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A’s minor league recap: Cunningham injures shoulder

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm for the A’s affiliates Saturday and Sunday:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The bad news from Sacramento isn’t that the River Cats dropped three of four to Tacoma (Mariners) following Sunday’s 6-3 defeat, it was the loss of outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who is out with a separated right shoulder.

Cunningham, who was 4-for-12 with three doubles and four RBI in three games, injured his shoulder during a home-plate collision with Tacoma catcher Jeff Clement. Cunningham, who turns 23 on April 24, was placed on the River Cats’ disabled list. It’s not known how long he’ll be sidelined.

Edgar Gonzalez’s first start for Sacramento was decent enough. He allowed six hits and three earned runs in five innings. The right-hander didn’t allow a walk and struck out six. Things didn’t go as well for 29-year-old Bobby Cramer, who took the loss after giving up three runs in four innings as Tacoma loaded the bases in three of his four innings. Cramer, though, is someone you root for, given his long journey back to baseball.

Right fielder Sean Doolittle is hitting .333 after four games. Daric Barton, who has made all four starts at first base, is hitting just .133 but has driven in three runs.

James Simmons’ first start on Saturday night went well for 3 1/3 innings. He then allowed six consecutive batters to reach and all wound up scoring. He didn’t factor into the decision — the River Cats lost 9-7 in 11 innings.

Here’s the recap from Saturday night’s game.

Here’s the recap from Sunday’s game.

Gio Gonzalez makes his first start of the season for Sacramento on Monday night against Portland (Padres).

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Josh Donaldson’s 10th-inning squeeze bunt set the stage for Sam Demel’s first Double-A save as the Rockhounds beat Springfield (Cardinals) 8-7 Sunday, leaving Midland 3-1 on its season-opening road trip.

Demel (3rd round, ’07) led Stockton with 18 saves last season. His first for Midland capped a four-hour, 21-minute game played through a constant 25 mph wind.

Saturday’s 5-1 win for Midland was keyed by Travis Banwart (4th round, ’07), who started and went four scoreless innings. He allowed just two hits, walked three and struck out one.

Both second baseman Adrian Cardenas and center fielder Corey Brown have come alive at the plate. Cardenas had two doubles and two RBI Saturday and is now hitting . 313. Brown shook off an 0-for-7 start and is hitting .357 after going a combined 5-for-7 Saturday and Sunday.

Chris Carter is now hitting .222 after a 2-for-4 Sunday effort. In addition to his game-winning sacrifice, Donaldson drew three walks Sunday, but is just 1-for-13 (.077). On the other end, third baseman Yung-Chi Chen is fourth in the Texas League with a .455 batting average.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

The Ports got completely outclassed in San Jose this week as Stockton was outscored 24-1 in losing all four games to the Giants, including shutouts in the final three games. Of course, San Jose should dominate a lot of clubs with the talent on its roster.

Scott Hodsdon (6th round, ’07) started and absorbed the loss in Sunday’s 10-0 defeat after allowing eight hits and five runs (four earned) in three innings. San Jose’s Brandon Crawford, from Foothill High, homered in the first inning and went 3-for-3. He batted .583 in the series.

Starter Craig Italiano (2nd round. ’05) couldn’t survive a rough third inning during Saturday’s 5-0 loss. In the inning, Italiano walked four, hit a batter and allowed a two-run bloop single by San Jose phenom Buster Posey.

Offensively, the only positive news is that Stockton’s .168 team batting average isn’t the worst in the minors — shockingly, there are three teams with a lower cumulative average. As mentioned in an earlier post, Stockton only has a couple of the A’s better position player prospects: Jermaine Mitchell (.273) and Matthew Spencer (.143).

Stockton goes to Modesto for a three-game series and then comes home to face San Jose later this week in a four-game series beginning Thursday.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Steve Kleen’s 10th-inning single scored Jason Christian from first base with the winning run as the Cougars beat Peoria (Cubs) 3-2 Saturday night to win two of three in the series.

The Cougars, who were off Easter Sunday, got seven innings of two-hit relief from four different pitchers, including two hitless innings apiece from Scott Deal and Jamie Richmond. Richmond, acquired along with Joey Devine in the Mark Kotsay deal, is in the bullpen after being almost exclusively a starter the past three years. Jose Guzman finished for his second straight save.

Left-hander Pedro Figueroa started and worked just three innings. He permitted six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out one.

Shortstop Dusty Coleman went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a walk, but is still hitting just .083. Even worse is outfielder Grant Desme (2nd round, ’07), who is now 0-for-11 with five strikeouts.

Former Pepperdine star Brett Hunter (7th round, ’08) will make his first start of the season on Tuesday afternoon against Burlington (Royals).

Finally, if you’re looking to see who’s where, here’s a pretty accurate A’s organizational depth chart.

Jon Becker

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