Down On The Farm – Week #18: Top Draft Picks Moving Up The Ranks

The big news in the A’s system this week was the promotion of this year’s top draft pick, shortstop Addison Russell, to the Class-A Vermont Lake Monsters, where the 18-year-old is currently hitting over .600. He joins a number of other members of this year’s draft class who are already making their mark there, including two 2nd-round picks, catcher Bruce Maxwell and right-hander Nolan Sanburn, and 37th-rounder, outfielder John Wooten, who’s been the team’s most productive hitter thus far. Another familiar name joined Vermont this week when former top prospect Michael Ynoa made his first ever appearance above the rookie league level. Of course, this year’s 5th-round pick, first baseman Max Muncy out of Baylor, has already been impressing at Class-A Burlington. And with the way they’ve been playing down in Arizona, second-overall pick Daniel Robertson and 4th-round outfielder B.J. Boyd could be next in line. 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: 6-1

Record This Season: 71-45

The River Cats have been on a roll lately and are currently riding a 6-game winning streak. The team averaged about 7 runs per game this week. Kila Ka’aihue and Josh Donaldson have continued to be the core of the River Cats’ lineup, along with Michael Taylor who returned to Sacramento after spending a few days in Oakland. The newest hitting star for Sacramento has been 24-year-old outfielder Shane Peterson, who was promoted from Midland last month. In his first 20 games with the team, he’s banged out 4 home runs and 4 doubles and leads all current Cats with a .413 batting average, a .507 on-base percentage, and a .698 slugging percentage. Sacramento’s starting rotation lost its hottest pitcher with Dan Straily’s promotion to the big club, but top prospect Brad Peacock’s performance has been dramatically improving lately. The right-hander allowed just 2 earned runs while striking out 11 over 8 1/3 innings of work this week, and Bruce Billings turned in a dominant performance as well, allowing just 1 run and striking out 8 over 6 innings on Friday. The team’s bullpen also got a bit of a boost with the promotion of 2007’s 1st-round draft pick James Simmons, who struck out 3 in 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his first appearance with the River Cats.

Top Cats:

Catcher Josh Donaldson (37 R / 12 HR / 43 RBI / 22 BB / 31 K / .340 AVG / .410 OBP / .606 SLG / 1.017 OPS)

1B Kila Ka’aihue (32 R / 10 HR / 36 RBI / 32 BB / 37 K / .261 AVG / .394 OBP / .529 SLG / .923 OPS)

Outfielder Michael Taylor (67 R / 11 HR / 57 RBI / 67 BB / 81 K / .301 AVG / .413 OBP / .471 SLG / .884 OPS)

Pitcher Tyson Ross (59 IP / 53 H / 18 ER / 19 BB / 46 K / 2.75 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)

Pitcher Graham Godfrey (96 1/3 IP / 91 H / 34 ER / 21 BB / 57 K / 3.18 ERA / 1.16 WHIP)

Pitcher Bruce Billings (105 1/3 IP / 97 H / 43 ER / 31 BB / 100 K / 3.67 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)



MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

(Double-A Texas League)

Record This Week: 2-5

Record This Season: 53-59

The RockHounds have been on a bit of a slide lately, and their pitching staff has been struggling. The only solid starter of late had been last year’s top draft pick Sonny Gray who, after struggling throughout the first half of the season, has finally started to put things together over the past month. In his last 5 starts, the right-hander has posted a 2.03 ERA while walking just 7 and striking out 20. Since the loss of top prospect Michael Choice due to his season-ending injury, infielder Tyler Ladendorf has taken over in center field, but he has hasn’t been able to provide much offense from that position. Most of Midland’s production of late has come from newcomers. The team’s new designated hitter, Matt Rizzotti, had 5 doubles, a home run and 6 RBIs this week, outfielder Eliezer Mesa has hit .364 in his first 5 games since being promoted from Burlington, and third baseman Leonardo Gil has been on a tear since his return from Stockton. The RockHounds’ lineup should also be getting a little help with the addition of 23-year-old catcher David Freitas who was recently acquired from Washington in the Kurt Suzuki deal.

