AZL A's Notebook: Season Underway

The Arizona Rookie League season is underway. Our Arizona Correspondent Kimberly Contreras checks in with her first AZL A's Notebook of the summer.

Opening night, June 20, 2014: A's hosted the Angels. In a very touching pre-game moment, both teams lined-up facing home plate and had a moment of silence for the passing of the beloved Bob Welch, who passed away suddenly on June 9th. Catcher Luke Montz shared a few brief but touching words about the man everyone knew as "Welchie." Also, in his honor, the number "35" is in the grass behind home plate, and his jersey, matching that which the team wears that game, hangs in the dugout each night. Welchie is still part of this team.

SEASON RECAP (THUS FAR)

The standard schedule of the Arizona Rookie League is four games on; one day off, with the four games equaling one "set." After the first two sets of games (eight total), the A's have won three and lost five. At this time, however, the records can't be taken too seriously; there is so much flow in the rosters; newly drafted players who debut and then move on to another level; rehabbing veterans who do the same. That being said, the team stats are detailed in their own section below.

Two notes of interest: First, as has been stated many times, the AZL is a non-revenue generating league, so there is no budget to spend. While at certain stadiums, namely the Brewers in Maryvale, and the Angels in Tempe, the national anthem is played before the game, and the players' names are often displayed on the scoreboard. However, on the A's June 21st visit to Tempe Diablo Stadium, there was a public address announcer who not only introduced each player, but who also played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the 7th inning stretch.

This was the 2nd game of the season, and the Angels beat the A's 13-4. Maybe the Halos will continue this production throughout the season.

Second: after each Arizona Diamondbacks win at home (Chase Field), they play a song by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, called "D-Backs Swing". I don't recall ever hearing this played after AZL games, but it was played after the AZL D-backs beat the A's on Friday, June 27th.

Nice to see little efforts being made to give the players in the Fire League a taste of playing at the next level, where there are more in attendance than their teammates, the flies, the ants and… me.

DEBUTS

There have been many young men taking their first step on a US field as a professional thus far this season. This includes newly drafted players, as well as those promoted from the Dominical Summer league:

JUNE 20 debuts

3B Matt Chapman – 1st pick; SS Trace Loehr – 6th round; LHP Michael Fagan – 9th round

RHP Rob Huber – 26th round; RHP Corey Walter – 28th round; LHP Cody Stull – 29th round

3B Jose Brizuela – 16th round; 1B John Nogowski – 34th round; INF Max Kuhn – 13th round

OF J.P. Sportman – 27th round; RHP Jesus Zambrano – DSL; INF Jesus Lopez – DSL

INF Miguel Mercedes - DSL; OF Robert Martinez – 19th round from 2012 (DSL)

JUNE 21 debuts

RHP Philip Ortiz - DSL; INF - Jean Carlo Rodriguez - DSL (debuted as RHP w/ team losing by 10 runs); RHP Cody Kurz - after not playing in 2013 due to injury

JUNE 22 debuts

LHP Derek Beasley - 30th round; RHP Koby Gauna 20th round; RHP Brendan McCurry 22nd round; RHP Joel Seddon – 11th round

JUNE 23 debuts

RHP Corey Miller – 10th round; LHP Dillon Overton – 2nd round 2013

JUNE 25 debuts

RHP Jesus Rivas - DSL/ VT

JUNE 27 debut

RHP Branden Kelliher – 11th round

JUNE 28 debuts

RHP Dawson Brown – 24th round; RHP Jordan Schwartz – 4th round

STATS: 56 GAMES IN AZL SEASON

EIGHT GAMES PLAYED for most teams.

AZL A's record of 3-5 – last in the East Division, but not the worst in the league. There are three teams with a 2-6 record: Reds, Padres and White Sox.

The A's opponent for tonight, AZL Rangers are undefeated at 6-0; the AZL Brewers, led by Jacob Gatewood have a record of 6-2.

Of the 13 AZL teams, the A's rank as below:

Runs: Rank – 8th; total 44
Hits: Rank – 8th; total 69
2Bs: Rank – 3rd; total 17
3Bs: Rank – 8th; total 4
HRs: Rank – 1st; total 7
RBI: Rank – 7th; total 33
TB: Rank – 3rd; total 115
BB: Rank – 9th; total 28
SO: Rank – 4th; total 65
SB: Rank – 11th; total 6
OBP: Rank – 10th; .316
SLG: Rank – 4th; .401
BA: Rank – 9th; .340
OPS: Rank – 9th; 716

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

HOME RUNS
Seongmin Kim: June 26th - 1st of the season
Robert Martinez: 2 - June 22nd, June 23nd
Jose Brizuela: June 25th (inside the park)
Edwin Diaz: June 25th
Dusty Brown: June 22nd
Max Kuhn: June 25th

A notable performance that was a full year in the making: After having Tommy John surgery last summer, LHP Dillon Overton, Oakland's 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft, made his pro debut in Arizona. On June 23rd, when the 22-year-old took the mound for the first time in his professional career, it was as if Christmas had come early. Overton's parents and fiancée were at Papago for the game against the Giants. But if you were in attendance for this game, you were a supporter of Overton's, even if your colors were orange and black.

The line on Dillon Overton's performance facing 10 batters: 3 IP, 2H, 1 R(E), 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR.

No sign of nerves; just confidence and control. As he returned for each inning, his command improved, his confidence remained strong, and, in a word, he was impressive.

COMINGS

JUNE 25
FROM VERMONT: LHP Alex Nolasco and RHP Jesus Rivas

GOINGS

JUNE 23
TO BELOIT: 3B Matt Chapman and RHP Joel Seddon

JUNE 26
TO BELOIT: RHP Brendan McCurry
TO VERMONT: RHP Corey Miller, LHP Michael Fagan, 3B Jose Brizuela and Daniel Gossett, A's 2014 2nd round pick, who was in Arizona but made his debut in Vermont on June 26th

REHABBING

ON THE ROSTER

Catchers: Dusty Brown, Josh Miller and Luke Montz

HERE, BUT NOT YET ACTIVE

RHP Dakota Freese, RHP Dustin Driver, INF A.J. Kubala, LHP Chris Kohler

RHP Derek DeYoung, who is out for the season, is progressing through the Tommy John recovery process, and is in good spirits. C Nick Rickles, also out for the season, is progressing from right shoulder surgery.

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