At the top of my web browser, there’s a line of bookmarks that I use daily for baseball. But there’s one that I hadn’t touched in more than a year and a half, and last night I clicked it for the first time in an eternity: The minor league scoreboard.
The MiLB website has changed since 2019, so the link didn’t work anymore and I had to update it, which was an appropriate piece of symbolism illustrating how long it had been. But the point is, the minor leagues are back after skipping an entire year during the coronavirus pandemic, and on Tuesday there were actual box scores from real regular season games.
Three Oakland A’s affiliates took the field yesterday, with one more (Triple-A Las Vegas) waiting until Thursday. Let’s see how it went, starting at the bottom of the system and working up.
Low-A Stockton (lose 3-0)
The Stockton Ports opened up with a two-hit shutout loss, but both of the hits were particularly interesting. One came off the bat of catcher Tyler Soderstrom, the club’s most recent 1st-round draft pick and arguably the top prospect in the whole organization. He was impressive in the Cactus League this spring, going 4-for-10 with three doubles, and he picked up where he left off on Tuesday with a double in his first at-bat.
The Ports’ other hit was off the bat of Lazaro Armenteros. The outfielder played at High-A in 2019 but was moved back a level this summer, with strikeouts as a significant issue to be addressed. He did K twice in this game, but he also singled and walked, which sums up how his career has gone so far — some positive results weighed down by the red flag of strikeouts.
On the pitching side, Osvaldo Berrios (20th round, 2017, out of high school) went four innings with a solid line, though it wasn’t enough on this night.
- Berrios: 4 ip, 2 runs, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HR, 4 hits
Left-hander David Leal (38th round, 2019) followed with three scoreless frames, including three strikeouts, but Garrett Acton (undrafted, 2020) was wild in his inning and allowed a run.
High-A Lansing (win 8-1)
The Lansing Lugnuts won their first game as an A’s affiliate, after more than a decade with the Blue Jays.
Just as Soderstrom had done for Stockton, another top prospect announced himself in his first at-bat for Lansing. Here it was third baseman Jordan Diaz, who ranks No. 17 on our Community Prospect List and is making his full-season debut this year. Diaz hammered a two-run dinger, complete with an MLB-caliber pose and bat drop.
Diaz later doubled, offering quite the first impression to go along with his promising bat-first profile.
That was far from the Lugnuts’ only offense in the game, though, as they collected another eight hits and totaled eight runs overall. Outfielder Michael Guldberg (3rd round, 2020) chipped in an RBI double, and glove-first catcher Drew Millas (7th round, 2019) made his long-awaited pro debut and went 2-for-4 with his own RBI double.
On the pitching side, the standout was starter Seth Shuman (6th round, 2019), who dominated for four innings.
- Shuman: 4 ip, 0 runs, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 2 hits
That’s one way to put yourself on the radar on the first day! He faced 14 batters and struck out half of them.
Lansing also got two scoreless innings from Shohei Tomioka, who signed out of Japan last winter, and one each from Dalton Sawyer (9th round, 2016) and Aiden McIntyre (22nd round, 2018). For Sawyer this was his first action since 2017, after a long battle with injuries that included Tommy John surgery, and he struck out three of his four batters. McIntyre fanned a pair, continuing the high strikeout tendency he showed in 2019 at the same Low-A level.
Double-A Midland (lose 5-2)
The Midland RockHounds had nearly as rough of a day as Stockton did, with just three hits, but they did also draw a half-dozen walks and scratched out a pair of runs.
Among the top names, catcher Kyle McCann (4th round, 2019, No. 24 CPL) drew a pair of free passes, but otherwise there’s not much to tell about the lineup. Sleeper infielder Jonah Bride (23rd round, 2018) reached base three times.
The pitching wasn’t much better, but two pitchers put together scoreless lines that also included each stranding a pair of inherited runners.
- Mariñez: 1⅔ ip, 0 runs, 1 K
- Jackson: 1⅓ ip, 0 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BB
That’s Eric Mariñez, who spent years in the A’s system as an infielder before converting to the mound. And Zach Jackson, a minor league Rule 5 pick last winter, who wasted no time demonstrating the pluses and minuses of his boom-bust profile.
On the downside, hot sleeper Chase Cohen (9th round, 2018), with his suddenly upticked velocity, had a forgettable season debut that went like this: Walk (but picked off!), HBP, strikeout, HBP, wild pitch, walk. Nobody put the ball in play, and four of five batters received some sort of free pass, plus a wild pitch, and a few stolen bases too (side note for catcher McCann, who allowed six steals). Take a mulligan and try again next time!
All three teams are back in action tonight, and on Thursday they’ll be joined by the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators!