With all the movement involving the A's top prospects this week, I'm dispensing with the stats and just getting straight to all the news. The trade of top prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, along with Sacramento's top starter Dan Straily, has affected many other players and had ripple effects throughout the system, with more to come. Many things in the A's minor league system have still not quite settled into place since the deal. In addition to sorting out who will step into Russell's and McKinney's shoes, many members of the A's latest draft class are beginning to make their mark as well. And one of the team's top draft picks from last year, LHP Dillon Overton, has also been opening some eyes in the desert as he returns from Tommy John surgery. You can keep tabs on all the A's top prospects and minor league teams on my Athletics Farm site and get lots more details on all the latest down on the farm right here on Athletics Nation...
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS:
Straily Out, Lindblom DL'd & A Bullpen In Flux
With RHP Dan Straily's departure in the deal with the Cubs, the River Cats lost the team's best starter. In addition, RHP Josh Lindblom was added to the disabled list on Sunday. So Sacramento was forced to call on emergency starters on both Saturday and Sunday. RHP Tim Atherton was called up from Stockton to make Saturday's start, while RHP Drew Granier was flown in from Midland to make Sunday's start. Neither fared well. The pair combined to surrender 13 runs in just 5 combined innings of work, but both should be headed back to their previous teams as soon as LHP Tommy Milone and possibly someone else like Jeff Francis, Brad Mills or Drew Pomeranz are ready to go. Three other members of the River Cats rotation remain - RHPs Arnold Leon, Matt Buschmann and Zach Neal. Sacramento's bullpen has also been shaken up recently too. With LHP Eric O'Flaherty's elevation to Oakland and some bullpen-draining extra-innings action at Raley Field, RHP Austin House was brought up the road from Stockton. RHPs Tucker Healy and Seth Frankoff were also promoted from the RockHounds, while under-achieving RHPs Deryk Hooker and Jose Flores were shipped out to Midland, and LHP Jeff Urlaub recently underwent season-ending surgery for bone chips. One River Cats player who might not have expected to be affected by the Cubs trade was Sacramento outfielder Nick Buss but, as it turns out, he was. Buss was designated for assignment to make room on the A's 40-man roster for RHP Jeff Samardzija, leaving the River Cats with only two legitimate outfielders - Shane Peterson and recent arrival Josh Whitaker, who was promoted from Midland. Various infielders have been filling in in left field of late. But if Buss doesn't clear waivers and return, then it could possibly open the door for Billy Burns.
Russell's Departure Leaves Burns & Muncy as Top Prospects at Midland
The big loss for Midland this week was everyone's favorite 20-year-old shortstop, Addison Russell, leaving the team with few top prospects beyond outfielder Billy Burns and first baseman Max Muncy. With Russell's departure, Dusty Coleman has returned to playing shortstop every day, while Hiro Nakajima has remained as the team's primary second baseman. The question that remains though is whether or not the organization's new top shortstop prospect, Daniel Robertson, will be making an appearance at Midland before long. Outfielder Kent Matthes returned from the disabled list this week, while infielder Miles Head was removed from the RockHounds roster. Head isn't listed on any team's official roster at this point and no official announcement has been made regarding his status, but I've been told that he arrived at the A's camp in Arizona on Sunday. Midland RHP Drew Granier made his Triple-A debut for Sacramento on Sunday, but he's expected to return to the RockHounds rotation later this week, where he'll rejoin RHPs Chris Jensen, Shawn Haviland, Nate Long and Sean Murphy - who struck out 9 in 7 scoreless innings this week. And the Hounds lost two of the team's best relievers this week when RHPs Tucker Healy and Seth Frankoff were promoted to Sacramento.
