Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oakland affiliates shine through the weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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