Midland Notebook: ‘Hounds have five All-Stars

At 37-39, the RockHounds finished their first half of the season in last place of the southern division, but still have a better record than three clubs of the eight-team Texas League. They will be sending five players to Tuesday's All-Star game at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark: D'Arby Myers, Jake Goebbert, Dusty Coleman, Anthony Allioti and Murphy Smith.

Team Overview

D'Arby Myers was a late addition to the South Division due to an injury from Domingo Santana. The outfielder is hitting .277/.312/.371 with a pair of homers and 36 driven in, but has feasted on left-handed pitching in limited at-bats.

The 24-year-old former fourth-round pick of the Phillies is in his first seasons in the A's organization after signing as a free-agent this offseason. So far, he's hitting .379/.406/.455/ giving him an 860 OPS, compared to a 628 mark against right-handed pitching. Myers' best season as a pro came last year with the Phillies when he posted a combined 770 OPS between Advanced-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He's hoping a strong second half can help replicate those numbers.

The All-Star break might be coming at a bad time for Myers, however. He's 10 for his last 26.

Jake Goebbert is another player in his first year in Oakland's system and is back in Double-A after playing in 47 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2011 and 2012. He came to the A's from the Astros in the trade for Travis Blackley.

The right fielder has an 870 OPS so far in 2013 with 13 homers and a team-leading 56 RBIs. The left-handed hitter might deserve a promotion at some point, but the outfield depth in Sacramento isn't helping his chances.

Just halfway through the season, Goebbert's 13 home runs sets a new career high after hitting 12 in all of 2013. His .504 slugging clip is a welcomed site for the Athletics.

Dusty Coleman is back in Midland for the second-straight season and has improved his approach drastically at the plate. All he could do was improve on his .201/.284/.363 slash line from 2012. This season, he's at .273/.353/.387 with 14 doubles and six triples.

The middle infielder has shown power in the past by hitting 15 long balls with Advanced-A Stockton in 2011 and Midland last year, but struck out in 32.8 percent and 37.4 percent of his at-bats, respectively. Coleman has cut his K-rate by 13 percent – a nice tradeoff for the power totals.

Anthony Aliotti is having easily the best season of his professional career, hitting .358/.461/.558 in his second season with the RockHounds. His 10 home runs matches last season's total and is just one shy of his career high set in 2011 with Stockton.

His run is reminiscent of Shane Peterson's second half of 2012 when he was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento, amassing an 1102 OPS in a 39-game sample. Aliotti has a 1019 OPS in 73 games.

Aliotti's success isn't a huge surprise considering his steady production up to this point, but he could be do for some serious regression with his .440 BABIP. He's also benefitted from playing in a league that's heavy in right-handed pitching. The first baseman has had almost three times as many at-bats against righties than lefties. Aliotti's slugging .624 (with nine home runs) against right-handers compared to a .375 mark (one home run) against southpaws.

There's a chance Aliotti could get promoted to Sacramento at some point this summer, but Daric Barton is currently playing first base consistently for the River Cats.

Murphy Smith is the only pitcher to get the All-Star nod and has pitched better than his 6-7 record indicates. In his second season with the RockHounds, the right-hander's 2.79 ERA is the best of his pro career. He's allowed just 86 hits in 90.1 frames. But his 2.3 walks-per-nine-innings has lifted his WHIP to 1.21.

Smith is having a bounce-back year after struggling in 2012 and becoming a much tougher pitcher to hit. He's also left a career-high 75.5 percent of his runners on base, up 11 percent from last season.

It's been a disappointing season for Miles Head, who missed almost a month from May 19 through June 13 for undisclosed reasons. He's hit just .196/.264/.527 with two home runs and four doubles.

Head made waves within the organization last season when he dominated the California League by posting an 1149 OPS in 67 games, hitting 18 home runs and 23 doubles, totaling 102 hits. He rightfully earned a promotion to Midland where he was pedestrian for 57 games to finish out the year.

The expectations for Head were very high coming into the season. He came to the organization from the Red Sox in the Josh Reddick and Andrew Bailey trade and wowed in his first season, despite not having the prototypical frame of a big league third baseman. Some believe he projects better at first base having a similar build to Brett Wallace, only from the right-handed batters' box. But Head is just 22 and has ample time to turn things around. He was sent on a rehab assignment to Arizona June 20.

Comings and Goings

Third baseman Jefry Marte required a trip to the seven-day disabled list early in the month. He's played in just 25 games so far this year with a 705 OPS.

Left-handed pitcher and 30-year-old Pedro Viola was added to the roster June 2 and has pitched in just five games since.

Right-hander Erik Arnesan was released after just three games where he posted a 10.03 ERA. He was originally signed after throwing well in independent ball in the Atlantic League.

Third baseman Vinnie Catricala was assigned to the RockHounds after being acquired via trade from the Mariners June 9. The Carmichael, Calif. native has struggled at the plate in just 13 games in his new organization.

Kyler Newby was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento after having a 1.95 ERA in 23 relief appearances. He's thrown in just three games with the River Cats since, allowing just one run in three frames.

Who's Hot

Goebbert and Aliotti have hit well all season and carried Midland's offense so far in June. They have combine to hit six homers this month and notched a 950 and 928 OPS for the month, respectively.

On the mound, Carlos Hernandez has allowed just 23 hits in 27.2 frames with a 3.25 ERA over his last five starts, but has 1-3 record to show for it.

Reliever Brett Hunter has allowed just two runs on four hits in six appearances so far in June.

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