Down On The Farm: Top Prospects On The Rise

Christian Petersen

Over the past week or two, many of the A's top prospects have really been on the rise. At the upper levels, top pitching prospect Sonny Gray and top slugging prospect Michael Choice have really been coming into their own at Sacramento. And at the lower levels, last year's draft class has been warming up as well. Top pick Addison Russell homered in two straight games at Stockton and came within a single of a cycle. Meanwhile, other top picks from last year like Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson and Bruce Maxwell have really been heating up at Beloit, where top international pitching prospects Michael Ynoa and Raul Alcantara have been opening eyes of late too. 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: 3-3

Record This Season: 20-17

The River Cats' hot hitting has cooled off a bit lately, but a couple of top hitting prospects have been keeping the offensive flame burning. Outfielder Shane Peterson, who's been seeing more time at first base since Daric Barton's recall, has been doing his usual good job of getting on base, already drawing 28 walks while hitting over .300. The A's top slugging prospect, center fielder Michael Choice, has been swinging the big bat of late and he currently leads the team in home runs with 8 and leads all A's minor leaguers in RBIs with 31. Catcher Stephen Vogt still leads all A's minor leaguers with a slugging percentage of .600. Meanwhile, shortstop Hiro Nakajima is batting .250 after his first 5 rehab games with the River Cats. On the pitching side of things, top pitching prospect Sonny Gray has been looking more and more impressive all the time and, after his first 6 starts, he boasts a 4-1 record with a 2.19 ERA. And even more impressively, he's yet to allow a single home run in his first 37 innings in the high-scoring Pacific Coast League. None of Sacramento's other starters have been making much of a mark lately. But the bullpen has been strong, led by righty Dan Otero, who's posted 9 saves and allowed just 1 run in his 14 appearances, and lefty Hideki Okajima, who's struck out 18 batters in 16 2/3 innings of relief. I posted a couple of interesting little video interviews on my blog this week with top prospects Michael Choice and Sonny Gray that are worth checking out.

Top Cats:

C Stephen Vogt (6 HR / 11 BB / 18 K / .348 AVG / .402 OBP / .600 SLG / 1.002 OPS)

OF Shane Peterson (3 HR / 28 BB / 26 K / .304 AVG / .438 OBP / .461 SLG / .899 OPS)

OF Michael Choice (8 HR / 20 BB / 31 K / .284 AVG / .385 OBP / .507 SLG / .893 OPS)

RHP Sonny Gray (37 IP / 31 H / 9 ER / 0 HR / 17 BB / 33 K / 2.19 ERA / 1.30 WHIP)

RHP Dan Otero (16 2/3 IP / 9 H / 1 ER / 0 HR / 1 BB / 14 K / 0.54 ERA / 0.60 WHIP / 9 SV)

LHP Hideki Okajima (16 2/3 IP / 11 H / 4 ER / 1 HR / 2 BB / 18 K / 2.16 ERA / 0.78 WHIP / 1 SV)


MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

(Double-A Texas League)

Record This Week: 3-3

Record This Season: 17-19

The RockHounds' rotation has proven to be a real strong point so far this season. RHPs Murphy Smith and Zach Neal have been the dynamic duo heading up the starting staff, much as A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily were for Midland early last year. And the arrival of RHP Sean Murphy from Stockton has only helped to solidify things for the RockHounds. First baseman Anthony Aliotti is still the prime offensive force in Midland's lineup. He's raised his average up to .375 and currently leads all A's minor leaguers in batting average, in on-base percentage at .476 and in hits with 51, and he may be the most consistent hitter in the A's entire system so far this season. Third baseman Jefry Marte was recently put on the disabled list with a leg injury and outfielder Jeremy Barfield was promoted to the River Cats after Daric Barton's recall, so the RockHounds' offensive ranks have been a little depleted of late. But outfielder Josh Whitaker, who had been one of Stockton's top sluggers, was promoted this week to help beef things up in the outfield for Midland.

Top Hounds:

1B Anthony Aliotti (4 HR / 27 BB / 28 K / .375 AVG / .476 OBP / .551 SLG / 1.027 OPS)

SS Dusty Coleman (0 HR / 17 BB / 38 K / .287 AVG / .366 OBP / .397 SLG / .763 OPS)

OF Jake Goebbert (4 HR / 9 BB / 33 K / .270 AVG / .328 OBP / .426 SLG / .755 OPS)

RHP Murphy Smith (47 1/3 IP / 44 H / 11 ER / 2 HR / 14 BB / 31 K / 2.09 ERA / 1.23 WHIP)

RHP Zach Neal (42 IP / 41 H / 10 ER / 2 HR / 8 BB / 30 K / 2.14 ERA / 1.17 WHIP)

