Down On The Farm – Week #17: Will our Top Prospects Disappear at the Deadline?

Will breaking up with some of our top pitching prospects be hard to do?

With baseball’s trade deadline bearing down on us and the A’s brass eager to find a way to try to deal for a major league shortstop or third baseman, that could very well mean that we could be saying goodbye to some of our top prospects. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that two of the names that other teams have apparently been eager to mention in trade talks with the A’s have been Sacramento strike-thrower Dan Straily and Midland third baseman Miles Head. We know that A’s GM Billy Beane stopped in at Sacramento to witness one of Straily’s starts last week. Of course, that could mean that he wanted to evaluate Straily’s value either as a trade chip or as a potential replacement for one of the A’s current major league starters who could be a trade candidate. Either way, all we know is that once the trade deadline passes, we could end up having to say goodbye to some promising prospects that we’ve all grown fond of – and as we all know, breaking up is hard to do! But now that Neil Sedaka is buzzing around in your brain, let me take this opportunity to remind you that you can get daily updates on all the A’s top prospects on my Athletics Farm blog and lots more details on the last week of A’s minor league action here on Athletics Nation right after the jump…



SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

(Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

Record This Week: 5-2

Record This Season: 65-44

The River Cats kept up their hot hitting last week, winning 5 of 7 games while averaging 7 ½ runs per game. The offense has been led by catcher/third baseman Josh Donaldson, first baseman/outfielder Kila Ka’aihue and outfielder Michael Taylor. The team lost its main table-setter when second baseman Eric Sogard got called back up to Oakland, but the addition of Shane Peterson from Midland has started to pay dividends. Over his first 15 games with Sacramento, the outfielder boasts a batting average of .422 and an on-base percentage of .527. The River Cats have also recently added outfielder Collin Cowgill and infielder Wes Timmons, both of whom returned from stints on the disabled list. The team chose to cut ties with infielder Luke Hughes and reliever Chris Ray though. The River Cats’ rotation has continued to prosper, with Dan Straily leading the pack with a 5-2 record to go along with a 1.36 ERA and 67 strikeouts in just 53 innings. And after struggling through most of June and July, it looks like top prospect Brad Peacock is finally returning to form. Over his last 3 starts, the right-hander has given up a total of 5 earned runs while striking out 23. Straily’s success and Peacock’s return to form could help the A’s efforts as the trade deadline approaches, whether they end up being included in a deal for a major league infielder or are just available as replacements should the team decide to deal away a pitcher off the major league roster.

Top Cats:

Catcher Josh Donaldson (33 R / 11 HR / 38 RBI / 20 BB / 27 K / .351 AVG / .423 OBP / .625 SLG / 1.048 OPS)

1B Kila Ka’aihue (29 R / 8 HR / 31 RBI / 29 BB / 29 K / .264 AVG / .404 OBP / .535 SLG / .939 OPS)

Outfielder Michael Taylor (64 R / 10 HR / 56 RBI / 66 BB / 79 K / .300 AVG / .414 OBP / .467 SLG / .881 OPS)

Pitcher Dan Straily (53 IP / 27 H / 8 ER / 14 BB / 67 K / 1.36 ERA / 0.77 WHIP)

Pitcher Tyson Ross (53 IP / 45 H / 16 ER / 16 BB / 44 K / 2.72 ERA / 1.15 WHIP)

Pitcher Graham Godfrey (90 1/3 IP / 88 H / 33 ER / 20 BB / 53 K / 3.29 ERA / 1.20 WHIP)



MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

(Double-A Texas League)

Record This Week: 2-5

Record This Season: 51-54

Well, the big news at Midland last week was the loss of former 1st-round draft pick Michael Choice for the season due to a fractured hand after being hit by a pitch. After getting off to a slow start, Choice had been starting to heat up after the All-Star break and was in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak for Midland when he was struck down. Since his loss, the RockHounds have been primarily employing second baseman Tyler Ladendorf in center field, though Eliezer Mesa, who was just promoted from Burlington, could begin taking over in center. The team’s new designated hitter, Matt Rizzotti, has been a welcome addition, compiling a .326/.392/.522 slash line after his first 12 games. Shortstop Dusty Coleman is the team’s current home run leader with 12, though he’s batting just .213 and has already put up 133 strikeouts. Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Sonny Gray has started to show signs of turning his season around in his last few starts, allowing just 5 runs over his last 25 innings and picking up 3 wins in his last 4 starts.

