Friday, June 14, 2013
Billy McKinney (OF, West Plano HS/TX, DOB: 8/23/1994):
McKinney was a surprise selection by the A’s as Beane elected to go the high school route in the 1st round for the second consecutive season, deviating away from previous Billy Beane-ian philosophies, to scoop up their first HS OF 1st rounder since Nathan Haynes back in 1997, the last draft in which Beane was not at the GM helm for. Buzz about Hunter Harvey, Aaron Judge (A former Oakland draft selection), and Rob Kaminsky was hot pre draft, but very much like the previous season Beane switched it up to take McKinney, which the only mention of him to Oakland before June 6th was from Jim Callis, who noted the A’s interest in him in his mock draft the day before. But overall, Oakland got a pretty advanced hitter for his age in what scouts have referred to as one of the “sweetest swings” in the class. He got a late spring boost despite an overall tool set that registers as average, his swing mechanics are what makes him stand out with some of the best discipline out there, only striking out 6 times during his entire senior campaign in Plano. Already having a firm commitment to TCU, Oakland waved 1.8 million under his nose and McKinney decided to sign with Oakland, promising to take the reins as the best overall outfield prospect for the green and gold when Michael Choice heads to the majors within the next year
Status: SIGNED: $1,800,000, $93,500 saved from the slot.
Dillon Overton (RHP, Oklahoma, DOB: 8/17/1991):
Once upon a time, Jonathan Gray took a backseat to his Sooner teammate, Dillon Overton, who was thought to be an upper first round talent following his senior year but dipped into the 2nd round and to the A’s at #63 overall. A lanky 6’2” 160 pounder (Think Jeff Urlaub), Overton becomes a serious lefty threat and might just take the position as #1 left handed pitching prospect in the system following the loss of Ian Krol in the Jaso deal back in January. He originally featured a 95 MPH fastball and flashed plus strikeout numbers in 2012 as a sophomore but saw the need to change following a forearm issue this season coupled with a willingness to improve his secondary offerings while preserving his arm. As one could predict, the Ks lessened as he hovered in the 86-90 MPH range all while Gray’s 100 MPH landed him a #3 overall selection and legitimate #1 overall buzz. But taking second fiddle in Oklahoma’s rotation still doesn’t change the fact that he is a sneaky pickup by Oakland as Overton easily had late first round/early second round potential. A command guy with an advanced changeup and a filthy slider with serious movement, Overton could also see an increase in velocity if they place him in a bullpen role. Though they figure to stretch him out to start
Status: UNSIGNED, figures to sign soon though
Chad Pinder (3B, SS, 2B, Virginia Tech, DOB: 3/29/1992):
Pinder profiles to a better version of Grant Green, pretty much. Still a shitty walk rate and unsustainable BABIP numbers, but has the potential for greater power statistics and actually has a defined defensive position… Well, sort of.
The debate is as to whether he fits better at third or second, as 2B seems to be a much faster route to the majors in Oakland’s system at the moment, as he’d have to pass through Renato Nunez, BA Vollmuth, Miles Head, Jefry Marte and the stuffed Sacramento infield at third whereas the path at second looks more like Bostick, Lamas, Coleman and Green. The latter option in a lot less daunting for sure, plus the A’s only picked up two middle infielders alongside Pinder in this entire draft class, one of whom plays 2B (Edwin Diaz and Joe Bennie). But whatever the plan may be, what is certain is that Pinder has starred on the defensive end, being bestowed with the title of “Best defensive third baseman in college baseball” by numerous scouts. Figures to be an interesting experiment
Status: SIGNED, $750,000
Ryon Healy (1B, Oregon, DOB: 1/10/1992):
Healy is the first giant selected in this draft, standing 6’5” and listed at 227 pounds. And now this behemoth is with the A’s. As you could assume from his size, he projects to be a power bat and his performance has led to consideration for Pac-12 POTY honors.
Originally having had entered the Oregon system as a third baseman, his mediocre arm strength and limited range forced him to 1B, where he has succeeded thus far as an amateur. So while the tag lines of “The next Evan Longoria” coming out of high school were a bit overblown, his potential still landed him a draft selection at #100 overall by the Athletics. He’ll enter a farm system teeming with first base talent such as Max Muncy, Matt Olson, and Anthony Aliotti. He hit .333/.408 (28 BB, 24 K)/.556 with 11 dingers and 20 doubles during this, his junior season.
Status: UNSIGNED, figures to sign though
Chris Kohler (LHP, Los Osos HS, DOB: 5/4/1995):
Now the youngest player in the A’s system (Not counting the Dominican Summer League participants), Kohler inked two days following the draft and made up for previous high school lefty losses in the previous two drafts in Jace Fry and Kyle Twomey, both of whom opted to head to the Pac-12. This now also makes Kohler the first HS LHP gotten by the A’s since Ian Krol, as Oakland gets an extremely promising California arm. Kohler, but nine weeks a legal adult, was profiled as a position player prior to his junior season, garnering a USC commitment at first base, but elected to don the mound which assisted him preserving his arm strength and durability. Despite that, he’s still a soft tosser whose ceiling is maybe an occasional 93 MPH but sits at 88-91 for the moment, also featuring a changeup and curveball that are both equally elite for his age range. He’s headed out to the AZL and expected to remain there for the rest of 2013. He struck out 113 in 72 innings this season for Los Osos.
Status: SIGNED, $486,600
Dylan Covey (RHP, San Diego, DOB: 8/14/1991):
Covey was a former 1st round talent, being plucked by Milwaukee at 14th overall in 2010; four spots back of Michael Choice, as advertised had an incredibly diverse repertoire. But before the signing deadline, he learned he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was forced to his honor is collegiate commitment at San Diego in order to better cope with the disease and learn how to manage with it in a more controlled environment. Expected to be a top 5 selection upon reentering the fray, his inconsistency and mental issues, especially pitching from the stretch, hindered his value and allowed him to slide down to Oakland at the back end of the 4th round, 131st overall. With a Joe Blanton/Trevor Cahill body type, Covey has a fastball sitting in the low 90’s that can reach 95 at certain instances with a positive slider and an average changeup and curve. However, the A’s pitching staff should be salivating over Covey’s potential with a lengthy history of pitching development, specifically with changeups, and according to Baseball America Covey demonstrated a mechanical adjustment in his final collegiate outing as a Torero that could prove to pay dividends as well
Status: SIGNED $370,000
Bobby Wahl (RHP, Mississippi, DOB: 3/21/1992):
Quite possibly the biggest steal in the entire draft came at #161 overall when the A’s found one Bobby Wahl, a native Virginian who stuck his nose up at an offer exceeding $1,000,000 out of high school and traveled to Ole Miss to pitch for the Rebels. Wahl’s ceiling is pretty damn high, thought to be one of the most sought after college arms on the board after an underclassman career in the south where he featured a fastball sitting at 94 MPH and at some points reaching 97 with plus secondaries in his slider and changeup. However, entering this season, he grappled with a litany of blister issues and saw a decrease in his velocity to what some contribute to as an increased slider percentage. But regardless, Wahl still put up dominant stat lines this past season and figured to be plucked in the first three rounds, but of course, it didn’t play out that way and now Oakland has themselves face-to-face with the trickiest sign in this draft class, trying to lock up all Top 10 draft selections for the first time since 2010. In a post-draft interview, Wahl seemed pretty much on the fence as to his decision:
“Of course I’ve thought about it. No matter what would have happened I would have thought about it, even if I’d have gone in the top 10 picks. Ole Miss is a special place, a place I’ve called home. Obviously I’m thinking about it, but I’m in a win-win situation here with the Athletics. It’s a great organization. I have to wait and see.”
