Stockton Ports Pitching At A Glance
Team ERA: 4.60 (seventh out of 10 teams in the league)
Strike-outs/Walks: 1163/516 (most and second-most, respectively)
Team WHIP: 1.49 (seventh)
Note: this article covers all pitchers who threw at least 20 innings for the Stockton Ports this season.
The California League is known as a hitter's paradise, although the Stockton Ports have had plenty of pitching talent since becoming an Oakland A's affiliate in 2005. As recently as 2008, the Ports' staff featured current major leaguers Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Henry Rodriguez and Sam Demel, among others. The 2010 Stockton staff didn't feature the same caliber of pitching prospects as the 2008 staff did and that was reflected in the team's overall pitching numbers, which were mostly mediocre.
Staff ace Shawn Haviland's numbers were anything but mediocre, however. The Harvard alum finished fifth among all A-ball pitchers in strike-outs with 166. He also walked only 40 in 150.1 innings. A flyball pitcher, Haviland did allow 15 homeruns, but his good command helped him limit the damage and post a solid 3.65 ERA, which was fifth in the California League. Haviland was especially effective down-the-stretch, posting a 3.21 ERA after the All-Star break. His second-half performance was a good sign for Haviland's development, as he faded badly in the second-half in 2009 for Kane County. Haviland was rewarded for his strong performance with a spot on the California League's post-season All-Star team. A 33rd round pick in 2008, Haviland has developed into an intriguing prospect in a short period of time.
If Haviland was the Ports' ace, Justin Murray was the team's "ace 1A." The 2008 29th round pick led the team in wins with 10 and was second to Haviland in ERA with a 3.67 mark (putting him sixth in the league). Murray didn't have Haviland's strike-out numbers, but he did strike-out a respectable 83 in 117.2 innings. He spent time in the bullpen, as well as the rotation, making 18 starts and 8 relief appearances. Murray was remarkably consistent for Stockton, with ERAs of 3.69 and 3.65 in the first and second halves, respectively. In August, he helped the Ports win 14 consecutive games by posting a 1.82 ERA in 29.2 innings. Murray also made four appearances for Double-A Midland and is likely to return there in 2011.
In 2009, Ben Hornbeck was a star for Stockton, striking out 111 in only 76.2 innings. The lefty began the 2010 season with Midland, but he struggled to duplicate his 2009 success. He was sent back to Stockton in late May and spent the rest of the season in the Stockton rotation. Hornbeck's ERA rose from 3.17 in 2009 to 4.44, but he still struck-out 112 in 93.1 innings. His command wasn't as sharp, however, as he walked 41 and allowed 18 homers. The A's still like Hornbeck's stuff, although he may move to the bullpen in 2011, especially if his command doesn't improve.
To say that Paul Smyth was a workhorse out of the Ports' would be an understatement. Despite not starting a game for Stockton and despite being a late-inning reliever, Smyth finished fourth on the team in innings pitched with 77.2. He saved 28 games, a total that tied for second in the league. A sidearmer, Smyth induced nearly one-and-a-half groundouts for every flyout and he allowed only four homeruns. He also struck-out 94 batters while walking 21. Smyth was promoted to Double-A for the playoffs and he should start the 2011 season at that level, likely serving as the Rockhounds' closer.
Ports' manager Steve Scarsone often called on left-handers Trey Barham and Lance Sewell and right-hander Scott Deal before handing the ball off to Smyth. Barham was a groundball machine, recording two groundouts for every flyout. He also had good command, walking only 19 while striking out 56 in 68.1 innings and he allowed only five homeruns. Interestingly, Barham was stronger against right-handed hitters (.236 BAA) than left-handers (.282 BAA). He should join Smyth in Midland next season.
In 33 appearances, Sewell allowed runs in only seven of them and only once did he allow more than one run. The San Diego State alum posted a 1.76 ERA and went 7-0 while striking out 41 and walking 11 in 46 innings. Opposing batters hit only .181 against him before he was promoted to Midland for the final six weeks of the season.
A former starter, Deal was the longman for Stockton, pitching 68.2 innings in only 39 appearances. Deal held opposing batters to a .237 average and he posted a 3.15 ERA. It was Deal's first season at the High-A ball level after spending three seasons (2007-2009) with Low-A Kane County. As he was last year, Deal will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season.
Scott Hodsdonfinished with the sixth-most innings pitched for the Ports. A converted starter, Hodsdon spent the entire season in the bullpen, posting a 6.18 ERA and saving four games. He struck-out 54 and walked 33, but allowed only three homeruns and induced two groundouts for every flyout. This was Hodsdon's second season in the Cal League.
Acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox for Eric Patterson, Fabian Williamson was with the Ports long enough to start 13 games. Limited by a fingernail issue that was corrected via surgery in the off-season, Williamson posted a 4.57 ERA in 63 innings for Stockton after having a 3.72 ERA in 65.1 innings in the Carolina League. He was unable to use his curveball effectively because of the fingernail issue. With Stockton, Williamson struggled badly with his command, walking 45 while striking out 49. Opposing batters hit .288 against the lefty. The soon-to-be 22-year-old may need more time in A-ball next season.
Kenneth Smalley, Anvioris Ramirez and Murphy Smith began the season in the Stockton rotation after putting together strong 2009 efforts in Kane County. Unfortunately, none of the pitchers were able to recapture their 2009 Cougars' form and were all eventually sent back to the Midwest League. Ramirez had the most difficult time, posting a 7.94 ERA and going 0-6 in eight starts before being sent back to Kane County. He would eventually be demoted from Kane County to Vancouver before finding success with the Canadians. Ramirez walked 14 in 39.2 innings, allowed six homeruns and saw opposing batters hit .329 against him with the Ports.
