Oakland A's MLN: Ports, RockHounds Hot

Matt Olson has four homers in four games.

The Oakland A's are playing well right now, and so are several of their minor league affiliates. We catch-up with the A's six US affiliates in the latest edition of Oakland A's minor league notebook.

Olson Powers Ports

The Stockton Ports are 4-0 since the end of the All-Star break and Matt Olson has a lot to do with the Ports' recent success. Olson homered twice on Thursday and twice again on Sunday and he now leads the California League with 19 homeruns in just 72 games.

Olson got off to somewhat of a slow start this season, batting only .214/.342/.408 with five homers in April. However, he hit .250/.400/.519 with eight homers in May and he is batting .291/.473/.691 with six homers in just 17 games thus far in June. Overall, Olson has a .245/.396/.513 line. He leads the California League in homers and walks (63). He has cut his K-rate from 23.9% in April to 18.4% since.

Olson isn't the only Ports' hitter off to a good start in the second-half. Outfielder Billy McKinney has nine RBIs in the four games since the break, and he has homered in each of the last two games. Infielder Ryon Healy nine hits in 20 at-bats over those four games, including three doubles. He is batting .329/.338/.500 in June. Shortstop Daniel Robertson has been a sparkplug at the top of the line-up. He has scored eight runs in four games and he has four doubles, a homer and five walks over that span. Second baseman Chad Pinder has seven hits in 18 at-bats. He is batting .315/.360/.571 on the season.

In his first start since appearing in the Cal League-Carolina League All-Star game, Seth Streich allowed one earned run in six innings in a win over Bakersfield. He allowed three hits, walked none and struck-out seven. His K:BB is 85:17 in 80 innings this season, and his ERA is 2.93.

Reliever Nolan Sanburn is off to a good start to the second-half, as well. He has thrown four scoreless innings in two appearances. He has allowed just two hits and a walk, and he has struck-out three. Sanburn has a 42:17 K:BB and a 3.10 ERA in 40.2 innings.


Midland's Pitching Continues to Dominate

The Midland pitching staff has hit its stride. Over the RockHounds last eight games, the Midland pitching staff has allowed 12 earned runs in 74 innings (1.46 ERA). The RockHounds are 6-2 over that stretch.

Right-hander Chris Jensen is on a roll. He hasn't allowed a run in each of his last two starts (13 innings). Over his last four starts, Jensen has allowed only four earned runs in 25.2 innings. His ERA is down to 3.74 for the season. He has allowed only two homeruns in 86.2 innings.

Over his last two starts, RHP Shawn Haviland has allowed two runs on six hits in 14.1 innings. His ERA is 3.18 in 12 starts for Midland and he has a 3.19 ERA in 15 starts for Midland and Stockton this season. Haviland missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Since joining the Midland staff from Stockton on June 17, Sean Murphy has two strong starts under his belt. In 12.2 innings, he has allowed just two runs. He has struck-out 10 and has walked four. Right-hander Nate Long continues to pitch well. With the exception of one poor start on June 10, Long hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last 10 outings. He has a 3.45 ERA in 75.2 innings this season.

Reliever Tucker Healy continues to dominate. Since joining Midland from Stockton, he has allowed just one earned run in 16.2 innings. His K:BB is 25:5 and Texas League batters are hitting .190 against him. On the season, Healy has a 0.79 ERA and a 54:9 K:BB.

Right-hander Ryan Dull has put together a nice run of outings. Over his last 10 innings, the reliever has allowed a run on nine hits and three walks. He has struck-out 14. Dull's ERA is 4.39, but he has a 29:8 K:BB in 26.2 innings this season. Right-hander Ryan Doolittle has also pitched well over his last 10 appearances (16.2 innings). He has allowed two runs on nine hits and he has an 18:2 K:BB over that stretch. In his first stint in Double-A, Doolittle has a 3.13 ERA and a 24:7 K:BB in 23 innings.

The Midland roster has seen a few shifts over the weekend. First baseman Anthony Aliotti was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento. Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima was activated off of the disabled list and took Aliotti's place on the roster on Friday. On Sunday, outfielder Josh Whitaker (concussion) was activated off of the DL, and left-hander Andrew Werner landed on the DL. The RockHounds are now off for the Texas League All-Star break.


Powell Scores Twice in Final Game

with Beloit

Outfielder Boog Powell's breakout 2014 season is taking its next step. The Midwest League's leading hitter has been promoted to High-A Stockton. Powell had a hit, a walk and two stolen bases, and he scored twice in his final game before the promotion. He leaves the Snappers with a .335/.452/.429 line and a 53:49 BB:K in 69 games. Powell was also the MVP of the Midwest League All-Star game.

The Snappers earned a 4-1 win on Sunday thanks to a strong performance from starter Kyle Finnegan and relievers Tyler Vail and Andres Avila. Finnegan tossed six innings, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk. He struck-out two and lowered his ERA to 2.76 on the year. Vail threw two scoreless innings to bridge the gap to closer Avila, who earned his eighth save with a perfect ninth.

