Oakland A's MLN: MiLB Cuts, Taylor Banged Up

PHOENIX - It is getting towards the end of minor league spring training and the most difficult part of the spring has begun. The Oakland A's released five players over the weekend. We have the details on those cuts, plus news on an injury to Michael Taylor and some spring standout pitching performances.

A's Make First Minor League Cuts Of Spring

On Saturday, the Oakland A's made their first cuts from minor league camp. The organization released five players: Toddric Johnson, Dusty Napoleon, Jonathan Hunton, Ryan Quigley and Kenneth Smalley.

Johnson was the A's 14th round pick in the 2006 draft. The outfielder hit .255 with a 698 OPS in five minor league seasons. His best season came 2008 when he posted an 807 OPS in 109 games for the Low-A Kane County Cougars. He was named the team co-MVP that season.

Napoleon was the A's 19th round pick in 2007. The Iowa alum hit .218 with a 638 OPS in four minor league seasons. Napoleon, a catcher, played for all four of the A's full-season affiliates last season.

Originally an 11th round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2004, Hunton signed with the A's as a minor league free agent before the 2009 season after spending the 2007-2008 campaigns in the independent leagues. Hunton had a 2.92 ERA in 74 innings for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland in 2009 and he had a 3.57 ERA in 63 innings for Triple-A Sacramento last season. The 6'9'' right-hander was on the rehab list in A's minor league camp this week.

Quigley was the A's 22nd round pick in 2009. The left-hander from Northeastern had a 6.32 ERA in 78 innings in two professional seasons. Last season, he had a 7.13 ERA in 53 innings for short-season Vancouver and Low-A Kane County.

Smalley was the A's 28th round pick in 2008. He had an outstanding first two seasons in the organization before struggling last year. In 2008, he had a 3.07 ERA in 29.1 innings for Vancouver. He followed that up with a Midwest League post-season All-Star season for Kane County in 2009. That season he had a 2.73 ERA in 131.2 innings. Last year, Smalley could never get on-track, however. He had a 6.46 ERA 76.2 innings with Stockton before finishing the year with Kane County, for whom he had a 5.88 ERA in 26 innings.

A's Director of Player Personnel Keith Lieppman indicated that there will be more cuts before camp breaks next week.

Taylor Hurting

Michael Taylor's status for Triple-A Sacramento's Opening Night is up in the air. The outfield prospect has been battling a sore wrist. He played in the minor league intrasquad game on Sunday, his first game appearance since the soreness developed. Taylor indicated that the wrist was feeling better, but wrist injuries can be tricky and he will need more improvement with the wrist to start the season on time.

Patterson On Standout Pitchers In MiLB Camp, Krol's Injury

A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson indicated on Saturday that Travis Banwart was having a very solid spring. He indicated that Carlos Hernandez, Neil Wagner, Paul Smyth, Fabian Williamson, Anthony Capra, Shawn Haviland, Neil Wagner, Josh Bowman, Blake Hassebrock and Jake Brown were having good camps, as well. Patterson also noted that Hassebrock's velocity is up, and that he was hitting 93-96 MPH with his fastball.

Patterson has been impressed with right-hander Ethan Hollingsworth, who was acquired for Clayton Mortensen in February.

"He has been not a pleasant surprise because I'm sure the guys who traded for him knew he was pretty good but he has been very good. He has excellent command, but good stuff too," Patterson said.

A.J. Griffin, the A's 13th round pick last season, was also signaled out for having a good spring. Griffin was the short-season Vancouver closer in 2010, but he is likely to move to the rotation this year.

"I think right now [the A's see him] probably more as a starter. He commands the ball so well and repeats so well. I think some or most organizations try to develop starters and then go from there," Patterson said.

"I don't know exactly where he is going to turn out, whether it is going to be as a starter or a reliever, but right now we are going to go with starter."

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