That’s a whole lotta nothing. But meh, if you’re the type that enjoys draft signing battles painstakingly stretching out into Mid-July, here’s your name to keep an eye on
Kyle Finnegan (RHP/Texas State/DOB: 9/4/1991):
Your obligatory hard throwing relief specialist, Beane expended his 6th round selection on Kyle Finnegan, a powerful arm from the lone star state. Finnegan actually was stretched out for the Bobcats, but profiles favorably to a bullpen role, with outstanding velocity that fizzles after a few innings and questionable secondary stuff. Of course, his central issue is developing a changeup, and Oakland’s organization should greatly assist with that, but he still most likely fall into a starting role.
Status: UNSIGNED, expects to sign this weekend
Dustin Driver (RHP, Wenatchee HS/DOB: 10/11/1994):
Driver was a surprise pickup by the A’s in the 7th round after being considered signable in the first three and would figure to report to UCLA, but shockingly, Oakland has reportedly gotten him rather to commit to the pros instead, as he himself announced via twitter. This makes this the first draft since 2005 with multiple high school pitchers signed in the top 10 rounds as well (Craig Italiano, Kevin Bunch, Scott Deal, Jared Lansford). Hoooopefully the duo of Kohler and Driver can wind up having more of a major league impact than those four, but one can only hope…
Some scouts even prefer Driver over Kohler with higher velocity rates and a thick 6’2” 200 pound build. But outside of his 93 MPH straight stuff, he needs considerable improvement on his secondaries. Here’s hoping the A’s staff assists him there as the native of the “Apple capital of the world” and top prep prospect from the northwest now belongs to the green and gold
Status: SIGNED (Unofficially). Contract announcement coming shortly
Tyler Marincov (OF/North Florida/DOB: 10/21/1991):
A former Detroit draftee and high school quarterback, Marincov has become one of premier players in the Atlantic Sun conference with flashes of power potential and serious speed (21 stolen bases in 23 attempts during his junior campaign. He doesn’t feature a specific attribute that’ll ‘wow’ scouts, but cumulative his overall package provides a pretty consistent force in any lineup. Some fear his elongated swing could lead to higher strikeout percentages in the minor league ranks, and that he translates to a gap hitter as opposed to a dinger machine, but his pure athleticism could offset said issues as progresses through the farm system.
Matt Stalcup (LHP/Pittsburg State/ DOB: 7/6/1990):
The most glaring thing about Stalcup is that he’s damn old, in fact, the second oldest player drafted by the Athletics behind Ben McQuown. But the lefty can strikeout a shit ton of batters, and has become one of the largest non-D1 K threats available. He boasts a 93 MPH FB, a reliable curve, average changeup and a delivery reminiscent of Warren Spahn (WINDMILL FTW!!1!!!1!1!!). But the main issue for the Gorillas hurler is his changeup command, which has been pretty terrible to say the least. Luckily, Oakland (See Dan Straily) has ways of helping that… Plus, as a 5th year college senior he comes extremely cheap.
Status: SIGNED, $7,500
Jerad Grundy (LHP/Kentucky/DOB: 9/11/1990):
First of all, don’t dare being going all crazy over his birthday, truthers.
But anywho, Grundy once featured some seriously explosive stuff as a college freshman, but has traded in velocity at the expense of precision, now sitting with an 88 MPH FB as opposed to his original mid-90’s arsenal. He’s also given up on his slider development in favor of an extremely polished changeup and thus dwells as a contact first pitcher. Grundy has been through the process numerous times, this being his 4th time being drafted and now finally accepts a professional assignment at a severely reduced price tag. Time will only tell if Grundy will make it big and blow up *pun intended* for the A’s (I’m sorry, I hate myself for that too)
Status: SIGNED, $5,000
11th Round- Lou Trivino
A five pitch guy and a rare draft selection out of Slippery Rock U that made headwaves after an incredible 2013: 82 2/3 IP, 58 H, 17 ER, 18 BB, 92 K, 0 HR, 4 HBP. Status: SIGNED
12th round- Dakota Freese
Lincecum comparisons for mechanics and a 95 MPH fastball hailing from Iowa: 61 IP, 32 H, 18 ER, 41 BB, 90 K, 7 HBP. Status: SIGNED
13th round- Justin Higley
A pure power bat with some tweaks needed to be made with his swing mechanics. Plus has the upside of being one of the youngest collegiate juniors in the class: .252/.332/.471, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 10 dingers, 22 BB, 55 K. Status: SIGNED
14 round- James Lomangino
One of the best arms in the Big East, Lomangino fell to Oakland on day 2, and the A’s pounced: 90 1/3 IP, 91 H, 38 ER, 36 BB, 85 K, 3 HR, 7 HBP. Status: UNSIGNED
15th round- Edwin Diaz
Second ever Puerto Rican draft selection by the A’s in their history following Robert Martinez in the 19th round of last season. Son of a former 2nd round selection in 1993, plus defensive defensive intangibles figure to keep him at shortstop along with a highly encouraging improvement offensively. Status: UNSIGNED
16th round- Junior Mendez
Had probably the best single season of any pitcher not affiliated with a D1 program this year. After consecutive years with subpar strikeout numbers, Mendez rose to become an absolutely filthy and dominating arm in game situations: 97 IP 70 H, 18 ER, 17 BB, 133 K, 0 HR. Status: SIGNED
17th round- Jaycob Brugman
Awesome name, and the power producer for BYU’s offense. An interesting later round pickup: .317/.412/.609, 16 doubles, 5 triples, 1 1 dingers, 30 BB, 48 K, 8 SB. Status: SIGNED
18th round- Sam Bragg
An Auburn commit who allowed only 3 XBH in 80+ innings for Georgia Perimeter. Doesn’t allow hardly any hard hit contact… At least, on the CC ranks that is. Another interesting arm to keep tabs on heading into short season: 82 1/3 IP, 62 H, 15 ER, 30 BB, 91 K, 1 HR, 3 HBP. Status: SIGNED
19th round- AJ Vanegas
A former 7th round selection in 2010 by San Diego, the Alameda native and Stanford student featured prominently in the Cardinal bullpen, throwing in the mid to upper 90’s at times. But his stock took a significant blow after only mustering up 8 2/3 IP on the season after numerous injuries and namely a back issue. The only hope Oakland has of luring him away from a senior campaign is to keep getting bargains (Currently $402,700 under budget) and divert all the remaining money to Vanegas (19th round slot limit is $502,700). Even that might not be enough for a potential first round talent that saw his junior season derailed. But Oakland at least has a sentimental edge, as Vanegas grew up an A’s fan, able to hear the Coliseum PA from his Alameda household. Status: UNSIGNED
20th round- Iolana Akau
Hawaiian catchers! Gotta love em’! But hopes of Akau becoming the next Kurt Suzuki seem dim, as the high school backstop has a firm commitment to the University of Hawaii and the position in which he was drafted seems unlikely to entice him away. He’s one of the best defensive prep catchers available with a promising future at the plate. Status: UNSIGNED
21 round- Scott Masik (CSULA OF): SIGNED
22nd round- Trevor Bayless (San Diego RHP): SIGNED
23 round- Josh Miller (USC-Aiken C): SIGNED
24th round- Kevin Johnson (Illinois RHP): SIGNED
25th round- Jon Massad (SNHU RHP): SIGNED
26th round- Kyle Wheeler (Belhaven C): SIGNED
27th round- Ryan Huck (WKU 1B, also a candidate for the NCAA baseball breakout player of the year award): SIGNED
28th round- Joe Bennie (ESU 2B); SIGNED
29th round- Blake McMullen (Science and Arts of Oklahoma RHP): SIGNED
30th round- Ben McQuown (Campbell OF, NCAA leader in stolen bases with 54 in 61 attempts): SIGNED
31st round- AJ Burke (Western Oregon RHP): SIGNED
32nd round- Dominique Vattuone (UNCG RHP): SIGNED
33rd round- Joseph Michaud (Bryant RHP): SIGNED
34 round- AJ Kubala (Arlington County Day 1B, a rare late round HS sign by Oakland. Figures to develop into his 6’1” 220 pound frame and produce for greater power): SIGNED
35TH round- AJ Puckett: UNSIGNED
36th round- Cooper Goldby: UNSIGNED
37th round- Francis Christy: UNSIGNED
38th round- Hunter Mercado-Hood: UNSIGNED
39th round- Hayden Howard: UNSIGNED
40th round- Dominic Mirogilo: UNSIGNED
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The #1 spot might not be who you think it is...
