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Monday Midday Minors Musings: Movin' On Up Edition

There's plenty of updates to get to today regarding the state of the A's system. The halfway point of the minor league season has come and gone, and with it, several promotions and player movements have occurred. Here's a glimpse of some of those moves:

INF Jesus Guzman - Promoted from AA Midland to AAA Sacramento

Guzman destroyed Texas League pitching for the entirety of the 1st half of the season, so his promotion was long-expected. Despite beginning 3 of the last 4 seasons in Double-A, this will be his first taste of the AAA level.  At 24, Guzman is no spring chicken, but if he can continue producing at a high level for the RiverCats, he could be in line for a September call-up at the very least, if not consideration for a future spot in the A's infield.

RHP Trevor Cahill & LHP Brett Anderson - Promoted from High-A Stockton to AA Midland

Two other promotions that were expected. Cahill, the minor league strikeout leader, came up first and made his Double-A debut  last Friday, going 6 innings for the win, giving up only one run on 2 hits, with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk. BP's Kevin Goldstein included Cahill in his Monday Ten Pack, noting that Cahill's the real deal, with three above-average pitches, good size and enough control to consistently get hitters out. He mentions that Trevor "could be in line for a September look", which might be too aggressive a move for him, seeing as how he's only 20 years old, has only pitched one game at the Double-A level and will almost certainly eclipse his career-high for innings pitched within the next month. I'd say just keep him at Double-A for the rest of the season.

Anderson was just added to the Midland rotation and will likely get his first start for the Hounds tomorrow or Wednesday, if he's kept on turn. If Cahill and Anderson continue performing at a high level (especially with their peripheral stats), they could be promoted side-by-side and both make their major league debuts late next season.


RHP Henry Rodriguez - Demoted from AA Midland to High-A Stockton

Here's a demotion that was expected. H-Rod was roughed-up for the Rockhounds and probably wasn't  quite ready for the promotion, going 1-6 with a 8.82 ERA with a 36-36 K-BB ratio in 47 innings. Those look like terrible numbers, but Henry most certainly did not pitch nearly that poorly. Over the duration of his Midland stint, Henry gave up up more than twice as many hits total (47) than he did at Stockton (22) earlier in the season in just about as many innings pitched. In this regard Henry was extremely unlucky as Midland's defense was not doing him any favors, allowing hitters to have a ridiculously high .439 BABIP against him. That number will likely come down considerably next time Henry rolls through the Texas League, which, when combined with hopefully better control, will allow Henry to succeed at that level in the future. He's back at Stockton now dominating as he did before (striking out 22 batters over his past three starts), and since he's taking up space on the 40-man roster, who gotta think that he'll get another chance at Midland before the end of the year.

Vancouver Gets Rolling

Short-season Vancouver has begun it's season with a mixture of freshly-signed 2008 draftees and an assortment of Latin American talent collected over the past few years. On offense, it looks like the big bats for Vancouver might come in the form of SS Jason Christian and outfielders Mitchell Levier and Jeremy Barfield. On the mound, I am really excited about following RHP Ronny Morla's first exposure to affiliated baseball. He's been bandied about quite a bit and held in high regard in the organization, so it's good to finally see some results coming out of his right arm. He's only started two games so far, but they've been good ones: 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 10-3 K-BB, 3-1 Groundout/Flyout rate.

Trade Bait?

Trade chatter is heating up around the league and the experts are speculating that the A's might become buyers rather than sellers at the trade deadline. It's anybody's guess what Beane will actually do approaching the deadline, but one thing is certain: if Beane were to get involved in any deal for any of the likely-available vets out there (Nady, Bay, Sabathia, Holliday) he'd likely have to part with at least one or two prospects. While he'd be loathe to part with any one of Cahill, Anderson, Simmons, Gio G, H-Rod, Doolittle, Italiano, De los Santos, Simmons or Cunningham, there might be enough depth in the farm system to allow Beane to make a deal without giving up too much. Some guys I could see piquing other teams' interest:

RHP Vince Mazzaro: I mentioned Vince in last week's report as someone on the rise who's young enough and performing at a high-enough level to get some attention from other clubs. Mazzaro alone won't net anything useful, but in combination with another name or two might be a start.

