MESA, Ariz. -- Sean Manaea had an impressive outing in the Cactus League on Sunday, but it wasn't enough for the Oakland A's to overcome the White Sox in a 6-2 loss. Manaea struck out seven batters and walked two in 3⅔ innings of work, and allowed a pair of runs on a 1st-inning homer by Quadruple-A masher Jerry Sands. According to scouts I talked to, his fastball operated around 92-94 mph (one said he hit 95) with his slider living around 79-80 mph.
After the game, Manaea said that he made adjustments throughout the outing after trying to aim the ball in his rocky 1st inning. Said Manaea, "There was a lot of tiny adjustments that I made throughout the game and I was really happy with that. I was happy with how my slider turned out and how my changeup turned out ... and that's all I can really ask for. My fastball was there so I was just really happy overall with how things ended up." In particular, Manaea said he tinkered with the grip on his slider throughout the day. The homer by Sands came on a "fastball in that just didn't get in enough, it was more like right down the middle."
Manaea has now thrown 10⅓ innings this spring, allowing three runs with 15 strikeouts and five walks. The left-hander is easily the A's top pitching prospect and seems like a good bet to reach Oakland sometime this season, even though he's a long shot to make the team out of spring. The most likely scenario has him opening in Triple-A Nashville, as he has not yet pitched at that level.
Nothing doing on offense
The A's lineup was relatively quiet on Sunday, with the exception of the third basemen. Danny Valencia knocked in a run in the 1st inning with a deep drive to right field that landed for a triple; it missed clearing the fence by only a foot or two. It was the second straight day that Valencia notched a big hit against a right-hander, after his homer off Cincinnati's Tim Melville on Saturday.
In the 9th inning, third base prospect Matt Chapman (in the game as the DH) launched a rocket to right field off of reliever Phillippe Aumont that landed for a double. It was Chapman's fourth extra-base hit in 28 plate appearances this spring (the other three were homers). Between his powerful bat and the stellar defense he's shown at the hot corner, Chapman is getting a lot of attention this spring and the team is clearly interested in taking an even longer look at him -- he was not among the round of cuts that was made after the game, and he is now one of only seven non-roster invitees remaining in big league camp. He will most likely open the year in Double-A Midland after the A's get their extended look at him.
As for the rest of the lineup, Billy Butler drew a pair of walks and Matt Olson drove in the A's second run with a sharp single in the 2nd inning.
Marcus Semien drew the start at shortstop. He didn't quite look as awesome on defense as he did on Thursday, but that was due to his arm rather than his fielding. He inhaled every ball that came his way with his fluid footwork and sure glove, but his throws weren't quite as strong as they were in that game against the Mariners. In particular, he sailed one wide in the 4th that allowed Carlos Sanchez to reach on what was properly ruled an error; it was a routine play and Semien had time to get the out, though Matt Olson almost bailed him out by coming off the bag and making a nice swipe tag. Semien made a couple more weak throws that seemed to fade a bit before they reached their target, though they all got there well within acceptable range.
On the flip side, though, he nearly made a play out of the book of Andrelton Simmons, ranging way out onto the LF grass to field a grounder, making a jump-turn, and throwing all the way back to first base on the fly. The runner beat it out by half a step, but frankly it was impressive that Semien even made the play close. Overall, it was another encouraging day for him in the field.
Franklin Barreto also got a few innings at SS, and he made as decisive of a play as I've seen him make so far. Nothing out of the ordinary, just gobbled up a routine grounder and made the strongest throw I've seen from him yet. Also, Tyler Ladendorf (playing CF) recorded an outfield assist in the 9th by throwing out a runner at third base.
In one final random note, Kris Hall pitched the 9th for the A's. He's not a huge prospect, but for obvious reasons I am rooting for him to pan out and reach Oakland. He operated around 93-95 mph according to one scout, and although he allowed a few hits he did not give up any walks -- that's always nice to see, as control is his main issue. He is likely to begin the year in Triple-A Nashville.
Today was the last day for Jeremy Koo and I in Mesa, and we'll be heading toward home tonight. What a great experience the last four days! See you all back in the Bay Area.