August's Best In The Oakland A's System

August 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 final full month of the minor league baseball season.

Infielder of the Month: Kevin Melillo

Melillo punctuated a strong finish to his season with a nice August performance. The Midland second baseman was an everyday fixture in the Rockhounds' line-up, playing in 28 August games and making only two errors. He also hit .288 with four homeruns (tying a season-high for one month) and a .394 on-base percentage. His 20 walks in August were second on the team and his eight doubles tied him for the team lead. He also swiped four bases, tying a month-best for the season. Melillo finished the regular season with a .280/.367/.426 mark and he will be heading to the Arizona Fall League as one of baseball's top second base prospects later this fall.

Honorable Mentions:
Mark Kiger, .328/.422/.448. Kiger may have been disappointed with his mid-season demotion from AAA to AA, but he didn't let that disappointment show in his performance. Kiger finished his six weeks with the Rockhounds with a .307/.379/.450 line. He saw most of his playing time with Midland at third base and gave the Rockhounds a solid presence at or near the top of the line-up. Kiger's .328 batting average was the third-best mark on the team for August.

Eddie Cornejo, .353/.451/.479. Like Kiger, Cornejo had to deal with the disappointment of a mid-season demotion this season. However, Cornejo tore up the California League upon his arrival in Stockton and was especially hot in August. He was second on the team in hitting for the month and was tied for the team-lead in runs scored in August.

Tom Everidge, .283/.323/.492. The big first baseman matched his season-high in homers for a month with five in August, as he helped the Ports capture a Wild Card berth. He finished third on the team in August in RBIs with 20 and he stole two of his five bases for the year. Everidge finished the regular season with a career-high 20 homers and 83 RBI.

Alexander Valdez, .323/.373/.516. Not a lot went right for Vancouver in August, but Valdez was a bright spot. The 22 year-old shortstop played in 24 games for the Canadians and posted his best month as a professional. His 12 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs led the team in August.

Cliff Pennington, .464/.531/.643. Pennington's season was a disaster in the early going, as he hit under .200 for the first six weeks of the season. However, he started to get hot in late-May/early-June and looked poised to save his season. Unfortunately, he was felled by a serious hamstring injury and he missed most of the rest of the year. He did make it back on the diamond for the A's Arizona Rookie League team at the end of August and picked up where he left off with the bat, spraying the ball to all fields once again with confidence. He should have a much better season in 2007.

Catcher of the Month: Kurt Suzuki

Suzuki has always liked the big stage. From his outstanding performances in the College World Series to his good work in big league spring training camp, Suzuki has made it a habit to step up for big opportunities throughout his young career. August was no different for the A's catching prospect. He began the month with Midland, where he hit .333 with three doubles in five games. He was then added to the Team USA roster, where he participated in the Americas Qualifying Tournament for the Olympics. Suzuki helped Team USA win the tournament (including a victory over host Cuba in the finale) by hitting better than .450. He had a walk-off homerun in the United States' win over Brazil in the second round and finished the tournament with six extra-base hits. Suzuki finished his second full professional season with a .285 batting average and seven homeruns for AA-Midland.

Honorable Mention:
Anthony Recker, .278/.333/.478. Recker put a solid finish to an outstanding first full season in the minor leagues. He hit three homers in August and finished the year with 14. His 14 RBIs in August were good for third-best on the team for the month.

Raul Padron, .300/.369/.433. Padron shared time with Recker behind the plate at Kane County all season. He struggled offensively for much of the season, but recovered to put together a solid July and August. Padron hit .199 before the All-Star break and .271 afterwards.

Outfielder of the Month: Danny Putnam

Before his return in August, Putnam's 2006 season could have been chalked up as a disappointment. The 2004 supplemental first round pick had a solid 2005 season and a good spring training, but got off to a slow start in 2006 and then suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for more than two months. However, he returned with a vengeance in August, playing for three teams and hitting well at all three levels. He began the month with three rehab games in Arizona, where he had three hits in 10 at-bats. Putnam then moved to A-Stockton, where he spent virtually all of last season. In 10 games for the Ports, Putnam hit .375 with nine RBIs and a homerun. He then was sent back to AA-Midland, where he started the year. It was at Midland where Putnam had the biggest impact. The left-fielder helped secure the Rockhounds' second-half division title with a blistering 13-game effort. He hit .327 with five homers and 14 RBIs in those 13 games. Two of those RBIs were game-winners as the Rockhounds clinched their division.

