With just one week left in the minor league season, it's time to take a look at some of the top stories for each affiliate as well as where he each team stacks up as we head to the finish line and possible post-season play! 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
As of Sunday night, the River Cats held a slim one-game division lead over rival Reno as they head into the final week of the season. Outfielder Shane Peterson has been doing most of the damage for a weakened River Cats offense of late. Unfortunately, fellow outfielder Billy Burns has been providing little help. Burns is batting .136 (11 for 81) with no extra-base hits and just 2 stolen bases in his first 21 games at AAA. It didn't help when the team lost shortstop Andy Parrino with his promotion to the A's. But infielder Tyler Ladendorf returned from his 50-game suspension this week and hit .300 in his first 5 games back. First baseman Kyle Blanks, who had been hitting well during his rehab assignment with the River Cats, has been out of action due to foot and lower leg pain and was just transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Sunday. Catcher Bryan Anderson, acquired from Cincinnati on Sunday, is expected to join Sacramento soon. Meanwhile, Drew Pomeranz had his first rough start for the River Cats this week, but overall he's been pitching well, posting a 3.69 ERA while striking out 54 in 46 1/3 innings. After enduring a couple of disastrous starts, RHP Deck McGuire allowed just 1 run over 6 2/3 innings this week, while recent arrival Angel Castro surrendered 6 runs in each of his two starts for Sacramento this week.
With a week left in the season, Midland's magic number is now two to clinch a playoff berth in the Texas League. Shortstop Dusty Coleman had a huge game on Friday, hitting two home runs, including a grand slam, but he also leads the team in strikeouts with a whopping 190. Center fielder Kenny Wilson has been hitting well since his demotion from Sacramento, going 30 for 81 over his first 20 games. Infielder Hiro Nakajima now has a slash line of .264/.342/.362 for the RockHounds, while catcher Bruce Maxwell is hitting just .164 since joining Midland. Chris Jensen and Nate Long continue to lead the RockHounds starting rotation with ERAs of 3.17 and 3.25 respectively. Meanwhile, RHP Sean Murphy has returned to the A's facility in Arizona with a sore elbow, while RHP Murphy Smith has taken his place in the RockHounds rotation.
After Sunday's games, Stockton's magic number to clinch their second-half division title is now down to just one. First baseman Matt Olson, third baseman Renato Nunez, starting pitcher Seth Streich, manager Ryan Christenson and pitching coach John Wasdin were all named to the California League postseason All-Star team this week. But the team's hottest hitter in the month of August has probably been outfielder Jaycob Brugman who, at one point, hit 10 home runs over an 11-game span. Fellow outfielder Tyler Marincov, who was promoted from Beloit earlier this month, has put up an impressive .351/.419/.486 slash line over his first 10 games at Stockton. Meanwhile, LHP Chris Lamb turned in a stunning performance for the Ports on Sunday, striking out 17 batters over 7 innings while still taking the loss, thanks to a a home run in the first inning. At one point, Lamb struck out 10 straight batters to tie a California League record, and he also recorded his last 14 outs all on strikeouts. RHP Dylan Covey turned in his first solid start for Stockton this week, earning the win after allowing 3 runs and striking out 7 in 6 innings of work. His ERA after 6 starts with the Ports though still stands at 7.45.
The Snappers remain stuck in last place headed into the final week of the season. With the departures of their best-hitting outfielders (Herschel Powell, Jaycob Brugman and Tyler Marincov) to Stockton, first baseman Michael Soto and outfielder Ryan Mathews have been providing what little offense still exists for the Snappers. 1st-round draft pick Matt Chapman had a huge game on Friday, hitting a grand slam, a double and driving in 6 runs, and the third baseman now has a .238/.277/.402 slash line for the Snappers. Outfielder B.J. Boyd is batting just .223 with 6 home runs on the season, while former 3rd-round draft pick B.A. Vollmuth was released last month. Meanwhile, RHP Lee Sosa returned to the Beloit bullpen from Vermont. And Beloit's best starter of late has been LHP Matt Stalcup, who allowed just 1 run while striking out 14 over 14 innings of work this week. In the bullpen, the big news has been RHP Brendan McCurry, who's allowed just 1 run while striking out 31 over 24 1/3 innings of relief for the Snappers.
VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS
The Lake Monsters remain mired in last place heading into the final week of the season. Outfielder J.P. Sportman continues to wield the big bat in Vermont with his .348/.375/.500 slash line over his first 30 games for the Lake Monsters. 19-year-old shortstop Yairo Munoz has also been a standout. He recently appeared in the NY-Penn League All-Star game and is currently hitting an even .300. Outfielder Brett Vertigan's season ended prematurely when he was sent home early with a rib injury. LHP Dillon Overton has been the big story on the mound since arriving in Vermont. And last year's 2nd-round draft pick has now allowed just 2 runs while walking 1 and striking out 16 in his first 12 innings for the Lake Monsters. This year's 2nd-round pick, RHP Daniel Gossett, has struck out 20 over 22 innings of work while posting a 2.45 ERA for Vermont.
Catcher Luke Montz has been back in action in Arizona. He's now gotten into 9 games in the last 15 days playing as both a designated hitter and a catcher, and he's now 6 for 24 with 2 doubles and a home run for the AZL A's. RHP Tanner Peters, who's been out with shoulder issues since April, has been getting back on the mound and had his best outing yet on Saturday, allowing just 1 hit while walking none and striking out 3 in 2 scoreless innings of work for the A's. Meanwhile RHPs Carlos Navas and Jesus Zambrano have been the real standouts on the mound. Navas has struck out 56 while walking 19 over 65 innings, and Zambrano has struck out 56 while walking just 16 in 64 1/3 innings of work for the A's.
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.