If you are a guy, please put aside your machismo and admit that you, like all men, have man crushes. You have to, at certain moments of your life, just drop the act and say “Hey bro, sorry to bother you and all, but I just wanted to let you know that you’re a fucking sexy beast.” A purely heterosexual admittance to another man’s hotness is perfectly acceptable, brah. So thus in the spirit of man crushes, here’s the list of the top contenders in the Oakland A’s organization who happen to be men and happen to be sexy too
#11: Hiroyuki Nakajima
The man had to wear a cup at press conferences in Japan because of women who would lunge at his manhood (This is true). He has undeniable international sex appeal, folks. It’s a fact.
#10: AJ Griffin
Flowing golden locks, would be an injustice to leave him off this list.
#9: Pedro Figueroa:
Pretty much know the size of goods coming in, so at least you can’t be disappointed
#8: Drew Granier
He’s adorable, do not fight it. Cute fuzzy little beard and a southern accent? Yes please.
#7: Michael Ynoa
What dreamy eyes
#6: John Jaso
A late entry due to this. You tease, John. But in all seriousness, a solid 9.0 on the ass… Ain’t no Michael Choice though (Coming up)
#5: Nate Freiman
Big, tall, and dreamy. Plus he hits dingers? And he’s a descendant of Trogdor? Sold.
#4: Michael Choice
#3: Shane Peterson
Mmm mmm mmm, somebody help me cause i'm gonna get lost in those abs
#2: Bartolo Colon
My squishy little Dominican teddy bear, Colon has taken the brunt of a lot of negative criticism over the years for being too fat, overweight and pudgy. Well you know what? Shut up… He’s just voluptuous, and y’all wish you could even be half of that much man. Work it, Bartolo.
#1: Joshua. Adam. Donaldson.
We all knew where this was going. We all knew from the get-go that this was a sham, me leading you astray, a dirty no good lie. There is no other but you, Joshua. I mean, just look at him… Ugggh god it just makes my knees quiver and my stomach queasy just laying eyes on this masterpiece. That mullethawk, those arms, the man is anatomically perfect in every way, shape and form
It just so happened, that on that fateful December 8th of 1985 in Pensacola, Florida, the world got a whole lot more hunkier when the reincarnated Adonis blessed us all with his presence. I’m not even sure how the residents of Florida managed not to faint every time they laid their eyes on him growing up. But then of course he moved to Alabama and for a brief amount of time managed to make the state somewhat less depressing, which was a phenomenal feat in itself. And after being drafted by Chicago in the supplemental first round in 2007, Billy Beane made the single most intelligent decision during his tenure as a GM, he dealt for him, and now having fast-forwarded five years, he is a legitimate All-Star caliber talent with remarkably improved discipline statistics and an absurd WPA that continues to balloon daily (Situational hitting ftw).
But Joshua, when you recline on your improvised throne made out of gold gloves in your palatial mansion 15 years from now, remember your roots. Remember who you got started with. Remember who unconditionally loved you on twitter… Me. Don’t you forget that mister. Wuv U
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
(All photos shot inbetween the 2012-2013 seasons)
Conner Crumbliss (Yes, riding a jackalope):
Raul Alcantara (Because he likes selfies):
Pedro Figueroa (Mostly his crotch):
Conner Crumbliss (Yes, riding a jackalope):
Raul Alcantara (Because he likes selfies):
Pedro Figueroa (Mostly his crotch):
Saturday, May 25, 2013
#1: Addison Russell (11th overall pick 2012 MLB Draft): .203/.308/.412, 7 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 172 PA, 22 BB, 50 K, 30 H, 4 SB (1 CS), .209 ISO, 92 wRC+, .258 BABIP, .320 wOBA
#2: Michael Choice (10th overall pick 2010 MLB Draft): .279/.388/.453, 6 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 209 PA, 29 BB, 40 K, 48 H, 1 SB (2 CS), .174 ISO, 122 wRC+, .313 BABIP, .378 wOBA
#3: Sonny Gray: (18th overall pick 2011 MLB Draft): 50 2/3 IP, 2.65 FIP, .319 BABIP, 72.3% LOB%, 49 K (23.3% K%), 19 BB (9.1% BB%), 1 HR (0.18 HR/9)
#4: Matt Olson (47th overall pick 2012 MLB Draft): .259/.346/.458, 15 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 188 PA, 22 BB, 52 K, 43 H, 2 SB (1 CS), .199 ISO, 128 wRC+, .343 BABIP, .369 wOBA
#5: Nolan Sanburn (2nd round supplemental pick 2012 MLB Draft): Shoulder Injury, N/A
#6: Daniel Robertson (34th overall pick 2012 MLB Draft): .261/.305/.398, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 95 PA, 5 BB, 22 K, 0 SB (3 CS), .136 ISO, 99 wRC+, .323 BABIP, .323 wOBA
#7: Renato Nunez (Free Agent 2010): .263/.329/.500, 9 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 167 PA, 13 BB, 47 K, 0 SB, .237 ISO, 132 wRC+, .323 BABIP, .376 wOBA
#8: Miles Head (Acquired for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney): .197/.272/.265, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 147 PA, 0 SB (1 CS), .068 ISO, 55 wRC+, .258 BABIP, .251 wOBA
#9: Grant Green (13th overall pick 2009 MLB Draft): .285/.353/.435, 14 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 208 PA, 4 SB (0 CS), .140 ISO, 103 wRC+, .329 BABIP, .349 wOBA
#10: Drew Granier (32nd round selection 2011 MLB Draft): 58 1/3 IP, 3.23 FIP, .297 BABIP, 81.6% LOB%, 68 K (27.3% K%), 29 BB (11.7% B%), 3 HR (0.46 HR/9)
#11: Vicmal De La Cruz (Free Agent 2010): Extended Spring Training, N/A
#12: Michael Ynoa (Free Agent 2008): 28 2/3 IP, 3.20 FIP, .276 BABIP, 75.8% LOB%, 29 K (24.0% K%), 10 BB (8.3% BB%), 1 HR (0.31 HR/9)
#13: BJ Boyd (4th round pick 2012 MLB Draft): Extended Spring Training, N/A
#14: Chris Bostick (44th round selection 2011 MLB Draft): .260/.352/.409, 9 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 181 PA, 9 SB (1 CS), 21 BB, 37 K, .149 ISO, 118 wRC+, .325 BABIP, .353 wOBA
#15: Raul Alcantara (Acquired for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney): 51 1/3 IP, 2.97 FIP, .298 BABIP, 66.5% LOB%, 31 K (14.2% K%), 5 BB (2.3% BB%), 2 HR (0.35 HR/9)
#16: Anthony Aliotti (15th round selection in 2009 MLB Draft): .354/.460/.560, 15 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 213 PA, 1 SB (1 CS), 36 BB, 41 K, .206 ISO, 185 wRC+, .426 BABIP, .442 wOBA
#17: Bruce Maxwell (2nd round pick 2012 MLB Draft): .303/.369/.430, 12 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 161 PA, 0 SB, 16 BB, 19 K, .127 ISO, 126 wRC+, .333 BABIP, .367 wOBA
#18: Max Muncy (5th round selection 2012 MLB Draft): .287/.414/.478, 7 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 220 PA, 0 SB (1 CS), 37 BB, 32 K, .191 ISO, 141 wRC+, .302 BABIP, .394 wOBA
#19: Dakota Bacus (9th round pick 2012 MLB Draft): 36 IP, 2.31 FIP, .343 BABIP, 72.4% LOB%, 36 K (23.4% K%), 9 BB (5.8% BB%), 1 HR (0.25 HR/9)
