Friday, January 31, 2014

A's MiLB Full Season Pitching Depth Chart

Now we're on to the big boys, the individuals comprising rotation and bullpen roles through Beloit to Sacramento this this upcoming 2014 campaign. From Dylan Covey and Bobby Wahl to Matt Buschmann and Phil Humber, it's an overflowing cast that may even have to suffer a few casualties before April to have everyone be smushed and scribbled into the rosters. There's absolutely no shortage of talent here though, like upstarts in Raul Alcantara and Tanner Peters or arms attempting to finally find their professional footing and see their potential materialize in Blake Hassebrock and Brett Hunter. While the A's already have a plentiful major league cast, these boys are the netting that'll salvage the A's should injuries trickle into the Oakland rotation or bullpen, something that has been an unfortunately common occurrence in recent years. So, don't be afraid to get acquainted with the River kittens, Rockdoggies, Ports and Snappers' arms come this April. 

Depth Chart Listing:

LHP Phil Humber
RHP Matt Buschmann
RHP Arnold Leon
LHP Andrew Werner
RHP Josh Lindblom
RHP Fernando Nieve
RHP Jose Flores
RHP Deryk Hooker 
RHP Jeremy McBryde
RHP Evan Scribner
RHP Fernando Rodriguez
RHP Paul Smyth
RHP Drew Granier
LHP Frank Gailey
RHP Ryan Dull
RHP Sean Murphy
RHP Murphy Smith
RHP Tucker Healy 
LHP Omar Duran
RHP Seth Frankoff
RHP Tanner Peters
RHP Shawn Haviland
RHP Blake Hassebrock
RHP Ryan Doolittle
RHP Manaurys Correa
LHP Jeff Urlaub
RHP Chris Jensen
RHP Jesus Castillo
LHP Trey Barham
RHP Nate Long
RHP Brett Hunter
RHP Zach Neal
RHP Jonathan Joseph
RHP Michael Ynoa
RHP Josh Bowman
RHP Devyi Jimenez
LHP Brent Powers
RHP Jose Macias
RHP Andres Avila
RHP Tim Atherton
RHP Dylan Covey
RHP Bobby Wahl
RHP Derek DeYoung
RHP Kyle Finnegan
RHP Sam Bragg
RHP Nolan Sanburn
RHP Seth Streich
RHP Austin House
RHP Kris Hall
LHP Chris Lamb
RHP Trevor Bayless
RHP Tyler Vail
RHP Vince Voiro
LHP Jose Torres
RHP Gregory Paulino 
RHP Kayvon Bahramzadeh
RHP Junior Mendez
RHP Dominique Vattuone

Arnold Leon (Sacramento): 

      (Photo Courtesy: Chris Lockard)

Despite the uptick in notoriety following the pitch he threw which incited the Mexico/Canada WBC brawl last March, most forget that Leon remains a premier prospect within Oakland's system and a 40 man roster member that'll commence in the MLB camp at Phoenix Municipal in the coming weeks. While the organization has constantly vacillated in regards to a starting or relieving route for Leon to partake in over recent years, he primarily was in the Rockhound and Kitty Cat rotations last season between 25 appearances (24 starts) compared to a 44 appearance, bullpen exclusive attempt between Stockton, Midland and Sacramento in 2012. The previous two campaigns came after TJS in which Leon opted for in 2010, and caused him to be absent for the majority of 2011. The stocky 6'1", 205 Mexican native has drawn comparisons to Jesse Chavez for a probable projectable role that he'll likely encompass should be arrive in Oakland, as a long relief/spot start specialist. Still, Leon could thrive in a late inning bullpen post thanks to a diverse repertoire and a velocity increase to 95-96 MPH from a pedestrian 92-94 MPH in a bullpen position comparatively to when starting for multiple innings. Regardless, Leon has proven himself an intriguing asset for the A's to utilize in 2014, and dependent upon performance amongst a ridiculously competitive Sacramento staff, could debut in Oakland if injury requires a replacement. 

Leon began in Midland the season prior and grappled with Texas League foes for 72 2/3 IP (13 starts), with a 15.3% K%, 3.5% BB% and a 1.11 HR/9, exhibiting precision and phenomenal recognition of the strike zone. Despite the mediocre strikeout percentages, something that in 2012 (74 K in 66 2/3 IP) was an above average trait thanks to his conserved arm in his bullpen role, Leon demonstrated his reliable groundball rate and tallied up enough appearances to convince Oakland to slot him in Sacramento. In a nearly identical sample size to conclude his 2013 (71 1/3 IP), Leon accumulated a 16.3% K%, 4.3% BB%, 0.50 HR/9 and a plus 3.23 FIP in a performance slightly better than his AA attempt as Arnold finished with a career high 144 IP, nearly double that of his previous mark of 74 1/3 frames in 2009.

