% BB%) and allowing a minuscule two dingers to compensate for a less than desirable 42 strikeouts (14.1% K%). The numbers translate to a 3.44 FIP, and a even more pristine 1.88 ERA for the Venezeulan. Unlike his fellow countrymen, Zambrano and Herrera, Mendoza has a greater physical potential (6'2", 175 pounds) and has optimistism revolving amongst his projection. But despite that recent success, the organization seems skewed towards retaining Mendoza in the Dominican for another campaign, with a probable AZL promotion in July/August. He'll turn 18 on April 15th"






Accompanying the rotation assets are intriguing potential riddlied pieces such as Jesus Rivas, a recently converted arm from his previous outfield post in an attempt to reciprocate Jensi Peralta's conversion success after the righty went 13 2/3 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 7 K as the squad's closer through 2013. Anderson Mata, inked alongside Jose Torres as another Venezuelan lefty, shall attempt to finally congeal and ascend to Arizona while the former Miami farmhand Kevin Ferrera (27 2/3 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 12 BB, 36 K) attempts to duplicate his previous dominance. Yonalis Delgadillo and Elihoref Suniaga return following absences while Wilfredo Magallanes, Jose Trejo, and Argenis Blanco, and the Puerto Rican Philip Ortiz return after debut campaigns during 2013. Yordy Alejo, Angel Duno and Reynaldo Hoyos reacclimate as DSL juniors present at the facility while Emerson Nelo and Jhenderson Hurtado attempt to debut alongside Ruber Aquino, Enmanuel Sullivan, Jorge Martinez, Santiago Rodriguez, Gerardo Vilchez and Jean Carlo Ruiz Torres despite being present but unable to contend through the 2013 calendar year. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oakland A's Extended Spring Training Update





With the opening of campaigns throughout the country between Beloit, Midland, Sacramento and Stockton, most have forgotten that the remaining outcasts yet to be assigned towards any full season affiliate have been participating within a regimen amongst their fellow Papago counterparts versus opposing organizations down in Arizona, having yet to see their March schedule shift until the Vermont and AZL campaigns get underway in June. Still tethered to Phoenix are such notable farmhands as Jesus Zambrano, Justin Higley, Chris Kohler, Dustin Driver, Yario Muñoz, Jesus Lopez, and Jose Torres who were retained due to inexperience, youth, inconsistency or just sheer inability to cram them onto an available roster as this bunch of misfits contends for injury replacement duties prior to Lake Monster roster configurations in the approaching month. Joining me to update on this seldom addressed sector of the farm system is 26th round acquisition from the 2013 Draft, Kyle Wheeler, the catcher hailing from Mississippi and a previous interviewee for this very blog who provided some intriguing insight on the Arizona proceedings thus far: 








CK: Hey there Kyle. As a catcher, how have the guys upon the mound looked thus far? Anybody in particular that's stood out through the first month? 





KW: I've been beyond impressed with Jesus Zambrano. The kid is 17 years old and can dominate players at this level already. The stuff he has is quite impressive. Next I would have to say Blake McMullen, he has came in and shown up to play every outing. Great command of all three pitches and the movement he has developed on his two seam and change up makes him even more special!... Blake's last two outings consisted of 8 IP has only allowed one hit while only walking one batter in 14 innings. He's an old country boy from the south, similarly to [Drew] Granier, and he's got that attitude that he will beat you even if you beat him nine out of ten times... He's gonna be damn sure he gets you that last time that counts. 







AJ Burke and Jon Massad equally have came in doing great jobs as well! Both guys have come in and dominated the bottom of the strike zone. And of course Dustin Driver... What a difference from the AZL to this Spring! He commands his fastball from 93-96.... Key word he is *commanding*. He has gained a lot of confidence in all his pitches and looks like a completely different pitcher. 






Chris Kohler has been on the DL with a sore shoulder. Shockingly Cody Kurz has been better and better every outing, but not sold on the control he's having yet. Kurz and I have developed a good catcher-pitcher relationship and every time I've caught him he's done well, just hoping he can adjust to other catchers. Jose Torres has been ok, spotty at times with command but when he has it he's lethal. And Jensi Peralta is the same as Torres. More trouble with command than Torres though. But a big improvement from last season in the AZL. 







CK: What about on the offensive side? Again, anybody in particular that has been noticeable? 







KW: Man, there's no individual that is out hitting one another... We have all swung the bats well! If I had to separate two people it would be Dayton Alexander and Brett Vertigan. Those guys have a chip on their shoulder and have shown it. Vertigan with easily five or six triples and two HRs in extended. And clutch with runners in scoring position. And Dayton just competes... Hard day in and day out like it's his last game to play. Most impressive offensively since spring started though would be Seongmin Kim. He has gone with a new approach and crushes balls now. 







