You can feel it in the air… Spring training is almost here!
The Big Clubs will, of course, get most of the attention and the press, but I follow the Ports, and here’s what’s shaking in the Athletics System right now for the Stockton team. The ubiquitous lists of “GIVEN Teams top Prospects” are making the rounds, and when it comes to Oakland, there’s a great deal of agreement as to who is ON the list, with argument over WHERE on the list they belong.
In any case, some of last seasons Ports are moving up the ladder, lead by Matt Olson, the hard hitting 1st Baseman and 3rd Baseman Renato Nunez. Outfielder Chad Pinder are all expected to start the year in Midland. Pitcher Raul Alcantara, who flashed moments of brilliance in 2013 before being sidelined, turned out to need Tommy John surgery. he is expected to start in the Rookie leagues, to see if he can completely recover. If he does, it’s likely we could see him at Banner Island later in the season.
Expected in Stockton this season are 3rd Baseman Matt Chapman, a power hitting 1st Rounder from 2014, who made it up to Beloit last season. Franklin Baretto is a 19 year old Shortstop, in the mold of Addison Russell, who the A’s expect to start in Stockton in the hopes that the Venezuelan native has what it takes to be the Short Stop of the future as quickly as possible.
For me though, the most intriguing possibility for Stockton is Pitcher Dillon Overton. He is expected to start he season in Beloit , but the hopes are very high on the University of Oklahoma (BOOMER SOONER!) product. He did have Tommy John surgery last year, but a left hander who can get it going should move up quickly. And while the California League isn’t exactly the best place to see the best pitchers have to offer, it is a big step in learning to face big league hitting. Assuming that at some point in the season we see him here in Stockton, I’ll have to wear my OU hat for at least the games he pitches!
Spring is almost here… hurrah!
Now that the Athletics have sent Yunel Escobar packing to the Nationals, the trade from the other day becomes essentially Boog Powell and Daniel Robertson for Ben Zobrist and 32 year old Tyler Clippard, a solid Right Handed reliever who could end up as the A’s closer. The down side is that he is in the final year of his contract and there are no guarantees that he will want to hang around the Bay Area. He has spent his whole career in New York and Washington, D.C., so you have to assume he’s settled down there.
Still, his tweet was pretty positive, so hopefully he’ll be the missing piece the A’s Bullpen didn’t have last year. He’s been pretty reliable in the Middle relief role and 2012, he had 32 Saves for the Nationals. This could be a really good fit for the A’s, especially if the future is now is really happening.
I’m sure that from a Major League viewpoint the trade makes sense, but given how good Robertson is and will be, and Powell’s undeniable talent, you have to feel like the Rays put one over on Billy Bean on this one. Sure, in the short run maybe Zobrist and Escobar are helpful for a Season or three, but long range, Robertson was the guy you build around. After trading Addison Russell last year it’s clear that the A’s are adopting a “future is now” mentality.
In any case, Robertson was likely moving on to Midland this year, but Powell, coming off the lost last season was probably going to spend at least some time in Stockton. Now, they’re both gone.