It has been a streaky start to the season for the Oakland A’s most talented minor league roster. The Midland RockHounds are currently in the middle of a poor streak, having dropped five of six games. Going into Wednesday night’s game versus Corpus Christi, the ‘Hounds (12-13) find themselves in second place in the Texas League South, three games behind the Hooks.
As a team, the RockHounds have the second-lowest batting average in the league (.248) but rank third in on-base percentage (.349) and first in walks. Their 730 team OPS is third-best in the eight-team Texas League. As a unit, Midland has connected on just 15 homeruns this season, but they are third in the league in doubles with 49 and they lead the league in triples with seven. Midland is second-to-last in stolen bases and rank in the middle-of-the-pack in strike-outs (200 in 810 official at-bats).
It has been a struggle for Midland on the mound thus far this year, however. Their team ERA is 5.33, worst in the league by nearly 50 points. They have the highest WHIP (1.58) and have allowed the second-most hits. A lack of strike-outs has really hurt the Midland staff, as they rank last with 157 in 216 innings. They have also allowed 19 homeruns, third-most in the league.
Midland will take on Corpus Christi in the second game of their four-game set on Wednesday night. They return home on Saturday to face the Frisco RoughRiders.
Comings and Goings
The Midland roster was fairly stable until the final week of April. During that time, the RockHounds had to make adjustments to their starting rotation, as starters Nate Long and Zach Neal both made spot starts in Triple-A, while starter Tanner Peters landed on the DL with an elbow injury and struggling starter Chris Lamb was sent back to extended spring training. When the dust settled, Neal and Long returned to the Midland rotation and were joined by Tim Atherton, who earned a promotion from High-A Stockton. Joey Wagman also made a start for the RockHounds before being re-assigned to High-A Stockton.
Midland has seen two members of their Opening Day bullpen receive promotions to Triple-A: left-hander Jim Fuller and right-hander Seth Frankoff. Fuller and Frankoff have been replaced on the roster by right-handers Jonathan Joseph and Andres Avila, both of whom were promoted from Stockton.
On the position-player side of the roster, not a lot of changes have occurred thus far. Matt Angle joined the Midland roster from Nashville on April 13 and the A’s made room for Angle on the roster by releasing outfielder Ryan Mathews. Outfielder Bobby Crocker landed on the DL on April 23. On May 4, third baseman Renato Nunez joined the Midland roster from extended spring training. Nunez had been in Arizona rehabbing a strained calf.
Although he is in the middle of an 0-for-13 slump, top prospect Matt Olson has still managed to reach base in 15 consecutive games. He leads the Texas League with 25 walks (in 25 games) and leads the team in homeruns with six and RBI with 17. Olson’s OPS is 920 for the year despite a .233 average.
Very few hitters in the Texas League have been as consistently hot as Chad Oberacker thus far this season. The centerfielder leads the RockHounds with a 1016 OPS. He is fourth in the league in OPS, fourth in average (.363), seventh in OBP (.441) and fifth in slugging (.575).
Shortstop Chad Pinder is batting .293 over his last 10 games, raising his season average to .244 and his OPS to 779. He is second on the team with four homeruns. In 24 games, Pinder has 12 walks. He had only 22 in 94 games last season.
Colin Walsh has slowed down over the past few games, but he has been one of the RockHounds most consistent hitters in the early going this season. The switch-hitter has a .377 OBP and 16 walks in 24 games.
Starter Chris Jensen has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any outing this season. The right-hander has a 3.38 ERA in 29.1 innings. Interestingly, Jensen has turned into a flyball pitcher this season after being a groundball pitcher throughout his career.
Reliever Ryan Dull has yet to allow a run in 13.1 innings to start the year. He has 14 strike-outs and only three walks and nine hits allowed over that stretch. Before his promotion to Nashville, Seth Frankoff had allowed just a run in 10 innings for Midland. He struck-out 13 and walked one.
Tucker Healy hadn’t allowed an earned run until his last outing on May 3rd, when he gave-up three in 1.1 innings. Healy has walked six, but he has struck-out 12 in 10.2 innings for Midland.