Monday, March 17, 2014

Sacramento Roster Projection

The assets set to feature in reserve of the major league club, the Rivercats field a roster projected to house eleven individuals with previous MLB experience and fourteen prepared to partake in the organizational debuts within the Oakland system following a flurry of offseason acquisitions and departures. With Daric Barton projected to initially be slotted in Oakland due to his lack of options, Nate Freiman shall be housed upon the Sacramento roster with Rule 5 jurisdictions no longer applying to the monsterous southpaw obliterating first baseman. Luke Montz, following his offseason MiLB re-sign, shall be restricted to exclusive first base duties following his shoulder issues and not be permitted to be utilized within a catching role any longer, while Anthony Aliotti has earned a permanent PCL berth following his Texas League romp during the previous campaign. Hiroyuki Nakajima reacclimates to the Rivercats infield while postseason folk hero, Stephen Vogt, headlines the Sacramento backstop tandem to feature as some of the kitten's most recognizable players. With the momentary ascent of Sam Fuld to Oakland in replacement of Craig Gentry and Michael Taylor's innevitable departure from the Athletics system, Billy Burns gains a brief entry onto the AAA club with D'Arby Myers and Conner Crumbliss set to contend for duties there as well. Upon the staff, Leon fronts as the most well established prospect for the Pacific Coast League affiliate while trade acquisitions, Drew Pomeranz and Josh Lindblom, grapple for replacement opportunities within the Coliseum as the rotation presents a fluid and entertaining depth chart that will be constantly shuffled throughout the 2014 season. Hoping to represent the Athletics in a MiLB postseason following a flop during the 2013 try, the Rivercats once more hope to engrain themselves as the organizational juggernaut with an entirely new contingent now being welcomed into the green and gold. 

1B Nate Freiman
DH Luke Montz
1B Anthony Aliotti
INF Alden Carrithers
INF Jose Martinez
3B/SS Hiroyuki Nakajima
SS/2B Jake Elmore
C Chris Gimenez
C Stephen Vogt
OF Kent Matthes
OF Billy Burns
OF Shane Peterson
OF Jake Goebbert

RHP Philip Humber
RHP Matt Buschmann
RHP Arnold Leon
LHP Joe Savery
LHP Andrew Werner
RHP Deryk Hooker
RHP Jose Flores
RHP Jeremy McBryde
RHP Josh Lindblom
RHP Zach Neal
LHP Drew Pomeranz
RHP Nate Long

Other eligibles:

LHP Frank Gailey
RHP Murphy Smith
LHP Jeff Urlaub
RHP Evan Scribner
SS/2B Dusty Coleman
C Ryan Ortiz
C Ryan Lipkin
OF Sam Fuld
OF Conner Crumbliss
OF D'Arby Myers

