I'm sure many of you have seen the Delmon Young video by now, but you can watch it here if you haven't. As a hardcore baseball fan, it absolutely disgusts me. The fact that the AMLU (American Minor Leauge Umpires) put out a statement basically saying Young is a fine young man and the incident never would have happened if they were umpiring instead of the replacements, is equally disgusting. In light of this, I am doing some striking of my own - no bats in this week's MMM, just pitchers.
Generally there aren't a ton of relievers who are deemed top prospects, mostly due to the fact that the best pitchers end up as starters. There are a couple relievers who got promoted this week and deserve some attention.
Marcus McBeth has been pitching professionally for just a little over a year, despite being drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 draft. He was touted as a "toolsy" outfielder, but didn't really pan out, hitting over .250 in just one of his three seasons as an outfielder, with a total of 19 homeruns. A couple of years ago he approached Oakland asking to try converting to a pitcher, and now, after never making it above A-ball as an outfielder, he finds himself pitching in AAA. After striking out 14 batters in 8 2/3 innings and giving up just a single hit in Stockton, the A's put the 25 year-old in Sacramento this week. In his first outing there, he went 1 2/3 innings, allowed no batters to reach and struck out two. Given McBeth's age (25), it is good to see him pushed up quickly and challenged.
Also to recap a few other moves in Sacramento, Kyle Crowell was sent to AA to make room for McBeth, and Tim Rall was moved to AAA to replace Ron Flores, who will temporarily be in the Oakland bullpen.
The other reliever I wanted to talk about is Brad Davis, taken in the 14th round of the 2005 draft. He was dominant in short-season Vancouver last year, striking out 44 in 34 2/3, while posting a 0.52 ERA. In 2006 for Kane County he struck out 16 over 18 innings, walked one and allowed just six hits. He got bumped up to Stockton this week, and in his first relief appearance tossed 3 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits, no walks, two strikeouts and picking up a win. The 23 year-old should fill McBeth's shoes in Stockton pretty well.
Brad Ziegler played the roll of rotation filler the past few years. He seemed like a guy who didn't have a chance. After being drafted by the Phillies in 2003 and being released before he even played a game, Ziegler joined an indy league in 2004. Oakland scooped him up after a few months there, but his numbers between high-A and AA weren't anything special until this year. In four starts he has a 1.09 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. The 26 year-old was named the Texas League pitcher of the week in the first week of the season, and has been as good, if not better, numbers-wise than any other Texas League pitcher thus far. That said, it isn't realistic to have high hopes for Ziegler. He is old for his league and hasn't done much before this year, but will be a fun story to track.
Jared Lansford, the second of the high school pitchers taken in last year's draft, was moved from extended spring training to Kane County this week. He was expected to pitch this weekend, but both games were rained out. The Cougars will play four games over the next two nights, so check out the box scores if you are interested.
It's not all good for Oakland pitchers though, as Dan Meyer continues to struggle in Sacramento. Since his shoulder problems last season, his mechanics have reportedly been off and he is having problems correcting. At the time of the Hudson trade, he was thought to be a small step away from filling a rotation spot with Oakland. Now he's the guy who is struggling to get through five innings in AAA. Through Sunday he has five starts and a grand total of nine strikeouts over 25 1/3 innings. Granted he has only six walks over that span, but it seems he lacks the ability to make hitters swing and miss. He may be able to get by with that at AAA, but he won't be able to in the majors. That begs the question...
...will we ever see Dan Meyer find success in Oakland?