Jesus Luzardo heading to Midland

After only 3 starts Oakland’s No. 2 Prospect, Jesus Luzardo, has been promoted to AA Midland RockHounds. During his brief stint with the Stockton Ports, Luzardo gave up only 2 runs and 6 hits in 14.2 innings. He also struck out 25 batters and walked only 5.  In his last outing on April 17th he did not allow a hit and walked 1 in five innings against the Modesto Nuts.

Luzardo0405

Athletics No. 2 Prospect Jesus Luzardo pitching for the Stockton Ports on Opening Night, April 5, 2018

Luzardo’s first start with the RockHounds will likely take place on Tuesday at Corpus Christi. Right now Midland’s starting pitcher is listed as TBD for that game.

Luzardo’s promotion may seem fast, but he impressed many people during Spring Training this year. Luzardo pitched in 3 games, 2 as a starter. In those outings, he did not give up any runs, compiled a 2-0 record and earned a save in his lone relief appearance.

The top prospect is one of now four 20 year-old starting pitchers to make it to AA for the Oakland A’s in the past 20 years. According to Melissa Lockard (Twitter: @melissalockard) the most recent to do this were Rich Harden (2002), Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson (both in 2008). Among this group Luzardo has the fewest Class A Advanced starts with 3. Both Cahill and Anderson had 13 starts each for the Stockton Ports in 2008. Harden had 12 starts for the Visalia Oaks in 2002 before earning his promotion.

Interestingly enough both Cahill and Anderson have rejoined the A’s for the 2018 season. Cahill made his first start in Oakland on April 17th. Anderson is pitching great in AAA Nashville with a 1.38 ERA in 3 starts while striking out 20 in 13 innings pitched.

The 20 year-old lefty was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2016 Draft out of Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, FL). Luzardo was acquired by the Oakland Athletics with Blake Treinen and Sheldon Neuse (Oakland’s No. 11 Prospect) in the trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington.

For a video primer of Luzardo’s first 2 starts with Stockton, I recommend Real McCoy Baseball’s YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter @RealMcCoyBaseball

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A’s Pitching Prospects Start the Season Strong

The first full week of the MiLB season is in the books and the different leagues are handling out the first round of player and pitcher of the week accolades. The Oakland Athletics pitching prospects took home Pitcher of the Week awards in three different leagues.

Coming into the season the A’s had the 7th ranked Top Farm system by MLB Pipeline. The pitching prospects are led by A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo. However, Puk went under the knife to have Tommy John Surgery last week and Luzardo has had a very strong showing in his first two starts of the season.

Here is how the A’s prospects fared in the weekly awards (April 5th-15th):

California League, Pitcher of the Week: Parker Dunshee, Stockton Ports. Dunshee had 2 starts and only gave up 3 hits while striking out 14 batters. He won his second start at San Jose on April 12th and has yet to give up a run.

Midwest League, Pitcher of the Week: Bryce Conley, Beloit Snappers. Conley has tossed 10 scoreless and hitless innings to start the 2018 season. Conley tossed the first 6 innings of Beloit’s combined no hitter with Ty Damron and Josh Reagan finishing it off.

Pacific Coast League, Pitcher of the Week: James Naile, Nashville Sounds. Naile went 3-0 and has pitched 17 2/3 scoreless innings in 3 starts to begin the 2018 season. Naile has allowed 15 hits, only 2 walks and stuck out 15 batters.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Oakland’s pitching prospects. The Stockton Ports starting pitching combined for 39.2 IP, 21 H, 2 ER, 9 BB, 59 K in the first 8 games. Bobby Wahl, Jeremy Bliech and Lou Trivino have each pitched in 3 games out of the bullpen for Nashville and have not given up a run. Jake Sachez, currently with Midland, has not given up a run in 3.1 IP with Midland and Nashville combined.

