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A’s Farm Report: Top-Performing Prospects in April

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Las Vegas Aviators’ top starter Daniel Mengden Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the first month of the minor league season is in the books, it’s time to take a look at which of the A’s minor league players have gotten off to the best starts in 2019. Familiar pitchers like Daniel Mengden, Brian Howard and Parker Dunshee impressed in the month of April for Las Vegas and Midland, while position players like Lazaro Armenteros and Nick Allen proved to be potent members of the Ports lineup in Stockton.

On the A’s Farm Podcast, we’ve got interviews coming up with former Stockton manager and current Supervisor of Player Development Rick Magnante, former Nashville and Sacramento manager and current minor league infield and baserunning instructor Steve Scarsone, Ports play-by-play man Zack Bayrouty, Stockton manager Webster Garrison, and outfielder Lazaro Armenteros as well as a number of other players for the Ports. But in the meantime, you can find our recent podcasts with A’s Assistant GM Dan Feinstein, Special Assistant Grady Fuson, Assistant Farm Director Ed Sprague and prospects Austin Beck, Jameson Hannah, Nick Allen and Daulton Jefferies here – A’s Farm Podcast

LAS VEGAS AVIATORS (AAA)

OF Mark Payton: 76 AB/7 HR/10 BB/15 K/.342 AVG/.409 OBP/.711 SLG

1B Seth Brown: 91 AB/9 HR/5 BB/19 K/.319 AVG/.357 OBP/.747 SLG

RHP Daniel Mengden: 27 IP/23 H/9 ER/9 BB/33 K/3.00 ERA/1.19 WHIP

Almost every hitter in the Las Vegas lineup hit well in April, but minor league free agent signee Mark Payton was the best of the bunch. The 27-year-old was hitting on all cylinders and put up an impressive OPS of 1.120, which was best among all A’s minor leaguers for the month. First baseman Seth Brown, who was originally ticketed to start the year at Midland before infielder Cliff Pennington asked for his release, was almost as impressive as Payton, and he currently leads the A’s system with 9 home runs and 19 extra-base hits. RHP Daniel Mengden was the strongest starter in the Aviators rotation in April, compiling an efficient ERA of just 3.00 while averaging 11 K/9 over 5 April appearances. Shortstop Jorge Mateo, outfielder Skye Bolt and catcher Sean Murphy all looked good at the plate in April as well. Mateo currently leads all A’s minor leaguers in hits, runs and triples, while Bolt’s 8 doubles and 27 RBIs in April were best on the team and helped earn him his recent promotion to the A’s, and Murphy was boasting a .402 on-base percentage before landing on the injured list and now, unfortunately, it looks like he probably won’t be back in action before sometime in June at the earliest.

MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS (AA)

RHP Brian Howard: 26 IP/23 H/5 ER/11 BB/18 K/1.73 ERA/1.31 WHIP

RHP Parker Dunshee: 31 IP/22 H/6 ER/10 BB/28 K/1.74 ERA/1.03 WHIP

OF Luis Barrera: 39 AB/2 HR/5 BB/8 K/.333 AVG/.409 OBP/.667 SLG

Unsurprisingly, the pitching staff has been the most impressive part of the Midland squad in the early going, and the usual suspects have been leading the way. After impressing last season, righties Parker Dunshee and Brian Howard are back tearing up the Texas League in 2019. They finished the month of April with nearly-identical ERAs of 1.73 and 1.74. They’ve each tacked on another solid start since the end of the month, and Dunshee has now allowed just 2 runs in 22 innings over his last 3 starts and currently boasts the best WHIP among all A’s minor league starters. On the other side of the ball, outfielder Luis Barrera got off to a blazing start during the first two weeks of the season before missing a couple of weeks with a sore shoulder. The 23-year-old compiled 6 extra-base hits in his first 11 games while sporting a slugging percentage of .667 for the month, and he finally returned to action for the RockHounds last weekend. Outfielders Dairon Blanco and Chase Calabuig also proved to be important components in the Midland lineup. Blanco currently leads the system with 10 stolen bases and batted .333 for the RockHounds in the month of April. Meanwhile, Calabuig joined the team from Beloit when Barrera landed on the injured list and has been one of the best hitters in town ever since, putting up an on-base percentage of .500 in his first 15 games for Midland.