With McKinney Gone, Powell Steps In and Robertson Becomes Top SS Prospect
Stockton may be stocked with top prospects, but it lost one of its youngest this week when center fielder Billy McKinney was sent to the Cubs. Fortunately, the team had another hot, young center fielder in waiting, since Midwest League All-Star Game MVP Herschel "Boog" Powell had just recently joined the Ports. With McKinney's departure, Powell will step right into his spot in center field. And in his first 11 games with the Ports, Powell has already posted an impressive .396/.463/.500 slash line. Stockton shortstop Daniel Robertson is probably the biggest beneficiary of Russell's departure, as Robertson now becomes the organization's top shortstop prospect and all the talk of him having to move off of shortstop will now come to an abrupt end. And with Russell and McKinney now out of the equation, many Stockton players like Robertson, Matt Olson, Renato Nunez, Chad Pinder, Bruce Maxwell and Seth Streich all move up much closer to the top of the A's prospect list. Pinder was placed on the disabled list this week with a mild ankle sprain and, along with McKinney's departure, that's left the Ports playing with just 10 position players the past few days. If the A's decide to promote someone to take McKinney's spot on the Stockton roster, outfielder Jaycob Brugman has been Beloit's best hitter since Powell's promotion. The Ports pitching staff has also been a little short-handed with RHP Tim Atherton getting called up to Sacramento to make the start in place of Dan Straily and RHP Austin House also helping to flesh out the River Cats' depleted bullpen. Stockton's bullpen took another hit when Jeremy Barfield decided to abandon his experiment with pitching and headed to Arizona to start working on playing the outfield and swinging the bat again. RHP Andres Avila was promoted from Beloit this week to help fill out the Ports pen. RHP Seth Streich continues to be the one solid staple of the Ports pitching staff, while RHP Jake Sanchez has looked good in his first few starts with Stockton, and RHP Yeiper Castillo hasn't.
Brugman Beloit's Best Bat as Snappers Snap 10-Game Losing Streak
With Billy McKinney's departure from the organization, outfielder Jaycob Brugman, who's been Beloit's best hitter since Herschel Powell's promotion, could be poised to benefit from an opening in Stockton's outfield. Unfortunately, B.J. Boyd so far has not been playing up to par for Beloit. And 1st-round draft pick Matt Chapman has posted a .205/.271/.318 slash line in his first 12 games in the Midwest League. The Snappers lost one of their best relievers this week when RHP Andres Avila was promoted to Stockton. But the team did get some fresh bullpen additions when RHP Bobby Wahl and LHP Matt Stalcup were shifted to the pen and 11th-round draft pick Joel Seddon and 22nd-rounder Brendan McCurry were both promoted to Beloit. RHP Dylan Covey returned from the disabled list this weekend, while the team's best starter, RHP Kyle Finnegan, has struggled a bit lately, allowing 9 runs on 16 hits over his last 10 innings. But the good news is that Beloit finally snapped a 10-game losing streak on Saturday!
VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS:
Top Draft Picks Arriving In Vermont
A number of this year's top draft picks are starting to make their mark at Vermont. RHP Daniel Gossett (#2) earned his first pro win for the Lake Monsters this week, as did RHP Corey Walter (#28), while RHP Corey Miller (#10) made his first start and RHP Koby Gauna (#20) made his first appearance for Vermont this weekend. Walter was particularly sharp, allowing just 1 baserunner in 3 scoreless innings. With their arrival, LHPs Victor Veliz and Kevin Ferreras were sent back to the warmer climes of Arizona. As for position players, 2B-3B Max Kuhn (#13) and 1B John Nogowski (#34) both joined Vermont this week, while 3B Jose Brizuela (#16) arrived the week before. Nogwoski's been the standout thus far, going 7 for 12 with a pair of walks and a pair of doubles in his first 4 games. But outfielder Justin Higley has been Vermont's big bat for most of the season, posting a .291/.340/.581 slash line in 23 games for the Lake Monsters.
Overton Opening Eyes In Return From Tommy John Surgery
The big star this week in Arizona was the A's 2nd-round draft pick in 2013, LHP Dillon Overton, who seems to be making a successful recovery from Tommy John surgery. Overton allowed just 1 hit while walking none and striking out 8 over 3 innings of work on Sunday, and he's yet to issue a walk while striking out 17 in his first 9 innings back on the bump in Arizona. The 6-foot-2 left-hander has been throwing all his pitches, with a particularly impressive changeup, while his fastball has touched 90 mph on the gun. The other pitching standout has been 17-year old Venezuelan RHP Jesus Zambrano, who has now struck out 23 while walking just 4 over 21 innings. Also of note, this year's 29th-round draft pick, LHP Cody Stull, has allowed just 3 hits while striking out 13 in 7 innings of work. Korean catcher Seongmin Kim continues to be the team's top hitter, putting up a .476/.593/.905 slash line in the early going, while 18-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Edwin Diaz has continued to hit well, posting a .353/.425/.529 line. And this year's 27th-round pick, center fielder J.P. Sportman, has been swinging a hot bat of late, going 11 for 23 this week.
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.