Saturday, April 26, 2014

Oakland rounds up a gaggle of international prospects

With Oakland having previously acquired Jesus Lopez ($950,000), Carlos Hiciano ($750,000), Ruber Aquino, Enmanuel Sullivan and Yhoelnys Gonzalez, the Athletics continue their international spree with the acquisitions of Gean Rigby, Jesus Monserratt and Alexander Calderon on five figure contracts to bolster the respective 2014 DSL roster for Oakland. Gean Ribgy (Alternative spelling of "Rygby"), the second Nicaraguan after Jesus Lopez plucked by the Athletics, features as a 6'0", 180 pound center fielder who now currently is the youngest player in the organization after being born on Jaunary 7th, 1997. While information upon Rigby is minimal, there are multiple videos regarding the youngster:

Jesus Monserratt, a 180 pound Venezuelan catcher, and Alexander Calderdon, a projectable 6'3" southpaw, additionally enter the organization with Monserratt serving as the second player born in 1997 under Oakland ownership (1/3/1997). Ruber Aquino, born 12/29/1996, is the third youngest while Jesus Zambrano, the 16 year old DSL standout the promises the feature within the AZL rotation through 2014, still pertains as the 6th youngest player in the organization despite signing in 2013. Alexander Calderon joins Kevin Ferrera, Jhenderson Hurtado, Ivan Andueza, Reynaldo Hoyos and Anderson Mata as lefties upon the DSL roster with Victor Veliz headed towards Arizona. Jesus Monserratt replaces the recently departed Santiago Chavez and shall compete with Robert Mullen (Panama), Barry Hernandez (Columbia) and Miguel Guzman (Dominican Republic) for backstop duties in the international academy this summer. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MiLB Update: Injuries plague the A's affiliates

Following Addison Russell's devastating hamstring announcement and additional losses of Michael Ynoa (Bicep tendinitis), Bobby Wahl (Oblique), D'Arby Myers (Fractured Wrist) and Stephen Vogt (Oblique), Oakland now suffers the departure of Tanner Peters to the disabled list while Raul Alcantara skips an outing attributable to elbow soreness as Midland's rotation absorbs a massive blow while Nate Long and Andrew Werner provide temporary starting duties in their absences. Hiroyuki Nakajima was absent from Sacramento's lineup after being removed following a home plate collision and thus is shelved while Chih Fang-Pan has now sat for three consecutive bouts for Beloit following a sequence at second base in which the Taiwanese middle infielder was slammed after a baserunner attempted to thwart a double play, resulting in his removal and consequent departure from the previous couple lineups with Melvin Mercedes already upon the Snappers DL. 

Within the ailing Athletics system, there is still optimism to be acknowledged, as Jake Goebbert has launched a dinger campaign as of recently and duplicated his previously outstanding April with Midland during his organizational debut in 2013 (92 PAs, .317/.392/.512, 7 2B, 3 HR) as the former trade asset acquired for Travis Blackley has gone .365/.431/.712 with 5 doubles, two triples and a trio of HRs within his initial 58 plate appearances in his best Miles Head circa 2012 impression. Goebbert, after a sensational stint through Tacoma in a series truncated by weather (Doubleheader announced for July 26th after the delayed finale), shall undoubtedly be permanently placed within the Kitten lineup despite having to divvy opportunities between Kent Matthes, Michael Taylor and Shane Peterson. Accompanying Goebbert amongst the Kitty Cat slough of offensive excellence are Alden Carrithers (76 PAs, .377/.507/.472, 14 BB:9 K, 1 HR, 2 2B), Jose Martinez (78 PAs, .263/.436/.333, 15 BB:9 K, 1 HR, 1 2B), and Tyler Ladendorf (59 PAs, .362/.492/.468, 12 BB:11 K, 5 2B) as Sacramento's production has run entirely through their middle infield contingent thus far. In correspondence to this, Oakland has snatched Andy Parrino once more off waivers from Texas and have sent the former Kitten and Tyson Ross trade chip to California as Jake Elmore, the piece who effectively replaced Parrino, nears a supposed rehabilitation assignment. These moves signify that Tyler Ladendorf likely shall unjustly be disposed of following a PCL breakthrough for the defensive specialist in his final season under Oakland ownership while Hiroyuki Nakajima may equally be under scrutiny after an abysmal opening to his campaign and an extraordinarily disappointing debut through 2013. Joining Nakajima, Nate Freiman has flailed versus primarily right handers (As predicted), going 8-41 with a 1:10 BB/K when pitted against RHP compared to a 7-28 marker with a 5:10 BB/K versus southpaws as the fearsome platoon bat has struggled upon acquired consistent plate appearances. Michael Taylor has also found it difficult to acclimate following a remarkable preseason and startling waiver maneuvering that saw him once more take refuge in California, hitting 9-44 with a still respectable BB/K (10:10) as the issue thus far has been BABIP for the hulking outfielder and Stanford alumni, only having recorded one single with eight XBHs (6 2B/2 HR) thus far. 