#20: Jefry Marte (Acquired for Collin Cowgill): .258/.368/.337, 7 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 106 PA, 3 SB (0 CS), 14 BB, 25 K, .079 ISO, 107 wRC+, .354 BABIP, .327 wOBA
Friday, May 24, 2013
It’s already late May and Oakland’s minor league squads have been churning away for about seven weeks now, providing a somewhat decent sample size to go off of for the time being. So, with only a couple weeks until draft day for the Athletics, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned minor league update of all the little aspiring A’s suiting up in central California, west Texas, and Wisconsin. First, the pitching, as Oakland’s MiLB pitching staff has raised some eyebrows with improved arms thanks in part to outstanding pitching development, a hallmark of the green and gold. Plus there has been a lot of squabbling over Oakland’s rotation, so these guys might very well be the answer to your cries for MOAR PITCHING. And even though a certain someone *Ahem Josh Bowman* has disappointed me [:(], others have filled the void as significant contributors and, more importantly, as the objects of my affection… So without further ado, here are the guys y’all should keep an eye out for:
Raul Alcantara (RHP/20 years old/Dominican Native): Ever thought that Alcantara (pictured above) could be the best piece we acquired from the Andrew Bailey deal?.. No? Well, it’s certainly not that way at the moment, but it might not be too far off. The Dominican youngster is starting to force scouts to take notice after his second go-around in the MWL and now his first as a Snapper.
Alcantara was given to the A’s in the deal for Bailey and Sweeney as Oakland’s return included Josh Reddick, Miles Head, and this guy. Alcantara for the most part was an afterthought in the deal after Oakland snagged “Mr. 4th Outfielder” in Reddick and an underrated hitting prospect in Head. So after the Georgian duo, you were left with a young, barely turned 19, wiry, right handed pitching prospect that had yet to truly establish himself as a professional, and 2012 wouldn’t be kind to him… He struggled mightily with control issues and Alcantara, already not a strikeout pitcher, was wildly inconsistent as he meandered through 100+ innings in Burlington. And meanwhile, Reddick was leading Oakland in dingers as well as being one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball for the division champion Oakland A’s. Not to mention Miles Head had raped the Cal League and left it for dead which shot him up to a consensus top 10 prospect for the Athletics.
However, thus far in 2013, the tables have turned. Miles Head has been downright mediocre for the Rockhounds and Reddick hasn’t had an offensive pulse since last August, plus his most recent wrist injury which currently has him riding the bench. Meanwhile, out in Wisconsin, Raul Alcantara has become the best thing since processed cheese and meat packing. The 20 year old, who still has until late December until he can legally drink and is the youngest on the Beloit pitching staff by a full 12 months, has starred in his return to the Midwest as the #1 starter. Through 51 1/3 IP, Ally has one of the elite walk rates in the organization, walking only five. Plus, also owning one of the greatest groundball rates in the organization as well, permitting only two HRs while producing 69 GBs on the season (1.34 GBs per inning). And while definitely not a strikeout threat, Alcantara’s consistency with his control and his groundball tendencies offset that, leading to outstanding peripherals (5-1, 2.81 ERA) and a much improved arm worthy of being top 5 in the organization.
Drew Granier (RHP/24 years old/Beard champion): Outside of baseball, Reddick’s shaving of his beard pretty much makes our friend Granier a runaway for best beard for an A’s affiliated player (Sorry Norris, but his is far more majestic). Other than that? Meh, he’s a pretty good pitcher too I guess… So good in fact that he’s also running away with the organizational strikeout lead, currently sitting 3rd in all of minor league baseball with 68 in 58 1/3 IP and the next closest A’s player to him at the moment is Sonny Gray at 49. Granier was the second overall to 50 strikeouts in MiLB baseball behind Archie Bradley and would’ve been the strikeout leader last year had it not been for a certain Oregon native and Marshall Alumni… Not to mention Granier has only allowed three dingers so far in a league that normally eats pitchers whole.
So where did Drew Granier even come from? Where all good things come from: Louisiana! Like hurricanes and voodoo and Lil Wayne (Warning: May depend on what your definition of good actually is)…. But anyways, Oakland unearthed this gem in the 32nd round back in 2011 out of Louisiana-Monroe in what scouts called a steal, with a MLB ready fastball scraping 94 MPH at its peak. And Drew promptly struck out everything in sight upon being assigned to the AZL and Vermont before the offseason hit and entered his first pro break before an assignment to Burlington, where he starred as the staff ace. While a little bit on the older side (Turns 25 in November), his strikeout talents already have whispers of “Straily” going around the organization and the righty embraces every word of it. I spoke with Granier out in Stockton and here’s an excerpt of the convo:
Chris Kusiolek: So I heard I story out of Burlington last season that you separated your shoulder mid-start and stayed in to pitch, is this true?
Drew Granier (For full effect, imagine a subtle southern twang): Yeah, it was about the third inning. I had an 0-2 on the hitter and the catcher threw it back to me so I went up to catch it and my shoulder just popped out. So the trainer came out and everything, but I mean it’s happened before, and I usually just put it back in myself. So I walked back to the dugout, shoved it back in, and came back out. The very next pitch, I gave up a home run, but I wound up settling in and went six innings I think
So… Drew Granier is gritty beyond words. I mean, Inge level type of grittiness. This is amazing, Oakland has a Brandon Inge/Dan Straily/Josh Reddick love child, and I love it. Here’s some more:
CK: Am I right to assume that you consider yourself a strikeout pitcher?
DG: Oh yeah, I love the strikeout. I’m not even gonna lie. I go for the strikeout against every batter, and that’s why I get a couple walks here and there, but I like doing my thing and going for the K
CK: Can you give me a rundown have the pitches you have?
DG: Umm, Fastball, changeup, curveball and slider… I usually like my slider against the lefties and curveball for the righties.
CK: What’s the one pitch you felt you made most improvement on this offseason and feel more comfortable using in game situations?
