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A’s Farm Report: Who’s Playing Where and How?

A’s top catching prospect Sean Murphy
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Last week, we took a look at the pitching staffs for each of the A’s affiliates to start the season. But what about each team’s starting lineup? Which position player prospects have been getting most of the starts in the field and where? And how’ve they been performing? A number of prospects are actually playing new positions this season, while some familiar names are back in some familiar old spots as well. 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 all the A’s affiliates’ starting lineups this week right here on Athletics Nation


Pacific Coast League – Triple-A


(C Beau Taylor, 1B Slade Heathcott, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, SS Jorge Mateo, 3B Sheldon Neuse, LF B.J. Boyd, CF Dustin Fowler, RF Nick Martini, DH Anthony Garcia)

Beau Taylor and Dustin Garneau were set to share the catching duties for the Sounds this season. But since Garneau’s batting just .115 in the early going, Taylor’s been getting a little more playing time behind the plate, and he’s been performing well, compiling a .517 on-base percentage for Nashville. Veteran backstop Josh Phegley has recently joined the Sounds’ crowded catching corps as well. When the A’s signed outfielder Slade Heathcott as a minor league free agent in the offseason, they decided to convert him into a first baseman. Despite the fact that he’d never played a single game at first base in his pro career, Heathcott’s been the Sounds’ everyday first baseman this season. And with Renato Nunez and Mark Canha no longer on the Sounds roster, there aren’t really any other first base options left in Nashville at this point. Since Franklin Barreto spent much of the early season on the A’s roster, minor league free agent signee Steve Lombardozzi’s been getting most of the starts at second base for the Sounds so far this season. Jorge Mateo has been his double-play partner at shortstop while also serving as Nashville’s primary leadoff hitter, and Sheldon Neuse has gotten the vast majority of the starts at third base despite struggling at the plate with a .127 batting average. In the outfield, Dustin Fowler has been the team’s everyday center fielder, and he’s been flanked in left by B.J. Boyd, who’s batting a beefy .327, and in right by free agent signee Nick Martini. Fellow free agent signee Anthony Garcia has seen some time in right as well while also spending time in the designated hitter slot for the Sounds.


Texas League – Double-A


(C Sean Murphy, 1B Seth Brown, 2B J.P. Sportman, SS Eli White, 3B Mikey White, LF Tyler Ramirez, CF Skye Bolt, RF Tyler Marincov, DH Brett Siddall)

A’s top catching prospect Sean Murphy has been serving as Midland’s main backstop this season. And while he’s primarily known for his defense, he’s also been the RockHounds’ best hitter, putting up a robust .719 slugging percentage. Despite the fact that he’d only played a total of 32 games at first base in his pro career, former outfielder Seth Brown has been serving as Midland’s everyday first baseman and has yet to make a single appearance in the outfield this season. Another former outfielder who’s made a position change for the RockHounds is J.P. Sportman. He’d appeared in a total of 31 games at second base in his pro career, but he’s been Midland’s main second baseman so far this season. And like Brown, he’s yet to appear in a single game in the outfield this year. There had been talk that the A’s were possibly looking at moving Eli White to center field, but he’s been back in the shortstop spot at Midland this year and has been hitting well with a .954 OPS. Former 1st-round draft pick Richie Martin has recently returned from the disabled list though, so we’ll see how that situation plays out. Mikey White, who was selected by the A’s right after Martin in the 2015 draft, has been serving as Midland’s main man at the hot corner. Meanwhile, the outfield has been full of familiar names with Tyler Ramirez in left, Skye Bolt in center and Tyler Marincov in right, with outfielder Brett Siddall mainly serving as Midland’s designated hitter. While Marincov (.426 OBP) and Ramirez (.517 SLG) have been two of the team’s top hitters, Bolt (.420 OPS) and Siddall (.462 OPS) have yet to get on track at the plate.


California League – High-A


(C Jonah Heim, 1B Edwin Diaz, 2B Nate Mondou, SS Kevin Merrell, 3B Will Toffey, LF Dairon Blanco, CF Luis Barrera, RF Greg Deichmann, DH Eric Marinez)

Jonah Heim, who was Baltimore’s 4th-round draft pick back in 2013, was acquired by the A’s from Tampa Bay in the offseason and has been serving as Stockton’s starting backstop this season. Edwin Diaz primarily played shortstop for the Beloit Snappers last year, but he’s gotten most of the starts at first base for Stockton this season, where Luke Persico has also seen some time. Nate Mondou has been Stockton’s starting second baseman, while a pair of top picks from last year’ draft has been rounding out the Ports infield. Kevin Merrell, who’s batting .320, has been serving as the team’s leadoff hitter and starting shortstop, while Will Toffey had put up a healthy .465 on-base percentage as Stockton’s starting third baseman until a shoulder injury recently landed him on the disabled list. And Edwin Diaz has been shifting over from first to make some starts at the hot corner in his absence. In the outfield, speedy 25-year-old Cuban import Dairon Blanco has been getting most of the starts in left field, while Luis Barrera, who’s been struggling at the plate with a .157 batting average, has been holding things down in center, and last year’s 2nd-round draft pick for the A’s, Greg Deichmann, has been manning right for the Ports. Eric Marinez, who had mainly played shortstop in his pro career, has seen some time in the outfield while also serving in the designated hitter slot for Stockton this season.


Midwest League – Class-A


(C Jordan Devencenzi, 1B Miguel Mercedes, 2B Trace Loehr, SS Nick Allen, 3B Jake Lumley, LF Anthony Churlin, CF Austin Beck, RF Mickey McDonald, DH Logan Farrar)

Jordan Devencenzi and Skyler Weber have pretty much been splitting time behind the plate for Beloit this season. Devencenzi has gotten a little more playing time thus far, and with a .500 on-base percentage, why not? Miguel Mercedes has been back for his second season as the Snappers’ starting first baseman, but he recently landed on the disabled list, and Hunter Hargrove has since arrived from extended spring training to take his place. Trace Loehr is spending his third straight season with the Snappers. And after spending most of his time at shortstop in 2016 and at third base in 2017, he’s serving as the Snappers’ starting second baseman this season while also leading the team with a .910 OPS. Last year’s 3rd-round draft pick, 19-year-old Nick Allen, has started every game at shortstop for the Snappers so far this season while posting a .659 OPS as the team’s leadoff hitter, while Jake Lumley has been holding things down at the hot corner for Beloit. Last year’s top draft pick for the A’s, 19-year-old Austin Beck (whom we interviewed on Athletics Farm last week) has started 9 of the team’s 11 games in center field while putting up a .261/.271/.413 slash line for the Snappers. He’s been flanked in the corners by Mickey McDonald (.866 OPS) in right and Anthony Churlin (.416 OPS) in left. Logan Farrar has seen some time in left field as well while also spending time in the designated hitter spot for the Snappers.

Visit Athletics Farm for updates on the A’s minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.