Shane Peterson leads the organization with doubles (Seven) and the Rivercats with three stolen bases while amassing a .306/.309/.486 slash with a completing 9:21 BB/K in an organizational leading 84 PAs while Ryan Ortiz has been another surprising plus contributor in relief of the since departed Stepjen Vogt, going 9-29 with 4 2Bs and a 9:11 BB/K for the Oregon State journeyman that has seemingly entrenched himself in Sacramento for the remainder of his career. Upon the mound, Sean Murphy had an outstanding effort in an otherwise difficult campaign thus far within his AAA debut, going 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K in a technical seven inning complete game that went into extras in an unfortunate Sacramento 1-0 defeat (9 innings) to open the Tacoma set following an initial postponement. Marcus Walden, upon making his Rivercat debut, went 3 IP, 6 H, 3 R (1 HR), 2 BB, 1 K that was luckily salvaged by a tremendous offensive performance by Sacramento to seize a split prior to the eventual finale for Zach Neal, as the right hander donned the mound during a soggy Tacoma evening looking to prolong his stretch of dominance through his first three outings of 2014. Unfortunately, Neal wound up being shellacked with four dingers permitted in five frames in an uncharacteristic performance from the reliable former Rockhound as the deficit proved to be insurmountable and Sacramento settled for a 1-2 Tacoma trip following a dominant 7-1 homestand, resting at 11-8 before El Paso with Josh Lindblom back at Raley Field. 

Stockton began their Inland Empire trek with consecutive defeats, failing to capitalize upon Seth Streich admirable opening performance as he went 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K to amass the most cumulative strikeouts in a single outing for any Oakland farmhand through the campaign up until that point, as Tim Atherton would wind up surpassing him with 10 punchouts to conclude that very series. Atherton, who had a lone double digit strikeout outing with Cedar Rapids the season prior against the Oakland affiliated Beloit Snappers, dismantled Inland Empire through his six frames, gradually constructing a 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K statistical résumé for one of his most superb starts of his professional career. Atherton, the Australian native and Rule 5 acquisition from Minnesota converted from outfielder to pitcher and has been released twice through his tumultuous tenure under professional ownership, now having amassed a 21 IP, 22 H, 9 ER (3 HR), 8 BB, 20 K mark throughout his initial four California League attempts after a mediocre first handful of outings as the Aussie still seeks to anchor Stockton's rotation for the aging 24 year old. Seth Streich, who then most recently contrasted his previous performance with a 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 8 GB/0 FB Banner Island skirmish versus Lake Elsinore, has easily developed into a breakthrough candidate with a cumulative 21 IP, 13 H, 4 R (0 HR), 6 BB, 24 K debut within Stockton en route to nearly an assured POTM accolade following the conclusion of April barring a disastrous finale upon April 26th against High Desert. Manny Correa has continued his struggles from his tenure with the Caribes De Antoázegui as the slender 6'3" righty and MiLB free agent acquisition has permitted six dingers through 23 IP upon making his initial stint within the Oakland organization, yet has upheld his reliable precision with a 16:5 K/BB thus far. Josh Bowman's Wednesday evening performance (5 IP, 5 H, 4 R [1 HR], 2 BB, 7 K) was his most sensational upon the campaign while Shawn Haviland's departure to Midland signifies Hunter Adkins usurping his rotation berth. Within the bullpen, Jeremy Barfield (11 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 7 BB, 17 K), Kris Hall (12 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER [1 HR], 6 BB, 13), Tucker Healy (9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 13 K), and Omar Duran (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER [1 HR], 1 BB, 9 K) have spearheaded a remarkable bullpen effort even in the absence of Ryan Doolittle; since having departed to Texas for his AA debut in his 7th season under an Athletics contract. Kris Hall, the flamethrowing Cleveland native, also had the most entertaining relief frame in the month of April for an Oakland prospect, walking three on 13 pitches in the 7th inning of Stockton's 6-5 walkoff victory, and then proceeding to strikeout three batters on nine pitches (All nine pitches were swung on and missed). Hall, throwing 95-98 velocity with a high 80's slider, is a criminally underrated bullpen farmhand for the A's

