Oakland A's minor league spring training officially opened over the weekend when pitchers and catchers reported to Fitch Park. However, 29 A's minor leaguers got a head start on spring training as participants in the A's minor league spring mini-camp. A few of the "mini-campers" participated as late-inning replacements in A's big league spring training games, while others spent their camp time on drills, in simulated games, as well as working in the cages and on the mound.
A's Director of Player Personnel Keith Lieppman noted that it can be difficult to assess how a player is progressing in a camp setting without games to judge his production, but he noted that several players stood out for their work in camp and in A's big league games.
Lieppman said that A's 2015 fourth-round pick Skye Bolt has "made some nice adjustments and gotten much stronger." Lieppman said that Bolt is driving the ball from both sides and playing excellent defense. Bolt spent his pro debut season with short-season Vermont and he hit .238/.325/.381 with four homers.
Lieppman also noted that corner infielder Ryon Healy came to camp physically stronger and that Healy was "hitting balls in gaps and over the wall." Healy hit .302 with Double-A Midland last year and was one of the Texas League's top hitters during the second half of the season, but he hit only 10 homeruns, down from 16 with High-A Stockton the year before. Lieppman also praised Healy's defense, saying that the Oregon alum was demonstrating good agility and reaction at the corners.
The 2015 season was difficult for both Daniel Gossett and Brett Graves. The A's 2014 second and third round picks both struggled for Low-A Beloit. Both showed signs of turning things around during the season, and they both had strong mini-camps. According to Lieppman, both pitchers look to have regained some of the velocity they were missing last season and both threw two solid simulated games.
Overton, Walter solid in spring loss
The A's were on the losing end of a blowout to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Hohokam Park, but two top-50 A's prospects were bright spots in the 10-3 drubbing.
Lefty Dillon Overton had a strong second outing in big league camp. He tossed two scoreless innings, striking out five, walking one and allowing two hits. The A's 2013 second-round pick now has four scoreless innings in big league camp. Overton had a 3.43 ERA and a 106:27 K:BB in 124 innings between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland last year, his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
Reliever Corey Walter came over from mini-camp and made an appearance in the ninth inning of the A's loss. With a runner on first, Walter induced a force out off the bat of Rangers' prospect Ronald Guzman and then got Michael De Leon to ground back to the mound for the final out of the inning. Walter had a 61% groundball rate on balls hit into play against him last season with High-A Stockton.