Nate Freiman, the towering 6'8" first base prodigy, was plucked away from Houston by Oakland during the previous spring following his Rule 5 selection and was successfully kept upon the roster throughout the 2014 championship run, essentially being utilized exclusively as a platoon chip versus lefties after having never faced AAA repetiores following his 2012 Texas League tenure. Through his brief 208 plate appearances with the Athletics, Freiman hit .274/.327/.389 with a .116 ISO, 6.7% BB%, 14.9% K%, and a 101 wRC+ for a mediocre 0.1 fWAR and subpar -0.3 bWAR in a performance somewhat expected for the righty in his initial foray into major league arsenals. Freiman wound up going .304/.353/.452 in 162 PAs versus southpaws with a 11:24 BB/K and all 13 of his XBHs (4 dingers) while wallowing against righties by going 7-42 during his rookie attempt. Even within a platoon oriented format, Freiman's debut wasn't particularly grand, and the corner infielder now seems poised for his first Oakland MiLB assignment with Barton owning reverse splits, superior defense, and the advantage of being out of options. Likely to feature as Sacramento's DH/1B, he ought to receive more plate appearances righties unfortunately, in what could inhibit a statistical résumé that would convince Oakland to reassign him to the major league cast. Competing the hulking pressence of Freiman are Luke Montz and Anthony Aliotti following Montz' sensational NRI campaign en route to acquiring a 40 and consequent 25 man roster berth for the A's before he would succumb to injury in June. Montz tore through the PCL following his previous attempt with New Orleans, hitting .246/.352/.541 with a 13.1% BB%, .295 ISO and .387 wOBA in his minuscule 145 plate appearance sample size before his shoulder surgery, ranking him as one of AAA's most statistically flawless power bats through the initial portion of the campaign. Now, having been excluded from participating at catcher, Montz shall utilize his 264 career minor league contests at first base (Also appearing in LF and 3B) as reference for his sophomore set with Oakland. The only lefty amongst this cast is Anthony Aliotti, ripe off his dominant .350/.452/.541 Texas League attempt through 409 PAs that ranked him as AA's most fearsome first baseman and granted him with accolades from numerous sites such as Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. Obviously, Aliotti's .431 BABIP was a glaring concern hidden beaneath his .191 ISO and 180 wRC+, and upon his transition to Sacramento that aging 26 year old would unfortunately regress with a .266/.329/.344 slash and more alarmingly his discipline disintegrated (16.1% BB%, 20.3% K%, 66:83 BB/K in Midland/ 8.8% BB%, 25.7% K%, 15:44 BB/K in Sacramento) through his 171 PA concluding performance with the kittens. It'll take a more sturdy sample to weigh Aliotti's fate as an Athletic however, likely figuring to eclipse 250 plate appearances with the Rivercats through 2014. While not fitting seeing as though Freiman is the MLB "veteran" amongst the bunch, Aliotti's .360/.444/.540 split against righties in a whopping 436 PA sample size might convince the Sacramento personnel to establish a platoon situation in California's capital. 

The Rivercats infield situation stars Hiroyuki Nakajima, following his multiple year contract prior to the 2013 campaign and was heralded as the next international masterpiece acquired by Beane following the success of Yoenis Cespedes the season before, figuring to instantaneously snatch opening day duties within Oakland at shortstop. However, Nakajima's depressing stateside debut spiraled uncontrollably following the acquisition of Jed Lowrie and corresponding spring hamstring tweak that lingered throughout his season, yet finally would appear within Sacramento upon an initial rehabilitation assignment. However, as he was statistically inept and mediocre defensively, Oakland retained the Japanese signee in the PCL while Lowrie flourished through a career campaign with the Athletics. Eventually, Nakajima was outrighted and would ink a corresponding MiLB re-sign deal this offseason after an abysmal .283/.331/.367 slash between his 384 PAs with a 85 wRC+ and 6.0% BB%/21.6% K% split, only clinging to his .351 BABIP to keep the veneer of his batting average somewhat afloat. Now entering his second consecutive domestic attempt with Oakland, Nakajima finds himself buried beneath Oakland's extensive depth chart and a surging Addison Russell ascending beneath him, with his only means of arriving in a the east bay being injuries decimating the middle infield, tied currently with Carrithers and Martinez as the 6th middle infielder in the organization. 

