A’s minor league recap: Mazzaro looks ready for big leagues

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

The arbitration clock appears to be the only thing standing between Vin Mazzaro and a spot in the A’s rotation. After Mazzaro’s dominating effort Friday night, what other reason could there be for not promoting the 22-year-old right-hander?

Mazzaro flirted with a no-hitter against Omaha and it figures to be just a matter of a bad start or two by a current A’s starter before he’s in Oakland.

Meanwhile, Adrian Cardenas’ difficult time in Triple-A have come to an end as the A’s top middle infielder prospect was sent back to Double-A Midland. However, Cardenas was in the middle of another huge night offensively for the RockHounds on Friday.


RiverCats 3, Omaha (Royals) 1: Story l Boxscore

Vin Mazzaro fired eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball against Omaha to lower his ERA to 2.66. Mazzaro, who got no decision in the Cats’ 12-inning win, walked just one and struck out six. Over his last three starts, the A’s third-round pick from ’05 has gone 21 innings and given up just five hits and one earned run _ for an ERA of 0.43.

Eric Patterson had an RBI triple and Danny Putnam followed with an RBI single in Sacramento’s two-run 12th inning. Gregorio Petit had snapped a 0-0 tie with a run-scoring hit in the top of the 11th, but the struggling Jerry Blevins gave up the tying run in the bottom of the inning.

Cliff Pennington was 3-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .283.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 24, Corpus Christi (Astros) 6: Story l Boxscore

Midland abused Corpus Christi pitching while amassing 24 runs on 28 hits, including four apiece by four different players. Here’s the RockHounds’ honor roll from last night:

Adrian Cardenas: After hitting .177 in Sacramento, he resumed his torrid Texas League hitting by going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI. Cardenas is hitting .398 with 22 RBI in 20 Double-A games.

Corey Brown: Went 4-for-5 with six RBI and five runs, and came within a single of the cycle. He’s hitting .326 with five HRs and 22 RBI with an OPS of 1.044 in 95 at-bats.

Archie Gilbert: Ex-James Logan High star went 4-for-7 as his OBP stays over .400.

Matt Spencer: Went 4-for-5 with four RBI.

Matt Sulentic: Had two hits and 3 RBI and the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .444 over his last eight games, boosting his average to .306.

Josh Donaldson: Went 3-for-3 with two RBI and is hitting a season-high .273.

Chris Carter: Had 2 doubles, 3 RBI and is hitting .268 with four homers, 32 RBI.

Tommy Everidge: Had three RBI and is now second in league with 37 RBI.

In injury news, 20-year-old reliever Arnold Leon is on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 4, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 1: Story l Boxscore

Things are looking up in Stockton, as witnessed by a thoroughly dominating show by Ben Hornbeck. The 21-year-old lefty, making his Stockton debut, struck out a career-high 12 in six innings and allowed just one hit and one walk.

Hornbeck (32nd round, ’08) has probably been the best pitcher in the minors this year, having gone 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA at Kane County before last week’s promotion to the Ports. On Friday, Hornbeck struck out the side in two consecutive innings and finished by striking out eight of his last nine batters.

Larry Cobb drove in two runs, including one on a solo homer, to spark the Ports’ offense. Justin Friend of Tracy picked up his first save, as regular Ports closer Jon Hunton was promoted to Double-A.

Hard-throwing Henry Rodriguez recently was activated after recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Rodriguez, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, has pitched in two games for Stockton, throwing three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.

More excitement should be on the way shortly as second baseman Jemile Weeks, last year’s No. 1 pick, figures to arrive from extended spring training in Arizona in a matter of days.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 6, Wisconsin (Brewers) 3: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa, a smallish (6-foot-1, 164 pounds) left-hander, threw seven strong innings as the Cougars (25-16) stretched their Western Division lead to 2 1/2 games. Figueroa (4-1, 5.40 ERA) gave up six hits, three runs, one walk and struck out five.

Franklin Hernandez had three RBI.


A rough ending

Just when you thought all the pitching woes were reserved for the big club, a rough night at Triple-A Sacramento. The River Cats allowed three runs in the ninth in a 7-6 loss to Round Rock. J.R. Towles hit a three-run home run off Jerry Blevins. Not sure what Blevins’ deal is, but he’s gone from being very promising to very nauseating. His combined ERA this season between the A’s and Sacramento: 7.79.

