So i was in Phoenix this past weekend getting my yearly pre-season baseball fix and I thought the community might like a little insight of what our A's looked like in person.
Let me preface this by saying that our beloved Athletics were shellacked in all three games I attended, nonetheless, there were still some positives to take away. In case you were wondering I was at the A's-M's game Saturday, and then the games against the two Chicago teams Sunday and Monday.
Let me bring you down a negative road and then take you back on a positive track:
Edgar Gonzales: Coming into the spring, Edgar had an outside chance to crack the rotation. Not anymore. The thin Arizona air has certainly not been his friend. He didn't fool anybody, giving up 8 runs in only 2/3's of an inning. Sadly, he couldn't blame bad control as he didn't walk a single hitter. What might have started out as a talented prospect has turned into the epitome of a AAA pitcher. Think Colby Lewis.
Aaron Cunningam: This one is painful for me because I think he has a chance to be a solid everyday player on the big league club. But he made me look bad in front of my dad, so I have to knock him down a peg. In his first AB, I told my dad, "Watch this guy, he's the A's best hitting prospect." Cunningame proceeded to do his best Bobby Crosby impression, whiffing on three straight sliders low and away. A little more seasoning in AAA is definitely needed.
Rajai Davis: I don't remember him getting on base all weekend, and he started in all 3 games this weekend. A quick check of the box scores show a solid 0-9 with 2 walks. Not even a stolen base to boot. But what really bothered me was his defense. Thought of as one of the best defensive CF's, Davis looked sluggish in the outfield, losing multiple balls in the sun and another bouncing off his glove after a not-so-great effort tracking it down. Denorfia didn't show much either, so I still would rather have Rajai out there because of this speed, but his showing this weekend didn't impress much.
Jack Hannahan: Can. Not. Hit.
Jerry Blevins: He just continues to struggle. I have high hopes for him as he is coming off a great season but he has just not missed many (read: any) bats this spring. Hopefully he can put it together quickly or else the A's will be without a reliable lefty reliever.
Ok, enough of the negatives. Here's the stuff that makes you excited real baseball starts in 11 days.
Daric Barton: He looked really good. Clean, smooth swing, and he hit the ball hard each time up. Good plate discipline. His home run off of A's fan favortie Octavio Dotel was beautiful. I still think it's best to start him off in Sacramento, but he should quickly earn a ticket to Oakland this season assuming someone gets hurt, or out of necessity because he is just tearing up the PCL.
Ryan Sweeney: One of my bigger man crushes. Sweeney certainly looked bigger this spring than I remember last year. His shoulders are now very broad, and Beane's assessment that he grew from a young adult to a man couldn't be more true. He hit very well during the game but what impressed me the most was watching him take BP Monday before the Cubs game. I know it's BP but I have never seen a smoother more powerful stroke. He was lacing the ball to all fields at will, even putting a few over the fence. I will go on record and say Sweeney will break out the power this year and hit 18 home runs while playing a very solid center field.
Kurt Suzuki: One of my favorite players going back to his Cal State Fullerton days. He was a part of the team that included 3 A's top draft picks (Jason Windsor and Kevin Melillo) that won the college world series. He won't hit for a ton of power but a high batting average and a fair amount of doubles is in store. In his one appearence, Zook made a splash, whacking out 4 hits and a walk, with each hit seemingly hit harder than the last.
Andrew Bailey: The only guy on Monday not to give up a run in the 20-5 loss to the cubs. He has a hard fastball and good movement on his secondary pitches. He looked very poised on the mound and I think he could comptently pitch like a healthy Andrew Brown if called upon later this year.
Corey Wimberly: Aside from the socks, which are undoubtedly awesome, Wimberly does a running flip in the outfield during warmups before each game. Wimberly might not be ready for a full time gig in the majors but I think bright things are in his future. He showcased his blazing speed on a double in the gap that didn't even get close to wall, but still made it easily to second and even thought about going to third. He stole the base anyway. At 2nd base, Wimbery looked solid making a few nifty plays, including catching a screamer that actually pushed him backwards off the bat of Ken Griffey Jr., and also making a sweet turn on a double play when he jump-threw the ball to avoid getting spiked by the incoming runner. More importantly, he showed good range at SS, having no problem going to his right and almost making two fantastic plays. He made the third. His arm might be a little weak from across the diamond, but his speed and quickness make up for it.
So those are my insights from Arizona, hope it helped give you an idea of what to look for this season. I couldn't be more excited to see the A's take the field for a meaningful game in less than two weeks!