The 25 year old Culiacan native hinges upon his aforementioned precise fastball placement alongside an exceptional changeup, revised curveball, tertiary slider and a cut fastball that have propelled him to the edge of a major league berth. Whether the A's decide upon a bullpen position or to consider him for a permanent rotation role when he ascends to Oakland is unknown at the moment, but it seems as though shall be granted entry into the Rivercats rotation come April. 

Sean Murphy (Midland):

Murphy, one of the unsung starting pieces for the A's at the upper regions of the farm, has garnered comparisons to Dan Straily from the Oakland scouting staff for his imposing size (6'6", 220), repertoire (89-93 MPH FB, slider, curveball, changeup), and a preference towards the strikeout, tallying 299 punchouts cumulatively over the 2012 and 2013 campaigns. Plus, he's got a generic name to boot. While not necessary on the fringe of a 200 K season in 2014, Murphy still is a bulletpoint that ought to be highlighted as his second consecutive Texas League attempt looms this April. 

Out of Keystone College, a Division III squad in Pennsylvania, Murphy was an anonymous 33rd rounder plucked by Oakland that proceeded to steamroll past the AZL and consequently bypass Vermont entirely before a minuscule 48 2/3 IP during 2011 between Burlington and Stockton, despite his Ports debut being but a lone August start. His California League sample size would dramatically increase during the following campaign, as after just north of 50 frames with the Bees had been amassed the righty was sanctioned off to Stockton for his remaining 108 2/3 IP. As a fly ball oriented arm, Murphy was predictably annihilated from time-to-time, permitting a grotesque 25 dingers (1.74 HR/9) and concluded with a 4.82 FIP. However, his strikeout percentages received a boost, and the Philadelphia son produced a 23.4% K% and a total 107 strikeouts through the remainder of the season, as he finished third in the organization in cumulative strikeouts at 159 behind Drew Granier and Dan Straily. He also accomplished a rarity by striking out 8 of the first 9 batters he faced in an outing against Rancho Cucamonga, becoming the first Port to achieve such a feat since Trevor Cahill in 2008. 

The organization felt as though Murphy needed to be retained for another stint within Stockton, however the then 24 year old ascended to Midland after three performances (18 2/3 IP) and spent the remaining portion of 2013 with Midland. For his initial AA foray, Murphy fared decently with a 20.7% K%, 8.5% BB% and a drastically reduced 0.59 HR/9, finally locating refuge from the oppressive Cal League and the numerous dingers that are fueled because of it. The considerably more advanced offensive plate discipline was a difficulty for Murphy though, witnessing increases in his walks distributed and decreases in his consistent strikeout production. As he transitions on to 2014, adjustments shall undoubtedly be made for Murphy as he tackles the west Texan prairie for his sophomore attempt versus AA. If you're looking for a candidate to in some facility duplicate Straily's absurd strikeout rampage from 2012, Murphy is one of the better bets. 

Tanner Peters (Midland):

The wiry righty who blew past the California League and correspondingly emerged as one of the breakthrough performers within the Athletics organization in 2013 now is likely headed towards Midland alongside Granier, Murphy, and possibly Alcantara. Peters, who possessed the second lowest BB% amongst qualified starters (4.0%), a 3.65 FIP inflated due to the CL (1.30 HR/9), and a 23.4% K% through 165 2/3 IP and 28 outings, rocketed up A's organizational prospect ranking interpretations and endeared himself to Oakland fans with an August start in which he retired 25 consecutive batters and took a perfect game into the 9th inning, striking out 14 in the process. His 40 strikeout month of August was only the third of any A's prospect in 2013, as Sonny Gray and Drew Granier both achieved the feat in May for the Rivercats and Ports. Thriving upon one of the best changeups in the organization, which Baseball America bestowed the "Best in the California League for 2013", Peters has now readied himself to tackle the last leg prior to Oakland. Wrote a few other additional tidbits about Tanner back in November as my 20th overall Oakland prospect entering 2014:

