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Dillon Overton and the Triple-A Nashville Sounds are heating up

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Overton entered the 2016 season with high expectations. The left-handed pitcher ranked No. 10 on our preseason Community Prospect List and earned a ticket to Triple-A to begin the year, allowing Athletics Nation to dream about the possibility of seeing him in Oakland at some point this summer. He started the campaign with two decent but shaky outings for the Nashville Sounds, but on Wednesday he delivered his first gem of the year by tossing seven innings against Colorado Springs. His final line: 7 ip, 1 run, 5 Ks, 0 walks, 5 hits, 94 pitches.

Nashville's week was interrupted when Tuesday's game was postponed due to wet conditions, so after their normal game on Monday they played a pair of abbreviated seven-inning contests as part of a makeup doubleheader on Wednesday. Therefore, Overton's effort was technically a complete game.

The Sounds offense was also off to a slow start to the season, but they showed signs of life by banging out 29 hits over their 23 innings of action so far this week. On Monday they racked up a dozen hits, though they ended up with only two runs to show for it in a 6-2 loss. On Wednesday, they only managed four runs on six hits in the opener (5-4 loss) but scored eight times on 11 hits in Overton's nightcap (8-1 victory).

Chad Pinder led the way with a three-hit game on Monday, a double in the Wednesday opener, and a homer and a double in the finale. Overall this week, he's gone 6-for-13 with those three extra-base hits. Other key performances from top prospects included a homer by Joey Wendle in the Wed. finale, his second long ball in four games; a 3-for-4 performance by Renato Nunez in the same game, though he made a fielding error at third base in each of his two starts this week; and a fine Wed. morning effort by Rangel Ravelo, including a double, a walk, and a sac fly.

Key hitting prospects: Season numbers

Renato Nunez: .317/.326/.537, 2 HR, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 4 errors (43 PAs)
Chad Pinder: .271/.286/.417, 1 HR, 1 BB, 15 Ks, 3 errors (49 PAs)
Rangel Ravelo: .281/.351/.344, 0 HR, 4 BB, 6 Ks (37 PAs)
Matt Olson: .143/.311/.286, 1 HR, 9 BB, 14 Ks (45 PAs)
Joey Wendle: .146/.180/.292, 2 HR, 2 BB, 11 Ks (50 PAs)

It's nice to see Pinder getting hot, but it would be even nicer if he would stop striking out in over 30% of his plate appearances. Still waiting for Olson to break out, but at least he's still drawing his walks in the meantime. Renato and Pinder continue to show signs that they may not stick at their defensive positions (3B and SS, respectively). As far as the MLB-ready depth guys go, none of Tyler Ladendorf, Jake Smolinski, Andrew Lambo or Max Muncy have OPS marks above .650 at the moment.

Key pitching prospects: Season numbers

Dillon Overton: 3 starts, 2.81 ERA, 16 ip,  15 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR
Sean Manaea: 2 starts, 1.50 ERA, 12 ip, 17 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR

Tucker Healy: 5 games, 0.00 ERA, 6 ip, 10 Ks, 3 BB
J.B. Wendelken: 4 games, 1.69 ERA, 5⅓ ip, 8 Ks, 1 BB
Daniel Coulombe: 4 games, 1.50 ERA, 6 ip, 8 Ks, 1 BB
Patrick Schuster: 4 games, 0.00 ERA, 5 ip, 8 Ks, 1 BB

Other than Overton's start, there's not much to report on the pitching front. Jesse Hahn made a brief appearance, and you can read more about that here. Tucker Healy continues to be the standout of the bullpen, though there are several intriguing names to pick from whenever a replacement is eventually needed in Oakland. Angel Castro is still just the worst.

Double-A Midland RockHounds

The Hounds have only played two games this week, as they had an off-day on Wednesday. They scratched out one-run victories on both Monday (4-3) and Tuesday (5-4) and are now 7-5 on the season, the best mark among the four A's affiliates. In transaction news, Midland added reliever Bobby Wahl to their roster; the right-hander had opened in High-A Stockton after missing much of 2015 due to injury.

Monday's game was fairly nondescript, though the key youngsters did play their roles. Matt Chapman knocked in a run, Jaycob Brugman singled in the game-winner in the 7th, and Franklin Barreto notched a hit and a steal. Reliever Trey Cochran-Gill tossed two more scoreless innings of relief.

