Well, major league opening day might have been the big story last week, but we also had minor league opening day - which was a slightly less celebrated event. Nevertheless, the minor league season kicked off for all four of the A's full-season affiliates on Thursday. I've been back in action with daily updates on all the games on my Athletics Farm site, and I'll also be back in action bringing you weekly minor league updates again every Monday morning right here on Athletics Nation!
In my kickoff post for the season, I wanted to let you have a look at how the rosters for all the teams were looking as the first weekend of action wrapped up and also share some of the key developments after the first few games for each team. So take a look at the current rosters and see what the key storylines have been for the River Cats, RockHounds, Ports and Snappers. It'll be a lot of fun to watch this current crop of prospects develop over the course of the season. And since this is the A's, I'd say there's a pretty good chance you'll be seeing a few of them at the Coliseum before the season's through!
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS
(Pacific Coast League - Triple-A)
Stephen Vogt*, Ryan Ortiz
Nate Freiman*, Anthony Aliotti, Jose Martinez, Alden Carrithers, Hiro Nakajima, Tyler Ladendorf
Shane Peterson*, Kent Matthes*, Jake Goebbert, Michael Taylor
Arnold Leon*, Sean Murphy, Joe Blanton, Matt Buschmann, Josh Lindblom*
Philip Humber, Deryk Hooker, Jeremy McBryde, Jose Flores, Fernando Nieve, Paul Smyth, Joe Savery*, Eric Berger, Fernando Rodriguez* (Rehab Assignment)
When it comes to the Sacramento roster this year, you'll definitely find lots of familiar faces like Stephen Vogt, Nate Freiman, Michael Taylor and Hiro Nakajima along with last-minute addition Joe Blanton. Four position players and four pitchers at Sacramento are currently on the A's 40-man roster, which is important to keep in mind. These players are usually the most likely to get the call if and when someone is needed at the big league level since the team doesn't have to worry about clearing any room on the 40-man roster for them. The four position players are Vogt and Freiman along with outfielders Shane Peterson and Kent Matthes, and the pitchers are Arnold Leon, Josh Lindblom, Joe Savery and rehabbing right-hander Fernando Rodriguez. All-time River Cats hit leader Taylor has wielded a hot bat in his return to Sacramento, hitting a home run and a pair of doubles to go along with 5 walks in his first 3 games. Hiro's gotten off a good start as well, collecting 4 hits in his first 11 at-bats. Meanwhile, Blanton picked up the win in his first outing despite giving up 5 earned runs in 5 innings of work. Arnold Leon and Sean Murphy didn't fare any better in their season debuts, with both allowing 4 earned runs without either of them registering as much as 5 innings on the mound. Fernando Rodriguez has looked good in relief so far, striking out 3 in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. The organization is expected to continue with his rehab assignment until May 3, when the team must either add him to the major league roster or expose him to the waiver wire.
(Texas League - Double-A)
Ryan Lipkin, Beau Taylor
Max Muncy, Dusty Coleman, Jefry Marte, Miles Head, Antonio Lamas, (DL-Addison Russell)
Billy Burns, D'Arby Myers, Chad Oberacker, Josh Whitaker, Conner Crumbliss
Drew Granier, Zach Neal, Tanner Peters, Raul Alcantara*, Chris Jensen
Murphy Smith, Nate Long, Ryan Dull, Blake Hassebrock, Seth Frankoff, Jesus Castillo, Andrew Werner, Jeff Urlaub, (DL-Frank Gailey)
Of course, most of the news out of Midland so far has centered around top prospect Addison Russell. The shortstop got off to a blazing start, going 5 for 7 with a home run and a double, prompting RockHounds play-by-play man Bob Hards to comment on Friday, "If he keeps swinging the bat like this, he's gonna be gone by Tuesday!" Well, he was actually gone sooner than that. Right after that comment, Russell unsuccessfully tried to steal second and didn't return to the field the next inning. It turned out the A's top prospect ended up straining his hamstring and was put on the 7-day disabled list on Sunday. Midland's other top attraction, outfielder Billy Burns, also got off to a good start, going 4 for 12 with 2 doubles and 3 stolen bases. Meanwhile, 21-year-old RHP Raul Alcantara impressed in his Double-A debut, allowing just 1 run in 8 innings of work to win his first game for the RockHounds.
(California League - High-A)
Bruce Maxwell, Ryan Gorton
Matt Olson, Chad Pinder, Wade Kirkland, Daniel Robertson, Renato Nunez, Ryon Healy
Bobby Crocker, Dusty Robinson, Aaron Shipman, Billy McKinney
Josh Bowman, Tim Atherton, Manny Correa, Shawn Haviland, Seth Streich
Michael Ynoa*, Nolan Sanburn, Jonathan Joseph, Ryan Doolittle, Tucker Healy, Kris Hall, Austin House, Jeremy Barfield, (DL-Omar Duran)
The Ports roster is just loaded with top prospects from the team's last two draft classes. Three of the team's top four picks from the 2012 draft - shortstop Daniel Robertson, first baseman Matt Olson and catcher Bruce Maxwell - are joined by the top three position players picked in last year's draft - outfielder Billy McKinney and infielders Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy - along with one of the team's top international free agent signees, third baseman Renato Nunez. And that's not even mentioning Michael Ynoa and Nolan Sanburn on the mound. Robertson's gotten off to the best start of all of them, going 7-15 with a pair of doubles, but McKinney definitely opened some eyes as well by tagging 2 home runs in his second game for Stockton. But Pinder and Healy, both of whom unexpectedly jumped right over the Midwest League, have struggled a bit, going a combined 1 for 27 so far. And in the first appearance out of the bullpen for Ynoa on Friday, a single followed by a couple of wild pitches helped to set up the winning run and hand the first loss of the season to the lanky right-hander.
(Midwest League - Class-A)
Phil Pohl, Andy Paz
Ryan Huck, Melvin Mercedes, Chih-Fang Pan, Sam Roberts, B.A. Vollmuth, Michael Soto
Ryan Mathews, B.J. Boyd, Boog Powell, Tyler Marincov, (DL-Jaycob Brugman)
Bobby Wahl, Lou Trivino, Kyle Finnegan, Dylan Covey, Ronald Herrera
Andres Avila, Stuart Pudenz, Trevor Bayless, Sam Bragg, Lee Sosa, Chris Lamb, Brent Powers, Matt Stalcup
With most of the organization's top hitting prospects at Stockton, Beloit's roster is more reliant of some of the team's top young pitching prospects like Dylan Covey, Bobby Wahl, Kyle Finnegan and Ronald Herrera. But outfielder B.J. Boyd is up from Vermont and third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, who struggled both offensively and defensively last season, is down from Stockton. Outfielder Tyler Marincov has gotten off to a hot start for the Snappers, going 4 for 7 with a home run, a double and 3 walks. And Melvin Mercedes, who's taken over as the team's starting shortstop, has gone 5 for 11 in his first 3 games. Finnegan turned in the finest performance of any of the team's starters this week, allowing 1 run on just 2 hits over 5 inning, while Wahl probably struggled the most, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in just 3 1/3 innings of work to take the loss on opening night for Beloit.
You can check out my blog - Athletics Farm - for updates on the A's minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.