Oakland A's MLN: News And Notes

Nick Blasi earned a promotion today.

In this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook, we run-down the recent outfield roster moves throughout the system, deliver another update on the status of the A's unsigned draft picks, learn about the Stockton Ports new president and more inside ...

Outfielders On The Move

It has been a busy week for outfielders on the move throughout the Oakland A's system. The movement began last week when Doug Clark was promoted to Oakland and Richie Robnett was sent up to AAA-Sacramento to take Clark's place on the roster. Clark has been coming off of the A's bench since his promotion and he collected his first major league hit and his first major league stolen base on Wednesday night in San Diego.

Earlier this week, Hiram Bocachica – who had missed a number of games with a sore hamstring – returned to the River Cats starting outfield. Bocachica's return allowed Robnett to go down to AA-Midland, where he is likely to spend the rest of the season after spending the last year and a half with A-Stockton. Robnett launched his first AA homerun in his second game with Midland. He is 2-7 with three walks and that homerun so far in AA.

The movement didn't stop there. Right before the All-Star break, the Stockton Ports lost a big part of their outfield when Luke Appert went down with a broken ankle. The injury will sideline Appert for the rest of the season. He had been leading the California League in on-base percentage before his gruesome injury.

With Robnett promoted and Appert shelved, the Ports were suddenly down to two outfielders. They received one replacement on Thursday, as outfielder and stolen base expert Nick Blasi finally earned a promotion to High-A after a year and a half in Low-A Kane County. Blasi had 17 stolen bases in 18 chances for the Cougars this season. He will join Cameron Coughlan and Gregorio Petit as members of the Ports with more than 15 stolen bases on the season.

Replacing Blasi in Kane County is another speedster, Toddric Johnson. Johnson becomes the first member of the 2006 draft class to advance past short-season A ball. The centerfielder hit .333 for Vancouver in 10 games before his promotion. He arrived in Kane County just in time to make a ninth inning pinch-hitting appearance. He had an RBI single and later scored a run in the Cougars' five-run ninth inning.

2006 Draft Update: Fernandez Signs, Lieppman Headed To Yavapai

The A's came to terms with another draft pick on Wednesday, signing 11th round pick Jason Fernandez. We spoke with Fernandez a few days after the draft and he indicated that the decision on whether to sign would be difficult. After much deliberation, he decided to sign on with Oakland. Terms of his contract were not announced, but it was believed to be a little higher than the standard slot money for the 11th round. The A's are also reportedly going to pay for his last three semesters of college.

The 21-year old went 9-2 in 14 starts for the Ragin' Cajuns in 2006. He had a 2.86 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 91.1 innings pitched. In the post-draft interview, Fernandez described himself as a pitcher who attacks the opposition.

"I consider myself a bulldog on the mound. I like to really attack the hitters. I come after each hitter hard. I like to throw my fastball hard, my curveball hard, even my slider hard. I use a fast arm action to come after the hitters," Fernandez said.

Fernandez was assigned to short-season A Vancouver.

Burke Lieppman, the A's 33rd round pick out of Prescott High School in the suburbs of Phoenix, AZ, will be heading to Yavapai Junior College next fall. He will be a draft-and-follow for Oakland, meaning that the A's will keep tabs on his progress on the field this summer and during the junior college baseball season to see whether or not they should sign him before the 2007 draft.

Lieppman is the son of the A's Farm Director Kieth Lieppman, who was also a draft pick of the A's way back when. The younger Lieppman will be following the same path as Shane Keough, who was signed as a draft-and-follow before this year's draft. Keough, who is the son of A's front office man and former pitcher Matt Keough, also played at Yavapai this season.

Ports Name New President and Part Owner

The Stockton Ports recently announced that Pat Filippone will be named the new team president and partial owner. Fillipone, whose new title will be effective as of July 10, was the CEO of the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League before joining Stockton's front office.

Fillipone is in his third season with Fresno. Before joining the Grizzlies, Filippone served as general manager of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League.

"I'm very excited to become a part of this team," said Filippone in an official statement from the team. "I'm excited for the potential that exists in this area and with this beautiful new facility."

Windsor K's 10, Wins 11th of the Year

Sacramento starter Jason Windsor struck out 10 Fresno Grizzlies and finally got enough run support to end his run of no-decisions. Windsor threw 110 pitches and was pulled after 5.2 innings, but he was very effective while he was out there. He allowed only one run on four hits and three walks. The 10 strikeouts represented his second highest total of the season. Windsor is now 7-0 for Sacramento. He was 4-1 with AA-Midland earlier this year and he hasn't had a losing decision since Opening Day.

Hiram Bocachica had a big game in support of Windsor. He went 2-4 with his sixth homer of the year and his eighth stolen base. Andrew Beattie went 3-3 with a double, two walks and two RBI.

Former River Cats Help A's Avoid Sweep

A pair of 2006 River Cats helped the A's avoid a sweep in San Diego on Thursday. Reliever Ron Flores was brilliant in extra-innings after Huston Street blew a save by allowing two runs to the Padres in the ninth inning to tie the game at 5. Flores, who was the only long reliever available for Oakland in extra-innings, earned his first major league win by working innings 10 through 13. He allowed only one bloop single while striking out two and working quickly through the Padres order. He even had his first major league at-bat, grounding out to the catcher.

Flores was lifted in the 14th inning when he was pinch-hit for by Antonio Perez, who walked in the winning run in that at-bat. Chad Gaudin took over for Flores in the 14th and he allowed two one-out infield singles before inducing Brian Giles into a game-ending line-out double-play. Gaudin earned his second save of the year and of his career.

Flores has appeared in 16 games for the River Cats this season, and he is 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA. He has struck out 20 and walked six in 14.2 AAA innings. Gaudin has started four games for Sacramento this season and is 3-0 with an 0.37 ERA in 24.1 innings. He has been in the big leagues since May 13.

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