Oakland A's MLN: Winter & Alumni Notes

Petit is swinging a hot bat for Caracas.

The playoffs have arrived for the winter leagues. The Caracas Leones are in the Venezuelan League post-season and a number of Oakland A's players are playing an important role for Caracas. We have notes on the A's winter league participants, as well as news on the movement of alumni of the organization inside...

International Notebook: Petit, Herrera, Padron Going Strong In Venezuela

The Caracas Leones are in the Venezuelan League playoffs and a number of members of the Oakland A's organization have had a big part in getting Caracas into the post-season. A's infielder Gregorio Petit has been one of Caracas' most consistent players this winter. In 58 games (203 at-bats), Petit has hit .315 with an 800 OPS. His OBP is an impressive .386 and he has walked 22 times and driven-in 32 runs. Petit hit .269 in 79 games with Triple-A Sacramento and .348 in 14 games with the A's in 2008.

A's outfield prospect Javier Herrera has been hot for Caracas lately. The five-tool outfielder didn't appear in a game for Caracas from November 14 through December 18, but he is seven for 24 (.292 BA) with two homers since returning to the line-up. Herrera batted clean-up for Caracas on Tuesday during their post-season win over Lara. He hit .267 with nine homers in 61 games for Double-A Midland in 2008. Herrera will be entering his final option year in 2009.

Raul Padron, a catching prospect in the A's system, is having a strong winter. In 15 games, he is hitting .297 with two homers and an 894 OPS. Padron appeared in only 53 games for High-A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento in 2008 after serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

A's infield prospect Leonardo Gil, who spent the 2008 season with Oakland's two short-season affiliates, has had a recent impact for Caracas. He has appeared in only four games, but he has two hits (including a triple) and two RBIs in five at-bats.

Brad Knox, who is a minor league free agent, has made three starts for Caracas and he is pitching well. The right-hander has allowed only four runs in 13 innings (2.77 ERA). In his last start on December 26, Knox went six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck-out two.

A's pitching prospect Henry Rodriguez has had a rough winter campaign for his Venezuelan squad in Zulia. In 11.2 innings, Rodriguez has struck-out 16, but he has allowed 12 hits and 13 walks and sports an ugly 7.71 ERA. He hasn't appeared in a game for Aguilas since December 11.

A's reliever Santiago Casilla has had a strong winter for Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. The hard-throwing right-hander has four saves and has yet to allow an earned run in 10 innings of work. He has nine strike-outs and three walks and has given up four hits.

Alumni Movement

A number of former members of the Oakland A's organization have secured their 2009 jobs. We have the most recent transactions below:

The Cincinnati Reds have signed first baseman Wes Bankston to a minor league deal. Bankston was with the A's organization for all of last season after being acquired from Kansas City off of waivers. He made his major league debut with Oakland in 2008. In 17 games with the A's, Bankston hit .203 with a homer, three doubles and four RBIs. In 97 games with Triple-A Sacramento, the Texas native batted .280 with 20 homers and 73 RBIs. Bankston turned 25 in late November.

The Florida Marlins have signed former A's right-hander Mike Wood to a minor league deal. Wood was the A's 10th round pick in 2001 and was with the organization until mid-season 2004, when he was traded to the Kansas City Royals as part of the Octavio Dotel/Carlos Beltran three-team deal. Wood appeared in seven games for the A's in 2003, going 2-1 with a 10.54 ERA. He has a career major league record of 16-22 with a 5.49 ERA in 344 innings. Wood's minor league ERA is 3.18 in 526 innings. He spent the 2008 season pitching for Yokohama in the Japanese Professional League.

The Kansas City Royals have signed left-handed pitcher Lenny DiNardo, who spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the A's organization. DiNardo, who won a World Series ring as member of the Boston Red Sox in 2004, went 8-10 with a 4.11 ERA in 131 innings for the A's in 2007 as a part-time member of the Oakland starting rotation. He began the 2008 season on the A's roster, but struggled early in the year and was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, where he would spend the majority of the season. DiNardo had a 7.43 ERA in 23 innings for the A's in 2008, and a 6.69 ERA in 71.1 innings for Sacramento. His career major league ERA is 4.93 in 235.2 innings.

The Minnesota Twins have re-signed outfielder Joe Gaetti, who spent half of the 2008 season in the A's system. Gaetti signed with Oakland on a minor league deal in April after he was cut by the Colorado Rockies at the end of spring training. The son of former Twins star Gary Gaetti, Joe had a big season at the plate for the A's Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. In 79 games, he hit .282 with 17 homers and an OPS of 900. Gaetti was traded to the Twins organization mid-season, as the A's had a number of outfielders who needed playing time in the higher levels of the organization and the team wanted Gaetti to have a chance to play. He homered in his first at-bat as part of the Twins organization, but that would be his only at-bat for them, as he injured his Achilles tendon and missed the rest of the season.

The Philadelphia Phillies have come to terms with three former members of the A's organization: right-hander pitcher Justin Lehr, infielder J.J. Furmaniak and outfielder Brian Stavisky. Lehr was an eighth round selection of the A's in the 1999 draft out of USC. The right-hander reached the major leagues with Oakland in 2004 as a reliever. In 27 games, he posted a 5.24 ERA. He was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers the following off-season as part of the deal that brought Oakland Keith Ginter. Lehr appeared in 23 games for the Brewers in 2005 and posted a 3.89 ERA in 34.2 innings. He struggled with Milwaukee the next season and was cut at the end of the year. He spent the past two years in Triple-A with Seattle and Cincinnati.

Furmaniak spent the 2007 season as a member of the A's organization. He spent the bulk of that year with Triple-A Sacramento, where he hit .292 with an 823 OPS. Furmaniak appeared in 16 games with the A's and had three hits and scored five runs in 17 at-bats. He spent the 2008 season in Japan with Yokohama.

Stavisky was a member of the A's 2002 draft class. The former Notre Dame star had a strong minor league career with Oakland, but he was waylaid by injuries in 2007 and cut at the end of spring training in 2008. Stavisky won the California League MVP award with the Modesto A's in 2004 when he hit .343 with 19 homers and a 963 OPS. He hit .316 for Midland in 2005 and again in 2006, but struggled during his time with Triple-A Sacramento both in 2006 (.239 BA) and in 2007 (.238 BA). Stavisky began last season with Lancaster of the independent Atlantic League before signing with the Angels mid-season. In 86 games with Double-A Arkansas, Stavisky hit .312 with 16 homers and a 930 OPS. He is a Pennsylvania native and will have a chance to play close to home if he makes the Phillies' Triple-A squad in Lehigh Valley.

Former A's reliever Greg Cadaret has been hired to manage the Chico Outlaws in the Golden Baseball League. Cadaret threw three scoreless innings for the A's in the 1988 World Series and was part of the package that Oakland sent to the New York Yankees during the 1989 season to re-acquire soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson.

Former A's infielder Frank Menechino has been named the hitting coach for the Eastern League's Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees organization). Menechino played in 2008 in Italy. The New York native appeared in games with the A's from 1999-2003. His best season for Oakland came in 2001 when he hit 12 homers and drove-in 60 runs in 139 games. In 2004, Menechino hit .301 with a 904 OPS in 71 games for the Toronto Blue Jays.

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