Down on the farm: A's minor league pitching depth

Arnold Leon: waiting his turn - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Drew Pomeranz's elevation from the bullpen and Dan Straily's demotion to Sacramento this week, it raises the question of just what kind of organizational pitching depth do the A's have this year if they should need to call upon a couple more arms before the year is through. The system is clearly not as deep in starting pitching as it has been in past years. There are certainly no Sonny Grays lurking in the shadows this season, the starting pitching depth at Sacramento is shaky at best, and injuries have already riddled the RockHounds rotation. But on the plus side, eternal prospect Michael Ynoa made a couple of truly impressive appearances out of the bullpen this week while lighting up the radar gun and showing excellent command. So this week, we throw a particular focus on each team's starting rotation. 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 some of the team's top pitching prospects right here on Athletics Nation...


SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

(Pacific Coast League - Triple-A)

Record This Week: 4-3

Record This Season: 19-18

Top Cats:

RHP Arnold Leon (34 2/3 IP / 42 H / 16 ER / 12 BB / 23 K / 4.15 ERA / 1.56 WHIP)

RHP Zach Neal (32 IP / 31 H / 16 ER / 3 BB / 21 K / 4.50 ERA / 1.06 WHIP)

RHP Marcus Walden (19 IP / 26 H / 13 ER / 6 BB / 12 K / 6.16 ERA / 1.68 WHIP)

SS-2B Tyler Ladendorf (1 HR / 20 BB / 24 K / .306 AVG / .420 OBP / .454 SLG / .874 OPS)

3B-2B Alden Carrithers (1 HR / 23 BB / 13 K / .319 AVG / .440 OBP / .389 SLG / .829 OPS)

OF Jake Goebbert (6 HR / 19 BB / 20 K / .257 AVG / .371 OBP / .505 SLG / .876 OPS)

After tossing 6 scorless and hitless innings in his second rehab start for Stockton, RHP Matt Buschmann returned to the River Cats this weekend and, of course, RHP Dan Straily also returned to the River Cats when RHP Fernando Rodriguez and LHP Joe Savery were promoted to Oakland. With the addition of Straily and Buschmann, Sacramento now has seven starting pitchers on the roster - though RHP Josh Lindblom left Sunday's start after taking a liner off his ankle - so one or two of the current starters is likely to find their way back to Midland before long. Amazingly, of all the River Cats' starters, RHP Arnold Leon, Zach Neal and Marcus Walden are the only three with an ERA under 7.00. That clearly doesn't speak well of the A's pitching depth at the moment, and the team better hope that Drew Pomeranz can live up to the hype that his last start generated. Leon has been Sacramento's best starting pitcher so far this season, while Sean Murphy, who has allowed 7 runs in each of his last two starts and whose ERA now stands at 7.18, might be the most likely to make a return trip Midland. Meanwhile, the A's claimed outfielder Nick Buss off waivers from the Dodgers last week and assigned him to Sacramento, while outfielder Kent Matthes was sent down to Midland. Infielder Tyler Ladendorf, who's switched from shortstop to second base since Andy Parrino's return to the River Cats, has been Sacramento's biggest hitting star so far this season and might have to make his way on to the 40-man roster if the A's should need another middle infielder at the major league level at some point this season. After a slow start, first baseman Nate Freiman's been heating up over the past few weeks and he currently leads the team in total bases. In other good news, catcher Stephen Vogt has been playing in extended spring training games in Arizona and is likely to make his return to the River Cats sometime before the week is through.


MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

(Texas League - Double-A)

Record This Week: 2-5

Record This Season: 21-15

Top Hounds:

RHP Chris Jensen (39 1/3 IP / 39 H / 13 ER / 15 BB / 23 K / 2.97 ERA / 1.37 WHIP)

RHP Shawn Haviland (20 IP / 23 H / 8 ER / 5 BB / 8 K / 3.60 ERA / 1.40 WHIP)

RHP Drew Granier (38 IP / 39 H / 17 ER / 21 BB / 26 K / 4.03 ERA / 1.58 WHIP)

1B-OF Anthony Aliotti (2 HR / 13 BB / 16 K / .333 AVG / .471 OBP / .537 SLG / 1.008 OPS)

1B-3B Max Muncy (2 HR / 24 BB / 14 K / .320 AVG / .446 OBP / .476 SLG / .922 OPS)

OF-1B Josh Whitaker (6 HR / 6 BB / 18 K / .310 AVG / .358 OBP / .563 SLG / .921 OPS)

