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A title for Kane County

Nice to see that some of the seasons in the A’s organization aren’t going as dismally as the one the big team is enduring. Kane County, the team’s Single-A affiliate clinched the Midwestern League Western Division title for the first half with a 6-0 win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Shawn Haviland (5-3) earned the win with six strong innings, and Franklin Hernandez hit a grand slam.

Among the Kane County standouts in the first half:

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Looking ahead

Quick question: Is it me or does it seem like we’ve been reading or hearing about the A’s offensive struggles for oh, about a dozen years? OK, so it hasn’t been that long. But the team’s three losses to the Giants over the weekend was all too similar to all too many series for all too long. The A’s talled all of 16 hits, hit .172 and scored three runs.

Not sure how you feel, but to these eyes, it’s gotten old. So thought I’d spend Tuesday morning looking at some of the hitters who might be coming down the road for the A’s.

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A’s minor league recap: Weeks hits grand slam as Ports end losing streak

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Tacoma (Mariners) 2: Story l Boxscore

Dana Eveland is now 4-0 for the RiverCats as the lefty went six innings and allowed just one earned run. Eveland gave up three hits, three walks and struck out five.

Ryan Webb (fourth round, ‘04) got his first save.

Gregorio Petit had a two-run home run, his third homer of the season.

Travis Buck went 1-for-3 and is hitting .364 through four games while on rehab assignment.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 4 (Astros), RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

First baseman Chris Carter blasted his ninth homer of the season and second baseman
Alex Valdez also homered, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a RockHounds loss.

Jared Lansford gave up two runs in the eighth and was tagged with the loss. Corpus Christi catcher Jason Castro, the ex-Castro Valley High and Stanford star, scored the game-winning run.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 5, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 4: Story l Boxscore

Jemile Weeks hit his first professional grand slam and Tyson Ross picked up his first pro win as the Ports ended their eight-game losing streak.

Weeks, whose grand slam highlighted a five-run third inning, now has four homers and 14 RBI in 14 games. He has a .464 on-base percentage and his OPS sits at 1.067.

Ross, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs, wound up tying his career-high with seven strikeouts.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 2, Wisconsin (Brewers) 1: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa continued his solid pitching as he improved to 6-2 by throwing six strong innings. He allowed just one unearned run and has permitted just two earned runs in his last 24 innings, covering four starts.

Closer Mickey Storey notched his seventh save and lowered his ERA to 0.63. The 23-year-old righty has allowed just five hits in 14 1/3 innings and has 19 strikeouts.

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A’s minor league recap: Cardenas moved to third; Weeks stays hot

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Tacoma (Mariners) 6, RiverCats 4: Story l Boxscore

Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jay Marshall gave up five runs in the final two innings as the RiverCats failed to protect a 4-1 lead. Rodriguez walked two batters and surrendered a game-tying, three-run homer to Brad Nelson. Marshall permitted the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning.

James Simmons was in line for the win after working five innings and allowing just four hits and one run. Jerry Blevins then added two scoreless innings with four strikeouts before Sacramento’s troubles began.

Travis Buck homered and drove in two runs as his rehab seems to be going well. Danny Putnam had a two-run homer, his third in 111 at-bats for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 5, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

Adrian Cardenas, who has played mostly at second base and some at shortstop this season, has spent the last two games at third base for the RockHounds, who suffered their second straight setback. Cardenas, who booted an eighth-inning grounder Thursday night, would seem to have a much clearer path to Oakland as a third baseman. Especially with Jemile Weeks playing second base at Stockton and seemingly Oakland-bound within a couple of years. The A’s obviously figure on finding room in their lineup one day soon for both Cardenas and Weeks.

Tommy Everidge had played third for Midland for most of the year, but he was promoted to Sacramento. Alex Valdez, who arrived from Stockton, is also a third baseman.

Bobby Cramer struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings, but took the loss after allowing two runs. Matt Spencer and Archie Gilbert had two of the Hounds’ five hits, and Cardenas had the other.

Jose Valverde, the Astros’ closer who’s on a rehab assignment, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Corpus Christi.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports lost their eighth in a row as they were swept in Modesto. On the bright side, Jemile Weeks continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

Weeks, who has hit in every game since joining Stockton from extended spring training on May 27, is now batting .370.

Christian Vitters had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Ports.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

The Cougars scored three times in the first on a two-run single by Steve Kleen and an RBI double by Grant Desme, but Wisconsin countered with four runs in the bottom of the first off Shawn Haviland on its way to victory.