Offensively, Stockton is the only Athletics affiliate ballclub with cumulative double digit HR total, capitalizing entirely upon the offensive domain as Billy McKinney and Chad Pinder have each launched a respective 11 dingers combined thus far while Renato Nuñez and Dusty Robinson have each contributed with four as the Ports have more HRs than the rest of the three affiliates put together (28). Daniel Robertson (.325/.409/.481, 88 PAs, 9 BB:10 K), Dusty Robinson (.295/.380/.590, 71 PAs, 8 BB:16 K), and Bruce Maxwell (.344/.394/.475, 66 PAs, 5 BB:7 K) have spurred the lineup while Billy McKinney and Matt Olson have found difficulty initially with BABIP percentages and Renato Nuñez alongside Bobby Crocker have been stunted once again by their plate discipline issues. A lineup still brimming with offensive potentiality, Stockton's prospects seem extraordinarily optimistic heading onward despite their mediocre 9-11 record thus far. Similarly to the Ports, Midland's lineup has proven itself as a fearsome cast as the Rockhounds have established themselves as another Oakland hotbed led forth by Max Muncy's 84 PA .302/.452/.429 attempt with an organizational best 18:11 BB/K, slightly ahead of his Midland companion, Billy Burns (92 PAs, .254/.392/.296, 12 SB [1 CS], 16 BB:13 K). Josh Whitaker has additionally hopped aboard the BABIP train, as the Georgian has burst forth thus far for a .325/.382/.522 opening stint for Midland through his initial 65 plate appearances while amassing a .224 ISO, .426 wOBA and 173 wRC+ prior to regression, however still potentially indicating a breakthrough campaign for the Kennesaw State draftee. Other Midland standouts include Jefry Marte (.296/.339/.444, 59 PAs, 4 BB:9 K) and Dusty Coleman (.271/.350/.414, 71 PAs, 9 BB:26 K) while Conner Crumbliss, Chad Oberacker and Beau Taylor gradually are recuperating from lackluster initial stretches and Colin Walsh develops a more so potent sample size following a stellar organizational initiation. Beloit's lineup is predominantly operated through Boogie Powell, as the leadoff revelation has continuously serviced as the Snapper sparkplug, hitting .352/.432/.465 through 81 PAs with an additional 10:9 BB/K including having gone 9-15 with a HR, 2B, 2 3B and having accumulated a 4:0 BB/K throughout his previous four outings. For the southern Californian Junior Collegiate draftee, Stockton surely is beckoning should this be sustained, as Boogie has amassed a BABIP north of .335 throughout his 456 professional plate appearances. Others upon the Beloit roster worthy of recognition include Bijon Boyd (.296/.375/.451, 80 PAs, 9 BB:10 K), Jaycob Brugman (8-27, 2B, 5 BB:6 K), Ryan Mathews (14-54, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 2 BB:11 K) and Ryan Huck (8-43, 2 2B, 10 BB:13 K) while Luis Baez, assigned in replacement of the ailing Melvin Mercedes, has gone 14-36 with six doubles despite having only drawn a lone walk thus far as he has hit 8-10 with two doubles in this most recent and ongoing Kane County series. 

