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Mustering Monday's Minor League Minions at Midnight

I've got good news and bad news for those who follow these minor league updates.

The good news is that I've moved to Sacramento so I'll (hopefully) be able to include some Mark 1 eyeball scouting with my statistical analysis. I'd love to head down to Stockton and watch Anderson, Cahill and Doolittle firsthand.

The bad news is the move down here has left me flat broke, so until I start to make some money I won't be able to actually attend the games. And then there's the whole wildland fire thing that's probably going to keep me kinda busy over the summer. So if I disappear for a couple weeks don't rejoice too much, I'll be coming back eventually.

On to the prospects!

(All stats as of 5/17/08)

AAA

The River Cats' roster includes 11 players that are on Oakland's 40 man roster. Unfortanetly some of the best performances are coming from players NOT on said roster.

Pitchers on the 40-man roster:

Jerry Blevins: 14 G  16.0 IP  18 H  1 HR  4/15 BB/K  3.94 ERA  5 Sv

Dallas Braden: 5 G/4 GS  21.0 IP  24 H  1 HR  7/21 BB/K  2.14 ERA

Lenny DiNardo: 4 GS  24.0 IP  32 H  4 HR  0/10 BB/K  5.25 ERA

Jeff Gray: 16 G  21.0 IP  28 H  2 HR  9/15 BB/K  5.57 ERA

Dan Meyer: 8 G/6 GS  38.0 IP  28 H  4 HR  22/37 BB/K  4.97 ERA

Hitters on the 40-man roster:

Landon Powell: 76 AB  211/315/526  3 Doubles  7 HR  12/19 BB/K

Kevin Melillo: 105 AB  286/356/467  3 Doubles  2 Triples  4 HR  11/21 BB/K

Travis Buck: 50 AB  240/309/340  2 Doubles  1 HR  5/8 BB/K

Carlos Gonzalez: 111 AB  306/358/450  5 Doubles  1 Triple  3 HR  9/22 BB/K

Chris Denorfia: 1 Game Played

Jeff Fiorentino: DL

Braden seems to have returned to Sac's rotation, his only appearance since his demotion was a start on May 12th. Does this mean the A's still consider Dallas a starting capable pitcher or is his Oakland bullpen time a harbinger of things to come? DiNardo is what he is, a 5th SP innings eater you're always trying to replace with a more talented body. Blevins has been relatively solid, a disasterous start continues to drag his overall numbers down. Jeff Gray has yet to show the form that had locked up a spot in Oakland's 2007 bullpen before his shoulder gave out. Dan Meyer has regained the stuff but not the control that made him the centerpiece of the Hudson trade. I'd say stick a fork in him but the last time I did that he went out and threw 6 no-hit innings his next time out. Still, he turns 27 in July so if he's going to bounce back he better hurry the frak up.

Powell has shown good power and solid patience but he can't buy a single to save his immortal soul. Melillo's positioning himself to compete for Mark Ellis' job in 2009, assuming Mark's days are numbered in Oakland. Magic 8-ball says... reply hazy, try again. CarGon is still looking strong but he needs more AB.

Pitchers not on the 40-man roster:

Gio Gonzalez: 8 GS  39.0 IP  43 H  4 HR  22/30 BB/K  4.85 ERA

Kirk Saarloos: 6 GS  36.0 IP  44 H  6 HR  6/21 BB/K  3.25 ERA

Brad Ziegler: 14 G  19.1 IP  13 H  0 HR  4/14 BB/K  0.47 ERA  5 Sv

Ryan Wing: 14 G  16.1 IP  13 H  1 HR  6/15 BB/K  1.10 ERA

Hitters not on the 40-man roster:

Todd Linden: 70 AB  343/465/557  6 Doubles  3 HR  14/22 BB/K

Eric Chavez: 2 Games Played

Jeff Baisley: 126 AB  278/355/476  7 Doubles  6 HR  13/21 BB/K

Danny Putnam: 124 AB  274/362/484  5 Doubles  7 HR  16/30 BB/K

Gio has had his struggles in AAA (Note: Sunday's start was a Good Day!) but at 22 he's got plenty of time to sort things out. He's young relative to the league and he did struggle through his first go-around in AA. I have a hunch that even after he masters AAA it will take him some time to adjust to the Show. Saarloos is anchoring the River Cats' rotation, and I mean that in the good way. I don't think he'll get another shot in Oakland but stranger things have happened... I suppose. Brad Ziegler has been lights out in AAA, sharing the closer role with Blevins and getting both lefties and righties out. In terms of straight performance, Ziegler deserves the call the next time the A's need bullpen help. The reality is Brad is 28 years old and not on the 40-man roster, meaning the A's would have to waive/release/trade someone currently on the 40-man to make room for Brad. Do the A's love Ziegler enough to do that? Ryan Wing has been almost as good as Ziegler, and as a 26 year old lefty pitcher he might have a better shot at the A's making the necessary roster moves to get him to Oakland.

