April's Best In The Oakland A's System

With the first month of the season in the books, we take a look back at April and identify the players who had the most outstanding months in the Oakland A's system. We hand out our awards for the system's best infielder, catcher, outfielder, starting pitcher and relief pitcher in April.

Infielder of the Month: Daric Barton

It was a tight race, but Barton gets the nod for his outstanding first month in AAA. Considering the pressure he is under as the A's top prospect, Barton has acquitted himself extremely well in the season's early going. In April, Barton hit .329/.458/.513 with a 19/12 BB/K and seven extra-base hits. He is third on the River Cats in RBI and has the team's best on-base percentage.

Honorable Mentions:
Vasili Spanos, .294/.405/.559. Spanos leads the Midland squad in homeruns and slugging percentage. He has also been versatile, as he has played 3B, 1B and DH.

Frank Martinez, .316/.402/.500. Martinez has come out of nowhere to claim a regular spot in the Kane County line-up. He was second on the team in homers, RBI, on-base percentage and batting average in April. Martinez has played SS, 2B and DH.

Catcher of the Month: Jeremy Brown

This was also a tight race, as Kurt Suzuki and Landon Powell would also have been good choices. However, Brown gets the nod in April for his sizzling .357/.439/.554 line that has paced the River Cats' offense. Brown waited for three years for his first crack at AAA and he is showing that he can handle the level of competition in a big way. His three homers are good for second on the team.

Honorable Mentions:
Kurt Suzuki, .362/.476/.478. It took Suzuki more than two weeks before he struck out for the first time and he still has an excellent 14/6 BB/K. He has also improved on defense, throwing out runners at a better than 60 percent clip and not yet allowing a passed ball.

Landon Powell, .302/.353/.540. After a year off, Powell could have been excused for starting off the season slowly. Instead, he has been the Ports best offensive player and a steady (and sometimes spectacular) presence behind the plate. Cal League runners already know to be on the look-out for Powell's snap throws, as he has caught a number of them napping already during this young season.

Outfielder of the Month: Doug Clark

Clark has been a pleasant surprise after not receiving much playing time during the major league portion of spring training camp. The former San Francisco Giants farmhand hit .356/.447/.563 and added five stolen bases in April. He had four homers to lead the team and scored a team-leading 20 runs. Clark's 12/15 BB/K was also solid.

Honorable Mentions:
Jason Perry, .426/.487/.618. If Perry hadn't missed a week with an ankle injury, he probably would have gone home with this award. As it was, he still managed to drive in 10 runs and collect 29 hits in only 17 games played. Perry finished April with the second highest batting average in all of minor league baseball.

Travis Buck, .293/.365/.561. Buck, like many of his Stockton teammates, struggled during the middle of the month. However, a strong start and finish to April left him with impressive numbers. He has shown good power in the early going, and his three homers were second only to Powell on the Ports. Buck has also played well defensively.

Matt Watson, .303/.398/.483. Watson cooled off after a red-hot start to the season, but he still had an impressive month. Watson led the River Cats with 17 RBI and he had a 14/11 BB/K. He also led the team in doubles with seven and was tied for second in homers with three.

Starting Pitcher of the Month: Brad Ziegler

Ziegler went 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four starts for Midland in April. The 2005 Cal League strike out king whiffed 20 in 24.2 innings in April and walked only six. He held Texas League hitters to a .202 BAA and allowed only one homer and 18 hits. He was second on the team in innings pitched behind Jason Windsor, who had one more start in April than Ziegler did.

Honorable Mentions:
Jason Windsor, 2-1, 3.18 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched. Windsor was inconsistent, alternating good and bad starts until he put together two good starts to end the month. However, when Windsor was on, he was spectacular and the end-results for the month were impressive. He held batters to a .233 BAA and struck out 31 against six walks.

Chad Gaudin, 2-0, 0.52 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched. Gaudin might have won the award for April had he not spent the last week of the month in Oakland's bullpen. Gaudin made three starts for Sacramento and held batters to a .196 BAA. He struck out 16 and walked eight and didn't allow a homerun.

Relief Pitcher of the Month: Brad Davis

There was a two-way battle for this award between Davis and Marcus McBeth, but Davis gets the nod for throwing more innings and making it through the month without allowing a run. Davis spent most of the month in Kane County, where he went 2-0 and didn't allow a run (earned or unearned) in 18 innings pitched. He struck out 16 batters and walked only one, while giving up only six hits. Davis finished the month in Stockton, where he extended his scoreless streak with a 3.2 inning appearance during which he earned the win by allowing only two hits and no runs. He struck out two in that outing.

Honorable Mentions:
Marcus McBeth, 0-1, 2.64 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched. McBeth made it to the month's final day before allowing a run. Before that, he had worked 9.1 innings of scoreless baseball. He spent all but the last few days of April with Stockton, where he racked up seven saves and struck out 14 in 8.2 innings of work. He had a perfect first outing for Sacramento (1.2 innings), but allowed three runs in 0.1 of an inning in his second appearance. On the season, he has 16 strike outs.

Tim Rall, 1-0, 1.77 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched. Rall also moved up a level this month, as he was promoted to AAA from AA-Midland during the month's final week. He was excellent at Midland, holding batters to a .229 BAA and collecting two saves. He struck out 11, walked five and allowed only 11 hits. Rall allowed a run in his first outing in Sacramento (1.1 innings), but struck out two and didn't walk a batter.

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