Photo by Chris Lockard / OaklandClubhouse.com

Stockton Ports Notebook: James Harris off to the races

Despite some standout individual performances, the Stockton Ports have had an up-and-down start to the 2016 season. We check-in on the Oakland A's High-A affiliate.

Overview

Despite some strong individual performances, the Stockton Ports find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Cal League’s North division 17 games into the season. At 8-9, the Ports are tied for second and are three games back of the first-place Visalia Oaks.

The Ports currently sit in the top-half of the Cal League in team OPS with a 728 mark. Their 98 runs scored are second-most in the league and the Ports are third in the league in walks and hits. Stockton hasn’t hit for much power yet, with only six homeruns in 17 games, good for second-fewest in the league. However, their overall slugging percentage is in the middle of the league (.374) thanks to 37 doubles and five triples (both third-most in the league). Stockton hasn’t been particularly active on the bases despite having a decent amount of team speed. The Ports are currently 13-of-21 in stolen base attempts.

Stockton’s team ERA is smack in the middle of the league with a 4.32 mark. They are also in the middle of the league in strike-outs with 145, but walks have been a significant issue early. They lead the league by a large margin with 85 free passes (next closest team is 69 in 11 fewer innings). Stockton’s staff has allowed just nine homeruns (fifth-fewest in the league but only two more than the least allowed). The bullpen has had its struggles. The Ports have only one save and two holds and they have blown several late leads.

After Tuesday’s off-day, the Ports start their first three-game series with rival San Jose on Wednesday. The commuter series will take place in San Jose. Stockton then follows that series with another commuter road series, this time a two-game set at Modesto to close out the month of April.

Comings and Goings

Transactions have been light in the early going for the Ports. Henderson Alvarez and Eric Sogard each made brief rehab stops with Stockton. The only true active roster transaction thus far has involved the bullpen, with reliever Bobby Wahl moving up to Midland on April 17 and lefty Matt Stalcup joining the Ports’ bullpen from extended spring training that same day.

http://www.scout.com/player/179934-matt-stalcup?s=304

Who’s Hot

No one in the Cal League has been hotter than Stockton leadoff man James Harris, who has hit safely in all 17 games thus far this season. The Oakland native leads the league in hits (30), runs (17) and is third in the league in average (.375). He has a .405 OBP and a 919 OPS. Harris has flashed his speed, as well, with six stolen bases in eight chances and two triples.

Fellow outfield mate Tyler Marincov is also off to a red-hot start. He is tied for third in the league in homeruns (4) and is tied with teammate Joe Bennie for second in the league in RBI (16). Marincov and Bennie are also tied for third in the league in doubles (6). Marincov is still striking out at a high rate (22 in 72 official at-bats), but his .278/.350/.528 line is very solid and could lead to a promotion to Double-A at some point soon.

http://www.scout.com/player/117693-tyler-marincov?s=304

Outfielder B.J. Boyd has hit safely in all but one game this season and he is second on the team in OBP with a .403 mark. He set a goal of raising his batting average in his second year in the Cal League, and thus far Boyd is accomplishing that goal with a .298 mark. He has only two extra-base hits in the early going, but Boyd has otherwise had a very strong start to the year.

The Stockton catching tandem of Argenis Raga and Andy Paz is off to a good start at the plate. Raga has received the bulk of the playing time and he is batting .286 with a .375 OBP in 42 official at-bats. Raga has a 6:7 BB:K. Paz has appeared in only six games, but he has taken advantage of his playing time. He has eight hits in 19 at-bats, including a double and a triple. Paz has walked four times and has struck-out only once.

After a very slow start, Mikey White has hit safely in five of his last six games and is batting .286 over his last 10 games. Sandber Pimentel didn’t collect a hit until his sixth game of the season, but he is batting .320 in eight games since then with five walks and two doubles. He hasn’t homered yet, however.

The talk of the Stockton rotation in the early going has been the resurgence of right-hander Daniel Gossett, who struggled in his full-season debut with Beloit in 2015. Gossett leads the Cal League with 26 strike-outs in only 19 innings pitched. He has walked just five and has a 3.32 ERA. Unfortunately, Gossett left his last start in the third inning in the middle of an at-bat with an undisclosed injury. The injury wasn’t believed to be serious, but it will be worth monitoring.

http://www.scout.com/player/185487-daniel-gossett?s=304

Fellow rotation mate Heath Fillmyer is also off to an excellent start. In 17 innings, he has a 2.12 ERA. Fillmyer isn’t striking out a ton of batters (just nine), but he has walked only four and he is inducing a lot of soft contact.

Lefty Zack Erwin is making a strong impression in his first month as a member of the A’s organization. The former Chicago White Sox’s farmhand has allowed just two earned runs (four total) in 14.2 innings over three starts. He has a GO/AO of 1.90 and 13 strike-outs.

The Stockton bullpen has struggled with the exception of Carlos Navas and Kyle Finnegan. Navas, who had a breakout 2015 season after moving from the rotation to the bullpen, has a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 innings. He has 13 strike-outs and has allowed just six hits. Finnegan, who was a starter until this season, has a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings. He is still walking too many batters (6), but he has 12 strike-outs, including five in a stellar 2.2 scoreless inning outing in relief of Gossett earlier this week.


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