Linden's smashing the ball but all he's really doing is showcasing his skills for some other team. Eric Chavez makes this list thanks to the wonders of the 60-day DL. He's not playing in the field yet so don't let his early hitting get you worked up. The A's do not need another DH-only canidate on the roster. Jeff Baisley and Danny Putnam are doing well enough to get a shot in Oakland IF they were already on the 40-man roster. However, I don't think they're doing well enough to force a roster move.

AA

The RockHounds have two players on the roster that reside on the 40-man roster. Javier Herrera is still on the DL with a hamstring problem and Henry Rodriguez (6 GS  29 H  1 HR  25/25 BB/K  7.66 ERA) is getting his clock cleaned, so not much point in going too in-depth over these two. Although I feel compelled to say this: Last year teams were still inquiring about Javier Herrera in trade discussions. If his name should come up again this year I don't see any reason not to move him. I know some would say he has some of the best tools in the organization... I see a guy who doesn't actually get on the field. I don't care how talented or toolsy a guy is, if he doesn't play he DOES NOT HELP his team win games.

Pitchers:

Vincent Mazzaro: 9 GS  52.2 IP  44 H  3 HR  16/38 BB/K  2.05 ERA

Ryan Webb: 8 G/7 GS  43.1 IP 55 H  3 HR  16/30 BB/K  4.78 ERA

James Simmons: 8 GS  40.0 IP  37 H  4 HR  8/31 BB/K  2.93 ERA

Andrew Bailey: 8 GS  37.0 IP  28 H  3 HR  22/31 BB/K  5.11 ERA

Jay Marshall: 17 G  27.1 IP  19 H  1 HR  7/20 BB/K  0.99 ERA

Andrew Carignan: 8 G  7.2 IP  6 H  1 HR  7/6  BB/K  1.17 ERA  3 Sv

Hitters:

Jesus Guzman: 176 AB  352/401/551  9 Doubles  1 Triple  8 HR  15/35 BB/K (May: 60 AB  217/319/367  3 Doubles  2 HR  9/9 BB/K)

Aaron Cunningham: 60 AB  317/382/467  3 Doubles  2 HR  6/15 BB/K

Jonathan Zeringue: 149 AB  282/392/523  10 Doubles  1 Triple  8 HR  22/45 BB/K

Anthony Recker: 138 AB  261/329/406  10 Doubles  2 Triples  2 HR  14/44 BB/K

Just as nobody predicted, Vincent Mazzaro is the Ace of the RockHounds staff! Webb's stuff has (supposedly) bumped up but he's struggled to control it. Simmons had been pitching pretty well until his last start on the 14th. He gave up 5 ER in 4.1 IP and ended up on the DL the next day with shoulder fatigue. Simmons is expected to miss a couple starts at the most so I'm not sure if this creates an opportunity for one of Stockton's arms. We'll see. Bailey has struggled with his consistency... and that's all I've got to say about that. Marshall has an almost 3:1 groundball to flyball ratio and looks to be in line for a promotion to AAA at the next available opportunity. Carignan was immediately thrust into the RockHounds closer role. His secondary line doesn't support his ERA but if his BB/K rate gets straightened out Street becomes that much more available in a trade.

There's a lot to like about Jesus Guzman, he's 23, he can play anywhere in the infield and his overall line says "Promote me byiatch!" but his May numbers urge caution. What will he do in June? Aaron Cunningham is showing that he's over his wrist injury but I don't see a place for him in Sac until Buck and or CarGon get promoted to Oakland. Zeringue has a solid line but he's 25. I expect more then solid numbers from a player a couple years older then the league average before I'm willing to call for his promotion. Anthony Recker gets a shout out because last time I talked about him his numbers were terrible. They aren't great now but he's certainly taken a step in the right direction.

A+

Stockton is starting to lose some of it's pre-season luster. Brett Anderson just got shelled (so badly that I half expect to see him end up on the DL by Tuesday) and Chris Carter is proving to be streakier than expected. Travis Banwart just got promoted from Kane County (started yesterday) and Sam Demel is the new closer. DLS is still on the shelf with a sore elbow.

