July's Best In The Oakland A's System

July has officially come and gone and we have the final numbers to prove it. Inside, we take our monthly look around the Oakland A's system to identify the top performers out in the field and on the mound for the month of July.

Infielder of the Month: Scott McClain

McClain put on an impressive power display this month for the Sacramento River Cats. The long-time minor league veteran hit 30 homers for the Iowa Cubs last season and he is now on-pace to reach that total again thanks to a monster July. McClain clubbed 10 homers and drove-in 35 runs in 27 games for Sacramento this month. His slugging percentage was .619 and his 947 OPS for the month was his best mark this season. McClain leads the A's minor league organization with 22 homers and is second in the organization to Jeff Baisley with 83 RBIs.

Honorable Mentions:
Kevin Melillo, .319/.435/.468. Melillo indicated in his last player journal that he always hits well in the month of July and this season was no exception. The A's top second base prospect walked more than he struck out (20:16 BB:K) and collected 10 extra-base hits. He tied for the Midland team-lead in runs scored for the month with 21. On the season, Melillo is now hitting .279 with eight homers and 58 RBI.

John McCurdy, .325/.368/.675. McCurdy's power bat came alive in July. He clubbed six homers and nine doubles and drove-in 20 runs for the Stockton Ports. After a rough 2005 campaign, McCurdy is having a nice rebound season for Stockton. He is hitting .291 with 11 homers in 76 games.

Isaac Omura, .327/.367/.455. Omura has been a pleasant surprise at the plate this season for the Cougars. He drove-in 19 runs in 25 games for Kane County in July and is now hitting .304 on the season.

Greg Dowling, .350/.389/.456. The big first baseman struggled initially in Vancouver, but he hit his stride in July. The 2006 draft pick had eight doubles and a homer in 103 at-bats and he drove-in 11. Dowling has his average up to .308 for the Canadians.

Catcher of the Month: John Baker

It was a down month for A's catchers, perhaps an indication that the long minor league season is starting to wear on the A's masked men. Baker put together the best offensive performance of any A's minor league catcher this month, posting a 781 OPS in 15 games for the River Cats. Baker's playing time has increased steadily throughout the season and after a disastrous 2005 season, he appears back to his old self at the plate. On the year, Baker is hitting .286 with a .382 OBP in 62 games. July also included a AAA All-Star appearance for Baker.

Honorable Mention:
Anthony Recker, .273/.363/.414. After hitting six homers in June, Midwest League pitchers began pitching around the Cougars' powerful catcher. The results showed up in Recker's walk total, which was 14 for the month, a season-high for him. He also had eight extra-base hits for the month.

Outfielder of the Month: Matt Sulentic

The A's highest drafted position player in 2006 is making an immediate impact in professional baseball. The 18-year-old hit .367 with 10 extra-base hits and a 940 OPS in his first full month of professional baseball. His performance is even more impressive when you consider that he is one of the youngest players in the league. He also appears to be a quick learner at the plate. After striking out seven times before drawing his first walk, Sulentic walked 14 times against 16 strikeouts since then and posted a .435 OBP in July. With the injury to Toddric Johnson at Kane County, the A's could be tempted to test Sulentic at low-A in August.

Honorable Mentions:
Hiram Bocachica, .337/.469/.635. Bocachica has been a regular on our monthly award write-ups since arriving in Sacramento in late May. He had his best month yet in July, posting a 1104 OPS and driving-in 29 runs for the River Cats. He hit eight homers and stole six bases for Sacramento and walked 23 times against 24 strikeouts. On the season, Bocachica has 14 homers in 183 at-bats.

Chad Boyd, .366/.426/.536. After missing the first two and a half months of the season with a knee injury, Boyd has been making up for lost time at the plate with Kane County. He has hit all over the line-up, but still managed to drive-in 22 runs in 29 games this month. He doubled 13 times and launched two homeruns, while maintaining a 1:1 BB:K ratio. The 21-year-old outfielder was a 2004 ninth round selection by Oakland.

Starting Pitcher of the Month: Shane Komine

July was a month to remember for Komine. In four AAA starts, Komine dominated the competition, going 4-0 with an 0.31 ERA in 28.2 innings. He struck out 23 and walked only five over that span and tossed a complete game shut-out. That work earned him a trip to the major leagues, where the Hawaiian native pitched well in his major league debut, going six strong innings and allowing only one run against the heavy-hitting Toronto Blue Jays. Komine will get another start with Oakland next week and another strong start should keep him in the A's rotation for the foreseeable future.

Honorable Mentions:
Brad Knox, 6-0, 1.76 ERA in 41 innings pitched. Knox was the ace of the Midland rotation in July, winning all six of his starts and holding opposing batters to a .214 BAA. His strikeout to walk ratio wasn't great (22:20), but the rest of his numbers were outstanding. He averaged just a tick under seven innings a start and had a 1.29 WHIP.

Jared Lansford, 5-0, 1.41 ERA in 38.1 innings pitched. Although Lansford threw a no-hitter in May, he actually had his best month in July. Lansford posted his best K:BB ratio of the season with a 20:11 mark and posted a 1.23 WHIP. Lansford leads the Cougars with 11 wins on the season.

Scott Deal, 4-1, 2.10 ERA in 34.1 innings. Deal has been outstanding for Vancouver since the start of their season. In July, he posted a miniscule .96 WHIP and allowed a .217 BAA. Deal walked only seven batters in July while striking out 15.

Relief Pitcher of the Month: Brad Kilby

Kilby was perfect in July, not allowing a run in 15 innings spread out over 12 appearances. He saved four games for Kane County and allowed only seven hits and five walks. The left-hander struck out 20 batters and held hitters to a .140 BAA. Kilby has helped ensure that the Cougars' bullpen hasn't missed a beat since the promotion of All-Star closer Steven Sharpe. On the year, Kilby has a 1.88 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 52.2 innings.

Honorable Mentions:
Marcus McBeth, 1-1, 1.93 ERA in 14 innings. McBeth saved seven games for the Rockhounds in July. He struck out 19 in 14 innings and didn't allow a homerun. McBeth has 20 saves on the season, his first full campaign as a pitcher.

Connor Robertson, 2-0, 2.00 ERA in 18 innings. Robertson was the bridge to McBeth for the Rockhounds this month and he was outstanding in the set-up role. The right-hander struck out 26 batters in 18 innings and only walked four. He also held hitters to a .164 BAA.

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