Green and Gold Stars Light Up All-Star Rosters
The Oakland A’s have the best record in baseball, and now they can stake claim to the most number of All-Stars. Major League Baseball announced the rosters for the All-Star game on Sunday and seven current A’s players were among those named.
Josh Donaldson became the first A’s player to be voted in as an All-Star starter since Jason Giambi earned that honor in 2000. Left-handed starter Scott Kazmir and left-handed closer Sean Doolittle were named to the American League pitching staff by Red Sox manager John Farrell, while outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, first baseman Brandon Moss and catcher Derek Norris were added to the roster as reserves. Newly acquired right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija earned a spot on the National League’s starting rotation for the work he did with the Cubs. MLB announced that Samardzija will be able to participate in all of the All-Star game festivities but will not be eligible to pitch in the game. The six AL All-Stars are the most the A's have had since 1975, when the team was coming off of three straight World Series titles.
In addition to the seven current A’s heading to Minneapolis, three players who played with the A’s as recently as 2012 will also participate in the game. Oakland native and A’s 2008 second-round pick Tyson Ross, a right-handed starter, was named to his first All-Star game after a breakout first half with the San Diego Padres. A’s 2004 second-round pick Kurt Suzuki also made his first All-Star game. The veteran backstop will be the hometown Twins’ sole position player All-Star representative. Suzuki played for the A’s at the major league level from 2007-2013. Right-handed reliever Pat Neshek, who spent parts of the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the A’s, was named to his first All-Star game, as well. He has a 0.77 ERA for the Cardinals in 35 innings. Neshek and Suzuki were parts of the A’s 2012 and 2013 division championship teams, while Ross was on the 2012 squad.
The All-Star news came at the end of a wild weekend for the A’s. Oakland swept the Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game series. A’s pitchers allowed just four runs in the series. In the middle of that series, the A’s acquired Samardzija and right-hander Jason Hammel in a trade with the Cubs that was easily the biggest deal completed since the start of this season. Samardzija made his Oakland debut on Sunday and earned the win in the A’s 4-2 victory. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball. Samardzija walked one batter and he struck-out five.
Milone Sent Back to Sacramento
After the A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs, it was clear that there were going to be tough cuts from the A’s rotation. With Hammel not expected to report to the team officially until Monday, the A’s had to make just one move over the weekend. That move wound-up being the demotion of Tommy Milone to Triple-A Sacramento. Milone was demoted despite throwing seven scoreless innings on Friday and posting a 3.55 ERA in 16 starts this season.
Milone’s turn in the rotation fell on the same day as Hammel’s and Milone was the only one of the bottom three members of the A’s rotation (the others being Brad Mills and Jesse Chavez) to have minor league options remaining. Chances are Milone will return to the A’s rotation at some point in the coming weeks, perhaps when the A’s decide to move Chavez into the bullpen. The A’s are likely to want to limit Chavez’s innings after he threw 87.1 innings last year. Chavez has already thrown 103 innings this season. Mills is likely to be designated for assignment when Hammel is added to the roster officially.
Roster Moves Throughout the Organization
The transaction pages were busy for the Oakland A’s minor league affiliates this weekend, and wasn’t limited to saying goodbye to three prominent members of the A’s system (Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily).
In Sacramento, the River Cats lost Straily to the trade to the Cubs and lost starter Josh Lindblom to the disabled list. Tommy Milone will replace Straily in the River Cats’ rotation (at least for now) and Drew Granier was promoted from Double-A Midland to replace Lindblom. Tim Atherton was sent from Stockton to Sacramento to make an emergency start for the River Cats on Saturday. Austin House also joined the River Cats from Stockton to reinforce the Sacramento bullpen.
