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Oakland A’s prospect watch: Roster updates after flurry of midseason promotions

Sean Murphy lands on DL, but Lazaro Armenteros returns.

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Trace Loehr finally reaches High-A, after being drafted out of high school in 2014.
Photo credit: Meghan Camino | Stockton Ports

We’ve reached the month of July, which means the Oakland A’s have done plenty of midseason shuffling in their farm system. With several names moving around in the last few weeks, here’s a full look at the new rosters of each affiliate as they enter the final two months of the minor league season. Click here to see how the rosters looked on Opening Day.

Note: I’m not including MLB players who are on temporary rehab assignments.

Triple-A Nashville Sounds

Nashville is having a somewhat disappointing season, standing in the bottom half of the 16-team Pacific Coast League with a 42-45 record. That’s not a huge surprise, since a few top hitting prospects have struggled and they had to send virtually their entire rotation up to Oakland as injury replacements. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of interesting names on this roster, and even a few who could help the A’s this season — especially in the bullpen.

Players in bold are on the preseason CPL Top 30. Players with asterisks** are on the 40-man roster.

Nashville Sounds roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Raul Alcantara (R)
Ben Bracewell (R)
Frankie Montas (R)**
James Naile (R)
Norge Ruiz (R)

Relievers

Jeremy Bleich (L)
Danny Coulombe (L)**
Liam Hendriks (R)
Dean Kiekhefer (L)
Carlos Ramirez (R)**
Jake Sanchez (R)
Bobby Wahl (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)

Injured

Kendall Graveman (R)**
Grant Holmes (R)
Eric Jokisch (L)
A.J. Puk (L)
Catchers

Bruce Maxwell (L)**
Beau Taylor (L)

Infielders

Franklin Barreto (R)**
Steve Lombardozzi (S)
Jorge Mateo (R)**
Melvin Mercedes (R)
Sheldon Neuse (R)

Outfielders

Anthony Garcia (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)**
Jake Smolinski (R)**
Brett Vertigan (L)

Injured

B.J. Boyd (L)

Recent additions:

  • Ruiz got the call up from Double-A and has pitched in three games so far.
  • Laureano has played 44 games since returning from his season-opening DL stint.
  • Vertigan is a filler name who earned his way up in June.
  • Hendriks is back down from Oakland, after being DFA’d and then clearing waivers.
  • Maxwell is also down after being replaced by Josh Phegley in the bigs.
  • Barreto is back down after a long stint in Oakland while Matt Chapman was on the DL.
  • Montas is back down for now as some of Oakland’s veteran starters get healthy.

The rotation has been in constant flux, most recently because of a parade of injured A’s making rehab starts. Alcantara has been pretty good in his emergency return to the rotation, allowing two runs in 13 innings his last three times out (8 Ks, 1 BB), albeit not pitching deep into games.

The most imminent names to watch here are in the bullpen, though. Wahl has recovered from a brief June slump to strike out half of his last 26 batters, and Wendelken has fanned half of his last 20 (combined: 1 run in 13⅔ innings). They are simply out of things to prove in the minors, and sooner than later the A’s are going to have to give them chances in MLB.

Looking at the lineup, their best hitter (Nick Martini) is up in Oakland, but Smolinski is picking up the slack (10 HR, 138 wRC+) alongside Garcia (14 HR, 111 wRC+). As for the true prospects, it took Neuse 339 plate appearances in the upper minors (dating back to last year) before he hit his first homer on June 21, but now he’s got three in his last 17 games. He’s still striking out nearly 39% of the time during that same span, though, and over 37% for the season.

Speaking of strikeouts, Barreto has five of them in 16 plate appearances since returning from Oakland. He also has two dingers and five walks so it hasn’t all been bad, but overall his story hasn’t changed. Mateo is still searching for consistency at the plate, and on the bases as well (15-for-25 in steals). Finally, here’s the full line for Laureano (in 190 PAs), who is well on his way to rebounding from a poor 2017 season:

Laureano: .261/.347/.448, 108 wRC+, 8 HR, 11.1% BB, 22.6% Ks, 5 SB

He turns 24 next weekend and is holding his own in his first Triple-A experience, with a wide variety of skills on display. There’s no rush to get him up to Oakland yet, but he’s already on the 40-man roster so it’ll be that much easier to take a look at him when he’s ready and a need arises.

