Oakland A's MLN: Winter Leagues Underway

We have news and notes from around the Oakland A's organization.

Mexican and Venezuelan Leagues Underway

The Mexican and Venezuelan Winter Leagues began play late last week and several Oakland A's farmhands are participating in the off-season leagues.

In Mexico, catcher Luke Montz and outfielder/first baseman Shane Peterson are suiting up for Mexicali. Through two games, Montz has already homered twice and has walked in two games (eight official at-bats). Peterson has two hits in nine at-bats and an RBI. Outfielder Nick Buss is also playing in Mexico this winter. Buss has five hits (including two doubles) and a walk in his first two games for Culiacan.

On the pitching side, Mexican native Andres Avila is on the Mochis roster after serving as a reliever for Stockton and Beloit this season. Avila has struck-out the only batter he has faced this MWL season. Jesus Castillo, who split his season between the Mexican Summer League and the Double-A Midland Rockhounds, is pitching for Quintana Roo. He allowed a run on two hits and a walk in two-third of an inning in his 2014 MWL debut. A's 40-man roster member Arnold Leon is on the roster for Culiacan, but he has yet to make his winter debut.

A's third base prospect Renato Nunez is making his Venezuelan Winter League debut this season for Aragua. He hit a grandslam in his third game and is 5-for-19 with a homer, six RBI and six strike-outs through his first five games. He is teammates this winter with several current and former members of the A's organization, including Jose Martinez, Jon Hunton and Manny Correa. Martinez has seven hits in his first 19 at-bats, including two doubles. Correa allowed a run in six innings in his first start of the VWL season, while Hunton, who has become a popular figure in Venezuela in recent winters, has already notched his first save.

A's left-handed pitching prospect Jose Torres is also making his Venezuelan Winter League debut. The native of Caracas recently turned 21. He allowed two unearned runs in his first relief appearance for the hometown Leones (two-thirds of an inning).

Olson Puts Up AFL Power Display

A's first base prospect Matt Olson didn't waste any time showing off his elite power in the Arizona Fall League. Olson hit two homeruns in his third Fall League game, helping Mesa to its first win of the season. He has two hits and a walk in 10 official at-bats thus far.

Mesa teammates Boog Powell and Daniel Robertson have gotten their feet wet in the AFL, as well. Powell has three hits in nine at-bats in his first three games of the season. He has scored twice and notched a stolen base in his only attempt. Powell has also made several nice plays in the outfield. Robertson drove-in the Solar Sox's only run in their 2-1 loss on Monday with a two-out single. He is two-for-nine with three walks over his first three games. Robertson has also flashed excellent range at shortstop.

All four of the A's AFL pitchers have made their debuts, with each of them appearing once out of the bullpen. Ryan Doolittle and Tanner Peters both had strong two-inning debuts. Doolittle allowed an unearned run, but he struck-out two, walked none and allowed only one hit in two frames. Peters had a scoreless outing, striking out three and inducing one double-play. Drew Granier and Austin House had forgettable debuts. Granier allowed five runs on four hits and two walks in 1.2 innings, while House was touched up for three runs on three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Hale Tapped For D-Backs' Gig

The A's MLB coaching staff will have a different look in 2015. Bench coach Chip Hale was named the next manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday. He leaves after two successful seasons working with A's manager Bob Melvin. The East Bay native was a longtime manager and coach in the Diamondbacks' system. This will be Hale's first major-league managerial position. He was hired by former A's star Dave Stewart, who was named the Arizona General Manager earlier this off-season. The President of the D-Backs is former A's manager Tony LaRussa.

The A's may go outside the organization to fill the bench coaching role, but if they do go in-house, it will have an impact on the A's minor league coaching ranks. Current A's bullpen coach and former minor league manager Darren Bush is a candidate to take over as bench coach. If he moves into that position, the A's will need to fill their bullpen coach spot. Former A's bullpen coach and current Triple-A pitching coach Rick Rodriguez would be a candidate to take over for Bush, as would Double-A pitching coach Don Schulze. The A's could also consider Triple-A manager Steve Scarsone for the bench coach position. If Scarsone joins the big league staff, Double-A manager Aaron Nieckula is a strong candidate to move up to Triple-A after he led the RockHounds to a Texas League title.

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