Right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett was promoted to the Double-A Midland RockHounds on Sunday, and three days later he is set to make his debut for the team. The 23-year-old is starting on Wednesday (today) against the Springfield Cardinals.
The upward move came quickly for Gossett, but not without merit. He made nine starts for the High-A Stockton Ports and looked great for the most part, although his season was briefly interrupted by a minor trapezius injury. In particular, his strikeout rate has increased dramatically from last year in Single-A; he was fanning 10 batters per nine innings and four per walk this year in High-A. His overall numbers:
Gossett, High-A: 9 starts, 3.33 ERA, 46 ip, 53 Ks, 13 BB, 4 HR
Granted, those stats are good but not dominant, and indeed Gossett's promotion at this exact moment is probably not due entirely to his own performance. Oakland's starting pitching depth has been tested up and down the system. The big league club has already lost Bassitt and Doubront, with Sonny currently on the shelf too. That has forced them to lean heavily on Triple-A Nashville's rotation, including the permanent promotion of Sean Manaea and some fill-in work by Eric Surkamp and Zach Neal. That meant Nashville needed some help, so they quickly called on Double-A standout Daniel Mengden.
Down in Midland, in addition to losing Mengden, the Hounds have also lost Dylan Covey to an oblique injury and watched as Joel Seddon and Sam Bragg have been crushed. The teams in the upper minors finally ran out of backup plans on their own rosters, like relievers Angel Castro (AAA) and Corey Walter (AA) moving into rotations, and it was time to dip down for more serious help. Every time something happens at the top of the ladder, the effects eventually trickle down to the bottom, which is why you should always go to the bathroom before you climb up.
None of that is to say that the guys who have been promoted don't deserve it. Manaea is learning on the job in MLB, but there wasn't a whole lot left for him to do against minor league competition. Mengden was dominating to such a comical degree in Double-A that it was worth giving him a shot higher up, and to his credit he has continued to thrive almost as if nothing happened. And Gossett reportedly looks like a different pitcher from the one who struggled last year, thanks in large part to a new cutter. There wouldn't have been anything wrong with letting each of these guys marinate a little longer at their initial levels if the situation had allowed, and perhaps there would have been some slight long-term benefit. But these promotions, as aggressive as they are, also wouldn't have happened if they hadn't earned them, and if the A's didn't think they were each ready for the challenge.
For their part, the Ports have already added their replacement for Gossett. In our last look at Single-A Beloit I included a poll asking which of their top several players would be the first one promoted to High-A, and we have our answer: Kyle Friedrichs. The right-hander was the A's 7th-round pick in last summer's draft, and he'd posted a 1.25 ERA in his first 50⅓ innings for the Snappers. Congratulations to the three of you (out of 48 total votes) who guessed correctly in the poll! Unfortunately, the 24-year-old was lit up in his High-A debut on Monday, with a line of 1⅔ ip, 9 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 8 hits. Let's call a mulligan on that one and see how he does next time, shall we?
Here is a look at each affiliate's rotation after all this moving and shaking. (Note: Just a list of the pitchers, not the actual order of when they pitch.)
Hitters (thru 50 games)
Matt Chapman, 3B: .253/.357/.511, 13 HR, 12.7% BB, 30.8% Ks, 143 wRC+
J.P. Sportman, OF: .246/.310/.331, 1 HR, 7.7% BB, 21.9% Ks, 7 SB, 83 wRC+
Yairo Munoz, SS: .221/.279/.363, 4 HR, 7.3% BB, 20.3% Ks, 82 wRC+
Tyler Marincov, OF: .269/.296/.327, 1 HR, 1.9% BB, 24.1% Ks, 78 wRC+
Franklin Barreto, SS: .228/.282/.326, 4 HR, 5.7% BB, 21.1% Ks, 13 SB, 72 wRC+
The numbers don't look great, but to be fair that's partly because the rest of the good hitters (Healy and Brugman) were already promoted. Marincov, recently brought up to Double-A himself, only has 54 plate appearances so far, so his numbers are even smaller-sample than the others.
Corey Walter, RHP: 12 games, 2.25 ERA, 40 ip, 23 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR
Raul Alcantara, RHP: 10 starts, 4.30 ERA, 52⅓ ip, 41 Ks, 19 BB, 7 HR
Joel Seddon, RHP: 10 games, 7.80 ERA, 42⅔ ip, 20 Ks, 22 BB, 4 HR
Bobby Wahl, RHP: 12 games, 4.34 ERA, 18⅔ ip, 18 Ks, 8 BB, 2 HR
Trey Cochran-Gill, RHP: 16 games, 5.34 ERA, 30⅓ ip, 28 Ks, 13 BB, 5 HR
Sam Bragg, RHP: 8 games, 9.92 ERA, 16⅓ ip, 17 Ks, 9 BB, 7 HR
Welcome to my watch list, Corey Walter! He's pitched in relief since being drafted in 2014, but the Hounds are giving him a shot in the rotation with all the aforementioned attrition. In six starts, he has a 2.05 ERA in a little over four innings per game. He doesn't strike out a lot of guys but his other peripherals are promising so far. I assume he's still a reliever long-term, but at least he's making the most of his current opportunity. (Unlike Seddon, who got rocked again. C'mon buddy, I'm pullin' for ya.)
All four affiliates are in action.
Triple-A Nashville: Lost 15-9, Angel Castro vs. Round Rock
Double-A Midland: LIVE, Daniel Gossett vs. Springfield
High-A Stockton: 7:10 p.m., Brett Graves vs. Bakersfield
Single-A Beloit: LIVE, Evan Manarino vs. Cedar Rapids
The Sounds' result is all about perspective. The runs were mostly given up by org filler pitchers, but the offense plated nine runs led by homers from Renato and Olson. More on Nashville tomorrow.
Gossett is through three innings with mixed results. He gave up a four runs in the 2nd, partly thanks to a homer and partly to some shoddy defense from his teammates, but at least he brought his strikeouts with him from Stockton (four already).