"The frail 6'1", 160 pound righty got off to a horrendous start, getting eaten alive to the tune of 7 HRs allowed within his first month of Cal League ball (24 2/3 IP). However, afterwards Tanner began a smooth transition through his 28 start season, navigating through 165 2/3 innings as a Port en route to a solid 159:27 K/BB and a 3.65 FIP, finishing as one of the most control oriented pitchers in the system aside from Alcantara. He was the only pitcher in the system to compile 20+ IP, sub 10 BB, and plus 20 K numbers in every single minor league month (Aside from September of course)"

Tanner was kind enough so speak with me for a little while as well on his offseason and preparation entering 2014

CK: Last season with Stockton definitely was a breakthrough for you between just over 165 innings as you finished with one of the greatest cumulative strikeout totals of any A's pitcher with 159. You told me beforehand that you consider yourself a weak contact type of guy, but now that you made it through 2013 do you a feel a bit more confident to get the strikeout than you have in past years? 

TP: I have always been confident in my stuff to strike someone out when I need to. Every time I go out and pitch though I am still concentrating on getting hitters out in 3 pitches. Not many of those will be 1-2-3 K's so I still pitch to contact and I always will. Weak contact is the still the goal. 

CK: You also only distributed 27 walks last season and established yourself as one of the more precise pitchers in the Cal League. What was your mindset in two and three ball counts and how did you stay so consistent throughout the year? 

TP:  I've always been a strike thrower. It is my goal to throw a strike 95% of the time. So no matter if its a 1-1 count or a 3-0 count my mindset never changes. I think I was able to stay consistent by just working hard everyday. Doing what I could to keep my mechanics the same and as clean as possible.

CK: Your changeup received lots of acclaim last year by scouts. Do you view that as your best pitch? 

TP: I would never tell anyone that my change up is my best pitch. I believe for almost all pitchers their fastball should be their best pitch, we live and die by it. My change up has come a long way though. I have usually always have had a good feel for it, but ever since my junior year at UNLV its become my best offspeed pitch. I believe its the best offspeed in the game so that is why I put so much effort into perfecting it as much as I can

CK: What do you believe you've put the most improvement into thus far this offseason?

TP: The offseason for me is really about recovering from a long year and then gaining strength going into the next year and I feel I have done just that. I would have to say I am the strongest physically I have ever been right now so that would be the biggest improvement I've made this offseason.

CK: Last time we talked in Stockton you still had your mustache in tact, but then for some reason you shaved it... I'm glad to see you grew it back this offseason, because it is unbelievably awesome, but is it gonna be staying on for 2014? Or will does it get shaved/grown for superstitious reasons? 

TP: Ahhh the lore of the mustache. I am currently clean shaven but it usually makes an appearance every year. There is no real superstition behind it. I just grow it because I like it. But be on the lookout for it.

CK: Lastly, heading into Phoenix for the preseason in the next few weeks, what do you hope to accomplish when everything is all said and done in September? 

TP: I would say for this year I would like to stay healthy for the whole season and just do everything I can in my power to be the best pitcher I can possibly be. Hard work pays off I believe, so I will put my work in and everything else will fall into place. 

Ryan Doolittle (Midland/Stockton):

      (Photo Courtesy: Chris Lockard)

Yes, the sibling of famed Sean Doolittle, the younger Ryan is still under contract with the Athletics despite having just undergone TJS which cost him nearly the entirety of 2013. Having partook in other additional UCL surgeries while within the Oakland system, Doolittle has hardly had a legitimate opportunity to distinguish himself from the older brother, now one of the most dominant left handed relievers in baseball following an impromptu transition to the mound. But Ryan, when healthy, has been nearly unhittable and has been one of the most statistically remarkable pitchers for the Athletics since he was selected by Oakland in the 26th round in the 2008 Draft. Never having amassed more than 24 appearances in a single campaign, Doolittle hopes 2014 can be the breakout season in which he reunites with Sean in the green and gold. 

Through 163 career innings, Doolittle has a 157:20 K/BB with 10 dingers permitted and a 2.20 GB/FB, an exceptional performance over the previous half decade that has made his absence all the more tragic. If healthy throughout the whole of his career, he likely would be in consideration for a major league bullpen position, if not having already acquired one in Oakland. The righty still has an opportunity though, with a probable Midland position awaiting him to commence 2014, which would serve as Doolittle's AA debut. The Tabernacle, NJ native owns a 59:7 K/BB in 50 1/3 California League frames and has thoroughly demolished the competition with Stockton, as the 26 year old seems the most adequately suited for the Rockhounds bullpen. 