BTW, Sean Gallagher got what he deserved after his pathetic outing.

The rest of the rundown:


— Righty Vin Mazzaro earned pitcher of the week honors in the Pacific Coast League after allowing just a run in 13 2/3 innings. Question for the readers: Do you want to see Mazzaro called up.

— Lefty Dana Eveland still stinks.

Interesting promotion by the River Cats.


— The Rockhounds’ pitching staff had just as brutal an outing Monday. Chad Tracy’s two-run double highlighted a three-run sixth after another Chris Carter RBI made it 6-2. that tied it after Midland reliever James Heuser walked a pair while loading the bases. In the 10th, Sam Demel allowed three straight hits without getting an out to cap a 7-6 loss.

— How did outfielder Matt Spencer adjust to his promotion from Single-A Stockton? On the third pitch of his debut, he smacked a two-run single in a 9-1 win over Frisco. Here are Spencer’s numbers since his promotion.

Travis Banwart is a guy to track. He was 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his first seven starts.


— Another tough loss for Craig Italiano, who has pitched better than his numbers. The Ports are showing signs of life.


The weekend

Gonna start the weekend minor-league rundown with a bit of a detour. The discussion in the office this morning regarded just how bad this A’s team is — frankly, I think it’s their worst team since 1997 — and how much longer do you give them until you call off the dogs?

My thinking: Two more weeks. The late, great sportswriter Leonard Koppett told me one time that six weeks into the season, the hitters have caught up to the pitchers, and that’s usually when veterans if they get going will start to get going.” In other words, two more weeks of a lousy Jason Giambi doesn’t portend good things.

How does this tie into the minors? Well, time to see which prospect you’d like most to see called up for an extended call-up. Co-worker Ben Enos says Jeff Gray. Cubs fanatic Chase Bryson said Sean Doolittle (“Demote Buck,” he says). I say, “anybody but Vince Mazzaro (don’t start his service time).”

Who’s your pick?

Meantime, while you think about it, here are some candidates.


1B SEAN DOOLITTLE: He’s been playing the outfield and is on the disabled list. But he hits left-handed and 10 of his 28 hits have been for extra bases.

RHP JEFF GRAY: His whip is under one. He brings heat. And I’m thinking if you give Brad Ziegler a chance to close in a lost season, why not this guy?


1B CHRIS CARTER: We won’t see him this year — why start his service time? — but this kid is the buzz. He continues to drive in runs in bunches.

The usual rundown returns tomorrow.


A’s minor league recap: Simmons shines in Sacramento

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


RiverCats 8, Albuquerque (Dodgers) 1: Story l Boxscore

Former 2007 1st-round pick James Simmons turned in his most impressive start of the season. He had a one-hit shutout after six innings and finished with a three-hitter in a season-high seven innings. Simmons allowed just one run and one walk and struck out three.

Daric Barton went 2-for-4 to stretch his hitting streak to nine games. Thanks to a .298 average in May, Barton’s now batting a season-high .211. Eric Patterson went 5-for-5 and is now hitting .314. Patterson has been starting in center field lately for the Cats.

When the A’s decide they need to bring up a lefty specialist in the bullpen, one possibility is former San Jose State pitcher Brad Kilby, a Sacramento area native who was Oakland’s 29th round pick in 2005. He’s probably behind both Jerry Blevins and Jay Marshall in the A’s pecking order at Sacramento. To be sure, a call-up to the majors would be a dream come true for the 26-year-old, whose career nearly ended last Halloween when he was hit in the head by a line drive during winter ball.

Speaking of relievers, Albuquerque’s Nick DeBarr, a former Amador Valley High standout, gave up two runs in two innings Friday. The Isotopes’ bullpen includes two former East Bay Athletic League pitchers in DeBarr and Livermore’s Erick Threets.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

San Antonio (Padres) 9, RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

Bad fielding was apparently contagious in the A’s organization Friday as the RockHounds did Oakland one better (worse?) by committing five errors _ all in the first three innings, including a pair by shortstop Josh Horton.

Midland remains in first place by 1/2 game over Corpus Christi (Astros).

Corey Brown went 1-for-4 with an RBI double, but struck out three times. Brown has struck out five times in the past two nights.