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A’s minor league recap: A lost day on the farm

A rough day for the A’s minor leaguers as all three teams in action suffered losses, including one on a walkoff homer.

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The RiverCats had an off day on Wednesday and send James Simmons to the mound Thursday night as they begin a four-game series against Tacoma (Mariners).

Sacramento got hot-hitting Tommy Everidge from Double-A Midland to replace Daric Barton, who was promoted to the A’s. Everidge, who hit .306 with eight homers and 53 RBI for Midland, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his RiverCats’ debut Tuesday night.

Travis Buck is 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and two strikeouts while on rehab assignment the past two games for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 8, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

The RockHounds couldn’t handle Hooks’ lefty Polin Trinidad, who pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and retired the last 20 batters he faced in picking up his second straight win over Midland. Trinidad’s batterymate was former Castro Valley High and Stanford star Jason Castro, who made his Double-A debut by going 1-for-4. Castro was the Astros’ No. 1 pick last June, the 10th overall selection.

Jason Fernandez (6-5) took the loss for the ‘Hounds. He allowed just one earned run in 4 2/3 innings.

Josh Horton had two of Midland’s three hits, including his third homer of the season, and is hitting .303. Chris Carter had the only other Midland hit.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports’ June Swoon continued as Modesto handed Stockton its ninth consecutive defeat, which dropped the Ports to 1-10 this month.

Scott Hodsdon was hit hard by the Nuts, giving up 11 hits and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Hodsdon fell to 2-6 and his ERA dropped to 6.64. In contrast, Modesto’s Christian Friedrich, the Rockies’ No. 1 pick last year, pitching seven strong innings to pick up the win.

Catcher Yusuf Carter was named the Ports’ lone California League All-Star representative earlier in the week.

Jemile Weeks went 1-for-3 while hitting in the third spot and is now batting .340.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 4: Story l Boxscore

Wisconsin’s Brock Kjeldgaard hit a three-run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to snap the Cougars’ three-game winning streak.

Grant Desme (2nd round, ’07) homered for the second straight game and now has 11. Desme is hitting .350 with five homers and 15 RBI in his last 10 games.

Catcher Petey Paramore, last year’s third-round pick, went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the season and is hitting .290.

Anthony Capra had a decent start, allowing just three hits and two runs in five innings. However, he did walk five.

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A’s minor league update: Gallagher suffers knee injury

Sacramento RiverCats starting pitcher Sean Gallagher left the game after the first inning Thursday night with a left knee injury.

The severity of Gallagher’s injury has not yet been determined, according to the RiverCats. Gallagher, who is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in Triple-A and has had a couple of stints with the A’s this year, gave up two hits and one run during the game Sacramento eventually won 19-10.

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A’s minor league recap: Carson, Barton lead big Sacramento win

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 19, Salt Lake City (Angels) 10: Story l Boxscore

In a game featuring 29 runs and 37 hits, the RiverCats’ Matt Carson was the big story as the 27-year-old outfielder blasted three home runs in their victory in Utah. Carson, a former BYU star who joined the A’s this winter as a six-year minor league free agent, opened some eyes while hitting .364 in spring training. On Thursday, Carson hit a two-run homer and a pair of solo shots, giving him a team-leading nine on the season.

Daric Barton went 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, four runs scored and four RBI. The first baseman is hitting .351 in his past 10 games.

Danny Putnam, the ex-Stanford star, also had three hits and four RBI. In all, 13 of the Cats’ 21 hits went for extra bases.

Eric Patterson and Eric Munson each had three hits. Patterson also stole two bases and has 22 for the season.

One of the Salt Lake relievers facing Sacramento was Antioch’s Dan Denham, who allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings. Denham spent part of the ’07 season in the minors with the A’s before being dealt to Cincinnati in ’07 for Kirk Saarloos.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 4, NW Arkansas (Royals) 1: Story l Boxscore

Jason Fernandez (11th round, ’06) was the story in Midland as the right-hander threw a complete-game six-hitter to notch his sixth win. Fernandez, who threw 99 pitches, struck out six and didn’t walk anyone.

Matt Spencer homered for the second consecutive game and drove in a pair. Second baseman Adrian Cardenas went 3-for-3 and now leads the Texas League with a .389 average.

Corey Brown had a game-tying RBI double in the fifth and later scored.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 5, High Desert (Mariners) 5 (susp.): Story l Boxscore

The Ports and Mavericks played five hours and one minute before having their game suspended after 14 innings in Stockton, due to the Cal League’s rule that no inning can begin after midnight. The teams will resume play Friday night at 6:05 p.m. and their regularly scheduled game will follow.

