Sunday, April 13, 2014

Oakland snatches Blake Forsythe

In a transaction that assuredly signifies the conclusion of Santiago Chavez' reign in Texas, the Athletics have acquired Forsythe after a dismal offensive effort through his initial and prolonged AA opportunity through Binghamton the campaign prior. The stocky 6'0", 220 pound Knoxville native accompanies Chad Oberacker as another Tennessee pressence upon the Rockhounds following an initial 3rd round acquisition during the 2010 Draft proceedings and has featured predominantly as a defensive replacement after accumulating a career .225/.315/.334 slash through 1250 PAs with a .992 FLD% in 2184 opportunities as a professional behind the plate. The backstop starred through April with a 15-49 month upon his legitimate AA debut following a minute stint previously during the 2012 season to equate to a .327/.392/.612 through the first 56 plate appearances for the former Volunteer. However, he would suffer a significant bout of regression and sulk into a lackluster offensive attempt for the remainder of the campaign to conclude with a .192/.271/.362 slash in 343 PAs with a 32:101 BB/K (9.3% BB%/29.4% K%) despite a career high .169 ISO. However, his career low 74 wRC+ (Previous low was 99) was indicative of his inept tendencies at the plate through his Eastern League ascent, but regardless ought to service as Beau Taylor's replacement in his Texas League debut and second consecutive AA attempt. 

Santiago Chavez shall likely be shipped forth back to extended after a admirable effort within his two contest stint for the Rockhounds consecutively catching Tanner Peters and Raul Alcantara and going 1-5 with a pair of strikeouts and a walk drawn despite having a surely smacked double robbed upon making his first plate appearance within his second game. Chavez additionally committed an error on catcher's interference in his initial bout before settling down and manning a successful defensive performance for the remainder of his Rockhounds stay. Chavez, the 18 year old Mexican native hailing from Saltillo, shall acquire duties within the AZL and Vermont come June after a complementing temporary assignment and competing as the third 18 year old positional player in Texas League over the previous 35 seasons and first overall since Martin Perez in 2009. 

Chad Pinder highlights a busy affiliate stretch

               (Via Stockton Record) 

With the opening of Stockton's homestand, Stockton began with a marathon bout spanning 18 frames and in excess of 320 minutes as the Ports claimed a victory over Visalia after utilizing Wade Kirkland, a middle infield utility specialist, and Dusty Robinson, Stockton's corner outfield and DH option, upon the mound in the 16th through 18th innings. The contest began with a moonshot smashed off of the bat of Renato Nuñez for his second consecutive contest with a dinger while Manaurys Correa threw nine offerings in a instant 1-2-3 first frame. Unfortunately, Correa dissolved with a pair of dingers surrendered in the second that saw Stockton plummet into a 4-1 deficit. Luckily, thanks to Chad Pinder game tying two run blast in the 5th following a Dusty Robinson run scoring double in the 2nd, the Ports knotted the ballgame at 4-4 heading onward through the night and into April 11th. After a sensational appearance from Tucker Healy, Nolan Sanburn would man the 9th frame for Stockton and grapple with a runner on third with one out. Despite generating a strikeout, the consequential wild pitch plated the go-ahead run as Stockton was faced with a 5-4 situation entering the B9th. With two already sent sulking to the dugout, Bobby Crocker launched a dinger to opposite center field to ultimately guarentee another approximate three hours of the contest. Within extra frames, both ballclubs had runners on third base with one or fewer out and were unsuccessful in their attempts to score them, with Visalia squandering two of these opportunities. Stockton wound up capitalizing in the 18th off a Chad Pinder (3-7, HR, 2 2B, BB) double and a finally successful strike from Billy McKinney (2-9) to snap a consecutive losing streak in the Bakersfield the series prior. Bruce Maxwell (3-5), Robinson (2-5, 2B, 2 BB), and Matt Olson (2-6, 2B, 2 BB) also contributed to the victory for the Ports. Jeremy Barfield (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB [1 IBB], 5 K) was outstanding in relief as the Ports while Kirkland and Robinson went a cumulative  3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K in impromptu outings. The Ports would string together consecutive victories following this as the responded versus a battered and fatigued Rawhide squad with a 9-4 result as Chad Pinder and Dusty Robinson were triples short of cycles while McKinney (2-5, HR) catapulted his 4th HR on the campaign. Most notably within this bout was Michael Ynoa throwing a mere three offerings before being escorted from the contest after an initial HBP and stumbling into a 2-0 count. The hulking righty evidently would succumb to a bicep strain, which has since placed him upon the disabled list in correspondence to Omar Duran's activation. Stockton couldn't maintain their composure heading forward, as the 209 bunch were bested 5-3 on Saturday despite the third consecutive bout for Chad Pinder with 3+ base hits and a HR, now hitting 11-17 with four dingers upon his Banner Island debut following a 4-4 (2 HR) effort in an inevitable 7-4 defeat. After opening at 0-10 (5 K) skid within Visalia, Pinder has since gone 16-31 with 5 HR, 4 2Bs, 4 BB and 2 K (.516/.571/1.129). Seth Streich orchestrated another plus performance as the Ohio native went 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 5 GB/1 FB in an effort that went unrewarded. In the final performance, Billy McKinney, Bruce Maxwell and Dusty Robinson once more rampaged and launched a dinger barrage on Visalia in a ultimate futile effort as they were bested 7-4 and progress onward to the Bakersfield set owning a 5-6 record thus far. Ryon Healy additionally smacked a triple in the skirmish and Renato Nuñez hit a double to bolster Stockton's performance at the plate, which couldn't supplant Josh Bowman's struggles as the Tampa native went 6 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with a 9 GB/6 FB while Kris Hall had a flawless three frames after appearing from the bullpen with a 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K contribution.

Sacramento represented the remaining half of Oakland's central Californian affiliates as they fell within Las Vegas during the finale of the Nevada series despite impressive power outings from Nate Freiman (3-5, 2 2Bs) and Ryan Ortiz (2-4, 2 2Bs) while Shane Peterson (2-5, 2B) and Mike Taylor (1-3, HR, BB) also attempted to veer the Kitty Cats towards a positive result. Joe Blanton had an exemplary bout in his second appearance as a Rivercat, going 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 HR), 1 BB, 6 K, 3 GB/5 FB before his startling retirement announcement after a two outing stint with the organization he originated with.  Unfortunately, Deryk Hooker's 1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K relief outings would prevent any intentions of a split as Sacramento was left to board their flight to California in lowly spirits. Nate Freiman's homestand opening 8th inning go-ahead grand slam would instantly inject optimism into Sacramento though, as the 6'8" first baseman went 2-5 (HR) alongside Jake Goebbert (2-3, BB, 2B, HBP) and Mike Taylor (1-4, 2B, BB) to preserve a 7-6 victory while Fernando Nieve, Phil Humber and Jose Flores spinned outstanding performances in relief. Josh Lindblom would make up for his disastrous Rivercat debut with a sterling seven inning outing with 6 H, 4 R (1 HR), 1 BB, 5 K, 104 pitches (76 strikes), 6 GB/8 FB while Ryan Ortiz (0-1, BB, 2 HBP), Mike Taylor (1-3, 2B, BB), Anthony Aliotti (1-4, 2B), and Tyler Ladendorf (3-3, BB) assisted the Rivercats to their second straight victory. Sacramento then proceeded to complete their homestand sweep over Salt Lake in a doubleheader finale format as they obsconded with their first bout 8-2 as Nate Freiman (2-3, 2B, BB), Alden Carrithers (3-3, BB), and Phil Pohl within his AAA debut (1-4, 2B) led the Kittens to a seven inning victory thanks to Arnold Leon, Joe Savery and a brief two pitch appearance from Deryk Hooker as the pitching contingent bolted down the third straight win for Sacramento. Jeremy McBryde, Fernando Rodriguez, Phil Humber and Evan Scribner were utilized in the second contest as the Cats shutout SLC (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) and were provided with enough offensive insurance from Shane Peterson (2-3, 2B), Hiroyuki Nakajima (1-3, 2B) and Tyler Ladendorf (1-1, BB) to claim a fourth straight en route to their Fresno showdown. 

