Oakland A's MLN: Rosters Shift

Transactions are often plentiful around mid-season in the minor leagues. With draft picks being signed and deserving players being promoted levels, minor league teams often see their rosters take a dramatic shift after their respective All-Star breaks. This pattern has held true in the Oakland A's system this week. On Friday, we detailed some of those moves. Today, we get you caught up on the rest

Sacramento See A Shift

The River Cats' roster took a huge shift on Friday, as they welcomed back two players and lost three others. Oakland sent back middle infielder Mike Rouse and outfielder Doug Clark after their respective stints with the big club. Rouse, in particular, was impressive during his stint in the major leagues and could see more time in the major leagues later this season.

To make room for Rouse, the A's sent infielder Mark Kiger down to AA-Midland, where he had spent the part of the last two seasons. He was hitting .233 for Sacramento at the time of the demotion. The River Cats now have former major leaguers Keith Ginter and D'Angelo Jimenez joining Rouse in the River Cats middle infield. In addition, utilitymen Andrew Beattie and Hiram Bocachica are capable of playing the middle infield, although both are more often seen in the outfield.

Clark will likely return to his starting position as Sacramento's starting left fielder and lead-off hitter. He collected his first major league hit during his stint with Oakland.

The River Cats also trimmed their crowded catcher ranks by one with the release of major league veteran Raul Casanova. Casanova's season got off to a late start this season with a back injury and he moved around the A's system once healthy, playing in AAA, AA and High-A. With John Baker and Jeremy Brown playing well at AAA, there was no reason to keep Casanova around as insurance.

Sacramento also had an unexpected roster change, as reliever Jason Karnuth elected to become a free agent after Friday night's 4-2 River Cats win. There was no immediate word on his replacement. With Santiago Casilla currently on the disabled list with shoulder tendonitis and Ron Flores in Oakland, the River Cats are currently without an experienced closer. Former River Cats reliever Alex Santos might have been a logical choice to replace Karnuth on the roster (Santos is currently in AA), but he is on the DL with a shoulder injury, although he is expected to be off the DL soon.

Rockhounds See Changes, As Well

In addition to welcoming Kiger to their roster, Midland also added two new pitchers this week. Oakland signed Sam Walton and Kevin Olsen out of the Independent Leagues. Olsen already won his first start with Midland. He has major league experience with the Florida Marlins, last appearing for Florida in 2003. He has been out of affiliated baseball since 2004. Walton is a minor league veteran who was last with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He has spent time in the Tampa Bay and Seattle organizations, as well.

To make room for Kiger on the Midland roster, the A's demoted infielder Eddie Cornejo to A-Stockton, where he spent all of last season. He was hitting .210 on the season before his demotion.

Health Watch

Like the big club, the A's minor league affiliates have been struggling with injuries. As mentioned earlier relievers Santos and Casilla are both on the DL with shoulder ailments and Santos is expected back soon. Reliever Jeff Muessig, who has been so effective for Midland this season, is out indefinitely, as well.

Midland catcher Jed Morris, who has been red-hot this season, has missed a month with a broken hand. He is close to returning to action for Midland. David Castillo has been filling in as Kurt Suzuki's back-up for the past 10 days.

The Rockhounds also received a boost at the end of their long road-trip to Tulsa and Wichita with the return of two of their top outfielders. Matt Allegra and Travis Buck return to action at the end of the week. Allegra had missed two weeks, while Buck missed five days after being hit by a pitch.

Kane County's roster took a big hit late this week, as they lost centerfielder Mike Massaro for the second time this season with a broken bone. This time, Massaro has been felled by a broken wrist. Toddric Johnson and Chad Boyd were already promoted to Kane County earlier this week and it appears that an additional outfielder will be making his way to Kane County soon.

2006 Draft Update: Vitters Signs

The Oakland A's came to terms with their 10th round pick, Christian Vitters, on Friday. Vitters was the WAC Player of the Year for Fresno State before losing the last part of his season to a broken thumb which happened when he was hit by a pitch from current A's farmhand Branden Dewing, who was with San Jose State at the time. Vitters is still recovering from that injury and won't see live action for awhile. He is expected to be assigned to Vancouver when he is healthy. With Jason Fernandez now signed, the A's have signed seven of their first 10 picks.

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