DG: The slider, that’s usually my strikeout pitch. But I’ve also been trying to develop a changeup and I’ve been doing a good deal of work on that in the pen so hopefully it’ll come around soon.
Still a lot of work to be done on Granier, and only 10 Cal League starts in, but the “Straily” buzz doesn’t seem too farfetched at the moment.
Sonny Gray (RHP/23 years old/Vandy heartthrob): Gray was shipped out straight to Midland after a pit stop in Arizona back in 2011 after the A’s chose him at 18th overall out of Vanderbilt. Since then Gray has risen to Oakland’s #1 overall pitching prospect now that Straily is receiving major league time, but Gray might not be far behind him. He nearly was selected already after a near Jarrod Parker DL scare, but Gray wouldn’t be flown out to Seattle just yet, only now getting his first significant AAA time after a late season start of just four innings last year. Sonny, Vandy’s workhorse during their CWS run with him at the helm, is finally seeing the strikeout numbers that eluded him in Midland, now at 49 in 50 2/3 IP including an outstanding 7 IP, 0 BB, 11 K game in his last outing for the kitties. Always with exceptional groundball rates and control that has limited dinger production (1 HR in 50 2/3 IP this season, 8 in 152 IP for Midland); Gray looks to be the immediate next in line option for the A’s, but just not quite yet…
Michael Ynoa (RHP/21 years old/4.5 million dollar man): Ahhh yes, the ever intriguing Michael Ynoa. His name has become as infamous in the A’s fanbase as Daric Barton, Tyson Ross (Who shares an odd resemblance to him), and Bob Geren. A name that provokes emotion the second it is heard. And what kind of emotion in Ynoa’s case you ask? Well, something along the lines of “Pshh, what a bust”, “Who??” (Sarcastically of course), and “The next Felix Hernandez my ass”. And sadly yes, Ynoa got bit by the same MLB superstar comparison curse that made Daric Barton a leper amongst Oakland fans, so Ynoa already is walking on eggshells thanks in part to scouts having a prospectgasm.
But in case you’re not in the know, Ynoa (pronounced IN-OH-AH) was signed for $4,500,000 as a 16 year old out of the Dominican, but failed to show up until 2010. Ranging from reoccurring elbow issues to wisdom teeth, Ynoa’s name is synonymous with injury… You think Jed Lowrie gets injured often? You think the same with Brett Anderson? Well, Jed Lowrie fucking bows before Mike Ynoa. And Anderson has a Jobu-like Ynoa figure that he prays and offers sacrifices to everyday. Jed wants to grow up to be Mike Ynoa. Anderson wishes he could be Mike Ynoa, but he never will be. Because Ynoa is THE Mr. Glass overlord over all other injury prone baseball players… Just to be clear who we’re talking about.
But anyways, Ynoa didn’t have an extended pitching opportunity until last season, as a 20 year old, and made it through Arizona and Vermont all while struggling to harness command in just a little bit over 30 innings. But this offseason, as Ynoa was Rule 5 eligible, the A’s protected him by reserving a space on their 40 man roster for him which meant he would receive major league spring training instruction before being assigned to his first full season team. However… Ynoa’s arrival was delayed due to chicken pox, and he would be optioned before appearing in any spring games. So same old same old. A’s fans grumble and laugh in disbelief and forget the name for another year…
But Michael Ynoa is doing something never seen before: Mike Ynoa is pitching efficiently on US soil. Yes, in nine undeterred, completely healthy starts (With pitch counts of course), Ynoa has been one of the most successful pitchers in the MWL. In 28 1/3 IP, he has allowed 21 H, 5 ER, 10 BB and has K’d 29 with his only HR coming in his first appearance and only because Byron Buxton is Byron Buxton. Now this is incredibly encouraging, and even though Ynoa missed so much time, he still is one of the youngest on the Beloit staff due to being inked at such an extremely young age. And even though his 4.5 million dollar payday, now the 2nd highest contract given to an amateur international free agent ever, seems like it wasn’t the brightest idea in retrospect, it still very well could pay dividends. Beane knew the risk he was taking in Ynoa, and he’s going to ride with him until the very end. The fact that he’s actually dominating in the MWL right now is just a plus.
Bruce Billings (RHP/26 years old/Mark Ellis trade chip): Every A’s fan who was with the club before the 2012 season remembers the story… Dateline: Oakland, CA. Root beer float day, June of 2011. Veteran A’s infielder, Mark Ellis, is serving root beer floats in the eastside club and in mid scoop and then suddenly… An A’s assistant taps him on the shoulder and just like that, the Mark Ellis era ended and the Jemile Weeks era had begun. Ellis was dealt to Colorado, but nobody seems to remember what we got for him. The answer?: AA outfielder Eliezer Mesa, who was picked up in the AA portion of this year’s Rule 5 draft by Detroit. And this guy, Bruce Billings.
Later on in 2011, Billings gave up one of three grand slams to the Yankees in New York in that god awful 22-9 loss to the evil empire and is pretty much the only major league memory most have of Billings. But guess what, Bruce is still alive and well, being one of the best starters for the kitties in 2013. Out of San Diego St, Billings wandered through Colorado’s farm system and has been in limbo with the A’s for most part, pretty much an enigma in the AAA rotation. But after being a non-roster invitee this spring and dominating thus far in Sacramento, Bruce Billings could be the answer to Oakland fans’ woes over the rotation.
Walking only 16 and striking out 48 (T3rd in in the organization) while only giving up 3 HRs in 44 innings, Billings and Gray have split apart from the rest of the pack as the pride of Sacramento’s rotation. Additionally, in his previous five starts, Billings has had 7+ strikeouts in four of them, establishing himself as one of the premiere K threats in the organization. Beyond Gray, there is Billings, and there is an increasing chance every day that we see Billings in green and gold at some point this season.
Tanner Peters (RHP, 22 years old/human toothpick): Yes, Peters’ most noticeable physical characteristic is his size, a modest 6’0” and 155 pounds. I myself am paper thin as well, so I can sympathize with his skinny man problems. Just a skinny little thing… That’ll probably strike you out.
Out of UNLV, Peters spent time in-between Vermont and Burlington last season after being plucked in the 16th round back in 2011. He so far has begun to build a reputation around the organization as a big time K guy, and so far in Stockton he hasn’t disappointed. The Simi Valley native has put up very Sean Murphy-esque numbers with the Ports (i.e. A shit ton of HRs, decent walk rates, and strikeouts galore), having gotten through 50 1/3 IP with 10 HR (Organization leading), 10 BB and 48 K, including one of best outings for any A’s minor leaguer on the season back on May 15th: Going 8 IP with 4 H, 1 R (HR), 0 BB, and 10 K. Still relatively young, Peters could easily slip through the ranks as an underrated name that surprises Oakland fans.
Sean Murphy (RHP/24 years old/Switch hitter): He is one those quirky little pitchers listed as a switch hitter (Also see Chris Lamb), but other than that, he has a polar opposite body type than his fellow pitching standout, Peters… 6’6” and 215 pounds, Murphy is a HUGE man, I can confirm having met him in person. But his results are pretty much the same as his frail counterpart in Tanner. After punching out 159 (3rd in the organization last season), last season, the Philly native and 33rd round pick out of Keystone College in 2010 has gotten off on the right foot again. He has struck out 47 in 51 1/3 IP so far on the year while allowing 6 HRs and walking 16. Murphy, a flyball guy, got chewed up in his time with the Ports in the Cal League, but has been more successful in the dinger department since arriving in Midland. The organization felt confident enough to promote Murphy to the Rockhounds earlier this year after Arnold Leon hit the DL, so they feel good enough with him to move him through the ranks. Come 2014, Murphy could seriously make a push for major league consideration, so keep an eye out for the gigantic righty.
