Down On The Farm: Week #4 - Pitching's The Name Of The Game

USA TODAY Sports

Well, they say you live and die with your pitching. And that was certainly true down on the farm this week. At the upper levels of the A's system, the River Cats' and RockHounds' rotations - led by prospects like Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, Justin Thomas, Murphy Smith, Zach Neal and Sean Murphy - have been dominant of late. But at the lower levels of the system, the Ports' and Snappers' staffs have been giving up runs by the bunches - though guys like Drew Granier, Dakota Bacus, Austin House and, yes, Michael Ynoa have been exceptions to that rule. 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 right here on Athletics Nation...


SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

(Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

Record This Week: 5-1

Record This Season: 13-11

The River Cats won 5 of their 6 games this week, primarily due to some solid pitching performances. Dan Straily, Sonny Gray and Justin Thomas have been leading the River Cats' rotation of late. And with Jesse Chavez in the A's bullpen and Straily scheduled to join the A's shortly, RHPs Travis Banwart and Bruce Billings have both been getting starts as well. LHP Andrew Werner, after making a few adjustments, finally delivered his first solid start of the season this week, while RHP Dan Otero has yet to allow a run in 10 relief appearances and leads all A's minor leaguers with 6 saves. Outfielder Michael Taylor returned to the River Cats this week and promptly hit 2 home runs in his first 4 games. Andy Parrino also returned to Sacramento this week and is now back in the complicated battle for playing time in the middle infield with fellow infielders Grant Green and Jemile Weeks. And catcher Stephen Vogt still leads all A's minor leaguers in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Top Cats:

C Stephen Vogt (5 HR / 9 BB / 7 K / .457 AVG / .519 OBP / .814 SLG / 1.333 OPS / .532 wOBA)

C Luke Montz (5 HR / 11 BB / 15 K / .283 AVG / .406 OBP / .679 SLG / 1.085 OPS / .459 wOBA)

OF Michael Taylor (5 HR / 5 BB / 9 K / .333 AVG / .390 OBP / .704 SLG / 1.094 OPS / .440 wOBA)

RHP Dan Straily (18 2/3 IP / 11 H / 2 ER / 0 HR / 6 BB / 20 K / 0.96 ERA / 0.91 WHIP)

RHP Sonny Gray (22 IP / 24 H / 8 ER / 0 HR / 10 BB / 19 K / 3.27 ERA / 1.55 WHIP)

LHP Justin Thomas (21 2/3 IP / 22 H / 8 ER / 0 HR / 6 BB / 23 K / 3.32 ERA / 1.29 WHIP)


MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

(Double-A Texas League)

Record This Week: 3-4

Record This Season: 13-10

The RockHounds lost 4 of their 7 games this week but still maintain the best record of all the A's affiliates. As with the River Cats, it's primarily due to the work of their pitching staff. RHPs Murphy Smith and Zach Neal have been solid almost every time out. RHP Sean Murphy recently joined the staff, to replace the injured Arnold Leon in the rotation, and has looked strong in his first two starts for Midland. And Smith, Neal and Murphy are currently the top three pitchers in ERA and WHIP in the A's entire minor league system. In addition, RHP Kyler Newby and LHP Frank Gailey have been a strong righty-lefty combo out of the bullpen. First baseman Anthony Aliotti has continued to lead the RockHounds' lineup with a .348 batting average and a .454 on-base percentage, but outfielders Jake Goebbert and Jeremy Barfield both came on strong this week, and Barfield now leads the team in home runs with 5 and Goebbert leads the team with a .533 slugging percentage.

Top Hounds:

1B Anthony Aliotti (2 HR / 18 BB / 20 K / .348 AVG / .454 OBP / .506 SLG / .959 OPS / .416 wOBA)

OF Jake Goebbert (3 HR / 7 BB / 21 K / .320 AVG / .393 OBP / .533 SLG / .926 OPS / .404 wOBA)

OF Jeremy Barfield (5 HR / 10 BB / 13 K / .261 AVG / .350 OBP / .522 SLG / .872 OPS / .409 wOBA)

RHP Sean Murphy (12 1/3 IP / 11 H / 3 ER / 0 HR / 4 BB / 11 K / 2.19 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)

RHP Murphy Smith (28 2/3 IP / 26 H / 7 ER / 1 HR / 8 BB / 20 K / 2.20 ERA / 1.19 WHIP)