Doolittle recuperated within the AZL last season in August prior to the two start Ports stints, which was to amass as many possible innings as the A's could before the season concluded. Between 17 innings and six appearances, he constructed a 11 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 10 K line that he hopes should vault him upward to Midland. Utilizing a 91-93 FB with movement and an exceptional changeup/slider combination, Doolittle's repertoire is somewhat reminiscent of Ryan Dull, who demonstrated what Ryan Doolittle could've done if healthy for a prolonged period during 2013. The dreams of a sibling tandem in the east bay aren't completely dead though, but it'll require Doolittle to be flawless in 2014. 

Bobby Wahl (Beloit):

The draft day coup orchestrated by the A's to acquire the previously considered first rounder was the defining piece of their 2013 haul, as ballclubs were frightened to make an attempt at the Mississippi alumni due to most considering his stock to be replenished if he opted to return to the collegiate ranks. Thanks to a blister development, Wahl was tossed into the A's clutches and the Athletics now are in the possession of an instantaneous top 5 organizational prospect. With a Beloit assignment and a full season attempt now on the horizon for Wahl, the flamethrower prepares to suit up with the turtles in Wisconsin and reward Oakland for their aggressive Secaucus strategy last June.

Wahl landed on my top 100 Athletics prospects entering 2014 at #4. Here's some additional information about the righty:  

"Wahl, the 5th round draftee out of Mississippi during the previous June, was one of the most noticeable steals throughout the entire field as he was originally projected as a 1st round asset before his velocity decreased during his collegiate season due to blisters, and Oakland scooped him away from remaining squads who assumed Wahl would opt to return to Ole Miss to increase his draft position and successfully inked him at #161 overall. The righty was flown to Papago to partake in a lone appearance where he went 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K prior to boarding another airplane and departing the southwest for Vermont where the 21 year old meandered through 20 2/3 IP in his nine appearances within July and August, concluding with a stellar 27 K's compared to 9 BBs and three dingers allowed. 

Wahl's sample size is far too misiscule to make any consensus with, but his extraordinary potential makes him unanimous top 5 Athletics prospect, with an upper 90's fastball that was recorded at 98-99 at it's peak with the Lake Monsters despite hovering between 94-97 to be more reasonable outcome as the organization's leash on Wahl's cumulative innings becomes longer. His featured secondary is a 82-85 MPH slider that often badly fools opposing batters with an additional changeup that will be tremendously benefitted from being tweaked by the A's staff."

Jose Torres (Beloit):

       (Photo Courtesy: Chris Lockard)

The crowning international LHP prospect within the A's midst, Torres has often been forgotten after just recently partaking in his first attempt at Vermont during an injury riddled 2013. But for the 6'2", 180 pound Venezuelan who signed alongside fellow countrymen Renato Nuñez and Anderson Mata on July 2nd of 2010, Torres seems poised for a breakout campaign in Wisconsin should he be physically intact. The developing 20 year old continues to increase notches upon his velocity, now currently sitting at 87-90 MPH, accompanied by a plus curveball and an inconsistent but effective changeup, and has received acclaim from the organization for his projectability upon the mound. With Anderson Mata, another Venezuelan lefty, having fallen and being proven unable to make a trek to the US thus far, Torres now stands unchallenged as the premier Caribbean lefty for the Athletics, with Omar Duran falling slightly behind the Caracas native.

Torres has had sporadic opportunities within the Athletics system thus far, only accumulating 141 IP through his three MiLB campaigns after commencing in the Dominican academy as a 17 year old in 2011. Cumulatively, between his DSL attempts, 2012 AZL debut as an 18 year old, and his previous Vermont stint, Torres owns a less than desirable 102:68 K/BB as he has demonstrated a difficulty with precision throughout his first few professional outings. However, the lanky youngster consistently has been forgiven with a stellar 1.75 career GB/FB ratio between his 38 appearances (30 starts) and allowed a mere 5 HRs allowed while housed within the short season affiliates. The statistics ought not to be as revered with JT at this stage, with his offerings still being meticulously developed since 2010 and his mechanics having gone through countless alterations through organizational experimentation. Once Torres matures entirely, has his fate decided upon definitively for a pitching delivery, and has his velocity balloon to its absolute potential, you're looking at a menacing prospect for the A's. 


  1. just curious how many of these pitchers have you personally seen pitch 1 or more games.

  2. I covered Stockton in 2012 and 2013, so every guy that's been a Port in that span. I count about 20 on that depth chart listing. Leon, Murphy, Peters and Doolittle are guys I've seen and I've interviewed all of them with the exception of Leon. Wahl and Torres haven't pitched in California yet, unfortunately, so I haven't had the chance with those two