Stockton Notebook: Ports Look To Gain Ground

The Stockton Ports have played around .500 baseball for most of the season, but they find themselves in need of an extended hot streak to catch the division-leading Bakersfield Blaze. We check-in with the Oakland A's High-A affiliate.

Overview

Thanks to a red-hot start to the season by the Bakersfield Blaze, the Stockton Ports find themselves nine games out of first place in the California League's Northern Division despite being just two games under .500 through Monday.

Offensively, the Ports are in the middle of the pack in runs scored (238) in the league, but they are fourth in the league in team OPS (757) and first in the league in homers (57). Stockton first baseman Matt Olson currently leads the league in homers with 12.

On the mound, the Ports have the fourth-highest team ERA with a 4.57 mark. They have allowed the fewest hits (452 in 474.2 innings), but they have given up the most homeruns (57) and have walked the fourth-most number of batters (194). The Ports' pitching staff is far-and-away the league leader in strike-outs, with nearly one per inning (474 in 474.2 innings). Stockton starter Seth Streich is fifth in the league in strike-outs with 57 in 52.1 innings pitched.

The Ports are currently in a bit of a rut, having lost four of their past five games. They begin a six-game homestand on Tuesday, starting with three games against San Jose and then finishing with three versus Modesto.


Comings and Goings

It has been a relatively quiet month on the transactions front for the Stockton Ports. Early in the month, the Ports added veteran catcher Ryan Lipkin from extended spring training. Lipkin began the season on the Double-A Midland roster, but he was sent to extended after injuring his knee. With his rehab completed, Lipkin was sent to Stockton, where he has spelled starting catcher Bruce Maxwell every fourth or fifth day. To make room for Lipkin in Stockton, back-up catcher Ryan Gorton was sent back to Arizona. He is playing in extended spring training games and is likely to be on the Vermont Lake Monsters' Opening Day roster barring any injuries to catchers on the A's full-season affiliate rosters over the next few weeks.

After flirting with a perfect game during the final week of April, right-hander Tim Atherton had a brief stay on the disabled list at the start of May. He returned on May 10, missing roughly two weeks. While he was shelved, starter Matt Buschmann took Atherton's spot in the rotation. Buschmann began the year with Triple-A Sacramento, but he was placed on the disabled list after just two starts. Once his rehab was complete, he took two turns through the rotation with the Ports before returning to Sacramento on May 10. He threw six hitless innings in his final start for the Ports.

Starter Manny Correa has also been bit by the injury bug. He was officially placed on the disabled list on May 21st, but the DL stint was retroactive to May 19. Taking his spot on the Stockton roster is veteran right-hander Zach Neal, who was sent down from Triple-A Sacramento. Neal isn't likely to remain with the Ports long-term. He will either return to Sacramento in the coming weeks or re-join Double-A Midland, where he started the season.

The Ports also added left-hander Chris Lamb to their starting rotation. Lamb began the year in the Low-A Beloit bullpen, but he pitched so well, he was stretched out to be a starter with Beloit in May. The Berkeley native has made two starts with Stockton since the promotion.

Stockton lost one of their top bullpen arms to promotion when right-hander Tucker Healy got the call to Midland on May 16. Healy had a 1.04 ERA and a 29:4 K:BB in just 17.1 innings for the Ports this season. He also saved three games.


Who's Hot

Infielder Chad Pinder missed roughly 10 days with a groin pull in May, but that is about the only thing that has slowed him down lately. Pinder has a .310/.326/.524 line in 43 plate appearances this month. Despite missing time with the injury, Pinder is second on the team with nine homeruns and he has 25 RBI in 33 games played.

First baseman Matt Olson has hit seven homers and has a 21:18 BB:K thus far in May. Olson not only leads the league in homeruns with 12, but he also leads the Cal League in walks. His overall batting average is just .233, but he has a .370 OBP and a .466 SLG.

Shortstop Daniel Robertson has followed his strong month of April with another good month in May. He has a .301/.381/.417 line thus far this month and he is batting .304/.394/.431 overall this season. Robertson has played well defensively at shortstop, as well.

Outfielder Aaron Shipman didn't play a lot in April, but he has seen increased playing time in May and has responded with a big month. In 77 at-bats thus far this month, Shipman has a .312/.442/.481 line. He hit his first professional homerun earlier this month and is batting .378 with a 996 OPS over his last 10 games. He also has four triples in May and three in his last 10 games. Shipman is tied for the team-lead in stolen bases with 11 and he has only been caught once. His K:BB is an even 1:1 for the season (28 walks and strike-outs).

Catcher Bruce Maxwell has had an up-and-down month of May at the plate, but he has been hot over his last 10 games, collecting 12 hits in 33 at-bats (.364 BA) and posting a 1022 OPS.

On the pitcher-side of the roster, right-hander Seth Streich's ERA is 4.91 for the month, but he has a 27:5 K:BB and a 1.45 GO/AO in 25.2 innings. Similarly, reliever Austin House has an inflated ERA in May (5.19), but his K:BB (17:2 in 8.2 IP) and his GO/AO (2.00) have been outstanding this month.

Since returning from the disabled list, reliever Michael Ynoa has been nothing short of dominant. Over his last 13 innings pitched, Ynoa has allowed just two runs on seven hits and one walk. He has 18 strike-outs over that span. Despite a rough start to the season and time missed with bicep tendinitis, Ynoa has a 26:8 K:BB in 17.1 innings and his BAA is .215.

Right-hander Zach Neal isn't likely to be in Stockton for long, but he made quite an impression in his one start with the Ports this May. In 8.2 innings, Neal struck-out 11 and allowed just an unearned run. He didn't walk a batter and he allowed three hits. Neal has a 3.23 ERA in 55.2 innings split between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A this season.


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