Oakland A's MLN: Who's Hot In July?

The month of July is quickly coming to a close. We take a look at which players in the Oakland A's minor league system are playing well this month.

Stats as of the morning of Wednesday, July 27

Michael Choice: There was no hotter hitter in the A's system than Choice until he strained a quad muscle on Sunday. When he returns to the field, he will be sitting on a 44-game on-base streak and a .293/.385/.575 line. In July, Choice is batting .416 with a 1295 OPS. His 27 homers lead the California League and the A's organization.

Michael Taylor: Taylor has hit his stride of late, batting .452 with three homers and eight walks over his last 10 games. He is batting .299 with 20 RBIs in 23 games in July and has already doubled his 2010 homerun total (12 this year) in less than half as many games. With runners in scoring position this season, Taylor is hitting .347 with a .493 SLG. Taylor's SLG for the season is more than 100 points higher than last season (.496 compared with .392).

Aaron Shipman: The A's third-round pick last season got off to a slow start with the Vermont Lake Monsters, but the 19-year-old has been one of the Lake Monsters' top hitters in July. In 23 games, he is batting .320 with a .440 OBP. Shipman has also been successful on all eight of his steal attempts in July and is 12-for-14 overall. His BB:K ratio for the season is an impressive 25:21.

Josh Outman: Outman has been fairly dominating since the start of July for Sacramento. In four starts, he has allowed only two earned runs in 19 innings. He has 17 strike-outs and has held opposing batters to a .222 average. Outman has walked eight, but he hasn't allowed a homerun. He has also won three games, including on Tuesday night when he worked five shut-out frames. Over his last two starts, Outman hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and he has nine strike-outs.

Jai Miller: Miller has exploded in July, batting .318 with a 1115 OPS. He is batting .342 over his last 10 games with three homers, although his K:BB ratio is 16:4. For the season, Miller has a career-high 25 homers and a 1049 OPS to go along with a .295 BA.

Ryan Ortiz: Since returning from a shoulder injury, Ortiz has been hard to stop at the plate. He hit .340 with a 970 OPS in 28 games for Stockton and has done pretty much the same damage in 17 games for Midland. The backstop has a .333 average and a 952 OPS in 54 at-bats. He is batting .355 over his last 10 games. On the season, Ortiz has six homers in 151 at-bats and a 31:32 BB:K ratio.

Daniel Straily: There hasn't been much buzz surrounding the Stockton Ports' pitching staff this season, but Straily has quietly put together an excellent season out of the rotation. The right-hander has had a particularly good July, going 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA and an incredible 34:3 KBB ratio. He's allowed only 23 hits, as well. For the year, Straily has a 10-6 mark with a 3.58 ERA and a 119:26 K:BB ratio in 120.2 innings. Straily struck-out 149 in 148 innings for Kane County last season.

Vicmal De La Cruz: De La Cruz was a much-heralded international amateur free agent signing and he is living up to his advanced billing thus far. The outfielder has hit .315 with a .422 OBP for the DSL A's this month. He also won the MVP award during the Dominican Summer League All-Star game. De La Cruz is batting .322 with an 887 OPS for the season.

Graham Godfrey: Since returning to Sacramento from Oakland, Godfrey has continued to pitch well. The right-hander, who out-dueled Giants' star Tim Lincecum in a memorable game in Oakland, has allowed only five runs in 21 innings since his return to the River Cats. Four of those runs came in one poor start in the hitter-haven of Salt Lake City. That start aside, Godfrey has coughed up only a run on seven hits and four walks against 12 strike-outs in 16 innings. His ERA for Sacramento for the season is 2.27 with a 68:21 K:BB ratio in 75.1 innings.

Josh Whitaker: Whitaker's season got a late start, as the A's began his year in extended spring training, but he is quickly making up for lost time. He is having his best month to date in July, batting .359/.425/.731, and is now the Midwest League's leader in batting average (.315) and OPS (937) for the season. Whitaker has hit righties and lefties well for the Burlington Bees. He has 13 homers in only 270 at-bats and could be in-line for a promotion to Stockton if there is any system-wide movement at the first base/DH/LF positions.

Stephen Parker: It hasn't been quite as successful of a season for Parker in 2011 as it was for him with Stockton in 2010, but Parker has been swinging the bat well of late with Midland. In July he is batting .347/.416/.465. He currently has a five-game hitting streak and is batting .372 over his last 10 appearances.