Midland dropped their closing bout to Arkansas as Tanner Peters donned the mound and went 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 7 GB/8 FB in a second consecutive plus performance upon making his entry into the Texas League. Jeff Urlaub complemented him with a perfect few frames in relief as the Rockhounds were defeated once more by a 2-1 score as they continued to sputter as Conner Crumbliss' 2-3 (2B/BB) outing was the lone successful attempt while 18 year old, Jose Chavez, went 1-3 within his 2014 and American debut with Texas. In the corresponding game however, Raul Alcantara burst past his competition for yet another sensational performance following his AA debut in Midland with a 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 9 GB/1 FB outing en route to being bestowed with the "Texas League pitcher of the week" honors while Frank Gailey (2014 debut) and Seth Frankoff combined for a cumulative 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K performance in relief to reward the Hounds' offensive ignition as D'Arby Myers had a 3-5 day while Billy Burns and Max Muncy both went 1-3 (2 BB) while Jefry Marte launched his first dinger of the campaign. D'Arby Myers kept his streak active as he obliterated Northwest Arkansas in the series opening outing as he fell a double shy of a cycle with a 4-4 (HR/3B/BB) performance that was further strengthened by Conner Crumbliss (2-5), Max Muncy (2-3, 2B, 2 BB), Josh Whitaker (2-4, HBP), Beau Taylor (1-4, HR) and the organizational debut of free agent acquisition, Colin Walsh (2-5, 2B). Drew Granier makes his third appearance of the campaign on Monday following a deplorable opening contest and an inflated pitch count recently that prevented him from mustering enough to breeze past four innings in his latest effort. 

The Snappers have unfortunately fallen into a subpar stretch following a four game winning streak after now suffering four consecutive losses. Beloit, now possessing a 4-6 record, has amassed a cumulative six runs within their six defeats while plating 18 in their four victories as they have stumbled consistently offensively following a sweep to West Michigan and still have yet to blast a second dinger, as Tyler Marincov still has the only HR upon the ballclub. Marincov has been one of the most potent contributors as well, hitting 8-27 with a HR, two doubles and a 6:9 BB/K. Bijon Boyd (8-34, 2B, 5 BB, 7 K), Boogie Powell (11-40, 5 BB, 8 K), and Chih Fang-Pan (8-29, 4 2Bs, 3 BB, 5 K) have been the most prominent offensive assets for the turtles while Ryan Huck just recently was one of the minute optimistic spots within the West Michigan series as the gigantic 27th rounder went 3-7 with a double and three walks to feature as one of the Wisconsin affiliate's most outstanding positional players as of recently. Kyle Finnegan (5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 6 GB/4 FB) was successful once more in regards to run prevention while Dylan Covey (5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 6 GB/3 FB) struggled to an extent once again. Ronald Herrera couldn't duplicate his phenomenal debut as the youngster encountered his initial Midwest League roadbump by going 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 0 K, 8 GB/8 FB while Beloit was toppled in their most recent performance despite Sam Bragg being dominant in relief once more and now owns an accumulated 7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K line to complement fellow marvelous bullpen residents such as Chris Lamb (5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) and Matt Stalcup (5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) as the Snappers staff has arguably been the most outstanding amongst any affiliate, however has yet to be sufficiently rewarded. Bobby Wahl, after a dominant outing previous versus South Bend, appears tomorrow against Great Lakes in hopes of seldom seen run support. Iolana Akau, who has since been assigned to Wisconsin in response to Stephen Vogt's disabled list stint and Phil Pohl momentary ascent to Sacramento, suffered a thumb injury within his debut, similarly towards the thumb hindrance that squandered nearly his entire senior campaign and saw him plummet through the 2013 Draft eligibles, that places the probability of him appearing in another contest for Beloit in question. While the severity is unknown at the moment, Andy Paz still promises to acquire the majority of the Beloit backstop duties 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Snappers surging, Robertson rakes for Stockton

Oakland affiliates once more faired successfully through the initial portions of the week around the organization, as most notably Beloit capitalized and has since won two consecutive versus South Bend to claim four straight victories and own an organizational best 4-2 record prior to an attempted sweep this evening with Lou Trivino. Ronald Herrera, the 18 year old partaking amongst his Midwest League debut following an AZL tenure and minute Vermont pitstop upon his American entry in 2013, would seamlessly demolish a helpless South Bend lineup through six outstanding frames, going 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 HR), 0 BB, 6 K, 6 GB/2 FB with his only noticeable blemish being a 5th inning dinger as the Venezulan rocketed past the competition in one of his final outings before his 19th birthday on May 3rd. The Snappers rewarded Herrera additionally within the contest, as BA Vollmuth and Tyler Marincov. (1-5, 2B) alongside Chih Fang-Pan (1-4, 2B, BB) smacked doubles to complement Ryan Huck's 3-5 breakthrough following an initial 0-9 skid against Burlington. Bijon (2-4) also starred as Beloit swept through for a simplistic 5-1 victory while Matt Stalcup dominated in relief (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K) to secure the roadtrip opening win. Bobby Wahl would make his secondary appearance following an inconsistent attempt previously as the right handed flamethrower dismantled South Bend in a 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K performance which saw Beloit capitalize and claim a lead in the 6th in the midst of a 1-1 deadlock after the only baserunner through five frames was Tyler Marincov with a two out fifth inning walk and score on a fielding error upon the next sequence, with Beloit still failing to record a base hit through Wahl's outing. To commence the 6th though, Luis Baez would deliever with a run scoring double to plate Boogie Powell after Baez had arrived in Wisconsin in replacement of Melvin Mercedes following an 8th inning injury he had suffered within the opening contest. Chih Fang-Pan also exited this bout in the first frame, signaling that Yairo Muñoz or Chris Wolfe could usurp his vacancy should there be another disabled list assignment upon the Snappers roster. Tyler Marincov (6-14, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 HR in 2014) would go 1-2 with 2 BB to continue his outstanding initial Midwest League week while the bullpen continued to impress between Sam Bragg (3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 GB/0 FB) and Lee Sosa (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) prevented any probable comeback attempt to claim Beloit's fourth straight. 

Stockton, initially 3-2, would up skidding through the conclusion of the Bakersfield set following a 10-9 12th inning deflating defeat despite Robertson (3-5, 2B, HR, BB), McKinney (2-7, HR) and Olson (1-5, HR, BB) smacking dingers within the contest while Roberson recorded with fourth consecutive multiple hit outing to improve to 12-25 on the campaign while Bowman produced a successful appearance as Stockton's starter prior to Kris Hall and Jeremy Barfield. Maintaining a 9-5 advantage before delving into the 9th frame, Michael Ynoa would combat Bakersfield and their offensive cast following an initial 8th inning strikeout to end that frame in relief of Barfield before he would unravel during a lackluster inning in which Ynoa went 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP to unfortunately prolong the ballgame into the 10th inning. Jonathan Joseph additionally would become discombobulated entering the 12th frame, permitting a bases loaded sacrifice fly as Stockton sustained a debilitating loss before preparing for their afternoon matinée. Tim Atherton struggled once again (5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K, 5 GB/9 FB) while Stockton was unable to remain in tact with their usually reliable bullpen cast as Ryan Doolittle and Austin House each surrendered dingers afterwards to negate a five run Ports 6th frame as Stockton was bested in their first consecutive sequence of the campaign despite plus outings from McKinney (1-3, 2B, 2 BB), Renato 3-4 (HR, BB) and Pinder (2-4, 3B). 

Midland obliterated Northwest Arkansas to secure a 20-8 victory following an initial 20-7 lashing upon the homestand opener as Midland in this instance was on the victorious end thanks to Josh Whitaker (4-6, HR), Crumbliss (3-5, 2B, BB), Coleman (2-3, 2B, 3 BB), and Head (3-5, BB) as every individual housed within the Rockhounds lineup smacked multiple base hits, included Max Muncy's 2-6 outing and his first dinger upon the campaign following his organizational HR title during the 2013 crusade. Drew Granier, while more effective than in his previous performance, still was unable to battle through five frame as he sputtered in the 4th frame to conclude with a 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 77 pitch (48 strike), 7 GB/1 FB attempt while relieved in favor of the often inconsistent Blake Hassebrock. And once more, Hassebrock flailed in his secondary performance with a 2 IP, 5 H, 6 R (2 ER/1 HR), 0 BB, 1 K line that was still more productive than his previous appearance after a flawless 5th inning prior to disolving, addimately more attributable to BABIP rates however. Nate Long was able to conserve the 12 run advantage while Jeff Urlaub stamped down the victory and sweep with a 1-2-3, two strikeout 9th as Midland practically floats to Arkansas following their dominance in recent contests even in the absence of Addison Russell. 

