Roster Preview: Midland Rockhounds

In 2004, the Midland Rockhounds were the only Oakland A's minor league affiliate to not make the playoffs. However, with a roster stocked with players primarily from the California League champion Modesto squad, the Rockhounds look poised to have a better season in 2005.

The Midland Rockhounds Opening Day Roster


The Midland starting pitching staff will be led by a pair of Steves: Steve Bondurant and Steve Obenchain. Bondurant was spectacular during his stint with the low-A Kane County Cougars in 2004. Bondurant, a lefty, went 14-5 with a 2.08 ERA in 21 starts for the Cougars. He struck out 132 and walked only 27 in 125.2 innings pitched. Bondurant struggled after a late-season promotion to AA-Midland. He went 2-3 with a 6.39 ERA in seven starts for the Rockhounds. Bondurant relies on off-speed pitches to keep hitters off-balance, and he is a very intelligent pitcher.

Obenchain was a first round draft choice of the A's in the 2002 "Moneyball" draft. The Evansville alum split his time between Modesto and Midland last season and was shuffled between the starting rotation and the bullpen. The tall right-hander went a combined 5-5 for the two clubs and he struck out 85 in 101.1 innings pitched. Obenchain spent part of his off-season pitching in the Arizona Fall League, where he pitched well in the Phoenix Desert Dogs starting rotation.

The two Steves will likely be joined in the rotation by lefties Matt Lynch and Drew Dickinson. Lynch was Modesto's top starting pitcher last season, as he went 13-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 27 starts. Dickinson was a fixture in the Midland rotation last season when he went 8-11 with a 4.84 ERA in 26 starts for the Rockhounds. Right-handers Mike Ziegler and Brad Weis will be in the mix for starts, as well.

The Rockhounds should have a very strong bullpen in 2005, led by the hard-throwing right-hander Jairo Garcia. Garcia began last season as the closer for the Kane County Cougars and he was so dominant that he finished the season in Oakland, with stops in Midland and Sacramento along the way. Garcia has struggled with his command since he was promoted to the major leagues and he will be looking to regain his dominance over minor league hitters at AA. Garcia struck out 106 in 61.2 minor league innings last season.

University of Washington alum Shawn Kohn will join Garcia at the back of the Rockhounds bullpen. The 24 year old right-hander was dominant for high-A Modesto last season, posting a 2.30 ERA in 43 innings for Modesto. Kohn also spent some time in AAA-Sacramento, where he helped the depleted River Cats bullpen by giving Sacramento 42 innings of work. Kohn displayed impeccable control last season at both levels, striking out 105 and walking only 11 in his 85 innings of work.

Independent League veterans Nick Mattioni and Nick Brannon will pitch in the middle innings for the Rockhounds. Lefty Leonard Landeros and righty Evan Fahrner will round out the bullpen. Kyle Crowell will begin the season on the disabled list, but will eventually contribute to the pitching staff.

Infielders and Catchers

The Midland offense should be potent this season and the infield is filled with strong hitters. Middle infielder Omar Quintanilla headlines the group. Quintanilla is a natural top of the order hitter. He makes good contact and is patient at the plate. The Texas alum hit .314 in 108 games for Modesto and then hit .351 in a 23 game stint for Midland at the end of the season. He also starred for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League during the off-season. Quintanilla is the A's top middle infield prospect and he should see time at both second and short this season.

2002 draftee Brant Colamarino will wield his big bat in the middle of the order for the Rockhounds this season. The left-handed first baseman was outstanding in a 50 game stint at Modesto last season, posting a 1051 OPS and crushing 11 homers in only 183 at-bats. He cooled off considerably at the plate when he arrived at Midland. Colamarino's batting average went from .355 at Modesto to .273 at Midland. He also only hit eight homers in 304 at-bats. The 24 year old Colmarino will be counted on to produce like he did in Modesto this season.

Sparkplugs Lloyd Turner and Mark Kiger will also see time in the middle infield for Midland. The speedy Turner stole 27 bases in 34 chances for Modesto last season. He also hit .292 for the Cal League team last year. Kiger split his season between AA-Midland and AAA-Sacramento. Longtime Cincinnati farmhand Andrew Beattie will man third base for the Rockhounds, although A's third base prospect Brian Snyder is likely to join the Rockhounds roster at some point this season.

The catching duties will be handled primarily by Jeremy Brown, who will be spending his third season at AA. The right-handed hitting Brown is probably ready to be at AAA, but the A's wanted both he and catching prospect John Baker to get a chance to play every day. Baker will be at Sacramento this season and Brown will begin the year in Midland. Brown is famously patient at the plate. He struggled early in the season last year to make consistent contact, but he found his stroke mid-season. Brown had a strong showing at the Arizona Fall League this off-season and seems primed for a breakout season at the plate. Former Arizona State catcher Casey Myers will be Brown's primary back-up. Myers had a very solid season at the plate for Modesto, hitting .319 in 63 games. He also had a brief appearance at Midland last season. Like Brown, Myers is a solid game-caller.


The Midland outfield will be very potent offensively this season. Centerfielder Steve Stanley will be the sparkplug in between the sluggers. Stanley started the 2004 season at AAA-Sacramento, but after a half-season struggles, he was sent back to AA. Stanley tore through AA pitching upon his return, hitting .419 in 36 games. Stanley doesn't have a lot of power, but he runs well and gets on base frequently and should see time at the top of the Rockhounds batting order.

The other four outfielders on the Midland roster are all of the slugger variety. Leftfielder Brian Stavisky was the California League MVP last season, after putting together a monster year for Modesto. Stavisky hit .343 with 19 homers last season. He teamed with Jason Perry for much of the year to form a potent 3-4 combination in the middle of the Modesto line-up. Perry will join Stavisky in Midland again this season. The former Toronto draftee started the 2004 season in Midland but was sent down to Modesto after a rough first six weeks of the season. Perry tore apart California League pitching upon his return there, hitting .338 with 24 homers in 83 games for Modesto.

The athletic Andre Ethier also had a fine season for Modesto until a back injury sidelined him for the last six weeks of the season. He is fully healthy now and should be primed for a strong offensive season. The 2003 2nd round pick hit .313 last season for Modesto. The oft-injured, but very talented Matt Allegra will round out the Midland outfielding corps. Allegra spent the season in Midland and was effective when healthy. However, he was rarely healthy, logging only 18 games. Allegra is a slugger in the classic mold in that he hits a lot of homeruns and strikes out a lot, as well. Allegra joined the A's organization in 1999, but he is still only 24 years old.

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