Tuesday's game was a bit wilder. Raul Alcantara wasn't great in his start (5 ip, 4 runs, 4 Ks, 4 BB, 2 HR), but Wahl had a successful debut in relief (1 ip, 2 Ks, 0 walks). On offense, the Hounds got some help when the opponent gifted them two runs in a sloppy 6th inning, but they also pounded out 11 hits of their own. In particular, Brugman and Ryon Healy each picked up a pair of singles, while Chapman singled, walked, and stole a base. Barreto moved up to the leadoff spot for the first time, but he responded by going 0-for-5. The game-winner was scored on a walk-off walk by catcher Carson Blair (set up by a single from Bruggy, a double from Healy, and an intentional walk to Chapman to load the bases).

Key hitting prospects: Season numbers

Matt Chapman: .231/.400/.513, 3 HR, 9 BB, 13 Ks, 2 SB (50 PAs)
Ryon Healy: .298/.377/.532, 2 HR, 6 BB, 10 Ks (53 PAs)
Jaycob Brugman: .268/.362/.439, 2 HR, 5 BB, 8 Ks, 2 SB (47 PAs)
Franklin Barreto: .167/.186/.262, 1 HR, 1 BB, 14 Ks, 3 SB (43 PAs)

Not much new going on here. Healy and Bruggy continue to be the consistent leaders of the offense, which is exactly what you want to see out of guys who are repeating Double-A. Chapman has the best overall numbers thanks to one enormous game, but he's also starting to contribute consistently as well. Barreto is still waiting to get going, but don't worry for one second about the 20-year-old. He'll come around.

Key pitching prospects: Season numbers

Raul Alcantara: 3 starts, 5.14 ERA, 14 ip, 16 Ks, 8 BB, 2 HR
Daniel Mengden: 2 starts, 0.00 ERA, 12 ip, 16 Ks, 6 BB, 4 hits
Dylan Covey: 2 starts, 4.15 ERA, 8⅔ ip, 9 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR

Trey Cochran-Gill: 4 games, 0.00 ERA, 8 ip, 8 Ks, 0 BB
Corey Walter: 4 games, 2.45 ERA, 7⅓ ip, 9 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR
Bobby Wahl: 1 game, 0.00 ERA, 1 ip, 2 Ks, 0 BB

The high walk rates of Alcantara and Covey are discouraging, and I continue to see both of them as guys who are good bets to end up in the bullpen when all is said and done (but that said, no reason not to let them keep starting in Midland for now). Cochran-Gill has been lights-out in the early going.

High-A Stockton Ports

The Ports had an odd almost-symmetry to their series against Visalia. On Monday they lost a close one 5-4, on Tuesday they won a blowout 15-2, and on Wednesday they mirrored their previous loss with a 5-4 victory.

The story on Monday was pitcher Daniel Gossett, who spun yet another dominant start before his bullpen blew the save. Gossett only managed five innings on 84 pitches, but he struck out nine batters against just one walk; he now has 22 Ks in 17 frames this year.

Tuesday brought Brett Graves to the mound, and he responded with his best start yet on the young season (6 ip, 2 runs, 5 Ks, 2 BB, 8 hits). Meanwhile, the Ports racked up 16 hits, including four from James Harris and two (plus a walk) by Sandber Pimentel. On the downside, sleeper favorite Seth Brown went 0-for-5 amid the slaughter and has just a .460 OPS so far.

Wednesday began with a three-inning rehab outing by Henderson Alvarez (read more here), but then finished with six strong innings from Heath Fillmyer (3 runs, 2 ER, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 8 hits). Mikey White was the man on offense with a 3-for-4 day including two RBI doubles.

Key hitting prospects: Season numbers

James Harris: .361/.403/.541, 1 HR, 4 BB, 10 Ks, 4 SB (67 PAs)
Mikey White: .227/.320/.341, 0 HR, 5 BB, 11 Ks (50 PAs)
Sandber Pimentel: .185/.353/.259, 0 HR, 5 BB, 12 Ks (34 PAs)
Seth Brown: .152/.264/.196, 0 HR, 7 BB, 10 Ks (53 PAs)

There's not a lot to see in Stockton's lineup, especially with 2015 draftees White and Brown off to slow starts and Pimentel yet to flash his power. Fortunately, Harris has emerged as a guy to watch at the top of the order -- he's doing everything from making contact to getting on base to piling up extra-base hits to stealing bags. He's officially on my radar for the time being.