Athletics get Jed Lowrie back

On Wednesday Jed Lowrie was traded by the Houston Astros to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Oakland’s number 30 prospect Brendan McCurry. Jed returns to the Athletics after signing a 3 year deal with the Astros after the 2014 season. He played in 290 games with Oakland during the 2013 and 2014 seasons and batted .271 with 74 doubles and 125 RBIs. In 2015 Jed was limited to 69 games with Houston.

The arrival of shortstop Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve at 2nd base, made Lowrie expendable in Houston. Barring any subsequent moves. in Oakland he will have the chance to platoon with Marcus Semien at shortstop, Brett Lawrie at second and Danny Valencia at third.

Brendan was drafted in the 22nd round of the June 2014 draft. In 2015 he split time with the Stockton Ports and Midland RockHounds. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 50 games, converting 27 out 28 save opportunities. McCurry was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League this year and posted a 4.73 ERA in just over 13 innings. He was selected as the reliever on Oakland’s organizational All-Stars for the 2015 season.

Card of the Week: Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate

Now that I just completed a stretch of working 16 days in a row, I can get back to some semblance of routine. This week’s Card of the Week is the 2014 Topps Pro Debut Printing Plate of Bruce Maxwell. Bruce is currently the Oakland Athletics No. 28 Prospect on MLB.com. This card features Bruce’s time on the Beloit Snappers. This is the 3rd printing plate I own. The great thing about printing plates is that they are a true 1/1.

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 - Front

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 – Front

Bruce was drafted in the 2nd round of the June 2012 Draft. This past year he was with the Midland RockHounds and helped them to their 2nd straight Texas League Championship. Bruce spent part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Stockton Ports where I got to see him play. He was also named to the 2014 California League All-Star team.

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 - Back

Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 – Back

Click to see the previous Card of the Week entries.

Billy Burns to Get 1st MLB Start Against Astros

In the series finale versus the Houston Astros, the Oakland Athletics will start rookie Billy Burns in center field. With Coco Criso still out with a neck strain Bob Melvin has said that Billy will start against left handed pitchers. Billy will be starting and leading off against the Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel.

Billy was called up from AA Midland RockHounds on Monday after the Athletics had to place Craig Gentry on the 15 day DL with a broken hand. He has played in both games of the series. He pinch hit on Monday night (o-1) and was a defensive replacement in Tuesday’s comeback win. This will be Billy’s first start.

Billy was acquired by the Athletics in the trade that sent reliever Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals. The Athletics took a long look at Billy during Spring Training. He played in 26 games and hit .306 (22 for 72) with 8 walks and 10 stolen bases. For the RockHounds Billy was batting .250 (91 for 364) with 44 walks and 51 stolen bases. In 2013 with the Potomac Nationals, Billy hit .315 (170 for 444) with 72 walks and 74 stolen bases.

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!

Six RockHounds Named to All-Star Team

As the Midland RockHounds are trying to wrap up the 1st half title, the Texas League announced the rosters for the All-Star Game. Not surprisingly 6 RockHounds were named to the Texas League South Team.

Max Muncy (1B), Dusty Coleman (SS) and Josh Whitaker (RF) were named as starters. Anthony Aliotti (1B) was named as a reserve player. Pitchers Nate Long and Seth Frankoff were selected to the pitching staff.

Max Muncy, 1st Base
.288 AVG, 13 2B, 3 HR, 29 RBI in 46 games

Dusty Coleman, Shortstop
.240 AVG, 12 2B, 5 HR, 26 RBI in 60 games

Josh Whitaker, Right Field
.326 AVG, 10 2B, 9 HR, 42 RBI in 47 games

Anthony Aliotti, 1st Base
.273 AVG, 7 2B, 5 HR, 22 RBI in 39 games

Nate Long, Starting Pitcher
6-1, 2.90 ERA, 44 SO, 0.98 WHIP in 10 starts, 59.0 IP

Seth Frankoff, Relief Pitcher
2-2, 2.60 ERA, 40 SO, 1.08 WHIP, 11 Saves in 27.2 IP

The Texas League All-Star Game will take place on June 24, 2014 at Dickey-Stephens Park home of the Arkansas Travelers.