Although there has been plenty of good news on the Oakland A's farm this season, not a lot of it has involved their top 10 prospects. Just about every member of the top 10 has struggled to some extent, and that includes the two stars of the Double-A Midland RockHounds, Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman. Fortunately, things are starting to look up for both of them.
The Texas League paused for its All-Star break in late June, and the Hounds returned to action on June 30. Since then, here are the lines of the two jewels of the A's system:
Chapman: 53 PAs, .256/.377/.721, 5 HR, 9 BB, 12 Ks
Barreto: 49 PAs, .381/.458/.571, 5 BB, 6 Ks, 6-for-7 SB
For Chapman, the hopeful eye sees a return to the glory days of a couple months ago, when he looked like the champion who would soon slug his way to Oakland. He's homered five times in the first 12 games of the second half, and nine of his 11 hits have been for extra bases. Even better, his strikeout rate since the break is down to 22.3% -- that doesn't mean his whiffing issues are over, but if you've been crossing your fingers hoping he can bring down his K rate then there's your first bit of good news.
Barreto was never having a terrible year, but he hovered a bit below average throughout the first half and didn't make any real noise. The fact that he's a 20-year-old in Double-A means he gets some extra leash before anyone starts to really worry, but Baseball America did drop him slightly at their midseason update -- they had him No. 35 entering the year but now have him at No. 53, and that's after a handful of graduations above him as well.
The infielder might just be starting to figure things out, though. The Hounds moved him to the leadoff spot when the second half began, and all he's done since then is hit. He's hit safely in nine of 11 games, five of those multi-hit efforts. He hasn't homered yet, but he's drawing a few extra walks, he's hitting for extra bases, and he's even stealing bags at a high, efficient rate. It's just a hot streak for now, but he got off to slow start in High-A Stockton last year as well before everything clicked and he started shredding. Hopefully this is the beginning of his next click.
Midland leads the second-half standings with a 13-5 record. In the Texas League, the second-half division winners get playoff berths (and face off against the first-half winners), so the back-to-back champion Hounds are still very much in the running for a chance at a three-peat. Chapman and Barreto both seem like prime candidates to finish out the year in Double-A, so a potential title chase should only add to the intrigue surrounding their performances.
Alcantara returns, Seddon shines again
After a brief DL stint of just a couple weeks, Raul Alcantara returned to the starting rotation. Unfortunately, his results didn't get any better, as his first start was solid but his next was disastrous. The right-hander's ERA is over 5.00 now, and it's getting harder and harder to see him make it to MLB as a starter. With a couple of option years already burned on the 40-man roster, you have to wonder how long it will be before he is either moved to a bullpen role or just included as a sweetner in a trade.
Meanwhile, the news was better for Joel Seddon. The right-hander has been having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season, but things are finally looking up. After throwing eight shutout innings in his final game of the first half, he followed that up with seven more scoreless frames his next time out. He finally allowed a couple runs again on Friday but still tossed a quality start, and over his last five games his ERA is 2.45 (albeit with decent-at-best peripherals). It's taken some patience, but Seddon is finally turning himself back into an arm to watch.
Finally, the Hounds welcomed a new member in left-hander Brandon Mann. He started the year on a PED suspension, and he's already 32 years old, so he's not a serious prospect in any way. But he was good in his first few starts, so that's neat.
Hitters (thru 88 games)
Other than the two guys we already discussed, there's not much going on other than Marincov. He's tailed off slightly but is still consistently picking up hits and getting on base.
|... Bullpen ...|
After an exceptional stint in the starting rotation, it appears that Walter is going back to the bullpen. His move to starting appeared to be sudden so I imagine his shift back to the pen is as much to control his workload as anything else. Of his 12 starts, seven of them were scoreless efforts, all of 4-5 innings in length.
Only one affiliate is in action today.
Low-A Vermont: 4:05 p.m., A.J. Puk vs. Auburn
At least that one game is a good one. Puk is this summer's first-round pick and he's making his pro debut. If you follow the A's farm, and you made it to the bottom of this post so there's a good chance you do, then you've been waiting a month to see this ever since Oakland make him the No. 6 overall pick in the draft.