RHP Zach Neal (28 IP / 27 H / 7 ER / 2 HR / 5 BB / 21 K / 2.25 ERA / 1.14 WHIP)


STOCKTON PORTS

(High-A California League)

Record This Week: 1-5

Record This Season: 13-11

The Ports dropped 5 of their 6 games this week, and the problem has been the pitching. With Sean Murphy promoted to Midland, it's been left to Drew Granier to anchor the staff. And the right-hander's done a good job - he currently leads all A's minor leaguers in strikeouts with 35 K's in his first 25 innings. But RHPs Andres Avila, Tanner Peters and Blake Hassebrock have struggled, and all have ERAs over 6.00. The bullpen has had some strong performers though. RHP Jonathan Joseph has struck out 18 over 12 innings, while RHP Pedro Vidal, who recently returned from Sacramento, has allowed just 5 hits in 13 1/3 innings. First baseman Max Muncy and second baseman Antonio Lamas have continued to do most of the damage for the Ports' lineup. Muncy still leads all A's minor leaguers in home runs with 8, and he and Lamas share the team RBI lead with 18. Shortstop Addison Russell's bat finally started to heat up a bit this week, and he collected 7 hits - including his first home run for Stockton.

Top Ports:

1B Max Muncy (8 HR / 20 BB / 20 K / .297 AVG / .426 OBP / .593 SLG / 1.019 OPS / .402 wOBA)

2B Antonio Lamas (2 HR / 5 BB / 12 K / .340 AVG / .400 OBP / .500 SLG / .900 OPS / .410 wOBA)

C Ryan Ortiz (2 HR / 9 BB / 20 K / .231 AVG / .385 OBP / .423 SLG / .808 OPS / .354 wOBA)

RHP Drew Granier (25 IP / 20 H / 9 ER / 2 HR / 16 BB / 35 K / 3.24 ERA / 1.44 WHIP)

RHP Pedro Vidal (13 1/3 IP / 5 H / 2 ER / 0 HR / 4 BB / 12 K / 1.35 ERA / 0.68 WHIP)

RHP Jonathan Joseph (12 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 0 HR / 1 BB / 18 K / 1.50 ERA / 0.58 WHIP / 1 SV)


BELOIT SNAPPERS

(Class-A Midwest League)

Record This Week: 2-3

Record This Season: 9-11

The Snappers have some solid pitching prospects on the roster, but the team was hobbled by some poor pitching performances this week. And Seth Streich, Kris Hall, Vince Voiro and Tyler Vail are all currently sporting ERAs over 6.00. On the other side of the coin though, RHPs Dakota Bacus and Austin House have been impressive. Bacus has struck out 27 in his first 19 innings, while House has the best ERA and WHIP of any A's minor leaguer not at Midland. And former top prospect Michael Ynoa continues to look better every time out. In his last outing this week, he struck out 3 and walked none over 3 scoreless innings, and the only earned run he's given up over 11 innings came on a home run to the first batter he faced on opening day. Third baseman Renato Nunez continues to wield the big bat for Beloit, and he leads all Snappers' regulars in both batting average and slugging percentage. First baseman Matt Olson started heating up this week and he finally clubbed his first home run for Beloit. The A's 2nd overall draft pick last year, shortstop Daniel Robertson, joined the Snappers this week, and in his first two games, he collected 4 hits, including a double and a home run.

Top Snappers:

3B Renato Nunez (4 HR / 5 BB / 18 K / .308 AVG / .357 OBP / .569 SLG / .926 OPS / .411 wOBA)

SS Sam Roberts (1 HR / 13 BB / 15 K / .229 AVG / .393 OBP / .417 SLG / .810 OPS / .382 wOBA)

OF Ryan Mathews (3 HR / 4 BB / 13 K / .255 AVG / .316 OBP / .490 SLG / .806 OPS / .392 wOBA)

RHP Michael Ynoa (11 IP / 7 H / 1 ER / 1 HR / 5 BB / 10 K / 0.82 ERA / 1.09 WHIP)

RHP Austin House (19 IP / 15 H / 6 ER / 1 HR / 9 BB / 12 K / 2.84 ERA / 1.26 WHIP / 1 SV)

RHP Dakota Bacus (19 IP / 21 H / 7 ER / 0 HR / 5 BB / 27 K / 3.32 ERA / 1.37 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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