In addition to Powell reaching twice and scoring twice, Melvin Mercedes (two hits and an RBI), B.A. Vollmuth (two hits), Chih-Fang Pan (two hits and an RBI) and Jose Chavez (two hits) also had good games at the plate.


Higley Powering Lake Monsters

with Bat and Legs

Outfielder Justin Higley is doing it all on offense for Vermont. The Sacramento State product already has three homeruns, and two of those homers have been grand slams. The first grand slam was of the traditional variety. His second was a game-winner on Sunday and it was a rare inside-the-park grand slam.

In 40 at-bats for the Lake Monsters, Higley has 14 hits and nine have been for extra-bases. His OPS is 1122 and he has three stolen bases in three chances. Higley also has 15 RBI. He leads the league in RBI and is second in OPS.

Infielder Joe Bennie is also off to a fast start. He has a .343/.439/.429 line in 10 games. Bennie has walked six times and he has three doubles. Shortstop Yairo Munoz has struggled with the glove in the early going this season, but he has 11 hits in 33 at-bats for Vermont.

The Lake Monsters are using a tandem-starting rotation, and thus far they are seeing excellent results. Through two outings, A.J. Burke (1.08 ERA and 11 Ks in 8.1 innings), Cristhian Perez (2.25 ERA in 12 innings), Jerad Grundy (1.64 ERA in 11 innings), Lee Sosa (0.00 ERA in nine innings), Joe Michaud (3.75 ERA and no walks in 12 innings) and Jose Torres (3.00 ERA in nine innings) have all pitched well.

Through 10 games, the Lake Monsters are 6-4 and tied for first in the Stedler division.


Sacramento Stuns New Orleans

with Three in the Ninth

Down 3-1 in the ninth, Sacramento scored three times to earn a come-from-behind win over the Zephyrs on Sunday. The win moved Sacramento to 44-33 on the season. They have a two-game lead over the Reno Aces in the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Northern division.

In perhaps his final rehab outing before rejoining the A's, Josh Reddick went 1-for-5. In four games with Sacramento, Reddick has seven hits in 16 at-bats, including three doubles.

In the ninth, Reddick was up in a key moment. Ryan Lipkin and Jake Elmore began the inning with back-to-back singles. After Tyler Ladendorf flew out, Reddick came to the plate with two-on. He hit a groundball to second baseman Donovan Solano, but Solano's throw to second was off-the-mark, loading the bases. Nate Freiman then tied the game with a two-run single and, with two-outs, Nick Buss singled home Reddick for the winning run.

Closer Jeremy McBryde ensured that the River Cats' 4-3 lead would hold. He worked around a one-out single to secure the win. The save was his seventh of the year. Since allowing eight runs in 11.1 innings in April, McBryde has allowed just three runs in 21.2 innings in May and June.

A's reliever Eric O'Flaherty got a rehab "start" for Sacramento. He worked two scoreless innings before giving way to Zach Neal. O'Flaherty, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, has allowed two runs on three hits in 5.2 innings for Sacramento in four rehab appearances. He began his rehab on June 11. Major league players can rehab up to 30 days before they have to be activated.

Neal worked five innings in "relief," allowing just two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck-out four. Neal has allowed six runs in 10 innings over two outings since re-joining the River Cats from Midland on June 17. In 93.2 innings split between Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, Neal has a 2.93 ERA and a 75:11 K:BB.

Outfielder Shane Peterson had a hit in four at-bats. He has a .436 average and a 1129 OPS over his last 10 games. Peterson's OPS for the season is 823.


AZL A's Looking for First Win

The Arizona Rookie League A's are three games into their season and are still in search of their first win. Several A's 2014 draft picks have made their professional debuts this weekend.

A's top pick Matt Chapman may be nearing the end of his time in Arizona. He is off to a fast start at the plate. Chapman has collected two hits in each of his first three games with the AZL A's. He is expected to move up to Low-A Beloit soon.

On Sunday, the AZL A's hit their first three homeruns of the season, and two of them came from former draft picks out of Puerto Rico. The first came from shortstop Edwin Diaz, who was a 15th-round pick last season. The second came from outfielder Robert Martinez, who was the A's 19th-round pick in 2012. Martinez spent the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League.

Second base prospect Jean Carlo Rodriguez hit .302 with a .373 OBP in the Dominican Summer League last year. He made the jump to the Arizona Rookie League this season, but he made his AZL debut as a pitcher in a blowout on Saturday rather than as a position player. On Sunday, he had a more traditional debut at the plate. Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with a run scored.

Catcher Dusty Brown hit the third homerun of the game for the A's on Sunday. Brown is one of several more experienced players rehabbing with the AZL A's. Others to appear in games thus far are outfielder D'Arby Myers (broken wrist) and catcher Luke Montz (shoulder surgery). A's second-overall pick in 2013 Dillon Overton is likely to appear in a rehab game soon.


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