Thursday brought a rather slow Oakland A's game that resulted in a ho-hum afternoon loss, but fortunately there was something else to focus on in the evening: minor league Opening Day! The A's have four full-season affiliates, and they were all in action for their first games of the season.
I don't plan to do any kind of daily roundup of the entire minors, though if you're interested in such a thing then you should check out Athletics Farm. But this being the first game of the year, I can't help but geek out a bit and see how everything played out. Here's a quick look at each game.
Triple-A: Nashville Sounds get shut out 5-0
The A's affiliates won three of their four games on Thursday, but this is the one in which they fell short. The starter was Chris Smith, who turns 35 tomorrow, so I'm not too worried that he got knocked around. However, I'm bummed to see the stacked lineup go down so easily. They managed only four singles, and on defense Chad Pinder made a pair of errors at short while Tyler Ladendorf committed a run-scoring miscue in center field. But still, any prospect watcher has got to love an order that includes Olson, Pinder, Nunez, Ravelo, Wendle, and Maxwell. As far as the bullpen is concerned, or at least the relievers I'm interested in, J.B. Wendelken and Tucker Healy both had scoreless outings. The Sounds will now welcome back outfielder Andrew Lambo, who was optioned by Oakland to make room for Eric Surkamp.
Nashville plays Friday at 4:35 p.m. PT. Jesse Hahn starts against Oklahoma City.
Double-A: Midland RockHounds open title defense with 7-2 victory
The Hounds have won back-to-back Texas League championships, and their quest for the three-peat began with a decisive victory. Jaycob Brugman launched a three-run homer in the 1st inning, and by the end of the 2nd they were up 6-0. Among the other noteworthy prospects, Ryon Healy and J.P. Sportman each doubled, and Healy added a pair of walks as well. In their Double-A debuts, Matt Chapman walked once in four trips and Franklin Barreto notched an RBI single. There weren't any youngsters on the pitching side, but Chris Jensen (from Colorado in the Brett Anderson trade) threw six strong innings and Ryan Doolittle struck out the side in his inning.
Midland plays Friday at 5:10 p.m., with a matchup of Alcantara vs. Alcantara. (That is, Raul vs. Victor of Arkansas.)
High-A: Stockton Ports wallop Modesto Nuts 13-2
The Ports feature one of the weaker lineups they've had in recent years, but you wouldn't know it based on their opening game. They scored two in the 1st, six in the 2nd, and three in the 3rd and then never looked back. The big hits included a homer by Tyler Marincov to open the scoring, and a triple by Mikey White to spark the 2nd-inning rally. Six Ports had multiple hits, including intriguing fringe guys like James Harris, B.J. Boyd, and Argenis Raga. On the pitching side, 2014 second-round pick Daniel Gossett was impressive in his High-A debut. He rolled through four scoreless innings before allowing a two-run homer in the 5th, and overall he struck out six against three walks.
Stockton plays Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Brett Graves starts against Modesto.
Single-A: Beloit Snappers hang on in 2-1 nailbiter
There's not as much to follow on the Snappers as there is on the other affiliates, but at least a couple of the noteworthy guys contributed in the opener. Beloit scored both its runs in the 2nd, partly thanks to the wildness of the opposing pitcher who issued a pair of bases-loaded walks. Skye Bolt reached base twice, including a leadoff single in that decisive 2nd-inning rally, and 2015 draftees Chris Iriart and Brett Siddall also reached base twice each. Another draftee from last summer, 7th-rounder Kyle Friedrichs, threw five shutout innings with six strikeouts and only one hit allowed. Dustin Driver walked the first two batters he faced, then retired nine of the next 10; his only run scored when the catcher threw the ball away on an attempted steal.
Beloit plays Friday at 4:30 p.m. PT. Boomer Biegalski starts against Wisconsin.
Since there are still a few hours to go until the A's play the Mariners, feel free to use this as a Game Thread for today's minor league action.