Now, these seven aren’t the only standouts on the year. In fact, there are tons of outstanding guys who have starred for their squads on the year. So here are some additional names y’all should best take note of:
Omar Duran (LHP/Dominican): Duran is one of the most promising Latin arms currently amongst the full season teams. A lefty standing at a robust 210 pounds, Duran puts up some intriguing stat lines, a flurry of walks and strikeouts mostly, averaging about a walk per inning and 1.5 Ks per inning as well, all the while refusing to allow any HRs (Allowing only one HR, which was Cal League aided, in 180+ professional innings). So far this season, he’s gotten through 20 IP with 1 HR, 20 BB and 30 K, but at least he’s consistent (In his last appearance, he went 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 BB, and 4 K, which should give you an idea of who Omar Duran actually is). Probably the most note worthy Dominican lefty since Pedro Figueroa for the A’s.
Jon Joseph (RHP/Dominican): Another high strikeout Latin guy with interesting results… He’s struck out 32 in 21 frames on the year while also walking 11 and permitting three HRs. But he also leads Stockton in wild pitches, and produced one of the craziest pitching lines in all of baseball (Minor or Major leagues) this season on May 11th against Lancaster: 1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.. But all in all, the punchouts make him an interesting name to watch
Tucker Healy (RHP/Baby closer): Healy, a D3 pick out of Ithaca College in the 23rd round last season and a Massachusetts native, has been easily one of the most dominant players to take the mound for the A’s MiLB affiliates in 2013. An alum of the Cape Cod league, Healy was an anonymous selection on draft day that has jumped heads and shoulders above his 2013 class counterparts so far this season. In 19 1/3 IP, Healy has K’d 28 while allowing only a pair of walks and the missed bats have led to wonderful results (14 H/3 ER). Despite a couple dingers early on in the campaign, Healy (who K’d 45 in 29 2/3 innings last year) is quickly becoming a force in Oakland’s minor league system and could move rapidly through the system if he keeps it up.
Ryan Dull (RHP/Another baby closer): Healy’s partner in crime out in Wisconsin, Dull as put up an equally dominant track record, making these two one of the best closing tandems in the minors. Though a little on the older side (Turns 24 this October), the Winston Salem native and UNC-Asheville alum has torn through the Midwest League competition: 18 2/3 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 27 K. This comes a year after sitting down 47 in just over 31 innings last season, so he definitely knows how to destroy short season and Low A bats. Next step for these two is Stockton, but both Dull and Healy are setting themselves apart from the pack early on.
Dakota Bacus (RHP/Ian Krol like twitter feed): Dakota, a 9th round pickup out of Indiana St. last year, is another arm making a name for himself from this most recent draft class. The former Sycamore was an AZL All-Star last season after putting up a absurd line of 30 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 5 BB and 35 K for the baby A’s and proved himself worthy of skipping out on Vermont heading into this season, where he has continued his success through 36 innings so far, allowing only 1 HR, 9 walks, and striking out an even 36 on the year to date. Although he’s been used primarily in long relief as a professional and only made a couple spot starts, it’s not of the question to stretch him out at some point. The only thing is… Step your twitter game up, Dakota.
Dan Otero (RHP/Waiver wire Pickup): One of the acquisitions that forced Daric Barton and Travis Blackley off the 40 man roster, the former Giant (Ewwww) was DFAed shortly afterwards. However, he would wind up clearing waivers and found a niche in Sacramento’s bullpen. The kitties’ closer has been practically unhittable in his 20 innings of work, with 10 H, 1 ER, 1 BB and 16 Ks along with 12 saves (If that’s your thing…). A bulky 215 pounder, Otero was on San Francisco’s opening day roster last season, but only hung around for a short amount of time until he was shipped off to Fresno. Now, as a 28 year old, Otero’s stuff is pushing to issue as to whether or not the A’s should consider him for a major league role
Paul Smyth (RHP/Kansas Alum): A modest 35th round selection in 2009, Smyth is starting to make headway through Oakland’s system, now recently being awarded with a much deserved Sacramento promotion. The Atascadero native had been in minor league limbo out in Midland for some time before having a breakthrough this season, K’ing 28 in 25 IP with only 4 BB, plus having an outstanding AAA debut by going two innings while allowing only a single baserunner and striking out four. Another bullpen name that could jump onto the major league radar out of seemingly nowhere later on this season.
Zach Neal (RHP/Former Sooner): A 17th round pickup by Miami in 2010, Neal got up to Jupiter and Jacksonville last season before being released and finding a home with Oakland on opening day of this year. A South Carolina native and noted hunting enthusiast (See Twitter), Neal has been a workhorse for the Hounds, leading A’s minor leaguers in innings pitched several times this season. He currently sits at 53 2/3 IP with 4 HR, 13 BB and 38 K. Maybe a guy who surprises some with a AAA promotion later on this season.
Monday, May 20, 2013
As Oakland’s major league squad continues with their pre All-Star break ups and downs and the full season minor league teams well into their campaign, the time has come to set our sights to the impending draft and A’s short season to begin in Burlington VT, Phoenix AZ, and in the Dominican as our NYPL, AZL and DSL teams commence their one month countdown until first pitch. There are already a legion of little amateur A’s that still have 2 ½ weeks or so hear their names called, but the returning staff provides lots of excitement of their own, featuring top international signees and draftees from last season that Beane and co. felt fitting to keep in extended for extra development before assignment. Here are a few of the guys Oakland fans may not know about yet but ought to keep an eye out for that’ll be playing in this year’s A’s short season slate:
Bijon “BJ” Boyd (OF): BJ defines the definition of “athlete”, and I should know, I went to school with him for three years in Palo Alto. Pretty much the closest thing I’ve seen to a Cespedes-like body type in person. And BJ starred as a three sport athlete in football (17 TD receptions, 6 kickoff return TDs senior year), baseball and in basketball and seriously gives Rashun Dixon a challenge for best athlete currently in Oakland’s farm system. Big time speed, covers ground very well in the outfield, and has a frame which could easily develop into a dinger hitting machine as he matures, but for the moment BJ’s style is more Jemile Weeks like (Warning: Coco Crisp does have a better throwing arm than him though…).
Boyd ended up being scooped up by the A’s in the 4th round at 139th overall and I got to see a live reaction of someone being drafted, which was pretty special even for me. His name got called during a graduation run thru and his whole section began clapping and cheering for him, and he was definitely still trying to process what had happened to him once I talked to him 10 or so minutes afterwards. But even though he starred on the football field, he showed zero hesitation in grabbing a pen and signing the contract Oakland put out in front of him and was one of the first members of the draft class to sign. He ended up spending his entire season in Arizona with the AZL A’s and dazzled as their leadoff man, hitting .301/.401/.434 with 16 SBs in 20 attempts and 23 walks compared to 36 strikeouts in 39 games.
He’ll be off to Vermont to start the season with a probable promotion to Beloit before season’s end waiting in the wings. But already on many scouts’ renditions of Oakland’s top 20 prospects, Boyd more than likely is the top OF prospect outside of Mike Choice for the A’s. So it would be wise to get acquainted with him while you can.