Key pitching prospects: Season numbers

Daniel Gossett: 3 starts, 2.12 ERA, 17 ip, 22 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR
Heath Fillmyer: 3 games, 2.12 ERA, 17 ip, 9 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR
Brett Graves: 3 starts, 6.75 ERA, 14⅔ ip, 12 Ks, 8 BB, 2 HR
Casey Meisner: 2 starts, 4.50 ERA, 12 ip, 6 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR
Zack Erwin: 2 starts, 0.93 ERA, 9⅔ ip, 8 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HR

If Gossett keeps pitching like this then we can bet on seeing him in Midland at some point this summer.

Single-A Beloit Snappers

The Snappers dropped two of three to Kane County this week, but the key prospects had good performances.

Monday's game was the victory, with 13th-round pick Brett Siddall once again serving as the key bat. The Canadian outfielder went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBI, capping off a three-day stretch (Sat-Mon) in which he went 8-for-12 with two walks and five RBI. Skye Bolt also went 2-for-4, with a double, RBI, walk, and a stolen base. On the pitching side, Beloit got four scoreless innings from each of 25th-rounder Evan Manarino (3 Ks, 0 BB, 2 hits) and 20th-rounder James Naile (5 Ks, 0 BB, 2 hits).

The Snappers were shut out on Tuesday and only managed two hits, a double by Siddall and a single by Bolt. They once again got four solid innings from each of two pitchers, this time Angel Duno (2 runs, 5 Ks, 0 BB) and Jesus Zambrano (1 run, 2 Ks, 0 BB). Bolt, playing in CF, also threw out a runner at home plate.

Wednesday saw another weak effort from 21-year-old Dustin Driver (2⅓ ip, 3 runs, 0 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 5 hits). On the bright side, 7th-rounder Kyle Friedrichs chipped in another good outing, this time in relief (3⅔ ip, 1 run, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HR, 3 hits). The key hitters were quiet at the plate, though 12th-rounder Chris Iriart went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Key hitting prospects: Season numbers

Chris Iriart: .326/.396/.587, 3 HR, 4 BB, 10 Ks (53 PAs)
Brett Siddall: .326/.388/.419, 0 HR, 4 BB, 8 Ks (49 PAs)
Skye Bolt: .326/.396/.391, 4 BB, 10 Ks, 3 SB (53 PAs)
Steven Pallares: .184/.340/.263, 1 HR, 9 BB, 6 Ks, 2 SB (47 PAs)

These are four of last year's draft picks (Bolt 4th, Pallares 10th, Iriart 12th, Siddall 13th), so it's nice to see them leading the team. Still hoping to see breakouts from catcher Nick Collins (8th round) or young infielders Trace Loehr or Jesus Lopez.

Key pitching prospects: Season numbers

Kyle Friedrichs: 4 games, 1.02 ERA, 17⅔ ip, 13 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR
Boomer Biegalski: 3 games, 2.70 ERA, 13⅓ ip, 11 Ks, 5 BB, 1 HR
Evan Manarino: 3 games, 0.68 ERA, 13⅓ ip, 12 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR
Angel Duno: 3 games, 2.77 ERA, 13 ip, 13 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HR
James Naile: 3 games, 4.15 ERA, 13 ip, 13 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR
Dustin Driver: 4 games, 4.91 ERA, 11 ip, 7 Ks, 12 BB, 1 HR

None of these names are among the top pitchers in the system, but there are some interesting sleepers in this group. Which of them will continue their currently strong performances? And will Driver ever figure out how to control his stuff?

Thursday's games

All four teams are playing on Thursday.

Triple-A Nashville: 5:35 p.m., Zach Neal vs. Colorado Springs
Double-A Midland: 5:05 p.m., Daniel Mengden vs. San Antonio
High-A Stockton: 7:10 p.m., Casey Meisner vs. Inland Empire
Single-A Beloit: 4:30 p.m., Xavier Altamirano vs. Burlington

Keys for the day include the next start by the red-hot Mengden, as well as Meisner searching for the command that has eluded him so far this year. I think there's a decent chance we could see Biegalski as the piggyback reliever behind Altamirano, as those two have pitched on the same days each time out.