Chris Carter went 0-for-3 and saw his average dip to .268. The big first baseman has gone a season high six games without an RBI.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 10, High Desert (Mariners) 3: Story l Boxscore

David Thomas and Frank Martinez each had two RBI as the Ports have now won three of four and five of their last seven. Still, Stockton had four errors to continue the organization’s theme of the night.

Shortstop Michael Richard had two hits and stole his team-leading sixth base.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 3, Burlington (Royals) 2: Story l Boxscore

Shawn Haviland continued to impress for the first-place Cougars (22-12). Last year’s 33rd-round pick improved to 3-1 with five innings of two-run ball, featuring five strikeouts. Haviland’s ERA stands at 2.48.

Jeremy Barfield went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is now hitting .354.


A’s minor league update: Cunningham joins A’s, Copeland back with Giants

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

There were some more roster moves in Sacramento today as the RiverCats saw the A’s recall outfielder Aaron Cunningham and activate reliever Santiago Casilla. To replace them, the RiverCats added relievers Jerry Blevins and Jeff Gray, who were both sent down by the big club.

Also, the Ben Copeland experiment is officially over as the A’s sent their Rule 5 choice back to the Giants for $25,000, or half the original cost Oakland incurred in claiming the outfielder. Copeland will continue his rehabilitation stint with the Giants’ Single-A squad in San Jose.


Albuquerque (Dodgers) 11, RiverCats 2: Story l Boxscore

Gio Gonzalez struggled Thursday night for the Cats as he allowed eight runs (four earned) and walked five in just 2 1/3 innings. Gonzalez’s ERA ballooned to 4.44.

Daric Barton is now at .200 after going 1-for-3 with a double to boost his team-leading RBI total to 19. Adrian Cardenas went 0-for-2 while batting ninth and saw his average dip to .191.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

San Antonio (Padres) 4, RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

Anthony Recker went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs in the RockHounds’ 10-inning loss. Recker had half of the RockHounds’ six hits.

Kristian Bell had a promising start for Midland, going five innings and allowing just two runs in his best effort of the season.

Chris Carter is in a 1-for-14 slump after going 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 6, Inland Empire (Dodgers) 3: Story l Boxscore

Jermaine Mitchell smacked a three-run triple in the eighth inning to provide the difference for the Ports.

Scott Hodsdon didn’t get the win but he did pitch well, going five innings and allowing just two earned runs and striking out six. Jon Hunton is now 6-for-6 in save opportunities after throwing two scoreless innings.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Game 1: Burlington (Royals), 6, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

Game 2: Cougars 3, Burlington (Royals) 2: Story l Boxscore

Anthony Capra had one of his worst starts of the season, allowing 10 hits and five runs in five innings to take the Game 1 loss.

The Cougars got a doubleheader split, thanks to Jason Christian, who delivered an RBI single in the seventh inning for the winner in Game 2.

Dusty Coleman had a pair of doubles and an RBI in the win.

Brett Hunter allowed just one hit in his four innings, which also included five walks and three strikeouts. Kenny Smalley got the win with three scoreless innings.


A’s minor league recap: Unsteady Eveland gets win for RiverCats

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


RiverCats 6, Albuquerque (Dodgers) 5: Story l Boxscore

Dana Eveland picked up his first win since being sent down to Sacramento, but he still had some command issues as he walked four in six innings and threw just 57 of his 101 pitches for strikes.

Aaron Cunningham provided some offense by hitting a two-run home run. Cunningham has two homers and is hitting .375. Danny Putnam had a pair of hits and is now 3-for-7 since being recalled from Double-A Midland.

Meanwhile, Daric Barton is slowly getting things together. He has a hit in nine of his past 10 games (10-for-36) and is hitting .196.

Albuquerque got a hitless inning of relief from former Granada High standout Erick Threets, the hard-throwing lefty who was originally drafted by the Giants.

Thursday night’s game features a pitching matchup of Gio Gonzalez and the Isotopes’ Shawn Estes.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 7, San Antonio (Padres) 4: Story l Boxscore

Tommy Everidge drove in five runs, including three on a long home run to lead the first-place RockHounds’ offense. The ex-Sonoma State standout is second in the league with 32 RBI and is hitting .311 while transitioning from a first baseman to a third baseman.