CK: A couple guys in particular that interest me are AJ Kubala and Justin Higley. Kubala came in as a high schooler and struck out in over half of his plate appearances through his AZL debut in 2013 and Justin Higley was pretty well deserving of Beloit this season. What have been your impressions on them thus far? 






KW: AJ [Kubala] is a hard nosed worker who puts in more work than anyone in their free time. He's made several adjustments and is a lot shorter to the ball which will eliminate the strikeouts. I expect a big season from him wherever it is that he will be playing. He's young with a lot of upside in him, it's just putting it all together consistently that will make him the true player that he is capable of being... Higley has had a good spring. I hate he didn't break camp because he's a great player, but Boogie [Powell] and [Bijon] Boyd both were in front of him. 







CK: What about the man in question... Yourself. How has the spring been treating you out in Arizona? 






KW: [Laughs] I've improved tremendously since camp has started! Went from throwing 2.1's to 1.8's [Home to second] and Gabriel Ortiz has helped me a lot. It's definitely starting to show! I came in a little slow on the hitting side, late on a lot of fastballs, but have worked with our hitting coaches and more on time and ready to hit now. To me, it's all about being patient and buying into what your trying to learn from your coaches and it has benefited me a tremendous amount.







CK: How has the facial hair situation been too? I hope you keep growing it to Derek Norris lengths like we promised...





KW: [Laughs] Oh man, Dusty Brown gives me crap about it everyday but still growing it out! Got another five months before I even think about cutting it. 










CK: Dusty Brown is just a crotchety old man




KW: That is the truest statement about Dusty!





CK: Hope everything else goes well out in Papago, Wheelie. And get out to Stockton ASAP





KW: Hope to get there sooner than later!








Noted, Blake McMullen is a 6'1", 205 righty hailing from the NAIA institution of the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma who accumulated 24 2/3 frames within the AZL during his 2013 campaign following his 29th round acquisition and amassed a 20:14 K/BB while permitting a lone dinger. Seemingly demonstrating his offseason improvement through this spring stretch, McMullen additionally flashed reasons for optimism during his initial professional stint with a 1.29 GB/FB ratio. While not spoken of as highly, Jensi Peralta enters as an intriguing farmhand following the 22 year old Venezuelan's conversion towards the mound following a lackluster offensive stretch for Oakland between the Dominican academy and the AZL, now entering his third campaign since his shift after a mere frame pitched during 2012 and 18 IP accumulated through 2013 with an erratic 19:13 K/BB with no HRs and a 1.33 GB/FB. The sample size is misiscule for Peralta, but his probable Vermont assignment makes him an interesting and underrated relieving prospect to monitor. AJ Burke and Jon Massad each participated in AZL exclusive attempts as well, with Burke having his campaign abruptly hindered by an injury as the 31st (Burke) and 25th (Massad) round pickups each completed successful debuts with Massad amassing a 24:5 K/BB within his 30 IP (3 HR/2.19 GB:FB) and AJ Burke went 29 H, 18 ER (1 HR), 6 BB, 18 K in his 20 2/3 IP. Cody Kurz, the 8th round asset plucked from Oxnard College in the 7th round during 2012, featured as a hulking former linebacker recruit that was essentially selected as a potential exclusive option, struggling nightly to command while partaking against collegiate competion. That inconsistency transitioned forth into the professional ranks after walking 29 in his 21 2/3 IP while punching out a mere nine before succumbing to an injury that squandered the entirety of his 2013, thus entering this campaign as a perculiar and fascinating bullpen option to watch. Positionally, Seongmin Kim arrives as one of Oakland's most high profile Pacific Rim assets as the most hefty international acquisition between the 2011 and 2012 signing periods after inking for $510,000 before the Korean backstop partook in a debut campaign within the Australian academy before being flown domestically to the southwest. Kim has been stunted however attributable to physical roadbumps, only amassing 55 plate appearances thus far within the AZL. Eligible for Vermont, the 21 year old receives unanimous acclaim for his offensive capabilities and reportedly has improved vastly defensively with his reactions behind the plate, establishing this 2014 as a potential breakthrough campaign for Seongmin. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oakland snatches Nick Buss






