Sean Manaea opened some eyes in the Fall Stars game last weekend, and he dialed things up even further on Friday. The Oakland A's lefty produced his best outing yet in the Arizona Fall League, with season-highs of five innings and nine strikeouts. He needed only 65 pitches to mow down 15 of the 18 batters he faced, allowing just one run on two hits and a walk. In five AFL starts spanning 21 innings, he has now racked up 26 Ks and only five walks. There's not much left to say about him at this point; if you're not excited yet, then get excited.
Oakland also has three relievers playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, but their results were more mixed. Brendan McCurry had a big week, if you hadn't heard, as he pitched a pair of scoreless frames. Actually, "scoreless" doesn't really do his performance justice. He faced eight batters, and he struck out six of them, allowing only a double and a groundout. That's right, the guy who grounded out had the second-best result against McCurry this week. Jeremy F. Koo made a trip to Arizona and captured this curveball that you simply must see.
Next up is right-hander Kris Hall, who also pitched in two games this week but wasn't quite as sharp. On Monday he entered in a tie game, but with one out he allowed a triple and a double to plate the go-ahead run. Hall caught a break when the runner was nailed trying to stretch for a triple (by a relay from none other than fellow A's prospects Jaycob Brugman and Chad Pinder), but then the erratic hurler put himself right back in trouble with a walk and a HBP. Fortunately, he got out of the jam by striking out J.D. Davis (Astros No. 12 prospect).
That seems to sum Hall up pretty well -- he can get himself into trouble with poor control, but he can also get himself back out of it by missing bats. One Monday that combination earned him the loss, but on Thursday he again found himself in a tie game and this time he worked around his lone walk with a pair of Ks to notch a scoreless frame. He's now issued walks in five of his last six games, which I don't like, but at least most of those outings have been scoreless.
Finally, Jeff Urlaub also made a pair of appearances but wasn't impressive. The lefty isn't really a prospect at age 28, so I'm not sure if the A's see something in his future or if he's just there to log some innings after Aaron Kurcz left early. He got knocked around on Tuesday, and though he earned a save on Friday he also allowed a total of five hits over his two innings without striking out a single batter.
As for the position players, the big news is that Renato Nunez is going home a bit early.
The AFL only goes for one more week, so this doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Nunez played heavily in the early going and got into 17 games already, which is still among the league leaders even though he hasn't played since Tuesday. He got in his reps and he got his Fall Stars recognition and I'm not going to worry at all about this. If you're hungry for a dramatic theory, you could argue that he's being discussed in a trade and the A's didn't want him to get hurt in the meantime, but there's not any specific reason to expect that right now.
Meanwhile, Brugman showed some signs of life at the plate. In four starts, he reached base five times in 15 plate appearances, though he did also strike out five times. Pinder cooled off considerably in his four games this week, going 1-for-14 with two walks and five Ks. The overall season totals:
Nunez: 21-for-71, 4 HR, 2 2B, 4 BB, 14 Ks, .826 OPS
Pinder: 12-for-49, 4 HR, 2 2B, 3 BB, 13 Ks, .886 OPS
Brugman: 13-for-56, 2 2B, 2 3B, 6 BB, 18 Ks, .652 OPS
Manaea: 5 starts, 21 ip, 26 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HR, 4.71 ERA
McCurry: 10 games, 12 ip, 15 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 5.25 ERA
Hall: 10 games, 10⅔ ip, 11 Ks, 5 BB, 2 HR, 6.75 ERA
Urlaub: 3 games, 3 ip, 0 Ks, 0 BB, 6 hits, 3.00 ERA
Kurcz: 4 games, 4 ip, 6 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 11.25 ERA
Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP)
Rangel Ravelo is back! The first baseman played on Oct. 31, but after being hit by a pitch he started a brawl that resulted in a dislocated finger and a suspension. He returned on Tuesday, though, and while he's not as hot as he was before he is still getting on base. He singled and walked Tuesday, did so again on Thursday, and picked up an RBI single on Friday. His Cardenales de Lara team is in the middle of another game as I write this, and he walked in his first trip to the plate. I'm not sure if it means anything, but I like what Ravelo has done in his first at-bat in each game since returning:
- RBI single
- RBI single
He's not blasting more homers yet, but he's certainly getting each contest started on the right foot.
Over on the Aguilas del Zulia, Franklin Barreto made three starts -- all in center field. That makes five straight starts in CF for Barreto, so perhaps that sheds some light on Oakland's plans for him in 2016 (or at least their hopes, assuming this is just a trial run). It's a bummer that shortstop seems to be fading out of the plans for him, but that was always expected and at least there's still hope that he will settle in at an up-the-middle position (and if you're worried about being blocked by Billy Burns, remember that Burns isn't actually that great of a CF and might actually be best cast in LF). At the plate, he went 2-for-11 in those three games, with a pair of RBI and a pair of Ks.
On the pitching side, the developing story continues to be 19-year-old Jesus Zambrano. The right-hander appears to have become a late addition to the rotation of Navegantes del Magallanes, and after tossing five scoreless innings against Caracas on Nov. 6 he followed it up by ... tossing five more scoreless innings against Caracas on Friday. Just as before, he struck out a pair and walked a pair, but this time he allowed only one hit in his 69-pitch outing. Consider me officially intrigued by Zambrano, who came out of nowhere to make starts for Triple-A Nashville at the end of the season and is now emerging in the LVBP.
Note that, while the AFL is wrapping up next week, the LVBP goes through the end of December. Here are the overall numbers:
Ravelo: 29-for-63, 5 HR, 5 2B, 23 BB, 9 Ks, 1.371 OPS
Barreto: 11-for-69, 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 BB, 16 Ks, .471 OPS
Chad Oberacker: 2-for-15, 2 2B, 2 BB, 4 Ks, .544 OPS
* Lara and Zulia are both mid-game (against each other, in fact) at the time of this writing. Ravelo and Oberacker are both starting, and Barreto has entered as a pinch-hitter. Their stats above do not include today's game.
Zambrano: 4 games, 15⅔ ip, 5 Ks, 6 BB, 1 HR, 1.72 ERA
Jose Torres: 8 games, 4⅔ ip, 5 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HR, 5.79 ERA
In other news, Max Muncy still hasn't played in the Mexican Pacific League since Oct. 17 due to some sort of injury to his midsection. Here's the Ravelo bat flip to keep you warm until our next update.
Rangel Ravelo's ready for the show pic.twitter.com/iHNcNv6TjU— richard gere (@Bulbastroyed43) November 7, 2015