Travis Banwart improved to 4-1 after allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Banwart, the Texas League’s top starting pitcher statistically, allowed just two baserunners after San Antonio scored single runs in the first and second. Closer Sam Demel notched the save.

Chris Carter and Corey Brown each had a hit, but each also struck out twice. Carter and Brown are both battling to overcome their propensity for strikeouts.

Josh Donaldson, who has also played some third base, was back behind the plate. He went 1-for-3 and his average is at .261, thanks to a recent hot streak (7-for-16).

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Inland Empire (Dodgers) 6, Ports 5: Story l Boxscore

Craig Italiano struck out eight in six innings, but the bad news was he gave up nine hits and five runs to absorb the loss.

Christian Vitters went 2-for-4 and is 3-for-8 in his two games since joining Stockton from extended spring training. However, the third baseman grounded out with two runners aboard in the ninth to end the game.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wednesday: Cougars vs. Burlington (Royals), ppd., rain

Thursday: Cougars vs. Burlington (Royals) doubleheader


Mazzaro shines

I know the A’s 12-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday was quite a sight for those starved to see the A’s bats. But the organization’s best news came up the freeway. Vin Mazzaro, who had yet to win this season, followed Santiago Casilla’s rehab start with eight one-hit innings for Triple-A Sacramento. That’s the kind of performance that has led some to speculate he might be the best of the three (Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill being the other two).

Interesting note on Aaron Cunningham in this morning’s Sacramento Bee game story.

The bad news: Tonight brings a Dana Eveland sighting.

Oh, one more thing on the River Cats. Brad Kilby walked four straight hitters to lose a game last week,something that should never happen on the professional level. But after reading this, I have no reason to question his committment to getting better.


— Told you the other day that Matt Spencer was bucking for a promotion from Single-A Stockton, and sure enough, he was called up to replace Danny Putnam after Putnam was moved up to Sacramento. Spencer immediately did something positive.


— Mazzaro wasn’t the only A’s product doing some dealing last night. Carlos Hernandez was pretty darn good, too. By the way, interesting figure on the mound for San Bernardino in the same game.


— Huge night for the son of a former major leaguer.


Weekend Wrap

A busy weekend down on the farm. Here’s a quick review while hoping (futily, probably) for the day that we similar promotions to the one taking place in Las Vegas today. A 10:30 a.m. start to accomodate local school children on field trips. Brilliant. Wouldn’t you just love to see major leaguers forced out of bed before 8 a.m. for a game just once in a season?


The River Cats entered Monday’s morning meeting having lost the first three of four-game series at Las Vegas and had dropped six straight to teams in Nevada (Reno won three in a row earlier in the week). Among the lowlights:

James Simmons surrendered six runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss Sunday. At this point, the A’s would be smart just to leave Simmons in the minors all season. Why use up a year of service time for a team that doesn’t appear headed anywhere. And given that Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill look like they’ve arrived prematurely, no need to rush Simmons. Besides, the righty has had his issues.

— Reliever Brad Kilby walked four straight hitters in the 10th inning Saturday, resulting in an 8-7 Sacramento loss. Not to sound like my late grandfather, but in my opinion that shouldn’t happen at any level of professional sports. Gio Gonzalez wasn’t much better in that one, either.

— Joel Galarraga had three RBI and helped stake Sacramento to a 9-0 lead on Friday, but the River Cats still couldn’t win. The starting pitcher who allowed a good portion of the lead to get away? Dana Eveland. Frankly, I would just as soon not see him in an A’s uniform again. Who’s with me?

Anyway, the common theme, here, obviously, is that help for the A’s sorry starting pitching isn’t 90 minutes up Interstate 80.


— A very forgettable weekend as well. The Rockhounds lost three times to Corpus Christi by a combined score of 23-6.

— First baseman Chris Carter increased his RBI total to 28, tops on the team and second in the Texas League. First baseman Tommy Everidge collected RBI No. 26. Both have got to be en route to a promotion at some point this season.


— The Ports (9-22) extended their winning streak to a season-high three before losing the finale of a three-game series to Rancho Cucamonga. Cal product Tyson Ross, the A’s second pick last season, allowed two runs and three hits in only two innings and walked the first three he faced. He has not an auspicious beginning to his professional career.

