Spring Mini-Camp Makes an Impact
The Oakland A's full minor league spring training begins on Wednesday, but several A's minor leaguers have been hard at work since February 21 at the A's new minor league complex at Fitch Park. A's spring minor league mini-camp opened on February 21, and since that time, those players participating in the camp have been preparing for regular spring training while also getting ready in case they are needed in big league camp.
The A's haven't had to borrow any position players as of yet from minor league camp, but several pitchers have pitched in big league games. Seth Frankoff and Bobby Wahl have each pitched in two big league games, while Paul Smyth, Ryan Doolittle and Tucker Healy have made one big league appearance each. Oakland A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman said that a big reason the A's brought 12 pitchers into spring mini-camp was so some of those pitchers could play a role in A's big league games. He noted that Frankoff, Smyth and Doolittle had particularly impressive big league outings.
When they aren't contributing to big league camp, A's mini-campers have been playing intra-squad games in recent days. Lieppman noted that shortstop Yairo Munoz and infielder Ryon Healy have been particularly impressive "in their at bats and off season improvements." Lieppman also noted that A's 2013 second-round pick Dillon Overton has not had any set-backs from his 2013 Tommy John surgery and has looked good in camp.
A's minor league pitchers and catchers reported to Fitch Park on March 7th. Position players report on March 12th and the first full squad game will be on Saturday. A's minor league spring training games begin on Monday, March 16. For the A's complete minor league spring training schedule, click here.
Wheeler, a 26th-round pick in 2013 by the A's, played for the AZL Athletics in 2013 and the Vermont Lake Monsters last season. A strong defensive catcher, Wheeler hit only .181 last season with Vermont. He threw out 43% of attempted base-stealers and drew praise for his work with the Lake Monsters' pitching staff. A possible future manager, Wheeler is currently the assistant baseball coach at Loranger High School.
Zarraga is a 22-year-old outfielder from Venezuela who spent six seasons in the A's system, never reaching higher than the Arizona Rookie League. Zarraga played for the AZL A's last season and hit .228 with a 590 OPS. He had a 779 OPS for the AZL A's the year before.
Zarraga played for four seasons at the A's Dominican academy. He is a career .225 hitter with a .321 OBP in 201 minor league games.