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Minor League Update: Do you know where your prospects are?

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The Arizona League (AZL) kicked off its season today, meaning the A’s now have all 6 of their North American farm teams up and running, plus a team in the Dominican Summer League… I need to go on a two week fire assignment just to recover from the effort of covering so much ground! Now seems as good a time as any to get everyone up to speed on where the affiliates reside in the rankings, plus note who are making the key contributions towards the victory efforts.

 

(In the case of Stockton, there’s not much of a list.)

 

 

But before we get to the doom and gloom of the A’s High-A ball affiliate, let’s enjoy the success of the upper minor league teams.

Sacramento (45-25; 1st place in the Pacific-South Division PCL)

 

 

The River Cats have the best record of any of the A’s affiliates and they’ve accomplished this without a great deal of top-o’-the-line prospects. Sure, they had Mazzaro for a while but they promoted him up to Oakland and got Dana Eveland in return… and we all know what kind of downgrade that was for the River Cats!

                   

Eric Patterson has been the offensive catalyst for Sacramento, his 274 at bats and 307 plate appearances leading the River Cats. He’s hitting 321/394/511 and has seen time at 2B, 3B, LF, CF and DH. He’s also 26 and has never been able to capitalize on his chances when on a big league roster.

 

Gio Gonzalez is on an impressive streak, going 3-0 over his last 5 starts while giving up 1 ER (a 0.30 ERA) 13 hits, 13 walks and striking out 38 over 30.1 IP. Does this mean that Gio has finally turned the corner and is ready to take on big league hitters? Probably not, but it’s still a nice run.

 

Looking at the River Cats roster, it seems as if the one constant amidst all the turnover has been the consistent and often times stellar relief pitching. Jeff Gray, Jay Marshall and Brad Kilby have done the bulk of the heavy lifting but recent contributions by Ryan Webb and Henry Rodriguez have been critical to the River Cats continued success.

 

On the "no news is good news" front, 1B/RF Sean Doolittle should be returning to action sometime within the next 2 weeks.

 

Travis Buck is raking to the tune of 15-37 with 6 doubles and a home run, plus a 7/7 BB/K rate. (That’s a 1.127 OPS for anyone interested.) As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t want to see Buck back in Oakland unless he’s going to be playing every day. We’ve tried the Buck-to-the-bench, play-him-randomly approach and it doesn’t work. Stick him in RF and tell him he’s playing every freakin’ day for at least a month.

 

Midland (36-32; 2nd place in the Texas-South Division TL)

 

The RockHounds have a few quality prospects in their line-up, but mercy me their pitching is atrocious.

 

Corey Brown is still hurt, although not enough to end up on the DL.

 

Adrian Cardenas is in the process of transitioning to 3B, the move seems to be affecting his bat in a negative way… he’s hitting 125/245/150 when he plays the hot corner. I’m sure the 3B-itis is just a phase but I am worried that his slugging has dropped from .590 in April to .395 in June.

 

Chris Carter continues to hit the ball really hard in route to a 296/402/496 line.

 

Graham Godfrey has emerged as the Ace of the staff. He’s 6-2 since April, with a sub-3.00 ERA.

 

Sam Demel is looking for a chance to skip to Sac’s bullpen. In the meantime his 0.61 ERA and 11 Saves make him sexy trade bait.

 

Stockton Ports (25-45; Worst freakin’ record in the CAL)

 

Jemile Weeks is the one true bright spot in the Ports line-up and just this week he proved that he belongs on the Oakland roster… not in the line-up, but on the roster. Specifically, the DL.

 

If I had to find something completely positive to talk about, I’d point to LHRP Lance Sewell’s 17 K’s in the last 10 innings. Another almost positive would be Tyson Ross’s last 3 starts, in which he’s managed to go at least 5 IP each time.

 

Kane County Cougars (41-29; 1st half division winner MID)

 

The Cougars have a lot of talent to talk about, both in the line-up and on the mound.

 

Grant Desme has a 906 OPS in June but needs to work on controlling the strike zone more.

 

Jason Christian is hitting 300/371/525 in June.

 

Jeremy Barfield and Dusty Coleman have cooled off considerably and need to make adjustments to what the Midwest League is throwing their way now,

 

Anthony Capra has a nice ERA and K/9, but he’s got to get the free passes under control. 14 walks in his last 21 IP is a problem.

 

Pedro Figueroa and Kenny Smalley also need to tighten up their command of the strike zone, although both have made some recent progress in this area.

 

Mickey Storey has no such problem, as his 23:1 K:BB suggests. Storey is ready for a new challenge.

 

Vancouver Canadians (2-1; Tied for 1st in the NW Division… seriously though, did you need to know that?)

 

The names you know are Nino Leyja and Rashun Dixon. Last year they played SS and CF (respectively) in the AZL, this year they’ve started the season at 2B and LF/RF. Leyja is going to share time at SS with Leonardo Gil. Dixon is probably going to spend most of his time, at least early on, at a corner OF position. The A’s are trying Tyreace House in CF, and they’re doing t for a very good reason: Mr. House is really, really fast. How fast you ask? Fast is when a left handed batter can get out of the batter’s box and down to first in under 4 seconds. That’s pretty much considered a 70+ if not an 80 on the scouting scale. House can get to 1B in less than 4 seconds… and he hits right handed. If House can run routes even slightly better than Eric Byrnes could then the A’s might be able to play only two outfielders!

 

OK, I exaggerate.

 

Slightly.

 

And I have absolutely no objective reason for saying this, but keep an eye on P Ricardo Penalba.

 

AZL A’s (1-0; Undefeated, baby!)

 

The babiest A’s are built by a combination of 2009 draft picks, and campers from the 2008 and 2009 Dominican Summer League teams. I’ll let you know how things shake out once they have their roster set. I’m not kidding, the pitcher who got the win last night (Rony Acevedo) wasn’t on the roster yesterday afternoon.

 

So there you have it. Enjoy.