Oakland A's MLN: Bynum Makes The Show

It took six seasons, but the A's top pick from the 2000 draft has finally made it to the major leagues. With the A's hurting in both the infield and the outfield, the versatile Freddie Bynum was recalled to Oakland on Monday. If the A's keep Bynum on the roster through Wednesday, he will be eligible for any post-season play the A's might engage in. We take a look at why Bynum could be a valuable asset to Oakland down the stretch and catch up on all of the day's news around the A's organization.

Freddie Bynum was taken in the second round of the 2000 draft, the last draft that the A's failed to have a first round pick. Bynum was drafted as a middle infielder out of Pitt Community College and he immediately established himself as one of the A's fastest minor league players. He swiped 22 bags in only 72 games for short-season Vancouver in 2000. Bynum opened more eyes in 2002 when he stole 41 bases for Class A Visalia. He also hit .306 for the Oaks and reached base at a .385 clip. His on-base percentage fell to .344 in 2003 for AA-Midland and he began the 2004 season back at Midland again. This time, Bynum began to work in the outfield to increase his versatility. He was promoted to AAA mid-season and hit .283 with the River Cats over 65 games. However, last September Bynum had a blood clot removed in his right shoulder and was initially expected to miss the season. Fortunately for Bynum, his recovery time was much shorter and he was able to play by the start of spring training.

Bynum has had a solid season as a super-utilityman for the River Cats in 2005. He got off to a slow start, but picked up the pace mid-season and was soon a regular starter. He has split time in the infield and in the outfield and has also appeared both at the top and the bottom of the order. Despite missing some time with leg injuries, Bynum has swiped a team-leading 23 stolen bases. He has also banged out nine triples and hit around .300 for much of the season before a recent slump brought his average down to .278.

So how will Bynum help the A's down the stretch? Mostly, he will help with his speed. Bynum is a classic slap-hitter in the Chone Figgins mold. He is a left-handed hitter and he gets out of the box quickly. He draws a decent number of walks, but he does strike out a lot more then a slap-hitter should. Still, he'll bring something to the A's that they haven't had in a long time: a legitimate base-stealing threat off the bench. And with his ability to play nearly every position, A's Manager Ken Macha should be able to use him in a number of situations.

Bynum is likely the first of a number of faces from Sacramento who will join the A's in September. Outfielder Matt Watson and reliever Ron Flores are strong candidates to join the team when rosters expand. Reliever Jairo Garcia, utilityman Jermaine Clark, outfielder Jack Cust, outfielder Charles Thomas, infielder Keith Ginter, third baseman Bobby Smith and starter/reliever Juan Cruz are all candidates for September call-ups, as well. With the River Cats in the PCL playoffs, the A's may delay making the majority of their call-ups until after the River Cats' season is over. Alberto Castillo, a major league veteran catcher who was signed by Oakland last week to a minor league contract, should be recalled to the A's on September 1 to give the A's a third catcher on their roster.

Other Notes:

-- Midland starter Brad Ziegler earned his second AA win on Monday night with another strong showing. The right-hander struck out eight and walked one in seven solid innings. He allowed only one run on five hits. Catcher Jeremy Brown crushed his career-high 20th homerun and went 2-4 to raise his average to .269. Brown has driven in 71 runs this season. Jason Perry also had two RBI, his 73rd and 74th RBIs of the year. The Midland bullpen allowed four runs in the ninth, but Shawn Kohn came on to retire the final batter and preserve the Rockhounds' 6-5 win over Corpus Christi. The save was Kohn's eighth of the year. Midland is playing without closer Alex Santos, who was promoted to Sacramento earlier in the week.

-- After missing most of the season with a broken wrist, outfielder Hiram Bocachica has returned to active play with the A's Arizona Rookie League team. He collected his first hit on Sunday, a double to left. Bocachica could contribute to the River Cats playoff run if he can get back into playing shape in time. Bocachica was the A's leading hitter in spring training, but he was hit by a pitch in the wrist during the last week of camp and eventually had to have surgery on that wrist.

-- Kane County starter Joe Scott was nearly perfect in his last outing, but he didn't have the same stuff on Monday night. Scott was roughed up early, allowing five runs in the first two frames and 10 runs (five earned) over 5.2 innings of work. He wasn't helped by the Cougar defense, which committed three errors in their 10-5 loss to Southwest Michigan.

-- Vancouver's lead over second place Salem-Kaiser was cut to a half game when the Canadians dropped a tight game to Everett and Salme-Kaiser eked out a win of their own. The C's lost to Everett 3-2. A three-run second inning did in C's starter Joe Newby, who lasted six strong innings. Vancouver managed single runs in the sixth and seventh, but they couldn't push the tying run across.

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