Double-A Midland RockHounds

The chances of a title defense are not looking good for the four-time defending league champions. They finished a distant third place in the first-half standings, and they’re dead last at 5-13 in the second half so far. The rotation is stacked now, but the top hitters have leveled off a bit from their hot starts and they just lost one of their biggest names to injury. They’ll need to start winning ASAP if they want to dig out of their hole and make the playoffs.

Players in bold are on the preseason CPL Top 30.

Midland RockHounds roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Parker Dunshee (R)
Brian Howard (R)
Jesus Luzardo (L)
Joel Seddon (R)
Logan Shore (R)

Relievers

Nolan Blackwood (R)
Sam Bragg (R)
Kyle Finnegan (R)
John Gorman (R)
Jarret Martin (L)
Miguel Romero (R)
Cody Stull (L)
Corey Walter (R)
Catchers

Jonah Heim (S)
Jason Goldstein (R)

Infielders

Seth Brown (L)
Edwin Diaz (R)
Richie Martin (R)
J.P. Sportman (R)
Eli White (R)
Mikey White (R)


Outfielders

Skye Bolt (S)
Tyler Marincov (R)
Tyler Ramirez (L)
Brett Siddall (L)

Injured

Sean Murphy (R)

Recent additions:

  • Dunshee and Howard each dominated High-A for a couple months to earn their way up.
  • Romero did the same, but in the bullpen.
  • Finnegan came back down from Triple-A after spending some time on the DL.
  • Bolt washed out of Double-A quickly but crushed High-A, so he’s back up for his second try.
  • Diaz powered his way up in early June but hasn’t hit much in Midland.
  • Goldstein got the call up on Monday when Murphy hit the DL.
  • Heim got the call up on Tuesday when it became apparent that Murphy would miss some time.

The rotation began the year as mostly filler, but it’s got a totally new look now. Luzardo has completely mastered throwing five strong innings in Double-A, but frankly we might have to be satisfied with that progress for this year. On the other hand Shore has been rocked, needing eight tries to record his first quality start. Meanwhile, Dunshee and Howard began the year as sleepers but have jumped into full prospect status by reaching the upper minors so quickly. Here are their numbers so far, through three starts for each:

Dunshee: 3.60 ERA, 20 ip, 23 Ks, 0 BB, 4 HR, 4.17 FIP
Howard: 3.18 ERA, 17 ip, 19 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 2.63 FIP

On the offensive side, the big news is the loss of Murphy to a broken hamate in his hand, reported by Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse. He could miss the rest of the season, but on the bright side he now has no more hamate bones to break — it gets removed after the fracture, and his other one already went in college. It’s a tough blow for this year but not a long-term problem. In his place, Heim gets a well-deserved call-up after a breakout campaign in High-A Stockton.

Heim, A+: .292/.353/.433, 114 wRC+, 7 HR, 8.3% BB, 17.2% Ks

As for the rest of the lineup, Ramirez and Martin have cooled off substantially, but Eli White is getting even hotter. Over his last eight games he’s 18-for-29, with six extra-base hits, six walks, and only three strikeouts. He’s also stolen three bases in that time. Overall, his wRC+ for the season is now at 148, making him one of the top five or so hitters in the entire Texas League. Finally, Bolt is looking much better in his latest stint in the upper minors:

Bolt, first 11 gms in April: .133/.220/.200, 15 wRC+, 0 HR, 8.0% BB, 34.0% Ks
Bolt, 19 gms since return: .270/.352/.429, 111 wRC+, 1 HR, 11.1% BB, 22.2% Ks

That’s more like the line he’s capable of, and the next step is to add in the power that he finally began to show in Stockton.

High-A Stockton Ports

The Ports already won the first-half division title in a landslide with a league-best 44-26 mark, so they’ve punched their ticket to the playoffs no matter what else happens the rest of the summer. Just for good measure, though, they’re in first place so far in the second half at 11-9. Most of their best players have moved up to Midland already, but new names are stepping up to carry the load.

