Oakland A's MLN: Barton Hot; Braden Debuts

A number of the Oakland A's top prospects are playing in the winter leagues this season. We have an update on all of them, including Daric Barton, Richie Robnett and Dallas Braden. We also brief you on the A's latest minor league free agent signing inside...

Barton Red-Hot In DWL

Daric Barton is making up for lost time with a scalding start to his Dominican Winter League season. After missing the majority of the season with a broken elbow, Barton is looking to prove that he is healthy again. He is off to a good start, going 13 for his first 28 for the Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League. Barton has two doubles among those 13 hits and he has walked six times against five strikeouts. His .464 batting average and .559 on-base percentage would lead the DWL if he had enough at-bats to qualify among the league leaders.

Toros teammate and fellow A's farmhand Jason Perry hasn't had quite the same success yet. Perry is four for his first 26, although he does have six RBIs in only eight games played. He has struck out 11 times and has walked only once. A's farmhand Jose Pineda had one at-bat for the Toros early in the season, but he hasn't played since.

Like Barton, A's relief prospect Santiago Casilla also missed most of the season with injuries. Casilla is back on the mound, but unlike Barton, he isn't finding immediate success. The right-hander has an ugly 27.07 ERA, having allowed six hits and four runs in 1.1 innings spread over five appearances. He has walked five and has struck out only two.

Braden Debuts In Puerto Rico

A's left-handed pitching prospect Dallas Braden recently made his debut in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The A's 2005 Minor League Pitcher of the Year missed more than half of the 2006 season with injuries and then missed the Arizona Fall League with an injury, as well. He is playing for Mayaguez this winter and has appeared in one game for them, working a perfect inning in which he struck out two batters.

Scutaro Still Sizzling In Venezuela

Marco Scutaro has made punishing Venezuelan League pitching an annual event and he is continuing that success this season. The A's back-up middle infielder has 23 hits in 55 at-bats (.418 batting average). He has one homer, one triple and two doubles. He has also walked five times against seven strikeouts in 13 games for Caracas.

A's middle infield prospect Gregorio Petit has stagnated a bit after a red-hot start for Caracas. Petit is 16 for 60 (.267) with one double, one triple and two homers. At one point this season, Petit was hitting .357 and was among the league leaders in batting average. This is only his second season as a regular player in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Sacramento centerfielder Charles Thomas is currently hitting .255 for the Tiburones of the Venezuelan League. He has four doubles and has walked eight times against 11 strikeouts in 16 games.

Robnett Swinging Away In Mexico

After a brief appearance in the Arizona Fall League during which he hit .429, A's outfield prospect Richie Robnett headed south to Mexico to compete for Mazatlan. Robnett missed the last two months of the season with a broken hamate bone and like Barton, Casilla and Braden, he is looking to get the rust out before next spring. Robnett has appeared in seven games for Mazatlan thus far, collecting six hits in 27 at-bats (.222 average). He has two doubles, two RBIs, six walks and seven strikeouts. He has also stolen a base.

Former A's DH Erubiel Durazo is having a loud winter at the plate for his hometown Hermosillo ballclub. Durazo is batting .362 with 11 homers, both totals among the top three in the league. Former A's farmhand and 2006 River Cats starter Doug Clark is third in the league in on-base percentage with a .426 mark. Former A's pitcher Keiichi Yabu has an 0-1 record with a 6.00 ERA in three innings of work for the Mexicali club.

A's Sign Kevin Deaton

The A's added another minor league free agent on Wednesday, inking former New York Mets farmhand Kevin Deaton. The right-hander made only three appearances for the Mets this season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005 and pitched only at the end of the 2006 season. Deaton is a former high school offensive lineman who turned down a scholarship to play on the gridiron for the University of Florida to play for the Mets. He spent seven years in the Mets' chain, compiling a 3.42 ERA in 511 innings. He has an 8.56 K:9 ratio in his career and has allowed only 32 homeruns. He has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.

According to our New York Mets' Scout.com site, Deaton has a high-80s, low-90s two-seam fastball with sink and he can get his four-seamer up to 92 on occasion. He has a good sharp curveball that sits in the mid-70s and a high-70s change-up and a low-80s slider. Deaton has never pitched above AA and, due to his injury history, could be moved into the bullpen by the A's next season.

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