Sacramento would acquire Craig Gentry for a second consecutive bout as the righty went 1-4 with a BB while Shane Peterson and Stephen Vogt contributed 2-4, 2B, BB performances despite Vogt tweaking his oblique in what now transports the former Oakland asset to the DL while Philip Pohl arrives as insurance to Ryan Ortiz from Wisconsin while Iolana Akau, the 18 year old 20th rounder from Hawaii, usurped Pohl's post alongside fellow AZL companion, Andy Paz. Alden Carrithers went 1-4 with a double in the contest as well, while Anthony Aliotti went 0-2 (2 BB), a performance in which he would duplicate offensively in the corresponding contest. Regardless of Sacramento contributions at the plate, scoring a usually capable six runs, the pitching contingent continued their erratic tendencies as Arnold Leon went 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 HR), 1 BB, 2 K, 70 pitches (42 strikes), 4 GB/4 FB while Fernando Nieve did provide a suitable long relief outings prior to Phil Humber's arrival. Humber would provide another inconsistent bout in what would ultimately result within a defeat for the Rivercats as they dropped their second straight to Las Vegas before Sean Murphy would attempt to provide for the Kittens. Unfortunately, Murphy was overwhelmed once more by PCL opposition in a 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R (1 HR), 4 BB, 3 K, 96 pitch (51 strike), 6 GB/3 FB outing that saw Sacramento having to supplant offensively for another contest. The Kitty Cats received a boost from a plus relieving effort from Paul Smyth, Evan Scribner and Joe Savery (3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K) while Jake Goebbert's 3-3 (2B/BB) evening highlighted an offensive jaunt for the Kittend between Peterson (2-5, 2B), Ortiz (2-4, 2B), Matthes and Carrithers (1-5). Sacramento shall utilize Joe Blanton while attempting to salvage a series split prior to the opening bout in California. 

Oakland swaps Lamas, acquires Walsh

The Athletics announced Wesnesday that MiLB free agent. Colin Walsh, has been snatched from the free agent mass this week and been assigned to Midland in correspondence to Antonio Lamas having his contract puchased by a Mexican League ballclub for the remainder of the campaign. Walsh, a Stanford alumni and 13th round acquisition during the 2010 Draft proceedings, shall effectively usurp the vacancy left by Addison Russell due to the saverity of his hamstring injury now seemingly sidelining him for the entirety of April as Midland embarks upon their first roadtrip of the season following a sweep of Northwest Arkansas. Already having to contend with individuals such as Dusty Coleman and Conner Crumbliss for middle infield supremacy, Walsh immediately shall have to produce for the Rockhounds following a mediocre Texas League debut during the 2013 attempt for the second baseman, who has oddly only played three defensive games at shortstop throughout his MiLB tenure despite multiple opportunities at 1B, 3B, LF and RF. For Walsh within the Oakland organization, while practically impossible that the Californian would vault up to Sacramento and essentially shall remain housed in Texas for the whole of the 2014, he'll contend for a MiLB re-sign berth for the Athletics such as D'Arby Myers, Darwin Perez, Frank Gailey and Luke Montz were able to successfully acquire in initial Oakland affiliate performances that convinced the A's to retain and distribute them to the various MiLB squads once again. 

Walsh, the Cardinal standout, finally burst through upon his upperclassman debut with a .317/.431/.493 slash with a 41:53 BB/K (51:47 during his sophomore campaign) and 7 HRs through his ~275 PAs that significantly increased his stock amongst other collegiate draft hopeful and eventually plopped him within the 13th round to St. Louis as he was instantaneously assigned to the
Appalachian League before a rapid NYPL and Midwest League shuttle to conclude his 2010. The switch hitter went .256/.384/.370 through his welcoming 260 professional plate appearances with a 40:37 BB/K as the exquisite discipline oriented farmhand would be permanently slotted within Quad Cities to commence the following 2011 season, going .239/.360/.378 with a 15.6% BB%, 117 wRC+, and a .139 ISO through another truncated 276 PA attempt that forcibly left Walsh to attempt the Midwest League once more for his third consecutive campaign to open the 2012 calendar year. Having acclimated and become accustomed to the MWL, Walsh would obliterate opposing repetiores en route to a MWL MVP stint after a .314/.419/.530 slash, .423 wOBA, 164 wRC+, .215 ISO, and a 14.1% BB% that acquired him an AZFL opportunity and Palm Beach assignment during the corresponding 2013 campaign and then a brief stint within the Texas League upon Springfield's roster prior to his departure from the organization. Figuring to relieve Crumbliss and Coleman, the predominant starting middle infield duo, Walsh ought to amass another approximate 300 plate appearances for the Rockhounds should he remain for the entire season. 

Antonio Lamas, the highly touted acquisition from Mexicali before the 2012 campaign, has since been shipped forth south to Mexico following his Midland stint in which the diminutive second baseman went 1-6 with a pair of strikeouts with the Rockhounds:

Lamas, the Mexican League leadoff standout and Serie Del Caribe alumni, failed to acclimate against upper echelon arms and couldn't showcase his one plus tool of his hitting prowess consistently to compensate for his lackluster athleticism, range and speed and thus struggled considerably with a cumulative .255/.304/.381 slash in 558 PAs. Similarly to Crocker, Lamas' approaches indicates he his dependent upon percentages such as BABIP to steer his success, which his standard .290 post amomgst the Ports wasn't enough to salvage his stateside debut. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Santiago Chavez preparing to shatter Texas League records

While Santiago, or otherwise "Jose", Chavez is a relatively anonymous figure within the entirety of the Athletics MiLB system, the 18 year old (5/8/1995) Mexican backstop is currently positioned in Midland, TX after a mere two consecutive DSL campaigns previously with absolutely zero domestic professional experience aside from his preseason bouts with the Beloit Papago spring club this March, as he has been sufficiently rewarded for his dominant spring outings with a daunting Rockhounds assignment in correspondence to Ryan Lipkin landing upon the disabled list and following Addison Russell's casualty from the Midland roster. While the stint is nothing that shall be prolonged, set to instantaneously depart following Lipkin's reactivation and commence within the AZL throughout this campaign, Chavez' probable appearance with a ballgame for Midland would be unprecedented, as the last 18 year old in the Texas League was Martin Perez in 2009 and the last positional 18 year old was Roger Cedeño during the 1993 season over two decades ago. Before Cedeño? Jeff Ransom in 1979... So only two over the previous 35 years in the Texas League have played and been below the age of 19. For Midland, they have never utilized anyone below the age of 19 within a contest while under an Oakland affiliation even upon the mound (Since the 1999 campaign) with only two teenagers in 19 year olds Daric Barton (2005) and Angel Berroa (1999) during the 15 year Athletics tenure. Chavez, who bested Seongmin Kim, Kyle Wheeler and Josh Miller for the opportunity as well as Iolana Akau, he shall service within a relief capacity with Beau Taylor expected to acquire the majority of the outings through this upcoming week. But, unlikely to utilize Taylor for seven consecutive contests, it is presumed Chavez shall appear in at least one outing and become the third positional 18 year old to participate in the Texas League over the last 35 seasons. His arrival is accredited to Nick Rickles currently recuperating from an ailment as the Stetson alumni was slotted upon Midland's roster initially as well to open the 2013 campaign, including a 2-4 performance in his only contest. For Chavez, the $200,000 investment who inked alongside Seongmin Kim during the 2011 international signing period, his assignment speaks towards the organization's outlook on him after a successful DSL sophomore stint and a short season schedule awaiting following his cannonball into the deep end of the minor leagues. Here's what Baseball America had to say following Oakland's acquisition of the youngster: 

"The A's stayed away from an expensive July 2 market, then came away with a pair of interesting players in November. One of those players was Mexican catcher Santiago Chavez, who was not affiliated with a Mexican League team and signed directly with the A's for $200,000. Chavez, who turned 16 last year on Aug. 5, was one of the younger players in last year's signing class. He played in the Saltillo Little League and shows good instincts. At 6-foot, 165 pounds, Chavez is athletic for a catcher with room to get stronger. He has a quick righthanded bat and an average arm."

I additionally had Santiago Chavez slotted as my #25 Oakland Athletics international farmhand entering the 2014 campaign, just behind Chih Fang-Pan: 

Otherwise known as "Jose", Chavez is another Mexican product acquired from the same region as Arnold Leon in Saltillo and inked by Juan Navarette, as the exceptional defensive backstop and six figure acquisition is prepared for his American debut as the 18 year old is currently attending the spring academy in Papago and placed upon the preliminary Beloit roster. After a campaign previously where Chavez demonstrated a contact intensive approach, walking twice in 115 plate appearances while striking out only four times, the DSL catcher had a whopping 94.7% of his PAs result in a batted ball in play within his minuscule sample size. After a 9:18 BB/K between just over 100 attempts upon his 2012 debut, Chavez has accumulated a .236/.281/.284 slash (49-208, 9 XBH) between his opportunities within the Dominican Republic. Regardless, his defensive intangibles and intriguing inability to swing-and-miss shall undoubtedly plop him amongst the AZL cast througout 2014. 

Oakland affiliates shine through the weekend

Following an initial 2-5 amassed record for A's representatives through Thursday and Friday to open the MiLB campaign, the Athletics' squads have since gone 8-4 as Beloit split their doubleheader and snatched the finale while Stockton salvaged the series in Visalia while just recently besting Bakersfield. Sacramento dropped to opener to Las Vegas, but burst through for a sensational offensive sequence to conclude the Salt Lake City series as the Kittens accumulated 21 runs to bully their way to two consecutive victories. Midland squeaked by to now win two straight following heroics from Raul Alcantara and Dusty Coleman while being victorious in their series clinching bout over Northwest Arkansas despite committing six errors, as Drew Granier dons the mound attempting the sweep. 

