Oakland A's MLN: The Midland-Stockton Shuffle

The Stockton Ports are winners of 15 consecutive games, but they will be incorporating a whole new set of faces as they go for win number 16 on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Midland Rockhounds' roster has undergone a significant shuffle as the team returns from the Texas League All-Star break.

A 15-game winning streak in baseball is remarkable at any level. It is even more remarkable for a minor league team to accomplish the feat when one considers the lack of continuity on a minor league roster. The Oakland A's High-A affiliate, the Stockton Ports, are going for win number 16 in a row on Thursday, but they will be also dealing with a number of roster changes.

The roster changes start in the rotation, where the Ports are saying good-bye to right-hander A.J. Griffin and welcoming former first-round pick James Simmons.

Griffin had only been with the Ports since May 21st, when he was promoted from Low-A Burlington, but he had been one of the team's best starters during that stretch. In six starts, Griffin had a 3.12 ERA and a 36:7 K:BB ratio. He allowed only two homeruns and 31 hits. For the year, Griffin has a 2.23 ERA and a 90:14 K:BB ratio in 92.2 innings for Low-A Burlington, High-A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento (one spot start). Griffin is the first member of the A's 2010 draft class to reach Double-A.

Taking Griffin's spot in the Stockton rotation, at least for now, is James Simmons, the A's first-round draft pick in 2007. Simmons will be starting for the Ports on Thursday. It will be his first start for a full-season minor league affiliate since the end of the 2009 season. He missed all of last year and the first half of this season recovering from a shoulder injury that required surgery. Simmons made two rehab starts for the A's Rookie League team this month and allowed only a hit in five innings with four strike-outs.

Griffin will be taking the place of left-hander Anthony Capra in the Double-A Midland rotation. Capra has been sent back to extended spring training to work on his mechanics. He has struggled all season with his command, walking 36 in 65.2 innings for the Rockhounds. His ERA is 6.30.

The Ports and Rockhounds are also exchanging catchers. Ryan Ortiz has been promoted from Stockton to Midland, and Petey Paramore has been sent back to Stockton after struggling with the Rockhounds.

Ortiz missed the first six weeks of the 2011 season rehabbing a right shoulder injury that cost him the final two-and-a-half months of the 2010 season, as well. He was red-hot since joining the Ports and leaves Stockton with a .340/.455/.515 line in 28 games. Ortiz had an 873 OPS in 58 games for the Ports last season. He was a sixth-round pick by Oakland in 2009 out of Oregon State.

Paramore put up decent numbers in half of a season with Midland in 2010, but he had struggled at the plate with the 'Hounds in 2011. In 45 games, he hit .192 with a 585 OPS, the poorest numbers of his career. In 46 games with Stockton last season, Paramore had a .255/.391/.362 line. He was a third-round pick of the A's in 2008 out of Arizona State.

The Midland bullpen is also seeing some changes on the first day back from the Texas League All-Star break. Left-hander Ben Hornbeck has been placed on the disabled list and right-hander John Meloan has been activated off of the DL.

In four appearance since joining the Rockhounds from the Stockton Ports on June 15, Hornbeck has allowed six runs in 3.2 innings with seven strike-outs and two walks. Hornbeck began the season at extended spring training recovering from elbow soreness. Meloan had allowed seven earned runs in 10.1 innings with 13 strike-outs and six walks when he landed on the DL in early June. He is a year-and-a-half removed from Tommy John surgery.

Other News and Notes

- The Burlington Bees placed outfielder Tyreace House on the disabled list and activated outfielder Jose Rivero.

- A's pitching prospect Ian Krol made his 2011 debut in a one-inning appearance for the AZL A's on Wednesday night. He is working his way back from a left forearm strain he sustained during spring training. Earlier in the week, right-handed pitching prospect Arnold Leon made his 2011 debut with the AZL A's. He is returning from 2010 Tommy John surgery.

- Cal Bears lead-off hitter and A's 33rd round pick Austin Booker came to terms with Oakland soon after the Bears were eliminated from the College World Series. He will report to the A's Arizona facilities and will be assigned either to the AZL A's or the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters.

- A's 2011 pick Nick Rickles has been assigned to the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats from the Arizona Rookie League, at least temporarily. He may fill in for catcher Anthony Recker, who was named to the PCL All-Star team. Willie Eyre and Eric Sogard are the other two Sacramento representatives on the PCL squad.

- Midland outfielder Jermaine Mitchell and first baseman Michael Spina each had two hits in the Texas League All-Star game. Mitchell collected a triple and Spina had two doubles. Grant Green went 0-for-2 in the game.

- 17-year-old third baseman Renato Nunez leads the DSL A's with three homeruns. He hit homers in back-to-back days to start the week and has an 823 OPS in June. Fellow top Dominican League prospect Vicmal De La Cruz is off to a good start to his pro career, as well. He leads the DSL A's with an 861 OPS that includes a .449 OBP and 16 walks in 23 games.

- Cecil Tanner, the A's 23rd round pick this season out of Georgia, made his pro debut on Monday with the AZL A's. He allowed two hits and one walk and struck-out three in two scoreless innings. Tanner has a fastball that can hit 98 MPH, but he has struggled for the past year with control issues.

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