Honorable Mentions:
Luis Perez, .450/.504/.640. Perez came out of nowhere to capture the California League batting title, mostly on the strength of a ridiculously red-hot August. The Ports outfielder was a part-time player to start the season, but his hot bat got him into the line-up after Richie Robnett was promoted to AA. Perez drove in 23 runs for the Ports in August, best on the team, and collected a team-high 45 hits. He also walked 10 times. Perez finished the season with a .334 batting average.

Charles Thomas, .358/.447/.691. Thomas posted his best month since joining the A's organization last season. The centerfielder, who was named the River Cats' defensive player of the year, hit eight of his nine homeruns for the season in August and he drove-in 13 runs. His hot August helped Thomas finish the year with a respectable .274 batting average.

Doug Clark, .283/.385/.549. Clark led the River Cats in homeruns for August with nine long-balls, easily his best total for any month this season. He finished the year with 15 homers and 59 RBIs. Clark also swiped three bases in August to bring his season-total to a team-leading 25.

Brian Stavisky, .336/.439/.483. Stavisky was another driving factor in the Rockhounds' push to the playoffs. He was outstanding in August, driving in a team-leading 22 runs in the month. He also walked 22 times and stole two bases. After batting only .239 for the River Cats, Stavisky hit .316 for Midland in 2006. He should get another crack at AAA in 2007.

Nick Blasi, .343/.402/.476. The former Wichita State star had a big month for Stockton, driving in 17 runs and scoring 22 times. Blasi finished his stint with Stockton with an impressive 848 OPS, not bad for someone who had to repeat at low-A Kane County to start the year.

Pitcher of the Month: Marcus McBeth

McBeth was a big question mark at the start of the season, as the former outfielder was embarking on only his second full season as a pitcher. He acquitted himself quite well on the rubber and punctuated his outstanding 2006 campaign with an August during which he saved 11 games for Midland. He struck out 22 and walked only three in 16 innings in August and allowed only 12 hits. McBeth finished the regular season with 25 saves for the Rockhounds and 32 overall. The 26 year-old has made himself a big part of the A's future bullpen plans with his impressive 2006 season.

Honorable Mentions:
Connor Robertson, 2-0, 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched. The Rockhounds relied on Robertson all season to bridge the gap between the middle relief and McBeth and he was outstanding in that role. The former collegiate first baseman struck out 21 and walked only four during the month of August. For the season, Robertson whiffed 97 batters in 83.2 innings and allowed only 22 walks and one homerun. He also won seven games and saved six for the Rockhounds.

Trent Peterson, 0-1, 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings pitched. Mr. Jack-of-all-Trades was back at it again in August, making two starts and eight relief appearances. The lefty was outstanding, allowing only 19 hits and three walks in August. He struck out 17. Peterson was back in the starting rotation for the Ports' playoff opener on Wednesday and he helped lead Stockton to a series opening win with a strong performance in the Ports' 5-1 victory.

Joe Newby, 2-0, 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings. Newby had a solid season for the Cougars in the bullpen and that continued in August, when he struck out 19 and walked only three. For the season, Newby finished 5-0 with a 3.22 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 50.1 innings.

Brad Kilby, 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 6.1 innings. The Cougars' stalwart closer was perfect again in August, converting all five of his save opportunities. Since the start of July, Kilby has not allowed a single run and he saved the first game of Kane County's playoff series on Wednesday with 1.1 innings of shut-out relief. He finished the regular season with a 1.63 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 60.2 innings.

Anthony Rea, 0-1, 0.54 ERA in 16.2 innings. Rea was another bright spot in a down month for Vancouver. He finished the year with a 1.82 ERA in 34.2 innings for the Canadians. The 2005 draft pick and Santa Clara graduate walked only seven batters all season for Vancouver.

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