Jemile Weeks continued to show some pop by belting his third homer in just his eight game with the Ports. Christian Vitters went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI.

Ports starter Scott Hodsdon went six innings and allowed just two earned runs. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned three.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Clinton (Mariners) 5, Cougars 4: Story l Boxscore

First baseman Steve Kleen hit a three-run home run in Kane County’s four-run fourth inning, but the Cougars couldn’t hold their lead and fell into a first-place tie with Cedar Rapids (Angels) in the Midwest League’s Western Division.

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A’s minor league recap: Gio Gonzalez is on a roll for RiverCats

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Salt Lake City (Angels) 1: Story l Boxscore

Gio Gonzalez had his second consecutive dominant showing for the RiverCats, who improved to a PCL-best 33-30. Gonzalez (2-1, 3.50) went six innings, allowing just two hits and one run. He walked just two and struck out five. In his last two starts, Gonzalez has gone a total of 13 innings and given up just four hits and one run.

Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher and James Simmons are shaping up to be a rather solid rotation for the Cats.

Daric Barton, still batting an uninspiring .223, broke a 1-all tie with a two-out, RBI single in the seventh inning. Barton then scored on a double by Eric Patterson.

Eric Munson, the Cats’ catcher and cleanup hitter, went 2-for-5 with an RBI.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 16, NW Arkansas (Royals) 8: Story l Boxscore

Matt Spencer’s grand slam keyed a seven-run first inning as the RockHounds pounded Northwest Arkansas. Tommy Everidge and Adrian Cardenas each drove in three runs for Midland, which also got three hits and three runs each from Josh Horton and Archie Gilbert.

Chris Carter drove in a pair of runs and now has 42 in 51 games. The first baseman also has an on-base percentage of .396 and an OPS of .886.

Jason Fernandez improved to 3-0 since arriving from Stockton. He scattered 11 hits and allowed two runs in five innings.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

San Jose (Giants) 4, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

Ben Hornbeck allowed three runs in the first two innings, including a pair on a two-run Nick Noonan single, and took the loss as Stockton fell in San Jose. Hornbeck, who has lost two straight starts after a 5-0 start, went 4 2/3 innings and struck out seven.

Christian Vitters (10th round, ’06), accounted for the Ports’ runs with a two-run home run in the fifth. Jemile Weeks (1st round, ’08) went 1-for-4 with a double in the ninth and is hitting .333 in seven games (11-for-33).

San Jose starter Garrett Broshuis, a 27-year-old who spent the past three seasons at Double-A Connecticut, went seven strong innings for the win, allowing both Stockton runs.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 3, Clinton (Mariners) 1: Story l Boxscore

Kenny Smalley (24th round, ’08) shut down Clinton to improve to 5-1 and lower his ERA to 1.69. Smalley went six innings, allowing five hits and one run, walking one and striking out four.

Grant Desme smashed his ninth homer of the season to provide an insurance run in the ninth. Jeremy Barfield went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI and is hitting .348, but saw his streak of five straight multi-hit games come to an end.

Chris Berroa (11th round, ’08) joined the Cougars from extended spring training. He went 0-for-4 in his season debut while batting leadoff and playing left field.

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Talking Vinny

No doubt, you’ve read or heard the big news by now. With Vin Mazzaro’s promotion in mind, here’s a recap of some of the points director of player personnel Billy Owens made about him when we talked a recently.

On Mazzaro’s progress: “He’s definitely taken a strong step forward in the past 18 months. He has an exceptional arm, and can top out at 96 or 97 mph, and his ball has natural sink. Last year, and really most of this year, he’s gotten to the point where he’s trusted his fastball and sinker a lot more, and he’s pitched more comfortably at 93 or 94 (mph).

On his offspeed stuff: “His soft game has gotten a lot better. His overall command has gotten a lot better. His ground ball-to-fly ball ratio was very strong last year, and the rest of his ratios have been where they need to be, and it has stayed that way. … ”

Personally. I’m a tad surprised that Mazzaro is coming up now. I would say it’s reminiscent of the day in June of 1999 when the A’s recalled Tim Hudson. But that A’s eam was going places, and this team clearly isn’t. It also starts his service time clicking early, and likely means that he’ll be eligible for arbitration one winter early.

I asked assistant general manager David Forst about that very thing last week. His response: “Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world that always allows you the luxury” of bringing up a player at the most idealistic time for a franchise. There may be other teams out there with the options to do that, but right now, we don’t have it.”

Incidentally, Melissa Lockard of scout.com has a very good piece discussing Mazzaro’s promotion.