Goodbye Sacramento, Hello Nashville!

The Oakland Athletics have announced that they have reached an agreement on a 4-year Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Nashville Sounds of the Pacific Coast League. This is the first AAA affiliate change for the Oakland Athletics since minor league baseball moved back to Sacramento in 2000.

The Nashville Sounds will be moving into their new ballpark, First Tennessee Park in the 2015 season and the Athletics farm hands will be the first to experience the new facility.

This change has come as no surprise as it was reported back in May the the River Cats could seek a new affiliate at the end of the 2014 season. Here is a link to our original story: River Cats. The Athletics leave behind an amazing legacy in Sacramento, one that will be difficult to duplicate. 11 division titles, including a stretch from 2007-12, 4 League titles and 2 Class titles (2007, 2008).

Now the Athletics will begin a new era of AAA baseball in Nashville where they will create a new legacy.

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Post-Draft Top 20 Prospects

Now that the signing deadline for the 2014 June Draft has passed the Top 20 Prospects have been updated by MLB.com. There are many new faces on the Oakland Athletics list as well and a few that have moved up the ranks based on their performance so far this season.

New to the list are 2014 Draft Picks Matt Chapman (No. 4), Brett Graves (No. 13) and Daniel Gossett (No. 14).  Also new to the list are Ryon Healy (No. 18) and Jaycob Brugman (No. 20). Aaron Shipman (No. 19) makes a return to the list for the first time since 2012 with his breakout season under the radar in Stockton.

Notable jumps on the list are Bruce Maxwell who moves from No. 14 to No. 10. Chad Pinder makes the jump from No. 15 to No. 6. Seth Streich makes the biggest jump moving from No. 18 to No. 8 with his All-Star season with the Stockton Ports.

Off the list are B.J. Boyd, Dylan Covey, Chris Kohler, Miles Head, Arnold Leon and Dustin Driver. Boyd and Covey are having strong seasons, so they are not far off the list. Meanwhile Kohler and Head have been battling injuries and could possibly make a return to the list in the next season or so as they return to form.

1. Daniel Robertson
2. Matthew Olson
3. Renato Nunez
4. Matt Chapman
5. Dillon Overton
6. Chad Pinder
7. Raul Alcantara
8. Seth Streich
9. Max Muncy
10. Bruce Maxwell
11. Bobby Wahl
12. Nolan Sanburn
13. Brett Graves
14. Daniel Gossett
15. Tucker Healy
16. Michael Ynoa
17. Billy Burns
18. Ryon Healy
19. Aaron Shipman
20. Jaycob Brugman

To be eligible for the list the player must have rookie eligibility.  Players cannot exceed 130 at bats or 50 innings pitches with a Major League club.  Also the player cannot be on the active roster for more than 45 days during the 25 player limit period.

Player Profile: Seth Frankoff

Seth Frankoff, relief pitcher
Sacramento River Cats

2014 Stats (through 7/15)
2-2, 4.31 ERA, 15 saves, 31 games, 39.2 IP, 50 strikeouts

Seth Frankoff was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 27th round of the 2010 June Draft. Since that time he has been making a slow, but steady climb through the Athletics’s farm system.

Seth began the 2014 season with the Midland RockHounds (AA). A couple of weeks into the season he established himself as the closer of the staff. Seth notched 15 saves in 27 games en route to a Texas League All-Star selection. In his All-Star appearance Seth pitched a scoreless 8th innings striking out one batter.

His success in the closer’s role during the first half of the season for the RockHounds, earned Seth a promotion to the Sacramento River Cats (AAA).

Since his promotion he has pitched in 4 games for the River Cats. He has struggled posting a 15.00 ERA in 6 innings. However if history is any indication, we will see Seth’s ERA drop over his next few outings.

During the 2014 Spring Training, Seth made one appearance with the Oakland Athletics. That came on March 6th where Seth pitched 1 inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up 1 hit, struck out 1 batter and earned the win.

After the 2013 season, Seth was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox. In 12 games he posted a 1.42 ERA with 3 walks and 15 strikeouts.

2013 was a breakout season for Seth as he spent the entire year with the Stockton Ports (A Advanced). In 48 games he posted a 2.78 ERA with a record of 2-0 in 48 games. In 74.1 innings for the Ports, Seth struck out a career high 93 batters.

In 2012 Seth pitched the entire season with the Burlington Bees. This was where he made the conversion from being a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher. It was in this transition where Seth really found his place on the pitching staff. That season Seth started in 9 games and was 1-3 with a 9.17 ERA. After the transition he pitched in 27 games posting a 4-4 record. What was significant was that his ERA for the rest of the season was 2.51, giving him a 4.83 ERA on the season.