Increasing their already teeming Sacramento outfield harem, the Athletics have swiped a MiLB Dodger homestay in that of Nick Buss away from his longstanding originating organization following his 2008 Draft selection by Los Angeles to further bolster Oakland's outfield contingent alongside Michael Taylor, Jake Goebbert and Shane Peterson; as Kent Matthes, another 40 man roster asset, was shipped forth to Texas and services as the third opening day Rockhound packaged to Midland (Anthony Aliotti, Hiroyuki Nakajima) over the initial month within the A's system. Jake Goebbert, due to his remarkable surge immediately following a permanent and engrained stay for the Kitty Cats after a brief opportunity in August of 2013, successfully sidestepped the acquisition by showcasing his .274/.381/.526 slash, 15:16 BB/K and 13 XBH (26 cumulative hits within a 113 PA sample) as proof of his deserving retainment with the PCL affiliate compared to Matthes' meager .208/.279/.287 marker and team leading 31 punchouts as the similar waiver acquisition floundered enough while housed in Sacramento to spurn Oakland to seek a replacement. While Matthes acclimates once more to the dimensions of the Texas League following his previous Tulsa tenure, Nick Buss usurps his absent roster post after the USC alumni burst through the Los Angeles organization en route to his major league debut while within the midst of a breakthrough campaign for Albuquerque. The versatile component, having participated relatively evenly throughout each outfield position through his professional career, Buss rampaged past PCL repertoires with a .303/.363/.525 slash amassed to complement his 131 wRC+, .387 wOBA, and .222 ISO between a hefty 518 plate appearances for the Isotopes to acquire a major league stint. Unfortunately, the success didn't transition as seamlessly for Buss, who went 2-19 with Los Angeles despite striking out only once and was unable to continue forth with them into the postseason.  





For Oakland, Buss facilitates the rotated outfield post upon the ballclub between he and Jake Goebbert with the pair promising to split between LF and DH through most Sacramento lineup configurations. Thus far, Buss has gone 2-8 for the Kittens with a HBP while debuting in his initial two contests for the A's organization, ironically enough versus his former ballclub in Albuquerque. While still participating with the Isotopes during this campaign, Buss went 24-92 with a 8:12 BB/K and 7 XBH (1 HR) in an uninspiring effort that convinced LAD to dispose of the 27 year old lefty. Sacramento should continue to utilize Buss through the upcoming months, as currently he and Shane Peterson are the only 40 man outfield members upon the Rivercats while Taylor and Goebbert still fiercely contend to alter their situation. In correspondence to the inheritance of Buss, AJ Griffin was placed upon the 60 Day DL and still provides Oakland with the TJS scheduled Raul Alcantara to await his 60 Day DL assignment, thus freeing another potential position should Oakland require a vacancy. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Raul Alcantara done for 2014




Announced this evening, Oakland's #1 overall pitching farmhand in Raul Alcantara shall undergo Tommy John surgery after receiving a MRI in Arizona following a DL assignment for the ever ominous "elbow soreness". For Alcantara, the 21 year old Dominican Andrew Bailey trade acquisition, it signifies a devastating blow to the organization after his offseason 40 man amnesty to avoid Rule 5 suitors from nabbing him and breakthrough 2013 campaign between Stockton and Beloit in which Alcantara amassed a 2.91 FIP within Wisconsin (77 1/3 IP) and a 4.21 marker with the Ports (79 IP) after an abysmal 2012 attempt with Burlington as a 19 year old. Hailed as possessing the best developing changeup in the organization, while bolstering that with a plus fastball, the 6'3" righty dispatched any opposing competition consistently through 2013 while walking a mere 24 batters amongst 649 faced (3.7% BB%) to earn honors as the most precision precise pitcher within the Oakland organization. And aside from a 3 HR contest versus Rancho Cucamonga, Raul was exquisite with limiting hard hit and home run contact, accumulating a 1.72 GB/FB ratio between the two affiliates. 





Having sufficiently convinced the organization of his standing, Alcantara was bestowed with a Midland assignment five months past his 21st birthday following his first initial MLB spring camp and would impress with an eight inning effort (8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K) en route to a victory. In his second outing, the strikeout percentages rebounded for the 180 pounder, going 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K to secure the Texas League pitcher of the week honor prior his most recent performance. Unfortunately, Alcantara would encounter his first roadbump of his Rockhound tenure as the youngster went 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K against San Antonio and threw only 49 of his 84 pitches for strikes. It was the first contest since June 23rd, Alcantara's California League debut, in which he walked more than he struck out and his first 3+ BB effort after only walking three or more twice throughout 2013. It would be revealed that Alcantara was suffering from discomfort though, contributing to his struggles, and was promptly placed upon the disabled list and shipped to Arizona where it has been discovered that he shall have to take part in reconstructive UCL surgery should he ever wish the pitch again. Raul ought to be eligible by May 2015 at the earliest, but could be absent for all of the 2015 season as well depending upon his recuperation. He'll likely be assigned to Midland once more when prepared. 





For Oakland, already witnessing the other top pitching prospects in Michael Ynoa and Bobby Wahl land upon the DL a month into the season, it serves as a brutal loss to an organization already ailing