The Double-A Midland RockHounds feature the Oakland A's two most exciting hitting prospects, and both of them got going last weekend after slow starts to the season. Third baseman Matt Chapman homered twice on Sunday as part of a 3-for-5 day that also included a double and five RBI. Shortstop Franklin Barreto went 2-for-4 with a double on Saturday, and then followed that up by going 2-for-4 with a dinger of his own on Sunday. The long ball was Barreto's first of the year.
For anyone worried about Barreto's .182 average in the early going, remember that he hit only .171/.205/.243 in 19 games for High-A Stockton last April before catching fire in May and shredding the league for the rest of the year. There is still plenty of time for the 20-year-old to make his adjustments and get hot once more. One area for improvement is his plate discipline (1 BB, 12 Ks) -- he doesn't need to walk a lot to succeed, but he'll need to cut down on the strikeouts. Meanwhile, Chapman now leads the team with three homers and seems to be settling into Double-A nicely. Pitchers are clearly being careful with him, given that his eight walks rank second in the entire Texas League.
As for the team as a whole, there was a good day and a bad day. The bad day came on Saturday, when pitchers Sam Bragg and Joel Seddon combined to give up a dozen runs in a 15-1 defeat. Technically that's an improvement from their last outing, when they combined to allow 16 runs in a 16-2 loss. But these two hurlers have been the definition of ineffective so far, which is a bummer since they are a couple of my favorite sleepers in the system. Bragg faced seven batters in this game and didn't retire a single one as ... you know what, nah, let's move on to the next game.
On Sunday, the lineup put on a power display between Chapman, Barreto, and another homer by Jaycob Brugman. But with the score tied in the bottom of the 9th, it was Ryon Healy who took care of business. After Brugman led off the frame with a single, Healy doubled into the LF corner to drive in the winning run. It was Healy's second walk-off hit in three days, after his homer sealed the victory on Friday.
Key hitting prospects: Season numbers
Matt Chapman: .219/.390/.563, 3 HR, 8 BB, 12 Ks (41 PAs)
Franklin Barreto: .182/.206/.303, 1 HR, 1 BB, 12 Ks, 2 SB (34 PAs)
Ryon Healy: .316/.409/.579, 2 HR, 6 BB, 8 Ks, 11 RBI (44 PAs)
Jaycob Brugman: .250/.368/.469, 2 HR, 5 BB, 6 Ks, 2 SB (38 PAs)
Healy and Brugman are off to the kinds of strong starts you'd like to see from guys who are repeating the level they succeeded at last year. Both are currently blocked from Triple-A due to the packed depth charts above them, which is a bummer for them but a good problem for the A's.
On the pitching side, beyond Bragg (29.08 ERA) and Seddon (17.55 ERA), Dylan Covey got knocked around a bit for the second time in as many games. To be fair, though, he would have made it through five innings this time (and with only two runs in) had his defense not booted what would have been the last out of of the 5th. This was a sad paragraph to end on so here's a video of Barreto's homer to wrap up Midland's section:
Triple-A Nashville Sounds
The Sounds only played one game last weekend, as they were rained out on Sunday (will be made up as a doubleheader on June 9). However, that one game had a lot to offer.
Sean Manaea drew the start for Nashville and didn't disappoint. The big lefty struck out 11 batters in 6⅔ innings, allowing just a single run on a solo homer in the team's 5-1 victory. He's put up monster numbers so far in his first two Triple-A outings, and if he keeps pitching like this then he could be knocking on Oakland's door sooner than later.
As for the lineup, Renato Nunez homered for the second straight game and now leads the team with an .890 OPS. Joey Wendle also homered, though his overall numbers are still lagging behind in the early going (.423 OPS).
Key prospects: Season numbers
Renato Nunez: .303/.314/.576, 2 HR, 1 BB, 5 Ks (35 PAs)
Matt Olson: .148/.324/.333, 1 HR, 7 BB, 10 Ks (34 PAs)
Rangel Ravelo: .259/.333/.296, 0 HR, 3 BB, 4 Ks (30 PAs)
Chad Pinder: .200/.222/.257, 0 HR, 1 BB, 12 Ks (36 PAs)
Joey Wendle: .135/.179/.243, 1 HR, 2 BB, 8 Ks (39 PAs)
Pitchers: Two starts each
Sean Manaea: 1.50 ERA, 12 ip, 17 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR
Jesse Hahn: 0.00 ERA, 12 ip, 11 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR
Dillon Overton: 4.00 ERA, 9 ip, 10 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR
Interesting note: With the Sunday rainout pushing back Nashville's rotation by one day, and the A's moving up Eric Surkamp by one day in their own rotation (to separate him from fellow lefty Rich Hill), Surkamp and Jesse Hahn are now lined up to pitch on the same day (Tues., April 19). Most interesting, considering that Hahn is a prime candidate to slide into Surkamp's fifth starter role ... any day now, really.
