The time between when major league pitchers, catchers and non-roster invitees (NRIs) report to big league spring training and when their minor league counterparts arrive in camp is typically two-plus weeks. Usually, minor league players report to their spring training facility the week that the major league exhibition games begin.
However, the words "typically" and "usually" don't apply to the 2012 Oakland A's minor league system.
February 23rd marked the beginning of a new mini-camp for select minor league players; top prospects not included in the group of NRIs for major league camp. Pitchers and catchers reported first, and position players reported on the 26th. The objective of the camp was to prepare these prospects, including 16 pitchers, four catchers, 10 infielders and two outfielders, to play in a major league exhibition game, if needed.
Under the guidance of A's farm director Keith Lieppman, roving minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and roving minor league hitting coordinator Todd Steverson, campers arrived early and were ready to work from 9:00am to 2:00pm each day. The five-hour program was divided between indoor seminar-type instruction and on-field practice and drills, as well as application of the newly focused skills, with a lunch break in between. Indoor topics included a PowerPoint presentation breaking down the elements of good swing.
According to Lieppman, two of the prospects who were impressive during camp were RHP Blake Treinen and SS Yordy Cabrera. For proof of Cabrera's success, simply look to the game-winning home run he hit for the split squad game against the Cubs on Monday, March 5th. Treinen also had an impressive appearance in big league camp with a scoreless inning that included a strike-out. Other members of the camp who have appeared in big league spring games thus far include pitchers Travis Banwart, Trey Barham, Josh Bowman and Carlos Hernandez, and infielders Tyler Ladendorf, Stephen Parker and Josh Horton.
Now that the A's regular minor league spring training has begun with the reporting of pitchers and catchers, the 32 members of the mini-camp – who will still be called up if needed - have been added to the general pool for workouts as well as for games once they begin March 13th vs the Reds. This inaugural mini-camp is one more step the organization has taken to prepare for a successful season.
2012 Mini-Camp Participants