In our last look at the Single-A Beloit Snappers a couple weeks ago, we established a few groups of sleeper prospects to follow at this low level of the Oakland A’s minor league system.
One was the starting rotation, and another was a quartet of sluggers with big strikeout rates. In addition, a pair of hitters from the 2016 draft stood out because they made a lot of contact, and it’s those two who have risen to the top of both the stat sheet and the lineup.
The first is OF Luke Persico, last year’s 12th-round pick out of UCLA. The right-handed batter leads the team with a 126 wRC+, using an all-around profile — strong average and OBP, decent power, and a relatively low rate of strikeouts and swinging strikes. His numbers suggest he’s capable of doing a little bit of everything at the plate, and most importantly to me he’s able to make contact against the weakest competition the minors currently have to offer. Defensively, he played the infield in college but has predominantly played the corner outfield this year, mostly LF.
Then there’s 2B Nate Mondou, the 13th-round pick. His numbers profile more as a table-setter, with a high batting average and walk rate, low rates of whiffs and strikeouts, and a team-high in stolen bases (5-of-6). Two other areas in which he leads the team: hitting liners, and hitting to the opposite field. The 5’10 lefty swinger hasn’t shown any power to speak of, but there’s a lot to like about his game. He’s reached base in 34-of-37 games played this year.
Last time, I picked Persico and Mondou as my early names to watch because they were the ones who were actually making contact. So far those picks are looking good, and they’re batting 2nd/3rd in the lineup everyday, but of course it can all change quickly over the course of a long pro season. One other note: despite playing three years in college, Persico is only 21 years old, for what that’s worth. (Birthday in Oct.)
Two more hitters who are making contact and could find themselves being discussed in the next Beloit update if they keep it up: OF Luis Barrera, who is back in the lineup after an early injury, and IF Eric Marinez. Both are 21-year-olds who were signed as international free agents out of the Dominican Republic. I’m not as wild on the batted ball data for this pair, but we’ll get into that more next time if they continue hitting over the next couple weeks.
Checking in on the sluggers
How about our four sluggers, whose homework was to lower their strikeout rates?
- C Collin Theroux: 39.8% Ks, 17.2% swinging strikes
- CF JaVon Shelby: 36.0% Ks, 15.2% swinging strikes
- 1B Miguel Mercedes: 30.1% Ks, 16.4% swinging strikes
- IF Edwin Diaz: 28.6% Ks, 13.2% swinging strikes
The strikeouts mostly remain, but unfortunately the power output has slowed down — the quartet has combined for only six homers in May.
So far, I see the 21-year-old Diaz as the guy gradually standing out from this group. The righty swinger seems to have the best command of the strike zone, and that’s something that won’t get any easier as these players try to move up the minor league system. Let’s continue to keep an eye on these hitters.
(Numbers below do not include Monday’s game.)
Sawyer and Butler still leading rotation
Not much to report on the pitching staff. LHP Dalton Sawyer and RHP Brendan Butler are still plugging along with strong outings, ERAs hovering around 2.00, and strikeout rates around 10 K/9.
The newest addition to the rotation has been RHP Mitchell Jordan, last year’s 10th-round pick. Jordan got lit up for eight runs in a start last week but bounced back with his best outing of the year: 6 ip, 1 run, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR. Two more newcomers from last year’s draft, both in the bullpen: RHP Seth Martinez (17th round), and RHP Sam Sheehan (31st round).
Finally, RHP Brandon Bailey did a short stint on the disabled list but is already back in action. The current DL includes RHP Nick Highberger, RHP Michael Murray, and LHP Zack Erwin (hasn’t appeared yet this year).
(Numbers below do not include Monday’s game.)
Sawyer and Butler blend high groundball rates and high swinging strike rates, as does Bailey to an extent (more the whiffs than the grounders). Chalmers is walking more than a batter per inning. In the bullpen, RHP Heath Bowers sports a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings (21 Ks, 10 BB).
The Snappers played a 15-inning game on Thursday against the Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals). It was scoreless until Peoria scored in the bottom of the 8th, but Beloit answered back in the 9th to tie it 1-1. It stayed that way until Peoria hit a three-run homer in the 15th. And then, the next night, the two teams played 12 innings, with the Snappers coming out on top this time on a squeeze bunt by infielder Trace Loehr.
Amazingly, that wasn’t Beloit’s longest game of the season. Back in April they played 17 innings against the Kane County Cougars (D’Backs). Sadly, they lost that marathon game too, by the heartbreaking score of 1-0. The run was scored on an error by a position player who had earlier been called on to pitch and then shifted back to the outfield (he was replaced on the mound by another position player, who put the winning run on base via HBP).
Triple-A Nashville: 7:05 p.m., Daniel Gossett vs. Sacramento
Double-A Midland: Won 3-0, Brett Graves vs. San Antonio
High-A Stockton: 7:10 p.m., A.J. Puk vs. Lake Elsinore
Single-A Beloit: LIVE, Xavier Altamirano vs. Wisconsin
Chalmers is also pitching for Beloit this evening.