Joining Nakajima with third base/shortstop duties are the afforementioned Jose Martinez and Alden Carrithers, with Martinez having featured as a NRI recently reassigned to the MiLB complex in Papago. The MiLB free agent signee this offseason from Houston, Martinez is a versatile Venezuelan native that essentially shall service as Sacramento's interpretation of Darwin Perez following his previous stint housed within Oklahoma City. The contact heavy Martinez only struck out 31 times throughout his cumulative 369 PAs (8.4% K%), however contrasted that with a mere 19 walks drawn (5.1%) as the 5'11", 180 pounder is well known for his blatant impatience at the plate. Cumulatively, Martinez went .299/.334/.417 as his brief brilliance with Corpus Christi keep his PCL struggles shrouded, as the BABIP dependent asset was ineffective towards the latter portion of Oklahoma City's season. With innings sporadically distributed between 2B, SS, and 3B throughout his professional ascent, Martinez shall once more seemingly reprise his reserve post for Sacramento. Alongside Martinez, Alden Carrithers, another minor league offseason acquisition and former Atlanta farmhand, shall establish himself upon Sacramento's roster as well. The discipline oriented and defensively omnipotent Carrithers constructed a 39:33 BB/K through his accumulated 330 plate appearances during the 2013 stint, participating predominantly in Gwinnett, to amass a .284/.384/.374 slash with a ~120 wRC+, 11.8% BB%, and a minuscule 10.0% K%. Having the capability to be utilized within LF, 2B, 3B or SS, Carrithers ought to be a crucial producer for Sacramento throughout the 2014 campaign while possibly stumbling onto Oakland's roster due to his exquisite versitility. 

The only 40 man asset housed within this bunch is Jake Elmore, effectively usurping Andy Parrino's post as Oakland's initial MiLB infield replacement. Following a showstopping campaign with Reno and debut with Houston through his previous attempt, Elmore now seems poised to don the green and gold at some instance during the calendar year: 

"Elmore, a 26 year old veteran and senior signee during the 2008 Draft proceedings, the versatile asset rapidly ascended through Arizona's farm ladder and rocketed through affiliates after bypassing Visalia entirety prior to his 2012 MLB debut. Elmore's sensational campaign with Reno that season, going .344/.442/.465 through 511 PAs with a 143 wRC+, .386 BABIP, and 14.5% BB% to establish himself as one of the PCL's best infielders, wasn't enough to spare him as he was relinquished and consequently snagged by Houston, who served as Elmore's organization during the previous 2013 season. After a mediocre, yet improved, attempt with the major league squad, Elmore spent the hefty majority of his appearances in Oklahoma City featuring once more as a utility AAA injury replacement infield piece. Following his renewed stint with Chicago this offseason after Houston severed ties with the diminutive 5'9", 185 pounder, Elmore expected to enter their facility in the Cactus League and compete once more prior to another likely now International League assignment. Now however, the A's have sought out Elmore's services as the dealt cash considerations to Chicago to acquire him and replace Andy Parrino's post with his presence, now serving as the only MI replacement currently upon the 40 man roster. 

Elmore has received significant praise for his exceptional plate discipline, featuring as some of the most elite through the PCL over the previous two campaigns, wielding a 105:91 BB/K between Nevada and Oklahoma. Additionally, Elmore is a tremendous contact heavy bat, with a spray approach and plus speed upon the basepaths, boosting his value with a PCL résumé of 48-14 in stolen base opportunities since 2012 (110-53 lifetime in MiLB). While stifled when pitted against MLB arsenals thus far, Elmore has accumulated a traditionally inflated BABIP thanks to his noticeable lack of power, baserunning, a line drive approach that have frustrated minor league arms and coaching staffs alike, making him one of the most feared leadoff men throughout the Pacific Coast League. The Athletics though seemed more intrigued by Elmore's outstanding versatility, playing all nine positions between Houston and OKC during the 2013 calendar year. All nine of them... Elmore primarily dabbled in the infield, with 27 cumulative contests between SS/2B with Houston and 54 at 2B while housed within their AAA affiliate, but Elmore also participated in LF, RF, CF, 1B, 3B, C, and pitched for his fourth career campaign (2011, 2010, 2009) while servicing in pinch running and hitting capacities. Elmore is also the 13th player in MLB history to pitch and catch in the same contest, joining Bert Campaneris in that exclusive club and featuring as the only non-catcher in the *history* of major league baseball to only catch and pitch without playing any other positions in a lone game. It's a tantalizing package for Oakland, who has been unabashed by their fondness towards those who can man several positions. To bolster his production even further, the right handed Elmore has incredibly favorable LHP splits, and shall likely be utilized in a platoon post should he arrive in Oakland during the 2014 season, hitting .297/.367/.432 between 167 amassed PAs in 2013 with a 17:17 BB/K versus southpaws. He shall likely be called upon should Punto or Callaspo succumb to injury and have a possible platoon constructed between he and Sogard, despite a lackluster MLB résumé of a .223/.290/.298 slash, 63 wRC+, and -0.8 fWAR through 209 plate appearances. However, he's fared somewhat sufficiently versus MLB lefties in a minimal 75 PAs, with a .250/.320/.309 line, a 9.3% BB% (7 BB), and a remarkable four strikeouts; production that suggests a greater sample size is required"