Seth’s first full season in profession baseball was 2011. He started the season with the Burlington Bees (A Full Season). He pitched in 5 games tallied a record of 0-1 with a 11.25 ERA. He came back in June with the Vermont Lake Monsters (A Short-Season). In 14 starts he was 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA and struck out 63 in 73 innings. Seth pitched 2 complete games that season both against the Connecticut Tigers. One was on June 23rd where he gave up only 1 run notching his first victory of the season. The other was a shutout that came on August 26th.

Seth earned the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors for 2 consecutive weeks on August 29 and September 6, 2011.

Top 20 Prospects – Updated July 2014

Following the blockbuster trade that sent the Oakland Athletics top 2 prospects, Addison Russell and Billy McKinney (along with Dan Straily) to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel the Top 20 Prospect list needed to be updated. Here is the updated list as compiled by MLB.com.

New to the list is Tucker Healy at No. 18 who is having a breakout year pitching at three levels with the Stockton Ports (High A), Midland RockHounds (AA) and currently with the Sacramento River Cats (AAA). Arnold Leon returns to the list at No. 19 as he is hiving a strong year posting a 9-2 record with a 4.47 ERA in 17 games for the River Cats.

This list will be changing over the next few months as Draft Pick from the 2014 June Draft are evaluated and other prospects have their seasons re-evalutaed.

1. Daniel Robertson
2. Raul Alcantara
3. Matthew Olson
4. Renato Nunez
5. Bobby Wahl
6. Dillon Overton
7. Billy Burns
8. Nolan Sanburn
9. Michael Ynoa
10. B.J. Boyd
11. Dylan Covey
12. Chris Kohler
13. Max Muncy
14. Bruce Maxwell
15. Chad Pinder
16. Seth Streich
17. Miles Head
18. Tucker Healy
19. Arnold Leon
20. Dustin Driver

To be eligible for the list the player must have rookie eligibility.  Players cannot exceed 130 at bats or 50 innings pitches with a Major League club.  Also the player cannot be on the active roster for more than 45 days during the 25 player limit period.

Athletics Acquire Samardzija and Hammel from Cubs

On the 4th of July the Oakland Athletics set off not one, but two sets of fireworks. The first came in the bottom of the 12th inning when Nick Punto drove a ball to left field that ultimately allowed Derek Norris to score all the way from first base for a 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The second set of fireworks came around 7:50 p.m. when the Athletics traded No. 1 and No. 2 prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney with Dan Straily and a player-to-be-named later to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. This is a bold move that highlights the front office’s commitment to the major league team to win.

This season Samardzija is 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings. Don’t let the win/loss record fool you, Samardzija is coming from the Cubs who own a record of 38-46 and have a team batting average of .236.

Jason Hammel is currently 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA. He has thrown 108.2 innings and has struck out 104 batters. Both pitchers help to bolster one of the best starting rotations in the Majors.

The Chicago Cubs get  3 players who will be a big part of their future. Addison Russell is one of the top prospects in the MLB. Eventhough he has spent most of the season on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury he is on track to be Major League ready by late-2015. With the Midland RockHounds Addison is batting .333 with 3 doubles and a home run in 13 games.

Billy McKinney was the Athletics first round draft choice in the 2013 June draft. He has spent all season with the Stockton Ports where he was batting .241 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 75 games. Over his past 10 games Billy was starting to put it together as he was batting .314 with 3 doubles and a home run.

Dan Straily struggled with the Athletics early this season going 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 7 starts. Since joining the AAA Sacramento River Cats, Straily has turned his season around posting a record of  4-3 with a 4.71 ERA and striking out 67 in 63 innings pitched. Straily earned PCL Pitcher of the Week honors on May 26, 2014.

Good luck to all the players on their new teams!

Dan Straily named PCL Pitcher of the Week

On Monday, May 26, 2014, Dan Straily was named the Pitcher of the Week of the Pacific Coast League for the week of May 19-25. During the week Straily won both of his starts allowing only one run in 14 innings pitched. In his first start against the El Paso Chihuahuas Straily struck out 8 batters. His next start was against the Las Vegas 51s where he struck out 7 and only allowed 3 hits.

After being optioned by the Oakland Athletics on May 16th, Straily has made 3 starts for the River Cats. He is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA and 20 strikeouts.

This is Dan Straily’s second PCL Pitcher of the Week award of his career. His first was in 2012 for the week of July 9-15. Straily has now earned pitcher of the week honors in the minors a total of 6 times.

Dan Straily’s Pitcher of the Week Honors
2014
May 19-25: Pacific Coast League

2012
July 9-15: Pacific Coast League
June 4-10: Texas League
May 14-20: Texas League

2011
April 18-24: California League

2009
August 24-30: Northwest League

Sacramento River Cats May Change Affiliates

At the end of the 2014 season the current player development contract (PDC) between the Oakland Athletics and Sacramento River Cats will end. This is not news. Major League baseball clubs contract their affiliates and at some point that contract needs to be renewed.