Players in bold are on the preseason CPL Top 30. Players with a pound# are 2018 draft picks.

Stockton Ports roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Xavier Altamirano (R)
Zack Erwin (L)
Kyle Friedrichs (R)
Evan Manarino (L)
Matt Milburn (R)

Relievers

Brendan Butler (R)
Trey Cochran-Gill (R)
Ty Damron (L)
Angel Duno (R)
Will Gilbert (L)
Pat Krall (L)
Sam Sheehan (R)
Andrew Tomasovich (L)

Injured

Peter Bayer (R)
Boomer Biegalski (R)
Jake Bray (R)
Dustin Hurlbutt (R)
James Kaprielian (R)
Dalton Sawyer (L)
Catchers

Santiago Chavez (R)
Collin Theroux (R)

Infielders

Jesus Lage (R)
Trace Loehr (L)
Nate Mondou (L)
Brallan Perez (R)
Sandber Pimentel (L)
Will Toffey (L)

Outfielders

Luis Barrera (L)
Dairon Blanco (R)
Chase Calabuig (L)#
Luke Persico (R)

Injured

Greg Deichmann (L)
Kevin Merrell (L)

RHP Bayer is not actually injured, but rather listed as Temporary Inactive. OF Eric Marinez is still out on an 80-game PED suspension.

Recent additions:

  • Altamirano finally got the call after three mostly impressive years with Single-A Beloit.
  • Damron is up after racking up Ks in Beloit’s bullpen.
  • Krall briefly filled in at Double-A before settling in at Stockton.
  • Friedrichs is back down from Double-A to fill in for injured Hurlbutt (via Lockard)
  • Cochran-Gill is back down from Double-A.
  • Chavez is back down from Double-A to take Heim’s spot.
  • Loehr finally moves up after three years in Beloit.
  • Lage is a 20-year-old who has bounced around the lower minors the last couple seasons.
  • Calabuig is the first member of the 2018 draft class to reach full-season ball. It’s unclear whether this promotion was based on pure merit or short-term roster need, but it’s worth noting he was off to a nice start in Rookie Ball. So far in High-A, he’s 5-for-10 with a double, three walks, and no strikeouts.

The rotation is all filler at this point, at least until somebody proves they’re more than that. Perhaps it will be Milburn, who recently won Cal League Pitcher of the Week honors — he spun a shutout on June 26 and another seven scoreless on July 1, for a total line of 16 ip, 0 runs, 15 Ks, 1 BB, 10 hits. His season FIP is down to 3.56, on the strength of seven strikeouts per walk (78 Ks, 11 BB). In the bullpen, we’ve talked a lot this year about strikeout monsters Duno, Sheehan, and Tomasovich, but Gilbert is heating up lately (last 8 games: 14 ip, 18 Ks, 5 BB, 2.57 ERA) and Damron is looking great out the gate so far (struck out 14-of-35 batters, 40%, in 7⅔ innings).

One more pitching update: The word all year has been that Sawyer had Tommy John surgery, but last week Bill from Athletics Farm learned from an official source that that’s not the case. Sawyer is throwing in Arizona, though not necessarily pitching.

With the best names gone from the lineup between promotions and injuries, Mondou has begun to stand out. Over his last 13 games he has an 1.159 OPS, including a two-homer day on Tuesday, and his season numbers are looking good (in addition to well-regarded defense at 2B, and the fourth-lowest swinging-strike rate in the Cal League):

Mondou: .291/.358/.448, 120 wRC+, 8 HR, 8.3% BB, 15.2% Ks

Also on the upswing is Pimentel, who is back for his third year in Stockton after missing time to a broken hamate. In his last 17 games he’s swatted eight dingers (187 wRC+ during that span, .286/.366/.730). He’s still striking out 30% of the time (and 36% for the year, with an average below the Mendoza Line), but at least he’s putting on a show when he makes contact. Barrera and Persico each have OPS marks over .900 for the last month or so, with only gap power but high averages and impressively low strikeout rates. Their full-season stats:

Persico: .298/.356/.421, 112 wRC+, 3 HR, 8.5% BB, 17.8% Ks
Barrera: .282/.351/.416, 110 wRC+, 3 HR, 9.0% BB, 18.9% Ks, 10 SB

Persico is officially listed as an infielder (specifically 1B), but he’s spent the last few weeks back in the outfield so I placed him there on the roster above.

