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Farm Report: 2-Man Pitching Tandems On The Way Out

Former-Port, now-RockHound Pitcher Brett Graves
Meghan Camino

You probably already knew that the A’s were employing four two-man pitching tandems at each of the three lower level minor league affiliates this year – Midand, Stockton and Beloit – giving 24 different pitchers the chance to throw approximately four innings every fourth day. Well, that experiment began coming to an end this weekend. Despite the organization’s claims to the contrary, with injuries, promotions and performance issues, the tandem system was never really expected to last. It was never so much an experiment as it was a matter of convenience.

The team simply had too many potential minor league starters, and the two-man tandems were a way of getting all the arms enough action. It also served as a bit of an audition to find out who was really worthy of earning a full-time starting role going forward. After about a month, those answers now seem to be emerging. And, consequently, there are no longer any two-man tandems at Midland, while there are just two tandems still in place at Stockton and three at Beloit. You can always stay up to date on the A’s top prospects and all the daily action in the A’s minor league system on my Athletics Farm site, and you can get the latest on what’s up with the A’s minor league pitching tandems right here on Athletics Nation


MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS

Texas League – Double-A

OLD TWO-MAN TANDEM ROTATION

James Naile & Grant Holmes

Heath Fillmyer & Joel Seddon

Ben Bracewell & Kyle Friedrichs

Corey Walter & Brandon Mann


NEW ROTATION

James Naile

Grant Holmes

Heath Fillmyer

Corey Walter

Brett Graves

The biggest shake-up in the tandem system has taken place at Midland, where the two-man tandems have been totally abandoned. RHPs Corey Walter, James Naile, Grant Holmes and Heath Fillmyer have remained in the rotation, where they’ve been joined by RHP Brett Graves, who had been performing well for the Ports, with LHP Brandon Mann and RHPs Joel Seddon, Kyle Friedrichs and Ben Bracewell set to pitch primarily out the bullpen. Walter has been the best of the bunch this year at Midland and has clearly earned his spot in the rotation. Aside from his one spot start for Nashville, 2014’s 28th-round draft pick for the A’s has put up an impressive 1.29 ERA in 28 innings of work for the RockHounds. Holmes, on the other hand, has struggled, posting a 5.16 ERA in his first 7 games for the Hounds. The former 1st-round draft pick for the Dodgers is still just 21 and has struck out 28 in 22 2/3 innings, so he’ll continue to get the chance to figure things out in the rotation every fifth day. Naile and Fillmyer haven’t wowed thus far this season but they have been reasonably reliable for the RockHounds. Fillmyer currently has a 3.38 ERA with 19 strikeouts over 24 frames, while Naile has struck out 22 in 25 2/3 innings and is sporting an ERA of 3.86. Graves’ vastly improved command made him one of Stockton’s most effective pitchers this season. 2014’s 3rd-round pick for the A’s walked just 3 while striking out 29 over 24 2/3 frames for Stockton and allowed just one run without issuing a walk in his first start for Midland on Sunday. Aside from a pair of disastrous outings, Mann has been outstanding, and he hasn’t allowed a run in his last 15 1/3 innings of work, but the 32-year-old’s future may be as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, a position the A’s system is sorely lacking in. Meanwhile, Bracewell has mostly struggled, putting up an ERA of 6.17, while Friedrichs and Seddon haven’t been quite that inconsistent but have failed to sufficiently impress this season.


STOCKTON PORTS

California League – High-A

OLD TWO-MAN TANDEM ROTATION

Logan Shore & Angel Duno

Evan Manarino & Dustin Hurlbutt

A.J. Puk & Boomer Biegalski

Brett Graves & Casey Meisner


NEW ROTATION

Logan Shore

Evan Manarino

Dustin Hurlbutt & Boomer Biegalski

A.J. Puk

Casey Meisner & Angel Duno

With a number of top draft picks on the roster, Stockton’s pitching staff has been the most talked about and scrutinized in the A’s system this season. The shake-up in Stockton was clearly designed to give two of the team’s top draft picks, LHP A.J. Puk and RHP Logan Shore – as well as top performer Evan Manarino – a little more running room to go much deeper into games. Puk and Shore have both performed well, while Manarino has been the most effective pitcher on the Stockton staff so far this season. Puk has struck out 42 and walked 8 in 25 1/3 innings, while Shore has struck out 28 and walked just 3 in his first 25 1/3 frames, and Manarino has walked only 2 while striking out 25 and posting an ERA of 2.03. Those three will now have the chance to work as stand-alone starters in the Stockton rotation. Meanwhile, RHPs Casey Meisner, Angel Duno, Dustin Hurlbutt and Boomer Biegalski (who replaced Daulton Jefferies) will remain in the rotation but will continue to share starts in the tandem system. After an impressive initial appearance for the Ports, Biegalski has mostly struggled, surrendering 6 home runs in just 13 2/3 innings and compiling a 9.22 ERA. Duno started out the season strong but has struggled of late, surrendering 17 runs over his last 14 frames. Meisner and Hurlbutt had bumpy starts to their seasons but have since turned things around. Hurlbutt has allowed just 1 run over his last 13 2/3 innings, while Meisner has allowed just 1 run and struck out 12 over his last 8 2/3 innings of work for Stockton.


BELOIT SNAPPERS

Midwest League – Class-A

OLD TWO-MAN TANDEM ROTATION

Dalton Sawyer & Mitchell Jordan

Brandon Bailey & Matt Milburn

Brendan Butler & Ty Damron

Michael Murray & Dakota Chalmers


NEW ROTATION

Dalton Sawyer

Brandon Bailey & Mitchell Jordan

Brendan Butler

Ty Damron & Michael Murray

Dakota Chalmers & Matt Milburn

At the lowest level of the system, the two-man tandems are still a little more relevant. The shake-up with the Snappers was primarily designed to give the team’s two most effective pitchers the ability to go deeper into games to see what they can do. LHP Dalton Sawyer has been Beloit’s best pitcher so far this season, posting an outstanding 1.44 ERA while walking 6 and striking out 28 in his first 25 frames. RHP Brendan Butler has struck out 34 and walked just 5 while putting up an ERA of 2.25. And they’ll now both get the chance to work as stand-alone starters for the Snappers. Michael Murray, Ty Damron, Dakota Chalmers, Matt Milburn, Brandon Bailey and Mitchel Jordan will remain in the rotation but will continue to share starts in the tandem system. After stepping into Boomer Biegalski’s spot when he was promoted to the Ports, Jordan has allowed just 1 earned run in his first 12 2/3 innings of work, while Damron has fanned 30 batters in his first 25 frames, and Murray is sporting a nifty 2.81 ERA over his first 7 appearances. Bailey, who was last year’s 6th-round pick for the A’s, has been solid, striking out 24 over 21 innings while putting up a 3.43 ERA. Meanwhile, Milburn has struggled, giving up 18 runs over 24 2/3 innings of work, and Chalmers has been inconsistent as he battles control issues. While looking impressive at times, 2015’s 3rd-round pick for the A’s has struck out 30 but has issued 18 walks in his first 18 1/3 innings for the Snappers.

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