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Top o' the Mornin' Monday Minors Musings

The A's organization is now firing on all cylinders. As of this week, all eight of the A's minor league affiliates (two Dominican Summer League teams, Arizona Rookie League Team, Vancouver Canadians, Kane County Cougars, Stockton Ports, Midland Rockhounds and Sacramento Rivercats) have either begun their seasons or have resumed their seasons after their respective All Star breaks. With the big league team embarking on a 20-games-in-20-days sprint toward the MLB All Star break, it's an insanely busy time in the A's-osphere! Let's get to it!

Debuts Galore!

LHP Brett Anderson - Midland Rockhounds: Promoted to Double-A just this last week, Anderson one-upped Trevor Cahill's strong Double-A debut with a masterful performance of his own. The 20-year old went 6 innings for the win last Thursday, scattering 2 hits and 2 runs while compiling a career highs 12  strikeouts while walking no one. With outings like this against much older competition, it's no wonder that many experts consider Anderson to be one of (if not the) very best left-handed pitching prospect(s) in the minors, especially with Clayton Kershaw in the majors now. It's going to be a joy seeing him and Cahill progress together and break the majors in a year or two!

RHP Craig Italiano- Stockton Ports: After dominating the Midwest League for Kane County in the 1st half of the season, Italiano was moved up to Stockton to bolster the Port's rotation after Cahill and Anderson got bumped up. He certainly didn't overwhelm Cal League hitters in his debut on Friday, starting the game and lasting only 4 innings, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts. Italiano won't turn 22 until late this season and he has never thrown as many innings as he has this season, so I'm guessing he'll either get shut down soon or get moved into the bullpen (where his power repertoire might work better long-term anyways). Future Oakland closer perhaps?

RHP Tyson Ross - Kane County Cougars: As was reported in my Mid-Week Minors Update, Tyson Ross has become the first A's 2008 draftee to debut with a full season affiliate. After throwing a couple scoreless innings out of the Kane County bullpen on June 24th, Tyson made his debut as a starter on Thursday, going 3 innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 3 without walking a batter. Tyson now has a 5-0 K-BB ratio in 5 innings on the year. It remains to be seen if the A's minor league coaches will begin tweaking Tyson's mechanics in the near future. However, even without tinkering, Tyson looks like he could become an above-average, mid-back rotation starter at the major league level, with three average-plus pitches and good control.

3B/2B Jesus Guzman- Sacramento RiverCats: After tattooing Texas League pitching for months, Guzman has been moved up to AAA for the first time ever. He's only 5-for-29 so far in AAA but it's still early and Guzman's got some thunder in his bat.


Team by team Notes

Sacramento River Cats: 49-34, 1st Place PCL South Division

- Gio G continues to alternate good starts with bad ones. His latest Dr. Jekyll vs. Mr Hyde act: June 23rd - 2.2 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 5-4 K-BB versus Yesterday's - 6.0 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 7-4 K-BB.

- Joe Gaetti has been swinging a hot bat for the Cats, OPSing a cool .992 with 9 homers in only 108 AAA at bats, and whaling on left-handed pitching with a 1.107 OPS against them. Some ANers are looking at his stats, seeing that he bats right, plays the corner outfield positions and wondering why the Big League Team doesn't call him up. I don't know much about the guy, but what I do know for sure is that while he's always put up good stats, he has never played a major league game in his career, he's 26 and he's not on the A's 40-man roster. I think the first two facts might be interconnected with the last one and Joe could just be a AAAA-masher from a purely scouting perspective.

Midland RockHounds: 3-8, Last Place - Texas League South Division

- Trevor Cahill has now made two starts for the Hounds since being promoted from Stockton. He's gone 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings pitched with 8 strikeouts, 7 walks, a 3.80 groundout-to-walk ratio and .167 batting-average-against. Those aren't numbers in the same league as his Stockton stats (pun intended), but for a 20-year old playing against mostly 22+ year olds, they are pretty darn good.

- Andrew Bailey was demoted to the bullpen to make room for Cahill & Anderson in the Midland rotation. He worked a scoreless inning of relief on Saturday. I like him in a bullpen role. He's got mid-90's heat...

- Vince Mazzaro continues to impress, with his latest outing indicative of his recent success: 7.2 Innings Pitched, 6 hits, 6 K's, 0 walks and 13 groundouts against 4 flyouts. He's going deep into games, striking out enough guys and forcing relatively advanced hitters to beat his sinker into the ground. He's got some promise.

- Steven Sharpe (once promising relief prospect) has rehabbed his latest injury successfully and rejoined the Rockhounds.