The outfield is manned by such individuals such as Shane Peterson, Jake Goebbert, and recent acquisition, Kent Matthes, who arrives from Colorado's organization in a transaction that presumably is in correspondence to Michael Taylor's proposed departure. The former premier Rockies farmhand stands a threatening 6'2", 215 pounds with a tendency for excessive dingers, having launched 20 cumulatively between Tulsa and Colorado Springs during the 2013 campaign. Having previously logged a .334/.372/.672 slash between 400 PAs within the California League with a league leading .307 ISO (39 doubles/23 dingers), Matthes regressed significantly as his BABIP dwindled considerably for the swing oriented bat prior to his 2012 AZFL assignment. Still, the sturdy corner outfielder constructed a respectable attempt through to the PCL as he produced an accumulated .281/.334/.503 slash with a 6.3% BB% and 22.5% K% including a .350/.417/.650 split against lefties through 115 plate appearances. He'll contend with Peterson and Fuld for injury replacement opportunities with his newly adopted organization in hopes of a probable major league debut. 

Shane Peterson, the former 2012 sensation, grappled with a prominent fit of regression while housed in Sacramento in a performance that included a MLB debut following his Rule 5 spurned 40 man addition the previous December. His .251/.358/.387 slash between 553 PAs (.136 ISO, 101 wRC+, .342 wOBA, 13.9% BB%) was an extraordinary disappointment comparatively towards his 2012 breakthrough for the last remaining component from the Matt Holliday swap, as he previously went .326/.460/.510 between Midland and the Rivercats (362 PAs) with an ISO north of .170, ~160 wRC+, and a BABIP in excess of a cumulative .440 mark as the astonishingly outstanding discipline piece amassed a 67:76 BB/K (18.5% BB%). For Peterson, figuring to join Fuld as the only other replacement outfielder upon the ballclub, he'll have to conquer Sacramento and the PCL desicively should he wish for a prolonged major league oppprtunity. Unfortunately, Peterson shall be out of options prior to the 2015 campaign. Accompanying Peterson, Jake Goebbert is prepared to acquire everyday lineup stints within a AAA format as the days gradually trickle down to MiLB opening day. The chip acquired in the Travis Blackley swap, Goebbert was one of the more remarkable farmhands for Athletics while battling for plate appearances amongst his Rockhound companions after the left fielder and first baseman became a coup orchestrated by Oakland in exchange for the suddenly erratic and inconsistent Blackley; resulting in the Northwestern alumni embarking on an eyeopening crusade through to the Rivercats. Goebbert's .262/.354/.474 attempt between 554 plate appearances was highlighted by a 125 wRC+, .213 ISO and a .362 wOBA with 22 dingers to slot him third amongst other organizational competitors (Matt Olson: 23, Max Muncy: 25) while amassing a 11.1% BB% which included a 15:16 BB/K in his 85 Sacramento PAs. The valuable asset now shall attempt to perform once more in what could result within a major league berth for the 26 year old lefty. Finally, while D'Arby Myers and Conner Crumbliss could easily dwell within this position, Billy Burns non-roster invitee status could skew the alignment towards his favor, as the basestealing revelation and chip acquired in the Jerry Blevins switch possesses an impressive 125-142 stolen base résumé since his 2011 Draft selection from Mercer. Through his cumulative 540 plate appearances between Potomac and Harrisburg, Burns produced a .315/.425/.383 line with a stupendous 72:54 BB/K (13.3% BB%, 10.0% K%) despite his inability to sufficiently provide power statistics, as only 21 of his 137 base knocks went for extra bases (And at least one of those was a bunt double). This spring, Burns has nine swiped bags through twelve attempts in 62 PAs with a 7:13 BB/K versus mostly MLB/AAA competition with a lone XBH, indicating Burns' innevitable projection as a leadoff specialist that shall be survive based upon BABIP fluctuation and may be forcibly made to conform to exclusive pinch running duties. The switch hitter has traditionally been more effective versus lefties, but ought to see elevated attempts against righties as he'll have more rapid first base times starting within the right hand batter's box.

