Vermont Lake Monsters Preview

On Monday, the Vermont Lake Monsters kick-started their 2012 season. The year began with a loss for the Lake Monsters, but the Oakland A's short-season squad has since rebounded to win their next two contests by identical 7-4 scores. We preview the 2012 Lake Monsters inside…

The Vermont Lake Monsters roster is likely to change as the season goes on as some of the Oakland A's 2012 draft picks gain experience in Arizona with the A's Rookie League team. However, for now, the Lake Monsters' roster is dominated by players who were already in the system at the start of the 2012 season. To view the Vermont roster, please click here.

Pitchers Tucker Healy and Austin House, catcher Philip Pohl and first baseman John Wooten are the only A's 2012 draft picks currently on the Vermont squad. The Lake Monsters have a number of returning players from their 2011 roster, including infielders Jacob Tanis, Chad Lewis, Sam Roberts and Michael Fabiaschi, catcher Diomedes Lopez, and pitchers Logan Chitwood, J.C. Menna, Tanner Peters, Brent Powers and Kurt Wunderlich. Pitchers Andres Avila, Nate Eppley and Chris Lamb, catcher Rhett Stafford, infielders Austin Booker, Shane Boras, Chris Bostick, Miguel Marte, Jensi Peralta and Wilfredo Solano, and outfielders Dayton Alexander and Kelvin Rojas are playing above the Rookie ball level for the first time in their careers. Drew Gagnier pitched in the New York-Penn League last season as part of the Detroit Tigers' organization and Julio Ramos reached High-A in 2009 before an elbow injury cost him the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Deyvi Jimenez appeared in one game for High-A Stockton earlier this season, his first above the short-season levels.

There are several notable names on the Lake Monsters' roster. Bostick and Rojas were the top two offensive players last season for the A's Rookie League club. Bostick, a 44th-round pick of the A's last season, opened a lot of eyes last season when he hit .442 with eight extra-base hits in 14 games for the AZL A's. Bostick then went on to play well during the A's fall Instructional League and during extended spring training. He suffered a broken nose late in the extended spring training schedule but shouldn't be hampered by the injury with Vermont. Hitting out of the leadoff spot on Wednesday, the New York native collected two hits, stole a base and scored twice while playing in his home state for the first time since last summer.

Rojas won the Arizona Rookie League batting title last season with a .379 average. He was named to the AZL Post-Season All-Star team and he was a Dominican Summer League All-Star in 2009. The native of the Dominican Republic signed with the A's in November of 2006 and spent parts of four seasons in the Dominican Summer League before finally spending an entire season in the US last year.

Rojas is one of several graduates of the A's Dominican Academy on the Vermont squad. Arguably the most well-known graduate of the academy on the Vermont roster is Solano, who signed a seven-figure contract with the A's in July 2009. Despite posting only a 599 OPS last season with the AZL A's, Solano has shown flashes of power and an advanced approach at the plate and the A's are high on his future. The Venezuelan shortstop is off to a solid start with Vermont, collecting two hits – including a double – a walk and three RBIs in seven at-bats over two games.

Peralta is another native of Caracas, Venezuela. The shortstop was signed to a six-figure bonus by the A's before the 2008 season. He put up tepid numbers his first three seasons in the A's organization but broke-out with a .301 average and an 840 OPS for the AZL A's last year. Marte also had a breakthrough season with the AZL A's in 2011. The first baseman posted an 879 OPS and hit .299 with six homers in his second season in the AZL. Marte equaled his homer and doubles totals from his 2010 campaign despite playing in 24 fewer games. He is three-for-seven to start this year.

The Lake Monsters' Opening Day starter is another graduate of the A's Dominican Academy. Ramos was a rising prospect in the A's organization before injuring his elbow in 2010 and missing two years. Ramos pitched in the regular season for the first time since 2009 on Monday and allowed one run on three hits in three innings. He struck-out three and walked none. The crafty lefty was an AZL Post-Season All-Star in 2008 and had a 2.57 ERA and 75 strike-outs in 84 innings for short-season Vancouver and High-A Stockton in 2009.

Lamb, a Berkeley native, pitched five innings and earned the win in his first start for the Lake Monsters on Tuesday. The left-hander signed late last year after being drafted in the 11th round. He made three scoreless relief appearances for the AZL A's and pitched well at extended spring training, earning a move into the starting rotation. Lamb allowed only one unearned run on four hits and a walk in his debut for Vermont. He struck-out two.

The Lake Monsters' third starter to begin the season is Avila, who was signed by the A's out of Mexico in 2010. He spent the last two seasons pitching in the AZL. Last year, Avila posted a 71:16 K:BB ratio in 62.1 innings for the AZL A's, but he allowed 83 hits. Avila made his 2012 debut on his 22nd birthday and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. He struck-out four. House made his professional debut in the same game and struck-out five of the six batters he faced in two scoreless innings.

Returning Lake Monsters Menna and Wunderlich will fill out the rest of the Vermont rotation. The hard-throwing Menna made 11 starts and three relief appearances for Vermont last year. He was a 14th-round pick of the A's in 2010. Wunderlich, a 20th-round pick last season, also made 11 starts and three relief appearances for Vermont last season.

Peters and Powers, also returning Lake Monsters, should play prominent roles in the Vermont bullpen this season. Peters was a star for Vermont last year, saving 11 games and posting a 33:8 K:BB ratio in 26.2 innings. An injury kept him from starting his spring training on time, otherwise he likely would have begun the year with Low-A Burlington. Powers did begin the year with the Bees and was sent down to Vermont just this week. The left-hander struggled with Burlington, posting a 7.66 ERA in 44.2 innings. He had a 3.84 ERA for Vermont last season, when he was mostly a starter. Powers threw three scoreless innings in his 2012 Vermont debut. Other members of the Vermont bullpen include Chitwood, Eppley, Gagnier, Healy, House and Jimenez.

The current Vermont roster features only two true outfielders, Rojas and Alexander, who was the A's sixth-round pick last season. The native of Hawaii is a top-of-the-order type hitter and he has already walked four times in his first three games. The A's are likely to send more outfield reinforcements to Vermont in the near future, but until then, Wooten and Booker should see significant time in the outfield. Wooten is a natural first baseman and Booker is an infielder, although he saw significant time in the outfield with the Cal Golden Bears in college. Stafford converted from the outfield to the catcher position this year, so he could fill in as a left fielder in a pinch.

Vermont manager Rick Magnante will have to get creative in splitting time at second, short and third between Solano, Bostick, Peralta, Fabiaschi, Tanis, Lewis, Wooten, Boras, Roberts and Booker. Marte, Wooten, Lewis and Tanis will split the first base duties for now. The DH position will likely be filled by a rotation of different players. Behind the plate, Stafford, Lopez and Pohl will split time.

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