Upon the mound for Midland and Beloit, with Alcantara and Petera absent, it's been Chris Jensen and Drew Granier who have frontlined the Hounddog rotation with Jensen having amassed 19 1/3 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 8 BB, 13 K statistical results following a marvelous 7 2/3 inning performance against Corpus Christi in a victory while Drew Granier just begins to rebound from a horrendous opening outing: 16 1/3, 19 H, 9 R (1 HR), 9 BB, 11 K. Midland most outstanding assets dwell within the bullpen however, featuring such brilliant contributors as Seth Frankoff (9 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER [1 HR], 2 BB, 17 K), Frank Gailey (5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K), Jeff Urlaub (11 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 K) and Jesus Castillo (8 1/3 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K) to provide a fearsome relief cast for opposing ballclubs to grapple with. Upon Beloit's roster, Kyle Finnegan and Ronald Herrera have been the most consistent performers between the flamethrowing once through relieving prospect in Finnegan (21 1/3 IP, 21 H, 6 R [1 HR], 8 BB, 10 K) and the 18 year old mechanically consistent Venezuelan in Herrera (17 IP, 17 H, 3 R [1 HR], 2 BB, 11 K) while Sam Bragg has definitively established himself as Beloit's most reliable bullpen asset in the absence of Matt Stalcup, another DL casualty, as the underrated Georgian continues to witness his organizational stock climb (12 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R [1 HR], 2 BB, 12 K) 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Athletics assign a trio of extended arms

With the campaign already underway, the pitching staffs of each respective affiliate have undergone a a significant amount of alterations already with preliminary injuries ravaging rosters and forcing some to be called upon from Arizona, as some were excluded from an opening day assignment due to roster overcapacity and were made to patiently wait until disabled list stints accumulated to receive their opportunity. For Hunter Adkins, Dominique Vattuone and Junior Mendez, their seasons are now prepared to begin as the trio were each individually above the competition within Vermont as they demonstrated within the organizational debuts between the AZL and Lake Monsters the previous year, yet were snubbed from initial opportunities at a full season ballclub. Adkins effectively usurps the vacancy left by Shawn Haviland in Stockton, as the veteran righty ascends to Midland following TJS in replacement of D'Arby Myers and following Zach Neal's replacement of Joe Blanton in Sacramento, who abruptly retired and prompted this shift. Adkins additionally becomes the fifth Stockton Port with no prior Midwest League experience and bypasses Beloit entirely with Billy McKinney, Ryan Gorton, Ryon Healy and Chad Pinder each also leaping over a Snappers assignment to take refuge on the Stockton roster through 2014. The transition is logical for Adkins, a somewhat elderly senior acquisition from the 2013 Draft eligible fray despite going undrafted and having to be dependent upon the Athletics revising and inking him after the festivities has concluded in Secaucus, joining Travis Pitcher and Pi'ikea Kitamura as other NDFAs brought into the organization; despite Kitamura, a middle infielder from Hawaii, having since been released following an AZL stint. 

Not one to often opt for NDFAs, Oakland has seemingly stumbled into a bargain with Hunter Adkins though, the former 18th round acquisition from Middle Tennessee State in 2012 before opting to return to his collegiate program, as the hefty 6'4" starter wields a 88-92 MPH fastball and bolsters his primary offering with a plethora of secondary options such as a cutter, curveball and developed changeup that saw him amass a cumulative 41 2/3 IP, 37 H, 15 ER (3 HR), 12 BB, 33 K statistical résumé between Arizona and Vermont upon making his initial professional entry. With Stockton, Adkins appeared in relief of Seth Streich upon the Inland Empire roadtrip and went 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 R (1 HR), 2 BB, 3 K prior to joining the Ports rotation after surrendering a dinger in his California League debut (As is often the case) and striking out the remaining two batters he faced to conclude his outing. He'll make his debut within a starting role against Lake Elsinore in this coming week, asserting himself as a potential breakthrough arm for the Athletics in 2014. 

With Bobby Wahl transported to the DL, Dominique Vattuone and Junior Mendez usurp roles upon the Snappers roster as the pair of 2013 draftees following Mendez' starting tenure and then long relief duties through Papago and Burlington, VT while Vattuone starred within a late inning bullpen facility through the short season affiliates as well. I discussed matters with the duo this December in preparation of their debuts and entry into their initial full professional seasons: 

CK: Thanks for your time, Junior. How has your offseason been?

