Oakland A's MLN: Winter/Fall Notes

The winter and fall leagues are underway and we have updates on the Oakland A's players taking part in those leagues, as well as news on changes to the A's coaching staff.

Winter League Notes

Below is a collection of information on several Oakland A's players participating in various winter leagues:

Relief prospect Mickey Storey's stay in the Venezuelan Winter League was a brief one thanks to an injured right elbow. Storey allowed a run on two hits in 2.2 innings over three appearances for the Bravos de Margarita before being sidelined with elbow pain. He was sent back to the US to be evaluated by A's doctors and won't return to the VWL this season. Storey had a 3.64 ERA and 77 strike-outs in 84 innings for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento this season.

Infield prospect Alexander Valdez, who was the Rookie of the Year in the Dominican Winter League last season, has three hits in his first 12 at-bats for the Estrellas de Oriente. Valdez is eligible for minor league free agency this year.

A's reliever Henry Rodriguez threw his first bullpen session for the Caracas Leones on Friday and is expected to be activated by the Leones as soon as this Thursday. Rodriguez was traded from his hometown Zuila team to Caracas last winter league season. He is expected to play an important role in the Leones bullpen. Infield prospect Leonardo Gil is already on the active roster for the Leones and he is batting .375 with a homer and seven walks in 32 at-bats over 11 games played. A's first-baseman/outfielder Jeff Larish is also on the team, but he is off to a slow start, batting .077 in 13 at-bats. Caracas is managed by former A's coach Dave Hudgens.

Former top A's prospect Javier Herrera injured his leg in his first winter league game for the Tiburones de La Guaira and he was removed from the team's 32-man roster. Herrera's promising career with the A's stalled thanks to a series of hamstring and arm injuries. Current top A's prospect Chris Carter is scheduled to be a part of that Tiburones roster, as well, although his debut in the league has been pushed back, as the Tiburones needed to add another pitcher thanks to an injury to Willie Collazo. Carter is expected to debut sometime in November.

Starting pitching prospect Graham Godfrey is on the roster for the Senadores de San Juan of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Godfrey had a 5.33 ERA and 103 strike-outs in 125 innings, mostly for Triple-A Sacramento, in 2010.

In Mexico, relief prospect Jon Hunton and utilityman prospect Corey Wimberly are both off to good starts. Hunton has appeared in seven games for the Algodoneros de Guasave and has allowed only one run on three hits in 7.2 innings. He has struck-out six and walked one. Wimberly has appeared in 11 games for the Tomateros de Culiacan and he is batting .279 with a homer and six walks. He also has three stolen bases, although he has been caught four times. Wimberly has been hit by three pitches thus far. Pitching prospect Andres Avila, who the A's signed out of Mexico as an international free agent last year, has pitched seven innings for the Caneros de los Mochis and has allowed two runs on six hits with four walks and three strike-outs.

Former A's starter and 2010 Sacramento River Cats' hurler John Halama was the Opening Day starter for the Aguilas de Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League. It was his first Opening Day assignment in his professional career, which includes 12 major league seasons. He allowed three runs (two earned) in 3.1 innings and was stuck with the loss.

Arizona Fall League Notes

The Phoenix Desert Dogs are off to a slow start this AFL season, going 4-7 over their first 11 games.

The A's prospects on the Desert Dogs' roster have had mixed results thus far. Michael Taylor is fifth on the team with a 915 OPS, but he has slowed after a hot start. Over his last six games, he has one hit in 16 at-bats. Overall, he is batting .273/.400/.515 with two homers and six RBI. Stephen Parker is batting .269/.367/.385 in 26 at-bats. He has two extra-base hits (a triple and a double). Grant Green has yet to get on track at the plate. In eight games, he is batting .167/.219/.233 and he has 12 strike-outs and only two walks.

On the mound, Travis Banwart has made two starts, winning both outings. In the first outing, he threw three scoreless innings, scattering four hits. He struggled a bit in the second outing, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk in three innings. Michael Benacka has allowed only one run in four innings of relief, but he has been wild, walking six. He has also struck-out six, however. Carlos Hernandez has given up three runs in four innings on two hits and two walks. All three runs came on a homerun. Justin James, who is the only member of the A's 40-man roster at the AFL, has struggled, allowing three earned runs in three innings, although he has struck-out four and walked only one.

A's Coaching Staff Changes

Several changes to the A's coaching staff were announced last week. The A's hired a new hitting coach (Gerald Perry) and a new bench coach (Joel Skinner). Oakland's 2010 bench coach Ty Waller had his position changed to first-base coach, while 2010 first-base coach Todd Steverson and 2010 hitting coach Jim Skaalen were removed from the staff. Steverson was offered a position within the A's minor league system. He managed in the A's system from 2005-2008 and won the Triple-A crown with Sacramento in 2008.

The A's also announced on Sunday that pitching coach Curt Young had declined his contract offer to return for the 2011 season to pursue other opportunities. Young had spent 27 years in the A's organization as a player and coach.

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