When the Oakland A’s traded Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals, they got three players back. The best-known name was Blake Treinen since he’s already in MLB, and he’s been a boon to Oakland’s suddenly empty bullpen. The biggest prize was Jesus Luzardo, a teenage pitcher with 1st-round talent and possible top-of-rotation upside.
And then there was Sheldon Neuse. He was more than a throw-in, as a 2nd-round pick from the 2016 draft, but he was decidedly the third piece in the three-player package. He’s got solid skills across the board and a bit of defensive versatility (SS/3B so far), so his journey could go in a lot of different directions. So far, that direction has been over the fence. His numbers at High-A Stockton through 20 games (86 plate appearances):
Neuse, 2017 A+: .395/.465/.711, 213 wRC+, 7 HR, 10.5% BB, 25.6% Ks, .489 BABIP
Holy Toledo. He’s annihilating the ball, and he didn’t even really get going until a week after his arrival. Of course, his BABIP is laughably high so you can expect all those percentages to drop substantially, but there’s a lot more than that going on here. He’s hitting a dinger every three games, every 12 PAs — there’s no batted ball luck involved there, though his hitter-friendly home park probably doesn’t hurt. He’s also drawing his walks, and he’s got a couple steals to boot.
Neuse started the year with Washington’s Single-A team rather than their High-A affiliate, despite being a polished, highly drafted 22-year-old in the mold of the Safe College Hitter. Now he’s passing his new test at full volume, already looking like a guy who should be in Double-A next year. He’s got some swing-and-miss to keep under control, but his contact is turning into liners all over the field, and dingers on a regular basis.
Also: While we’re on the topic of the Doo trade, a quick update on LHP Jesus Luzardo. He’s thrown just shy of a dozen innings for Oakland’s Rookie League team, and his overall season stats between the Nats and A’s affiliates look like this: 25⅓ ip, 28 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 1.42 ERA. That’s more or less a best-case scenario so far in his post-TJS career. He was called up to Low-A Vermont yesterday and makes his debut there tonight.
After missing nearly two months with a lat injury, RHP Logan Shore returned to Stockton’s rotation in July. His first three games went well (8 ip, 0 ER, 13 Ks, 0 BB), but he was roughed up in the next four (12⅔ ip, 14 ER, 15 Ks, 5 BB). Overall since his return, he has a 6.10 ERA but a 3.32 FIP — poor results, but with plenty of reason for optimism.
Shore, 2017: 4.94 ERA, 47⅓ ip, 47 Ks, 11 BB, 4 HR, 3.71 FIP
Athletics Nation had been hoping Shore would be a fast-track candidate, but unfortunately the injury dashed those plans. That’s not to say that anything about his development path has necessarily been delayed, just that he simply lost some raw time — for example, while he was recovering (and subsequently getting re-settled in Stockton), draft-mate A.J. Puk moved up to Double-A and got started against upper minors competition.
That said, now that he’s back on the mound, hopefully Shore can resume a brisk move up the system. After all, there’s plenty of precedent for meteoric rises once a fast-track college starter puts things together — Griffin, Straily, Mengden, and Gossett are all recent examples, as is Graveman while he was in Toronto’s system.
- RHP Norge Ruiz is back from his suspension for doctoring a ball. He’s made two solid starts since his return, totaling 10 ip, 4 ER, 5 Ks, 1 BB. Overall, he’s sporting a 3.98 ERA and 5.20 FIP in seven games for Stockton.
- RHP Angel Duno, over his last five games: 1.00 ERA, 27 ip, 33 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR, 28 hits. For the season he has nearly five strikeouts per walk, but batters have crushed him when they’ve made contact. The 23-year-old is red-hot now, though. Can he keep it up?
- LHP Dalton Sawyer has been mediocre overall in High-A so far (4.56 FIP), but at least he’s striking batters out — over 10 per nine innings (51 Ks, 45⅓ ip).
- SS Richie Martin is back, after being displaced in Double-A Midland by newcomer Jorge Mateo. The change of scenery hasn’t helped the slumping Martin, who is 5-for-34 with 2 BB, 10 Ks, and only one extra-base hit through eight games for Stockton.
- Meanwhile, OF Seth Brown is hot. In 10 games since July 31, he’s 14-for-38 with 6 HR and a 1.364 OPS (243 wRC+). He just turned 25 last month and isn’t a serious prospect (107 wRC+ overall), but his current streak is still noteworthy.
- 1B Sandber Pimentel is 1-for-19 in his last six games, though he still holds a strong 130 wRC+ for the season.
- OF Brett Siddall has also cooled off momentarily, going 7-for-31 with just one extra-base hit over his last eight games. (Season: 141 wRC+)
A quick digression from Stockton for an injury update. The team announced Friday that RHP Bobby Wahl will have thoracic outlet surgery on his right arm. The power reliever was already on the A’s 60-day disabled list, and last pitched for Oakland in late May. Click here for more info on this type of injury, from FanGraphs.
Triple-A Nashville: 5:05 p.m., Zach Neal vs. Memphis
Double-A Midland: 5:10 p.m., Heath Fillmyer vs. Arkansas
High-A Stockton: 7:10 p.m., Angel Duno vs. Visalia
Single-A Beloit: 5:00 p.m., Matt Milburn vs. Clinton
Low-A Vermont: 4:05 p.m., Jesus Luzardo vs. State College
Luzardo highlights the docket. Duno looks to make it six gems in a row.
In other news, naming a pro team “State College” is unnecessarily confusing.