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Monday Morning Minors Musings: There's Still A Lotta Baseball Being Played Edition

Quick Hits:

1. Stockton Ports Post Season Team MVP Archie Gilbert has re-upped with the organization after his 2008 minor league free agent contract expired.  The East Bay native was a sparkplug atop the Ports' lineup all season long, getting on-base at a .364 clip and swiping 35 bases.  He also clubbed 30 doubles, 5 triples, 7 homers and amassed 49 RBIs in 119 games, so he did a little of everything for the California League Champions. This off-season he's planning on working on the "art of basestealing" with some track athletes to help reduce his caught stealing percentage (he swiped 35 bases but got caught 18 times). Already 25, Archie will likely get his first crack at the Double-A level next season. He's not much of a prospect, but as an East Bay native and an undrafted, battling-the-odds type grinder, you gotta root for him.

2. Our friends over at the Oakland Clubhouse site have released their annual Top-50 Oakland prospects list. Every Tuesday and Thursday they will be counting down from number 50 and releasing scouting reports in batches of 5. Surprisingly (to me at least) Lockard and Company gave the top spot to Brett Anderson instead of Cahill.

3. Just a friendly reminder to check out the Athletics Arizona Fall League blog.  It started several weeks ago with just reliever Andrew Bailey giving a taste of the AFL, but in recent days both Adrian Cardenas and seasoned-blogger Sean Doolittle have made contributions to the site. It's a fun read and gives you an idea about the off-field antics of the guys over there.

4. Speaking of, the site honored Midland first baseman Tom Everidge with a  2008 "MiLBy" award for best single-game performance at the Double-A level. Back on May 26th, Everidge went 4-for-5, smacked 3 homers and amassed a career-best 10 RBIs in a 17-5 Midland win over the Tulsa Drillers. Quite an honor for a very under-the-radar prospect!

In honor of Everidge's accomplishment, and the fact that he'll be Rule V eligible this winter, I thought it might be a appropriate to take an in-depth look at the burly slugger. Everidge's 2008 Midland stat line is below:

.279/.346/.467 - 22 homers - 115 RBIs - 55/133 BB/K

Not bad at all, but keep in mind that this was Tom's age-25 season and his second exposure to Double-A pitching. Even so, this was Tom's 3rd straight season with 20+ homers and 80+ RBIs, so he's obviously proven to be quite a proficient run producer. He had a big platoon split this season, but hit lefties and righties about equally in both 2007 and 2006, so he doesn't have any long-term trends of being unable to handle pitching of either ilk.

As a 10th round selection in the nondescript 2004 draft, Everidge has never really gotten much pub from the organization or outside circles. But he's got a power righty-bat (always in need for this organization) and A's player development honcho Keith Lieppman recently quipped that, "We are assuming that he [Everidge] is the real deal. Once you do it at Double-A and put up those kind of numbers, you deserve the opportunity to move on to the next level. Guys like him who maybe had to wait a little bit longer to get their opportunity at the Triple-A level, whenever the timing comes, so be it. This may be his opportunity next year.”

Everidge is a local product (from Sonoma) so he's another under-the-radar guy to root for, but the odds remain long for him to break into the majors, as I doubt the A's will add him to the 40-man roster this off-season, with Barton and Doolittle ahead of him on the depth chart and a possible Jason Giambi signing looming out there...



Fall League Updates

Arizona Fall League

Sean Doolittle: While Doolittle has picked up a few more walks this past week for the Desert Dogs, his contact rate has declined and he's now battling below .300 for the first time in weeks (he's at .280). His OPS has also slipped below the .900 mark (.897), but he's still showing off his power stroke  as he's in a 3-way tie for the league lead in homers (7). I'm crossing my fingers that Sean can make the adjustments and combine his power and high-average aggression from this season with his plate discipline of years past and develop into a monster at the plate.

Josh Donaldson: Donaldson continues to hit for a high average in the Desert (.323) and for respectable power (.804 OPS) but his plate discipline is atrocious (3-15 BB-K). I knew all along that Donaldson wasn't cut from the old "take and rake" Moneyball approach, but that average isn't gonna stay high if he continues to resign control of the strikezone.

Adrian Cardenas: Still no power from the middle infielder, who's managing a Penningtonian .341 slugging percentage. In his defense, he's not getting consistent at-bats, but is still getting on-base at a fine rate (.362) especially since he's one of the younger players in the league

Andrew Bailey: Bailey's been dominant for the Desert Dogs, plain and simple. He has yet to walk a batter in his 10 innings of work while his strikeout total is up to 14. He's allowed 14 hits in those innings and is allowing a .311 average against, but even so his ERA sits at a miniscule 0.90.  That's pretty awesome. Bailey should turn into a nice middle reliever at some point.

Andrew Carignan: Andrew's queitly put together a strong showing in AZ. His ERA is only 2.00 in 9 innings or work and his control has been solid at 13-4 K-BB.  It seems like he's always going to have a little difficulty harnessing his stuff, which will prevent him from becoming a true lock-down late-inning guy, but his stuff is plenty good and even the minors' best hitters can't make consistent contact off of him, so I'm betting he'll be a valuable set-up guy nonetheless.