Single-A Beloit Snappers

The Snappers enter the day at exactly .500, with a 43-43 record.

Players in bold are on the preseason CPL Top 30.

Beloit Snappers roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Ivan Andueza (L)
Mitchell Jordan (R)
Wyatt Marks (R)
Jared Poche (L)
Jean Ruiz (R)

Relievers

Heath Bowers (R)
Joseph Camacho (R)
Wandisson Charles (R)
Nick Highberger (R)
Jaimito Lebron (R)
Seth Martinez (R)
Josh Reagan (L)
Jesus Zambrano (R)

Injured

Dakota Chalmers (R)
Bryce Conley (R)
Michael Danielak (R)
Catchers

Jordan Devencenzi (R)
Skyler Weber (L)

Infielders

Nick Allen (R)
Ryan Gridley (R)
Hunter Hargrove (R)
Jesus Lopez (R)

Outfielders

Lazaro Armenteros (R)
Austin Beck (R)
Logan Farrar (L)
Mickey McDonald (S)
Jack Meggs (L)
JaVon Shelby (R)

Recent additions:

  • Armenteros is back from the DL, having recovered from his strained quad (via Lockard).
  • Gridley is back from the DL and showing off his strong on-base skills.
  • Charles is up, but off to a terrible start (9 walks in 4 innings, 24 batters).
  • Shelby is back for another try after a poor 2017.
  • Lebron breezed through Low-A Vermont and got a quick call up.
  • Camacho helped briefly in the upper minors and now settles in at Single-A.

The most interesting thing about this roster is the outfield, including two of Oakland’s top 10 prospects. Beck is still hovering around league-average at the plate, but Armenteros is already hot again after his return from injury.

Armenteros, 8 gms since return: 7-for-19, 1 HR, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 171 wRC+

On the pitching side, Marks is still the best prospect but Jordan is making a case for a promotion (2.42 ERA, 3.91 FIP).

Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters

Checking in on the 2018 draft class!

Players with a pound# are 2018 draft picks. Players with a bold pound# are 2018 draft picks from the top 10 rounds.

Low-A Vermont roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Jhenderson Hurtado (L)
Rafael Kelly (R)
Abdiel Mendoza (R)
Jose Mora (R)
Adam Reuss (R)

Relievers

Charlie Cerny (R)#
Chase Cohen (R)#
Clark Cota (R)#
Brady Feigl (R)#
Chris Kohler (L)
Slater Lee (R)
Brandon Marsonek (L)
Jeferson Mejia (R)
Bryce Nightengale (R)#
Oscar Tovar (R)
Gus Varland (R)#
Brandon Withers (R)
Catchers

Lana Akau (R)
Cooper Goldby (R)
Robert Mullen (R)
Jose Rivas (R)

Infielders

Aaron Arruda (R)
Jonah Bride (R)#
Marcos Brito (S)
Jeremy Eierman (R)#
Joseph Pena (S)#
Alfonso Rivas (L)#
Max Schuemann (R)#

Outfielders

Anthony Churlin (R)
Devin Foyle (S)#
Jameson Hannah (L)#
Enrry Pantoja (R)
Austin Piscotty (R)#
Payton Squier (L)
Noah Vaughan (L)#

A few draft standouts, listed in order of the round they were picked. No one is even at 100 plate appearances yet, so don’t jump to any big conclusions:

2. Hannah: 109 wRC+, team-leading 3 steals, but 29.7% Ks
3. Eireman: Tied for team lead w/ 2 HR, but only 81 wRC+
4. Rivas: 130 wRC+, more walks than Ks
23. Bride: On base 12-of-26 times so far (only 4 Ks)
33. Pena: On base 17-of-32 times so far (only 5 Ks)

Meanwhile, Squier (2017, 16th round) is hot through 84 PAs, with twice as many walks (13) as strikeouts (7) and a dinger to boot. However, the biggest name here who’s not from this summer’s draft is Brito, who is holding his own at age 18 among a sea of college juniors and seniors:

Brito: .242/.347/.290, 98 wRC+, 3 doubles, 13.9% BB, 22.2% Ks

He has played exclusively 2B this year.