The Snappers initiated their DH contests with a sterling performance from Lou Trivino within his Midwest League debut outing, pummeling the strike zone versus a feisty Burlington ballclub. As is accustom with primarily groundball arms, Trivino witnessed numerous consecutive base knocks within the third inning and surrendered as dinger as well to complete his outing within the truncated game with a 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 HR), 0 BB, 4 K, 7 GB/1 FB line as the righty shall partake in a secondary attempt upon Thursday against South Bend. In relief, Sam Bragg was dominant in his reacclimation to the MWL following a brief stint in Wisconsin prior after a rapid AZL-Vermont shuttle in his first professional season with Oakland as the Georgian went 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K against the former Oakland affiliate in the Bees to close the ultimately unfortunate defeat for the turtles. Offensively, while far more competent in the second contest, Beloit continued their woes at the plate as Boogie Powell, Bijon Boyd (1-3) and Ryan Mathews (1-3, 2B) were the only regulars to reach on-base while Tyler Marincov went 1-2 (BB) as the only Snapper to get on-base multiple times in his seasonal and Midwest League debut. Marincov would be a catylst for Beloit in their corresponding two victories however, going 2-3 with a double in the second contest that resulted in a 4-3 Beloit walk-off as Melvin Mercedes (2-3) plated upon a bases loaded wild pitch while Boog Powell once more contributed with a 2-4 performance. Kyle Finnegan went 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 HR), 2 BB, 1 K upon his entry to Wisconsin following an inconsistent romp beforehand to secure the split. The Snappers utilized Dylan Covey in the finale as the San Diego product went 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 7 GB/4 FB in another successful outing from a turtle rotation member while Marincov burst forth for a 1-2 (HR/2 BB/SB) effort alongside Beloit's first dinger of the season to evidently guide the the Midwesterners to a 6-4 result as Ryan Mathews additionally went 2-3 (2B/IBB) while Mercedes (1-4) and Roberts (1-2) assisted as well. Marincov, the 8th round asset plucked from North Florida, was phenomenal through the weekend as the athletic corner outfield farmhand went a cumulative 4-7 with a HR, 2B, 3 BB, and threw in an additional pair of swiped bags in a 23 inning performance that ought to permanently carve a lineup post for the former high school quarterback and possible Oakland sleeper prospect. Melvin Mercedes is now 5-11 in another valueable contribution while Bijon Boyd (2-12, 2 BB, 2 K) and Ryan Huck 0-9 (3 K) have each gotten sluggish starts to the 2014 campaign through the Snappers initial homestand. With the 18 year old, Ronald Herrera, prepared to debut and become the first born in 1995 to participate upon a full season affiliate squad for the Athletics, Beloit has significant optimism looking onward despite the inept woes of the offensive contingent through the first couple of games. 

"We have a great group of guys. It would be unfair to assess after just one series. It is going to take a few games for everyone to get adjusted to here, and April weather in Beloit doesn't do us any favors, but the talent on this team is unreal" Said Sam Bragg, the 18th rounder poised to appear in his second contest come the South Bend series. " I expect [Ronald Herrera] to go out and compete and keep us in the ball game. He's an incredibly polished pitcher for his age and he really knows what he's doing out there..." In regards to his own performance, Bragg spoke optimistically about his debut. "Except for the freezing weather, I felt great. I was getting good movement on all my pitches and I was throwing strikes. There wasn't an especially difficult at-bat, but I always like to attack the hitters and I was pleased with the results for my first time out... We won the last two games of the series, so I expect the momentum to carry over to our first road trip and beyond. It's a long season, but I'm excited to grow and learn from our players and coaches. I believe we are gonna have a great year" 

The Rockhounds were successful upon their departure of Arkansas, but they suffered a defeat within Tanner Peters' Texas League debut as Arkansas had studied the wiry offspeed specialist extensively and became aware of his strike zone tendencies within the initial couple of offerings in each plate appearance, as each Traveler within the first two innings swung on the first or second pitch from Peters, resulting in an 11 pitch two inning effort with a run surrendered for the UNLV alumni. Peters would still persist and orchestrate a respectable effort through his 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 4 GB/6 FB appearance as the fly ball oriented Peters nearly saw multiple well struck offerings soar out of the ballpark, but was aided tremendously by the Texan gusts in an enviornment that ought to service him far more favorably comparatively to Stockton. With his production, Tanner also logged his 36th consecutive appearance without walking more batters than he has struck out, in a streak spanning back to 7/25/12 with Burlington. Murphy Smith, embracing a newfound bullpen role, was perfect through 3 2/3 in relief as well, allowing zero baserunners and striking out six. Offensively, Midland was anemic aside from a Max Muncy's triple (His first since his very final plate appearance in Stockton) as they stranded 14 baserunners and were punched out a cumulative 10 times. They licked their wounds (As most hounds do) and prepared for the Northwest Arkansas set with Raul Alcantara manning his Texas League debut as a 21 year old, the youngest Rockhound rotation member since Sonny Gray in 2011. The #1 overall organizational pitching prospect dazzled throughout his remarkable eight inning attempt, blasting through the Naturals' bats and generating softly hit contact consistently as he completed with a 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 7 GB/9 FB, 90 pitch (62 strike) line in an instant candidate for performance of the month as the Dominican Bailey swap acquisition stunted NW Arkansas through the entire evening. Following a weather delay, Alcantara found himself in his stickiest situation of the evening, with runners aboard following a single and HBP with none out, but Alcantara did the absolute most dominant thing possible by picking off the runner at second and then the runner at first over a series of three pitches, essentially saying to NW Arkansas that "I'm Raul f***ing Alcantara, and you are going to lose". And that's exactly what happened, as Dusty Coleman's go-ahead two run 8th inning dinger secured a 2-1 Hound victory before Chris Jensen took the hill the following day. Midland was far more offensively in tact upon Monday, as Josh Whitaker's first dinger of the campaign highlighted a 2-3 (HR/BB/2B) evening for him while Muncy (2-4, BB), Marte (2-4, 2B), Oberacker 2-5 (2B), and Coleman (2-3, 3B, BB) supplanted Addison Russell's DL departure with an 8-7 victory and improvement to 3-2 through the first five bouts upon the Texas League schedule. 

Stockton inherited Craig Gentry and Ryan Cook for the remaining contests in Visalia during an difficult offensive stretch for the Ports, as Gentry sliced through porous Rawhide repetiores for a 2-4 performance upon the evening while Daniel Robertson's 3-4 outing and Wade Kirkland's decisive bases clearing double in the second inning secured Stockton a 3-2 victory at the plate. However, it was rather Manaurys Correa within his return to the California League following an exclusive Texas League stint with Arkansas through 2013 that would highlight the contest and victory for the Ports as Correa wound up with a no-hitter through five frames before Visalia bunt trolled the Ports to acquire a leadoff baserunner in the 6th inning. Regardless, Correa, with similar physical dimensions and repetiore to Alcantara, flashed his precision throughout the night as the 25 year old MiLB free agent acquisition went 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 6 GB/5 FB to join Alcantara as the only A's MiLB starters to exceed 6 IP thus far. The difficulties would oddly to traced to Ryan Cook, who continuously struggled with pitch placement while surrendering a dinger in a lackluster 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 HR), 2 BB, 2 K, 27 pitch (11 pitch) outing that resulted in his Oakland reinstatement regardless. Austin House, the Ports closing option, was perfect through his 1 1/3 IP with a pair of strikeouts. The finale resulted in a Stockton defeat however, as the inexperienced and youthful lineup predicted to struggle occasionally did just so in Shawn Haviland's organizational return (4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 5 K) as Daniel Robertson and Matt Olson's 2-4 outings were the only means of note upon the Ports staff. Ryan Doolittle, sibling of Sean Doolittle, was brilliant after emerging from the bullpen once more though as he went two flawless frames with three strikeouts after having now retired nine consecutive (6 K's) after a initial leadoff double to start his campaign. To leadoff the Bakersfield set, Seth Streich donned the mound and starred for the Ports following a respectable Snappers tenure beforehand despite a injury that squander his August within Beloit's rotation, as the former Ohio Bobcat and 6th round acquisition breezed through the Blaze before his pitch count began to balloon in the 4th and 5th innings; concluding with a 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 6 GB/1 FB debut in what bodes well for the dangerously underrated Oakland farmhand heading forward through April. Offensively, Daniel Robertson produced his third consecutive multiple hit contest as the supplemental first rounder and encore draftee selection to Addison Russell in 2012 is currently 9-20 with three doubles thus far after a stint in Oakland's MLB and Sacramento spring camps this preseason. Bruce Maxwell, Chad Pinder and Dusty Robinson all smacked their first dingers of the campaign as well while Ryon Healy snapped an 0-16 Cal League welcome with a leadoff single as he also drew a walk (1-20, 21 PAs). Aaron Shipman nearly belted his first dinger of his career in a triple that complemented his 2-4 outing, as the Quitman, GA speedster debuted within a leadoff capacity while Billy McKinney was perscribed an off-day.

