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Oakland A’s prospect watch: James Naile named Pitcher of the Week in Triple-A Pacific Coast League

Parker Dunshee (High-A Cal) and Bryce Conley (Single-A Midwest) earned similar league honors.

James Naile
Photo provided by Oakland A’s

The Oakland A’s pitching has been inconsistent at the MLB level, but they’re finding plenty of success throughout the minor leagues. Three hurlers earned Pitcher of the Week honors in their respective leagues on Monday:

Naile, a late-round draft pick in 2015, just missed our Community Prospect List last winter. He already has two championship rings on his resume from Double-A Midland, and he personally tossed a gem the clinching game of each title. This year brought his first full opportunity in Triple-A, and so far he hasn’t allowed a run in three starts:

Naile, 2017 AAA: 0.00 ERA, 17⅔ ip, 15 Ks, 2 BB, 15 hits

The A’s already lost two starters to the 60-day DL (Cotton, Blackburn), and their two best prospects as well (Puk, Holmes), so at some point there might be room for a sleeper like Naile to step up and seize an opportunity. He’s off to as good of a start as you could hope for in that pursuit. His strength is his command, with a wide arsenal but a fastball that tops out at only 91 mph (via Melissa Lockard, Oakland Clubhouse).

With Trevor Cahill joining the A’s rotation on Tuesday, Naile’s only imminent competition on the SP depth chart appears to be Daniel Gossett and Brett Anderson. Gossett already washed out of Oakland once this year, but he looked sharp in his first outing back in Nashville (4 ip, 0 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BB). The veteran Anderson returned to the organization on a minor league contract and is looking to rejuvenate his injury-plagued career (two starts: 8 ip, 2 ER, 12 Ks, 0 BB). TJS survivor Chris Bassitt could also be a candidate to join the mix (three games: 0.69 ERA, 13 ip, 12 Ks, 4 BB, 9 hits).

As for the other Pitcher of the Week winners, like Naile they are both yet to allow a run. Dunshee now has a streak of 48⅓ scoreless innings dating back to last year in Low-A Vermont, as long as you don’t count the playoffs. Conley takes it a step further, as he hasn’t even allowed a hit yet in two starts, and in his second outing Beloit’s bullpen combined with him to throw a no-hitter. Both are products of the 2017 draft (7th round and 22nd round, respectively), and Dunshee made our CPL last winter.

Dunshee, 2017 A+: 0.00 ERA, 10 ip, 14 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits
Conley, 2017 A: 0.00 ERA, 10 ip, 8 Ks, 2 BB, 0 hits

Congrats to Naile, Dunshee, and Conley on your well-deserved honors!

Triple-A Nashville

As long as we already covered Nashville’s rotation, let’s take a peek at the rest of the team.

The top reliever had been Lou Trivino, but he was called up to Oakland on Tuesday (click link for more on him). The other standout has been Bobby Wahl, who hasn’t allowed a run but more importantly hasn’t been handing out walks (5 ip, 0 runs, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 1 hit). Simon Castro, who appeared extensively in Oakland last year, has also joined the roster after opening the season in extended spring training.

In the lineup, B.J. Boyd is off to a quick start with some excellent plate discipline, but the other key prospects are struggling. Dustin Fowler is only hitting singles so far, and Jorge Mateo and Sheldon Neuse are striking out a lot. Mateo and Neuse deserve some extra patience, though, considering their aggressive assignments after limited time in Double-A last year. Franklin Barreto is back, after briefly filling in for the injured Chad Pinder in Oakland.

B.J. Boyd, OF: 12-for-34, 119 wRC+, 1 XBH, 4 BB, 2 Ks
Dustin Fowler, OF: 11-for-44, 58 wRC+, 1 XBH, 4 BB, 8 Ks
Jorge Mateo, SS: 10-for-41, 55 wRC+, 2 XBH, 4 BB, 14 Ks
Sheldon Neuse, IF: 6-for-44, 6 wRC+, 0 XBH, 6 BB, 15 Ks

Note: Boyd, Fowler, and Mateo have combined to steal 10-of-13 bases, with Mateo leading the way with four.

In terms of the veteran depth, the early standout is Slade Heathcott. The lefty leads the team in extra-base hits, while splitting time between first base and the outfield.

Heathcott, 1B/OF: 12-for-38, 132 wRC+, 1 HR, 4 2B, 4 BB, 12 Ks

It will take quite a bit more time to sort out the wheat, chaff, breakouts, and mirages from among all the players mentioned in this post. But this is where they stand now, and the good news is the thing Oakland needs most (pitching) is doing reasonably well in Triple-A, while the thing slumping in Nashville (hitters) is what Oakland doesn’t yet need help with.

Tuesday’s games

Beloit is rained out again, and hasn’t played a game since last Friday.

Triple-A Nashville: 4:30 p.m., Daniel Gossett vs. Iowa
Double-A Midland: 5:05 p.m., Corey Walter vs. Tulsa
High-A Stockton: 7:05 p.m. Jesus Luzardo vs. Modesto
Single-A Beloit: Postponed due to weather

Stockton’s rotation finally ended its streak of nonstop dominance, but Luzardo is personally looking for his third straight gem after striking out 16 of the first 38 batters he’s faced.

Link to box scores