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) 

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