Ex-A's In The Independent Leagues

Every year, scores of players leave the Oakland A's organization. Some players go to other major league organizations, others go to leagues in different countries and others retire. Others still continue their careers in the independent leagues. We take a look at the former A's farmhands who are currently signed to play in the independent leagues in 2007.

Name, Independent League Team, League

Players Who Were In The A's Chain In 2006:

John Birtwell, Worchester Tornadoes, Can-Am League:
Birtwell, a college teammate of A's assistant GM David Forst at Harvard, spent much of last season with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. It was Birtwell's first trip to the Triple-A level and he acquitted himself well. The burly right-hander appeared in 24 games, pitching 29.1 innings for the River Cats. He allowed 31 hits and posted a 3.38 ERA. Birtwell also had one scoreless appearance with High-A Stockton. Before joining the A's organization last season, Birtwell spent five seasons in the Detroit Tigers chain. He has a career 2.80 ERA in 276 minor league innings, all of them in relief.

Nate Espy, York Revolution, Atlantic League:
Espy was signed as a minor league free agent last season by the A's after spending six seasons in the Phillies organization, a season in the Cardinals organization and a season in the Mariners chain. Espy spent most of the 2006 season in Triple-A Sacramento, batting .275 with 10 homers and an 800 OPS in 99 games. He got a lot of playing time at first for the River Cats after Daric Barton was injured in May. Espy also played 10 games with High-A Stockton, hitting .382 in 34 games.

Kory Wayment, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Northern League:
Wayment was a 23rd round pick by the A's in 2001. He spent six years with the A's organization before being cut by the A's during the first half of the 2006 season. He never played higher than High-A. Wayment spent parts of three seasons in Kane County and he appeared in 115 games for the Cougars in 2003. Wayment joined Fargo-Moorhead after being released by the A's last season and he hit .231 in 95 games.

Joel Posey, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Northern League:
Posey was signed by the A's out of the Frontier League during the 2006 season. He split the campaign between low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton, making 28 appearances between the two teams. Prior to joining the A's, Posey had spent two and a half seasons in the Frontier League.

Randy Rapp, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Northern League:
Rapp was also a mid-season signing by the A's in 2006, having appeared in the Can-Am League prior to joining the A's organization. He split his time between High-A Stockton and Low-A Kane County, going 2-0 with two saves in 29 relief appearances.

Cameron Coughlan, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Northern League:
Coughlan was a Double-A Rule 5 pick by the A's out of the Rangers organization prior to the 2006 season. He spent the first week of the season with Double-A Midland before being sent down to High-A Stockton. Coughlan hit .289 with 20 stolen bases in 69 games for the Ports. He was then sent back up to Midland for the final month of the season. Coughlan finished with a .258 average in 21 games for the Rockhounds. He has a career .276 batting average with 277 stolen bases in 495 minor league games.

Wes Long, Windy City ThunderBolts, Frontier League:
Long was drafted by the A's in the 2004 season and he was a star in the Rookie League that season, hitting .345 with 35 RBI in 54 games. He spent last season with Kane County before being released during the off-season.

Players Who Appeared In The A's Chain In 2005 Or Earlier:

Chris Shank, Worchester Tornadoes, Can-Am League:
Shank was the A's 23rd round pick in 2002. The Franklin Pierce College right-hander spent four seasons in the A's organization. In 2004, Shank was part of the Modesto A's pitching staff when the Little A's won the California League championship. He was 6-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 85 innings that season. Shank was released by the A's during the 2005 season. He joined Worchester at that time and has been with the Tornadoes ever since.

Bert Snow, Shreveport Sports, American Association:
A 10th round pick by the A's in 1998, Snow rose to the top of the A's relief pitching prospect list before arm troubles derailed his promising career. Snow spent seven seasons in the Oakland chain, reaching as high as Triple-A. Snow was with the A's for so long that he pitched for both Triple-A Sacramento and Sacramento's predecessor, Triple-A Vancouver. In 2000, Snow saved 27 games for Double-A Midland and had three appearances with Triple-A Sacramento. Unfortunately, Snow had arm problems that kept him out of commission for all of the 2001 season. He would make it back to Triple-A by 2003, but he never found the same level of success that he had during that 2000 season.

Jose Ortiz, Lancaster Barnstormers, Atlantic League:
Ortiz was the A's top prospect in 2000, when he won the Triple-A MVP award by hitting .351 with 24 homers and 108 RBIs for Triple-A Sacramento. He also stole 22 bases. That performance earned him a September call-up to Oakland in 2000. In 2001, Oritz was handed the A's starting second base job out of spring training. However, he struggled out of the gate, collecting only seven hits in his first 42 at-bats and playing poorly on defense. He would never get another chance in Oakland, as he was traded in the Jermaine Dye deal later that season. Ortiz played in 53 games in 2001 for Colorado, posting an 809 OPS. However, he struggled for the Rockies in 2002, hitting only .250 in 65 games. He was sent down to Triple-A mid-season and never returned to the major leagues. He went to Japan in 2003 and 2004, before returning to the States and joining Lancaster in 2005. He has been with the Barnstormers ever since. Last season, Ortiz had 18 homers and 80 RBIs in 101 games for the Barnstormers.

Ramon Castro, Newark Bears, Atlantic League:
Castro joined the A's as a minor league free agent in 2004 after seven seasons in the Atlanta organization. Castro spent most of the 2004 season in Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. The middle infielder appeared in nine games for the A's that season after injuries to Mark Ellis and Mark McLemore decimated the A's middle infield. Castro joined the Nationals organization in 2005 and spent the season split between High-A and Double-A. He was out of baseball in 2006.

Drew Dickinson, Schaumberg Flyers, Northern League:
Dickinson was a 28th round pick by the A's in 2002 out of the University of Illinois. The left-hander was a starting pitcher while in the A's chain, making 94 starts and four relief appearances in four minor league seasons. He had a career 30-33 record and a 4.17 ERA. His best season was in 2003, when he went 11-11 with a 3.15 ERA in 28 starts. Dickinson made 27 appearances (26 starts) for the Texas League Champion Midland Rockhounds in 2005.

Jesse Acosta, Kansas City T-Bones, Frontier League:
The SF State alum was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He spent the next two and a half seasons in the Oakland chain, but he only appeared in 70 games over that time period. Acosta never hit above .200 while with the A's. He played for Kansas City last season, as well.

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