Oakland A's MLN: Leaders of the Pack

The Oakland A's have a number of minor leaguers who are coming off of outstanding 2005 seasons. Many of these players found themselves among the minor league leaders in a number of categories. We run-down those players who found their way on the leader-boards in this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook…

Andrew Beattie 14th in the minors in doubles with 42. Beattie set a career-high for extra-base hits with 57. The eight year minor league veteran earned a non-roster invitation to camp and he has two hits (including a double) in nine at-bats this spring.

Kevin Melillo13th in the minors in runs scored with 101 and was 13th in batting average among second basemen in the minors at .305. Melillo's break-out season saw him lead all A's minor leaguers with homeruns with 24.

Daric Barton 4th in the minors with walks with 97 and 8th in the minors for batting average for first basemen at .317. The A's acquired Barton, in part, for his advanced approach to hitting. He demonstrated that approach last season with an excellent 79:97 K:BB ratio. Barton was also very consistent despite jumping from high-A to AA. He hit .318 for A-Stockton and .316 for AA-Midland. Former A's farmhand Jack Cust was 2nd in the minors with walks with 115. Cust spent the 2005 season with AAA-Sacramento.

Mike Rouse7th in the minors in sacrifice hits with 17. Rouse does a lot of the little things well, and moving runners along in one of them. He has had more than 10 sacrifice hits in each of the past three minor league seasons.

Vasili Spanos9th in the minors in being hit by pitches with 23. Spanos has been compared to Baltimore Orioles 1B/OF Kevin Millar for his "gamer" approach to the game. That hard-nosed approach was reflected in his hit by pitch total. Despite all of the plunkings, Spanos still appeared in 120 games.

Dallas Braden tied for 3rd in the minors with wins with 15. Braden will unfortunately miss most of the 2006 season after undergoing shoulder surgery this off-season. The lefty won the A's Organizational Pitcher of the Year for his efforts in 2005, which saw him win 15 games in only 23 starts. He also struck out 135 batters in 140.2 innings split between A-Stockton and AA-Midland.

Ryan Ford tied for sixth in the minors with wins with 14. He went 14-7 with a 4.26 ERA for the low-A Kane County Cougars. Ford was promoted to A-Stockton for the playoffs. The lefty flew under the radar for much of the season, but he was the staff ace for the Cougars in 2005. The Eastern Michigan grad allowed only 10 homers in 143.2 innings.

Jason Karnuth 6th in the minors in appearances with 63. Karnuth was in the Detroit Tigers chain last season, pitching for AAA-Toledo. He saved 23 games for the Mud Hens and posted a 2.13 ERA. Karnuth made three appearances for Detroit, allowing a run in 1.2 innings. Karnuth is an eight year minor league veteran who has seen time in the big leagues with St. Louis and Detroit. He signed a minor league deal with the A's last season.

Chad Gaudin tied for 2nd in the minors in shutouts with 2. Gaudin, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays chain this off-season, had an outstanding year at AAA-Syracuse. He had a 113:35 K:BB ratio in 150.1 minor league innings. Gaudin struck out 12 in 13 major league innings, but struggled at the big league level, posting a 13.15 ERA. He has struck out 10 in eight innings for the A's this spring.

The Oakland A's organization – 3rd in the minor leagues in winning percentage at .545. The A's have been at or near the top in winning percentage for their minor league teams in each of the past three years. Last season, every A's affiliate went to the playoffs with the exception of the Kane County Cougars, who missed out on the final day. The Midland Rockhounds won the Texas League Championship. In 2004, the A's high-A and AAA affiliates won their respective league championships.

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