Top Hounds:

1B Anthony Aliotti (58 R / 9 HR / 58 RBI / 61 BB / 97 K / .293 AVG / .397 OBP / .431 SLG / .828 OPS)

Outfielder Conner Crumbliss (72 R / 5 HR / 36 RBI / 94 BB / 78 K / .255 AVG / .404 OBP / .359 SLG / .763 OPS)

Third Base Miles Head (13 R / 3 HR / 21 RBI / 11 BB / 43 K / .252 AVG / .333 OBP / .415 SLG / .748 OPS)

Pitcher Sonny Gray (115 1/3 IP / 117 H / 54 ER / 48 BB / 74 K / 4.21 ERA / 1.43 WHIP)

Pitcher Murphy Smith (121 IP / 152 H / 61 ER / 46 BB / 71 K / 4.54 ERA / 1.64 WHIP)

Pitcher Shawn Haviland (89 1/3 IP / 91 H / 48 ER / 36 BB / 77 K / 4.84 ERA / 1.42 WHIP)



STOCKTON PORTS

(High-A California League)

Record This Week: 3-3

Record This Season: 45-68

The best news at Stockton lately has been the emergence of catcher Max Stassi as a big threat in the middle of the Ports’ lineup. The former 4th-round draft pick has now posted 18 doubles, 14 home runs and 42 RBIs for the Ports this season. Outfielder Chad Oberacker has continued to be a consistent threat at the top of the order and he leads all current Ports in doubles, triples and stolen bases, and is second in hits and total bases. Second baseman Ryan Pineda has been hot since his return from Burlington, while third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, who’s been holding his own at the plate, has committed 12 errors in just his first 38 games. Stockton’s starting staff has been a little shaky lately. And after looking like he might be starting to put things together again, right-hander Blake Hassebrock gave up 6 runs, though only 2 were earned, and exited after just 2/3 of an inning in his last start on Wednesday. But right-hander Sean Murphy looked like he might be returning to the dominant form that earned him so much attention earlier in the year when he struck out 9 over 6 scoreless innings to earn his 6th win for Stockton on Saturday.

Top Ports:

1B A.J. Kirby-Jones (42 R / 14 HR / 52 RBI / 64 BB / 100 K / .248 AVG / .377 OBP / .439 SLG / .816 OPS)

Catcher Max Stassi (46 R / 14 HR / 42 RBI / 25 BB / 81 K / .270 AVG / .330 OBP / .467 SLG / .798 OPS)

Outfielder Chad Oberacker (50 R / 9 HR / 39 RBI / 35 BB / 69 K / .273 AVG / .341 OBP / .442 SLG / .783 OPS)

Outfielder Josh Whitaker (61 R / 20 HR / 60 RBI / 31 BB / 118 K / .259 AVG / .323 OBP / .476 SLG / .799 OPS)

Pitcher Josh Bowman (121 2/3 IP / 132 H / 48 ER / 28 BB / 102 K / 3.55 ERA / 1.32 WHIP)

Pitcher Sean Murphy (83 IP / 71 H / 41 ER / 23 BB / 79 K / 4.45 ERA / 1.13 WHIP)



BURLINGTON BEES

(Class-A Midwest League)

Record This Week: 4-3

Record This Season: 55-56

Some of the lowest-scoring games in the A’s system can be seen at Burlington, where the Bees’ combination of good pitching and weak hitting have kept the action to a minimum all year. Right-hander Drew Granier did his part by tossing another gem this week, allowing just 1 run while striking out 8 over 6 innings of work. But top prospect A.J. Cole lost his first game in the last 3 weeks when he gave up 3 runs in a 5-inning start on Thursday. Two recent additions did good work on the mound for Burlington this week though when right-hander Tanner Peters tossed 6 scoreless innings and left-hander Julio Ramos struck out 3 over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Outfielder Rashun Dixon has been leading the Bees’ lineup of late, and he homered twice and drove in 5 runs this week and is currently working on a 7-game hitting streak. This year’s 5th-round draft pick, first baseman Max Muncy, continues to improve at Burlington, and he had 3 multi-hit games and collected 6 extra base hits this week.