Vicmal De La Cruz (OF): Vicmal struggled during the last season when he made his second go around in the AZL, but apparently the problem was something that could’ve easily been fixed if he paid a visit to Oakland’s elf-like middle infielder, Eric Sogard, last spring… He needed glasses. Yup, Vicmal needed glasses and has played the better part of his professional career practically blind.
Why he didn’t pay visit to team doctors? Beats me. Maybe he was one of the cool kids that thought glasses were totally lame or… whatever. (Would be pretty sad if America’s reverence of appearance and aesthetics had seeped into the Dominican Republic’s culture.) But anyways... What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Vicmal. Anywho, Vicmal De La Cruz (VDLC) was an outfielder inked by Oakland back in 2010 for $800,000 and became an instant top 15 prospect for the Athletics en route to astounding plate discipline numbers (37:27 BB/K) in his first season out in Arizona. Last season he returned, for fared decently for a 19 year old but saw significant regression on the discipline front. However, he finally began to fill out into his frame, showing off impressive power numbers. So if glasses really were the root of the issue, Vicmal could be primed for a breakout campaign in 2013. And don’t worry; you’ll still be cool dude.
Herschel “Boog” Powell (OF): Yes, Oakland has an outfielder named Boog Powell in their organization, and it is awesome. Nicknamed after the former Orioles great, who was one of his father’s favorite players growing up, Boog came up through Orange Coast CC and was selected by Oakland in the 20th round before reporting to Arizona. He shared leadoff duties with Boyd and was an outstanding table setter for the AZL offense. Boog also thinks of himself as a “Brett Gardner type”, so the A’s may gotten themselves a nice little project to work on this summer.
Also, more on Boog’s name: He is the 4th Herschel in his family and his father’s nickname, Mack, is his middle name. So that’s officially Herschel IV Boog Mack Powell. Fucking awesome.
Melvin Mercedes (SS): No not Detroit’s Melvin Mercedes, this is a different one. A native of the Bronx, Mercedes is a tough nosed little middle infielder that the A’s took after he finished his first year at a Florida CC an who stands at a mere 5’8” and who has heavy heavy contact rates (Think a poor man’s Jose Altuve). He wound up hitting .381/.440/.495 for the AZL A’s but the switch hitter proved to be less prolific on the basepaths than his teammates BJ and Boog. Overall, Mercedes is an intriguing mid-round pickup that will have to prove himself in the Northeast this summer.
Side Note: Mercedes was failing his history course in high school so his instructor and his baseball coach met in order to discuss a plan for him to pass and to still play baseball. Now the two teachers are married, so the kid does at least tend to work magic wherever he goes.
Cody Kurz (RHP): Kurz was a 7th round pickup last season and a former high school linebacker that drew interest from top programs such as LSU. But he opted to go the baseball route and A’s liked is potential so much they made him a top 10 round pick. But potential is pretty much all Kurz has… He probably has the most daunting control issues in the system; a definite challenge for Oakland’s pitching coaches. But with solid movement and velocity, he can figure out here the ball is going, he could wind up being pretty damn good. The imposing 6’4” 225 pounder walked 29 while striking out only 9 last year out of Oxnard in 21 1/3 IP, but things could’ve changed in his first professional offseason with instruction for the still young 20 year old. Guess we’ll have to see in a month.
Kayvon Bahramzadeh (RHP): Awesome name and a strikeout threat, Oakland might’ve gotten another late round steal in Kayvon, whom the A’s plucked from Kansas St. in the 24th round. Bahramzadeh punched out 48 batting in 37 IP with only a mere 7 walks. And despite allowing 7 HRs, he showed a much better groundball percentage as the season went forward and could fit into the Murphy/Granier/Straily mold of high strikeout guys Oakland has gotten late in the previous few drafts with a solid breaking ball and a low 90’s FB. Plus Oakland is bound to introduce a changeup to the former Wildcat. Definitely a name to keep an eye on (Although it’s hard to keep your eyes off his name anyways)
Gregory Paulino (RHP): 2011international sign, 60 P, 6 K, 6 HR, 16 BB, 5.70 ERA
Jose Torres (LHP): 2010 International sign, 60 2/3 IP, 48 K, 2 HR, 32 BB, 3.71 ERA
Derek Hansen (RHP): 25th round selection in 2012, Minnesota native, former D2 player of the year, 20 1/3 IP, 24 K, 10 BB, 1 HR
Tyler Johnson (RHP): 33rd round selection from Stony Brook, pitched in CWS, 27 IP, 21 K, 7 BB, 2 HR
Taylor Massey (LHP): 29th round selection, teammate of fellow draftee Stuart Pudenz at DBU, 21 IP, 8 BB, 27 K, 3 HR
Reynaldo Mateo (C): .324/.361/.588, International FA sign in 2007
ARIZONA ROOKIE A’S:
Seongmin Kim (C): Sadly, Kim hardly had any opportunity last season in the AZL, only amounting about 20 PAs, but the Korean prospect still possesses a lot of potential for Oakland. A power hitting 200+ pound high schooler, Seongmin (Not to be confused with Baltimore’s Seongmin Kim) was inked by Oakland in 2011 for $510,000 in their most significant Pacific Rim sign over the past few years. Still only 20 years old currently, Kim was shipped out Australia before arriving in the US last year. There’s not much of a sample size on Kim, but scouts adore his power potential and the A’s were confident to drop over half a million on him, which no other minor league international signing has gotten more than since, so he must be doing something right. A big international name to watch.
Cristhian Perez (RHP): The star of Oakland’s DSL team last season and even got into a major league spring training game this season, Perez is aiming to make his stateside debut and impress in 2013. The righty signed in 2008 pitched through 68 1/3 innings with 46 Ks, 9 BBs, and only allowing a lone HR with outstanding peripherals too (1.98 ERA). Cristhian is looking to follow the example of Paulino and Torres the year before en route to a possible full season shot for the 21 year old.
Sandber Pimentel (OF): Pimentel was the most polished on-base oriented player in Oakland’s latin system last season, hitting .261/.430/.322 in the DSL. Oakland dropped six figures on Pimentel in 2011, whose brother is currently within Texas’ system. Pimentel, only 18, still is extremely raw and has an opportunity to develop into his frame and hit for greater power. But his innate on-base tools and pitch recognition is highly encouraging plus an outstanding physical presence (6’3” 216 pounds).
Andy Paz (C): Paz is an interesting story after being born in his native Cuba. He defected and moved to France during grade school where he impressed for his high school club and the A’s inked him for $45,000 while providing $50,000 to supply his education. Over his first two seasons in the Dominican, Paz has been outstanding with his discipline, racking up a .451 OBP in 2011 and reaching a .417 mark in 2012. The20 year old now will certainly head out to the states this season as an extremely underrated name, definitely one to watch.
Robert Martinez (OF): 19th round selection in 2012, first ever A’s draft pick from Puerto Rico, hit .273/.442/.333 in the DSL
Chris Wolfe (SS): 30th round selection from Grambling, On-base guy (Crumbliss type), Walked 49 times in 48 games in his final collegiate season, hit .279/.373/.333 in the AZL
Argenis Raga (INF): 3rd largest sign in the 2010 class behind Renato and Vicmal, versatile (played C, 1B, SS, 3B and 2B in the DSL), .332 on-base in his 2nd Dominican season
Carlos Navas (RHP): 65 1/3 IP, 11 BB, 1 HR, 54 K, 1.38 ERA
Lee Sosa (RHP): 26th round selection in 2012, Bronx native, 24 2/3 IP, 0 HR, 22 BB, 29 K.