Top Hounds:

1B Anthony Aliotti (54 R / 9 HR / 53 RBI / 59 BB / 92 K / .291 AVG / .401 OBP / .429 SLG / .830 OPS)

Outfielder Conner Crumbliss (68 R / 5 HR / 36 RBI / 85 BB / 75 K / .260 AVG / .401 OBP / .369 SLG / .770 OPS)

Outfielder Michael Choice (59 R / 10 HR / 58 RBI / 33 BB / 88 K / .287 AVG / .356 OBP / .423 SLG / .779 OPS)

Pitcher Sonny Gray (109 1/3 IP / 113 H / 52 ER / 46 BB / 70 K / 4.28 ERA / 1.45 WHIP)

Pitcher Murphy Smith (110 2/3 IP / 131 H / 53 ER / 41 BB / 68 K / 4.31 ERA / 1.55 WHIP)

Pitcher Shawn Haviland (84 1/3 IP / 85 H / 44 ER / 35 BB / 72 K / 4.70 ERA / 1.42 WHIP)



STOCKTON PORTS

(High-A California League)

Record This Week: 4-2

Record This Season: 42-65

The Ports’ offense has been heating up of late. In addition to outfield stalwarts Chad Oberacker and Josh Whitaker, catcher Max Stassi’s bat has really been helping to fire up the Ports’ lineup lately and, among current Ports’ players, he’s now 2nd in slugging percentage at .463 and tied for 2nd in home runs with 13. The Ports’ pitching has also been starting to show some improvement, with Josh Bowman, Jacob Brown and Blake Hassebrock all turning in solid outings last week. After getting off to a great start though, right-hander Sean Murphy’s been struggling a bit lately, and the long ball seems to be to blame. Though he’s managed to strike out 70 batters in 77 innings, he’s also surrendered 13 home runs – about 1 every 6 innings. Right-hander T.J. Walz, who started the season in the rotation but was moved to the bullpen due to concerns about his arm, has struck about 90 batters in 82 1/3 innings this season.

Top Ports:

1B A.J. Kirby-Jones (39 R / 13 HR / 48 RBI / 58 BB / 95 K / .254 AVG / .377 OBP / .444 SLG / .821 OPS)

Outfielder Josh Whitaker (59 R / 20 HR / 60 RBI / 30 BB / 110 K / .268 AVG / .329 OBP / .497 SLG / .826 OPS)

Outfielder Chad Oberacker (48 R / 8 HR / 37 RBI / 34 BB / 63 K / .280 AVG / .349 OBP / .441 SLG / .790 OPS)

Pitcher Josh Bowman (115 2/3 IP / 123 H / 44 ER / 28 BB / 96 K / 3.42 ERA / 1.31 WHIP)

Pitcher Jacob Brown (98 IP / 107 H / 47 ER / 20 BB / 65 K / 4.32 ERA / 1.30 WHIP)

Pitcher Sean Murphy (77 IP / 68 H / 41 ER / 22 BB / 70 K / 4.79 ERA / 1.17 WHIP)



BURLINGTON BEES

(Class-A Midwest League)

Record This Week: 3-3

Record This Season: 51-53

With their offense struggling all season, the Bees pitching staff is what’s been keeping them in the game. Right-handers Drew Granier and A.J. Cole continue to be the rocks that this current Burlington team is built on. After a disastrous start at Stockton, Cole’s gotten his ERA at Burlington down to 2.06 with 74 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings, while Granier has struck out 115 in 122 2/3 innings and leads all A’s minor league pitchers in wins with 11. And to top it off, last year’s 11th-round draft pick Chris Lamb delivered his best start to date for Burlington last week. Right-hander Raul Alcantara has also been pitching well since being shifted to the bullpen to reduce his pitch count for the season. With the loss of hot-hitting outfielder Eliezer Mesa to Midland, the Bees are bound to have an even harder time scoring runs, but one addition who’s been of some help so far is this year’s 5th-round draft pick Max Muncy, whom the organization has shown a lot of faith in by placing him at Burlington so quickly. In a little over 100 at bats, the 21-year-old first baseman sports the second best on-base percentage of all current Bees at .367.

