Well, it looks like there could be a little bit of good news brewing down on the farm for A's fans. First off, top prospect Addison Russell returned to action on the field this week at extended spring training in Arizona. The shortstop appeared in three competitive games in the desert without incident and even blasted a long home run over the left field fence on Saturday. The A's are offering no specific updates on his projected return to Midland or another minor league team, but just the fact that Russell is now out running around on the field after being sidelined for almost two months has got to be a good sign any way you look at it. Secondly, the A's second overall pick last year, LHP Dillon Overton, who underwent Tommy John surgery almost immediately after signing, began throwing off the mound in the desert this week, and everyone is really looking forward to seeing Overton in action for one of the A's affiliates sometime this summer. And lastly, speed-burner Billy Burns has finally started to heat up this week for the RockHounds and is beginning to look a lot more like the prospect that everyone originally fell in love with this spring. Those are three pretty promising bits of good news, but one could also mention that rehabbing RHP Ryan Cook tossed a spotless inning in relief this Saturday for Stockton, or that Stephen Vogt, after hitting close to .500 lately for Sacramento, has earned his ticket back to the Bay, or that second baseman/shortstop Tyler Ladendorf has continued to hit well while playing on both sides of second base for Sacramento and might eventually earn himself a look in Oakland at some point too. 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 all the good news down on the farm right here on Athletics Nation...
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS
(Pacific Coast League - Triple-A)
Record This Week: 5-2
Record This Season: 35-22
2B-SS Tyler Ladendorf (1 HR / 28 BB / 34 K / .311 AVG / .411 OBP / .427 SLG / .838 OPS)
3B Alden Carrithers (1 HR / 29 BB / 20 K / .308 AVG / .406 OBP / .384 SLG / .790 OPS)
OF Shane Peterson (3 HR / 33 BB / 54 K / .300 AVG / .394 OBP / .392 SLG / .786 OPS)
RHP Matt Buschmann (33 2/3 IP / 38 H / 16 ER / 10 BB / 32 K / 4.28 ERA / 1.43 WHIP)
RHP Marcus Walden (42 1/3 IP / 51 H / 23 ER / 18 BB / 24 K / 4.89 ERA / 1.63 WHIP)
RHP Arnold Leon (56 1/3 IP / 70 H / 35 ER / 21 BB / 43 K / 5.59 ERA / 1.62 WHIP)
Besides boasting the best record in the Pacific Coast League, the best news at Sacramento of late had been catcher Stephen Vogt's hot-hitting. Vogt had a slash line of .364/.412/.602 on the season and had been 7 for 14 with 3 doubles and a home run in the 3 games before his recall. Besides the league's best record and the backstop's big bat, the best news at Sacramento so far this season has been second baseman/shortstop Tyler Ladendorf, who currently boasts the team's best batting average and on-base percentage while spending time at both second base and shortstop. His fellow infielder, third baseman Alden Carrithers, continues to hit well and made SportsCenter's top ten plays of the day this week with an impressive catch of a foul popup that landed him in the Cats dugout. Sacramento's Shane Peterson had just made the list the day before with a diving catch in center field. Meanwhile, RHP Dan Straily had a rough start this week, allowing 4 runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. RHP Sean Murphy was activated from the disabled list and, with an abundance of starters at Sacramento, was sent down the road to Stockton. Catcher Ryan Lipkin headed in the other direction, going from Stockton to Sacramento after Vogt's promotion to serve as Ryan Ortiz's backup behind the plate. RHP Fernando Rodriguez returned to the River Cats when he was optioned by Oakland, and infielder Colin Walsh returned to the River Cats active roster when he came off the disabled list on Sunday.
(Texas League - Double-A)
Record This Week: 2-5
Record This Season: 29-27
1B-3B Max Muncy (3 HR / 30 BB / 21 K / .304 AVG / .424 OBP / .467 SLG / .890 OPS)
1B Anthony Aliotti (3 HR / 25 BB / 38 K / .286 AVG / .424 OBP / .438 SLG / .862 OPS)
OF Josh Whitaker (8 HR / 12 BB / 32 K / .325 AVG / .372 OBP / .535 SLG / .907 OPS)
RHP Nate Long (51 IP / 37 H / 17 ER / 14 BB / 37 K / 3.00 ERA / 1.00 WHIP)
RHP Shawn Haviland (47 2/3 IP / 46 H / 20 ER / 17 BB / 23 K / 3.78 ERA / 1.32 WHIP)
RHP Drew Granier (57 IP / 56 H / 24 ER / 31 BB / 36 K / 3.79 ERA / 1.53 WHIP)
With Midland's offense sputtering of late, the best news for the RockHounds could be the potential return of Addison Russell, who started the season going 5 for 7 in his first 2 games before getting hurt. The other good news at Midland has been the performance of first baseman Max Muncy who, despite missing some time with a broken left middle finger, has still drawn 30 walks and boasts an impressive .424 on-base percentage. Outfielder Josh Whitaker has rather anonymously put up the second-best slugging percentage among all A's minor leaguers and could be due for a promotion if an opportunity should open up in the River Cats outfield. Another bit of good news coming out of Midland's outfield is that center fielder Billy Burns has suddenly begun to heat up, and the speedster went 9 for 25 with 3 doubles and 6 stolen bases this week. RHP Nate Long, who started the season in the bullpen, has been the best news on the mound for Midland this year, and the 28-year-old currently sports the second-best ERA among all A's minor league starters. After the starting the season at Midland, then moving up to Sacramento before being reassigned to Stockton due to a Sacramento roster crunch, RHP Zach Neal finally made it full circle and returned back to the RockHounds rotation this week, which will presumably allow the Hounds to return LHP Andrew Werner to the bullpen. And if all goes well, RHP Tanner Peters, who's been rehabbing a sore right shoulder at extended spring training in Arizona, could be ready to return to the RockHounds rotation in the next few weeks.