Mendez: Hey no problems. This offseason's been great. Had some time to spend with family and friends, but now it's time to really get into baseball mode. It's been the longest I've ever been taking off of the game. Guys would tell me how long the offseason was, but until now, I had no idea. I need to start getting my golf swing down so I can pick up a new hobby [Laughs].

CK: Obviously your last collegiate season was pretty special. Second nationally in strikeouts, 97 innings, a 133:17 K/BB ratio... Those are numbers that would make Max Scherzer blush. What was the key to your success?  

Mendez: Yeah those numbers were pretty, but it wasn't until the season was over was when I really noticed how special that season was. The one thing that really kept me focused was thinking three pitches or less. Having that in mind allowed me to go deeper into games and kept me trying to do less and allow the hitters to get themselves out. It was a very simple philosophy that slowed the game down big time for me.

CK: Additionally, you struck out 15 in a no hitter that would've been a perfect game had it not been for a 7th inning error. Was it a little disappointing not picking up the PG?

Mendez: That was a funny day, not because I threw a no hitter but for the fact I had woken up with a fever and was not feeling good at all. I was praying that I could get through six innings and help my team to a win. I had no idea I even had a perfect game or no hitter going. I knew it was something when I had two strikes on the kid in the 9th and everyone was going wild. Was it disappointing? Not really because looking back at the play, it was a slow roller to third making it a tough play, and I know my third baseman did all he could to get the out and that's all that mattered. 

CK: At least it wasn't as heartwreching as Massad's near perfect game huh? 

Mendez: Massad's near perfect game was ridiculous! Because unlike mine, his error would have been the last out of the game.

CK: Were you expecting to go around the 16th round? Or was it a surprise? 

Mendez: Well when it came to the draft, I had no expectations. I knew that people would get told they go in the top ten and not go at all, some people get no interest at all until their names called, so really I had no expectations because it would only stress me out. I just said "everything happens for a reason" and just went on with my day. I knew that was something I couldn't control so I let the draft take its toll and was extremely happy to know I was going to a great organization who gives opportunities to those who perform and not so much politics.

CK: How was your transition to the professional ranks? Biggest difference between AZL and NYPL competition?

Mendez: My first few weeks were a little rough. I got away from my three pitches or less and was trying to do too much. but then I just figured out that hitters will get themselves out again and I began to have cleaner and quicker innings. The biggest difference from the AZL to New York- Penn league to me was the discipline on the hitters part. Hitters wouldn't chase as much and guys hit mistakes a little more often.

CK: What pitches do you have as of now? And which one in particular do you hope to improve upon heading onward?

Mendez: At the moment I have four seam, two seam, curve ball and change up. My change up has always been my least effective pitch until instructional league this year, when I got my slider taken away and put more focus on my change. The change going into this year is still my project, I know that with a real good change you can keep guys off of the fastball and make it look a little faster

CK: Digressing from baseball for a bit to hairstyles: Thinking about growing the hair out to Massad-esque proportions at any point during 2014? Would be pretty awesome, in my opinion.

Mendez: Well I always say that I won't grow my hair, but somewhere during the season I change my mind because nothing makes you look like ball player more than some curls out the back of the hat [Laughs]. And since I do most of the cutting hair on the team, I just dont feel like dealing with my own.

CK: Goals for 2014?

Mendez: My goals for this upcoming year, is do anything in my power to keep moving up. just want to become a better pitcher, so better command, better pitch selection, and improve my tempo and be a great teammate.

CK: Howdy there Dom, how has this offseason been treating you?

DV: This off-season has been great! Really enjoying the down time with the family. Just returned not too long ago from Chile went on a two week vacation visiting my dad’s side of the family. As for the baseball aspect, I am very pleased with the workouts and the throwing program. I feel like this time is just as important as the season. Preparing yourself properly to embark on the long season ahead. I’m excited to get back out to Arizona and out of the cold here in Maryland.

CK: Oakland has had a recent allegiance towards your college program, UNC-Greensboro, over the past half decade (Rob Gilliam, Jermaine Mitchell, Blake Hassebrock, Lee Land, Tyler Hollstegge). Did you know that the A's were interested in you at all prior to draft day?