Infielder Colin Walsh also returned to Sacramento after a brief stay with Stockton last week. Walsh had an unusual return to Sacramento, as he collected two hits and tossed two innings in relief in a blowout loss on Saturday. The River Cats lost, at least temporarily, outfielder Nick Buss. Buss was designated for assignment by the A’s to open a 40-man roster spot after the trade with the Cubs. It is the second time Buss has been designated for assignment this season. He has a 685 OPS for the River Cats this season.
The River Cats won two-of-three over the Reno Aces this weekend. Sacramento currently leads Reno by 3.5 games in the Pacific Northern Division.
The RockHounds lost two of their more high-profile prospects over the weekend in Russell and Granier. The A’s have yet to replace Granier on the RockHounds’ roster. Reliever Deryk Hooker made the spot start in Granier’s place on Sunday. Dusty Coleman has assumed the shortstop role since Russell’s departure. Russell made his Cubs’ organization debut on Sunday with Double-A Tennessee. The RockHounds are currently riding a four-game winning streak. They are 1.5 games out of first in the second-half standings in the South Division and are 47-39 on the season.
The Ports played a little short-handed this weekend, as Atherton, House and Walsh were promoted to Sacramento and no immediate reinforcements were sent to Stockton. The A’s have also not yet officially replaced Billy McKinney on the Stockton roster. However, after Sunday’s game, outfielder Jaycob Brugman was told that he is being promoted from Low-A Beloit to Stockton. Bruggman hit .278/.371/.484 with eight homers in 70 games for the Snappers.
Despite the lightened roster, the Ports took two-of-three from San Jose over the weekend. Stockton has a 12-5 record in the second-half this season and a 1.5-game lead in the Northern Division. The Ports also have a comfy six game lead in the wildcard race and an overall record of 49-38.
In Beloit, starter Dylan Covey returned to the active roster after a two-week absence with dead arm. Covey allowed two runs in three innings in his first start back. He struck-out three and walked one. Covey has had a strange season filled with runs of dominance followed by a start or two where he was lit up. His ERA is 5.02, but his FIP is 3.37. Covey’s groundball rate is 57.4% this season. The Snappers broke a 10-game losing streak on Saturday with a 6-3 win over Cedar Rapids. They followed that up with another win on Sunday.
The A’s continued to add members of their 2014 draft class to the roster of the Vermont Lake Monsters this weekend. Pitchers Koby Gauna and Corey Walter were added to the Vermont roster from Arizona, while Kevin Ferreras and Victor Veliz were sent back to Arizona. 2014 draftees John Nogowski and Max Kuhn have already made a significant impact on the Lake Monsters. Nogowski is seven-for-his-first-12 with two walks and two doubles. Kuhn is four-for-his-first-10 with two doubles and a walk.
-- A’s 2013 second-round pick Dillon Overton moved another step closer to joining a non-complex league affiliate. The left-hander struck-out eight in three shutout innings in his latest start on Sunday. Overton has made three starts for the AZL A’s in his return from Tommy John surgery. In those three starts, Overton has struck-out 17 and has walked none in nine innings. He has also allowed just six hits and two runs.
-- Outfielder Boog Powell continues to rake. He has hit safely in all 11 games since he made the jump from Low-A Beloit to High-A Stockton. Powell is 19-for-48 (.396) with three doubles, one triple and six walks in 11 games. He has 10 RBI and has struck-out just three times. He is batting .344/.453/.440 between Beloit and Stockton this season.
-- Shane Peterson collected two more hits (including a double) and three more RBI on Sunday in the River Cats’ blowout win over the Reno Aces. The PCL All-Star is batting .308/.381/.429 with five homers and 11 stolen bases this season.
-- RHP Blake Hassebrock picked up the win in relief for the RockHounds on Sunday night. He tossed two scoreless innings and has a 3.12 ERA and a 12:4 K:BB over his last 17.1 innings. Since allowing 11 runs in 8.1 innings in April, Hassebrock has allowed just seven runs in 19.2 innings since (3.20 ERA). RHP Ryan Dull earned the save in that game. He has allowed just one run over his last 11.2 innings pitched.