Minor League Player Notebook - July 26, 2004

<b>This is a free preview of premium content.</b><br> Find out about Freddie Bynum's progress, Brant Colamarino's recovery from injury, and A's 2004 draft pick Jason Windsor's projected debut date with the Vancouver Canadians and more in this week's edition of the <i>Minor League Player Notebook</i>...

Sacramento - Like Adam Morrissey, who I discussed last week, Freddie Bynum was affected by Ramon Castro's promotion to Oakland. When Castro was called up to Oakland and Mike Rouse went down with an injury, the River Cats needed a player to fill in at shortstop. The A's had been teaching Bynum centerfield in Midland, so nobody expected him to be the man for the job. In fact, Bynum hadn't played a single game at shortstop all year in Midland. Position aside, Bynum was hitting just .268/.332/.358 in 265 at-bats. Those facts aside, Bynum was called up on June 20th and asked to fill in at shortstop in Sacramento.

So far in Sacramento, Bynum has split time between shortstop, centerfield and leftfield (especially the outfield when Rouse got off the DL). In 123 at-bats he has put up a .276/.315/.358 line. Bynum will never produce power numbers, but one asset he does bring to the table is speed. Between Midland and Sacramento, Bynum is 26 for 34 in stolen bases. In fact, he is getting starts as the River Cats lead-off man. Bynum recently said that manager Tony DeFrancesco is giving him the green light more often and telling him to "push it" and run more.

After being a surprise second round pick in 2002, Bynum was moved from shortstop to second base because of a weak arm resulting in errant throws. He projects as a utility player (2B, SS, CF, LF) with good speed and decent range. There is little chance that Bynum will be an everyday player, but the 24 year-old has a good chance to spend time in a major league uniform somewhere.

Midland – Brant Colamarino could only be ignored for so long. Through 50 games in Modesto, Colamarino was batting .355 with a 1.051 OPS. At the end of May, the RockHounds sent Jason Perry down to make room for him (I also discussed Perry last week). Once Colamarino arrived in Midland, he hit in 8 straight games, including 2 home runs. A few weeks after his promotion, he banged his knee into a railing going for a foul ball. He would miss about a week and went into a long slump. He said that he couldn't get his timing back as his knee remained swollen for quite some time.

In the past two weeks, he appears to have fully recovered. Over that span, he has seen his average rise from .245 to .285. In his last 10 games (35 at-bats) he is batting .371/.459/.600 with 2 home runs. He has hit in 18 of his last 19 games coming into Monday.

Colamarino is just 23 years old, but if he finishes strong he could find himself in Sacramento next year. Paul DePodesta said in Moneyball that "Colamarino might be the best hitter in the country." He was the best hitter in the California League earlier in the year, and may be among the best of the Texas League at the end of 2004. It's easy to lose track of him in the first base log-jam, but he is someone who should draw attention in 2005.

Kane County – Cougar second baseman Luke Appert isn't someone who gets much press. He was drafted in the sixth round last year out of the University of Minnesota behind big names like Brad Sullivan and Brian Snyder. While at Minnesota, he won the Big Ten Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons. Last year in short-season Vancouver, Appert batted just .193, but had 49 walks against 29 strikeouts for a .359 OBP.

This year in Kane County he has moved his average to .260 with a .373 OBP. He even has a surprising 9 home runs this year, despite having just 1 in 192 at-bats last year. Appert recently turned 24, so he can hear the clock ticking. As long as he keeps his OBP where it is, he should find himself in Modesto next year. The A's farm system is loaded with mid-range prospects, and Appert is trying to walk his way towards the top of them.

Vancouver – With all the recent draft signings, the Vancouver roster had become crowded. To make way for newcomers Landon Powell, Richie Robnett, Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Melillo, sent some players to Arizona and one to Kane County. Going down were Joshua Beauregard and Don Sutton. Going up was Mike McGirr.

Mike McGirr was deserving of the promotion. When pitcher Brigmer Leon went on the DL, a spot on the Kane County roster opened up. McGirr was drafted in the eighth round last year, and was spectacular this year in Vancouver. In 7 starts he went 5-0 with 41 innings pitched. He had a 0.66 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP.

Don Sutton was the 1,238th pick in the 2002 draft. Last year, at age 19, he showed good power numbers and even spent some time in Modesto as a back-up this year. With Suzuki and Powell in Vancouver, the A's simply had no room for him.

In some other news, I have learned that Jason Windsor will likely not play until the middle of August. When he does pitch, it will be in limited duty as a reliever.

Brian Durack is the owner and writer of A's Y'all, a blog on the A's minor league system. The blog can be found at http://as-yall.blogspot.com. Brian can be reached at brian_durack@hotmail.com.

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