The catching situation revolves around Stephen Vogt as John Jaso's initial backstop assignment shall prevent him from gaining entry onto the opening day roster, but Vogt will rapidly service as the Athletics' primary catching replacement should Jaso or Norris succumb to injury. Following a phenomenal April within Sacramento, Vogt would continue upon his PCL debut with an outstanding romp that concluded with a .324/.398/.547 line with a 149 wRC+, .415 wOBA and .223 ISO to be the consensus most dominant offensive backstop amongst AAA affiliates. His 38:45 BB/K (11.2% BB%) bolstered his output even more so, and convinced the A's that Vogt was worthy of a permanent Oakland post, as the stocky 29 year old would feature through August and September for the Athletics between 148 PAs with an ultimately 0.5 fWAR accumulated, however, an unfortunately discipline regression his occur for Vogt who only had manned 27 professional plate appearance before arriving in California. Unquestionably, Vogt's performance and postseason heroics have endeared him to the organization and fanbase as he figures to acquire his opportunities with the A's through the season. Chris Gimenez, the offseason acquisition from Tampa Bay to complement Vogt as another outcast Durham Bull, arrives as a Gilroy native and another discipline oriented backstop. Rather than Vogt however, Gimenez' speciality is his defensive expertise as his mediocre production shall not approach Vogt's outstanding and thunderous offensive intangibles, making Gimenez the prototypical reserve backstop. Hitting .225/.352/.309 between his 379 PAs within Durham and Tampa, Gimenez would produce a cumulative 58:64 BB/K (15.2% BB%, 16.8% K%) while corresponding that with a subpar .081 ISO and 93 wRC+. Gimenez additionally thrived off a platoon role, while generating a 27:16 BB/K output in his 127 plate appearances against southpaws. While out of options and extremely unlikely to make the ballclub, Gimenez is unlikely to be claimed off waivers. With Taylor and Gimenez expected to be disposed of entering the 2014 campaign and Sam Fuld promising to snatch one of their spots, Oakland ought to enter the season with a roster vacancy that will be available for the first non-roster asset that addresses a requirement 

Upon the pitching staff, Leon-Buschmann-Pomeranz-Neal-Humber is the expected rotation while Josh Lindblom and Nate Long will service in temporary rotation posts for the Athletics. Leon, Oakland's premier prospect upon the club, shall contend with Drew Pomeranz for immediate starting replacement honors as Pomeranz' outstanding spring has him favored at this instant while a remarkable repetiore only stunted by inconsistent fastball command. Buschmann and Humber feature as MiLB signees, Humber possessing an establishing major league résumé and a perfect game logged, while Zach Neal commences his second consecutive Oakland year following his reliable Rockhound tenure. Deryk Hooker, Jeremy McBryde and Jose Flores represent additional NRIs and MiLB free agents while Andrew Werner, Nate Long and Joe Savery are prepared for long relief duties upon the Sacramento roster. Josh Lindblom, eligible to replace Cook momentarily upon the major league bullpen for opening day, would be housed as another rotation candidate and predominant relieving piece. Should Lindblom replace Cook, Jeff Urlaub seems like a legitimate replacement up from Midland following his successful AZFL attempt this offseason. 

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