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Monday Morning Minors

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Why do you people still come here? Aren't you sick of baseball yet? College Football, NFL, NBA, NHL, curling, badminton, Chinese Checkers? Or not.

For the past couple of years it was easy to say that Michael Mitchell's success mostly occurred because he was an advanced pitcher playing against younger, less experienced hitters. The right-hander was selected in the 35th round of the 2003 draft out of a Missouri community college, but didn't sign until November. At 22 years old he made his debut in Vancouver by allowing just two runs in 13 1/3 innings. The reliever split 2005 between Vancouver and Kane County with good results. Oakland finally challenged him in 2006 after he spent the first half of the season dominating in Stockton. Midseason he was bumped up to Sacramento to bolster a depleted bullpen and held his own for five games. Once he was sent down to Midland he continued to pitch well out of the bullpen.

It was a little surprising to see Mitchell selected to pitch in the AFL, but he is rewarding the A's confidence with a good performance. In fact, he is performing better than any of the other representatives. He has given up a run in just two of his nine appearances (7 2/3 IP) and has struck out seven against just one walk. Not much to go on, but very impressive numbers in a league loaded with offensive talent, most of which is Double-A or higher. 2007 should be an interesting season for him, especially if he starts in Sacramento.

Kevin Melillo had a nice week in Arizona, going 4-for-14 with four walks and three RBI. All four walks came in Friday's game in which he scored a run, drove in a run and stole a base. Marcus McBeth added to his solid winter season by tossing two scoreless innings this week, striking out two. In Venezuela Gregorio Petit tallied a hit in four straight games, but has yet to walk in 42 at bats.

Matt Allegra, who has accumulated 2,345 at bats in the Oakland system, became a six-year free agent at the end of the 2006 season. Selected in the 16th round of the 1999 draft as a 19 year-old, Allegra has shown flashes of a solid player but has never been able to put together a breakout season. After hitting 20 home runs in Visalia in 2002 he struggled to compete at higher levels, compiling a .296 OBP in Midland in 2003. He missed much of 2004 due to injury, but hit .382 in 18 games, including 10 extra-base hits. Despite many people thinking 2005 would be the year for Allegra, he was demoted from Midland after failing to hit above .200 and showing little power. Last season he hit 15 home runs and 27 doubles for the RockHounds, but did so as a 25 year-old. He will likely move on to another team next season as many players do in his situation.