Grant Green: Green has put together a solid month of July. In addition to batting .302 with an 822 OPS for the Rockhounds, he won the MVP award at the MLB All-Star Futures Game. Green also took a step towards the big leagues by moving positions from shortstop (where he struggled defensively) to what the A's hope is his permanent home in centerfield.

Josh Donaldson: April was a disaster for Donaldson, but he has been making up the ground he lost that month in earnest since then. After posting OPSs of 839 and 847 in May and June, respectively, Donaldson has upped his game in July. In 18 games, he has a .348/.449/.545 slash-line. The most encouraging aspect of his play in July is that he has walked nine times and has struck-out only 12 times, numbers more reminiscent of the totals he put up with Double-A Midland in 2009 before he started being more of a free swinger with Sacramento in 2010.

Anthony Aliotti: Aliotti isn't one of the A's big name prospects, but he is starting to make his presence felt within the system. An excellent defensive first baseman with a good eye at the plate, Aliotti has added some power this season. In July, he has hit three homers and has walked 21 times in 23 games. For the year, the East Bay native has a .272/.399/.417 line despite struggling against left-handed pitchers. Four of his 10 homers have come since the All-Star break. He has walked 16 times in the past 10 games, including six times over his past three appearances.

Michael Spina: Spina had a red-hot April, but cooled off in May and slumped in June. He has rebounded nicely in July, batting .363/.420/.495 in 22 games. Spina hasn't homered yet this month, but he has eight doubles and two triples. On the season, the first baseman has 37 extra-base hits in 366 at-bats.

Jeremy Barfield: Like Spina, Barfield struggled in May and June after a red-hot month of April, only to rediscover his batting stroke in July. In 21 games this month, he has a .309/.391/.494 line.

Andy Paz-Garriga: Paz-Garriga, a Cuban native who went to high school in France, made his professional debut this month with the DSL A's. The catcher, who was the A's first amateur free agent signing out of Europe, has seven hits in his first 18 at-bats and he has walked three times.

Ryan Pineda: It has taken Pineda some time to get his bat going this season – his first full professional campaign – but he is finally on-track at the plate. In July, he has hit .352/.407/.648 with 10 extra-base hits. He had only eight extra-base hits during the first three months of the season. The hot month has bumped his overall OPS up to 743.

Myrio Richard: After a poor June, Richard has put together a solid month of July, boosting his overall line for the season to .283/.356/.403. The speedy outfielder has often hit leadoff for the Ports of late and he has batted .292/.394/.449 thus far in July. Although he doesn't run as often as his older brother Michael did when he was in the A's system, Myrio has racked up 21 steals in 28 opportunities this season.

Andrew Carignan: Carignan is healthy and back throwing well at the end of games for Midland after two seasons lost to arm injuries. The right-hander has 12 strike-outs in 9.1 innings pitched this month and has walked only three. He has converted both of his save opportunities. Over his last 6.1 innings pitched, Carignan has allowed only one run on two hits with one walk and six strike-outs.

Tanner Peters: Peters, the A's 16th-round pick this season, has yet to allow a run as a pro. He has dominated at the backend of the Vermont bullpen. In 16 innings, he has scattered six hits and four walks while striking out 18. In July, Peters saved five of Vermont's 11 wins.

A.J. Huttenlocker: Huttenlocker has been a stalwart in the Stockton bullpen this season and he has been a shut-down reliever in July. In nine appearances (14.1 innings), he hasn't allowed a run and he has struck-out 16 while walking only one and allowing only nine hits. Huttenlocker's has a 1.48 ERA and a sparkling 41:8 K:BB ratio this season. Despite being left-handed, Huttenlocker has dominated right-handers, holding them to a .222 BA.

Kelvin Rojas: Rojas has been the best hitter in the Arizona Rookie League thus far this season and he is in the midst of a big month of July. The 21-year-old outfielder is batting .421/.507/.649 in July and .416 with a 1125 OPS overall for the season. This is the Dominican native's first season in the US after four years in the Dominican Summer League.

T.J. Walz: Walz was the A's 15th-round pick this season. A starter in college, Walz has been pitching out of the Vermont bullpen to limit his innings. In July, he has allowed only one run in 17 innings of work with 17 strike-outs. He has walked only three and has given up only 13 hits. For the year, he has a 27:3 K:BB ratio in 22 innings.