Smith posted a 6.19 ERA in 48 innings with the Ports. He walked only 12 and struck-out 34, but he allowed 72 hits (.350 BAA). He would post a more respectable 3.64 ERA with the Cougars. Smalley lasted with Stockton most of the season, making 12 starts and six relief appearances, before being sent down to the Cougars. He had a 6.46 ERA with Stockton and really struggled with his control. Smalley struck-out 64, but he walked 41 and allowed 13 homers in only 76.2 innings. The 2009 Midwest League post-season All-Star also struggled with Kane County and will be looking for a comeback season in 2011.
Jose Pina split his season between Kane County and Stockton. The right-hander tossed 48.2 innings for the Ports, posting a 6.66 ERA despite a 45:19 K:BB ratio. He was too hittable with the Ports, allowing 57 hits, including 11 homers. He was hit particularly hard towards the end of the season, allowing 13 runs over his final 10.1 innings pitched. Pina had a 3.74 ERA with Kane County.
Andrew Carignan and Brett Hunter were two of the more high-profile names on the Stockton pitching roster this season and both had similar ups-and-downs out of the Ports' bullpen. Carignan, the A's fifth-round pick in 2007, was on the verge of the major leagues at the start of the 2009 season before an arm injury cost him nearly the entire season. He began the 2010 campaign at extended spring training. Although mostly healthy with the Ports, Carignan was re-learning his throwing motion and his release point for much of the season, something that was evident in his control problems, as he walked 34 in 33 innings, and his ERA (6.27). The good news was that when he did throw strikes, he had success. He struck-out 44, allowed only two homers and held opposing batters to a .228 average. Carignan threw well at the A's Instructional League camp and he could climb the A's minor league ladder quickly in 2011.
Hunter has struggled since being signed by the A's to a record over-slot contract as a seventh-rounder in 2008. The Pepperdine alum dealt with arm problems throughout the season and didn't pitch after July 28th. He posted a 6.51 ERA in 27.2 innings. Hunter showed good stuff and he struck-out 44 batters in those 27.2 innings, but he generally had little command of his pitches, walking 25 and allowing 32 hits. Hunter has been on a throwing program this fall and the A's will likely bring him along slowly in 2011.
Two members of the Ports' starting rotation were released by the A's organization during the season: left-hander Paul Oseguera and right-hander Mike Madsen. Oseguera was signed by the A's as a minor league free agent when injuries impacted the depth of the A's lower-levels. The former Giants prospect had had prior success in the Cal League with the San Jose Giants, but he was unable to recapture that form with Stockton. In seven starts, he had a 6.16 ERA. He allowed 49 hits in 38 innings. Madsen was once one of the A's top pitching prospects, and he was the team's Futures Game representative in 2007. He injured his elbow in 2008 and eventually had Tommy John surgery. After missing most of the 2009 season, Madsen was finally healthy in 2010, but he was released after posting a 5.00 ERA in 27 innings. He did have an impressive 32:8 K:BB ratio, however. After his release, he signed on with the Camden RiverSharks of the independent Atlantic League and had a 4.65 ERA in 50 innings.
During the second half of the season, a veteran presence was added to the Stockton roster when 37-year-old Brett Tomko joined the team. Tomko had pitched well for the A's late in the 2009 season, but he finished that year with a nerve problem in his pitching arm. He spent the first half of the 2010 campaign rehabbing that injury in hopes of joining the A's roster for the final few months of the season. That never materialized, as he struggled throughout his 14 minor league starts. Six of those starts came with Stockton, with whom he posted a 7.52 ERA in 26.1 innings. He allowed an incredible 11 homeruns and gave up 37 hits. Tomko's ERA with Sacramento wasn't much better (7.16) and it remains to be seen whether he will continue his career in 2011.
During the final few weeks of the season, the Ports' rotation added two members of the A's 2009 draft class: Justin Marks and Ian Krol (note: both pitched 19.2 innings, but we have rounded that total up to include them in this piece). Marks was the first pitcher selected by the A's in 2009 and their second overall pick (third round). He missed nearly all of the 2009 short-season with a groin injury, so, for all intents and purposes, 2010 was his professional debut. He struggled early with Kane County, but was pitching well by the time the A's sent him to Stockton in late July. The lefty struck-out 119 in only 109.2 innings with the Cougars. Marks battled groin soreness during his time with the Ports and was on a strict innings limit over his final two appearances. After a poor first outing in which he allowed five earned runs in four innings, Marks pitched fairly well for Stockton, allowing five earned runs over 15.2 innings. He struck-out 15 and walked five over that stretch. He should start the 2011 season with the Ports.
Krol is a pretty sure bet to join Marks in that 2011 Stockton rotation. Krol was the A's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, mostly for his efforts with Kane County. In 118.2 innings with the Cougars, Krol posted a 2.65 ERA and he struck-out 91 while walking only 19. The 19-year-old also pitched well in his first taste of High-A baseball. In four starts, he had a 3.66 ERA. His BB/9 ratio jumped from 1.44 to 4.12 with Stockton, but his K/9 improved from 6.90 to 9.15. He did a good job inducing groundballs at both levels. Krol will enter the 2011 season as one of the A's top pitching prospects.