Speculation has arisen this weekend that the River Cats are looking to bring in the San Francisco Giants as their affiliate. The Giants’s current AAA affiliate is the Fresno Grizzlies. The Grizzlies and Giants have had a partnership since the team moved to Fresno in 1998. The PDC between San Francisco and Fresno is also up this year. It is speculated that the River Cats might prefer to have the Giants as their affiliate since they are more popular in terms of Major League attendance and Bay Area TV ratings than the Athletics.

All of this talk prompted a response on Sunday from the River Cats.

rivercats0518

Basically a typical statement to tell the Athletics and their fans that “we like you, but we are keeping our options open.” Is all of this innuendo, just a hardball tactic to get the Athletics to really invest into the River Cats? Possibly, but we do know one thing for sure. This will not be resolved until after the end of the season.

Why would the River Cats seek an affiliate change? The PDC between the Giants and Grizzlies and the Athletics and River Cats both end this year. The Giants may seem like a “sexier” option than the Athletics. If you look at the Major League level the Giants far out pace the Athletics in attendance and they seem to be more popular because you seen more merchandise in stores. However, those are not good reasons to switch affiliates.

Since the River Cats came into existence in 2000 they have been an Oakland Athletics affiliate. During that time the River Cats have gone on to win 7 Pacific Coast League Championships and they have led the minors in attendance in 8 seasons. Since 1998 the Frenso Grizzlies have won only 1 PCL title and that was in their first year. This says a lot about what the Athletics have to offer the River Cats.

Here is a look at the average attendance between the 2 affiliates in 2013 (data gathered from Ballpark Digest):

Sacramento River Cats
607,329 total attendance
72 games per year
8,435 average attendance per game in 2013
8,140 average attendance per game in 2012
+0.04% attendance difference

Fresno Grizzlies
487,536 total attendance
72 games per year
6,771 average attendance per game in 2013
6,551 average attendance per game in 2012
+0.03% attendance difference

Looking at these numbers and the past history of each AAA Club, switching to the San Francisco Giants as an affiliate does not make sense for the Sacramento River Cats. If they are in fact trying to provide their fans with “the best experience possible at Raley Field” the choice is clear: remain the Oakland Athletics AAA affiliate.

Scoreboard: May 16, 2014

Friday night was an organizational sweep for the Oakland Athletics. The Oakland Athletics decisively won 11-1 against the Cleveland Indians. In the farm system the Sacramento River Cats dominated the Tacoma Raniers. The Midland RockHounds and Stockton Ports both scored the go ahead run late in the game to secure the victory. The Beloit Snappers were the biggest winners of the night as they swept a double header against the Clinton LumberKings. On Saturday each team will continue their respective series.

Elephant Farm Scoreboard
AAA
Tacoma Rainiers 5
Sacramento River Cats 11

AA
Midland RockHounds 9
Corpus Christi Hooks 7

A Advanced
Bakersfield Blaze 7
Stockton Ports 9

A Full
Beloit Snappers 1
Clinton LumberKings 0
Game 1

Beloit Snappers 5
Clinton LumberKings 2
Game 2

Scoreboard: May 15, 2014

On Thursday it took extra inning for the Sacramento River Cats and the Midland RockHounds to earn the victory. The Stockton Ports lost a weekday matinee against the San Jose Giants. In the Midwest League the Beloit Snappers and the Clinton LumberKings were rained out so they will play a double header on Friday. Up next, the RockHounds travel to Corpus Christi to play the Hooks. The Stockton Ports welcome in the Bakersfield Blake in the start of a 4 game set.

Elephant Farm Scoreboard
AAA
Tacoma Rainiers 4
Sacramento River Cats 5
11 innings

AA
Frisco RoughRiders 10
Midland RockHounds 11
11 innings

A Advanced
San Jose Giants 6
Stockton Ports 4

A Full
Beloit Snappers
Clinton LumberKings
Postponed

Scoreboard: May 14 ,2014

On Wednesday the Stockton Ports winning streak came to an end. The Midland RockHounds scored 3 times in the bottom of the 9th for the walk-off win. In the Midwest League the Beloit Snappers out dueled the Kane County Cougars. On Thursday the Ports will wrap up their series with the San Jose Giants. The Snappers will travel to Clinton to face the LumberKings. The RockHounds will continue their battle against the RoughRiders. In Sacramento the River Cats will start a weekend series with the Tacoma Rainiers.

Elephant Farm Scoreboard
AA
Frisco RoughRiders 6
Midland RockHounds 7

A Advanced
San Jose Giants 7
Stockton Ports 5

A Full
Kane County Cougars 1
Beloit Snappers 2