High-A Stockton Ports
The Ports got starts from two of their more promising pitchers this weekend, with mixed results. Right-hander Casey Meisner struggled through four innings on Saturday (4 ip, 3 run, 2 Ks, 4 BB, HR), but lefty Zack Erwin overcame a shaky 1st inning to toss six quality frames on Sunday (6 ip, 1 run, 2 Ks, 2 BB). Lefty swingman Matt Stalcup, who pitched well for the Ports last year, returned from injury to make his season debut in relief on Sunday. Unfortunately, reliever Ben Bracewell blew the save on Sunday, and the righty has now allowed seven runs in his last two outings combined.
Stockton's lineup is still being carried by outfielders Tyler Marincov and James Harris. Both of them collected a pair of singles in Saturday's victory, and on Sunday Marincov homered while Harris added a double and a stolen base. It's nice that someone is hitting for the Ports, but it would be even nicer to see a few of the more exciting prospects get going -- like Mikey White (.478 OPS), Seth Brown (.516 OPS), and Sandber Pimentel (.430 OPS).
Key pitching prospects: Season numbers, in two starts each
Daniel Gossett: 2.25 ERA, 12 ip, 13 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR
Heath Fillmyer: 1.64 ERA, 11 ip, 7 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR
Casey Meisner: 4.50 ERA, 10 ip, 6 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR
Zack Erwin: 0.93 ERA, 9⅔ ip, 8 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HR
Brett Graves: 9.35 ERA, 8⅔ ip, 7 Ks, 6 BB, 2 HR
Four members of Stockton's rotation are on our Community Prospect List Top 30, with only Graves missing out. That makes this a group to watch this year. In the bullpen, Bobby Wahl hasn't been sharp so far -- he's walked five of the 19 batters he's faced.
Single-A Beloit Snappers
The Snappers pitching staff stole the show over the weekend, and the team came out on the winning end of a 12-inning affair on Saturday and a 6-0 shutout on Sunday. Saturday saw another strong effort from 7th-round pick Kyle Friedrichs, and Dustin Driver chipped in three scoreless innings as well (still with a pair of walks though). Sunday featured a combined shutout by 14th-round pick Boomer Biegalski (5 ip, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits) and 27th-rounder Xavier Altamirano (4 ip, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 1 hit).
The hero on Saturday was 13th-rounder Brett Siddall, who reached base five times (4-for-5 with a walk) and notched the walk-off hit in the 12th. On Sunday, it was 8th-round pick Nick Collins, as the catcher knocked a pair of doubles and drove in three runs in the victory.
Key prospects: Season numbers
Chris Iriart: .359/.400/.667, 3 HR, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 11 RBI (45 PAs)
Skye Bolt: .343/.400/.400, 0 HR, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 SB (40 PAs)
Steven Pallares: .214/.353/.321, 1 HR, 6 BB, 3 Ks, SB (34 PAs)
Kyle Friedrichs: 3 games, 0.64 ERA, 14 ip, 10 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HR
Boomer Biegalski: 3 games, 2.70 ERA, 13⅓ ip, 11 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR
Dustin Driver: 3 games, 3.12 ERA, 8⅔ ip, 7 Ks, 8 BB, 0 HR
Also: Evan Manarino (0.96 ERA), Angel Duno (8 Ks. 0 BB), Jesus Zambrano (11.81 ERA)
The A's are off on Monday, but their minor league teams will all be in action.
Triple-A Nashville: 5:05 p.m. PT, Chris Smith vs. Oklahoma City
Double-A Midland: 4:30 p.m. PT, Chris Jensen vs. NW Arkansas
High-A Stockton: 6:00 p.m. PT, Daniel Gossett* vs. Visalia
Single-A Beloit: 4:30 p.m. PT, Evan Manarino vs. Kane County
* The Ports website says TBD, but Gossett is on turn to start and I expect he'll be the one taking the hill. If he does, then he becomes the pitcher to watch on Monday, as Smith and Jensen are both organizational filler. Manarino, last year's 25th-round pick, is also off to a good start for Beloit.