Zach Thornton: The right-hander from Oregon has been one of the Bees' top relievers all season and that has continued into July. In seven appearances he has a 1.65 ERA and a 13:5 K:BB ratio in 16.1 innings. He also recorded saves in both of his save opportunities.

Drew Granier: Granier earned a promotion in July from the A's Rookie League club in Arizona to short-season Vermont. Combined, he allowed only three runs in 22 innings pitched. The A's 32nd-round pick has 40 strike-outs in 27 innings of work this season.

Jose Crisotomo: Crisotomo missed the first 10 weeks of the season, but he has made an impact for the Burlington Bees in July. The 22-year-old outfielder has hit .317 with an 825 OPS in July.

Jeff Urlaub: Urlaub has shown impeccable command since turning pro last season and that command has been on display again for the Lake Monsters in July. The southpaw reliever has walked one while striking out 23 in 12.2 innings this month. Overall this season, which has been split between Burlington and Vermont, Urlaub has a 57:8 K:BB ratio in 39 innings.

Reynaldo Mateo: It's tough to hit homers in the Arizona Rookie League, but Mateo has managed to hit four in July thus far. On the season, the 22-year-old catcher has five homers in 58 at-bats and a 1084 OPS.

John Nester: Nester was on the DL for nearly three weeks, but since returning to the line-up on July 14, he has been hot at the plate. The catcher is batting .304 with two homers and a double in eight games for Burlington.

Kevin Kouzmanoff: The former A's third baseman could have sulked when he was sent down to Triple-A, but he has responded by hitting well and being a positive influence on the team. For the month of July, Kouzmanoff is batting .295/.340/.636. He has five homers in his last 10 games, including a walk-off homer on Saturday. In 37 games for Sacramento, Kouzmanoff has a 939 OPS.

Eric Potter: Like Granier, Potter moved up from the AZL to the New York-Penn League this month. He struck-out 12 in 8.2 innings for the AZL A's before moving up to Vermont, where he has K'd six in 3.2 innings. The lefty has a 28:5 K:BB ratio overall and four saves.

Pedro Vidal: Like Whitaker, Vidal began the season at extended spring training, but he probably should have started the year with the Bees. He has posted ERAs below 1.80 each month, including July. In July, he has a 1.76 ERA and an 11:4 K:BB ratio. Vidal's ERA this season is 1.54 and he has a 55:17 K:BB ratio in 52.2 innings. Midwest League batters are hitting only .177 against him.

Wes Timmons: Timmons was caught in a roster crunch and sent down from Triple-A to Double-A despite batting .303 with a .418 OBP for Sacramento. In 17 games with Midland, Timmons has a .347/.372/.528 line with three homers. He has six hits in his last 10 at-bats.

Josh Leyland: Leyland has posted an impressive .441 OBP in July and for the season, the 20-year-old has an 838 OPS.

Matt Carson: Carson has been remarkably steady all season. July has been his best month to date, however. In 18 games, he is batting .307 with an 897 OPS. For the year, Carson has an 878 OPS and his OPS for each month has ranged from 858 to 897.

Neil Wagner: After a couple of rough outings early in the month, Wagner has been red-hot of late out of the Sacramento bullpen. The flame-throwing right-hander hasn't allowed a run over his last seven innings, during which time he has struck-out 11 and walked only two. Wagner, who can reach 100 MPH with his fastball, has a 74:18 K:BB ratio in 51.2 innings for Midland and Sacramento this season. He was picked up from the Cleveland Indians organization last year.

Yadel Marti: For a team starved for quality starting pitching performances much of the season, Marti has been a breath of fresh air since joining the Midland Rockhounds in mid-July. The Cuban righty has made two starts for Midland and has allowed seven hits and one run in 12 innings. He struck-out seven and walked two. Before that, Marti tossed two scoreless innings in his only appearance with the Stockton Ports. On the season, Marti has a 4.30 ERA in 96.1 innings for Midland, Stockton and Sacramento. This is his first season pitching in the United States.

Max Perlman: Perlman was selected in the 35th round by the A's this season out of Harvard. The tall right-hander has been pitching in Arizona where he has put together a solid month of July. In 23.1 innings, he has struck-out 23 and has posted a 3.09 ERA. Overall this season he has 30 strike-outs in 30 innings.

Chris Affinito: Affinito has been moved around the A's A-ball levels the past three seasons, but he is making his presence felt with Vermont this year. After a slow start in June, Affinito has hit .293/.431/.488 in July and has forced his way into the everyday line-up of late.

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