DV: Yes, it has been quite a thrill seeing the guys you know still playing for the same team. Since I was a transfer I did not play with Rob and Blake. With that being said I know them pretty well and have worked out with them this off-season down at UNCG. I received a questionnaire following my two outings at Furman University. I did not know the interest level from the A’s until the third day of the draft. My area scout called me that morning, informing me that the A’s wanted to take me later that day. I was glued to the draft tracker since day one. Then I heard my name called. I was taken back, really just sat there and said to myself “this is what I worked for, can’t stop here, gotta keep on going”. It really set in when I was going to the airport headed for AZ.

CK: After transferring to UNCG you made a whopping 46 appearances with only a lone start. Pretty safe to say you're settled in to a bullpen role huh? 

DV: Yeah, the bullpen has been my home and will be from here on out I believe. I enjoy it a lot. In college I would pitch in the Friday game and bounce back sometimes Saturday if not, then they ran me right back out there on Sunday. Being out there when the game is on the line, and you have the ball in hand, that is the greatest feeling, personally.

CK: Was the pick at 32nd overall a surprise? 

DV: I feel like it was the right round for me. I had a decent season my senior year. I figured going into the draft, if I was going to get selected then later on would be it. Numbers weren’t that great, but my area scout saw something and liked it enough to give me this opportunity. I felt like it was my round.

CK: You know, the A's have had a recent string of success with their 32nd overall pick over the past two seasons (Drew Granier, Ryan Dull). Think you can keep it up? Haha

DV: Yes, the 32’s have been successful for sure. These two guys have moved up quickly to Midland. Can I keep up? I feel like I can, having a good feeling about 2014. First full season, going to be a long one, but ready for what it has to offer.

CK: You were one of the first arms to receive a promotion to Vermont from the AZL. What was that transition back to the east coast like and how tricky was the transition to NYPL ball?

DV: The transition back to the east coast was amazing. Yes, the time change was a little rough the first couple of days. But being back in the same time zone, playing in areas near home was a great feeling. Overall being able to talk to my family for more than just a few texts a day was nice. I just missed the Aberdeen trip, would have been right next to my Juco. Would have been cool playing in front of all my friends and family.

CK: You had a little strikeout burst during your first professional stint by K'ing 38 in 30 innings. Do you feel like you can always get the strikeout? 

DV: I feel like I can in the right situations. With that being said, when I look back at this past season both in the NY-Penn and AZL I found myself throwing more pitches when I did get the strike out. Ultimately the more pitches you throw, out of the pen, the shorter your outings get. I love getting the big strikeout in the inning(s) don’t get me wrong, I need to conserve some pitches and produce soft contact.

CK: How was the instructional league this Fall as one of 21 pitchers in attendance?

DV: I enjoyed the Instructional league this fall. I was able to improve my mechanics and towards the end, begin to repeat the same delivery. With the other pitchers there it was beneficial , not only did we learn from the coaches and instructors, we learned and built off one another. 

CK: Can you give me a rundown of what pitches you have in your repertoire? And which one (s) are you really looking to emphasize improvement on entering 2014?

DV: I throw a 2-seam; inside to a righty and away from a lefty, getting good sink. 4-seam away from a righty and inside to a lefty. I also throw a splitter, which I use as my change-up

Last but not least my breaking ball that floats between the titles of a slider and a slurve (depends on the day I suppose). I feel like my splitter is the pitch I am looking to improve most of the three pitches. Primarily getting used to the ball change, from college to professional. With the high seams in college I was very comfortable with the grip. Now, I am getting a better feel for the splitter grip with these lower seamed baseballs.

CK: Are you already aware of whether or not you'll be staying in extended and be heading off to Vermont or if you'll have a shot to break camp with the Snappers?

DV: As of right now, I do not know. My goal and hope is to break camp and play for the Snappers in April. Feeling good about the March 3rd report date. Just have to take it one day at a time and work hard. I feel like Beloit will be a good start.

CK: What do you hope to accomplish during this 2014 season with the A's?