Sacramento awakened on Saturday to demolish Salt Lake 12-7 in Joe Blanton's return to Sacramento, as the Rivercats went a cumulative 15-40 offensive with Ladendorf, Goebbert, Taylor, Vogt and Carrithers logging multiple hit bouts while Mike Taylor tomahawked a dinger in his second contest since being assigned once more to the PCL affiliate. Joe Blanton had a mediocre performance with a 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 93 pitch (56 strike), 4 GB/4 FB outing in what was luckily able to be afforded thanks to Sacramento's breakthrough at the plate. Paul Smyth, Joe Savery and Fernando Nieve constructed a suitable bullpen performance to clinch the victory for the Cats as they focused upon claiming a split during the upcoming contest. Jose Martinez would spur forth the offensive effort, going 4-6 with a HR while Hiroyuki Nakajima and Tyler Ladendorf each went 3-4 as Nakajima collected a 2B, BB and SB while Ladendorf additionally generated a BB during the ultimate 9-6 victory. Mike Taylor went 1-3 (2B/2 BB) while Nate Freiman's bases clearing 8th inning double definitively placed Sacramento in the win column despite Shane Peterson and Kent Matthes' golden sombreros. Matt Buschmann went 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 HR), 0 BB, 6 K, 5 GB/0 FB, 81 pitches (56 strikes) in a successful debut while the shaky Rivercat bullpen was able to salvage the victory and Salt Lake split. Craig Gentry joined Sacramento for the Las Vegas opener, going 3-4 and steering the offense while Carrithers (1-3, 2 BB), Martinez (1-3, 2B, 2 BB), Goebbert (2-5, 2B, 3B), and Matthes (2-5) assisted Sacramento to plating six runs. However, Josh Lindblom and Deryk Hooker struggled mightily en route to a Las Vegas walk-off, as Sacramento's pitching has been subpar through their initial rotation sequence despite plus offensive outputs from Jose Martinez (7-17, 2B, HR, 6 BB, 2 K), Alden Carrithers (6-16, 3 BB, 3 K), Jake Goebbert (5-17, 3 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 1 BB, 4 K), and Tyler Ladendorf (6-15, 2B, 2 BB, 4 K). They'll attempt with Arnold Leon once more against Las Vegas while Sean Murphy and Joe Blanton are positioned for Wednesday and Thursday for the Kittens. 

Ronald Herrera, Drew Granier, Arnold Leon and Josh Bowman represent the A's affiliates Tuesday evening 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Barfield, Ynoa debut. McKinney lights up Visalia

Jeremy Barfield posted his first official MiLB appearance on Friday evening

    (Photo Courtesy of: Chris Lockard)

Despite the postponement of Beloit due to frigid conditions which shall result within a doubleheader today, the remaining three affiliates still shined as the Rockhounds posted their first victory of the campaign thanks to Zach Neal's dominance to redeem a horrendous cumulative effort upon the mound for Midland the prior day, as the Oklahoma native breezed through five frames and threw 77 offerings (52 strikes) while permitting only three baserunners (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 5 GB/2 FB). Meanwhile, Midland once more constructed a dependable offensive performance as Addison Russell obliterated the first pitch he saw for his first dinger on the season in an encore to his 3-5 debut amidst the 20-7 defeat previously. Addison would provide a scare however, as following a single he saw caught stealing and appeared to be hobbled as he awkwardly jaunted to the dugout and departed the contest in favor of Antonio Lamas. Luckily, it was disclosed postgame that Addison only exited due to a precautionary purposes with a hamstring cramp, to the same muscular structure that prompted his spring absence a couple weeks before. He's DTD at the moment, with his prospects for this weekend somewhat in question, but his initial 5-7 performance ought to immediately slot him within Midland's upcoming lineups when available. Coinciding with that, Jefry Marte continued to impress alongside Max Muncy as both went 1-3 (BB) while Billy Burns notched his second consecutive bout with an XBH as the speedster went 2-3 with a double and another BB (3-6, 2 2 2B, 3 BB in his first two games) while recording his first stolen base, a feat which took until his 6th time on-base to attempt. Miles Head, under intense scrutiny, launched a towering dinger for his first base knock of the campaign, which lifted Midland to a 6-0 victory. Jeff Urlaub and Jesus Castillo both debuted and combined for a 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K performance to stamp down the win. 

Stockton, the lone victors upon opening day, once more grappled with Visalia as Billy McKinney burst through following a modest 1-5, 2 K debut as the 19 year old first round acquisition demolished a pair of dingers during an evening contest at Recreation Ballpark, a relatively neutral park dimension comparatively for California League purposes. His 2-4 outings steered Stockton offensively, while Bruce Maxwell additionally went 2-3 with a BB prior to being pinch run for by Dusty Robinson and witnessing Ryan Gorton usurp his catching duties as Stockton attempted to capitalize upon a baserunner generated during a 3-3 stalemate within the 8th inning. Daniel Robertson and Aaron Shipman, who partook in his Cal League debut, both went 1-4 while Renato Nuñez went 3-4 upon his 20th birthday following a admirable performance in his only Stockton outing as a teenager (2-5, 2 2B), Bobby Crocker continued to demonstrate absolutely zero resemblance of plate discipline with a 1-5, 3 K outing with another stolen base for a funky 1-8, 6 K, 2 BB, 3 SB line thus far. Matt Olson still has yet to be ignited following a dull 0-4 (BB) outing while Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy amassed a 0-8 mark through the contest, with the duo who bypassed Wisconsin now a cumulative 0-15, 8 K through their initial two Ports games. Matt Olson committed two errors in the contest while Pinder committed an additional one, with five defensive gaffs having been commuted by the supposedly defensively exquisite pair in Visalia. Upon the mound, Rule 5 Austrailian, Tim Atheron, had a mediocre statistical attempt with a 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 HR), 3 BB, 3 K résumé within his initial California League entry after an offseason with Team Austrailia. Jeremy Barfield immediately relieved Atheron, and went 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K in an impressive first appearance off the converted outfielder who has undergone a hectic pitching regimen for the previous eight months with this being his final campaign before MiLB free agency. Tucker Healy dominated in relief afterwards, as the deserving Rockhound went 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K before Michael Ynoa donned the central Californian mound within his newly adopted exclusive bullpen capacity. While permitting the ultimate walk-off for the Rawhide, it was still a legitimate performance in Stockton's 4-3 narrowly bested effort: 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 WP. 

Sacramento, following Michael Taylor's reentry and Conner Crumbliss' dismissal, utilized Sean Murphy prior to Drew Pomeranz' presumed demotion with inconsistent results, as Murphy went 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 90 pitches (56 strikes) and contrasted that with a plus 5 GB/2 FB ratio as Sacramento's pitching staff struggled throughout the evening similarly to Midland's beforehand. McBryde, Humber and Hooker, all Oakland NRIs this spring, accumulated a paltry 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 6 BB, 5 K bullpen line to place the River kitten within a deficit of 13-4 to conclude the game and place Sacramento as Oakland's only 0-2 ballclub thus far (With Beloit pending). Offensively, Shane Peterson catapulted the first Rivercat dinger and produced a 2-5 (HR) outing while Taylor went 0-1 (3 BB) within his unforeseen reacclimation to Sacramento. Jose Martinez and Nate Freiman both churned out 1-3 (BB) attempts while Kent Matthes went 1-4 with a first inning bases clearing double to firmly place the PCL squad within a commanding 3-0 advantage before Sacramento would be outscored 13-1 within the remaining eight innings. Stephen Vogt now is 0-7 with a BB through his initial eight plate appearances on the campaign now while Hiroyuki Nakajima and Tyler Ladendorf both went 0-4 with a strikeout. 