Pitchers:

Trevor Cahill: 8 GS  49.2 IP  27 H  0 HR  12/62 BB/K  1.81 ERA

Brett Anderson: 8 GS  44.0 IP  42 H  3 HR  13/44 BB/K  4.09 ERA

Jason Fernandez: 6 GS  33.2 IP  28 H  3 HR  17/24 BB/K  3.74 ERA

Sam Demel: 16 G  18.1 IP  16 H  1 HR  12/26 BB/K  3.93 ERA

Jared Lansford: 7 G  17.2 IP  14 H  0 HR  5/23 BB/K  2.04 ERA (Relief only)

Hitters:

Sean Doolittle: 157 AB  363/446/688  11 Doubles  2 Triples  12 HR  25/46 BB/K

Josh Horton: 137 AB  307/426/394  6 Doubles  3 Triples  28/24 BB/K

Matt Sulentic: 131 AB  298/372/504  11 Doubles  2 Triples  4 HR  15/32 BB/K

Jermaine Mitchell: 129 AB  256/368/411  7 Doubles  2 Triples  3 HR  22/35 BB/K (vs. RHP: 88 AB  295/421/489  7 Doubles  2 Triples  2 HR  19/23 BB/K)

Chris Carter: 156 AB  237/335/513  6 Doubles  2 Triples  11 HR  22/47 BB/K

Trevor Cahill brings tears of joy to my eyes. The only reason he's still in Stockton is because Beane wants me to see him once before he goes off to Midland. Really, that's the most logical explanation left. What's up with Brett Anderson? Fernandez is a guy who I think will continue to get oberlooked while he continues to advance slowly but surely through the organizational ranks. Demel's closing and striking people out but the walks are an issue. Arnold Leon is pitching great but he returns to Mexico at the end of the month. Jared Lansford has pitched great out of the bullpen but the A's don't seem to be in a hurry to try him in back-to-back games. As his 17.2 IP in 7 relief appearances can attest, the A's are leaving him in for multiple innings. Are they keeping him stretched out in the hopes that he'll have some kind of breakthrough with his off-speed stuff and they'll be able to move him back into the rotation?

Doolittle has done everything short of buying his own plane ticket to Midland. Horton's shown the bat control expected of him but I think the A's would like to see a bit mre power before they promote him. The big question on Horton is can he handle SS? Sulentic has been good but expect to see his name on Stockton's roster for a while, at least until the Ports bump him up from 9th in the line-up. Mitchell almost got cut from this report until I took another look at his splits. Lefties have owned him thus far but this is a correctible deficiency. I expect Mitchell to stay in Stockton for the rest of the season so he can work on hitting LHP. Chris Carter either hits the ball very much or not at all.

A-

For now, the line-up remains the Corey Brown and others show. Pitching is the Cougars' strength, helped out of course by a big home park.

Pitchers:

Craig Italiano: 8 GS  40.0 IP  23 H  1 HR  15/52 BB/K  0.90 ERA

Jamie Richmond: 8 GS  44.0 IP  39 H  4 HR  5/30  BB/K  3.07 ERA

Scott Mitchinson: 6 GS  35.1 IP  30 H  1 HR  7/35 BB/K  2.29 ERA

Hitters:

Corey Brown: 139 AB  288/377/518  10 Doubles  2 Triples  6 HR  21/49 BB/K

Italiano's numbers are dominant but he's barely pitched over the last two years. At 21 years old I don't expect the A's to rush him up to Stockton. I think a more likely scenario has Italiano spend virtually the whole season in Low-A, with maybe a late-season promotion to High-A and a shot at AA to start the 2009 season. Because they're older, Mitchinson and Richmond are in more need of getting pushed quickly. Last time around I wondered what 24 year old Scott Moore had to do to get a promotion to at least High-A. The A's response: they're trying Moore as a SP now that Banwart is in Stockton.

Corey Brown is the only Cougar hitter I find worthy of mention. The story with Brown is still the same: Lots of strike outs, a fair number of walks and power. Will he ever smooth out his game?

 So where does that leave us? I don't see anyone who could make a dramatic impact on Oakland's immediate future but there is help that could be available come the 2nd half. The bulk of the pitching looks like it won't be ready until 2009 at the earliest. If the season ended today Stockton's Doolittle and Cahill would probably be voted as the A's top two prospects but they're at least a year away from contributing at the big league level. Their current level of production screams for a promotion to AA and Beane has said that once a player shows he can handle AA a jump to the Show isn't too far away.

Figured I should leave folks with a happy thought to wrap things up.

(I know, me shutting up is a happy enough thought for most! Freaking Nico...)