In our last round of minor league updates, it was clear that there were too many good starting pitchers in Single-A Beloit and not enough of them in High-A Stockton. The Oakland A's noticed the same thing, and they have made a move to alleviate the problem. This week, right-hander James Naile was promoted up to Stockton, and lefty Zack Erwin was sent down to Beloit in the corresponding move.
All of this makes sense. Both players were drafted in 2015, Naile by the A's in the 20th round and Erwin by the White Sox in the 4th (he was acquired in the Brett Lawrie deal). Given that gap in draft stock, it's not surprising that Erwin was given a more aggressive assignment to start the year. But he has been a mess all season, with bloated rates of hits and homers to go along with a poor K/BB rate, and the damage has been spread throughout a long string of consistently poor outings rather than being small-sample noise. Simply put, Erwin didn't turn out to be ready for High-A just yet.
Naile, on the other hand, has found nothing but success this year. He was one of only seven 2015 draftees on Oakland Clubhouse's preseason Top 50 list, and he made good on that ranking with an excellent performance at Single-A (2.66 ERA, 2.98 FIP). He's also been called on to make a pair of emergency spot starts at both Double-A and Triple-A, and while none of those outings were gems they also weren't disasters. If a 20th-round pick is making mediocre starts in the high minors less than 12 months after he was drafted, that's amazing progress.
And so now, Naile settles in for a more challenging assignment. He had clearly proven himself in Single-A, so it's time to see what he can do at the next level. As for the rest of Stockton's rotation, Heath Fillmyer and Kyle Friedrichs are the two headliners right now. Brett Graves has shown occasional flashes but is having another poor year overall. Casey Meisner started in his last outing and finally pitched well (4⅓ ip, 0 runs, 5 Ks, 0 BB, 1 hit), and it will be interesting to see if that means he has wrestled his spot back from lefty Matt Stalcup (who is looking like org filler at this point). Recent signing Matthew Sergey, age 26, was good in his first two starts but is already on the DL.
Hitters (thru 96 games)
Just as I was getting ready to give up on White, he's starting to show signs of life. The 2nd-round pick from 2015 is on fire since June 30 (in 75 PAs): .333/.413/.530, 3 HR, 7 BB, 18 Ks. Meanwhile, Harris has done just about everything he can to earn a look in Double-A. He also leads the team with 18 steals in 24 attempts -- ahead of runner-up Brown (7-for-9).
|... Bullpen ...|
Friedrichs stumbled a bit in his last outing, but he still limited the damage and didn't walk anybody. As for Graves, after a wonderful scoreless performance he then turned in another stinker in his subsequent outing; the righty just can't get in a consistent groove.
Three affiliates were in action today, with Stockton getting the day off.
Triple-A Nashville: Won 7-5, Ross Detwiler vs. Albuquerque
Double-A Midland: Won 5-4, Jake Sanchez vs. Corpus Christi
Single-A Beloit: Lost 4-2, Evan Manarino vs. Lake County
Jesse Hahn technically started for Nashville, but he only threw one inning as the team saves him for a potential MLB start on Sunday. Manarino took the loss for Beloit, but all of his runs were unearned. Down in Rookie Ball, Mitchell Jordan (this year's 10th-round pick) threw four innings of scoreless, one-run ball. Finally, Franklin Barreto hasn't played for Double-A Midland since July 16 because of a hamstring; he is day-to-day, according to Christopher Hadorn of the Midland Reporter-Telegram.