Shawn Duinkerk (OF): Aruba native, hit .206/.280/.351 as a 17 year old in the AZL last season.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE:
Luis Barrera (OF): The largest non-Cespedes signing in 2012. The 17 year old sound hitting mechanics and is one most advanced Latin players for his age class which enticed Oakland to sign him for $450,000 earlier last year. Despite running as though he has cement blocks strapped to his feet, Barrera’s hitting is still promising. And everybody has potential at 17 you know.
Yairo Munoz (SS/2B): The young shortstop that signed for $280,000 and that again the A’s are considerably fond of. Only managed a .297 OBP in his first campaign, so still needs lots of improvement before he sniffs US soil.
Eric Marinez (SS): The wiry, switch hitting, 160 pound SS Oakland signed for $95,000 in 2012. Should be heading to the Dominican with the rest of the signees to get his first taste of professional baseball.
Jhonny Rodriguez (OF) and Robert Mullen (C): Both signed as tandem, Rodriguez the fleet footed youngster born in 1996 [I feel old :’( ]. And Mullen the Panamanian backstop. Both heading out to the Latin academy as well.
Mitchell Martes (INF): No reason to include him other than the fact that we share the exact same birthday! So we’re like totally besties (Also has Aruban and Dutch parents and signed for $55,000)
These names plus 2013 draftees who will hear their names called on June 6th-8th and more international signings who Oakland will look to snag before the deadline on July 2nd will make up the short season rosters and from here a few talented, and somewhat lucky, names might just have a shot at sporting a big league uniform in their future.
A little baby Aliotti in the making
Oakland’s third overall collegiate pick in last year’s draft happened to be none other than Max Muncy, arguably the most polished college hitting prospect the A’s snagged during the prospect free-for-all last June. After arriving in Burlington, very much like his fellow first base draftee Matt Olson, Muncy hit a dinger in his first professional plate appearance and hasn’t slowed since, finishing 2012 hitting .275/.383/.432 and now .264/.396/.472 for the Ports, establishing himself as one the best on-base oriented players in the A’s farm system and setting himself to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Aliotti (Who is doing ungodly things to the Texas League right now) and Daric Barton (Sit down trolls). Before Stockton’s game against the Blaze on May 18th, I had a brief chat with Muncy about his season and his plan going forward.
Chris Kusiolek: Hey Max. How was your spring and offseason?
Max Muncy: I think the big thing was that I just had a steady strength program I was working on all offseason and I had a bunch of guys I was hitting with everyday, 5-6 times a week, maybe taking one day off. There were a couple pitchers from Baylor and I got to hit off them live before spring training started. You know, being my first ST I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in, and now I know I’d definitely like to hit a little bit more off pitchers before showing up [laughs]. I showed up the day and we were playing a game and I was kinda like whoa, but I think the biggest thing overall for me was having that strength program I could work on everyday.
CK: Speaking of Baylor, you hit a HR out here I heard that started the “Feed The Beaver” catch phrase. Can you touch on what that term actually means?
MM: [Laughs] What it actually means? Well, we started off the season real hot and then had a big losing skid, and we lost… I think it was an extra innings game to UT-Arlington and we came home, and our coach kinda chewed us out on the bus a little bit. But we got off the bus and saw a beaver come walking around the parking lot, like a live beaver, and the next day we the beaver was out on the field the next day during practice and we were all kinda like ‘umm, that’s kinda strange’ and someone, I don’t even know who it was, said “Hey, let’s feed that beaver!” and everyone grabbed some acorns and went on tossing ‘em out there. Well, that night we had a game and we hit like 4 or 5 home runs and someone started shouting it and then it just took off. It just started as a little inside joke and then it just took off after that
CK: So, you got picked up in the 5th round by Oakland in last year’s draft, is that where you were expecting to go and what was it like hearing your name called?
MM: Umm, I wasn’t really expecting to go anywhere. People can tell you all they want, but all that matters is when your name actually gets called. But when did get called, it was one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced, I did get drafted out of high school, but I feel like out of college was definitely a little bit more special.
CK: You ended up being the first 2012 draftee sent to a full season affiliate out in Burlington and you wound up hitting a home run in your first pro AB. What was that first professional glimpse like for you?
MM: I went to Arizona to do my blood work and physicals and the usual routine. And I was at practice, the very last day I was there, and they had started the rookie league a couple days before, so I was just sitting in the dugout watching these guys play wondering ‘Am I ever gonna get to play? Am I ever gonna get to practice?'. Then Marcus [Jensen], the guy who runs I down there, called me to his office and said ‘You’re going to Burlington’ and I asked him ‘Burlington Vermont or Iowa’ because, you know, there are two Burlingtons, and he told me I was going to Iowa. I showed up and got to watch these guys play two and it had probably been two weeks out of college since I had actually played in a game. So again I was sitting watching all these play games and the next day I was finally in the lineup. I was real anxious the first at-bat, you know, I remember I got a fastball inside and I didn’t think I got it real good so I was kinda like ‘Aww man’ so I sprinted down to first base and looked up and it was going over the scoreboard and I said to myself “Wow”... So that was a pretty special moment.
CK: Last year you had a 41:37 BB/K ratio in the MWL and this year you already have 33 walks which is 2nd the Cal League and the most of all A’s minor leaguers. Plus only a couple game so far this year with multiple strikeouts. Explain to me your methodology at the plate and what you think is the success to your plate discipline.
MM: It was something that was always stressed to me as a kid with my dad. He always worked with me on knowing where the strike zone is and having a good eye while making sure I’m getting pitches that I want. So even when I was really little something that was always preached to me was to know the strike zone and I think it’s just something that has always stuck with me. I like to tell myself that I have great plate discipline, that I have good recognition to see where the pitches are, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I take a lot of pride in that. When I strikeout it makes me real angry [laughs] I don’t like striking out at all. And sometimes it’s just a bad call by the umpire and sometimes it’s just a great pitch by the pitcher and you’ve gotta tip your cap. But something I always look forward to is getting my walks.
CK: You started off the year with 8 HRs in April and still are 2nd in the organization with 9 overall, but the homers have tapered off a bit. Is that something you’re trying to get back to?
MM: I just need to the back to hitting line drives and not worrying about the home runs, that’s how I’ve been my whole life is just a line drive hitter. That’s just how I was taught. I mean, the homers will come, every now and then you’ll get one that’ll go up in the air and the wind will take it or if you play at a short field or something. The past couple weeks I think I’ve let all those early home runs kinda get into my head a little bit, I was trying to left balls and hitting lots of pop-ups and not squaring the ball. I think the key for me is just getting back to hitting low line drives.
CK: You’ve definitely had some early success in the CL, and specifically against the Bakersfield Blaze. Last night on their broadcast they were raving about you being a “Bakersfield Killer” [.386/.508/.704 vs. them this year with 11 walks and 5 strikeouts in 57 PA]… Anything special about Cincy’s High A staff that you like so much?
MM: [Laughs] I don’t know if I’d say that… We just played them a couple time early in the season when I was real hot. I don’t know if it necessarily has anything to do with that team, I’ve just been having a lot of good swings against them.
CK: Finally, what would you say are your goals as the season carries on?
MM: Really just to stay consistent and not to go through the slumps that I just went through. Just trying my best to limit my ups and downs and stay even for the rest of the season.