RHP Sean Murphy (23 IP / 22 H / 7 ER / 0 HR / 8 BB / 20 K / 2.74 ERA / 1.30 WHIP)


STOCKTON PORTS

(High-A California League)

Record This Week: 2-5

Record This Season: 18-19

The Ports ran into a bit of a rough patch this week. The team was no-hit on Sunday and has now lost 5 straight. But the big news out of Stockton this week was the potential resurgence of golden child Addison Russell, who homered in two straight games and fell just a single short of a cycle in one of those matches. He's still hitting just .178, but his recent offensive outburst has sparked hopes that the A's top draft pick from 2012 is getting ready to rise in the Cal League. The loss of slugging outfielder Josh Whitaker to Midland could hurt the Ports' scoring potential, but pitching's been the real problem at Stockton. RHP Drew Granier, who leads all A's minor leaguers in strikeouts with 55, has been the only reliable force in the rotation. LHP Jake Brown recently tranistioned out of the bullpen and has helped. Believe it or not, he's yet to allow a walk in his first 30 1/3 innings while striking out 29, and he was the hard-luck loser in the no-hitter, allowing just 1 hit and 1 run in 6 innings of work.

Top Ports:

1B Max Muncy (9 HR / 30 BB / 29 K / .269 AVG / .408 OBP / .507 SLG / .916 OPS)

OF Bobby Crocker (3 HR / 6 BB / 38 K / .265 AVG / .317 OBP / .444 SLG / .762 OPS)

2B Antonio Lamas (3 HR / 8 BB / 26 K / .281 AVG / .333 OBP / .406 SLG / .740 OPS)

SS Addison Russell (3 HR / 19 BB / 36 K / .178 AVG / .306 OBP / .356 SLG / .662 OPS)

RHP Drew Granier (45 IP / 35 H / 13 ER / 2 HR / 23 BB / 55 K / 2.60 ERA / 1.29 WHIP)

LHP Jake Brown (30 1/3 IP / 30 H / 14 ER / 2 HR / 0 BB / 29 K / 4.15 ERA / 0.99 WHIP)


BELOIT SNAPPERS

(Class-A Midwest League)

Record This Week: 5-2

Record This Season: 19-15

Beloit's bats have really been waking up lately, and top prospects like Matt Olson, Daniel Robertson, Renato Nunez and Bruce Maxwell have been leading the way. Robertson, the A's second overall pick last year, has only been back in action for a couple of weeks, but he's been wielding a big bat ever since his arrival in Beloit and he's currently batting .353. And Olson, the A's third overall pick, seems to be re-energized by Robertson's arrival. After enduring a cold start in April, the first baseman now leads all A's minor leaguers in doubles with 13, is tied for the team lead in hits, and is second on the team in total bases. Third baseman Renato Nunez leads the team in home runs and total bases, but he also leads the team in errors with a whopping 11 over his first 29 games. The A's 4th overall pick last year, catcher Bruce Maxwell, has also been heating up of late, and he went 9 for 20 this week to raise his average to .304. Outfielder Rashun Dixon recently joined the team from extended spring training, and he's been hot as well, hitting 4 home runs this week and posting a 1.062 OPS over his first 10 games. But it's not just the young hitters who've been impressive at Beloit, the young pitchers have been improving as well. RHP Raul Alcantara allowed just 1 baserunner in a 7-inning start this week to win his 5th game, which leads all A's minor leaguers, and the 20-year-old who came over from Boston along with Josh Reddick and Miles Head in the deal for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney, has walked just 5 batters in his first 41 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, former top prospect Michael Ynoa has been quietly emerging again. And the 21-year-old bonus baby has now struck out 23 batters over his first 22 innings while allowing just 3 runs. He's yet to go 5 innings in an appearance, but his performance thus far has given some hope that he could once again be a young arm to watch!

Top Snappers:

SS Daniel Robertson (2 HR / 3 BB / 11 K / .353 AVG / .382 OBP / .569 SLG / .950 OPS)

1B Matt Olson (4 HR / 19 BB / 40 K / .283 AVG / .381 OBP / .492 SLG / .873 OPS)

3B Renato Nunez (8 HR / 8 BB / 32 K / .283 AVG / .341 OBP / .566 SLG / .908 OPS)

RHP Raul Alcantara (41 1/3 IP / 44 H / 12 ER / 2 HR / 5 BB / 23 K / 2.61 ERA / 1.19 WHIP)

RHP Michael Ynoa (22 IP / 14 H / 3 ER / 1 HR / 7 BB / 23 K / 1.23 ERA / 0.95 WHIP)

RHP Ryan Dull (14 1/3 IP / 8 H / 3 ER / 0 HR / 1 BB / 20 K / 1.88 ERA / 0.63 WHIP / 4 SV)


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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