Joe Blanton, Tanner Peters, Manaurys Correa, Kyle Finnegan and Lou Trivino are scheduled to pitch on Saturday for the Oakland affiliates. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Opening night struggles for the Athletics

       (Photo Courtesy: Chris Lockard) 

The Athletics' MiLB affiliates officially commenced their 2014 campaigns as Midland, Stockton, Sacramento and Beloit took part in their April openers, with Midland and Beloit the only representatives starting at their home facilities. For the Snappers, it was a difficult transition initially as Bobby Wahl garnered the fronting rotation duties and seesawed throughout his outing, concluding with a 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 70 pitch (43 strike), 3 GB/3 FB line after being escorted from the contest following a droning 28 pitch third frame. Essentially, there were only two hard hit balls off the Mississippi alumni, a leadoff triple and double, but the righty failed to consistently place his offerings at the desired locations throughout his appearance, contributing his pair of walks permitted and lofty cumulative pitches thrown total. Regardless, Wahl occasionally flashed a plus curveball that was raved over and additionally bolstered that with a couple devastating sliders, as the premier Oakland pitching farmhand has the potentially to develop four above average offerings for his repetiore between a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. Relieving him was Matt Stalcup, the southpaw possessing a delievery reminiscent of Warren Spawn, who dazzled in somewhat of a dual start, going 2 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 4 GB/1 FB to establish himself as the turtle's primary long relief asset, in a performance that if duplicated repeatedly could result within his own rotation berth eventually. Lee Sosa struggled to an extent following that while Chris Lamb, attempting his third straight try within the Midwest League, was phenomenal by facing six batters and punching out four of them. Offensively, the Snappers were anemic upon the seasonal debut as Boogie Powell (2-4, BB, SB) was the only consistent performer throughout the entire nine inning contest while batting leadoff. Chih Fang-Pan and BA Vollmuth (1-4, 2B), smacked XBHs in the contest as Fang-Pan plated the lone run of the contest for the Wisconsin affiliate. Melvin Mercedes (2-4), despite defensive gaffs, knocked through a pair of base hits while Ryan Huck and BJ Boyd completed going a combined 0-7 with a mere one walk drawn by Bijon and Phil Pohl, upon his Snappers demotion, went 0-3 with a trio of strikeouts in a lackluster effort from the Coopertown native. Despite the 5-1 decision, Louie Trivino shall attempt to rectify the loss for the Snappers. 

Elsewhere, the Rockhounds' anticipated opening festivities were halted as Drew Granier and Blake Hassebrock unfortunately imploded as Granier, whose secondaries were restricted upon his initial Midland ascent and were presumed to be the cause of his perculiar outings, permitted 10 baserunners within his 1 2/3 IP sample while throwing 53 pitches (29 strikes) with 2 BBs and a mere one strikeout tallied. Completing with a 1 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 1 K result, Granier now must acclimate once more to the daunting Rockhound assignment. Blake Hassebrock arguably was even more inept, permitting the first seven baserunners he faced to reach following his relief of Nate Long, constructing a 2/3 IP, 6 H, 7 R (1 HR), 2 BB, 0 K performance for the recently Rule 5 eligible North Carolinian. Ryan Dull, additionally another bullpen asset who struggled initially within the Texas League, did so once more as the offspeed specialist permitted a dinger with no strikeouts and a duo of batters walked through his 1 2/3 debut. Andrew Werner, who initially walked the first two batters he confronted, struck out three of the remaining four he faced to conclude his outing. And Seth Frankoff, the converted Stockton reliever from the 2013 campaign, had the lone flawless pitching outing for the Rockhounds with a 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Upon the offensive front, Addison Russell burst through within his initially Midland entry with a 3-5 outing to complement an additional stolen base for the consensus major league farm phenom, while Max Muncy amassed a 1-4 (BB) outing as the tandem batted besides one another within the third and fourth positions within the lineup. Jefry Marte went 2-5 (2B), Burns 1-3 (2B/2 BB), and Coleman 3-4 (HR) to feature as the remaining notable Rockhound contributors as Dusty Coleman blasted the only dinger of the Athletics' MiLB slate and Burns, despite being on-base in three separate instances, sees Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Bobby Crocker and Boogie Powell swipe bases before he does. Ultimately, it was a deflating 20-7 Midland defeat, as the Rockhounds utilize the sophomore Rockhound, Zach Neal, in a hopeful more reliable capacity. 

Sacramento was the only one of the three defeated ballclubs to possess a lead at any instance throughout their contest, as Jake Goebbert's (1-4, 2B) two run double that plated Nate Freiman (1-4, 2B) and Kent Matthes (1-3, 3B, HBP) saw them vault forth to a 2-1 advantage at the earlier stages of the game. Despite that however, Arnold Leon went a mere 3 1/3 IP, tying Bobby Wahl for the lengthiest outing for any Oakland MiLB starter upon the day, and permitted 7 H, 4 R (1 HR) and a walk while striking out four through his 71 pitch (39 strike) subpar debut. Eric Berger, recently acquired from Houston, promptly surrendered a three run dinger in relief as well to place the Rivercats in an insurmountable deficit. Fernando Rodriguez, upon a major league rehabilitation assignment for Oakland, alongside Paul Smyth both went 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K to close the evening for the Sacramento pitching core. Stephen Vogt uncharacteristically struggled with a mediocre 0-4, 2 K outing while Aliotti went 0-4 within his opening attempt with the AAA affiliate as well. Jose Martinez went 0-1, 2 BB while Alden Carrithers contributed a 1-4, BB performance to highlight the remainder of the Rivercats. Sean Murphy shall make his PCL debut within Utah today following his notable spring dismantling of Texas while starting for the MLB cast this March. 

Stockton, looking to avenge the affiliates downed through the extremely unfortunate Amaheim sweep, salvaged the Oakland result with a 4-1 victory over Visalia upon their debut while featuring a lineup with Billy McKinney (1-5, 2 K), Renato Nuñez 2-5 (2 2B, 3 K), Daniel Robertson (1-3, 2B, BB) and Matt Olson (1-2, BB, HBP) as the potential laden teenage presence within Stockton assisted the Ports to the result despite Josh Bowman, Stockton starter, succumbing to an undisclosed injury following his entry into the fourth inning. Regardless, Kris Hall, the Ohio native and flamethrower, outmuscled Visalia's lineup upon the mound by immediately completing a strikeout (As Bowman exited while in the midst of a 2-2 count) and then promptly dispatched the following batter on three offerings, two swinging strikes. Hall faced the minimum through his outing while accumulating three punchouts as Ryan Doolityle relieved him, striking out three consecutive himself following an initial double. Ryan Cook, another A's bullpen participant undergoing a rehabilitation assignment, utilized a mere 12 pitches to induce three groundouts to complete his outing and tossed the reins to Nolan Sanburn, who rampaged through a porous Rawhide opposition with a cumulative 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 3 GB/1 FB outing to officially complete Stockton's overpowering bullpen performance following Bowman's departure. Offensively, Bruce Maxwell and Dusty Robinson each additionally placed up 1-3 (BB) contributions while Bobby Crocker went 0-3 through his five plate appearances, walking twice, striking out three times, and swiping two bags in an especially odd contest for him. Between the Midwest League fugitives (Chad Pinder, Ryon Healy and Billy McKinney), the trio amassed a cumulative 1-13, 7 K debut that was expected for those transitioning onward to California following a minute Vermont stay in their entry into the Oakland system. It'll be the Australian and Rule 5 chip, Tim Atherton, to combat the Visalia bunch on Friday for the Ports. 

Additionally, Michael Taylor has shockingly cleared waivers and shall be retained within the organization momentarily following his now preeminent assignment to Sacramento. Oakland still shall likely explore trade scenarios for Taylor throughout April however, as numerous ballclubs still have intrigue in the PCL veteran. Antonio Lamas has been assigned from extended to Midland in correspondence to Tyler Ladendorf's ascent to the Rivercats in replacement of Jake Elmore as well, who is currently housed upon the DL. Hiroyuki Nakajima was also outrighted once more, and leaves Oakland with another 40 man vacancy. At the moment, the have no eligible 40 man middle infield replacements due to these transactions, but that ought not to be a prevalent issue unless multiple Oakland infield pieces succumb to injury within the upcoming week. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jake Goebbert Q&A and Scrimmage Talk

      (Photo Courtesy: Chris Lockard) 

Headed into a campaign in which he finds himself buried beneath an extraordinarily competitive outfield depth chart, former Rockhound sensation, Jake Goebbert, is hoping to reciprocate his Texas League dominance upon the Rivercats roster after a brief 85 plate appearance August opportunity to conclude his 2013 organizational debut with Oakland as he debuts upon a AAA roster for the first instance in his career. Originally acquired in a swap prior to the regular season for Travis Blackley in response to a putrid spring for the Australian, Goebbert would acclimate once more to Texas following his previous performances upon Corpus Christi's ballclub, including a 2012 where he surged forth as one of Houston's most awe inspring statistical contributors within their minor league system, hitting .304/.399/.473 through 433 PAs with a cumulative professional best 144 wRC+ and .390 wOBA that vaulted him upwards to Oklahoma City for a minute stint before another seemingly assured Corpus 2014 assignment. 