(California League - High-A)
Record This Week: 4-3
Record This Season: 29-29
2B-SS Chad Pinder (9 HR / 6 BB / 39 K / .304 AVG / .337 OBP / .578 SLG / .915 OPS)
OF Aaron Shipman (1 HR / 30 BB / 28 K / .282 AVG / .410 OBP / .408 SLG / .819 OPS)
1B Matt Olson (13 HR / 44 BB / 53 K / .229 AVG / .367 OBP / .457 SLG / .824 OPS)
RHP Seth Streich (57 1/3 IP / 56 H / 21 ER / 14 BB / 61 K / 3.30 ERA / 1.22 WHIP)
RHP Tim Atherton (53 1/3 IP / 53 H / 25 ER / 15 BB / 48 K / 4.22 ERA / 1.28 WHIP)
RHP Hunter Adkins (44 1/3 IP / 44 H / 21 ER / 18 BB / 24 K / 4.26 ERA / 1.40 WHIP)
The best news at Stockton this week was probably the fact that rehabbing RHP Ryan Cook tossed a spotless inning in relief for the Ports on Saturday. Besides that, Seth Streich has clearly been the best news on the bump for the Ports. Streich tossed 5 scoreless innings to earn his 5th win this week and he leads all A's minor leaguers in strikeouts with 61 while walking just 14. The other good news has been Stockton's starting infield. First baseman Matt Olson is the organization's walks and home runs leader, while second baseman Chad Pinder sports the best slugging percentage among all A's minor leaguers, shortstop Daniel Robertson is just 1 behind the organization's hits leader, and third baseman Renato Nunez is tied with Pinder right behind Olson for the second spot on the organization's home run leaders' board while dramatically reducing his error totals in the field. Meanwhile, with RHP Zach Neal leaving for Midland, RHP Sean Murphy was sent down the road from Sacramento to take Neal's spot in Stockton's starting rotation, while Bruce Maxwell's backup, Ryan Lipkin, headed up the road to Sacramento, and backstop Ryan Gorton returned to Stockton from extended spring training in Arizona.
(Midwest League - Class-A)
Record This Week: 2-5
Record This Season: 24-32
OF Herschel Powell (2 HR / 40 BB / 42 K / .340 AVG / .452 OBP / .431 SLG / .883 OPS)
SS Melvin Mercedes (0 HR / 13 BB / 15 K / .315 AVG / .396 OBP / .435 SLG / .831 OPS)
OF Jaycob Brugman (4 HR / 22 BB / 37 K / .273 AVG / .371 OBP / .448 SLG / .819 OPS)
RHP Kyle Finnegan (64 2/3 IP / 49 H / 18 ER / 23 BB / 34 K / 2.51 ERA / 1.11 WHIP)
RHP Dylan Covey (63 IP / 61 H / 33 ER / 18 BB / 36 K / 4.71 ERA / 1.25 WHIP)
RHP Lou Trivino (57 1/3 IP / 73 H / 31 ER / 22 BB / 42 K / 4.87 ERA / 1.66 WHIP)
One of the best stories out of Beloit this season had been the impressive development of 19-year-old Venezuelan RHP Ronald Herrera for the Snappers. Herrera had been sporting a 3.30 ERA while striking out 40 and walking just 11 over his first 10 starts. But it was announced this week that he was being shipped to San Diego as the player to be named in the Kyle Blanks deal. That clearly leaves RHP Kyle Finnegan as the best news on the bump at Beloit this season. Last year's 6th-round pick for the A's boasts the best ERA among all A's minor league starters at 2.51 after 11 starts. He also has the second-best opposing-batting-average at .217 and the third-best WHIP at 1.11. Last year's 4th-round pick, RHP Dylan Covey, had been coming on strong but hit a bit of a rough patch this week, allowing 14 earned runs over his last two starts. Beloit's best news with the bat has been outfielder "Boog" Powell, who boasts the best on-base percentage among all A's minor leaguers - and that's certainly one way to get yourself noticed in the A's organization! He leads his team in hits, walks, total bases, stolen bases, batting average and, of course, on-base percentage while providing a much-needed spark atop the Snappers' low-scoring lineup. Another bit of good news comes courtesy of shortstop Melvin Mercedes who, after showing promise in his debut in 2012 but then struggling to get on track throughout 2013, seems to have returned to form in 2014 and is now sporting a .315/.396/.435 slash line for the Snappers. Also, second baseman Chih Fang Pan returned to action this week, going 6 for 19 with 3 doubles since his return from the disabled list.
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.