OF Travis Buck: Yeah, THAT Travis Buck. He's struggled at the major league level so far this season, but he's mashing at AAA Sacramento and with Ryan Sweeney performing well for the big club and Cargon improving, Buck might become expendable if another team is willing to overpay for him after being enticed by his .850 OPS 2007 season and his strong AAA numbers this year. I'm not saying Beane SHOULD sell low on Buck or even that he will, but if a good enough offer came across his desk, Beane would probably certainly think about it.

SS Cliff Pennington: Small sample size alert! It's only been 89 at-bats so far for Cliff at AAA, however he's putting up career-high numbers so far. He's hitting .385 over his past 10 games and finally showing just a bit of power (.438 slugging) while doing his usual job of getting on-base frequently (.394 OBP). His platoon splits have equalized somewhat (.880 OPS vs. lefites, .805 vs. righties) and he's playing his usual strong up-the-middle defense. Cliff's shown glimpses of his 1st-round talent over the years, but with Crosby finally staying healthy, Petit a better option at short long-term and Hannahan and Murphy serving as good bench players, Cliff might be the odd man out. Since he'll be eligible for the Rule V draft starting this winter, the A's will need to make a decision about his future in the organization in the coming months, but it might be in everybody's best interest for Cliff to continue playing well and end up establishing some trade value.

Lefty Relievers: At AAA, the A's have a collection of nice lefty relievers that are just about major league ready. Dallas Braden could be a swingman/LOOGY for any number of clubs, Jay Marshall already has major league experience in the bullpen and has been very effective in the minors so far this season, while Jerry Blevins and Brad Kilby are both fairly polished products that can get both lefites and righties out and could be probably be effective middle relievers right now. Lefty relief is always in demand, and one of these guys could be thrown into a package to sweeten the deal for prospective trade partners.

Prospects in the News

- Accompanying Cahill in Goldstein's Monday Ten Pack is Stockton slugger Chris Carter. Goldstein mentions that Carter has been extremely streaky so far this season, but that his low batting average and High-K rate is not so troubling when considering that Carter's walk rate has improved this season and that he's currently leading the California Leauge with 20 homers (I tend to agree with him)

- Goldstein also assessed his pre-season Top 100 prospects lists, profiling each selection with a designation of the current status of each selection's stock. For the A's, he notes that Barton's stock is down because he is "clearly pressing" and might need to be demoted to AAA to get his swing back. For Cargon (#26 on his list) Goldstein says his stock is down a bit due to a lack of power (I disagree with Kevin's assessment here as Carlos is hitting a lot of doubles that will probably turn into homeruns down the road). For De Los Santos (#46 on his list) Kevin notes that his stock is down significantly, mainly due to his season-ending Tommy John surgery. Kevin flags Trevor Cahill (#98) as someone who's stock is way up while Chris Carter's (#99) is down a little bit, citing those low-batting average/high-K concerns previously mentioned.

- Baseball America's panel did a chat session regarding their most recent Hot List, and the panelists said they could see Cliff Pennington as a useful, part time major leaguer, while Matt Eddy seems to indicate that as far as the future A's rotation, he sees it lining up as Cahill - Number 1, Gio G - Number 2, and Brett Anderson - Number 3. reports that the A's have signed Juston Street, Huston's younger brother, as an undrafted free agent. Juston, like Huston, was a reliever for Texas and didn't seem to impress much, only pitching 8.2 innings in the past three seasons combined without much success. He's been assigned to the A's Rookie League team, along with Sean Doolittle's brother Ryan, and both will look to hone their skills and get onto a full-season affiliate sometime this season, if at all possible.