Top Bees:

Outfielder Rashun Dixon (44 R / 9 HR / 28 RBI / 39 BB / 67 K / .260 AVG / .383 OBP / .453 SLG / .836 OPS)

First Baseman Max Muncy (20 R / 3 HR / 12 RBI / 18 BB / 20 K / .269 AVG / .362 OBP / .446 SLG / .809 OPS)

Outfielder Bobby Crocker (48 R / 6 HR / 39 RBI / 27 BB / 80 K / .273 AVG / .348 OBP / .386 SLG / .733 OPS)

Pitcher A.J. Cole (70 2/3 IP / 59 H / 18 ER / 13 BB / 79 K / 2.29 ERA / 1.02 WHIP)

Pitcher Drew Granier (128 2/3 IP / 120 H / 42 ER / 38 BB / 123 K / 2.94 ERA / 1.23 WHIP)

Pitcher Raul Alcantara (96 1/3 IP / 111 H / 53 ER / 36 BB / 52 K / 4.95 ERA / 1.53 WHIP)



VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS

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

Record This Week: 4-2

Record This Season: 23-24

The big news at Vermont this week was the addition of this year’s top draft pick Addison Russell to the roster. The 18-year-old made an auspicious debut, collecting 3 hits, including a home run and a double, in his first game, and he’s now 8 for 13 with 3 extra base hits in his first 3 games since joining Vermont. This year’s 2nd-round draft pick, Bruce Maxwell, has been heating up as well, and the catcher went 8 for 22 with 3 doubles this week. Meanwhile, this year’s 37th-round pick, John Wooten, continues to wield the club’s biggest stick, and the outfielder went 9-23 with 3 doubles, a home run and 4 RBIs this week. Another big name debuted with Vermont this week when former top prospect Michael Ynoa took the mound and allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits over 2 1/3 innings in his first start for the Lake Monsters. Another one of this year’s top draft picks, right-hander Nolan Sanburn, also made his debut with Vermont this week with 2 scoreless innings in Friday’s game.

Top Monsters:

Outfielder John Wooten (20 R / 4 HR / 28 RBI / 8 BB / 29 K / .305 AVG / .330 OBP / .458 SLG / .787 OPS)

Catcher Bruce Maxwell (17 R / 0 HR / 11 RBI / 18 BB / 22 K / .285 AVG / .373 OBP / .366 SLG / .739 OPS)

2B Chris Bostick (29 R / 3 HR / 17 RBI / 18 BB / 36 K / .273 AVG / .349 OBP / .412 SLG / .762 OPS)

Pitcher J.C. Menna (41 2/3 IP / 39 H / 18 ER / 17 BB / 35 K / 3.89 ERA / 1.34 WHIP)

Pitcher Andres Avila (39 1/3 IP / 43 H / 20 ER / 12 BB / 36 K / 4.58 ERA / 1.40 WHIP)

Pitcher Tyler Vail (29 IP / 26 H / 15 ER / 11 BB / 21 K / 4.66 ERA / 1.28 WHIP)



AZL ATHLETICS

(Rookie Short-Season Arizona League)

Record This Week: 4-2

Record This Season: 25-11

The Arizona League A’s may have lost top prospect Addison Russell this week, but that hasn’t slowed down the team’s hot-hitting lineup. This year’s 2nd overall pick, infielder Daniel Robertson, and third baseman Renato Nunez are the team’s two best remaining hitters with Russell now gone, though the fact that Nunez hasn’t managed to draw a single walk in the past three weeks could give one cause for concern. This year’s 4th-round draft pick B.J. Boyd has been heating up of late, and the outfielder hit his first home run in pro ball this week and currently leads the team in walks, runs and stolen bases and sports an on-base percentage of .402. And this year’s 28th-round draft pick, catcher Phil Pohl, homered in back-to-back games this week.

Top AZL A’s:

3B Renato Nunez (20 R / 3 HR / 26 RBI / 6 BB / 22 K / .354 AVG / .404 OBP / .596 SLG / 1.000 OPS)

Infielder Daniel Robertson (21 R / 4 HR / 19 RBI / 15 BB / 15 K / .287 AVG / .397 OBP / .532 SLG / .928 OPS)

Outfielder B.J. Boyd (30 R / 1 HR / 11 RBI / 15 BB / 25 K / .309 AVG / .402 OBP / .433 SLG / .835 OPS)

Pitcher Jose Torres (38 IP / 38 H / 16 ER / 22 BB / 28 K / 3.79 ERA / 1.58 WHIP)

Pitcher Gregory Paulino (38 2/3 IP / 38 H / 18 ER / 9 BB / 37 K / 4.19 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)

Pitcher Vince Voiro (25 1/3 IP / 27 H / 13 ER / 6 BB / 25 K / 4.62 ERA / 1.30 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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