DV: I hope to continue to move up through the A’s systems. Working each day on my tasks at hand and becoming a better pitcher. I want to improve my command, swing recognition, and be more aggressive attacking the zone. Whether it is in the game, dry work, post outings, staying healthy and giving my team the best chance to win. Pitching is a relay race, you give it your all and when it’s your turn. Once your turn is up you hand it off to the next guy and he gives it his all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Midland sweeps, Sacramento streaking, Snappers sputtering

     (Photo Courtesy of: Chris Lockard) 

With a flurry of roster transactions having taken place, Oakland's affiliates are somewhat topsided through the two week marker of the campaign as Sacramento possesses the best record cumulatively within the organization (9-5) while Midland, Stockton, Beloit follow suit as the winning percentages of each are correspondent in descending order to their level of competition, with Midland in second (8-4) followed by Stockton (6-8) and Beloit (4-9) as the Kittens have demolished fellow competition upon their initial homestand en route to six consecutive victories while the Snappers have dropped seven straight after a four game winning streak. Sacramento specifically, after an abysmal 3-5 opening road stint, have rampaged for a sweep of Salt Lake and two consecutive over Fresno to lead their division and challenge Oklahoma City and Las Vegas for overall PCL supremacy through this initial phase of the lengthy season. The Kitty Cats benefitted from Sean Murphy during his third Sacramento outing as the imposing righty thwarted Fresno's attempts despite some questionable sequences with a 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 94 pitch (61 strike), 6 GB/5 FB line that complemented the sensational offensive performance of Tyler Ladendorf, who capitalized entirely upon his opportunity versus a southpaw with a 2-2 (2 2B/2 BB) performance that extended his on-base streak to six consecutive plate appearances following a 1-1 (BB) doubleheader finale stint. Peterson (2-4), Freiman (2-5), Carrithers (1-3, 2B, 2 BB) and Matthes (2-5) each contributed to the Rivercat victory as well as the felines transitioned onward in an attempt to take their sixth contest within Raley Field and opted for Zach Neal in his AAA debut to try and seize at least a split versus the central Californian adversary. Neal was stellar throughout his appearance, going 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 9 GB/5 FB while another showstopping performance at the plate spurned the Kittens to another win as Alden Carrithers' 2-2 (HR/BB) outing was the difference. For Carrithers, hitting 16-38 with a 10:5 BB/K (.421/.540/.553), it was his 8th career dinger lifetime within his 497th MiLB contest as the 5'9" utility specialist and predominant third baseman for Sacramento has nestled into his fourth career organization with remarkable initial production that has him eligible for A's MiLB player of the month honors. Sacramento figures to utilize either Jeremy McBryde or newly acquired Marcus Walden for Thursday's potential seventh straight victory as the Kittend intend to become the first Oakland affiliate to double digit victories. 

Midland, while successful within their doubleheader effort over lowly Northwest Arkansas (Now 6-0 against NWA in 2014), suffered a litany of casualties throughout this recent stretch that have the Rockhounds reeling after already relinquishing Addison Russell following a hamstring tear. Jefry Marte, who fouled a pitch off his ankle, did not participate within the festivities and was ineligible while Miles Head figured to be absent after grappling with food poisoning as D'Arby Myers would join the hobbled bunch following a HBP in his first plate appearance and then injuring his wrist upon making an attempted diving defensive play in the opening sequence of Midland's first contest of the day. Unfortunately, D'Arby would be removed from the contest with discomfort and later be diagnosed with a fractured wrist, likely sidelining the MiLB re-signee until June after the former Philadelphia farmhand was just beginning to ignite following two consecutive outings having accumulated a 7-9 (HR/3B/BB) résumé prior to his HBP and departure. His streak of six consecutive plate appearances having reached on-base does remain active however, through was surpassed by Tyler Ladendorf with seven straight for Sacramento. With D'Arby now unable to participate, the Rockhounds were forcibly made to utilize Miles Head, who played in excess of 19 innings with food poisoning as Midland struggled vehemently offensively through the first contest, claiming a narrow 1-0 win as Drew Granier orchestrated a 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K performance while Seth Frankoff clamped down the seventh favorable Rockhound result of the 2014 campaign en route to an attempted sweep in the second outing. It was another painfully sluggish offensive ballgame through the second game, with Midland and Northwest Arkansas failing to muster any runs until the 11th inning of a seven inning contest, with Midland eventually breaking through for five runs in the T13th as NWA was made to opt for a positional player to pitch as Midland won 6-1. Max Muncy, playing third base for the first instance since October in the AZFL due to Miles Head being restricted to DH duties, went 2-4 (2 BB) as the Midland offense generated 11 walks and went 10-43 as they were essentially dependent upon Northwest Arkansas' inability to locate the strike zone. Despite the Hounds' untimely performance and a vicious injury bug, they were still able to abscond with two consecutive as they limp onward to tackle San Antonio with Tanner Peters, Raul Alcantara and Chris Jensen. Blake Forsythe joins Midland while Santiago Chavez has since been transported to Beloit prior to Stephen Vogt's reactivation and Phil Pohl reassignment while Blake Hassebrock arrives from the DL. 