Top Bees:

Outfielder Rashun Dixon (38 R / 7 HR / 23 RBI / 32 BB / 61 K / .244 AVG / .362 OBP / .419 SLG / .781 OPS)

First Baseman Max Muncy (18 R / 2 HR / 9 RBI / 17 BB / 16 K / .255 AVG / .367 OBP / .392 SLG / .759 OPS)

Shortstop Sean Jamieson (61 R / 7 HR / 37 RBI / 57 BB / 70 K / .240 AVG / .354 OBP / .380 SLG / .734 OPS)

Pitcher A.J. Cole (65 2/3 IP / 54 H / 15 ER / 12 BB / 74 K / 2.06 ERA / 1.01 WHIP)

Pitcher Drew Granier (122 2/3 IP / 116 H / 41 ER / 37 BB / 115 K / 3.01 ERA / 1.25 WHIP)

Pitcher Raul Alcantara (93 1/3 IP / 108 H / 53 ER / 35 BB / 49 K / 5.11 ERA / 1.53 WHIP)



VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS

(Class-A Short-Season New York-Penn League)

Record This Week: 2-5

Record This Season: 19-22

Vermont’s lineup has been struggling to score runs of late, but the team’s offense received a bit of a boost with the addition of hot-hitting catcher Reynaldo Mateo from the Arizona League. The team’s other catcher, this year’s 2nd-round draft pick Bruce Maxwell, started heating up at the same time and currently leads all regulars with a .373 on-base percentage. Along with second baseman Chris Bostick, this year’s 10th-round draft pick Brett Vertigan and 37th-round draft pick John Wooten have been leading the offense at Vermont. And the team’s pitching staff will be adding a high-profile member with the addition of former top prospect Michael Ynoa from the Arizona League.

Top Monsters:

2B Chris Bostick (27 R / 3 HR / 14 RBI / 17 BB / 30 K / .272 AVG / .349 OBP / .408 SLG / .758 OPS)

Outfielder Brett Vertigan (15 R / 0 HR / 7 RBI / 16 BB / 13 K / .281 AVG / .367 OBP / .372 SLG / .739 OPS)

Catcher Bruce Maxwell (14 R / 0 HR / 9 RBI / 17 BB / 20 K / .267 AVG / .373 OBP / .337 SLG / .710 OPS)

Outfielder John Wooten (16 R / 3 HR / 24 RBI / 8 BB / 25 K / .292 AVG / .323 OBP / .429 SLG / .752 OPS)

Pitcher J.C. Menna (37 1/3 IP / 37 H / 16 ER / 14 BB / 30 K / 3.86 ERA / 1.37 WHIP)

Pitcher Andres Avila (35 2/3 IP / 38 H / 18 ER / 11 BB / 33 K / 4.54 ERA / 1.37 WHIP)



AZL ATHLETICS

(Rookie Short-Season Arizona League)

Record This Week: 3-2

Record This Season: 21-9

The A’s top two draft picks of 2012, Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson, have both continued their hot hitting in Arizona, as has third baseman Renato Nunez. Russell and Nunez may be enjoying themselves a little too much though as both have become a little more free-swinging lately and neither has taken a single walk in the past couple of weeks. But when they put the bat on the ball, good things usually happen, and Russell leads the team in home runs with 6 and Nunez leads the team in doubles with 11. On the mound, this year’s 15th-round draft pick Vincent Voiro has been looking sharp. The 22-year-old right-hander has an ERA of 2.41 and has struck out 19 batters in his first 18 2/3 innings of pro ball.

Top AZL A’s:

Shortstop Addison Russell (29 R / 6 HR / 27 RBI / 14 BB / 20 K / .433 AVG / .509 OBP / .742 SLG / 1.251 OPS)

3B Renato Nunez (17 R / 3 HR / 21 RBI / 6 BB / 18 K / .368 AVG / .417 OBP / .658 SLG / 1.075 OPS)

Infielder Daniel Robertson (17 R / 4 HR / 15 RBI / 12 BB / 14 K / .307 AVG / .409 OBP / .547 SLG / .955 OPS)

Pitcher Vincent Voiro (18 2/3 IP / 17 H / 5 ER / 5 BB / 19 K / 2.41 ERA / 1.18 WHIP)

Pitcher Jose Torres (33 IP / 35 H / 16 ER / 22 BB / 26 K / 4.36 ERA / 1.73 WHIP)

Pitcher Gregory Paulino (32 2/3 IP / 35 H / 18 ER / 9 BB / 31 K / 4.96 ERA / 1.35 WHIP)



You can check out my blog - Athletics Farm - for daily updates on the A’s minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.

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