STOCKTON PORTS (A+)

OF Lazaro Armenteros: 79 AB/5 HR/18 BB/42 K/.241 AVG/.388 OBP/.481 SLG

SS Nick Allen: 98 AB/2 HR/10 BB/18 K/.286 AVG/.352 OBP/.439 SLG

RHP Brady Feigl: 27 IP/24 H/10 ER/9 BB/29 K/3.33 ERA/1.22 WHIP

19-year-old Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros proved to be the most potent member of the Ports lineup during the first month of the season. Lazaro’s 5 home runs and .481 slugging percentage both led the Stockton squad in April. Interestingly, so did his 18 walks and 42 strikeouts. He’s been looking a lot like a three-outcome hitter in the early stages of the season – and he’s added 2 home runs in his first 5 games in May. Infielder Nick Allen, who’s always been known as a defense-first shortstop and hit just .239 for Beloit last season, has been hitting the ball with a lot more authority in the early going for Stockton. With all the high-profile sluggers on the squad, Allen led the team with 9 doubles and 11 extra-base hits in April. Meanwhile, RHP Brady Feigl was the most reliable member of the rotation during the month. Last year’s 5th-round draft pick for the A’s posted a solid 3.33 ERA while striking out more than a batter per inning over 5 April starts for Stockton. RHP Daulton Jefferies also impressed, notching 21 strikeouts in 15 frames while and compiling a 2.40 ERA for the Ports prior to his promotion to Double-A Midland.

BELOIT SNAPPERS (A)

OF Lester Madden: 49 AB/0 HR/4 BB/19 K/.327 AVG/.382 OBP/.408 SLG

2B Ryan Gridley: 58 AB/2 HR/7 BB/9 K/.259 AVG/.353 OBP/.414 SLG

RHP Eric Marinez: 10 IP/4 H/0 ER/5 BB/16 K/0.00 ERA/0.90 WHIP/3 SV

Beloit registered a record of 8-12 in April, and there weren’t a whole lot of overly-impressive performances lighting things up for the Snappers in the first month of the season. The most intriguing hitter in the lineup has been 20-year-old Cuban outfielder and leadoff hitter Lester Madden. The center fielder spent a week and a half on the injured list in April but still ended up batting .327 with a .382 on-base percentage for the month. Second baseman Ryan Gridley has been solid in his second season with the Snappers, and he currently leads the team with 6 doubles, 8 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs while also boasting the best slugging percentage on the squad. Converted infielder Eric Marinez, who’s been serving as Beloit’s closer, has been the most impressive pitcher on the staff, and he failed to allow a run over 10 innings of work in April. Outfielder Chase Calabuig was one of the team’s top hitters before being reassigned to the RockHounds, and first baseman/outfielder Payton Squier put up .380 on-base percentage for the Snappers in April. Meanwhile, RHPs Daniel Martinez, Adam Reuss and Chase Cohen all did solid work in the Snappers starting rotation in April.

LAST WEEK’S INJURIES & ASSIGNMENTS

With catcher Sean Murphy landing on the injured list, catcher Collin Theroux has now joined the Las Vegas squad, while catcher Robert Mullen has been added to the RockHounds roster. RHP Norge Ruiz was promoted to the Aviators, while LHP Cody Stull was reassigned to the RockHounds. After not pitching for two weeks, RockHounds RHP Grant Holmes was finally placed on the injured list on Wednesday with a sore shoulder. RHP Daulton Jefferies was promoted from the Ports to Midland, while LHP Jared Poche joined Wyatt Marks on the injured list at Stockton. LHP Will Gilbert returned from the injured list for Stockton, and RHPs Kyle Friedrichs and Jake Bray both joined the Ports pitching staff from extended spring training. Beloit RHP Joe DeMers landed on the injured list last week, while RHP Reid Birlingmair returned from the IL for the Snappers. 20-year-old Venezuelan RHP Angello Infante joined the Snappers starting rotation from extended spring training, and Beloit RHP Calvin Coker was reassigned to the Vermont roster. And finally, RHP James Kaprielian has finally been throwing in games at extended spring training in Arizona without any setbacks thus far.

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