Minor League Notebook: Midland RockHounds (AA)

The Midland RockHounds are coming off of a week of solid play. Some of the RockHounds who had particularly good weeks are highlighted in this edition of the Minor League Notebook.

As of the publishing date of this article, the Oakland A's AA affiliate Midland RockHounds stood at an even .500 at 25-25. The RockHounds finished a productive week in which they picked up 4 victories, including one in extra-innings. Some of this week's highlights for the Midland Rockhounds include:

Matt Allegra, a rightfield prospect who has shown good power but bad plate discipline during his tenure with the A's organization, has been red-hot since returning to the RockHounds from extended spring training. Allegra arrived in Midland on May 24 and since that time has hit for an OPS of 1.247 with 4 extra base hits, a .455 BA and 7 RBIs. However, Allegra has also struckout 7 times against 3 walks, so it appears he still has to refine his understanding of the strike zone. In an organization with little outfield power prospects, Allegra will be one to watch in the up-coming months.

Shane Bazzell won his fifth game against zero losses. Bazzell, a middle reliever for the RockHounds, has put together a strong early season performance. So far this season, Bazzell has thrown 23.2 innings and has only allowed 21 base runners while accumulating a 24:1 K/BB ratio. Bazzell has struggled in his previous appearances at Midland, but is only 24. With the A's bullpen struggles, Bazzell could move up to AAA by the end of the year. Chris Mabeus, a closer for the RockHounds, was promoted to Sacramento this week to take the roster spot of the recently traded Lou Pote. Mabeus had struck out 27 batters in 22.2 innings, while walking only one. He had a rough debut in AAA, however, as he was tagged for a couple of runs in less than an inning of work.

Secondbaseman-turned-centerfielder Freddie Bynum had a fine week at the plate, hitting a grand slam in Midland's 9-5 win on May 25 and scored the game winning run on May 24. Bynum is hitting well so far this season and is finally playing a position which may give him a shot at the major leagues. A Chone Figgins-esque player, Bynum recently completed a streak where he reached base in 13 straight games and had a hit in 12 of the 13 games. So far this season, Bynum is hitting .293 with a .355 OBP and 15 extrabase hits. Bynum has also stolen 12 bases against 4 caught stealing. He could be a strong asset to the A's as a 4th outfielder/pinch-runner in a year or two.

Righthanded starting pitcher Shane Komine earned a victory on May 25 with a strong performance where he gave up 2 runs on five hits in 6.2 innings. Komine also struck out 6 batters in the start. Komine has, with the exception of one horrific start, been a solid starter for the RockHounds this season. He has posted a 3.99 ERA in the hitting friendly Texas League with 43 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. He has walked only 14 during that span.

Catcher John Baker had a strong week, as he hit in 13 of 15 games dating back to May 22. During that span, Baker was 19-for-54 (.351) with 10 RBI. On the season, Baker is hitting .317 with 6 homeruns and 33 RBIs. The Cal product and 2002 draft choice is also sporting a .373 OBP. Baker has been playing some firstbase, as he has shared catching duties with fellow 2002 draft choice Jeremy Brown. However, as Brown has struggled at the plate this early season, Baker has likely moved past Brown on the A's depth chart at catcher. The A's are deep throughout the organization at catcher, but if Baker continues to hit well, he'll have a good shot of being with the A's at catcher in 2006.

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