It would've been unfortunate for Goebbert, who has continuously prided himself upon being a marvelous catalyst for practically every amateur and minor league affiliated ballclub he has received opportunities with. Hailing from Northwestern, Goebbert lacerated his kidney in what would ultimately be his collegiate finale due to injury as he collided into the outfield wall attempting to complete a catch. Despite the noticeable pain pulsating from his abdomen, Goebbert refused to leave the contest, strided up to the plate the following frame, and smacked a double before he was pinch run for; illustrating Goebbert's devotion to his Northwestern team in what would translate upon arriving within the professional ranks. After recuperating, Houston plucked the Illinois native during the 13th round of the 2009 Draft festivities and plopped him in Lexington after an immediate and initial assignment within Tri-Cities, as Goebbert stampeded to South Atlantic League All-Star honors with a league leading 48 doubles through his 591 PAs to coincide with his .291/.363/.445 slash line and 130 wRC+ that convincingly slotted him in Lancaster for the 2011 campaign. However, after a mere 117 plate appearance California League stint, Goebbert rapidly would ascend to the Texas League for his AA debut and then progress through to Oklahoma for a 100+ PA try as well en route to a AZFL berth in a whirlwind season for the then 23 year old corner outfielder. With 2012 proving once more his deserving placement within the Pacific Coast League, Goebbert would be made to undergo a preliminary audition with the Rockhounds as transitioned into the Athletics' organization for his Midland debut, now under the ownership of Billy Beane in hopes of capitalizing upon Goebbert's annual MiLB success. 

For Midland, Goebbert went upon the power crusade that shattered previous ststistical marks for the former Wildcat, amassing a .268/.352/.480 slash with a .212 ISO (6th in the Texas League) between his 458 PAs and was in contention for the organizational dinger lead with 18 as he headed forth to Sacramento for another August PCL attempt. Through his 21 bouts as a Rivercat, Goebbert excelled with a 15:16 BB/K and 7 XBH (4 HR) that has since granted him with the luxury of a cozy Sacramento home as he has been placed on the kitten roster to commence this nearing 2014 campaign. As the season approaches, I discussed briefly with Goebbert on his sophomore attempt in green and gold: 

CK: After having been dealt for Travis Blackley, what was the whole experience like for you in getting acquainted with your new organization?

JG: Definitely was cool to meet a whole new group of guys. I came up through Houston's organization, and being traded kind of opened my eyes to what professional baseball is about and the commeraderie of the clubhouses. I played against most of the guys [in Midland] so I knew them really well, and then to come up [to Sacramento] at the end of the season was great

CK: Last season saw you finish just behind Max Muncy and Matt Olson as the Oakland MiLB home run champion. Is that something you put more emphasis on during your 2013 season? 

JG: Thoughout my career my home run numbers have steadily increased every year and I feel as though it's something that comes as you mature as a player. You just have to put a swing on the ball in every at-bat. And I was fortunate enough to hit 22 last year, but I just want to keep improving, and whether that's a little better average or more homers, that's for the season to tell. My goal is to hit as many doubles as possible, but a lot of them wind up turning into home runs

CK: Upon arriving in Sacramento, your walks drawn noticeably spiked in your brief time here. You were pretty solid on the discipline front in Texas too, but what can you attribute that increase to? 

JG: The increase of walks was just a product of at-bats. I feel like there was nothing really special that I did, I just tried to string together consistent at-bats. My goal more so is to get some more hits this time [In Sacramento]. I think the biggest difference in AAA is the pitcher's ability to place the ball around the plate wherever they want, and sometimes that can lead to more walks.

CK: Now with Kent Matthes earning another 40 man spot as an outfielder and Shane Peterson there too, is there pressure to perform with those guys in the clubhouse with you? 

JG: I just want to do my best and take what comes... I just want to do my best and be the best player and person I can be and whatever happens happens. I'm going to do everything I can to put me in the best position to get to the big leagues.

CK: Is there anything specifically, offensively or defensively, you're looking to improve upon this season? 

JG: Defensively, I want to work on getting better jumps, but I feel like that's something I can improve on every day during batting practice.

CK: What was the entire experience like for you this spring, especially getting the opportunity to appear in as many major league games as you did?

JG: It was a great experience, getting to know all the guys in the clubhouse and everything. It's tough only getting to come in during the 8th inning and maybe get an at-bat, but you've just got to do your best and take what comes and run with it...

Stockton and Sacramento partook in their annual scrimmage this Tuesday as well following inclement weather the previous day that thwarted the contest in Sacramento from taking place. Following the bullpen from Shawn Haviland during pregame, as even more significant rainfall was anticipated that evening, the game began following the start time being moved up to 6:05 as Matt Buschmann and Jonathan Joseph acquired starting duties for the central Californian ballclubs. Joseph struggled initially, walking Peterson on eight pitches before a Stephen Vogt opposite field double, but then induced a Freiman popout and Matthes strikeout to conclude the frame. Buschmann retired McKinney and Healy promptly before a Pinder bloop double, one of Stockton lone baserunners that evening, in a lone eventful offensive appearance for the Ports. Stockton proceeded to alternate arms, expending practically their entire relieving core between Barfield, Duran, Doolittle, Hall and Healy prior to the cancellation of the game in the 6th inning. Barfield, following an initial Carrithers double, would induce a Jose Martinez groundball, a surprising Anthony Aliotti strikeout, and succeeded in beating Crumbliss to first base on a 3-1 grounder to record a spotless preseason frame in one of the more impressive performances of the evening. Sacramento would wind up plating two runs off Omar Duran, as he walked Carrithers with the bases loaded and a grounder burst through into the outfield after a ricochet off Matt Olson's glove. The other Sacramento run would originate from Hiroyuki Nakajima, as he squeaked an opposite field grounder past Chad Pinder into RF to place Sacramento within a firm 3-0 advantage. A notable Stockton performance did come from Billy McKinney, who laced a double off Buschmann over Nakajima into left-center field and successfully sprinted into second base after the ball skirted past Peterson and Crumbliss (Now unofficially 6-15 this spring). After Buschmann, Fernando Nieve appeared and permitted a walk to Aaron Shipman that immediately preceded Ryan Gorton smacking a near dinger into LF that plated Shipman in what was the closest thing to a homer in the exhibition due to the gusts blowing towards home plate. Finally, Tucker Healy's 6th inning would conclude following a five pitch walk to Jake Goebbert as the conditions had become too unbearable to continue onward, resulting in a 3-1, albeit irrelevant, kitty cat victory. Jake Elmore was the only positional reserve from either squad not to perform within the scrimmage as the affiliates head to Salt Lake City and Visalia to open their campaigns on April 3rd. Billy McKinney, who I spoke to before the contest, is quite possibly the most unforeseen Oakland organizational farm system placement during this 2014 campaign, and was additionally taken aback by the announcement. 

"As for Stockton, I didn't have any clue I would be heading out here until the final day. I thought I was going to Beloit and that's what they told me in instructs. I guess I showed them something they thought I could prove out here" Said McKinney, who also was quick to disassociate himself from any Addison Russell comparisons. "[Addison Russell] is a freak... I'll let him do what he does and we'll leave it at that"

In regards to his MLB opportunities, McKinney was grateful for his placement within a clubhouse brimming with stalwart major leaguers: "It was fun. It was great getting the experience over there. I liked seeing how they act and seeing how they played the game and learning from them too. They had a lot of knowledge, so all I did was just try to take it all in"

Monday, March 31, 2014

Joe Blanton arrives in Sacramento (Q&A)

Announced on Monday, the Athletics have successfully snagged Joe Blanton from the free agent scrap heap as the infamous starter shall return to his former organization after a disastrous 2013 with Anaheim. Still guarenteed $8.5M thoughout this campaign by the SoCal club, Blanton shall contend with fellow non-roster assets such as Sean Murphy, Matt Buschmann and Phil Humber for playing opportunities within Oakland and reacclimates to the minors for the first instance since 2011 with but a mere cumulative 11 MiLB frames over the previous decade. The rotation staple upon the 2006 ALCS ballclub, throwing 194 2/3 IP within the regular season just four years following his 2002 first round selection by Oakland, Blanton manned a sensational encore with a career 2007 crusade by amassing a 5.5 fWAR and 3.50 FIP with a minuscule 4.2% BB% in a remarkable 230 inning sample size before his Athletics tenure abruptly concluded as he was dealt to Philadelphia for Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman and Matt Spencer. After a lackluster national league initiation, Blanton found the shift from the spacious Coliseum to Philly difficult to swallow as his HR/FB skyrocketed and in response and his performance suffered. After numerous campaigns with the Phillies through 2008-2012, accumulating a 7.4 fWAR prior to his secondary deal, the hefty righty was once again swapped as he was plopped in Los Angeles in exchange for a PTBNL. The following offseason would find Blanton as a free agent, utimately settling with Anaheim for a surprising two year/$15M contact that figured to see the Kentucky alumni entrenched within the AL West starting cast for the upcoming couple supposed contending Anaheim seasons. Alas, with yet another implosion from Anaheim, Blanton unfortunately regressed significantly with a putrid -0.4 fWAR and 5.12 FIP in his 132 2/3 IP attempt along with a grotesque 19.1% HR/FB ratio which contributed to his premature spring release just prior to this impending campaign. Now, as Oakland has plundered him from the annual spring outcasts, Blanton shall don a Rivercats uniform for the first instance since 2004 in a performance that led towards his corresponding major league debut that same September. Oakland's former perennial top 10 organizational farmhand now is packaged to Sacramento a decade later at one of the lowliest stages of his career, hoping for a another rise to prominence with the organization that developed an established him as a professional baseball player. 

