New in Oakland, Part 3: Minor Leaguers

This is the third installment of a 3 part series introducing the newest members of the Oakland Athletics. These players were either signed as a free agent or traded for during the off season.  This third installment will introduce the new key minor league players not on Oakland’s 40-man roster.  These players figure prominently in Oakland’s future.

Sam Fuld, outfielder – Sam was signed to a Minor League contract earlier this month. He has spent parts of the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. His contract includes an invite to the Major League spring training camp. He will compete for a possible 5th outfielder spot, if the Athletics are to carry 5 outfielders into the season. You can read our post about the signing here: A’s sign Fuld

Billy Burns, outfielder – Billy was acquired by the Athletics from the Washington Nationals in exchange for reliever Jerry Blevins in early-December. Billy has proven to be a terror on the base paths as he swiped 74 bags in 121 games in 2013. He is also very capable of getting on base. In the past 3 seasons Billy has an OBP of .421. The Athletics will likely start the 23 year old in Midland with the RockHounds, but if he has a great spring he could break camp with the River Cats.

Dusty Brown, catcher – Dusty was signed by the Athletics to a Minor League contract in January. He was out of baseball for the 2013 season and has 24 games of Major League experience. His contract included an invitation to the Major League spring training camp. With the crowd of catchers the Athletics have at the Major League and AAA level it is possible the Athletics could move the Minor League veteran to an infield position. 

Chris Jensen, pitcher – Chris was acquired with Drew Pomeranz in the deal that sent Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies. He was 5-8 with a 4.55 ERA with the Modesto Nuts in the 2013 season. Chris is a solid starting pitcher, but could likely find himself starting for the Stockton Ports in 2014 as the 23 year old could use a little more experience before making the jump to AA.

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New in Oakland, Part 1: Pitchers

This is the first installment of a 3 part series introducing the newest members of the Oakland Athletics. These players were either signed as a free agent or traded for during the off season.  This first installment will introduce the new pitchers on Oakland’s 40-man roster.  These players may or may not make the opening day lineup, but figure prominently in Oakland’s future.

Scott Kazmir, starting pitcher – Scott was signed as a free agent to a 2 year contract in December. The 30 year old missed the entire 2012 season and made a comeback with the Cleveland Indians last year. In 2013 he went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA, 162 strikeouts and 1.32 WHIP in 29 games.  Scott figures to be the Athletics’ No. 2 started behind Jarrod Parker.

Jim Johnson, closer – Jim was acquired by the Athletics in exchange for the struggling Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas. Jim was a league leader in saves last year as he earned 50 in 59 opportunities. Jim has a 2.94 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. Jim will take over the closer role previously occupied by Grant Balfour.

Eric O’Flaherty, relief pitcher – Eric was signed as a free agent to a 2 year contract in January. You can see our post about it here: A’s sign O’Flaherty. While Eric is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not be available until mid-season, Eric was an anchor of the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves over the past 5 years. In his MLB career Eric is 20-9 with a 2.85 ERA, 245 strikeouts in 343 games with the Braves and the Seattle Mariners.

Fernando Abad, relief pitcher – Fernando was dealt by the Washington Nationals to the Athletics for Minor League outfielder John Wooten. In 2013 Fernando was 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 39 relief appearances

Luke Gregerson, relief pitcher – Luke was dealt to the Athletics by the San Diego Padres for outfielder Seth Smith. In 2013 Luke was a workhorse on the Padres staff compiling a 6-8 record with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 73 relief appearances.

Josh Lindblom, relief pitcher – Josh was a part of the trade that brought Chris Gentry from the Texas Rangers to the Athletics for Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. It is likely that Josh will start the season with the Sacramento River Cats, but he could figure prominently in the bullpen later in the season. In limited duty with the Rangers Josh went 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in 8 games, 5 of which were starts.

Drew Pomeranz, starting pitcher – Drew was acquired by the Athletics along with minor leaguer Chris Jensen in the trade that sent Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies. Drew will begin the year with the Sacramento River Cats and figures to be a starter with the Athletics some time in the next year or two. Drew pitched in 8 games, 4 starts, last season for the Rockies and compiled an 0-4 record, 6.23 ERA in 21.2 innings.

Athletics exercise club options for Crisp and Anderson

Two highly expected moves were formally announced on Friday.  The Oakland Athletics exercise the club options for outfielder, Coco Crisp and left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson.

Coco was the main spark plug for the Athletics’s return to the postseason.  He batted .267 with an on base percentage of .335 in 131 games this season.  Coco also set a new career high for home runs with 22, doubling his total from 2012.  His previous best was 16 back in 2005 when he played for the Cleveland Indians.

Brett Anderson struggled once again with the injury bug in 2013.  He did get into 16 games, his highest total since 2010, but only 5 were starts.  Brett proved valuable for the Athletics in the stretch drive as he came out of the bullpen.  On the season he went 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA.  Brett did tally 46 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.  Brett’s future role with the Athletics is dependent on whether or not they can resign the 40 year old Bartolo Colon.  Colon returned to his All-Star for this year collecting an 18-6 record.