Let's just take a moment to reflect on the Brett Anderson trade...the $8 million dollar man is currently residing on the disabled list for the Rockies while LHP Drew Pomeranz is in the A's starting rotation and RHP Chris Jensen has been the most dependable starting pitcher for the RockHounds so far this season. With RHPs Raul Alcantara and Tanner Peters out of commission, Jensen has been the most promising pitching prospect at Midland. RHP Shawn Haviland, who started the season at Stockton and is returning from Tommy John surgery, has looked strong as well. RHP Drew Granier has been making improvements, but he's still walking way too many hitters and throwing way too many pitches. He'll need to refine his command and learn to pitch more efficiently if he wants to rise. With Alcantara and Peters on the shelf, the RockHounds have had to pull RHP Nate Long and LHP Andrew Werner out of the bullpen and plug them into the rotation. But with Sacramento's current abundance of starters, the RockHounds rotation could soon be receiving a little relief. First baseman Max Muncy was the latest addition to the disabled list this week with a broken left middle finger. He joins pitchers Alcantara, Peters and Jesus Castillo along with shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder D'Arby Myers on the Midland DL. Muncy had been one of the Hounds' hottest hitters and he still leads the team with 24 walks. His replacement at first base, Anthony Aliotti, who recently returned from the River Cats, has been up to his old tricks for the RockHounds, hitting .333 and reaching base in 47% of his plate appearances. Outfielder Josh Whitaker, who recently returned from the disabled list, has also been helping to pick up the slack and currently leads the Hounds in home runs and slugging percentage. Kent Matthes recently joined Midland's outfield mix after struggling at Sacramento. Another recent demotee, infielder Hiro Nakajima, has been hitting well for the Hounds, posting a .414/.433/.448 slash line in his first eight games while playing primarily at second base. But in his first start at shortstop on Sunday, the former Japanese all-star made an amzing 4 errors!


STOCKTON PORTS

(California League - High-A)

Record This Week: 5-2

Record This Season: 19-19

Top Ports:

RHP Seth Streich (36 IP / 33 H / 12 ER / 9 BB / 37 K / 3.00 ERA / 1.17 WHIP)

RHP Tim Atherton (30 1/3 IP / 27 H / 12 ER / 10 BB / 31 K / 3.56 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)

RHP Hunter Adkins (22 IP / 20 H / 11 ER / 11 BB / 15 K / 4.50 ERA / 1.41 WHIP)

2B-SS Chad Pinder (7 HR / 5 BB / 24 K / .327 AVG / .362 OBP / .636 SLG / .998 OPS)

SS Daniel Robertson (3 HR / 20 BB / 21 K / .293 AVG / .386 OBP / .422 SLG / .808 OPS)

OF Dusty Robinson (6 HR / 15 BB / 35 K / .266 AVG / .352 OBP / .468 SLG / .820 OPS)

RHP Seth Streich has been the star of the Stockton staff and currently leads all A's minor leaguers with 37 strikeouts in 36 innings. RHP Tim Atherton, who has been the other standout in Stockton's starting rotation, just returned from a brief stint on the disabled list on Sunday. RHP Hunter Adkins appeared a little shaky in his first few starts for the Ports, but he tossed 6 shutout innings on Saturday to help Stockton win. RHP Josh Bowman has clearly been the weakest link with an 0-4 record, a 7.30 ERA and 8 home runs allowed in 40 2/3 innings, while RHP Manny Correa was pulled from his last start after showing unusually low velocity in the first inning - we'll see if he returns to the mound later this week. The good news is that RHP Michael Ynoa returned after a stint on the disabled list last week and has looked strong in his last two appearances, striking out 8, allowing just 1 hit and walking none in 4 innings of relief while hitting 98 mph on the radar gun in his last appearance. Meanwhile, hot-hitting second baseman Chad Pinder has been sidelined with a groin injury but still leads all A's minor leaguers with a .636 slugging percentage and is tied for the organizational home run lead with first baseman Matt Olson with 7. Third baseman Renato Nunez and outfielder Billy McKinney have 6 round-trippers apiece, and McKinney went 4 for 4 in Sunday's game, while shortstop Daniel Robertson leads the team in hits, doubles and on-base percentage.


BELOIT SNAPPERS

(Midwest League - Class-A)

Record This Week: 2-4

Record This Season: 13-22

Top Snappers:

RHP Kyle Finnegan (38 2/3 IP / 32 H / 11 ER / 15 BB / 20 K / 2.56 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)

RHP Ronald Herrera (31 2/3 IP / 35 H / 10 ER / 9 BB / 20 K / 2.84 ERA / 1.39 WHIP)

RHP Dylan Covey (40 IP / 37 H / 17 ER / 11 BB / 21 K / 3.83 ERA / 1.20 WHIP)

OF Herschel Powell (1 HR / 26 BB / 23 K / .363 AVG / .474 OBP / .452 SLG / .925 OPS)

OF Jaycob Brugman (1 HR / 10 BB / 21 K / .280 AVG / .355 OBP / .427 SLG / .782 OPS)

OF Tyler Marincov (3 HR / 12 BB / 38 K / .254 AVG / .331 OBP / .456 SLG / .787 OPS)

While Beloit's bats have been lacking, the Snappers boast some of the organizations best young pitching prospects. After getting off to a shaky start, RHP Dylan Covey has come on strong of late, allowing a total of 3 runs over his last 3 starts. 19-year-old RHP Ronald Herrera sports a 2.84 ERA after his first 6 starts, while RHP Kyle Finnegan leads all A's minor league starters with a 2.56 ERA. While RHP Bobby Wahl remains on the disabled list, his replacement, LHP Chris Lamb, has struck out 33 batters over just 25 innings for the Snappers. Beloit's bats got a bit of a boost this week when shortstop Melvin Mercedes returned from the disabled list and promptly went 5 for 9 in his first 3 games back. The Snappers' lineup has been led by the outfield's big bats though, with Herschel "Boog" Powell continuing to impress. The speedy center fielder leads all A's minor leaguers with a .363 batting average and a .474 on-base percentage and currently leads his team in hits, walks, runs and stolen bases with 8.


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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