On his release...

"I think it was Monday or something like that, the Angels told me I was released" said Blanton in the Rivercats clubhouse. "After that, teams starting contacting and I took a day or two to weigh my options and then I decided to come back to Oakland. It was, maybe, two days ago that I was gonna come back up here, and I was already up here in the area. So I was able to stay up here and come in today"

On his return to Sacramento...

"You don't feel like you're completely starting over, but there's definitely a lot of familiarity. I mean, you look at [Rick Rodriguez], and he was the pitching coach here 10 years ago too. You go through all those things, and it just makes everything a little but easier. It makes it a really easy transition"

On his weight and physical shape...

"I was about 255 in Oakland, now I'm down to 210-ish... Certain things I'm not doing as much of anymore, so all that 'baby fat' kind of disappears. In 2011, I had that elbow injury, and it was the first time I had ever been injuried in my career. So after that, I started taking workouts a little bit more seriously and it was just a progression from there. You start working out and you realize your diet needs to change. You hit a certain age and you just can't eat the same way you used to. It wasn't one of those things were you come into camp 30 pounds lighter than you were, it was a really slow progression. It was like a 10 pounds a year thing for four years... I feel great though, I'm definitely in the best shape I've ever been in. That's key, and being 33 makes it a definite positive. It's just about going out there and repeating mechanics and doing the things on the mound you need to do to get better every day."

On his simulated game in Sacramento...

"It was good. I mean, a simulated game is a simulated game. It kind of felt like practice and the adrenaline wasn't totally there, plus you're facing your own hitters which is always different. My pitch count has been up the past couple starts to 85-90, so it was more about getting back out there after a week and keeping the reps up. Between just getting a feel for the catcher and some pointers here and there, so it was really a combination of things, but it was good" 

Blanton is set to debut upon Sacramento's trek to Salt Lake during this upcoming weekend against the AAA affiliate of his most recent organization. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Oakland MiLB rosters

Here are the definitive and finalized 2014 Oakland Athletics MiLB rosters. Enjoy! 


RHP Jose Flores
RHP Sean Murphy
LHP Eric Berger
LHP Joe Savery
RHP Arnold Leon
RHP Josh Lindblom
RHP Phil Humber
RHP Deryk Hooker
RHP Joe Blanton
RHP Matt Buschmann
RHP Jeremy McBryde
RHP Paul Smyth
RHP Fernando Nieve
(RHP Fernando Rodriguez) MLB REHAB
C Stephen Vogt
C Ryan Ortiz
1B Nate Freiman
1B Anthony Aliotti
UTIL Jose Martinez
SS/3B Hiroyuki Nakajima
UTIL Alden Carrithers
2B/SS Jake Elmore
OF Conner Crumbliss
OF Kent Matthes
OF Shane Peterson
OF Jake Goebbert


RHP Raul Alcantara
LHP Andrew Werner 
RHP Murphy Smith
LHP Jeff Urlaub
RHP Chris Jensen
RHP Tanner Peters
RHP Drew Granier
RHP Nate Long
RHP Zach Neal
RHP Seth Frankoff
LHP Frank Gailey
RHP Blake Hassebrock
RHP Ryan Dull
RHP Jesus Castillo
3B/1B Miles Head
1B Max Muncy
3B Jefry Marte
C Ryan Lipkin
C Beau Taylor
SS Addison Russell
SS/2B Dusty Coleman
2B/SS Tyler Ladendorf
OF D'Arby Myers
OF Chad Oberacker
OF Josh Whitaker
OF Billy Burns


RHP Michael Ynoa
RHP Jonathan Joseph
RHP Tucker Healy
RHP Shawn Haviland
RHP Kris Hall
RHP Manaurys Corrra
RHP Josh Bowman
RHP Tim Atherton
RHP Austin House
LHP Omar Duran
RHP Nolan Sanburn
LHP Jeremy Barfield
RHP Ryan Doolittle
OF Billy McKinney
OF Aaron Shipman
OF Bobby Crocker
OF Dusty Robinson
SS/2B Chad Pinder
3B/1B Ryon Healy
3B Renato Nuñez
1B Matt Olson
SS Daniel Robertson
UTIL Wade Kirkland
C Bruce Maxwell 
C Ryan Gorton


RHP Dylan Covey
RHP Ronald Herrera
RHP Bobby Wahl
RHP Andres Avila
RHP Kyle Finnegan
LHP Chris Lamb
RHP Sam Bragg
RHP Trevor Bayless
RHP Lee Sosa
LHP Matt Stalcup
LHP Brent Powers
RHP Stuart Pudenz
OF Boogie Powell
OF Bijon Boyd
OF Ryan Mathews
OF Jaycob Brugman
OF Tyler Marincov
C Phil Pohl 
C Andy Paz
1B Ryan Huck
2B Melvin Mercedes
3B BA Vollmuth
1B Michael Soto
SS/2B Chih Fang-Pan
UTIL Sam Roberts

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roster Madness: Billy McKinney headed to Stockton

The Athletics' first round acquisition from the previous draft and 24th overall draftee plucked from the 2013 crop, Billy McKinney, shall bypass the Midwest League entirely and debut in Stockton with the Ports as a 19 year old. Disclosed by David Forst this offseason, McKinney desired to "follow Addison's path" by commencing in California, and shall be granted with his wish as a usually stingy organization hurries the former TCU commit onward to central California after a dominant AZL and Vermont tenure upon his professional debut. After 206 PAs amongst AZL competitors, momentarily stunted by an ankle issue, McKinney compiled a .320/.383/.414 slash with a 17:29 BB/K before being escorted to Vermont where he went 12-34 with 4 XBH (1 HR) and produced a 3:4 BB/K as McKinney now officially shall transition onward to the California League with zero Low A experience, but proved himself with a 5-13 record against MLB arsenals in Oakland's major league spring training contests this March. McKinney, the lefty whom received significant praise for his offensive discipline and intangibles at the plate, services as Stockton's premier farmhand in conjunction with Michael Ynoa after Addison Russell's sensational 2013 with the Ports. 

Additionally, Jeremy Barfield, Kris Hall, Ryan Gorton, Daniel Robertson have officially been placed in Stockton while Lee Sosa, Phil Pohl, Andy Paz, Sam Bragg, BJ Boyd and Boogie Powell are headed to Beloit as numerous other assignments shall be announced within the coming hours. Most surprisingly, Ryan Gorton, the Oregon State 30th rounder from 2012, is headed to California over Phil Pohl, who spent is entire summer in California after only 12 plate appearances for the Snappers in his first full minor league campaign out of Clemson. Gorton, who participated in his initial Vermont debut after being sidelined due to meniscus issues, shall join McKinney in skipping out on Wisconsin in a perculiar alignment as the only member of the Ports' 2013 roster to be slotted upon the OD without any prior Midwest League experience was Andres Avila. Andy Paz, after three consecutive campaigns within the DSL and AZL, shall ascend to Beloit without another short season stint for him to undergo. The Cuban native and adopted French son features as one of the Athletics' most discipline oriented international assets in a somewhat surprising configuration to contrast with Nick Rickles and Josh Miller's extended assignments.


Chad Pinder shall join Gorton and McKinney as Lake Monsters to bypass Wisconsin entirely despite a lackluster NYPL debut offensively for the primary defensive specialist. The supplemental second rounder from Virginia Tech during the previous draft proceedings was reported to have excelled throughout the MiLB competition present in Pheonix this spring and thus receives priority over Chih-Fang Pan and Antonio Lamas. Most intriguingly about this assignment for Pinder, the collegiate third baseman and shortstop within his welcoming few professional contests to contrast with Ryon Healy, is that this may signify Pinder's relocation to second base throughout 2014 for the Ports. Additionally, Aaron Shipman shall arrive within Banner Island and thus results with Ryan Mathews' retainment within Beloit, a disappointing initial outcome for the thunderous former 5th year NCST senior. Bruce Maxwell shall be posted within Stockton once more, as expected, while Brent Powers shall adapt towards a bullpen role for the Snappers. Seth Frankoff, Raul Alcantara, and Tanner Peters have been declared as boarding for Texas as well. For Stockton, they already have a guaranteed four of their premier five positional farmhands (Renato, D-Rob, Olson and McKinney) set to participate there for this campaign while Pinder, Shipman and Maxwell make it seven of their top 20 overall. Barfield, Ynoa and the anticipated assignment of Nolan Sanburn additionally have officially made the Ports the affiliate to watch for the Athletics. More roster configurations from Wisconsin and Stockton along with Midland and Sacramento shall continue to be announced throughout the upcoming 24 hours.