With the promotions of hitting coordinator Marcus Jensen and pitching coordinator Scott Emerson to the big league staff, the Oakland A’s had some major openings to fill in their minor league system. As they did with their big league coaching vacancies, the A’s stayed in-house to fill their open coordinator positions. Oakland A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman confirmed that Greg Sparks will be the A’s new minor league hitting coordinator and Garvin Alston will be the A’s new minor league pitching coordinator. Craig Lefferts will assume the role of minor league rehab coordinator, a position previously held by Alston.
All three men come into their new positions with plenty of experience. For Sparks, it is a return to a position he held within the organization for eight seasons from 2004-2011. Sparks was the A’s Triple-A hitting coach the past three seasons. The A’s Triple-A affiliate finished fifth in the PCL in runs scored last season and the four teams ahead of the A’s on the list all made their homes in the most offense-friendly ballparks in the PCL. He recently finished a stint as the hitting coach for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, where he worked with A’s prospects Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson and Boog Powell, as well as the rest of the Solar Sox roster. Well respected around the organization, “Sparky” has helped build the A’s organizational hitting philosophy and has had a close hand in the development of several big leaguers, including Josh Donaldson, Michael Choice, Grant Green and Chris Carter. Sparks has been with the A’s as a coach since 1997.
Alston transitions from minor league rehab coordinator to minor league pitching coordinator. The longtime A’s minor league pitching coach was the pitching coach for Low-A Kane County in 2005 and 2006 and then served in that same capacity for High-Stockton in 2007 and 2008 before taking over the rehab coordinator role in 2009. While with Stockton in 2008, he helped develop a staff that included future big leaguers Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Henry Rodriguez, Fautino de los Santos, Graham Godfrey, Sam Demel and Andrew Carignan. As the rehab coordinator, Alston guided Sean Doolittle through the transition from position player to pitcher and got numerous A’s pitching prospects back on the field after serious injuries, including Arnold Leon, Michael Ynoa, Ian Krol and Nolan Sanburn.
Lefferts, the longtime big league reliever, has been a pitching coach in the A’s system since 2003. He was the pitching coach for Low-A Beloit last season, where he worked with top prospects Bobby Wahl and Dylan Covey, among others. Lefferts has coached at the Double-A, High-A, Low-A and short-season A levels for the A’s. This will be his first roving position with the organization.
A’s Sign Venditte to MiLB Deal
The A’s agreed to terms with pitcher Pat Venditte on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, his agent announced on Wednesday. Venditte, a longtime New York Yankees’ farmhand, gained notoriety around baseball for being the only pitcher in affiliated ball to throw both left and right handed.
Venditte was a 20th-round pick of the New York Yankees in 2008. More than just a novelty act, Venditte has produced at every level he has pitched during his six-year minor league career. In 384 career innings, Venditte has a 2.46 ERA and a 431:105 K:BB. Last season, he split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 2.64 ERA with 83 strike-outs in 78.1 innings.
Venditte uses a special, six-fingered glove so he can switch throwing arms during an inning depending on the handedness of the upcoming batter. His numbers versus left- and right-handed batters last season were nearly identical.
Our sister site, PinstripesPlus.com has been covering Venditte’s career since he turned pro. For more about the A’s newest farmhand, check out his player profile: http://athletics.scout.com/a.z?s=304&p=8&c=1&nid=5528721.