— Outfielder Matthew Spencer is bucking for a promotion. Spencer homered in victories Friday and Saturday and has gone deep 10 times. The rest of his numbers are pretty good, too.

Yusef Carter is hitting .333 in his first exposure to High-A and had the game-winning single Saturday.


— First baseman Steve Kleen is hitting .303 and his 33 hits trail only Dusty Coleman’s 34 on the Cougars. Both Kleen and Coleman are in the top 10.


A’s minor league recap: Corey Brown stays hot; RiverCats add Adam Kennedy

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

Corey Brown is the latest Midland Rockhound to haunt opposing Texas League pitching (see below) and Dana Eveland is set to make his first bid to return to Oakland tonight when he takes the mound for Sacramento.

The RiverCats technically added former Angels and Cardinals second baseman Adam Kennedy to the team. Kennedy was acquired from Tampa Bay on Friday afternoon for a player to be named later and was assigned to Sacramento. However, the A’s indicated later Friday that Kennedy, who was hitting .280 with three HRs and nine RBI in 23 games for Triple-A Durham, would join the big league club as soon as Saturday.

Also, highly touted pitchers Michel Ynoa, the free-agent pitcher from the Dominican Republic, and Fautino De Los Santos, the hard-throwing righty acquired from the White Sox last year in the Nick Swisher deal, arrived in Phoenix for extended spring training on Thursday. We’ll get updates on their progress as it warrants.


Reno (Diamondbacks) 4, RiverCats 1: Game story Boxscore

The RiverCats’ third straight defeat still leaves them in first place, two games ahead of Reno in the PCL’s Pacific South division. But, the alarming news is Sacramento’s continuing struggles offensively as the RiverCats rank last among the PCL’s 16 teams with a .229 team batting average. The ‘Cats are also 15th in on-base percentage (.318) and 14th in OPS (.680).

Adrian Cardenas, who was tearing up Double-A Midland, is just 2-for-22 (.091) through six games in Triple-A. Daric Barton’s 1-for-4 in Thursday’s loss boosts his average to .167 (15-for-90 for the season).

Sean Doolittle is one of Sacramento’s more productive hitters with a .257 batting average, four homers and 15 RBI in 27 games.

As a side note, Reno’s Bryan Byrne, the former Saint Mary’s College standout, went 0-for-4 in his Triple-A debut.

Recently demoted Dana Eveland will make his RiverCats’ debut tonight (Friday) in Las Vegas.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 14, Corpus Christi (Astros) 2: Game story Boxscore

Corey Brown continued his torrid pace by smashing a pair of homers, a double and droving in four runs in Thursday’s win. Brown, hitting .435 in 13 games this season, has gone 10-for-17 with four homers and nine RBI in his last four games.

Chris Carter had another RBI, boosting his total to 26 in 27 games. Also, catcher Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer and his 6-for-15 streak has pushed his average to a more respectable .239.

Jason Fernandez (3-3, 4.04 ERA) picked up the win with eight solid innings. He gave up five hits, two earned runs, no walks and struck out four.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 4, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 2: Game story Boxscore

Craig Italiano’s strong performance on the mound (6 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 8 strikeouts) helped the Ports snap a four-game losing streak by beating the Rawhide. Stockton’s 6-foot-9 closer Jon Hunton notched his fourth save.

Matt Spencer had two hits, including a double. Todd Johnson, leading the Ports’ regulars with a .267 average, drove in a run. Shane Keough (.232) had two hits and two RBI.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Fort Wayne (Padres) 1, Cougars 0: Game story Boxscore

Anthony Capra was very good but took the loss after surrendering just one hit in six innings. Capra, who walked five and struck out three, allowed a solo home run to Fort Wayne’s Jeff Decker in the fifth inning for the game’s only run.

Kane County’s top two hitters, shortstop Dusty Coleman (.319) and first baseman Steve Kleen (.320) were a combined 0-for-7.


The Farm Report

A quick post today before heading out to catch the big club at the Coliseum later this afternoon:


— The River Cats used Adrian Cardenas at second base in a 5-3 win over Reno last night, and Cardenas made the defensive play of the night, going behind second base to start a 4-6-3 double play. Keep an eye out to see if he also sees time at shortstop. The A’s are going to need somebody at that spot down the road.

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