Down On The Farm: Teams' Top Minor League Starting Pitchers

Raul Alcantara: Pretty as a pitcher - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As any true A's fan knows, pitching is the name of the game. But some of the team's top pitching prospects over the past few years have emerged out of nowhere. After all, not many people had Jesse Chavez, A.J. Griffin or Dan Straily on their radar screens just a few years ago. So in our team updates this week, we're going to include a special focus on each team's top starting pitchers, because you never know where the next diamond in the rough might be hiding! You can always keep tabs on all the A's top prospects and minor league teams on my Athletics Farm site and get lots more details on the last week of minor league action right here on Athletics Nation...


SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

(Pacific Coast League - Triple-A)

Record This Week: 4-2

Record This Season: 11-7

Top Cats:

3B-2B Alden Carrithers (1 HR / 14 BB / 8 K / .388 AVG / .523 OBP / .490 SLG / 1.013 OPS)

SS Tyler Ladendorf (0 HR / 12 BB / 10 K / .364 AVG / .500 OBP / .477 SLG / .977 OPS)

OF Jake Goebbert (1 HR / 4 BB / 9 K / .340 AVG / .400 OBP / .580 SLG / .980 OPS)

RHP Sean Murphy (23 IP / 19 H / 9 ER / 11 BB / 13 K / 3.52 ERA / 1.30 WHIP)

RHP Paul Smyth (6 2/3 IP / 3 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / 0.00 ERA / 0.60 WHIP)

RHP Evan Scribner (5 IP / 1 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 6 K / 0.00 ERA / 0.40 WHIP / 3 SV)

With Joe Blanton's retirement and Matt Buschmann's addition to the disabled list, the River Cats suddenly found themselves with a couple of rotation spots to fill. RHP Zach Neal was promoted from Midland after tossing 10 scoreless innings there to take care of one spot and RHP Marcus Walden was claimed off waivers and assigned to Sacramento to take care of the other. Neal got off to a good start, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings, while Walden was a little more wobbly, allowing 3 runs in just 3 innings of work on Sunday. After a somewhat shaky start, RHP Sean Murphy has emerged as Sacramento's best starting pitcher after the first couple weeks of the season. And this weekend, Murphy made his best start yet, allowing just 3 hits over 7 scoreless innings in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. RHP Arnold Leon also had his best start yet this week, allowing 2 runs, just 1 earned while striking out 5 over 6 innings to earn his 1st win. RHP Paul Smyth has been untouchable out of the bullpen, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings so far, and RHP Evan Scribner has been nearly unhittable since his return to Sacramento, allowing just 1 hit in 5 scoreless innings of relief while picking up 3 saves. Meanwhile, a couple of infielders have been carrying much of the Cats offense of late. 3B-2B Alden Carrithers, signed as a minor-league free agent in the offseason, already has 14 walks and leads all A's minor leaguers with an impressive .523 OBP. And shortstop Tyler Ladendorf, who was only added to the River Cats roster after infielder Jake Elmore went on the disabled list, is currently sporting a .500 OBP.


MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

(Texas League - Double-A)

Record This Week: 4-1

Record This Season: 10-5

Top Hounds:

OF-1B Josh Whitaker (3 HR / 5 BB / 10 K / .328 AVG / .385 OBP / .552 SLG / .936 OPS)

1B-3B Max Muncy (1 HR / 18 BB / 8 K / .269 AVG / .457 OBP / .385 SLG / .842 OPS)

SS-2B Dusty Coleman (2 HR / 8 BB / 23 K / .293 AVG / .373 OBP / .466 SLG / .839 OPS)

RHP Raul Alcantara (19 2/3 IP / 17 H / 5 ER / 5 BB / 10 K / 2.29 ERA / 1.12 WHIP)

RHP Chris Jensen (11 2/3 IP / 12 H / 3 ER / 4 BB / 9 K / 2.31 ERA / 1.37 WHIP)

RHP Murphy Smith (13 IP / 7 H / 1 ER / 3 BB / 11 K / 0.69 ERA / 0.77 WHIP)

RockHounds RHP Zach Neal was promoted to Sacramento early in the week and RHP Tanner Peters was added to the disabled list later in the week. RHP Shawn Haviland was promoted from Stockton to take Neal's spot in the rotation, while it looks like RHP Nate Long will come out of the bullpen to fill in for Peters during his stay on the DL. And with Neal heading to the Pacific Coast League, RHP Raul Alcantara is clearly the standout member of the RockHounds rotation. The 21-year-old has won 2 of his first 3 starts while posting a 2.29 ERA. Former starter Murphy Smith has been impressive out of the bullpen, allowing just 1 run while striking out 11 in 13 innings of relief. Meanwhile, outfielder D'Arby Myers joined shortstop Addison Russell on the disabled list this week after fracturing his wrist when he was hit by a pitch. Outfielder Josh Whitaker has been the Hounds' hottest hitter and leads the team in hits, home runs and total bases and has more RBIs (15) than any A's minor leaguer besides Stockton's Chad Pinder, while infielder Max Muncy leads the team with a .457 OBP and leads all A's minor leaguers with a whopping 18 walks.