AZL Rookie League A’s

And the rest of the draft class!

Players in bold only are on the preseason CPL Top 30. Players with a pound# are 2018 draft picks. Players with a bold pound# are 2018 draft picks from the top 10 rounds.

AZL Rookie League roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Ismael Aquino (R)
Osvaldo Berrios (R)
Angello Infante (R)
Daulton Jefferies (R)
Richard Morban (R)

Relievers

Reid Birlingmair (R)#
Austin Briggs (L)#
Caleb Evans (R)
Malik Jones (R)
Daniel Martinez (R)#
Jorge Martinez (L)
Aiden McIntyre (R)#
Jesus Monserratt (R)
Alexander Pantuso (R)#
Leudeny Pineda (R)#
Dallas Woolfolk (R)#
Catchers

Cesarre Astorri (R)
Matt Cross (R)#
Jorge Gordon (R)
John Jones (R)#
JJ Schwarz (R)#

Infielders

Alexander Campos (R)
Jordan Diaz (R)
Gio Dingcong (R)#
Alonzo Medina (R)
Christopher Quintin (R)
Cobie Vance (R)#
Yerdel Vargas (R)
Nick Ward (L)#

Outfielders

Danny Bautista (R)
George Bell (R)
Lawrence Butler (L)#
Yhoelnys Gonzalez (R)
Kevin Richards (R)
Rafael Rincones (S)

3B Justin Jones (2017, 34th round) is also listed on the roster, on the Restricted List.

The biggest news on this roster is the addition of Schwarz, who finally signed after a deep run through the College World Series. I don’t have much to say about this group and I care virtually zero about Rookie Ball stats, but here are a few notes:

  • Jefferies appeared in one game in mid-June but suffered a setback and hasn’t pitched since. He could still get to Stockton soon, though (via A’s Farm).
  • Through 37 PAs, Campos is 4-for-28 with 7 BB, 9 Ks, 2 doubles. He’s not hitting yet but at least the plate discipline has translated so far after his jump up from Dominican Rookie Ball.
  • Butler, the only high school pick from this summer’s draft class, has already racked up 10 BB and 12 Ks in 41 PAs (126 wRC+).
  • This roster is loaded with some of the international youngsters we’ve been waiting to see (Vargas, Campos, Bell, Richards, Rincones, plus Astorri from Italy, and Berrios as a 2017 draft pick out of high school in Puerto Rico).

Now that the draft class has finished signing, here is how the final bonus pool worked out. The A’s spent virtually every dollar available, leaving only $160 to spare beneath the meaningful penalty cap (the one that costs future picks, for going more than 5% over).

Oakland A's 2018 draft: Signing bonuses
Rd Name Pos $Slot $Sign $Diff
1 Kyler Murray OF 4,761,500 4,660,000 (-101,500)
2 Jameson Hannah OF 1,414,200 1,800,000 +385,800
B Jeremy Eierman SS 872,400 1,232,000 +359,600
3 Hogan Harris LHP 683,800 660,000 (-23,000)
4 Alfonso Rivas 1B 493,000 446,500 (-46,500)
5 Brady Feigl RHP 368,200 300,000 (-68,200)
6 Lawrence Butler OF 278,000 285,000 +7,000
7 Charlie Cerny RHP 217,200 217,200 0
8 JJ Schwarz C 173,000 140,000 (-33,000)
9 Chase Cohen RHP 150,700 140,000 (-10,700)
10 Clark Cota RHP 141,200 150,000 +8,800
- Total - 9,553,200 10,030,700 +4.998%

And finally, to wrap things up, here’s the full updated depth chart from top to bottom. I already re-added Trevor Cahill to the MLB section since he’s known to be coming off the DL in about 12 hours, so there are 26 names on the 25-man roster until we learn the corresponding move in the morning.