Stockton Ports: 5-6, 3rd place Cal League North Division

- OFer Matt Sulentic has turned it on as of late after struggling last season with KAne County last year. The diminutive 20-year old is hitting .298/.371/.471 on the season with 27 extra base hits (8 homers) in 244 at-bats. He also has 5 steals in 5 attempts, is playing solid defense in the outfield and is, surprisingly for a young left-handed hitter, handling left-handed pitching better than he is right-handed pitching (.857 OPS vs. .837 OPS). He's probably not going to develop into a star, but he's young enough to become a passable regular/good 4th OFer at the MLB level.

- I've been astounded by Jared Lansford's turnaround as a reliever for the Ports this season. As a middle-man in the Stockton bullpen, Jared has a 2.32 ERA, 1.02 WHiP, and a 55-12 K-BB ratio. Some have called for Jared to re-enter the Stockton rotation with those numbers, but why mess with a good thing? He seems to be dealing in his present role, pitching every couple of days and staying in rhythm.

- Another member of the Stockton bullpen has absolutely dominated as of late. Texas state high school legend Sam Demel has finally found a groove as Stockton's closer and in the past 10 games has compiled a 0.59 ERA, 1.27 WHiP, 5 saves and a 22-6 K-BB ratio while oftentimes working multiple innings. If they both stay relatively injury-free, there will be a "healthy" competition between Demel and Andrew Carignan for the title of "closer heir apparent" in the Oakland system. Carignan is ahead of Demel development wise and might have a little more pure velocity to work with, however Demel's command is better and he might have more effective breaking pitches. Having both of them in Oakland with mid-90s heaters in the late innings surely wouldn't be a bad thing, if worse came to worse.

Kane County Cougars: 4-7, 3rd Place Midwest League Western Division

- We can argue all day about what type of player Corey Brown might develop into, but there's no question that he's incredibly talented, perhaps the most overall-talented position player in the A's system. He's been red-hot as of late, as well. He's already tallied a nice triple double in a fairly tough league to hit in - with 13 homers,  18 doubles and 10 steals in 10 chances. Of course, Corey's pedestrian .270 batting average and 88 K's to 38 walks are still causes for concern, but I'm liking the overall display of talent. Corey could really up his slugging once he gets promoted to Stockton.

- Now that Craig Italiano has moved up to Stockton, LHP Brad Hertzler has taken his spot in the Kane County rotation. Brad didn't fare too well in his last start (3.2 innings pitched, 8 hits, 5 earned runs) but he's bound to have those outings as he's an aggressive strike-thrower (37-7 K-BB so far this season) with a DiNardo-like reliance on a cut-fastball. I'm not projecting greatness or even above-averageness for Brad, but I like him developing into a decent swingman/long reliever/middle reliever a la the late Joe Kennedy.

I'll get into more specifics about the Vancouver Canadians & Rookie League A's teams next week when we have a little larger sample size to work with.

What Ever Happened to...

RHP Jason Windsor- Windsor underwent major elbow surgery in the off-season, has been rehabbing for several months and is just now taking the mound in real games. He's getting hammered pretty bad while pitching for Rookie League A's team, giving up almost two hits per inning pitched. Jason looked decent in his MLB debut a few years back, but since that time, has fallen off a cliff and is now following the Shane Komine-career-fastrack-to-Sacramento-lifer route.

OFer Grant Desme - Desme was a highly touted 5-tool outfielder coming out of Cal Poly SLO in last year's draft. Many teams were intrigued by Desme's potential but were scared off by his junior season broken wrist. He fell to the A's in the 2nd round, and now we can see why so many teams passed on him last June. He's still dealing with injuries and has yet to get in a real game this season (after appearing in 12 last season for Vancouver). He's listed as active on the Arizona Rookie League Team roster, so let's hope he gets back on the field soon, since the organization could really use his right-handed power bat, especially considering the fate of...

1B/3B Danny Hamblin - Danny was a guy coming out of Arkansas that the A's liked enough to draft in subsequent years. He was a righty corner infielder with intriguing raw power. However, after blasting 11 homers in his pro-debut last season, Danny has hung up the spurs and retired "for personal reasons". Hopefully, everything is A-Ok in Danny's personal life and he just figured that baseball wasn't for him...

A's Prospects in the News

1. Wanna know why Stockton Ports' outfielder Matt Sulentic is approaching his season like a boxer swinging from his heels? Because that's exactly how he prepared for this season.

2. Alex Eisenberg over at the Hardball Times broke down the swings/pitching motions of all the 1st Round draft picks from the 2008 draft and profiled both the right-handed and left-handed hacks of A's top pick Jemile Weeks.


- Don't forget to send some well-wishes to grover while he's off battling wildfires in the nether regions of the Golden State. He's working hard on getting some time to do his own minor league update, but mother nature is not cooperating as of yet!

- I'll be up in Sacramento this Thursday (the 3rd) catching the Rivercats game so if anybody is up there or has any tips about what to do in the area for the 4th, please hit me up!