STOCKTON PORTS

(California League - High-A)

Record This Week: 2-4

Record This Season: 7-10

Top Ports:

2B-SS Chad Pinder (5 HR / 4 BB / 12 K / .323 AVG / .373 OBP / .694 SLG / 1.067 OPS)

OF Dusty Robinson (3 HR / 8 BB / 11 K / .286 AVG / .390 OBP / .551 SLG / .941 OPS)

C Bruce Maxwell (2 HR / 4 BB / 5 K / .358 AVG / .404 OBP / .509 SLG / .913 OPS)

RHP Seth Streich (16 IP / 11 H / 4 ER / 2 BB / 21 K / 2.25 ERA / 0.81 WHIP)

RHP Tim Atherton (21 IP / 22 H / 9 ER / 8 BB / 20 K / 3.86 ERA / 1.43 WHIP)

RHP Kris Hall (10 2/3 IP / 5 H / 3 ER / 3 BB / 9 K / 2.53 ERA / 0.75 WHIP)

With RHP Shawn Haviland's promotion to Midland, RHP Hunter Adkins was called up from extended spring training to take Haviland's spot in Stockton's starting rotation. RHP Seth Streich has stepped up as the team's most dominant starter, striking out 21 batters in his first 16 innings while sporting a 2.25 ERA in the hitter-friendly California League. RHP Tim Atherton has also looked strong, and the Aussie had a particularly impressive outing on Saturday, allowing just 1 run while striking out 10 over 6 innings to earn his 2nd win. And Jeremy Barfield, Tucker Healy, Ryan Doolittle and Kris Hall have all been solid out of the Ports pen. Meanwhile, last year's third overall draft pick for the A's, infielder Chad Pinder, leads all A's minor leaguers with a .694 SLG, outfielder Dusty Robinson is second on the team with a .551 SLG, and catcher Bruce Maxwell leads the team with a .358 AVG and is second on the team with a .404 OBP. The A's top pick in last year's draft, outfielder Billy McKinney, has shown surprising power and currently leads all A's minor leaguers with 6 home runs.


BELOIT SNAPPERS

(Midwest League - Class-A)

Record This Week: 2-4

Record This Season: 6-10

Top Snappers:

OF Herschel Powell (1 HR / 7 BB / 9 K / .322 AVG / .394 OBP / .390 SLG / .784 OPS)

OF Ryan Mathews (2 HR / 2 BB / 10 K / .273 AVG / .304 OBP / .545 SLG / .850 OPS)

OF B.J. Boyd (2 HR / 7 BB / 9 K / .276 AVG / .354 OBP / .431 SLG / .785 OPS)

RHP Kyle Finnegan (17 IP / 12 H / 3 ER / 6 BB / 7 K / 1.59 ERA / 1.06 WHIP)

RHP Ronald Herrera (17 IP / 17 H / 3 ER / 2 BB / 11 K / 1.59 ERA / 1.12 WHIP)

RHP Sam Bragg (9 2/3 IP / 6 H / 3 ER / 2 BB / 9 K / 2.79 ERA / 0.83 WHIP)

The Snappers starting rotation has been led by a pair of promising young pitchers, last year's 6th-round pick Kyle Finnegan and 18-year-old Venezuelan Ronald Herrera. Each has allowed a total of just 3 runs over his first 3 starts while better-known names like Dylan Covey and Booby Wahl have struggled so far this season. After 3 starts, Covey's ERA stands at 5.71 while Wahl's is at 7.71. Meanwhile, there hasn't been a lot of production out of Beloit's bats, but what little there has been has come courtesy of the team's outfielders. 2012 4th-round pick B.J. Boyd's bat has started to heat up lately. He hit 2 home runs this week and currently leads the team in total bases. Leadoff hitter Herschel "Boog" Powell leads the team in hits, stolen bases, OBP and batting average, while fellow outfielder Ryan Mathews tops the team in RBIs and SLG.


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

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