Jared Lansford: Carney's son has not allowed a run since being lit up back back on October 25th. His ERA is still an ugly 5.14 due to that fateful day, but he's been mostly good this fall. His lack of strikeout stuff is a concern (5 walks to only 2 strikeouts in 7 innings) but he's inducing 3 times as many ground outs to fly-outs to compensate. Perhaps Jared's less-than-overpowering but groundball-inducing stuff would play better if he were re-transitioned into a starting role?

Jeff Gray: Gray's ERA is nice at an even 1.00, but his .167 BAA is not sustainable and his 6-4 K-BB ratio in 9 innings is not particularly impressive, especially from a repeat AFL participant and soon-to-be 27 year old. Gray seems like a heck-of-a-nice guy but I sure hope the A's aren't planning on him being an integral part of the 2009  big league bullpen. If anything, I'd like to see him in the Ron Flores "re-call in case of emergency" role next season.

Hawaii Winter Baseball

Chris Carter: The good news on Carter is that he's still taking his walks and getting on-base (.392 OBP) but he's not hitting for much power (only 2 homers on the Hawaii season) and his average has been plummeting (it currently stands at a woeful .227). The brevity of short-season winter ball doesn't really bring out the best in a notoriously streaky hitter like Carter, so I wouldn't get too concerned about the power numbers. If I were him and the A's I wouldn't worry about the power (we all know it's there) but I'd continue to concentrate on mastering the strike zone, getting that OBP over .400 and picking up a few hits along the way to up that average into the .250 zone.

Corey Brown: Ehhh, Brown is having a Winter League to forget and he's seemingly getting worse and worse as the season drags on. In the past ten games, Corey has struggled to the tune of a .171 batting average with one homer, 5 RBIs and a disastrous 2-11 BB-K rate. On the season, with over 100 at-bats to his credit, Corey is sitting on a sub-.700 OPS with a .225 overall overage and only 10 extra base-hits. Not sure what he was sent to Hawaii to work on specifically, but whatever it is, he's not doing a very good job of it.

Brett Hunter: In his past four appearances (after a disastrous Oct. 28th meltdown) Hunter has looked sharp. He's only given up one run over those 4 outings, spanning 5 1/3 innings, giving up just 2 hits while walking 2 and striking-out 10. Hunter also went multiple innings in two of those of outings, which is a good sign for the right-hander who is still getting back up to 100-percent after his various arm and shoulder injuries of earlier this summer.

Mexican League

Arnold Leon: The 20-year old has done well for himself in limited duty down in his native land, tossing 8 innings with a 3.24 ERA, with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. He hasn't pitched since Halloween, so it's a good bet that Leon, now fully A's property, is on some sort of strict pitch count. He'll definitely be a major breakout candidate come next season.

Dominican League

Brad Kilby: Kilby hasnt pitched in two weeks, so an update isn't really necessary.

Venezuelan League

Raul Padron: The former doping catcher has done well so far in his native land, batting .333 with a homer and 5 RBIs in 18 at-bats.

Jesus Guzman: This guy needs to be re-signed ASAP. He's tearing up the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional to the tune of .424/.529/.718 with 30 RBIs in 85 at-bats and a 16-13 BB-K rate. Sure, he struggled last season with his first taste of Triple-A, but since he has a track record of adjusting to new leagues and then demolishing them, I'd say the A's would be well suited to giving him a 40-man roster spot along with a new contract.

Gregorio Petit: The little ball of energy is looking good so far in the VWL. He continues to show an aggressive approach at the plate, only walking 8 times in 80 at-bats, however he's hitting .338 with an .868 OPS, so it's working for him. Gregorio should be a nice middle-infield insurance option for the big league team for the next few seasons.

Javy Herrera: Javy had a decent campaign at Double-A this season, but that hasn't translated over to the VWL. He's hitting .280 but only slugging .360 and certainly isn't taking his walks (2 in 25 at-bats). He's in danger of being dropped from the 40-man roster this winter...

Matt Murton: Hey-oh! There was a Big Red citing down in Venezuela yesterday! Murton made his VWL debut and went 1-3 with a single, a run-scored and 2 walks. Here's to hoping he can get his stroke back down in Caracas!

Jeff Baisley: The Baze is not doing so hot down in Sud America. He hasn't played in a few days, maybe due to the fact that he was batting only .167 coming into the week with a .604 OPS and only 3 extra-base hits in 42 at-bats.

Carlos Gonzalez: Cargon finally made his VWL debut this past week and has been en-fuego. He's gone 6-for-16 in his first 5 games, with 4 RBIs and a very nice 3-3 BB-K ratio. He also 4 hits in 9 tries against left-handed pitching!

Puerto Rican League

I swear someone from the A's was competing in Puerto Rico, but now I can't find him. Regardless, the league just got underway so any stats I would've been able to dig up would have been pretty usless anyways.

One last quick note...

Baseball America's A's correspondent Casey Tefertiler did a brief profile of Ryan Sweeney in which he mentioned how the young outfielder played through pain all of last season.  A's brass seems to think that when you combine that type of toughness with Sweeney's obvious talent, you have "something special". I'll leave the readers to decide if that is truly the case with Ryan.

Also in that article, Tefertiler mentions that lefty Carlos Hernandez garnered most outstanding pitching honors at the A's Instructional League. Remember how last season Sean Doolittle was named MVP of the Instructional League and then came out in the regular season and absolutely dominated the California League? Well, maybe we can expect to see the same breakout from Hernandez who will also start next season at Stockton after having already pitched a few games there late last season.