2 Club Options Declined
Not surprisingly the Oakland Athletics declined the club options for veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki and struggling outfielder Chris Young.

Kurt filled in at catcher quite nicely when John Jaso and Derek Norris were banged up late in the season.  However, with the emergence of Stephen Vogt and a healthy Derek Norris the is simply no room for Kurt.

Chris has one of his worst seasons as he played in 107 games and batted a measly .200.  The only upside for the outfielder was the 12 home runs he hit this season.  Barring any off season acquisitions this move makes room for No. 2 Prospect Michael Choice to get extended playing time at the Major League level.

A Look Back: 2013 Preseason Top 20 Prospects

With all of these posts about the current Top 20 Prospects in the Oakland Athletics organization, I wanted to look back at the same list only from the 2013 preseason.  We will talk about those who graduated from the list and those who have dropped off.  Here is the Top 20 Prospects list coming into the 2013 Spring Training.

1. Addison Russell
2. Dan Straily
3. Michael Choice
4. Grant Green
5. Matt Olson
6. Sonny Gray
7, Daniel Robertson
8. Renato Nunez
9. Miles Head
10. Nolan Sanburn
11. Raul Alcantara
12. Michael Taylor
13. B.J. Boyd
14. Vicmal De La Cruz
15. Bruce Maxwell
16. Arnold Leon
17. Beau Taylor
18. Drew Granier
19. Blake Hassebrock
20. Jefry Marte

When comparing this list to the current list 7 players have moved off the list.  3 players have graduated from the list and 4 players fell off.

The Graduates (3 players)
Dan Straily – After a strong rookie debut in August and September 2012, Straily was given another opportunity to show he belongs in the majors as a member of the Athletics’s starting staff. Dan made the starting rotation on Opening Day in place of Bartolo Colon who was finishing up a 50 game suspension from the 2012 season.  After Brett Anderson went down with an injury Straily made the case and remained in the starting rotation for the remainder of the season.

Grant Green – Grant was called up right around the 2013 All-Star Break and made his MLB debut with the Oakland Athletics.  His tenure was uneventful and short lived.  At the trade deadline Grant was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Alberto Callaspo, a move that ultimately helped both clubs.  Grant found his stroke and started to get plenty of playing time proving that he does belong in the Majors.

Sonny Gray – Sonny was called up around the same time as Grant Green and the results were the polar opposite.  He excelled in 2 relief appearances prior to making his 1st MLB start. One of the memorable moments from the 2013 season for Sonny was his 1st Postseason battle vs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. Gray matched him pitch for pitch with the Athletics winning the game in walk-off fashion in the 9th inning.

Dropped Off…For Now (4 players)
Michael Taylor – The aging minor league veteran has dropped off the list due to inconsistent results at the Major League level.  Taylor is a proven hitter in the Minors, however that success has yet to translate to the Majors and with the crowded outfield situation in Oakland he may be better suited to hookup with another organization.

Bruce Maxwell – With the trade of Max Stassi in the 2012 off season Bruce became the Athletics’s top catching prospect, and at this point he still is.  Bruce may have dropped off the list, but he did not fall far.  In his 1st full season Bruce batted .275 earning a promotion from Class A to High A ball halfway through the season.  Bruce is not only a force at the plate, but behind the plate as well.  He handles a variety of pitchers very well and is quickly becoming a great game caller.

Beau Taylor – After Bruce Maxwell, Beau was the other catcher on the Top Prospect list.  He excelled in the 2012 season advancing 3 levels, Vermont Lake Monsters to Stockton Ports to Midland RockHounds in a short time.  Beau had a difficult year at the plate hitting only .191 in 76 games.  His defense behind the plate is what keeps him ranked as a Top Prospect, but just not in the Top 20.  With a strong 2014 Beau could return to the Top 20 list.

Jefry Marte – Acquired by the Athletics in December 2012 from the New York Mets, Jefry was quickly labeled as a Top 20 Prospect.  He had a strong showing in 2013 batting .278 with 17 doubles in 66 games for the RockHounds, but with the new Draft Class and stellar performance from some unlikely players, Marte dropped off the Top 20 list.

Brett Anderson to make a rehab start with the Stockton Ports

On Thursday, August 22nd, Oakland Athletics pitcher Brett Anderson is scheduled to make a rehab start in Stockton.  This will be his 2nd rehab start since being sidelined with a foot fracture.  His 1st rehab appearance was on August 17th with the Sacramento RiverCats.  This will be Brett’s 1st rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports this season. He is 1-4 on the season with a 6.21 ERA for the Oakland Athletics and has not pitched since April 29th during the 18 inning marathon against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Brett is recovering from a fracture in his right foot.  For this outing he is scheduled to throw around 70 pitches.   After this start, barring any setbacks, Brett’s next appearance will likely be with the Oakland Athletics.