Winds Of Change In Stockton

Ever since the second half of the season began, the Stockton Ports organization has been a revolving door for new and old players trying to make their way through the minors. But with Stockton's top two sluggers moving up to Double-A Midland, the team is still able to contend in the Cal League with some much needed help from the new guys.

The Ports best power hitters, third baseman Vasili Spanos and first baseman Daric Barton, were among the first players to move, getting promoted to Double-A Midland. Being sent down from Midland to replace the duo were third basemen Lloyd Turner and first basemen Matt Allegra.

Also on the move was Stockton outfielder Luis Perez, who was sent down to Low A-Kane County, while second baseman Kevin Melillo and shortstop Kory Wayment were sent up from Kane County to the Ports.

Despite the recent changes the Ports made during the All-Star Break, the team has been able to flourish with help from some of their new players.

Fresh off his 30-game hitting streak, second baseman Kevin Melillo has been able to provide much of the Ports offense from the leadoff spot since arriving in Stockton on July 4th. Melillo is currently batting .407 with 8 HR and 21 RBI in just 20 games with the Ports.

Another welcome surprise for the Ports comes after Melillo in the lineup in third baseman Lloyd Turner. Turner is currently batting .327 with 2 HR and 7 RBI in 27 games since joining Stockton.

Turner, who was demoted from Double-A, welcomes the idea of a new team despite being in a lower class.

"It's great to be able to have the experience to play with different guys," Turner said. "As much as I wanted to continue staying with the guys in Double-A, I knew the move of me coming down here, back to the Cal League, was probably for the better for me because I get to play more."

Since his demotion, Turner has been playing more, starting almost every night. But what position he will be playing is something not as definite. Since joining the Ports, Turner has played third base, leftfield, centerfield and first base.

"It's something I've kind of prepared myself for since day one in professional ball," Turner said. "I just have the mentality of whenever I come to the ballpark, I know that I don't have just a one dimensional game. My game consists of playing many positions. Any given day I can be playing any given position."

The Ports only All-Star and a year long member of the team, right fielder Danny Putnam, thinks the new players are a great fit in Stockton.

"We got a lot of talent on the team, I think," Putnam said. "A lot of these guys are starting to pull things together. They want to win as much as the guys who have moved on. I guess it was the right time to go because we're playing pretty well."

"One thing is you never really question the type of guy you're getting and from what I've seen, 9 out of 10 times you're getting a club guy in the A's organization."

Stockton Manager Todd Steverson so far likes what he is seeing from his team, who are now three and a half games behind the first place Modesto Nuts and are in first place for the wild card.

"What I'm focusing on is playing good, fundamentally sound baseball," Steverson said. "No matter who is on my team. If you can do that on a daily basis, you'll win your fair share of ballgames. You must make teams beat you."

"Guys move, they might not move. I'd like to see this team stay together for the rest of the year. But you never know."

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