Stockton struggled with a potent Bakersfield ballclub as they were bested prior to their Inland Empire excursion as Tim Atherton and Bobby Crocker assisted Stockton their lone victory of the set, with Crocker now currently pertaining to an 11 game hitting streak after a 6-11 (3B/2 BB) series against Bakersfield as he made a worthy effort to usurp D'Arby Myers' Midland roster vacancy. Stockton was derailed by a horrendous outing from Manaurys Correa (4 IP, 11 H, 8 ER [2 HR], 1 BB, 1 K) as Jeremy Barfield's exemplary relief attempt couldn't supplant the stagnant Ports offense that unfortunately transitioned into the finale as well with the Ports only acquiring a mere two baserunners through the initial seven innings of a 8-3 defeat despite Matt Olson's 2-4 (HR/2B) evening. It'll be Seth Streich administered with the task of righting Stockton with a victory over Inland Empire following a lackluster conclusion to a thrilling opening defense at Banner Island. Hunter Adkins also was assigned to the Ports from extended spring training and becomes the fifth (Ryan Gorton, Billy McKinney, Chad Pinder, Ryon Healy) to bypass Beloit entirely and receive a Ports assignment with no prior Midwest League experience.

The Snappers dropped three more consecutive to Great Lakes following a doubleheader sweep and extra innings as it was once again a difficulty to produce offensively despite scoring more than one run in a defeat for the first time all season in each unsuccessful bout (Outscored 26-12). Bobby Wahl's erratic performance began their initially optimistic set with a disappointing 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 6 ER (1 HR), 6 BB, 2 K result while Andy Paz went 0-6 on attempts at throwing out baserunners from behind the plate as the Snappers were overwhelmed despite a cumulative 5-8 (2B) effort from Boogie Powell and Bijon Boyd. Trevor Bayless would be demolished in relief as well unfortunately with a pair of dingers surrendered to fall 11-4 before their second bout. Brent Powers, Stuart Pudenz and Chris Lamb each found it difficult to grapple with Great Lakes in a prolonged and uncharacteristic pitching struggle for the Snappers while the Wisconsin affiliate went a cumulative 3-21 offensively despite striking out a mere two times; thus ensuring a 8-2 lashing before the finale. Beloit held the advantage for the majority of the contest, claiming an 5-4 edge entering the 9th; however the Snappers would succumb to another dinger as Dominique Vattuone permitted a HR in an otherwise plus debut as the Snappers were faced with another deficit. Ryan Mathews, who finished his contest at 3-5 with a HR (The third for Beloit and the second for Mathews) reached upon an error and witnessed Ryan Huck plate him with a double, tying the contest in one of the first instances of situational offense for the turtles during this campaign. With Andres Avila permitting another run in the 10th though, they would have to respond once more as Sam Roberts and Boogie Powell each reached base with one out for Boyd and Marincov. Unfortunately, both were unsuccessful in that sequence as Beloit dropped their seventh straight as they approach their skirmish with Lansing, with Tyler Marincov seeming mortal for the first game of his 2014 full season debut with a 0-5 (4 K) sombrero. Kyle Finnegan, Dylan Covey and Ronald Herrera represent the Snappers heading forward, still towards the extremely early portions a lengthy campaign. Alongside Vattuone's addition, Junior Mendez replenishes a depleted pitching contingent while Santiago Chavez usurps Iolana Akau's post. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chad Pinder highlights a busy affiliate stretch

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.